Vegetarian Month



Vegetarian Month made me so weak I wasn't able to post to the blog. OK, it wasn't really that bad...I've just been busy, and still catching up on Disney Month posts, flairs. So to sum of this latest OpMo month of fun Stephanie and I didn't eat meat for the entire month of June, except for one little slip up. It was a challenging month, but not without rewards and new discoveries.

Vegetarian Month wasn't too bad when we ate at home. We were able to stock up non-meat foods we enjoy and some fake meat products to substitute. The more challenging part was eating at restaurants, events, and meals at other peoples' houses. The worst was a wedding we attended. They had some delicious looking steak and chicken, but the non-meat offerings were a little slim. I'm not crazy about Caesar salad so I didn't get much to eat. Some restaurants are nearly impossible to eat vegetarian at, although we mostly managed to avoid those.

The positive side of this was that it forced us to try some new food that we wouldn't have otherwise tried. I didn't find any fake meat I liked but I had some great vegetable, pasta, and fruit dishes. We learned that marinated mozzarella makes any pasta better and that even though I still don't like bell peppers enough to eat one on its own I now accept that they have their place in adding flavor to a dish. On the fake meat front it ranged from terrible to edible. The best was the rice burgers we picked up at S&S, and the worst was the boca burgers. There isn't enough BBQ sauce in the world to cover the wet sock flavor of a boca burger. Tofu is edible, but even if its cooked well I prefer chicken.

The other big benefit to Vegetarian Month has been the fantastic BMs. I think that's why vegetarians always seem happy. Now if only they weren't so smug. I didn't notice any other health changes. I didn't lose or gain any weight and my energy level was about the same.

Now that Vegetarian Month is over we'll return to eating meat, but we'll be having meals without meat much more often than before. Tonight Stephanie and I are going on a meat date to celebrate the end of Vegetarian Month. I'll be eating the largest steak that Sierra Nevada makes and loving every bite.

Homicidal Maniac Ravages Innocent Clam Family



It a horrific display of carnivorous zeal a woman devoured an entire family of clams at a Red Lobster restaurant in Chico California. Witnesses at the scene of the crime were shocked at the brutality of the woman as she ate what she reportedly dubbed "clam chowder." The alleged crime involved chopping up a Daddy clam, a Mommy clam, a little boy clam, and a baby girl clam into small pieces. The remains of the victims were then dunked into scalding hot liquids before being eaten.

"There was a lot of snorting and squealing and she had a crazed look in her eye, kinda like that Charles Manson guy," described a Red Lobster employee. Authorities have asked that anyone fitting the description of the alleged killer be immediately reported. They warned that the suspect is likely armed with a butcher knife and soup spoon and could be very dangerous. "Do not approach her, we don't know who she will lash out at next. Just keep a safe distance and call 911," cautioned Police Chief Maloney.




Without a doubt the highlight of Disney Month was a trip to Disneyland. Stephanie and I had a lot of fun with with my parents and Jen & Karen. We had a three day pass for Disneyland and the new-to-me California Adventures with a day of travel on each end. Even with three full days in the parks we didn't come close to getting to everything, but we hit most of the big stuff. Unlike Stephanie I've been to Disneyland a few times before, but we found some stuff that I hadn't experienced on previous visits.

Day one was spent in Disneyland and we made it to a bunch of the classic rides: Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, The Haunted Mansion, The Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Captain EO, and Star Tours. Pirates is the same old fun ride with the addition of a few Jack Sparrows. The addition of Jack didn't hurt the ride, although I couldn't work out why pirates were trying to capture him from the Spaniards in the big scene with the pirate ship and fortress. Indiana Jones was the big new ride last time I was in Disneyland and it is still really great. Haunted Mansion and Matterhorn were just as I remembered and as fun as always. Space Mountain is still awesome. The darkness and simulated star scape add a lot to this roller coaster and makes it one of my favorite rides at any amusement park. Captain EO is the original 3-D film that they brought back to make a buck off Michael Jackson's death with the addition of some 4-D effects that were added to the theater for Honey I Shrunk the Audience. The 4-D effects mostly consisted of the seats bouncing around to the music. I found the bouncing annoying and didn't think it added much to the show. Captain EO is definitely showing its age, but I couldn't help feel some nostalgia and almost bought a shirt on the way out. Star Tours is scheduled for a renovation and I'm glad I got to ride the original one more time. It was great hit all these rides in one morning with the short lines afforded by the off season and some cloudy weather. The lines were so short there wasn't much need for Fast Pass, which is new since my last visit.

Downtown Disney is also new to me. It's a series of stores and restaurants sandwiched between the parks and the Disney hotels. They must have decided that the parks were commercialized enough so they had to come up with a place to separate visitors from their remaining money. It was convenient to have someplace so close by with nice long hours, even if everything was overpriced and didn't quite have the Disney magic that Disneyland does.

Speaking of lost magic, we spent part of days two and three in California Adventures. There are some world-class rides like Soarin' Over California, Tower of Terror, and California Screamin' but there was a distinct lack of the Disney magic that is liberally spread about Disneyland proper. I really didn't enjoy the whole Paradise Pier section of California Adventures. They've tried to recreate the classic beach boardwalk feel of places like Santa Cruz. Maybe its because I've lived my whole life in California but if I want beach boardwalk I'll go to a real beach boardwalk. The carnival style rides in this section just made me nauseous.

I appreciate the variety of Downtown Disney and California Adventures and I really appreciate the booze (Disneyland proper is totally dry), but the whole time I was in either location I just wanted to run back to Disneyland. I feel like I should be concerned that I've turned into such a sentimental turd that I would pass up the thrills of a great roller coaster in favor of strolling down Main Street Disneyland, but I think I'm OK with it.

On day two we had dinner at Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean. The dark atmosphere was exactly how I imagine an evening in New Orleans. Granted, this vision is mostly based on depictions from movies and purposely ignores hurricanes and oil spills (fuck you BP). The food and service were good, and the long meal provided some needed relaxation. I would recommend Blue Bayou, but be sure make reservations; they were turning people away even though the park wasn't very busy.

Day three brought some sunshine and larger but not unmanageable crowds. After getting Stephanie her Disney Princess photo-op fix we rode Grizzly River Run in California Adventures. Then we headed back to Disneyland to ride Indiana Jones a couple more times and go on a couple of the rides we missed like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the obligatory It's a Small World.

Even though we spent about twelve hours a day for three days in the two parks, and even though Splash Mountain was closed and none of evening shows like Fantasmic or the new World of Color were running we didn't manage to get to everything available. We realized this on the third day but I think we were all content with the trip, and we had a great time experiencing Disneyland together.

Mission 3: Vegetarian - Day 3



As usual my first meal of the day was lunch. I don't know why I have this aversion to eating breakfast. I love breakfast food. I eat breakfast on the weekends. I think maybe it's the fact that I would rather sleep in than eat breakfast. I would rather sleep in than do most things in the morning, especially during the work week.

We had lunch at Uppercrust Bakery. This place is amazing. Our wedding cakes were made there. Most of my friends have had their wedding cakes made there, come to think of it. Anyway, they have a great lunch menu and a huge selection of salads to go along side your meal. I had the grilled cheese and a french herb potato salad. This was no ordinary grilled cheese, just thinking about it makes me hungry again. This was two thick slabs of focaccia with lots of cheese between them. What makes this grilled cheese special is the cheese crust. Prior to grilling the focaccia is coated in chevre cheese, it turns into a delicious cheese crust completely surrounding the sandwich! AMAZING! The potato salad was delicious, although the potatoes were cut so large it was a little difficult to maneuver in the small bowl. I could probably eat that lunch everyday. It was delicious. But as with most things, I paid a price for the deliciousness. Well my wallet did anyway. Uppercrust, like most downtown restaurants, is expensive. Tasty, but expensive. I would say it is worth the splurge.

Dinner was, as it usually is during the week, a rush. I was tired and stressed so I talked Keith into taking me to El Patron. El Patron is a favorite of mine. Their carnitas are out of this world. All of their food is really good actually. I had a bean, rice and cheese burrito. It was more than enough food to feed me. My only wish was that I would have chosen black beans. I didn't make any choice at all, I just ordered and re-fried was the default. I prefer whole beans in my food in general. I am not a huge fan of re-fried beans. Especially not from a can. If I am going to eat them I want them freshly made by someones abuelita, and full of lard. That is the only acceptable way. Even though I forgot to specify I was still happy with my meal. The chips and salsa and nacho cheese made things nice too. My customary side of sour cream was big help as well. I love sour cream. I think it might be my favorite condiment. I put it on almost everything.

Mission 3: Vegetarian - Day 2



Day two of vegetarian month went pretty well. My meat cravings are still at a level six. They started out at a level six so I would say that's a positive. I still think about bacon a lot.

I almost never eat breakfast so my first meal of the day is lunch. We went to Johnnies for lunch. Johnnies is the restaurant in the Hotel Diamond in downtown Chico. It looks pretty ritzy and unlike most Chico restaurants I wouldn't wear my pajama pants there, but the prices are good. They are good for lunch anyway. They have "mini combos", half servings of most of their meals with a salad or cup of soup for $6.95. This is a great deal, especially downtown. I always get the minis, they end up being more food than the full size meals for less money. I had the mac and cheese and a caesar salad . Both were delicious. Johnnies has a decent variety for vegetarians. They have tempura asparagus that is amazing. The only problem with Johnnies is the inconsistency. The service fluctuates between super fast and too slow to eat during your lunch break. The food, while usually delicious is always different depending on the cook. This keeps Keith and I from going there as much as we might, considering the price.

I had a dinner meeting with the always lovely Jerry Miller. He took me to Kwando, a Chinese Buffet. The buffet is pretty good, but their sushi is really, really good. I wouldn't know because I can't eat meat, and aside from my vow of meat abstinence I am not crazy about sushi. There wasn't much of a selection for the non-meat eater. They have a very limited salad bar, and a handful of vegetable only dishes as well as a couple vegetable soups. I had salad, tasty, garlicky green beans and hot and sour soup. I got enough to eat, although I was wishing for more variety.

I was starving after rehearsals so when Keith picked me up I had him take me to Wendy's. I love Wendy's. They have the best fries and they also have baked potatoes! I got a sour cream and chive baked potato. It was delicious.

Mission 3: Vegetarian - Day 1



I love vegetables. I always have. When I was really young and other children stole little candies from the bulk bins at the store I was grabbing mushrooms and broccoli. No joke. Ask my mother if you ever have the chance to meet her. I was a goofy kid.

June is vegetarian month. Day one wasn't too bad. I really want a steak though. I think the anticipation of not having steak or fish or ribs has intensified the craving. Yesterday, all I wanted to eat was a Basque Norte marinaded steak. There is some in my freezer right now, but it will have to wait until July! I only hope I don't make myself sick binging on meat in July.

I had miso soup with Isreali couscous and tofu with a side of brown rice for lunch at T Bar. T Bar, formerly know as Teaz Me has good vegetarian selections. I love their food and their tea. My only complaint is that the food is a little expensive for what it is. I had the miso soup which is 4.99 I believe, and Keith had a fusion bowl with tofu that was 8.95. I wouldn't complain about the price except the fact that there were only three smallish strips of tofu. It was very tasty though and the prices weren't so high that I would stop going there. I actually go there about five times a week. Sometimes multiple times a day. That is how much I like T Bar. It is my Cheers, where everybody knows my name(and my order!).

I was stoked to discover that the meal I had choosen for dinner was very easy and very quick to make. I was starving by the time I got home from the store with Keith and Sam. I made wheat pasta shells with asparagus, peas, spinach, garlic and marinated mozzarella. It took about 15 minutes start to finish. I used garlic olive oil instead of regular and that gave it a lighter flavor. I really liked it. The recipe called for mint and feta, but I am not crazy about mint and I wanted something with a little more texture so I went with the marinated mozz instead. my only regret with the mozz is that I put it in too soon and it melted. It was still super tasty but the pretty cubes were turned into blobs.

I am currently working on a new show, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Rehearsals are at 6:30 in the evening and that puts a serious time constraint on what I can cook. Good thing vegetarian food cooks quickly, for the most part. I was starving when I got home though. Oh man! I was hungry all day as a matter of fact. I made a boca burger in a skillet with garlic olive oil and toped it with cheddar cheese. It was pretty good. I had never eaten a Boca burger before. It tasted somewhat like a breaded chicken patty. The texture was pretty good too. I think I'll have another.

Mission 3 - Vegetarian



Mission number three is Vegetarian. Operatives Keith and Stephanie will eat only vegetarian meals for the entire month of June. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunner, brunch, fourth meal and all snacks. They must not consume any meat. This will be a particularly difficult month. Can Operatives Keith and Stephanie resist the siren call of bacon for an entire month? Will Stephanie become cranky and sullen from meat withdrawl? Will Operatives Keith and Stephanie end up healthier than when they started? All will be revealed as vegetarian month progresses.

Mission 2: Disney - Wrap up



Disney month was quite a challenge, for a lot of reasons. I really love Disney and have since I was a child. I think that my love for Disney at this point is two parts quality and three parts nostalgia at this point in my life. I will still watch the movies while I am cleaning or cooking and I will still feel the same glee when I hear a Disney song.

Most of the challenge for me with this month was finding time to watch Disney. May was a very busy month, much busier than I had expected. After having found the time to watch something I certainly didn't have time to write about it. I found that very stressful. I was constantly thinking about how far behind I was in posting. I still am way behind in posting. I enjoy the blog and am having a great time, but this month was the first month I felt stressed out about it.

Keith and I wrapped up Disney month with the Princess and the Frog. I really liked this one. I liked that it was heavier on story than recent Disney fare. I loved the music. I wasn't crazy about the alternate animation montages during some of the songs. They were distracting. I did get a little teary when Ray the firefly got smashed and died, ascending to heaven to be with his Evangeline. That was a nice moment. My biggest gripe was that the story of the Shadow man and his deal with his "friends on the other side" was lacking. I thought that was the biggest whole in the story. I really did like this one and will probably end up buying it at some point.

Disney has changed so much since I was a kid. The Disney Channel is awful. The writing in most of the shows that we watched is so condescending and devoid of real humor. I think it is unfortunate when cartoons have better writing and acting than live shows. I really enjoyed the cartoon Phineas and Ferb, I thought the writing was great and it made science and math seem fun and a little mischievous. Perfect for suckering young kids to study those hated subjects.

Disneyland was all I could have dreamed. I had a glorious time and I can't wait to go back. Did you know that you can not put just anything on your mouse ears? Disney Corp. won't let you put nicknames or even fake sounding names on your mouse ears. I bought my Grandma Biddy some ears and wanted her name on them. Her really name is Vivian but everyone calls her Grandma Biddy. I didn't even know her real name until I was 13. No joke. but they wouldn't let me put Biddy on the ears. Proper names only. LAME. Other than Disney's stupid and annoying ear policy, and way over inflated food and drink prices, Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth.

That wraps Disney month! On to Vegetarian month.