Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Behind the Apron or Who's that Lady?

28 Cooks is hosting "Behind the Apron" to encourage bloggers to put a face to their URLs. Well here, above, is me. No, no, I am not delusional and think that I'm Kim Kardashian. I am the chick on the right with the clipboard. This photo was taken by a paparazzo when I worked on the set of a project that Kim starred in. This picture appeared on a certain popular gossip blog. Let me tell you, it is weird as hell having ten photographers snapping a billion pictures of you while falling over bushes and running in front of cars when you're just trying to walk from point A to point B.

And here are a few things about me you don't already know:

* If you don't like my dog, I don't like you.

* My day was made today when I realized that Season 3 of Party of Five has finally been released on DVD.

* I still have a ridiculous Midwestern accent that rival's Frances McDormand's in Fargo left over from my childhood in Metro Detroit. I also lived in North Carolina for a long time before I moved to L.A. two years ago.

* My favorite movie of all time is the 1963 animated version of Charlotte's Web.

* I've traveled a lot--Antartica and Africa are the only continents I have yet to visit--but I think L.A. might just be the best place on the planet to live and sometimes I really don't know how anyone can bear to live anywhere but Southern California.

Ok fellow bloggers--now, it's your turn!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tennis, Tofu, Two Scoops, and Tecate

I meant to spend my Saturday doing the bajillion errands I neglected to do during the week, such as fixing my tire which has been leaking air for over a month now. But of course that didn't even come close to happening. Instead I started the day with a match of doubles tennis. I chose The Food Monster as my teammate and that turned out to be an excellent decision because not only did I discover he is insanely good at tennis, but he also had a very snazzy outfit that made him look a bit like Andre Agassi but less bald. We totally dominated, no thanks to me.

After that intense game we were all starving so we headed to the new Silver Lake location of Home which turned out to be just as whimsical and delicious as the original in Los Feliz. We ordered the Avocado Mash which is just avocados mashed onto a piece of thin sourdough. T'was slightly lame for three dollars. I got the tofu scramble which is by far the best of its kind in all of L.A., with the yellow curry being the ingredient that pushes it over the edge into crazy-good territory. The most drool-inducing food at the table however was The Food Monster's Frozen Iced Peach which is a blend of peaches, ice, mango, and coconut milk. At five bucks it's a tad more expensive than your average smoothie but its huge and could practically be your whole meal. I plan on making my own at home as soon as I get to the store.

After brunch we all seemed to have the same thought on our dessert-crazy brains: Scoops, of course. I think we all felt embarrassed about suggesting it as we had just stuffed ourselves like August Gloop proteges, but one of us sort of whispered it and that was all it took--we were off to Hel-Mel for the best gelato in the land. Scoops is always amazing, but they were in rare form--I tasted practically all the vegan flavors of the day: Vanilla Jack Daniels and Avocado Alcohol were good but I ended up getting Chocolate Sunflower Seed and Almond Mocha. Annnnnd that is the beauty of Scoops--when you order a One Scoop Cup you actually get two scoops! Oh Scoops, way to do your party in the great American obesity epidemic.

We returned to the The Food Monster's casa where literally all of us proceeded to take three-hour food coma naps before our raucous poker game and subsequent Tecate-filled Wet Hot American Summer theme party that night (I dressed up as The Cure Girl). It wasn't the most productive day, unless you count excessive eating and drinking as productive. Actually that sounds pretty good to me!


2500 Riverside Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90039

712 N. Heliotrope Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Saturday, July 26, 2008

George and I Take a Walk-Away at Akasha

Production gigs are not like normal jobs where you might get an hour or so for a lunch break where you can have a Sex in the City style gabfest with your closest friends and then stop by the bank or maybe do a little shopping before heading back to the office. In the production world, lunch is either catered or ordered in and on set you get a 30 minute break and in the office you get no break at all--most people work straight through lunch, taking bites at their desks between sending e-mails. Although our little art department tries to be a little more civilized--we always gather around our ping pong table for a short, communal meal.

Some shows employ a different kind of system: the walk-away lunch. The walk-away lunch is a cruel and inhumane system and is usually seen on shows that shoot on big studio lots. A walk-away means that instead of a 30 minute break for a catered meal, you are given an hour break to go feed yourself. Here is why the practice is so repulsive:

1. A longer break may sound better than half an hour, but when your days are 12-18 hours long, you'd rather have that extra 30 minutes of sleep at the end of the day.

2. An hour is usually not long enough to go anywhere off the lot because it can take 20 minutes just to get to your car which is probably parked at the deck that's on the complete opposite end of the lot from your show's stage. This means you are stuck eating at the commissary (which vary in quality from studio to studio) or the other lame restaurants found on the lot.

3. You have to pay for it yourself!!! The horror, the horror!

Now you may be saying--but Liz, surely you could just pack your own delicious lunch. But no, that's not really an option, because after you've worked 18 hours it's hard enough to force yourself to take a shower, let alone create a satisfying meal for the next day.

Like I said, my show doesn't use the dreaded walk-away, so I don't have to fret. But on Friday, when almost everyone in the art department had to attend a production meeting at location, George and I were left to our own devices for lunch and we decided we'd go out!

Not only were we treating ourselves to a trip away from the office but we decided to go all out and splurge with lunch at Culver City's newest fine dining place: Akasha.

Akasha's shtick is serving all organic, upscale California cuisine with a lot of vegan/vegetarian options. The restaurant is truly green from the biodegradable dishwashing soap to the organic hemp uniforms on the wait staff. I ordered the Punjabi Mung Beans and Rice (hold the raita) and was glad I did as it was the best lunch I've had all season.

The dish came with a bean and rice mixture in a korma-like curry, tomato chutney (which tasted like Indian-style ketchup), local greens, and a crunchy tandoori flatbread topped with caramelized onions. I had never had mung beans before--they never sounded too appetizing--but they were great and I plan on cooking with them sometime in the near future. George also really enjoyed his meal. That is the beauty of this place--usually at fine dining restaurants, vegans are forced to create some bland salad while their friends order feasts. But at Akasha, vegans and omnivores alike can share an outstanding meal.

So today I learned that walk-aways aren't always so bad. I have a feeling George and I will be trying to take one again at least once before our season wraps.

9543 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thanks to those who make my work day go by a little faster...

This picture is here for no other reason than the fact there is really no better way to start your Saturday than with a stroll through the Silver Lake farmer's market with a cup of Fresh Iced Mint Tea from Casbah Cafe. Ok, on to business...

The very lovely Lisa at Show Me Vegan has nominated me for the Brillante Weblog award, which is very exciting because I am a huge fan of her blog and read it every day. Thanks, Lisa!

So now I have to nominate seven favorite blogs of mine and then let those bloggers know so they can "pay it forward" as Haley Joel Osment would say. Without further ado, here they are in alphabetical order:

Destiny's Vegan Kitchen: She must be the busiest chica on the planet with the amount of stuff she seems to cram into any given day, including constantly whipping up tasty vegan delicacies.

Hot Knives: Fun videos and great-looking vegan food from a pair of cute L.A. hipsters

Kirby Von Scrumptious: Kirby is my friend in real life, so I have to nominate her, or else she might cancel our friendship. Luckily, I would be a psychotic stalker-fan of her blog even if I didn't know that she is just as hilarious outside of the blogosphere as she is in it.

The Food Monster: also my friend in real life, The Food Monster is so awesome that I can even get over the ire I feel towards him when he eats ice cream five times a day and yet remains so svelte.

To Live and Eat in L.A.: the definitive L.A. vegan blog

Quarry Girl: She eats at all the same restaurants I do! What's not to love?

Vegan Visitor: Absolutely gorgeous, drool-inducing photos

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Indian restaurant's are a jolly good place for vegheads!

I have been trying to get my mom to be vegetarian for years. It makes no sense that she isn't one already--she is the one who got me into animal rights in the first place as a kid and she gives money to four different animal charities every month. I finally got through to her and she recently gave up meat (although she is still a pescatarian).

She is still getting used to having to order meatless meals in restaurants so while she was in town visiting I wanted her to see how limitless the vegetarian diet is. I had to take her to the best Indian place on my side of town: Electric Lotus. We created our own feast of Veggie Korma, Chana Masala, rice, and nan. The nan actually isn't vegan, which I'm glad our waitress warned me about, so I stuck to the rice. Everything was perfectly spiced and we left with plenty left over for lunch the next day. We also ordered some samosas which were the best I've ever had. Sometimes they can leave a bitter aftertaste, but these were a little sweeter than usual.

There aren't as many Indian options East of Vermont as there are, say, in West Hollywood, and I haven't even been able to try the other ones yet because I like EL so much I can't bear to pass it up!

Electric Lotus
1870 Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 953-0040

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Meltdown is the Soup Nazi of the West and Kevin Arnold Comes to Visit

This picture is not really appetizing, but I assure you, this Spicy Black Bean soup of the day from Meltdown Etc. was outstanding. I was expecting your typical pureed fare, but what I got was a peppery mix of veggies and beans which makes this the twentieth or so amazingly tasty soup I've had from Meltdown. I am dying for them to publish a soup cookbook. I would buy it in an instant and open up my own little stand in my kitchen where friends could come over and try everything from chowders to bisques. Meltdown really is like the Soup Nazi outpost of the west coast, although they are insanely nice there so they are more like the Soup Teddy Bear.

Perhaps the more interesting part of my day, however, was when this dude totally trespassed on stage. I was the only one down there as almost everyone was on set when I saw this guy and girl walk up to the stage. I assumed they were just passing by, but then they turned and walked right through the elephant door. They proceeded to walk right past me and into a dressing room. I just kinda sat there stupefied for a second and then followed them and asked what the hell they were doing busting on to our stage without asking! Wellllllll truth be told I just said, "hello?"

The guy then proceeds to remove his sunglasses, revealing himself to be the one and only Fred Savage a.k.a. Kevin Arnold.

It turns out, The Wonder Years was filmed on our stages and Fred was showing his girlfriend his old dressing room. Later, Stage Manager Dave showed me where the powerbox still has Fred's name on it:

Fred/Kevin was very nice--apparently he is a director on the show that shoots at the stage across from us--and said he is a big fan of our show.

So basically, Kevin Arnold gave me a compliment. Between that and my awesome lunch, Friday was a pretty sweet little day! Also, when I was looking for that pic of Kevbo, I came across this fun blog by a chick who "stalks" movie locations, and she has a picture of her in front of the Wonder Years house which is just over the hill in Burbank!

One question remains: What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Meltdown Etc.

9739 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 838-MELT

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sorry about the lack of posts lately--My mom is visiting from out of town so we've been busy--but there have been many good meals to report on. Until then, have a jolly day!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dear Green Truck, We like you. Do you like us? Check one: Yes __ No __

When our show shoots on stage, we art department folks don't bother to keep our kitchen stocked because we just graze the craft service table. So on Wednesday morning, after we had been shooting at the stage for a couple of days, the cupboards were barren. People poked around the kitchen looking for a Larabar, some cereal, or maybe even some fruit leftover from the previous week to scrounge up for breakfast. But alas, there was nothing, and would be nothing until TJs opened up at nine. Luckily, we didn't have to mope for long before Green Truck pulled up to save the day!

Since our affair with Green Truck started a couple weeks ago, the crew has always been happy to see that little eco-friendly vehicle show up, but this particular morning people were ecstatic. We had all been so hungry just moments before and now we would be satiated! See how happy our lovely Production Designer looks as he devours his breakfast, at top.

I ordered a Soyrizo Burrito which turned out to be amazing! Here it is:

The spelt tortilla was great this time--I think maybe last time it was stale--and they didn't skimp on the special sauce which made me happy. It's not even on the menu so I can't tell you for sure what was in it--but there were a lot of tasty black beans, that is for sure. Our stage manager, Dave, ordered "The Mother Trucker" which is Green Truck's veggie burger and it tasted so much like a real hamburger that I spit it out thinking that they had made a mistake, but no, it was purely vegan! For the record, Dave said it tasted nothing like real meat, so maybe I just don't remember what a real hamburger is like, not having had one for six plus years. Regardless, both Dave and I agree that it's scrumptious. Here is Dave chowing down:

And here is Greg, our Foreman and avid ¡Yo Soy! reader, getting the stare down from everybody's favorite Jack Russell, who really wants a bite of his burrito.

We were sad to see you roll up your stairs and move on to the next company with good taste, but we trust we'll see you again tomorrow, Green Truck. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tofu Salad from Metro Cafe: Really good but would be better in a compostable container

Behold this lovely salad that I devoured for lunch today. It comes to us from Metro Cafe which is yet another Culver City lunch spot with tasty sweet potato fries. When we ordered from Metro a few weeks ago, they accidentally forgot our SP fries and the owner drove them over to our stage. Yay, three cheers for Metro! But Metro uses all styrofoam take-out ware, so deduct those three cheers immediately.

This salad is tasty and super simple--just grilled tofu, orange segments, and walnuts with mixed greens and a homemade sesame-orange vinaigrette. It was the perfect light lunch--especially after having a soyrizo burrito for breakfast. But more on that later...

Metro Cafe
11188 Washington Pl.
Culver City, CA 90232

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What would I do without Hangover Hash???

Friday night we went to Akbar to dance the night away in honor of my friend Craig's 23rd b-day. Our group slowly thinned out over the course of the night as people got tired/too intoxicated and went home, but Craig and I were troopers and shook it until last call and then managed to somehow not even leave the place a full hour until after it closed.

So you can guess that Saturday was not my most pleasant as I was quite hungover. To make it worse, Craig and I realized that in our drunken stupor, we managed to somehow leave Kirby VonScrumptious' purse, which she had left at my house before we went out, in a complete stranger's car (it's a long story of which I'll spare you the details.) So we two knuckleheads spent the whole day on a wild goose chase trying to track down the missing bag. All the while, I guiltily ignored Kirby's many phone calls and avoided leaving my house so as to not run into her or anyone else who might inform her of my wherabouts. Luckily, after an agonizing eight hour search, we tracked the purse down and got it back to its lovely owner. It was a Saturday full of stress and stomach-ache, so I made my go-to post-partying meal:

Hangover Hash
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 block teriyaki tofu (I use one pack of Trader Joe's terikayi tofu), cubed
2 tbsp. teriyaki sauce (I use TJ's Soyaki--it has pineapple juice in it for some sweetness)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Organic maple flakes (optional)

Cook sweet potato cubes in boiling water until tender (about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, bell pepper, and tofu. Sautee until onions are tender, then mix in sweet potatoes and teriyaki sauce and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a sprinkling of organic maple flakes.

Makes 2 hearty portions.

Anyone else have any good hangover meals? I seem to be in need of them more often than I'd like to admit :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Overland Cafe's vegan pizza helps heal the pain

I can't do a proper post for my delish lunch from Overland Cafe because my typing fingers were involved in a traumatic injury today. I was pouring water for my daily Gypsy Chai tea when I got distracted by the construction department's convo about Curb Your Enthusiasm (they were impersonating Crazy Eyez Killah which is one of my fave episodes!) and I poured the boiling water all over my hand. So here I type, in utter agony, a brief description of my vegan pie: Overland Cafe's "Cheese-less Grilled Veggie Pizza." Chewy crust. Zesty tomato sauce. Super flavorful grilled eggplant, zucchini, and spinach. Three cheers to Overland for having unique vegan options!!!

Overland Cafe
3601 Overland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Courtship of Green Truck and the Art Department

I think Green Truck has a crush on us. I started to suspect it last week when the restaurant-on-wheels started courting us like one teenager asking another to prom. Every day they would park their big green vehicle right outside the elephant door at our stage and a staff member would appear upstairs in our little art department to suggest we order lunch from them. Finally, on Monday of this week, we decided to give in, but when we called to place our order, we were informed that they aren't open on Mondays. Why then, did a Green Truck guy come tell us that very morning that they were? Oh Green Truck, I thought we were past all the game-playing days of our youth!

Now we were intrigued. Seems hard-to-catch is actually an effective ploy. We had better luck today when I ordered the breakfast burrito which was filled with a scramble of tofu, broccoli, onion, and spinach. (Breakfast for lunch!--I know, I'm so scandalous). According to the menu, there were supposed to be black beans as well but alas, they were missing. The meal really could have used them too, but it was still tasty without. The tortilla was a flour-less one, which is sort of boggling to think about. It tasted just like a regular tortilla but it broke apart very easily. When it was all said and done, the burrito was more of a tofu scramble with tortilla bits in it, than something you could eat out of your hands. The wrap also had a light slather of a very good bbq-esque sauce which was almost tangy enough to rival Pure Luck's. We also ordered hummus which had a weird gritty texture which would have been okay had it not also been completely devoid of any flavor.

This post makes it sound like I didn't like my food, but I did, I did! There were just some flaws. But we can overlook a few things. Especially when the setbacks are made up for with other good character traits such as Green Truck's commitment to sustainability. After all, we don't need a Mr. Right, just a Mr. Right Now. So Green Truck, I'll give you another chance. Let's go out on a second date, and this time I promise not to get so drunk.

Green Truck

(the address is sort of pointless, just click on the website to see where the truck goes or call to place your delivery order at (310)204-0477.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Rockets in the Sky: Fourth of July Strawberry Pie

My friend Leif threw a ridiculously fun pool party for the Fourth and I wanted to bring a dish that was simultaneously summery and good at soaking up massive amounts of alcohol. So I flipped through my recipe book and came across my own recipe for Strawberry Pie which I had last made six summers ago. I remember that time so well because I had made the pie for my two friends who proceeded to scarf the whole pie down and then accuse me of buying it from a bakery and pawning it off as my own. This little tiff escalated into a full blown argument that is now studied in civics classes as the Strawberry Pie Scandal of 2002. Needless to say, I wasn't in a hurry to make my ole pie again.

But it has been six years, so I thought maybe enough time had passed for those old strawberry glazed wounds to heal. I whipped up the pie and then proceeded to forget to put it in the fridge upon arrival at the party, so it melted in the sun all day, and by the time I served it, it was more of a pudding. But when I was getting my pie tin on the way out, all the pie/pudding was gone, so someone must have liked it! Maybe this pie is cursed. I can't be sure until I revisit the recipe again in another six years. But you shouldn't wait that long! Whip it up!:

Fourth of July Strawberry Pie

For the crust:
2 cups graham crackers (12 whole graham crackers, crushed with a rolling pin)
8 tbsp. Earth Balance

For the filling:
2 lbs strawberries (rinsed, hulled, sliced)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. corn starch
1 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and the Earth Balance. Press against a 9 in. pie crust. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool.

In a saucepan, mix strawberries, sugar, and vanilla. Stir over medium heat until the berries sweat out a decent amount of liquid (about five minutes). Mix the cornstarch with the water and pour mixture into strawberries. Cook and stir occasionally until the mixture thickens into a glaze (about another five minutes). Remove from heat and pour into pie crust. Cover and refrigerate for at least six hours.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Despite the dumb title, Skinny Bitch is awesome!

My friend recommended I read Skinny Bitch a while ago but I never got around to it. From what I understood from reading the occasional publicity blurb, I thought it was a diet book written by a couple snarky fashionistas who bully the reader into not eating. But my friend insisted that I'd like it, so I cracked it open last night and read the whole thing in a couple hours.

It turns out the book is basically a sassy, but well-researched, case for being vegan. While the authors were basically preaching to the choir, it reinvigorated my choice to not ingest animal products. It also inspired me to kick my aspartame addiction, so I'll be having a big Coke Light giveaway this weekend.

I highly, highly recommend the book to everyone. Most of us already know how our government agencies consistently fail us, but the detailed examples of how the FDA and EPA follow the scent of money will make you cringe. I am making our Art Dept. Coordinator read it right this second, actually. The one thing we both agree is a little too extreme is that the authors say that we women should just "suck it up" and not take painkillers for cramps. I'm a pretty tough chica, but seriously, that is just not happening.

Please make your meat and dairy eating friends read this book. One of the best points the authors make is that every vegan has, at some point, said they could never ever be a vegan. You don't realize how insanely easy it is to be one until you try! Look for some recipes from the Skinny Bitch cook book in future posts...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tomato Pesto Delight

Work is pretty slow today, as our shooting crew is on a week long hiatus for the 4th, so by 10 o'clock we already had our lunch plans in order. Off to Cooks Double Dutch we would go! They hit a total home run yet again with their soup of the day which was this tomato pesto delight. They said it was technically less of a soup and more just a bunch of tomatoes blended up but whatever it was, I licked the bowl clean. My guess is that they also threw some onions, garlic, and vegan stock into the mix. I liked it even more than Meltdown Etc's vegan tomato soup, which is saying a lot because that stuff is damn good.

Cooks Double Dutch
9806 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232