Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ben & Jerry's Freebie

OK, don't hate me. Today is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's. I wait for this all year long, so I had to share.

You might want to double check their hours if you plan on going around opening or closing time because our local store tends to close early on this specific day. I was very annoyed at this time about 2 years ago. I was *pregnant* annoyed!!

Anywho, enjoy!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

What's for Breakfast?

A Dutch study found that people who skipped breakfast were more than twice as likely to be overweight, even if the breakfast eaters consumed more net calories. Isn't the logic of that frustrating? You think you're reducing your caloric intake, thereby increasing your potential of slimming down, but you're actually just shooting yourself in the foot.

This article goes a step further and points out the good, the bad, and the ugly about what you're having for breakfast. Less sugar and more protein are guidelines in keeping you satisfied longer, thus preventing mid-morning binges. Muffin, anyone?

I tend to wake up hungry these days. Well, I tend to be hungry most of the time these days. But I digress. Regardless of what I eat, I always have a cup of *coffee* made with instant decaf and soy milk (instead of water). MetaDaddy thinks instant and decaf in the same sentence with coffee are vile concepts. But me? I was raised on a pinch of instant coffee mixed with hot (not boiling) milk and a touch of sugar...so this is comfort food. It took a while to get used to the soy milk, but I had to because I had to reduce my dairy consumption while I nursed MetaToddler. Now, besides milk feeling much heavier in my "coffee" than it used to, it doesn't always sit well in my tummy, so I'm back to soy.

As for the food part of my breakfast, cereal tends to last me long enough to get around to making my real breakfast. Hence, it's rare that I even bother. Toast will only do if it's slathered in cream cheese or some nice cheese. Though it's likely accompanied by a small bowl of plain yogurt with my favorite granola. Oatmeal sounds fine, but there isn't enough protein for me and it's very slow to eat, which is tough when I have to run after you know who. Besides, it makes me gag these days. If I'm really hungry, my go to breakfast is quick and easy: two fried eggs and toast (MetaToddler's favorite). And whatever I eat, MetaToddler must eat or he gets cranky. He must get that from his daddy ;-)

MetaToddler tends to have a decent-sized breakfast himself. We still feed him baby cereal, but we mix it with prune juice and water to keep him *moving*. I can count on my hand the number of times he's been constipated, so this has been a great trick taught to us by our pediatrician. He also eats most (or all) of a banana, as well as a mix of other fruits (e.g., strawberry, blueberry, organge, sapote) that are in season at the farmers' market. Then, he moves on to nibbling my breakfast, whatever that may be. Then there's the mid-morning snack, but that's another story.

Overall, though, I agree that the most successful breakfasts are high in protein. The article does point out that some people need more protein than others, which is interesting. Find out what works for you instead of looking to compare your diet to others, pound for pound.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

MetaToddler Update

An occasional update on the fun, silly, and ridiculous things the resident toddler has been up to.

I unwrapped something with plastic in the kitchen while MetaToddler was watching Blue's Clues. He obviously heard me and ran over saying "cheese, cheese!" So, I told him to go back and I promised I would bring him some. Happy toddler obliged.

We had pie one day, and asked him "can you say pie?" He did, and really well. The one thing is that it's really high pitched. He sounds like Cartman when he's trying to get something (e.g., "Mom, can I have some pie?"). So, I wear my Pie Chart t-shirt and say "what's this" all day. He now thinks my chest is called "pie."

He's become a real mimic. I didn't know how much I sighed in any given day until he started mimicking me. He also follows our lead on random things like:
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • wiping things down (awesome...he helps me clean!!)
  • lying down and napping (good way to get him to relax)
  • random words (not all, but some random sounds)
He's learning his colors with MetaDaddy. He knows a few, unless he's tired. Then, he just randomly points at objects. "Where's the yellow one?" Points at everything until something turns out to be yellow. In other words, "Daddy, just put me to bed. I'm tired!!"

He says "ta da" with a flourish. That one's all me. We practiced one night, he got it down, and he's been doing it ever since. Tee hee.

If you say "dance" when he's in the tub, he starts kicking his feet and splashing water everywhere. He usually follows that with "ta da."

Every time someone applauds (e.g., in person, radio, television), he starts maniacally applauding.

He says some words with a funny accent. He says "bear" like he's from Boston and "bye" like a southern bell. Everything else that starts with a "b" is for the most part "be" or "ba."

He starts running around signing phone whenever the phone rings. He seriously loves the phone.

Per MetaToddler, a few words:
The cow says: "mmm"
The cat says: "meee"
The sheep says: "baaaa"
The dog says: "mm mm"
The duck says: "tip tee"
The bear says: "ra"
The plane says" "eeee" (while signing plane)
The car/bus says: "beep beep"

OK. So I was typing at the laptop, which I place at the dining room table. After some research, I was finally ready to make one of the many phone calls to our insurance company. That's always fun, isn't it? Well, I needed some motivation, so I got a wee bit of chocolate (only dark would do at that moment). I have a bit, then I place the call. As I'm getting into it, the voice recognition software stops working because of the "look at me, look at me" toddler at my knees. So I quickly nip into the bathroom so the thing can hear me, then I come back out. I wasn't in there a minute, and when I came out I was on hold. Perfect. Guess who I find typing away at my computer with brown oozing out of his mouth? Fortunately, I hadn't left much chocolate on the table, but whatever was there, he inhaled it in one bite. The results:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Are Mac Users Fantabulous?

We eat organic food whenever possible, BUT I don't whiten my teeth, drive a hybrid, and drink Starbucks coffee. That said, I apparently think I'm more extraordinary than Joe, whomever he is.
"According to a new marketing study, if you own a Mac, you might want to slap yourself. Mindset Media surveyed 7,500 computer users in 20 different personality traits, such as self-esteem, pragmatism and modesty. They found that Mac owners pretty much personify the Mac guy from the commercials."
And what about that Mac guy from the ads?
"The character of the Mac guy is almost too perfectly cast. He is smug. He is condescending. He's just that uber-hipster you love to hate. It just makes you want to slap him."
LOL...OK, if you say so.

Those Mac users think they're so cool

Thursday, April 24, 2008

LA Times Festival of Books

If you're looking for something fun to do in Los Angeles this weekend, look no further than UCLA. They're hosting the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Seriously, there's something there for everyone. Food, books, music, sunshine, picnics, speakers.

Parking's painful at $8, but admission is free. Besides, it's a nice day out :-)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Toxins in Our Environment Hurting Pets?

We all love our pets. I know we do! But unlike safety tests conducted on items for human use and consumption (e.g., food, toys), no such tests are conducted for pet products.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is concerned about all things toxic in our environment (heard of BPA?), is now worried about pets.
"In the first study of its kind, Environmental Working Group found that American pets are polluted with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns."
It goes on to conclude:
"The body burden testing conducted in this investigation is the most expansive ever published for companion animals. The study indicates that cats and dogs are exposed to complex mixtures of industrial chemicals, often at levels far in excess of those found in people. Our pets well may be serving as sentinels for our own health, as they breathe in, ingest or absorb the same chemicals that are in our environments. Exposures that pose risks for pets pose risks for human health as well."
Too vague? How about this. Dogs and cats have high levels of Teflon chemicals (e.g., non-stick coating), toxins found in plastic toys and medicines, and fire retardants, which *may* cause a variety of health risks and diseases. How these toxins affect our pets might predict how they affect humans.

Scary stuff for us and our pets.

The EWG will be sending out email updates. Sign up here if you're interested.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Around the Internet

Busy being green, are ya? Well, here are a few more things to add to your Earth Day.

Battle of the Bags: Paper vs. Plastic - An interesting video that compares the two, leaving me to question which is indeed worse for the environment. Paper consumes a lot of resources, and is a much bigger polluter, but it's much more recycled than plastic. 1-5% of all plastic bags gets recycled because it's difficult for recycling facilities to process the bags in their machines. All the more reason to ban the bag, methinks!!

Online Ridesharing Community - Like a dating service, this online service allows you to hook up with others looking to rideshare.

Greenprint - Reduce the amount of wasted paper when printing with this free software. It seeks out and removes things like banner ads and lonely URLS on that last page. I hate that page! Unfortunately, it's only compatible with PCs. Poor Macs :-(

Gadget Recycling Programs: Turn Your e-waste to $$$ - A great listing of programs available to consumers who'd like to recycle old tech gadgets (e.g., iPods, computers, cell phones), for free or at a nice money-back rates. Mmm...money back.

Shred Less - A good reminder to shred all important information, but nothing more. Shredded paper is less recyclable, so rip off and shred the part of the page with your name/address, and recycle the rest. I've been doing that, and honestly, it's no more effort. Oh, and don't forget to recycle the windowed envelopes, too.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reducing Junk Mail...Again

I've tried a couple of different methods to reduce our junk mail. In November, we started getting an obscene number of catalogs, most of which were unknown to us. Here's what I've done so far.
  1. I signed up to Catalog Choice. It's actually pretty useful because not only can you select the catalog you want to stop receiving from their list, but you can then follow the progress of the cancellation. For example, I declined Sensational Beginnings, and I can go into "my choices" from the left sidebar and scroll down to my selection. There I can see the day I entered it in Catalog Choice, and the status of the request. In this case, it has been confirmed. I haven't received any more, and I shouldn't in the future. If I do, I can select "still receiving?" for that catalog and go from there. Other status items are: customer number required, processing, delivered, unconfirmed, refused.

  2. I called the companies individually and kept a detailed spreadsheet with information such as company, phone, date called, customer number, catalog code, and the name the catalog was sent to. If I have to call again for any reason, all of this information is required, and they can be picky about it. For example, if you don't know the exact name the catalog was sent to, they probably won't be able to stop the catalogs. Overall, it's annoying and tedious, but I have definitely stopped seeing the catalogs I've called about.
Overall, both methods are effective, although using Catalog Choice is much, much, much less stressful and time consuming. Another nice benefit is you can go online and cancel at any time of the day, but you're much more restricted in you're actually making the phone call. Of course, there are mailing lists that I'd prefer not to be on that can't be addressed by Catalog Choice, so I still find myself calling every now and then. These include things like unwanted credit card offers and other random mailings.

On a similar note, I recently found out about how to get off of the Value Pak mailing list. Since we never use any of the enclosed coupons, they find their way right into the recycle pile. It'd be even nicer if they never showed up in the first place. So I'll make a note of my mailing information and see about putting a stop to this one next time.

Ooo...so exciting!!

Other services/references:
Green Dimes
New Dream

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Discounts on Shopping

It feels like there are some good discounts these days. More often, and occasionally impressive.

Just some random selections:

Restoration Hardware - Thru April 30, 2008, purchase $750 in stuff (excluding tax and shipping) from the store, catalog or online, and get $100 off using code HEMAP804.

JC Penney - Thru April 30, 2008, get 15% off using code APRLJCPC, with no minimum.

Banana Republic - I love getting staples at Banana. You can get a pair of nice, flattering black pants that are great for work or going out. They're not cheap, but they last and look good. If you can get their stuff at a discount, it's a great time to buy a great staple or stock up. Personally, I think the economy's hitting them hard. These days, it feels like they have a big sale every weekend. It was a bit hush, hush for a while (I'd only hear about a sale when a sales person in the store told me "did you know everything's 20% off this weekend?"), but they're getting a bit more obvious. April 16 thru April 20, 2008, use the coupon at the above link at get $20 off of $100, $15 off of $150, and $50 off of $200 both online and in the store.

American Eagle - They primarily carry young-looking stuff, but some of it's great for everyday casual wear. MetaDaddy gets shorts and shirts, and I've gotten some groovy tops. They even have some good early maternity stuff (e.g., elastic empire waist). And now, it's all an additional 15% off with the above coupon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

You Put the Lime in the Coconut?


Now Let Me Get This Straight

Hormone Guide for Men

For pregnant women, change all references of wine to chocolate or cake...OOO...or chocolate cake!!

Don't cha love Fridays?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Geico Guidos

I used to work with a few guys from New Jersey, so this just really hit home for me. Hi-Larious!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Word of the Day: Pin Money

I subscribe to a Dictionary.com "Word of the Day." I think I'm hoping it makes me smarter. It's um...not really working.


The Word of the Day from April 14th was Pin Money.
  1. An allowance of money given by a husband to his wife for private and personal expenditures.
  2. Money for incidental expenses.
  3. A trivial sum.
Humph!! As if!!!

Funny enough. If you do a search for that same phrase on Dictionary.com, it returns the following:
  1. any small sum set aside for nonessential minor expenditures.
  2. (formerly) an allowance of money given by a husband to his wife for her personal expenditures.
That's right. FORMERLY. Uh huh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April is National Grilled Cheese Month

Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese month? Easy enough to confuse with an April Fool's gag since it starts on the first of April, but it's true! A month in which local restaurants get cheesy, if you will.

Clementine, a restaurant in Century City, has started a campaign. Go, try their sammiches, and vote for your favorite. Or as they say, "Melt the Vote." The ballots are no joke, either. Per L.A. Eater,
"They've copied a voter's sample ballot and in painstakingly great detail changed all the graphics, instructions (in multiple languages), measures, confusing explanations, amendments and bill of rights to reference grilled cheese and other cheesisms."
If that's not dedication to cheese, I simple don't know what is. Now if I can only find the time to make it over this week to try out the Chorizo con Queso (Spanish dry-cured sausage with havarti and pickled jalapenos on country white bread).

In related news, the National Grilled Cheese Invitational is April 19th from 5-9:00 PM. It's somewhere in Los Angeles, but the location has yet to be announced. Ooo...exciting!!

So, check out local cheese listings for events in your area. If you don't find any, start one! You'll be the biggest cheese on the block ;-)

Stuff I love: MD Skincare

Generally speaking, there are very few beauty products or regimens I have the time or patience for. I don't like the touchy feely aspect of facials. I'm not one to wear makeup, so it's kept to a minimum. I've had friends ask if I wear make-up at all. Indignantly, I always answer "yes,"though I do begrudgingly admit to having quite a light hand. The thing is, I have oily skin, so historically I've avoided makeup to avoid breakouts. Besides that, I have big eyes, so I don't see the need to add attention with eyeliner and such. As a result, the only thing I know to do with an eyeliner pencil is write notes on paper.

Yes, it's all wasted on me.

However, because I've struggled with my complexion and breakouts over the years, I know most products don't work. And I hate wasting my time and money on empty promises. I did find one that I really liked though. MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel. I swear it was well more effective than a pricey facial, with much less time and money committed. It's a bit pricey, so I tend to only use it if I have some sort of "gotta look good" commitment coming up, or if I really feel I need a pick me up, but I think it's a great rescue treat. Of course I could use a rescue treat these days, but I won't until after August. Le sigh.

Nice gift to someone. Or to yourself for that matter. And it's currently on sale with Hydra-Pure Redness Soothing Serum, which I can't vouch for because I've never used it. The regular price for the Face Peel is $75, but the MD Skincare website has both for $85. You can also get 25% off from Daily Candy if you use code MDCANDY08 at checkout. That said, it's also available at department stores, so have your pick.

I know I sound like an ad, but I wasn't paid for this. I just really like the results of the product, and I was reminded in hearing about their sale.

And if you're into that whole thing, they also currently have a discount code for Stila products (free shipping using code STILACANDY).

After all Mother's Day is just around the corner ;-)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Around the Internet

ABC news video on helping kids sleep: Parents Prolong Problem Sleepers - It turns out that it's really important to teach babies to fall asleep on their own because it impacts their sleeping habits as adults, too. It makes sense, doesn't it? From what I've learned, everyone occasionally wakes a little in the middle of the night, so it's not unusual that a baby does it. But if he can sooth himself back into sleep instead of relying on his parents, he's better off...heck, everyone is! Personally, MetaToddler's ability to self-sooth has been crucial in his tendency to sleep through the night, and we consider ourselves tremendously lucky. Especially after those first few (um...6? 9? 12?) brutal months.

Fat isn't flavor - A clever commentary negating the common phrase "fat is flavor." There are a lot of wonderful, beautiful, delicious flavors that make for mouth-watering treats. Do they replace fat? No. Does fat replace them? Duh. No.

Santa Monica to ban the bag - Santa Monica's all abuzz with the the progress to ban the one-use plastic bag and biodegradable plastic-like bags. Paper bags would still be allowed, but ideas are being thrown around to reduce their use (e.g., a small fee). A halt in the waste of the bags at supermarkets and farmers' markets alone would be a huge improvement, so I'm really looking forward to see this pass.

First Puzzles via Dooce - Oh, I so have to get these. How cute is the Peter Rabbit one!?! Um, for MetaToddler, of course ;-)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cell Phone Camera's "Ah-Ha" Uses

Having a good camera on your cell phone is a great way to take an impromptu, if mediocre, shot of a moment. After all, we don't always have our cameras. But there are some other camera uses that are handy. A friend and I were hashing out some these. I think he was inspired by Japanese technology.

Here's what we came up with.
  • Take a picture of an item in a store, which includes the price. Go home, research the item and price. Is there a better item on the market? Is that Costco price better than Amazon? Easier and quicker than writing everything down.

  • Take a photo of a specific item you need to get at the store. For example, that bottle of wine you really liked, or that ice cream that you'd better get right this time, or else!!

  • Similarly, if you remember something after your S.O. left for the store, take a picture and send it.

  • If you're going to a busy place with your child, take a picture of him/her before you set out. That way if the unimaginable happens, you not only have a recent picture, but you have a description of what s/he is wearing.

  • Take pictures of your family members (or pets, toys, trains, planes, etc.) so you can show your kid when he's bored. If you're in a line (or on a plane) with your antsy little one, this might really, really, really come in handy. It might also help him get to know family members s/he doesn't get to see often.

  • Take a picture of your rental car so you remember which one is yours.

  • Take a picture of where you parked your car, which includes the floor and/or area number, so you can find it again. For that matter, take a shot of your hotel room number. Though avoid carrying anything that identifies your hotel just in case you lose your card key & phone.

  • Maybe you're out and you want to see if you have spinach in your teeth, or check your hair, but there's no mirror around. Take a picture of yourself and check that gleeming smile beaming back at you.

  • Take a photo of notes (e.g., chalkboard or whiteboard). Great for instant recall on meetings.

  • Similarly, I've taken a picture of a flier on a bulletin board. Easier than any alternatives when toting a toddler.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Movie: Young At Heart, Once

Here's a cute-looking movie. Young At Heart tagline:
Prepare to be entertained by this New England senior citizens chorus that has delighted audiences worldwide with their covers of songs by everyone from The Clash to Coldplay.
The trailer


We finally, finally, finally saw Once, and it was really cute. Just a sweet movie to watch. Needless to say, we loved the soundtrack.

The trailer

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

No Entertainment Book This Year

At full price, I don't find the Entertainment Book to be enough of a value to purchase. I just don't use enough coupons for it to pay for itself. That said, last year I bought it in April or so, and found that it more than paid for itself with the coupons we ended up using.

So when I saw that the price was $15 (including shipping), I considered it again. But to be sure, I checked the coupons in my area. Honestly, the ones I might use (e.g., Baja Fresh) aren't in there this year, so it's really not worth it this time.

If you're considering buying one, make sure to check the coupons available in your area this year. They do change from year to year, and you may find the changes don't suit your wallet.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Around the Internet

Culinary Confessions - A commenter's sin: A lollipop. A glob of peanut butter with chocolate chips sprinkled on top for that "peanut butter cup" effect. Awesome.

Can’t Grasp Credit Crisis? Join the Club via My Open Wallet - A good summary of why credit is hard to come by these days even though you have steady income, great credit, and money in the bank.

Iconic Photographs Recreated in Lego - Precious? Disturbing? All of the above?

Summer Soles via Daily Candy - Cuz women don't sweat, we glow.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Kid Gift: Cookware Set

If you're looking for a kitchen-like gift for a kid, this is a great price on a 14 piece stainless steel cookware set by Kool Toyz at Target. We don't have it, so I can't tell you about it, but it's only $5.

It's available online and in stores, but he site says "Prices, promotions, styles and availability may vary by store and online."

Via Deal Catcher

Friday, April 4, 2008

MetaToddler's Hair

Sooooo, he was looking pretty slummy when we decided it was time for his first haircut. I was scared. Real scared. I imaged tears and screaming and running and eyes getting poked out by sharp scissors. But then I read about Mama Geek's experience, and I was consoled. Maybe it's not so bad after all...? It was either that or live my days knowing I've allowed my child to sport a chullet (child mullet).

I mean, this is where he started, for crying out loud! And you can't see it, but from being in his sit 'n' stroll for so many hours on the flight to and from Ireland, he had a nasty knot in the back of his hair that was IM-POSSIBLE to get out.

BTW, if you're wondering about the face, he's eating a banana. For some reason, he can't take dainty bites of food. Food, in his humble opinion, is meant to be stuffed into one's mouth all at once. This is especially true of bananas. Give him half a banana, he will likely try to get it down in "two bites."

But I digress. We braved our local kid's hairdresser in January. She was very tolerant and quick. I'm talking in and out in 10 minutes. Why can't all hairdressers be that effective? Sure, his front was slightly crooked, but I didn't notice until we washed his hair that night because she put a small amount of product into his hair. Maybe she knew? Who cares...he didn't cry once! All that worrying over nothing. It probably helped that we went when the place was empty, so there were no other distractions to tempt him. I looked for a good "after" shot, but I just couldn't find one. Suffice it to say, I was pleased that for $10, we got a quick cut with little fuss, and I could finally look at him without wanting to apply mom spit or something.

One thing made me gasp. She said the dreaded words "my, he has a lot of hair." Oh, the curse lives on.

Two months later and his hair was starting to get long again. And as Easter and our trip to Boston approached, I figured it was a good time to get a second cut.

Ah, how foolish I was.

I naively went at a different time than we did before. It was much, much busier, but I persisted. The wait was only 5 minutes, after all. He drew on paper with crayons, eyed the coin-operated car, and practiced getting in and out of chairs. When we were called, I sat down and put him in my lap like before. I didn't bother with a smock because I realized that first time that (1) it blocked my arms and (2) his hair is so fine it just blows right off. Hardly a need for shielding myself, I say. I did, however, put a smock on him just to avoid the worst of the mess.

He went ballistic. The hairdresser and someone else did all sorts of things to get him through it. In the end, stuffing a couple of cookies in his mouth did the trick, but she was on a strict time line because he eats fast. She did a pretty good job...straighter lines than the first person. He even allowed for the buzzing of the baby sideburns, but he drew the line when she tried to blow off the excess hair with a blow drier. That should have been an obvious one, though.

But overall, Oy! I don't know if I'll be quick to take him back. Chullets aren't that bad, right?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Recipe: Buttermilk-Rhubarb Coffee Cake

I've got that moody, broody thing going on these days. I don't know why, so I'll just chalk it up to hormones. I only have 9 months to blame hormones. I'm taking full advantage.

On that note, a breakfast/dessert on Amazon (scroll down) to appease the beast (i.e., me).

I did the rhubarb variation, and it's delicious!! I baked it for the full 40 minutes in a 9-inch pan (I didn't have an 8-inch), sans nuts, and it's moist and tender. I also substituted nutmeg for cinnamon in the topping because MetaDaddy doesn't care for cinnamon in his baked goods (we all have our personal ticks ;-). If you can't get rhubarb, take a look at the original classic buttermilk coffee cake recipe and other variations.

Buttermilk-Rhubarb Coffee Cake
By Mollie Katzen

2 cups chopped rhubarb (1/4-inch pieces)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (unwrap & place directly in bowl ahead of time)
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for a glass pan). Lightly spray an 8-inch round or square pan with nonstick spray.

Before making the batter, toss the rhubarb, 2 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon flour in a bowl. Let the mixture stand while you prepare the batter.

In a large bowl, beat the butter for several minutes with an electric mixer at high speed. Add the sugar and beat for several minutes longer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in the vanilla.

In a second bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, slowly mixing them together with a whisk.

Add the dry ingredients in three installments to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry). After each addition, mix from the bottom of the bowl--just enough to blend--with a spoon or a rubber spatula. Don't overmix. Fold the rhubarb mixture in with the last installment of dry ingredients.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly into place. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon (and optional nuts), and sprinkle this on top before baking.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick or sharp knife inserted all the way into the center comes out clean. Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Makes one 8-inch round or square cake (about 6 or 7 servings).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Santa Monica Farmers' Market Feud

The Santa Monica Farmers' Market has gotten really popular recently. They've gotten a lot of press (aided by Amelia Saltsman's wonderful cookbook, I'm guessing). Sometimes, there is such a thing as too much publicity. The faithful shopping of local chefs who helped bring the market to its current state of popularity are now officially miffed.

Chefs from Vegas and New York are sending buyers to pick up the best of the best in seasonal produce. And local chefs are annoyed because they no longer get top dibs. Well, welcome to my world. If I don't show up when the market opens, I miss out on nice food I'd like, too. And I look over and see trucks (yes, trucks) from local restaurants that come empty and leave full of tasty goodies. Tasty goodies I'm missing out on! I've heard some say "Is this all you have? I'll take it all," or "Can I get 50 pounds of this?"

So, spare me your boo-hoo sob story. You're gonna keep going to the market just like I keep going. Cuz having great, seasonal produce rocks. And if you're not the top banana any more, I'm sure you'll find another way to make yourself known.

Do I seem cranky? Let's chalk it up to hormones. I'll go have some ice cream now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

1970s Cooking

If this is what light and healthy food looked like in the 1970s, it's no wonder I grew up with such a negative view of it. Seriously, this thing looks vile.

As I search around for new cookbooks with vegetarian options, I was led several times to the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, originally published in 1977. I finally checked it out at the library, and was pleasantly surprised. The book is very fun, with loads of drawings, and written out by hand. It feels so personal...like someone's journal. And with outrageous recipes like pesto, vegetable walnut pate, noodle kugel, mushroom moussaka, apple-honey custard pie, it's tempting, no? The funny thing is that a lot of the recipes seem so familiar now that I'm wondering how much this recipe book has influenced those that followed.

I haven't tried any recipes yet, but it looks promising. Wish me luck :-)