Week 2 of strict Jain diet

I feel fine, not hungry or week. It is interesting to look at restaurant commercials on TV and realize there’s nothing there for you to eat. About 2 weeks ago I finally adopted a strict Jain diet. So, in addition to eschewing meat and fish I also avoid milk, cheese, eggs, root vegetables, mushrooms, etc. That pretty much almost makes me a fruitarian. That means no more fish and chips, no more French fries, no more mac & cheese, no brie, no yogurt, no quiche, no fried rice if it contains egg, onions or carrots, no pizza. At least there’s still spaghetti and tomato sauce. Interestingly, some Jains also give up red foodstuffs like tomatoes and watermelons. All this strictness makes food shopping an interesting experience. When I go to a supermarket, which I hate anyway because they’re loud and crowded, I skip aisle after aisle of stuff I don’t eat. Pretty cool. That kind of limits me to the fruit and granola bars sections. So far I think I’m handling it well. It’ll probably make me go down to my high school weight in a few months, I hope.

Christmas In Chinatown

Yes, it is. In all it’s glory. I promised I’d go out to get some food from a Chinatown restaurant but I didn’t think I’d dine in. I did. I stopped in at a seafood joint called Ocean City Restaurant and had a shrimp with lobster sauce. I was very disappointed. The shrimp was fine. It was nice and fresh but the sauce left a lot to be desired. It was flooded with onions. Yuck. All those onions did was overwhelm the subtle lobster taste. The broth was also slightly brown because of the added eggs. Lobster sauce, like clam sauce, should be creamy white. Not as white as clam chowder, but along those lines. I didn’t realize I’d run into so many different versions of lobster sauce. At Pandasia, they overwhelm the sauce by adding mushrooms. At Kau Kau BBQ the shrimp tasted old and rubbery. The best shrimp with lobster sauce I had was from an eatery on Jackson Street in Chinatown but it’s been closed for years. Still, it was nice to get out today even with this infection in my left eye. There was a fire in Chinatown so parts of King Street was closed off. I noticed Seattle also added Chinese names to the English street signs in Chinatown. Very fancy.

Rice and beans

arroz com feijaoBoys and girls, this entry is entitled rice and beans. Porque? Every month I try something new culinary-wise. This month my diet will consist mainly of beans and rice. At the beginning of the month I bought 50 assorted cans of beans – white beans, southern bbq pit grillin’ beans, chili beans, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, etc. They will all be served with white rice. This month was originally going to be an exotic meats month but I didn’t feel like dragging my carcass up to the Asian market. If I do get in the mood for chicken feet or pig brains the store’s always there. In two days I have to drive down to Federal Way to meet with the Housing and Special Needs people to see if they can pay my rent. If they do, that’ll help a lot. There’s also a Popeye’s down there. I’ll get some of their rice and beans. The reason I love rice and beans is because of Popeye’s. Years ago, when I use to be starving in Hollywood, I had about $1.75 on me and went into a Popeye’s. Since I couldn’t afford any of their chicken meals, I just bought a side of rice and beans. Boy, was it delicious. I’ve been looking for that flavor ever since. The secret ingredient is hamhocks or bacon drippings.

In other news, I returned by Comcast cable box this morning. I decided to just make do with the 9 HD channels I receive over the air. It’s good enough for what I watch – the news, The Big Bang Theory and the occasional Seahawks game. I also had Comcast reduce my bandwidth. To tell you the truth, I don’t notice the difference at all.

Chapulines

chapulines-sabores-ingredientesHave you ever heard of ’em? Me, neither. As it turns out, two Mexican restaurants right here in Sunny Seattle sell ’em, La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard and Poquito’s on Capitol Hill. In Ballard, they cost $4; on Capitol Hill, $2. What are they? Why, I’m talking about roasted grasshoppers, of course. They’re supposed to have a nutty flavor. Since parking is easier in Ballard, I’ll probably give the chapulines there a looksee. How bad can they be, right?

Ballard Food Bank

toro tomato with macaroniToday was a good day. No complaints. This is the first time I’d went to the pantry on a Saturday. The line went fairly quickly. They had a good selection of food, too. The vegetable collection was a little questionable, though. Some of the potatoes were iffy (quite a few had sprouted already), and a large number of tomatoes were squished. They only had one cabbage and one cauliflower left so I took those. I stayed away from the onions because they looked like they fell off the back of the truck and got ran over by passing cars. They did have a can of Gooseberries which I took. I’d never heard of that until now, but being the adventurer, I thought I’d give it a looksee. You can always count on the food bank for having foods I’d never heard of or tried before, like Toro Tomatsuppe mit macaroni. All in all, pretty good shopping.

Seattle Cuisine

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Midday in Seattle

I grew up dirt poor. No shoes, no socks on my feet. My siblings and I lived hand to mouth – no exceptions. When one starved, everyone starved. Fast forward to today. I’m not even close to well off. I’ve had my share of triumphs and disappointments marked by a life of abysmal depression and suicidal ideation. Sometimes you need a reason to live. For some it’s their children, others their profession. Passions come and go. One that has stayed the longest with me is food. No, I never wanted to become a chef although I did work for two and a half years at two different McDonald’s and waited at a creole restaurant in NY called Carolina’s of Woodstock. I’m a foodie and I enjoy fine dining. There are a few places in Seattle I’ve yet to sample – Canlis on Aurora, El Gaucho of Belltown, Spur Gastropub downtown, Toulouse Petit in Queen Anne and Palisade right here in Magnolia. I probably shouldn’t leave out Ray’s Boathouse or The Walrus & the Carpenter, both of which are in Ballard, my favorite city. I’ve already eaten at McCormick’s and Schmick’s on 1st Ave. so I consider that an achievement. Of course, the problem with me is I don’t dare dine alone. I’d feel like a heel or a fool. I already do it at some of my favorite watering holes but I’d be pushing my luck in one of these luxurious places. Still, I’m driven. I’m not gainfully employed at the moment so I can’t do it, but once the paychecks start rolling in, I will amass the nerves to order takeout from these places. I don’t want to miss out because I’m broke. Fine dining is a luxury and a measure of success. Just give me time. I’ll bounce back.

Fisherman’s Terminal

One of my favorite places to relax and get some grub is Fisherman’s Terminal in Ballard. I went there the other day and took these pictures. There was a cloudy overcast with intermittent periods where the sunlight broke through the clouds.

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Ballard Food Pantry

Now that I have a car, I can visit the pantry every week if possible. I couldn’t visit before because I’d have to walk some pretty good distances with heavy groceries and I don’t have a cart. It was crowded when I got there today. I also noticed they are now open four days a week instead of three. If that’s a harbinger of how our economy has weakened, that’s not a good sign. I’ve belonged to the pantry for about six years. In that time I’ve received food I normally wouldn’t buy, like sandwich wraps from Trader Joe’s or vegetables I’d typically ignore in supermarkets. These would include asparagus, eggplants, artichokes, squash, parsnips and turnips. With all the unfamiliar vegetables I’ve had to look online for recipes. Cooking all of them has been a breeze because boiling seemed to be the preparation of choice. It’s the same thing when I get my hands on Asian vegetables like pak choy, daikon or lotus root. Boiling is the way to go.

Roadkill restaurant

Roadkill Cafe

Roadkill Cafe

When I lived briefly in Nashville, I was homeless for a while. One of my coworkers at Walmart said I could stay in his one bedroom apartment with him. I was a little skeptical (Okay, a lot skeptical) but I did anyway for a few days. He kept his place so hot you could fry eggs on the living room table. It was actually near impossible to sleep there so I didn’t last there too long, maybe 2-3 days for the most. What was interesting was that he had a plastic bucket in his refrigerator with roasted raccoon meat. I asked him where he’d gotten it. “I caught it myself,” he replied. “What?” I asked. “You set a trap?” “Yeah,” he answered. “They’re pretty slow and easy to snag.” He offered to heat up a piece for me but I refused. He was insulted. “It’s good eating!” he extolled. “I don’t deny that,” I admitted, “but I’m not hungry right now.” Truth be told, roadkill registers with me right alongside stewed mealworm and fried grasshopper. I know in Louisiana they love them some fried nutria, squirrel, rattlesnake, possum, badger, hedgehog and hare. Like an old friend of mine used to say, fricassee that fucker and you’ll eat nice. I don’t know. Maybe I challenge myself too much but life is short. You only live once. If other people can get into roasted beaver, I guess I can, too.