Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set in present day, this narrative work takes a page from the much read "Gone Girl" in the flip-flopping of narratives from the book's three main characters. You are first introduced to Rachel, a divorced alcoholic living each day trying to forget her past. Anna, the new wife trying to make due stepping into the house and life of her husband's first wife. And Megan, the picture perfect wife with her picture perfect husband who goes missing. Slow to start and hard to identify with the main charecters for the first half of the book. (I almost gave up and googled the ending, but I stuck with it.) Once you pass the halfway point in the book it starts to pick up speed and you eventually find redeeming qualities in each of the main characters.

Twists and turns abound and you cannot help but to think everyone guilty at some point in the novel. This would be a great book to read while traveling, on vacation, or just when you need a distraction.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: Hidden Girl by Shyima Hall

Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child SlaveHidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave by Shyima Hall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shyima Hall represents a pillar of bravery and the power to overcome. I read this book because the fight against human trafficking is near to my heart and I wanted to support her efforts to get the word out to the public that this could be happening in your back yard and signs to look for.

Sold into slavery as a child in Egypt, Shyima was then illegally moved to the US and lived with her captors in Orange County, California until an anonymous tip was called in and authorities removed her from her "home". Fearing for her true families safety, battling the obstacle of believing she was not allowed to talk to any male outside of her family, as well as a language and cultural barrier, Shyima struggled to come out of her shell and realize that she was a person that mattered and deserved respect.

The book is written as a type of journal/cathartic way to catalog the events in her life that lead her to be a national speaker about human trafficking. It is amazing to see that a girl who had never been educated nor spoke more than three words of English until high school age could come so far as to write her own novel.

I applaud her bravery and feel that this is a great book to read when just learning of the consequences, both mentally a physically, a person has to overcome once they have escaped their captors.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Laguna Beach Artwalk

"The City We Love" by Joelle Blouin
For the artwork above, see artist details HERE.

I finally made it!  The city of Laguna Beach has an artwork the first Thursday of every month.  I have wanted to go for the las couple years but was never able to.  Whether it be because I had class at night of because of my late hours of work, this event has eluded me for far too long.

The frist Thursday in March was my first time attending this artwork.  To sum up, various art houses in the city of Laguna Beach open their doors to the public for a free viewing of their art and often times there are free snacks and cups of wine.  Unfortunately I had just had a fabulous dinner (one of my salmon nights) and was not the least bit hungry to eat or drink.

My oldest sister was able to join me straight from work and after the nightmare of finding parking in Laguna on a first Thursday, we headed off.  In all we went in about 10 or so galleries, some of which were a lot cooler then their websites lead me to believe.  Most of the galleries asked that no pictures be taken, so I only took a few pictures of the names of the galleries we attended.

Anyway, I am so glad I was able to go and finally see these amazing places. I did not find a piece that spoke to me personally, but I am forever on the hunt to own my own piece of original art.  I think when I see it I will just know.

Check out their website and if you have not already, I highly suggest you try it out.

Laguna Beach First Thursday Artwalk

Friday, March 13, 2015

More Salmon From Sprouted Kitchen

Wild Salmon with Caper Relish

As you probably remember, I bought a large bag of wild salmon from Costco and am trying to eat (and enjoy) more fish in my diet.  This is now going to be my third salmon recipe from "The Sprouted Kitchen" cookbook but hey, I am at least trying the recipes.

This week I made the Roasted Wild Cod with Meyer Lemon and Caper Relish with a few minor variations.  I used wild salmon as opposed to wild cod so I also adjusted the cooking time as cod tends to be a bigger and slightly denser fish.  Also, I substituted the parsley for basil, champagne vinegar for distilled white vinegar, and lastly the agave nectar for honey.  So yeah, a few substitutions, but I feel like in all the favor was on par with the recipes original intention.

This recipe takes some forethought and planning as the caper relish needs to be prepped 4-24 hours before using.  You finely dice the lemon and soak it with the vinegar and honey/agave nectar first.

I have to say, this was very refreshing on a warm afternoon.  The recipe makes 4 but I halved the recipe for only two. I am going to make this again for sure and I really liked how it tasted with my modifications/substitutes.

So far the salmon recipes from "The Sprouted Kitchen" is 2 out of 3 in my book.  See my other reviews HERE.
Wild Salmon with Caper Relish

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Plain Jane - Cookbook of the Month Sprouted Kitchen

Walnut-Crusted Wild Salmon with Edamame Mash

Well I did it again.  I made another salmon dish from "The Sprouted Kitchen" cookbook.  See the first one HERE.

In the quest to eat more fish (and like it) I decided to try the next salmon recipe in Sara Forte's book since I liked the first one so much.

The next one I tried was the Walnut-Crusted Wild Salmon with Edamame Mash. I usually don't have edamame or salmon in the house, but the rest of the ingredients in the recipe were part of my kitchen staples which is really what I look for in a recipe.  Cooking with staples means you are more likely to make the dish again.  I may have just come up with that but the logic is sound.

Now for the results.  I really enjoyed the edamame mash, more so than I thought I would.  The ginger and seasame oil are a must.  I had a pepper sesame oil so that made the flavor even better in my book.  The texture was great and the herbs rounded out the presentation.

The salmon.  Hmm, I may have spent a pretty penny on the wild caught salmon.  (I can taste the difference from wild to farm raised and I distinctly hate the farm-rasied taste.)  While the preparation of the salmon was similar to that of breading chicken with the substitution of chopped walnuts for breadcrumbs, I felt the salmon was a little bland and cooked more than I usually like.  Was I too stingy on the salt?  Should I have added more dried basil?  I am not sure.  For one thing, I like my salmon to be almost raw in the center.  With the amount of time the recipe calls for the salmon is cooked through, not too dry, but drier than my taste preference.  I made a note of this in my cookbook for next time.

Next time? Yes, I would make this again.  A little tweaking here and there, less edamame beans, less cooking time, more flavors to the "breading" process.

Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think.

recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen

Atlantic Salmon is far more likely to be farmed than Pacific salmon. You want to choose a wild variety, more often found at a fish market or Whole Foods than your local grocery store. There are a number of varieties, all quite rich, so you only need a small portion. If Salmon isn't your thing, you actually could crust any fish, but vary the cooking time for thinner or less fatty varieties. Also, I suggest reading through the entire recipe before you start. It's pretty easy if you get the jist of the entire process first.

3 1/2 Cups Edamame Beans (organic very important with soy. I used frozen, shelled beans)
2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil (I used pepper Sesame Oil)
3 Tbsp. Fresh Chives, Chopped (or more)
3 Tbsp. Fresh Mint, Chopped (or more)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger

Four 4 oz. Wild Pacific Salmon Filets
1 Cup Walnuts, Very Finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (or any gluten free option will work too)
1 Egg White
1 Tbsp. Water
1 Tsp. Dried Basil
1 Tbsp. Oil (anything neutral tasting)

Preheat oven to 400'

1. Steam or boil edamame beans for about 8 minutes (longer if you're using fresh). Transfer drained beans to a blender or food processor. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, rice vinegar, lemon juice and sesame oil. Pulse to puree the beans.Pulse until chunky, you want a smooth but slightly chunky consistency, add broth or water if you need to loosen it. Tranfer to a mixing bowl, add the fresh mint and chives and stir. Salt and pepper to taste, add ground ginger or red pepper if you want a kick.

2. Put the egg white and water in a bowl and give it a whisk. Use three seperate shallow plates, put the flour on one, the egg whites mixture in the second, and the crushed walnuts, pinch of salt and herbs in the last bowl.

3. Heat pan over medium heat with 1 Tbsp. of a neutral oil. With one salmon filet at a time and working with ONE side, dip on the flour, then the egg, then the walnuts (which should be pulverized enough to adhere). Add nut side down gently into the pan and sear for about 3 minutes, flip and sear the other side. Tranfer fish onto a baking dish large enough to hold all four filets, walnut side up. Repeat the searing with all four filets, then pop them in the oven to cook through to desired doneness, about 5-8 minutes depending on thickness. I like to keep it just barely rare on the inside.

4. Warm the edamame mash. On each place, put a generous dollop of mash and the warm salmon on top. Garnish with some fresh basil.