Rain, absorb, grow

Lately it’s been quite rainy, which is probably due to the fact that August in Alabama is crazy humid. The air is full of water, the heat increases the pressure and bam. One, two, sometimes three storms in one day. There’s so much water falling around that it’s hardly surprising how fast everything is growing.

Just a few days ago we had a lunch with some friends. It was a nice restaurant where I was mostly interested in their creative light fixtures, some of the most original I’ve seen in a while:


After lunch we headed home and upon taking our dog out I noticed them. So. Many. Mushrooms. They were certainly not there a few days earlier, I would’ve noticed them. Huge mushrooms that showed up all of a sudden. So I took my gear and took a few stills, because soon there won’t be much growing going on once the “southern winter” (= mildly warm temperatures, not real cold per se) hits us.


I even made a little grasshopper friend!





I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to eat these… they’re growing on ground that is most likely full of chemicals just to look pretty. That said, seeing how alabamian humidity seems to help, I’m now intrigued to try to grow some food myself when we – hopefully – own a new house next year.



On other news, after agonizing over whether to buy a full frame A7 or keep my current APSC camera, I finally sold my SEL1855 kit-lens on eBay and bought a nice Sigma 30mm f/2.8 prime. Sure, the results won’t be as nice as FF, but I’ve decided the negatives outweigh the benefits in my case and staying APSC will yield much better value/outcomes in both the short and long run. Hopefully that f/2.8 (or my vintage 1976 Nikkor 50mm f/2) will help in isolating subjects further with nice creamy bokeh (all the pictures in this post are from the Nikon lens).


HAL #43 – Crispy kale chips

Kale is one of my favorite veggies. It is leaf based – I’ve always liked leaves better than flowers – it is green (and dark green at that) which is a color I love and it is full of good stuff for you: beta-carotene, vitamins K & C, calcium and other elements that actually repair your DNA aiding to prevent cancer. It also lowers cholesterol! The only downfall is its strong taste when raw, which is not to everybody’s liking. Usually I use kale as part of a juice that I regularly make for dinner but there is a great easy way to make chips out of it that I learned from the amazing Mindfoodness:

First off – grab some nice looking kale!

Second – chop the leafy parts with your hands or a knife to separate them from the stem. Whether you want bigger or smaller chips is up to you, I tend to cut them medium sized.

Remember – don’t throw away the stems! Even without leaves they still have nutrients so you can still add these to a veggie/fruit juice.

Third – mix the kale leaves with no more than 2 spoons of extra virgin olive oil: the goal is not to make them super oily but just lightly coat them so they’ll cook nicely in the oven. Sprinkle some salt too to improve the taste.

Fourth – Have your oven pre-heated to 350F and leave the kale cooking for no more than 15 minutes (depending on your oven they could be done sooner, I’d check after 10min to be safe).

Done! – Enjoy the healthy, crispy and tasty kale chips that come out of the oven!

HAL #41 – Toasted pita bread with Canary Isles sauces

Last night we had a very interesting presentation by writer Diamela Eltit in our department. One of my favorite parts of these gatherings – other than the intellectual aspect – is the reception that usually ensues, of course. I am human after all, and I had spent about 10h working at university by the time the speaker finished. Food was necessary. After the event, again as is starting to be a trend, there was so much food left, not because the department ordered too much, but because people didn’t eat in any meaningful amounts yet again. So, as is practically ritual, organizers and helpers divided the leftovers to take home as no healthy food should be thrown away, ever. I got a plate of chicken that I ate for dinner (I wasn’t about to start cooking at 11pm) and what seemed like a bottomless bag of pita bread.

Seriously. I have so much pita at home right now. Did anybody even touch the pita? SO. MUCH. In my home. Which makes life even better. So, busy as I am revising all my written thesis chapters time and time again, on this cloudy and gloomy day, I thought I’d put some color out in the universe. I recalled I still had some of the sauces my awesome Bryan brought from Canary Isles (mojo picón, mojo verde, almogrote & miel) and so I proceeded to use them on previously toasted pita, reserving a couple of the pieces for homemade garlic bread.

The result: HAL perfection. See for yourself below. If that doesn’t look like a happy, nutritious, colorful, healthy awesome lunch, I don’t know what does. I’m tempted to print it in a large canvas and hang it on the wall.


HAL #40 – Tilapia burger

My previous salmon burger was so good I decided to make this a trend and start making fish burgers more often. Hence, the inception of today’s lunch: a fantastic tilapia burger made with minced fish, onion, pepper, garlic (I seriously love garlic) and some flax seed. I fried it just enough to cook it inside and with  a few pickles on top plus fried asparagus on the side (again with flax seed and maldon salt), lunch was ready.



HAL #38 – The UN convention

Yes, this is a very international HAL – Spanish fried cabbage with flax seed and garlic, Mexican guacamole (that still surprises me because I cannot believe Jewel makes such mind-blowing high-quality guacamole and sells it for so cheap, this is really good stuff) and Indian pita chips! So many countries in just one plate. Healthy, flavorful and amazing.DSC08753

HAL #37 – Garlic asparagus + flax seed pasta

I’ve been to busy in the past few months doing revisions to my PhD dissertation to post much… so I though today I would get caught up with some overdue posts. First up, this amazing HAL that is a good balance between carbs and diuretic veggies: a quick stir fry with asparagus and garlic – with some maldon salt to intensify flavor – and some pasta with homemade tomato sauce and plenty of flax seed. Yum!


HAL #36 – Juice & veggie burger

About a month ago I was motivated to try juicing after watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead on Netflix. Granted, I’m nowhere as fat/unhealthy as the people in that documentary are, but being 5.7 and weighing 180 pounds, I figured this would be a nice way to try to go down to 170 pounds. I never planned to do anything crazy like their week, 10-day or 2-month detox programs (nothing that extreme can be good for a normal person if you ask me) but substituting heavier dinners with a veggie/fruit juice and using the leftover pulp to prepare a healthy veggie burger sounded like a delicious and healthy plan.

And so, I finally got my new Black & Decker juicer from Amazon today. It’s not the best around, but it’s quite decent and more than good enough for light daily juicing, plus a good $60 cheaper than the cheapest Breville. Besides, for my 1st juicer, it struck me as a sensible choice monetarily in case I didn’t like the experience. As I got the box, I proceeded to make some amazing healthy awesome lunch. For the juice, I used 1/2 cucumber, 1 piece of celery, 1 carrot, 1 orange and some spinach (the latter goes 1st into the juicer so that more watery foods will help bring it down later). After that was ready, I left it in the fridge for 10 minutes while I made a veggie burger with the leftover pulp (except the orange) by mixing it with salmon and garlic, stir frying it for a few minutes and finally adding some salt, pepper and flax seed. Maybe in the future I’ll get adventurous and try to include the orange, but it seemed a little too exotic for my 1st attempt 🙂

Bottom line: today’s HAL was SO GOOD and it made me especially happy that nothing went to waste (Keira was somewhat disappointed that she didn’t get a piece of Salmon!). This juicing thing holds promise and the whole process made me so incredibly happy. Next up I’ll have to experiment with olives and other natural additives!