In a nutshell. (December Favorites!)

Happy New Year! I can’t say that enough. Every day since last January, 2017 showed no sign of ending anytime soon, and now, at long last, it’s over. At the same time, the year went way too fast. 2017 was the split personality of years in my life, and it leaves me excited for 2018.

I’m starting 2018 with a new approach to these “monthly favorites” posts: I’m going to answer three questions about each “little thing” on my lists, rather than writing paragraphs about them. If I have something more to say about something, I’ll devote a separate post to it. Starting now, these posts will be more visual, less blah-blah-blah.

 

1). Darkest Hour

 

 

What I liked: The acting, the direction, the musical score, the story of Dunkirk from the back end, Gary Oldman’s make-up and costume, the overall quality of the production.

What I didn’t like: It dragged slightly in some places, but not enough to lessen my regard of the film.

Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you enjoy biopics.

 

2). Black Mirror (S4)  (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: Every story in every episode, the writing, the direction, impact/thought-provoking nature of the stories, the big philosophical questions raised, the overall excellence of the production.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. You might enjoy this even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi thrillers.

 

3). The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The writing, the acting, the costumes and set, the entertainment factor, the film’s freshness and overall excellence.

What I didn’t like: Some of the humor fell flat on me.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

4). I Love Dick (T.V. series)

 

 

What I liked: The story, the writing, its presentation as art, its unapologetic rawness, some of the acting (mainly Kathryn Hahn’s).

What I didn’t like: Just that its IMDB rating is much lower than I’d expect it to be. In my opinion, this series is curiously underrated.

Would I recommend it? NOT TO EVERYONE. If you’d rather not see sexually explicit stories and raw, “artistic” story-telling of such material, I would not recommend.

 

5). Mom’s cooking.

 

Okara with brown rice and furikake

 

What I liked: Everything, meaning the tofu and the okara pictured above. Mom brought freshly made tofu from the little tofu place in my hometown’s J-town (Japan-town), so it was the tofu of my childhood. It’s nothing like the prepackaged tofu you get in a box in the supermarket.

Okara, by the way, is Japanese for “rubbish,” in a sense, from what I understand… as a dish, it’s the scraps leftover from the making of fresh tofu. You could buy it in bags and cook it up with dashi (Mom used plant-based dashi), seasonings, and finely chopped shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and carrots. It’s one of my favorite home-cooked dishes. Grandma used to make it just for me!

What I didn’t like: That it was, perhaps, the last time I’d eat it. With the closing of the little family-run tofu factory (there’s no one left to take it over), fresh tofu and okara may be a thing of the past.

Would I recommend it? Yes, but this is irrelevant, of course.

 

6). Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels.

 

Dave’s Killer Plain Awesome Bagels

 

What I liked: High nutrient density in a bread that seems like a cheat-day indulgence.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes. I’ve been eating one of these a day almost every day for over a month, and I’m not tired of them yet.

 

7). Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter.

 

Apple Pie Larabar with peanut butter

 

What I liked: Peanut butter on an apple pie Larabar is as delicious as peanut butter on fresh apple slices. It’s a satisfying nutritional powerhouse of a treat.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? If the apple/peanut butter flavor combo appeals to you, then yes.

 

8). Cara Cara oranges.

 

Cara Cara oranges

 

What I liked: These beautiful red-fleshed navel oranges (they are not blood oranges) are incredibly sweet and juicy, and they have just a hint of tropical flavor.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

9). Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract).

 

Acure The Magical Wonderfluff Overnight Hydrating Booster Mask (argan + gardenia extract)

 

What I liked: This overnight mask makes my skin look more smooth in the morning. It goes on like a thick lotion that dries into a pleasant, slight tightness; it’s not sticky, as other overnight masks often are. I layer this on over my nightcream every night.

What I didn’t like: Its schoolroom fragrance (paste, maybe?) is somewhat strange, but actually, I don’t dislike it. It may be a turn-off for some people, though.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

10). OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter.

 

OGX Shea Soft & Smooth Creamy Hair Butter

 

What I liked: Just that it actually works to smooth out the frizzy fly-aways all over my head, and it doesn’t make my hair feel heavy or greasy.

What I didn’t like: ?

Would I recommend it? Yes.

 

The End. How’s that for succinct?

Until next time!

Random food-related personal trivia ahoy!

Have you ever been curious about other people’s food idiosyncrasies? Here are a dozen of mine:

1). I enjoy monosodium glutamate (MSG). Growing up in a Japanese-American household, we always had MSG in our spice cabinet. We refer to it by its brand name: Aji-no-moto. I never knew it was “horrible” for you until MSG started blowing up the health news circuits. I’m not afraid of it. I still eat it. I don’t buy the full spectrum of negative hype surrounding it any more than I buy the full spectrum of negative hype surrounding soy (i.e. tofu), another common Japanese food I grew up eating. Japanese cuisine is generally healthier than standard American fare. We get our Ajinomoto from the mom & pop Japanese market down the street. You can get it from Amazon dot com.

2). My brain does not know how to tell my body that I’m full when I’m eating pasta. I could eat an entire box in one sitting, so when I make pasta at home, I measure out the exact serving size and make just that amount. In restaurants, I almost never take home leftover pasta, no matter how large the serving size. I eat it all and wish there was more.

3). Along with several other kids on our street, my brother and I used to climb a neighbor’s front-yard almond tree. We ate the almonds while they were still green. We didn’t realize that we were vandalizing, trespassing, and stealing. Because of our unfortunate past-time,  I came to crave the raw, sweet green almonds, and I didn’t understand why they weren’t available in the store. I still enjoy raw almonds, and I still wish they were green.

4). I don’t go around pontificating about vegetarianism or veganism, but if I find a veggie-pride shirt I like, I’ll get it and wear it. And take selfies in it.

 

No Meat Athlete workout apparel

No Meat Athlete workout apparel

“It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war”

Powered by plants

Powered by plants

 

5). If I could only take one food with me to a deserted island, it would be Chipotle Tabasco Sauce. It would make anything on the island edible.

6). I’m a shameless breadaholic. I eat bread of some type or another at both lunch and dinner (unless dinner is something like sushi). My favorite toast is sourdough.

7). My favorite sushi is brown rice with avocado and cucumber, and Callaghan makes the best.

8). When I was in army basic training at Ft. Jackson, our drill sergeant threatened we city recruits with chitlins. I wasn’t afraid. But then I witnessed a particularly strange punishment involving orange soda, and I haven’t wanted orange soda since.

9). I always thought that beets were the most hilarious food on the planet, I have no idea why, and I still can’t eat them.

10). Nutritional yeast powder is one of my favorite foods, and I consume at least a handful of it every week. We get it in a huge can (from Whole Foods… their brand).

11). I’m hooked on cold water stirred up with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s raw unfiltered, always); I drink it after both lunch and dinner.

12). I don’t understand poi. No amount of sugar in the world can persuade me to understand it.