Through cold weather and several northern California monsoons, I holed up and shuttled between my studio and the kitchen. I finally had an opportunity to get into Plenty More, an amazing cookbook I received as a Christmas gift from my son. Plenty More is full of vegetarian recipes heavily influenced by Ottolenghi’s (the author) Israeli, Italian and British background. Asian influences shine through as well. While the book is vegetarian the author frequently suggests that many of the recipes can be used as side dishes for meat or fowl. I cannot give enough praise to this chef and I am determined to try every recipe in the book before the year’s end.

In spite of the cold, my partner and I also made a few foodie excursions to San Francisco. Among the restaurants we sampled, Aster, Liholiho Yacht Club, Cala and Al’s Place are the ones that I recommend. Eater.Com offers some great info and reviews on all four.

After blogging a post on shirataki noodles last month, I was suddenly seized by the thought that I may have done the noodles an injustice. With my title list of health issues, readers could have been led to believe that shiratakis should be consumed for medicinal purposes. Hardly, unless easy to prepare and delicious, can be counted among medicinal intentions? The noodles can be used in a variety of recipes and as a substitute for pasta. Admittedly, good for weight loss, and should you need a big call from Mother Nature, shirataki’s can be your medicine. They are also a good choice for those dinners that fall after 8PM. A list of recipes provided from Cookpad Something offers a bevy for palates of all persuasions.

The following are some of the this’ and that’s that came my way over the past month.

Is the replacement of humans by robots what the future holds? The video from Boston Dynamics sent to me by my partner offers an artful answer. As I watched it, my thoughts went to some of the great ballets I have seen over the years. I think you will agree!

The Humble Tie

Remember when Hillary’s style was up for grabs by the media? Her hair, makeup, pant suits, it went on and on (Lately, the press has commented on her new hair style). Looks like someone else is in the spotlight now. Guess who? Recently my partner sent me an article published out of a study at Stanford. From academia, it is a critical account of the history and meaning, of all things, the tie. In addition to a concise history of the tie, the author offers a lucid analysis of how the way a man wears his tie and what it says about that man. This is the kind of critique we women are used to, but to see it done in regard to male fashion was, to be honest, refreshing. It brought me to giggles!

Finally, I am preparing itineraries for an upcoming trip to China soon to be followed by one to Japan. Aside from a brief dalliance with Hong Kong decades ago, this will be my first trip to China. Due to a lack of familiarity with the country, I have found preparations to be more complicated than the previous trips to forty other countries.

As an example, when my partner and I went to the  local FedEx office to get passport photos for visas we were informed  that they could not do them. Photos for a Chinese visa had to be a special size and could only be done by a photographer. I did an immediate search on the spot for the nearest local photographer, found and called  V.I.P. Photographers . Ara, the photographer could not have been more helpful. She agreed to meet us in an hour and promised that shots would be ready within twenty-four hours… whew! In addition to the photos we needed to include a copy of our airline tickets, the itinerary with hotels and transportation info. With a schedule that includes visits to five cities, this was no easy task!

And now, back to the kitchen to try Ottolenghi’s root mash with wine braised shallots.