Feelin’ Fair at the LA County Fair

This weekend, Matt and some friends and I kicked off the long weekend by heading to the LA County Fair! I’ve always loved going to the fair – where else can you indulge in 100% pure American excess while going on rides, people watching and eating things like the Giant Rib? Don’t answer that… Vegas? It was a beautiful toasty day and as soon as we entered, our eyes were bombarded with signs and smells and colors for all sorts of things, like fried kool-aid and the 15 pound hamburger.

 

Feelin' Corny

I started with some kettle corn that was hot and salty right out of the popper. This actually ended up being a saving grace for me, because I ate enough popcorn to stave off any crazy feasting that otherwise might have ensued. Don’t worry, I still got plenty to eat… After the kettle corn, I decided a flame grilled ear of corn sounded good. Yum, yum – don’t I look happy? The corn was a bargain at $4 when priced against things like our upcoming red velvet funnel cake for $9.

 

 

Red Velvet Funnel Cake

I think one of the best things you can do if you want to experience fair food without the disgusting deep-fried hangover is to go with a couple people. We went with another couple and we ended up splitting everything four ways, which helped cut down costs and gave us a little bit of everything. The red velvet funnel cake was tasty, but personally in my opinion, nothing to write home about. I had a few small bites and left room in my tummy for other things… like my favorite of the day, the deep fried oreo!

 

Deep Fried oreo

Deep fried oreo sounds disgusting, right? I anticipated that I’d take one bite (like I did with the deep fried Twinkie) and go EWWWW. Sadly, I took a bite and thought “Oh. Ok. this is pretty goo- OMG YUM NOMMMMMM.” There was something about the temperature that caused the cream in the middle to slightly melt, and the batter was not overly sweet, so it became this delectable, soft, creamy cookie. YUM. Thank goodness we only got four in the order and each got one, because one was all I needed.

We sampled several other things that day – a bloomin’ onion, curly fries, a smoked turkey leg, lemonade, deep fried snickers (again – another thing I had a bite of and went, “eh, not worth the calories”). The great thing was, I left feeling pretty good – because we had been walking from 4 pm to midnight, I never got to an “ugh” point with too much food, and truly, the method of splitting everything four ways was brilliant, because I got to taste a little bit of everything but couldn’t truly go overboard. While calorically I know this was a fat bomb of a day, it was fun and didn’t feel as excessive as it could have when you consider all the walking around and small portions we had. However, it was nice to be back to a light dinner of salad the next day 🙂

View at night from the sky tram

In addition to eating fried stuff, we visited a bee hive, pet some cows, watched bad product demonstrations, saw some zebras, admired the London themed hall of Flowers, watched a No Doubt cover band (called Gwen in Doubt! Great name, right?), rode the sky tram (so scary to have your legs dangling way above the fair! eeek!) and I got to go down the giant slide. Giant slides = awesome. If you want a way to feel 10 years old again without a care in the world, stick your feet in a potato sack and scoot your ass down a giant slide. It’s magnificent. Flying over big humps with the wind in my hair was pretty darn rejuvenating. I highly recommend it!

Have you been to a county fair recently? Which one? When you go, do you splurge and try some of the crazy foods or do you play it safe by eating before you go? I got back on track on Sunday and today, and it’s time for me to start using MyFitnessPal again after a brief hiatus. Also, I took my last confession post to heart and have already gotten started with exercise again, so now my new plan of attack is to walk a little bit in the morning before I start work for the day. What’s new with you? 🙂

 

 

Crazy for Cookie Butter

Speculoos Cookie Butter is crack in a jar.

Dear Friends:

When I step into Trader Joes, I’ve entered a magical land full of intriguing things like baked onion rings, coconut oil, confetti rice… and COOKIE BUTTER!!!! My friend Jason discovered this first and posted all about it on his Facebook page, and I thought to myself “Oooh… I want that.” But, in the name of weight loss (which has since stalled.. I’m hovering right at 9.4 pounds… COME ON!), I resisted. Until yesterday, when my willpower was weak, and the 104 degree heat sent my husband and I into the air-conditioned shelter of shopping.

It’s freaking delicious. It’s basically crushed biscuits in a paste form, and it tastes like cookie dough. You can put it on pretzels, celery sticks, toast, cookies or english muffins – or just eat it from the jar. Not that I would do that or anything. Not like my husband caught me yesterday with a spoon in my mouth, moaning with the sinful deliciousness of a cookie butter that has zero nutritional benefits.

It’s 90 calories per tablespoon, so I’m not really doing myself any favors. But it’s so damn good. However, as soon as this jar is gone, I must resist buying another, because this stuff has cracked my “I don’t crave sweets” code. And that’s some powerful stuff. Because I believe in hedonism, I’ll be including a jar of this stuff in my 150 fan giveaway. Evil, right?

Have you entered yet?! HURRY!

The contest ends Wednesday night!

 

 

Foodie Fun: Ojai Olive Farm

Ojai Olive Farm

This weekend, I cashed in a LivingSocial voucher for the Ojai Olive Farm, a quaint ranch nestled in the rolling hills of the Ojai Valley. The small operations room was surrounded by beautiful olive trees that were over 130 years old, with delicate leaves and huge, gnarled trunks. Cacti dot the landscape and huge boulders rest among hills that share space with avocado and tangerine trees.

Unripened olives

Did you know that two things can be done with olives? You can either cure them or make oil out of them. I’m glad I didn’t find out on my own, but our tour guide warned us that a fresh olive is not the most palatable treat. At the Ojai farm, the olives remain on the tree until fall, when they’re a deep, plummy black. They are hand picked and put into crates to be pressed the same day they are picked.

The owner, Ron Asquith, started the Ojai olive farm as a retirement project.

After the olives are washed, giant machines smash the fruit into a paste, and then the paste is whirled around thousands of times until the oil separates from the water and solid matter. The oil is filtered 15 times against thick, cottony sheets, and the fresh oil is immediately bottled or placed into gigantic drums. All of the machinery is stainless steel to protect the taste of the oil, and this machinery was specifically shipped from Italy to ensure authentic and premium olive oil processing.

After seeing the manufacturing process, we were herded into a heavenly room with rows and rows of gleaming olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I grabbed a napkin with some bread cubes and got to tasting. There were about 10 different varieties of olive oil, some flavored like lemon or raspberry, and some traditional styles which were very sharp and tangy. Some described them as “grassy”, but I thought that was harsh!

Don't buy olive oil like this that isn't marked "Extra Virgin".

Did you know when you buy olive oil, you should avoid oils that say “pure” or “light”? What that means is that the waste portion of the olives after they’ve been pressed was used to make the oil. For premium taste and flavor, you should always buy olive oil marked extra virgin. You’ll be able to tell in the taste – and one more way to check is to read the bottle and see where the olives come from. If the bottle says something like “made from olives in Tunisia, Greece, Africa, Spain and Italy”, run for the hills – because basically that means that you’re buying yucky used up olive juice. Your olive oil should come from only one place, and it should be extra virgin. (Also – use your olive oil within 18 months, and store in a dark, dry place away from heat sources.)

I love olive oil!

My LivingSocial voucher included one bottle of olive oil, one bottle of vinegar, and an olive tree! I settled on a garlic flavored olive oil and a delicious pomegranate balsamic vinegar. I thought the vinegar would be awesome on a salad, as it has a slightly fruity, sweet taste that pairs beautifully with the tongue-tingling tang of the vinegar.

I'm extending an olive branch. Har, har.

Here I am with my olive tree. I’m super excited to get it planted in the ground, and it already has one baby olive on it! When the olives are ripe I think I’ll take a stab at curing them, but luckily I’ll have plenty of time for that, as most olive trees produce the most fruit around 5 years old. Did you know in Crete, Greece and Jerusalem there are 3,000 year old olive trees?! Can you imagine?!

Get pickin'!

If you’re ever in the Ojai area, you should definitely visit the Ojai Olive Farm. I had a great time and learned a ton, and my belly left feeling super happy. I also picked up some handmade olive soaps – and you have a chance to win one if you come back on Wednesday when we’ll celebrate reaching 150 Facebook fans! So now Double Chinners, I gotta know – are you a fan of olives? If not for eating, how do you feel about olive oil? Let’s chat… ‘cuz olive olives. (and bad puns).

Fun Friday Finds

Hey Double Chinners! Happy Friday! One of my favorite ways to de-stress is to browse the interwebz for various items that make me smile. I can’t actually buy them because my husband will divorce me if I buy one more salad bowl, but, it’s basically just frivolous window shopping. In particular, I love funky kitchen wares or novelty food items. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite recent finds, shall we? (Most of these came from Fab.com – my new favorite daily deal site. If you sign up, use the link right there – I get magical unicorn points, and you get something cool too.)

Source: amazon.com via Alyssa on Pinterest

These melamine bee plates are awesome because they’re pretty much unbreakable, and they have BEES on them! You know how I feel about bees!

Source: fab.com via Alyssa on Pinterest

 

While no one in my house *needs* a nightlight, these would be super fun in a guest bedroom or colorful bathroom at night – or even for lighting up the kitchen for a midnight snack. They’re super sweet looking, and you get all the gummy goodness with no cavities!

Source: fab.com via Alyssa on Pinterest

 

Unfortunately I don’t have a dog, but if I did, I’d totally buy one of these cool hand-painted Indian dog dishes. I love the little bird on the front and how it’s enamel so it won’t chip or break.

Source: fab.com via Alyssa on Pinterest

 

I’m a sucker for anything strawberry – and this heavy duty ceramic mixing bowl looks like it could handle being in a sink full of dishes or being broiled to death. I love the cute vintage feel of it, too.

Source: squidoo.com via Alyssa on Pinterest

 

A good peeler is hard to find, but a good, cute peeler is next to impossible. However – I guess it doesn’t really matter if a peeler is cute, but this one is silly and fun and might make the horrible task of peeling mangoes slightly more bearable.

Source: fab.com via Alyssa on Pinterest

 

It’s a pickle wearing spurs. What more can I say?

Do you like to “window shop” online? What are your favorite haunts?

A food filled weekend!

Hi Double Chinners, how ya doin’?

It’s Sunday evening and I had a productive weekend… packed with seeing the Hunger Games (highly recommend it), finishing a feature news story, putting together a podcast, writing a post for my thesis blog Heardio, working on a freelance project, painting my upcycled dresser, grocery shopping, cupcake decorating class… You get the picture. My weekends aren’t very restful lately but they sure are productive, haha!

Cinnamon Snails

This weekend was a fun weekend in terms of FOOD! Fun is sometimes dangerous for me, as evident by the three little “Cinnamon Snails” I consumed this morning…. (Total damage: 360 calories). I work for a company that makes toys, and one of the doll lines has an upcoming campaign with food related characters. I edit online content, and this weekend, I had to fact check a recipe for cinnamon buns. No problem – cooking and writing – two of my favorite things!

I also had my last cupcake decorating class, and we tie-dyed buttercream! Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in a tutorial on how to do it. I know this is technically a “healthy living” blog, so buttercream might not fit in that well… but I think part of “healthy living” means splurging every once in awhile. They came out pretty cool, I think – my coworkers will reap the benefits tomorrow!

Lastly, Matt and I needed tons of produce. Lately I’ve been really trying to up the ante on fruit and veggies, since they’re low cal, yummy and good for you. I’d been wanting to try a local ethnic produce market, so we went in and came out with this bounty. Don’t mind the tabby in the background… Lucia’s pretty vain and wanted to make sure she starred in the picture. (Bad kitty on the table!)

Lucia surveys the haul from a local ethnic market.

Guess how much all of this food cost? To help you tabulate, we have – a tub of Israeli olives, a sack of roasted peas, one bunch of celery, one bag of carrots, four huge russet potatoes, one pound of fresh green beans, three small spaghetti squash, a bag of mango “jubes” (I have no idea what they are – they just looked good!), a tub of baked pita chips, 5 Persian cucumbers, three limes, two mangos, and one green pepper.

Ok – ready for this? $21. Can you believe that? This would have easily cost us $35 or more at our local grocer. The celery was .33, and the bell pepper was .78. The olives were the most expensive thing we bought, at 3.99, still a steal considering how many you get (and pitted, at that!). I love food… but I also love saving money.

What did you do this weekend?

PS – We reached 100 “likes” on the Double Chin Diary on Facebook! Thank you to everybody for your support. In the next few weeks I’ll be setting up a giveaway of a few of my favorite things to celebrate! 🙂 And if you haven’t liked my page, what are ya waiting for?! http://www.facebook.com/doublechindiary

Tortilla Time

Tortilla making has a certain amount of allure behind it, and if you are like I am, you like to imagine apple-cheeked Abuelitas standing over hot coals patting out paper thin tortillas with their soft, wrinkled hands, instead of scary metal machinery cranking out tortillas en masse. The closet I can get to making a tortilla is ripping open the package and throwing them in the microwave, so I was delighted when my friend Monique offered to make me authentic Mexican tortillas. Here’s what you need:

  •  2 Cups of Self Rising Flour
  •   3/4 Capful of Corn Oil
  •  3-4 Shakes of Salt
  •  1 Cup of Hot Water – not boiling, but as hot as your delicate hands can stand
  • A rolling pin or if you’re very fancy, a pelote
  •  A cast iron pan
  •  A clean dish towel and large zip lock bag

1) Set the cast iron pan on medium.

2) Put two cups of the self rising flour into a large mixing bowl.

3) Slowly add a cup of hot water, mixing the water into the dough as you go. SLOWWWWWWLY. If you get excited and dump it all in, you’re going to have a mucky, floury mess that doesn’t mix well.

Slowly add hot water

4) Keep mixing with your hands until the dough feels like bread dough – soft and pokey and mostly together, like this.

Just the right consistency

5) Once you’ve made a well-formed ball, press your thumb into the center of the dough ball to make an indentation. Pour the 3/4 capful of oil into this hole, and leave the dough to rise for five minutes.

6) Waited your five minutes? Good. Now, knead the dough again with your hands, making sure the oil is well mixed into the dough. Separate the dough into 5 separate lumps on a lightly floured cutting board.

Roll!

7) Using your rolling pin or pelote, roll the ball upward once, then downward once. Roll from side to side until the tortilla is quite thin.

8) Throw it on the hot pan. It will bubble up immediately. Don’t be alarmed if you smell smoke, that’s normal. Using your fingers (‘cmon – be daring), flip the tortilla over on to the other side. The tortilla is done when it looks like a tortilla. Don’t over cook or it will be hard and yucky. This may take some time to get right, so don’t cry if your tortilla crisps up like a critter on the fourth of July.

Brown and bubbly and delicious!

9) Wrap the tortilla in the dish towel and place it inside the ziplock bag while you cook your other tortillas. You want them to stay steamy and warm inside.

10) Serve with other yummy things. We did shredded rotisserie chicken, el pato salsa with tomato, onion and cilantro, cheese and fresh cabbage. SUPER YUM!!!

11) Enjoy fat food coma and unbutton jeans. You did it!

Yummy