43rd and SE Belmont, PDX
I can never visit Portland without a visit to some food carts. Food carts have become one of the main attractions of the city for visiting foodies. With over 400 carts throughout the city, there is something for everyone, from vegan to carnivore, Thai to Scandanavian, and everything in between. 

This visit I wanted to visit a food pod in a residential neighborhood. If you've read my article, Mobile Food Pods Revitalize Neighborhoods, then you know that I had already researched this topic from afar. I had not actually visited any of the pods in a residential area though, only downtown. I agreed to meet my friend, Brett, at the pod at 43rd and SE Belmont.

Brett is the Portland food cart expert. You've probably seen him on Eat St. and other shows about food trucks and carts. His website is foodcartsportland.com and he's probably eaten at every cart in the city. We met up to talk about nationwide cart/truck issues while I checked out a couple of the carts.

The beauty and the danger of fried rice is that you can use whatever leftovers you have in the kitchen. I say danger because my mom once got food poisoning from eating fried rice when we were in Asia. Lesson learned - only order steamed rice when you are overseas.

This recipe took care of two problems for me. I wanted to try this kimchi fried rice that everyone was talking about and I wanted to use leftover turkey from my Whole Foods Holiday Meal leftovers. I had half a turkey left and just little old me. I also didn't want to suffer the typical leftover turkey fair of repeatedly eating the same meal over and over until it's gone. I wanted something different! (As an aside, my family's traditional leftover turkey meal is turkey tettrazini, which I crockpotted earlier this year.)

In my frig were the two jars of kimchi that I had made about three weeks ago. Here was my chance to actually use the stuff. The result is a very different Korean fried rice with the chili paste as the major flavoring in contrast to the soy sauce Chinese fried rice or the fish sauce Thai fried rice. Because it uses chili paste, it has more bite to it. And because kimchi is cabbage, you take care of the crunchy vegetable component.

Leftover Turkey (or whatever else you got) Kimchi Fried Rice

Note that I add a spread of ingredients so you can go low if you like less of an ingredient or high if you like more.

1 T vegetable oil
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 - 1 cup kimchi, you may need to chop it down to smaller pieces
2-3 cups cooked rice
1 T chili paste
1 T sesame oil
1/2 - 1 cup cooked turkey, chopped
1 egg

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil til hot. Add onions and green onions and cook until the onion is transluscent. Add kimchi and rice. Toss everything together to mix well. Add in chili paste and sesame. Mix thoroughly. Add turkey and toss to mix everything together.  Let mixture cook a bit so that the bottom layer gets a bit crunchy, about 5 minutes. Toss again. Make a small whole amongst the rice and break in an egg. Cover the pan with a lid and let the steam cook the egg until the white is set, but the yolk is not completely cooked, about 3 minutes. Uncover and serve immediately.

I love food and yet there are still a lot of foods that I'm coming into late into life. Some I've posted about before. Things like squash and figs were items that I didn't grow up with and so I had no experiences to draw from. Some things were just plain stubborness. Like sushi. I only learned to eat it about seven years ago because I had the typical naive aversion to the idea of eating raw fish. Another is jalapeno peppers. I was afraid of them, I guess, until I cut one up in a burrito and realized that it added so much more flavor and heat. That was about 15 years ago. Or even being as silly as to not putting a flavoring into my hot chocolate. Now I can't stand hot chocolate plain, I have to have some sort of additional flavor added to it.

Kimchi was one of those scary foods. After all, it's fermented cabbage with a reputation for being spicy. Don't get me wrong. I love spicy foods. Yet, here I was having a stubborn obstinance to trying this strange looking concoction of hot cabbage.

The one and only time I had a grocery store prepared holiday meal was about 15 years ago. My parents rented a cabin in Tahoe for Christmas and so we couldn't be bothered with cooking up things from scratch with limited cooking equipment. We went to XXX grocery and picked up a turkey dinner with all the fixings packed into Styrofoam containers. The mashed potatoes were a gummy puree and the rest of the meal was just an unmemorable.

I appreciate the working relationship I have with the Sacramento Whole Foods stores. Thanks to them, we were able to pull off SactoMoFo last April and now they are helping me get the Sacramento Food Film Festival going for next March. When they offered me a Whole Foods Holiday Meal sampler, I took them up on it and hosted a small dinner party last night to try out the dishes. I had high expectations for Whole Foods and they did not disappoint. Now I know I can, if necessary, reach out to them for a quality holiday meal.

There are a variety of Whole Foods holiday meal selections available. 
Some of the options are:

Intimate Goose Holiday Dinner - Pitman Farms, free-range geese

Cleaning up my archives, I found this old post (2008) and decided to repost because I had forgotten about it and need to remake them myself. I love looking at other food blogs and discovering new things. I stumbled across hoddeoks at My Korean Kitchen. Hoddeoks are Korean street food, pancakes with a brown sugar/cinnamon filling. They looked interesting and easy, so I figured I'd give them a try. Tips for next time: more filling, try chocolate shavings.

Ingredients for 6 pancakes

* All purpose white flour - 1¼ cups
* Salt - 1/4 tsp
* Milk - 90 ml (6 tbsp)

Fermented yeast water (mix these well in bowl 1)

* Warm water (40℃) - 45 ml (3 tbsp)
* White sugar - 1/4 tsp
* Dry yeast- 1/4 tsp

Stuffing (mix these well in bowl 2)

* Cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
* Crushed walnuts- 2 tbsp (you can use peanuts instead, but I prefer walnuts)
* Dark brown sugar - 90 ml (6 tbsp)

Leave the mix of fermented yeast water in a warm place (30-40 ℃) for 10 minutes. Add the flour, salt, and milk. Mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for two hours.

Oil your hands and then split the dough into six equal parts. Take one and flatten it into a pancake in your hand. Put a spoonful of filling in the center and then seal the dough around it.

Heat a skillet with a little oil. Place a pancake in and flatten with a spatula.

Brown both sides and serve. Here is a cut one to show you the inside. The brown sugar should be melted in the center. Yum.

Updated info at bottom re: current fees

You can forget the cupcake wedding cakes, today's hot thing is to have food truck catering at your wedding.

I get contacted frequently to act as a go-between when people are inquiring about food truck catering for a wedding or charity event. I just give advice on which food trucks are out there, what they specialize in, and help with the exchange of contact information. Often times, though, I hear a bit of disappointment later when it turns out a party couldn't book a food truck.

The problem is that food trucks, like all businesses, have to think in terms of money. They have a lot to consider when planning their schedules. In terms of food truck catering for an event, here are two things they consider that you, the client, might not have.

Days Off - Hey, food trucks need days off too. Most tend to take Sundays and Mondays off. It has to be really worth their while to get them to schedule a booking on one of their days off. Currently the Sacramento trucks have single crews each. That means they are all working long hours, often 12+ hour days, and sometimes even seven days straight. Not fun. I know that Krushburger is trying to get their second truck out on the road, so they will have more flexibility in the future.

Profitability - How many guests at the wedding or charity event versus how much they would make roaming their usual spots that day. If a food truck has a spot or route that they know they are going to be able to make $1500, then they might not be interested in a 100 guest wedding where they will only be making $800.

Then there are the shared events where a food truck is competing for sales with other vendors/trucks. It's the same mentality I had when I sold Pampered Chef and someone would host a Holiday sales party with Avon, Partylite, Cookie Lee, etc all at the same party. Instead of getting 20 sales from a party I would have done solo, I would only get 5 sales because people were splitting their purchases amongst all the vendors. It wasn't worth my time and I eventually stopped doing them. 

Same goes for the food trucks. In a perfect world they want you to buy a complete meal from them, not split your money with one item from them and another from someone else. (Note that roundups are different thing altogether.) Therefore, if you plan on having a few vendors at your event, you can be sure the question posed to you will be, "How many people do you expect to attend?" The food trucks usually want about 200 people per vendor. 

This is not to say that you won't be able to get a food truck for your 50 person birthday party. It just depends on a number of factors, the above which are only a couple of them. I will say that you should not limit yourself to thinking of only the gourmet, non-taco food trucks. There are lots of quality, authentic taco trucks that should be considered for bookings as well.

You should know the following:
  • The minimum a truck will usually consider is $1000.
  • You should think of a per person cost of about $20 each.
  • That said, a 50 person party would be the $1000 minimum.

This is not a solid rule. If things are slow a truck might consider going lower.

If you need assistance with food trucks, please feel free to contact me at @sacfoodtrucks on Twitter or via email.

My office loves me just for the fact that I constantly bring treats to work. Being single, I bake all these goodies and then need to unload them as soon as I can to prevent me from eating them! (Which I surely would.) In some cases, I will spring an item on them without giving them the info on what's in it until they have given me feedback. 

I was thrilled when I got my order of fermented black garlic last week. I first heard about black garlic from Garrett on Vanilla Garlic. Bulbs of garlic are fermented for 40 days and then dried for a week. The result are the beautiful black cloves. Used for centuries in Asia, it's becoming a trendy food ingredient in the West. Eaten by itself, it's amazingly sweet with smokey undertones, which is why it is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It also brings chocolate instantly to mind as a perfect thing to pair it with.

The first dessert recipe I came across featuring black garlic was the post by Irvin from Eatthelove.com. He had made Black Garlic-Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean-White Chocolate Marble Brownies. He used the black garlic in the dark chocolate swirls of the dessert. I knew I wanted to try the black garlic with chocolate, so I decided to go with straight chocolate brownies. I noted that Irvin used a whole bulb of his garlic for only half (the dark part) of the overall brownie.

Update: February 2016
I've just received an email about a class action lawsuit against It's Just Lunch.

Original 2011 post:

Dating as a woman in my late 40's in Sacramento sucks. And it's not just me. I have a posse of single girlfriends my age that look great, have good jobs, are smart and outgoing, and none of us can get a date with a decent guy in our age range.

I've been divorced now for ten years. I've tried it all - online dating, speed dating, Meetups, etc. In 2005, before the economy tanked, I tried It's Just Lunch (IJL). You may have seen their ads, especially in airline magazines. It's a dating service where they set you up on dates (basically blind dates) for just an hour - over lunch or over drinks.

In 2005 IJL had an office near Arden Fair Mall. I went in for an appointment and signed up for a year for $1200. I was so fed up with the online dating scene and I figured that "you get what you pay for". If a person is willing to pay that much money, they must have a decent job and be serious about finding a long term relationship, right? I was tired of the online players out there just looking for hookups and casual flings.

Sacramento lacks tailgating. Serious tailgating. With a lack of major sports teams, our attempts at tailgating are few and far between and rather lackluster.  Well, OK, maybe I shouldn't base my opinion off one observance at a recent Mountain Lions game, but compared to Pac 10 or NFL games, we stink at them.

I was channel surfing a week ago and came across a food show on tailgating - the serious kind. I guess it was before the big LSU/Alabama game because the tailgaters they were showing were LSU fans. One of the more well known LSU tailgaters was talking about his pastalaya.

Pastalaya? This was something new to me. It doesn't take a genius to figure out it's jambalaya but with pasta instead of rice. Yet I had never heard or even considered it before. I was intrigued.

I'm driving a beautiful country road on a gorgeous fall day. It's the Lincoln Newcastle Highway curving through lovely farmland as it makes a slight climb in elevation between Lincoln and Newcastle. I think I've only driven this road once before in my 20+ years in the area. I'm looking for Twin Peaks Orchards and as I round a curve it suddenly pops up in front of me quicker than I would have thought.

I am here to take a tour of the family owned orchards with Camelia Enriquez Miller. I had met Camelia and her mother at the Folsom Whole Foods press dinner where their dried stone fruit was part of the cheese platter and a peach jam was featured on the Diestel turkey. The dried fruit, in particular, was addicting. I had asked if I might come and visit and spent a couple of hours on their beautiful property.

Don't miss the Open House details at the end of this post.

It's only about six years ago that I started to eat raw fish. I had one of those aversions like most naive eaters have when it comes to sushi. My conversion took place when I tried some fancy rolls. I still don't care much for just a piece of raw fish on a bit of rice, but I do like rolls that have a bunch of ingredients that add interesting flavors and textures. 

Eventually I ventured a little further and tried sea steak specials and finally poke. Poke means slices or cuts. As a menu item, it means raw fish that has been cubed or sliced and tossed with a few ingredients, typically onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil. I am now a poke (and ceviche) convert.

not mine, but similar

When I was 12 or 13 I went on an extended summer trip of the Eastern United States with a group of other 'gifted' children. This was a big deal considering that at the time I still lived in Saudi Arabia. This meant a two-month vacation traveling with our teacher and being away from my family.

Ah, puberty. It was during this trip that we girls started shaving. There probably wasn't too much to shave at that point, but it was a right of passage that began on that trip.

Upon returning home I now had a shaver amongst my bathroom toiletries. One day my father discovered it - how I'm not sure since I had a separate bathroom where my father never ventured. Anyway, my father came to lecture me about not thinking that I had any reason to be shaving. After all, I had most of my mother's Filipina traits in that I really had hardly any body hair. He didn't forbid me or stop me, but I still remember the talk.

 The thing is, he was right in some regards. I hardly have any hair on my arms and legs. But as we all know in our American culture, women still shave under their arms and sometimes in the nether regions. My point is, though, that this lack of body hair includes around my eyes. My eyebrows are light and my eyelashes are practically nonexistent.

It's hard to imagine anyone not loving Hawaii. You've got a set of beautiful tropical islands that are part of the United States so that you get all the amenities of home while feeling like you are almost in a different country entirely. My first trip to Hawaii was to Maui with my parents in the 70s. Since then I've been back a few times, but I never had such a wonderful time as my last visit in August. I guess it was the freedom of being by myself so that I had the ability to explore, learn, and know Hawaii in a much more intimate way than ever before.

When I was told that there was going to be a Taste of Hawaii Tour with Chef Alan Wong coming to San Francisco, I had to sign up for one of the events. Alan Wong is one of the most prominent chefs in Hawaii. He was here to introduce his new cookbook, the first in over a decade, called "The Blue Tomato". Along with him was Arnold Hiura, a journalist who is now also known as a Hawaiian food historian. He also has a book out, "Kau Kau: Cuisine and Culture in the Hawaiian Islands", which I bought as well. They were in the Bay Area for a week, their only mainland stop. There was a full week of events, including the Chef's birthday bash. Eileen and I went on Sunday for a talk/dinner event at the Japanese  Cultural & Community Center of Northern California.
I know that many people have been waiting and waiting to know what's next with Sacramento's food truck ordinances.

The last time I updated everyone was probably the end of July. At that time we had had a few roundtable discussions with the City, the restaurant owners, the California Restaurant Association, and, of course, the food trucks.

The food trucks gave a wishlist of some of the things they would like. The list included such things as being allowed to park for the meter limit (if it's a 2 hour meter, they should be able to park there for 2 hours) and being allowed on private property with owner's permission.

Where we left it in July was in the City's hands. They had collected information from everyone and said they were going to start working on some proposed ordinances, it would take a few months, and hopefully they would have something in the fall.

Whatever is proposed has to go to committee first - the Law and Legislation Committee. At first we heard it would be October. Then it got pushed to today, November 1st. I was all set to go today and then found out it was cancelled.

I contacted the City to see if they had a status. Here is what I can tell you.