Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Salmonella Lunch

--- NEWS FLASH ---

A former US Naval midshipman who would only give his name as "Popeye" was rushed to an area hospital this morning with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. Doctors say the veteran is stable, but suffering from a nasty combination of salmonella and e. coli infection. Officials at the CDC quickly traced the vector of his illness to contaminated bagged spinach.

The sailor man was barely coherent during an interview, but blames someone named "Bluto" for poisoning him under pretense of inviting him over for a spinach omelet breakfast. A police spokesman said they cannot comment on whether an investigation is underway, though she did say that several cans of spinach were hidden on Popeye's person upon arrival to the emergency room.

A gangly female "family friend" read this statement on behalf of Popeye.

    I asks for prayer during this difficult time in me life. I wasn't strong to the finish, but I'll be back on me boat soon. Then I'm gonna find Bluto and show that big palooka what's what. Also, Wimpie, if you're listening, it's past Tuesday ... you owe me for that hamburger, and I'm coming to collect. Eh, ge, ge, ge, ge, ge, ge.


In honor of this poor, brave soul -- and in spite of the bagged spinach scare -- I made myself a salad for lunch with the spinach I always keep in the office fridge.

Spinach Basil Salad

  • 2 cups hand-shredded spinach (or whole baby spinach)
  • 1/3 cup fresh shredded basil
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled feta
  • 4 tablespoons hummus
  • Optional: dried cranberries for garnish
On hot days like we've had lately, this was a light, refreshing afternoon filler. Actually, filler is a bit of a misnomer. I had to make myself a couple plates in a row to feel full, but the hummus gives the recipe some heft, while simultaneously providing moisture and acting as a bonding agent so I don't need dressing. Sadly, I ran out of dried cranberries in my desk larder, and was forced to use dried blueberries.

It's just not the same.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Day of Rabbit Food

I was in the mood for vegetarian goodies today. A coworker had to run into Burbank on an errand and offered to bring back some food from her favorite Chinese place, Joy Feast. Apparently, my last paycheck writer lists it as the best in class.

I proceeded on said coworker's opinion that the veggie dumplings are top notch, and ordered such.

I hesitate to base my opinion of a restaurant on one rapidly cooling dish driven half way across town, but this was pretty pathetic. When I, of all people, have a hard time finishing a dish, you know it isn't all that. The fillings were pretty sparse: cabbage, ginger, and carrot. The wrapping was too thick, which combined with its doughiness made for a chewy, gummy workout for my already TMJ-ridden jaw.

I will withhold judgment of the Joy Feast as a whole until I revisit (though I'm not in any particular hurry to go back).

Thankfully, my palate was refreshed thanks to another coworker who brought in tomatoes from her lush Pasadena garden. They were perfect, and I spent most of the day sniffing them for pleasure. Dare I say apple-style-eating-worthy? With juice dribbling down my chin, I say most certainly yes!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ransomers' Demands

The ransomers have made their demands with a final note left in a manila envelope taped to the office fridge. The envelope was addressed to me, so I can now assume that the milk's abduction was not a random crime ... the perpetrators know me.

The list of demands specify delivery of four different payments to various people. And the people are named! However, I cannot assume that these are the responsible parties -- they may be red herrings. Fingerprint and DNA analysis are as yet inconclusive.

Until proven guilty, I have blocked out the names from the accompanying photograph and this copy of their list:

    our demands
    1 flower to Mrs. ______
    1 Heart record to Ms. ______
    1 vegan friendly snack to Mr. _____
    1 MP3 to Mr. _____ to his liking

    all demands must be met by end of day friday. do not force us to take action by failing to comply

I feel I must act soon before they start sending me body parts -- maybe starting with the jug's cap.

ransomed milk carton

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It Escalates!

The note I left on the office fridge for the party responsible for drinking all my milk did not go unanswered.

My note from this morning:

The insidious answer posted surreptitiously:

What else can I do? Here's what I'm replying with:

*Editor's note: See what happened next.

My *almost* Cubicle Breakfast

THEFT! Theft in the office fridge.

In order to save time in the morning, I eat my breakfast cereal at work. This involves bringing in a supply of cereal, bananas, and (of course) milk every week. Some people jump start their day with coffee, some go to the gym. I eat.

But not this morning.

I arrived, booted up the computer, poured the cereal, cut up a banana. When I went to the communal refrigerator to get my milk ... horror! Nary a sign of the half gallon I bought on Monday. There was still a third of it left as of yesterday afternoon.

With some deductive work (or is it inductive?), I quickly scanned the kitchen to see a platter of brownies, cookies, and Rice Krispie treats that had probably been leftover from one of the department's dinner orders from the previous day. I instantly got an image of the folks in the _____ Department cavorting in their cubicles late at night throwing chocolate cookies in the air and letting them fall on their heads. Then someone says, "Hey! I know where there's some milk to go with these."

And here I am, hungry, with a bowl of dry cereal and browning banana slices.

I left a mean note on the fridge. Yeah. That'll show them.

*Editor's note: See what happened next.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Anatomy of a Green Curry

I'd almost say I'm getting tired of Thai food after having it twice since Friday. I'd almost say that, but I'd be lying, because ... c'mon ... Thai food.

My boss took me out to lunch as a post-birthday celebration, and we hit up our favorite Thai spot within driving distance of the office -- you know, aside from those other four. It's called Original Thai. After the amazing lunch I'd had on Friday (half the remains of which I'd eaten for my cubicle lunch yesterday) I felt compelled to compare apples to apples.

I ordered the two best things from my Friday meal: salad rolls and green curry. It's really weird; I used to think Original Thai was pretty good. I'm here to tell you that after being reacquainted with Takhrai in San Diego, OT just kind of ... sucks. Seeing as I've not found anything remarkable Thai-wise in the two years I've lived in LA, I guess my palate had been impressed by the bare minimum.

The rice paper on the salad rolls were overly sticky, which gave the impression of poorly made mochi. The lettuce inside was iceberg (cheap!), and the mint was probably a few days old. Contrast that with Takrai's lusciously fresh mint you could smell from inside the wrapping and what I think was bib lettuce, and the south rises again.

But it's the green curry that really set the restaurants apart.

Ingredients: Original Thai
Tofu; green beans; red bell pepper; bamboo shoots; old, brown Thai basil, a little coconut milk.

Ingredients: Takhrai Thai
Golden tofu; snap peas (fresh); baby corn; red bell peppers; green bell peppers; broccoli; cabbage; eggplant; copious coconut milk; a solid amount of spice; and amazingly fresh, delicate Thai basil.

Price difference for the two dishes, a couple bucks, and look at all they pack into Takhrai's plate. And I'll tell you this: they have a rocking produce distributor.

I wonder if 135 miles is within Takhrai's delivery zone ...

Monday, August 20, 2007

It was a long (*long*) birthday weekend with much feasting. I'll easily be bringing in my leftovers for lunch through the whole coming week.

Today's entree is Spicy Thai Basil from lunch at Takhrai Thai last Friday (the day I skipped work to go surfing all morning). It wasn't the best I've ever had at that restaurant ... disappointing, considering how good everything else there is. The chicken was overcooked and the sauce relied more on soy sauce and onions to flavor it than the basil and white wine that's probably used to thin the dish. Looks appetizing in my coffee mug under fluorescent office lights, yeah? I'll go back, but I'd skip this dish.

I am still craving the amazing fresh spring rolls we had there though -- laced with wonderfully aromatic mint that tasted like it was fresh-picked from my grandpa's lush garden in Ohio. They were served with some of the best peanut sauce I've had in a long time (and it was warmed for a nice touch). No chance of that dish making it to live again as leftovers.