Monthly Archives: March 2010

meatless monday recipe: veggie fried rice…

image from

i promise this will be the last asian post for awhile, but this recipe from veggie belly was too delicious to pass up! sala uses jasmine rice (genius!) and a sauce called maggi (she also says you can substitute mushroom flavored soy sauce) – but i’m never one to pass up a new savory sauce discovery!

i did a little research on the maggi seasoning sauce and came across this post on wandering chopsticks. christine recommends the french or german versions (the french apparently is more expensive), both are less salty. her post lead me to eat, drink & be merry and a hilarious dissertation on maggi (and the comments are pretty passionate too!).

growing up japanese, i have no problem with MSG in small amounts…but i’m still not sure which version to buy…don’t really feel like splurging on a taste test, but i’m leaning towards the french version. for now, i’ll just make sala’s recipe with the jasmine rice and add some shiitake mushrooms and see how it goes. and the next time i am in an asian supermarket, will see if they have the french maggi. it seems people have many versions in their cupboards – maybe my friend dean can help me figure it out…

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like father, like daughter…george and mira nakashima…

ooh, thank you apartment therapy for starting my saturday off right with an introduction to the beautiful george nakashima woodworker website!

his daughter mira’s keisho collection (meaning “continuance” or “succession”)  uses the same artisans that were trained by her father. the website is worth exploring:  quiet, lovely and filled with love and and a deep respect for nature and craftsmanship…

and finding beauty in imperfections…

image from carnegie mellon design

there are sketches and family photos and stunning behind the scenes images of a true artist at work. beyond beautiful.


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modernest celebrates the 40th anniversary of earth day!

mark your calendars

come one, come all!

modernest will be

on the third street promenade

in santa monica

on saturday, april 17th

celebrating 40 years of earth day!

please stop by and say hello! for more info, visit the earth day l.a. site

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meatless monday recipe: pantry peanut noodles…

i have a confession to make – i am not a big fan of whole wheat pasta – i know i should eat it. i know it’s good for me. but it just doesn’t blow my skirt up. my secret weapon? this variation on a delicious hunan style dish we had ages ago in san francisco with our parents. now when the craving hits me, i can just rummage through the pantry and come up with a yummy supper that actually makes them palatable to me.

i also must apologize (once again) for my poor photography skills. i even have a nice camera (a lovely gift from my loving boyfriend)…i don’t know what my problem is…so i know this dish looks a little bland and boring and beige in the photo, but believe me, there is a ton of flavor sensations in that bowl! you’ll just have to trust me…

okay, on to the recipe!

1. start a large pot to boil water for the pasta. it is very important that you cook your pasta al dente – for two reasons:  one, i think whole wheat pasta has a tendency to get pretty mealy tasting when it’s overcooked and two, it will continue cooking when you toss it in the peanut sauce. i like to use thin spaghetti, but regular spaghetti works just as well.

2. in a large bowl (large enough to hold your pasta), combine the following:

  • 2 T crunchy peanut butter (smooth will work too, but i like the little bits of peanuts)
  • 2 T soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 4 T rice vinegar (or to taste – i usually add a bit more once the sauce is done)
  • 1 T hot red pepper oil
  • 1 t sugar (optional, i actually use 1/2 t of liquid blue agave)
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 t dried ground ginger
  • 1 t granulated garlic
  • 2 sliced scallions (i add the scallions after the pasta has been mixed with the sauce)
  • 1 t hot mustard (optional)
  • 1-2 cups of the boiling pasta water

3. i use a whisk to mix all the ingredients and let it sit and meld together while the pasta cooks. i taste the sauce before adding the water and adjust any ingredients – this is when i will probably add a splash more vinegar or a dash of the ginger (i usually only use 1 cup of the pasta water, but keep an extra cup on the side, just in case the noodles look too thick once they are mixed with the sauce).

4. toss the pasta in the sauce (the sauce should appear very thin). i also like to add diced cucumbers or bean sprouts or water chestnuts, to give the pasta a little texture. i think i posted last week that we had added fresh sugar snap peas from my boyfriend’s mom’s garden…green beans would be pretty tasty too…

this pasta is one of my boyfriend’s favorite quick meals. of course, you can use fresh ginger and garlic (1 T of each, finely minced). it’s a pretty flexible recipe and can be adjusted to suit your taste. as i said, i usually go pretty heavy on the rice vinegar and ginger, but that’s just me!

it really is a good recipe to have in your back pocket for nights that you want something flavorful, but didn’t make it to the market. i like to eat it cold the next day, my boyfriend likes to reheat his (so you might want to keep all the cucumbers on the side if you, like him, prefer your peanut noodles warm).

i hope you enjoy!

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hello spring! time to change the clocks and time for cherry blossoms…

after an especially harsh winter (even in l.a.!), i am so excited to see the first cherry blossoms coming into bloom. growing up, the first days of spring were always happy times at our house. most years, my mother would prepare a lovely picnic for us to take to the park or go for a hike up in the mountains and we would just sit and appreciate nature’s renewal and rebirth.

image from (of course!)

so, it is only fitting that modernest’s debut collection would include a cherry blossom bag (featuring a lovely illustration by my über talented boyfriend).

how i wish we had the time and money to travel d.c. or san francisco where we have friends to stay with and see the cherry blossom festivals in full swing…maybe next year. but for now, i will be happy to tote around a bit of that springtime spirit and with it, appreciation for my mom instilling in us an optimism that life, like nature, is always changing…

…and speaking of changing, don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend!

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a delicious event: tasteful pictures…

image from

here’s a terrific two-in-one event if you are a fan of photography, food and/or evan kleiman! in conjunction with the getty’s upcoming exhibit, “tasteful pictures“, zócalo is hosting a discussion, “picturing food“, moderated by the lovely evan kleiman of kcrw’s “good food”. panel participants include artbites’ maite gomez-rejón, photographer charlie grosso, and gastronomica founding editor darra goldstein.

i am a huge fan of edward weston and am only guessing/hoping that the bell pepper photo will be one of the masterpieces the getty will pull from its archives for the exhibit. mark your calendars!

getty exhibit: april 6 – august 22
zócalo event: april 8 at 7pm

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meatless monday recipe: vegetarian potstickers…

image from herbivoracious

i don’t know what’s been going on, but i’ve been on a total asian kick the last few days. could be thoughts of my parents’ anniversary have taken me back to all those delicious meals my mom would whip up so effortlessly, i don’t know.

in the last week, i’ve made my easy peasy pantry spicy peanut noodles (will share the recipe next week for meatless monday); yakisoba (inspired by mark bittman’s the minimalist article in the NYT…made mine with tofu, leftover veggies and fresh sugar snap peas from my boyfriend’s mom’s garden – delicious!); and now i’m drooling over michael natkin’s (a.k.a. herbivoracious) scrumptious veggie gyozas! gyoza is pretty easy to make and i find filling and folding the gyoza skins quite relaxing. hey, while i’m thinking about it, i make a pretty mean harumaki (japanese spring roll) too…hmmm, the grocery list is getting longer! okay, focus…a little rice, some kirin beer and dinner is served!


a fun p.s.:  michael is giving away a digital kitchen scale – enter to win by becoming a fan on his FB page (details here)…deadline is today, so head on over!

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