The hell with organic, I want my produce cheap!

The financial pundits are telling us to cut our budgets by NOT purchasing organic produce.  I couldn’t agree more.

Last week I went on a pilgrimage to the San Jose Flea Market (, which has over 2000 vendors selling everything from tropical fish to sari fabric to haircuts.  Yes, some of the stalls are barbershops!  But I was mostly there to check out their legendary Produce Row, a quarter-mile-long farmers’ market.  Most of this flea market’s denizens are Latino (and most of the signage is in Spanish) so the available produce was primarily stuff used in Mexican cooking.  For less than $20, I picked up:

1 pound of strawberries
5 pounds pinto beans
5 pounds rice
2 pounds of tomatoes @ 99 cents/pound (you’d pay $3/pound at the Ferry Plaza Market)
a few yellow onions
a bag of dried red chili peppers that will last me for YEARS
6 bananas
5 heads of garlic
3 avocados
2 pounds red potatoes

I got home and made a batch of Lazy Girl’s Burritos with my haul and a few things I had at home:

1 medium tomato, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 dried red chili peppers, chopped
1 can (16 oz?) vegetarian refried beans

Combine all above ingredients in a saucepan and stir slowly over medium heat until hot.  Serve with flour tortillas and sliced avocado (and sour cream and grated cheese, if you have it).  Serves four (and you will probably have leftovers).

Closer to home, I like to shop for cheap produce at the Park Farmers Market (400 Irving) and Noriega Produce (3821 Noriega).  Why pay $3.99 for a little box of raspberries at Safeway or Trader Joe’s when you can get the same thing at Park for 99 cents?

Now I’m going to Google “refried beans recipe” and figure out what to do with all these pinto beans.



I make everybody watch this 1982 film if they haven’t seen it already, and they are always left speechless.  It’s a gorgeous artwork without words or story, accompanied by Philip Glass.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of seeing it (and its two sequels) on the big screen with the Philip Glass Ensemble performing live.  I actually saw Glass SMILE.  How often does that happen?

It has been brought to my attention that you can watch THE ENTIRE FILM at if you are too lazy to acquire the DVD.

Stuff in the pipeline

I know I haven’t posted much in a while, for a number of reasons.  BUT, I want to let you know what you’ll be seeing in the future:

Spam, wonderful Spam!

Cooking Old School with Cast Iron!

Vintage Pyrex Mania!

Coffee Showdown!   Percolators vs. Vacuum/Siphon Pots vs. Chemex vs. French Press vs. contemporary filtration brewing

More Weird Gadgets and Food Reviews!

Recent Kitchen Acquisitions and other stuff from the Turquoise Collection

I’m trying to arrange an interview with an economist friend to discuss economic issues related to food.  He’s a new dad, so this may take a while to happen.  🙂

Also, you’ll see an occasional off-topic post on mental illness, as I am working to eliminate the stigma associated with this condition.  We’re not “crazy,” just human.

Guys, you need to read this stuff

When a family member or friend (me, perhaps?) is struggling with mental illness, please treat them with compassion and do not be judgmental. A few useful articles:

How to Help a Stressed or Depressed Loved One:
Please understand that these illnesses cannot be “snapped out of.”

Supporting Friends and Family Who Have Mental Illnesses:

Helping Someone with a Mental Health Concern:
A key point in being a good listener is not to judge or be judgmental, and also to not barge in offering your own opinions and advice. When someone wants someone to talk to about their depression or other mental health concerns, they’re not really for an intellectual discussion or argument. In fact, check your intellectual brain at the door and pull out your emotional brain. It’s not a time to disagree with someone who’s looking for guidance, direction or help with an issue. It’s a time to offer support, hope, and help in guiding the person through the realities of their situation. Doing so in the most gentle, open-minded way possible is usually far more helpful than a matter-of-fact, “Why don’t you just get over it?” mindset.


I didn’t write this, and I don’t know where it originated, but I like it! (Not edited for typos.) And I’m not going to be so nice to those bigoted Mormon missionaries around here anymore.

Dear Red States,

We’ve decided we’re leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren’t aware, that includes Hawaii , California , Oregon , Washington ,
Minnesota , Wisconsin , Michigan , Illinois , New York , Indiana , and all of the Northeastern states. After this election, we’ll be adding Colorado and New Mexico . We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, especially to the people of our new country – Nuevo California .

To sum up briefly: You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave states; we get stem cell research, the best beaches, and the best ski resorts. We get the Statue of Liberty; you get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft; you get WorldCom. We get Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale , Cal Tech, MIT and Columbia ; you get Ole’ Miss. We get 85 percent of America ‘s venture capital and entrepreneurs; you get Alabama . We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than that of the Christian Coalition, we get a bunch of happy families and you get a bunch of under-educated single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we’ll need all of our citizens back from Iraq at once.

If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They apparently have kids they’re willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t mind if you don’t televise their kid’s caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq and hope that those Weapons of Mass Destruction turn up for you, but we’re not willing to spend any more of our money in Bush’s Quagmire.

With the Blue States, we will control 80 percent of the country’sfresh water, 90 percent of pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation’s fresh fruit, 97 percent of America’s quality wines (you can serve French wines at your state dinners), 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, and all the Ivy League and Seven Sister schools. We also get New England, the Great Lakes and Yosemite , thank you very much.

In the Red States, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs, 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, 100 percent of tornadoes, 94 percent of hurricanes, 99 percent of Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, and Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bob Jones University, and Clemson.

Additionally, in the Red States, 38 percent actually believe Jonah was swallowed by a whale; 62 percent believe life is sacred unless it involves the death penalty or gun ownership; 44 percent claim
that evolution is only a theory; 53 percent insist that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11; and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you have higher moral standards than those of us on the left.

By the way, we’re taking all the good pot, too. You get that dirtweed from Mexico and Kansas ditches.

Peace out,
The Blue States

An Unemployed Person’s Lament

My story: After nine years with the same company, I fell victim to the Peter Principle and lost my job. I worked at a series of retail and temp jobs while figuring out what to do next, and I finally decided to go back to school. I cashed in some IRA money, got my paralegal certificate from San Francisco State University (I got my bachelor’s years ago) and graduated a few months ago with one B (in Wills and Trusts) and A’s in everything else.

Since I graduated, I’ve been doing everything I’m supposed to be doing to look for work, and I have nothing to show for it, despite my supposed brilliance. I’ve gone to job fairs, joined the local professional associations, and networked with everyone I know. Of course, I’ve sent out plenty of résumés with politely worded cover letters, too. I may have to resort to more guerrilla tactics soon, such as hanging out with the panhandlers in the Montgomery BART station during rush hour with a stack of résumés and a big sign that says “HIRE ME.”

The legal profession (among many others) has long been one where everyone is expected to put in lots of overtime. Perhaps it’s time to rethink this culture and spread out all those work hours among more people. Whatever happened to the eight-hour work day?

All I want is an entry-level paralegal (or even a legal secretary) position so I can pay my (few) bills and put away a little savings. Since I’m single with no dependents, I’m cheaper than an employee with a family and I can guarantee that I’ll never take maternity leave. Is that too much to ask?

If you want to look at my résumé, it’s posted on the “About Me” section of this blog. Thank you.

Artifact: The Joy of Cooking, 1964 edition

In the 50s and 60s, my grandfather worked for Bobbs-Merrill Publishing in Indianapolis, where he was editor of the United States Code, Annotated. (For you legal folks who are familiar with this title, he did it without computers. Oh. My. God.)

Grandpa brought a lot of books home from work that I assume he got for free because they were damaged or defective. We have a lot of Bobbs-Merrill books spread throughout my family that have the wrong cover, were printed upside down, or something. Bobbs-Merrill had some serious quality-control issues in their printing plant, apparently.

My copy of The Joy of Cooking is one of these defective books, stamped “corners bent.” It’s defective in a lot of other ways, too: there are recipes calling for cyclamate sweeteners and MSG, it advocates dangerous methods of home canning (botulism, anyone?), and is filled with plenty of tips on how to please your husband with food (no, that’s not what I meant…you guys sure have filthy minds).

This copy of The Joy of Cooking came to me from my mother when I graduated from college and moved into my first apartment. It predates saccharine, NutraSweet, non-gringo Mexican and Asian cuisines, and most obviously feminism.

“Millions of brides have been given JOY OF COOKING as a one-volume insurance against any and all kitchen crises.” Ugh.

The illustrations are little simple line drawings, so fortunately we’re spared those supersaturated-color recipe illustrations of yesteryear. (More pictures of food disasters here)

There’s a lot of good stuff in here too, however. For example, if you hunt or fish, this book contains everything you need to know about cleaning, dressing and preparing all sorts of wild game. This is good for me to know, because if my unemployment continues for much longer, I’ll be eating squirrels, pigeons and raccoons for dinner. (Of course in 1964, you’d be cooking whatever dead animals your husband brought home, right?)

I mostly use this book as a reference, to look up things like cooking times and temperatures for various foods. If you know little or nothing about cooking, you can find all the basic information you need here – the kind of information that never goes out of date.