Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We Have Lost All Semblance of Common Sense

Taco Bell has a diet! Seriously!

The "Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet" is a new "diet" from Taco Bell that is trying to capitalize on Subway's success by offering 7 (coincidentally the same number as Subway I believe) "low-calorie" items on their menu. They even have a story of a woman, Christine, who has lost 54 lbs on this "diet".

They do go out of their way to say that this is not a "weight-loss program". However, they do call it a "diet".

The items are basically tacos and burritos that have no sour cream, no cheese and no guacamole on them. Now isn't that just common sense? If you take out the fattening items out of anything you normally eat, you will lose weight!! Also, who the heck can eat just one taco or burrito? Those things are TINY!

How stupid do they think the American consumer truly is? You know what, we are pretty darn stupid.

This reminds me of the Special K "diet". Replace two meals with a bowl of special K and milk and you will lose weight. No kidding?!?!?!?! One bowl of cereal and milk is less than 300 calories. You can eat anything for those calories and lose weight.

I guess what I'm saying, even thought I don't always adhere to it myself, is that if you really want to lose weight, make good choices, don't eat too much and exercise sensibly! That is truly the only way to "diet" for life.

Of course if anyone finds that magic pill that make you skinny over night, CALL ME!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009


Presents are an interesting thing. Most people like getting them and/or like giving them. I like both :)

I have one friend who is so stretched so thin, that it is a pleasure to be able to help her out. However, she HATES receiving things from other people. She makes sure that you take her money when it comes to getting take out, going out somewhere, etc... but throws a fit if you try and give her money for the same things.

Tonight we got her family season passes to an amusement park for 2010 (it was a joint present between 2 families for her kids' birthdays and for the holidays). She acted like she didn't really like the gift!

The other family we went in on it with thinks that she didn't like the gift. I think that she thought it was too nice of a gift and/or was just not expecting it.

She's also the person who you can never take out for her birthday because she hates being fussed over.

I'm a bit different - you can get me whatever you want :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Parents

My mother is an amazing woman. She is almost 70 years old and never complains! She still works in a very busy office where she is expected to do a weeks worth of work in 2-3 days. She never sits still, anywhere, and is constantly looking for something (or someone) to fix.

On Tuesday at 7:30am she was wheeled in to the hospital for a hip replacement. At 11:30am she called me to tell me she was out of surgery and "fine". By Thursday morning I was at her bedside (we drove up to visit her on Wednesday night) where she proceeded to tell me that they were transferring her to the rehab facility that same day! The physical therapists are teaching her how to walk, climb stairs, sit down, be in a kitchen, etc...

She is coming home to my father tomorrow.

He is legally blind but if you didn't know it, you would never figure it out. He cooks, he takes the bus, he tells you when to make a right or left turn. He doesn't complain either. Well, except when my mom starts feeling like she should stay at the rehab facility longer. Then he tells her that if he can live with his illness then she can figure out hers.

My father loves my mother so much that he hasn't eaten since she's been in the hospital (nerves). He can't imagine a life without her!

These people are truly my role models! G-d Bless them - because I would go nuts if I had to live with either one of them again :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Persimmon Pecan Bread

I was at the Farmers Market this past Saturday and was talked in to buying some super ripe Hachiya Persimmons (the tear drop ones, not the short, squat ones called Fuyu).

I googled for recipes and found the recipe on David Lebovitz's blog. The recipe ended up making such sweet, rich bread with a unique persimmon flavor. I didn't have two loaf pans so I made it in a 9.5 * 11 pan (which was about two loaf pans full).

One caveat - this tastes MUCH better hot out of the oven (or even microwaved for 30 seconds).

Persimmon Bread
Two 9-inch Loaves

Using the higher amount of sugar will produce a moister and, of course, sweeter bread.

Adapted from Beard on Bread by James Beard.

3½ cups sifted flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 2½ cups sugar (I used 1 3/4 cups of agave syrup)
1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Cognac, bourbon or whiskey
2 cups persimmon puree (from about 4 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (I food processed the pecans)
2 cups raisins, or diced dried fruits (such as apricots, cranberries, or dates) (I omitted)

1. Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins.

5. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Storage: Will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature. The Persimmon Breads take well to being frozen, too.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thank you, Officer!

In California, it is illegal to talk on your cell phone while driving. Of course, most people still do it. I try to keep my phone on speaker at all times, but when the monkeys are in the car, that's pretty impossible to do.

Yesterday I was just getting off the freeway, had my two monkey's and their friend in the car with me, and see flashing lights in my rear view mirror! Efff!! I knew what he was pulling me over for. After fines and fees, the ticket for talking on the cell phone is over $100!

The officer was actually very nice. I didn't even TRY to play dumb. Right away I told him I knew why he pulled me over. I handed over my license, registration and insurance. The monkeys all said hi to him and started talking to him.

I think it was the monkeys' smiles because the officer let me off with a warning about the cell phone and just a fix it ticket for not having my most up to date insurance information in the car (only a $20 ticket).

I thanked him profusely and he was shocked - he told me that most people yell at him for pulling them over!! Ummm, I am in the wrong, I was doing something illegal, and he let me off with a much less costly ticket! Why would I be mad at HIM?!?!

For the rest of the weekend all three monkeys told everyone they met that I got pulled over by a police man :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I haven't been doing as much baking this season as I normally do. However, I was reading the Amateur Gourmet today and he mentioned his "favorite dessert recipe of all time" so I knew that I had to make this RIGHT AWAY.

My excuse is that I signed up to bring "other" to the big monkey's holiday party tomorrow at school :) I'm making 2, so if I taste it and it's way too "sophisticated" for the kids (or just tastes way too good) then I'll keep both for the house or turn the second one in to a gift for someone.

On a related note, I am giving the little monkey's teacher wine for her gift (aside from chipping in for the class gift). She says she like wine and she has to put up with my child, so that's OK, right?

Almond Cake
From Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (measured after sifting)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
7-ounce tube almond paste, cut into small pieces
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
Confectioner's sugar, or sifting over cake

Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter sides and bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Mix together the sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl. Sift the flour and salt in another bowl.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the almond paste, a little at a tie, at medium speed, and beat for 8 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, and mix until incorporated. It will look curdled, don't worry. Blend in the almond extract and the sour cream mixture. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture just until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake about 1 hour (note: mine took about 20 minutes longer). It is done when you press the top and it returns its shape, and also shrinks from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool in the pan. When ready to serve, sift confectioner's sugar over the top.

Note: Amanda Hesser says in her book that this cake always sinks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Here is how we Celebrate

I was walking around our neighborhood last night and was enjoying looking at all the beautifully decorated houses. Even we put out reindeer, a snow man and Santa Claus (even though were Jewish). In fact, this neighborhood has quite a number of Jews in it.

I guess this house decided that they were going to go all out and celebrate Hanukkah with the same zeal that people celebrate Christmas with:

There's a Maccabe holding a shield with a dreidel next to him :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

They are kids

My parents have discovered email, so I have been taking blackberry pictures of the monkeys whenever we go someplace and emailing them to my parents. The love the pictures! It gives them a way to see the monkeys whenever they want (the live in Northern California and we live in Southern).

My mom has been forwarding the pictures to my uncle. He called me recently. He told me the picture were great but...

"Is it my imagination or are the kids getting fat?"

WTF?!?!?! They are 5 and 7. Seriously? This one goes down in the category of "Only Russian people can insult you at any time, any where and think it's no big deal"! And since he said something nice first, he probably thinks he gave me a compliment!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ewww - Sweat Flavored Food

I really like to watch cooking shows. Recently, there are more and more cooking challenge shows.

Tonight, while watching Chopped, 2 out of the 3 competitors were sweating PROFUSELY from their faces. I am absolutely sure that the sweat ended up flavoring the food. Ewww!

I love to cook - and I understand how hot a kitchen can become. Really, super hot - and when you add the pressure of a contest to the mix, sweating ensues! But COME ON!!! Keep a sweat rag, some paper towels, a cold glass of water to cool you down. As good as the final food looks, the judges can not be thrilled eating sweat covered food.

Now I'm not naive enough to think that this doesn't happen in restaurants. I guess I just try to keep that thought out of my mind while eating. Too bad it comes rushing back when watching these shows.

The question becomes - why is it that professional food network chefs don't sweat from their faces as much (like Bobby Flay)? You think it's the dozens of takes that they do? You think that their PR folks are busy making sure that they aren't seen from a bad angle?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hanukkah Party

Tomorrow I am having people over for my 2nd Annual Jew"ish" Hanukkah celebration and decided to do some of the prep tonight. I spent about 2.5 hours, but it will definitely be worth it tomorrow. I am making:

Matzo Balls - balls prepped and ready to go in to soup tomorrow
Chicken Soup
No-Cook Cranberry, Raspberry & Apple Relish - made
Pomegranate-Rosemary Royale - rosemary infused simple syrup is made
Jugged Chicken
Brisket - in the oven for the 1st leg of it's 8 hour journey and will shut off at 2am
Latkes - Apple Sauce
CrockPot Sweet and Sour Caramelized Onions - onions blanched and ready for the crock pot

and maybe:
Barbecued Spiced Salmon with Chinese Mustard Sauce

Tomorrow I will do some last minute shopping and enlist my friends 13 year old daughter to help me finalize cooking before the party.

Hag sameach! Happy Hanukkah! May we all experience little miracles in these next 8 days!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Here some Friday observations that I'd like to share with regards to the holidays:

  • People are having difficulty finding their "holiday spirit" - not sure if it's due to their personal situation or the mob mentality of the financial crisis.
  • There are more decorations up in our neighborhood than in the last couple of years - I guess people are trying to "fake it" until they "make it" in regards to holiday spirit.
  • People are being more thoughtful with holidays gifts this year - they are spending the same as, or even less then, last year but are making the presents more meaningful (I know I am).
  • I am eating out less but taking opportunities to spend more time with friends - we either have dinner at someones house or do other activities (such as roller or ice skating with the kids).
  • Company Holiday parties are on a much smaller scale this year and most employees are OK with that - although what we'd really be OK with is forgetting about the holiday party and being given the afternoon off.
  • Everyone is busier than ever but I'm not sure why. Are we spending so much time worrying about the economy that we don't have much time for everything else? Then we have to scramble to get things done?

Are you guys out in the blog-o-sphere observing similar things?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Blind Side

If you haven't seen this movie, RUN TO GO SEE IT! What a great movie.

I went with a friend and her teenage daughter. We all thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story is about a boy who is all alone in the world. He gets taken in by a family who make him a part of their family. This boy has had a VERY rough life, but is thankful for every little thing that is done for him. He teaches the family that you don't have to be defined by your surroundings or the past that you have lived. You need to make the best of what you have, and not take for granted the opportunities presented to you.

It's a great teaching movie - especially for teenagers. Humility and perseverance are two big themes in this story; themes that most teenagers have trouble grasping.

In this age of "what have you done for me today" these are lessons that many of us have forgotten. Hopefully this movie will remind those who see it that there is more to life then school, work, cell phones and our own little insulated lives.

Once my monkeys get old enough to understand it, I will sit them down and watch it with them.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

CBS Cares

As much as I agree that getting Pap Smears is a great idea, please DO NOT THINK about getting this as a "present" for anyone.

Is this the worst PSA ever or what?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dark-Chocolate Souffle Cake

My friend went to dinner tonight with other friends and her daughters came over and hung out with us. Her little one (8) is best friends with my big one, and her big one (13) loves to cook and bake. We opened the The Complete Cooking Light cookbook and choose this cake to make.

Wow! It's good. Very rich and chocolaty, but quite light. My suggestion - don't let the cake cool down. East it nice and hot out of the oven!

Dark-Chocolate Souffle Cake

Cake flour is a fine-textured, soft wheat flour with a high starch content, and usually comes in a box rather than a bag. It can be found with the cake mixes at the supermarket.

Cooking spray
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon instant espresso or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2/3 cup Dutch process or unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons Kahlua (coffee-flavored liqueur)
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sifted cake flour (such as Swan's Down)
6 large egg whites (at room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 cup raspberries (optional)
Chocolate curls (optional)

Preheat oven to 300.
Coat bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, water, and espresso in a large saucepan; stir well and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; add cocoa, salt, and chocolates, stirring with a whisk until chocolate melts. Stir in Kahlua and egg yolks. Stir in flour; cool to room temperature. Set aside.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed of a mixer until foamy. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one-fourth of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; repeat procedure with remaining egg white mixture, one-fourth at a time. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake at 300 for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Remove sides from pan; sift powdered sugar over cake. Garnish with raspberries and chocolate curls, if desired.

Note: A substitution of 1/4 cup all-purpose flour may be used in place of 1/3 cup cake flour.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

CALORIES 205 (27% from fat); FAT 6.1g (satfat 3.2g, monofat 1.9g, polyfat 0.4g); PROTEIN 5g; CARBOHYDRATE 34.2g; FIBER 0.2g; CHOLESTEROL 55mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 91mg; CALCIUM 31mg;

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good For Her

When the Tiger Woods story came out recently, a friend of mine wrote an interesting status update on her Facebook.

It said: "it's seldom the husband spills the beans. It's usually the freak who disregarded the ring on your finger and now thinks you owe it to her to leave your wife and kids. Cheat on your wife=cheat on your kids. Buy a blow up doll next time."

I agree with her 100%. That being said, Tiger is TRULY going to pay for his "MISTAKES":

The Daily Beast says that Tiger is not only trying to put a little hush money under Rachel's pillow, but he's also waving cash in front of his wife's eyes to get her to stay. According to them, Elin's current prenup states that she will get $20 million after 10 years of marriage. But since Tiger's dick has jumped into someone else's vagina, Elin wants the prenup to be rewritten.

The source claims that Tiger is willing to add $55 million to the prenup. Also, if Elin agrees to stay, Tiger will immediately transfer $5 million into her personal account. So if Elin signs a nondisclosure and plays the perfect wife and mother for the next 7 years, she will be able to skip away from the marriage with $80 million in her pocket.

Tiger's advisers have told him to do whatever it takes to save his marriage so that his sponsors won't dump him too.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I hate being sick :( I feel as though I am wasting time when I am sick. I stayed home from work today and ended up taking a 4 hour nap in the morning. Thankfully I woke up feeling a bit better. The only worthwhile thing I did all day was watch a Top chef marathon so now I an all caught up going in to the finale ;)

I am definitely going back to work tomorrow. I guess I am just a really big baby about being sick - I just don't feel I have time for it.

My big monkey, on the other hand, after coughing most of the might, woke up today all full of smiles and energy! What a trooper!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I am laying here in my bed, nose fully stuffy and throat feeling like shards of glass have invaded, and all i can do is think about my big monkey in her bedroom coughing while sleeping :(

Being a mom is the best thing in the world, but it sucks when they're sick or you're sick. One of the great things about my monkey is that she will wake up tomorrow and WANT TO go to school. I don't know if I will let her (it will depend on how she feels tomorrow) but I LOVE the fact that she doesn't ever want to miss a day.