Tag: food

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Pumpkin Mountain

The iPhone 13 Pro camera system surprisingly satisfies—more than any other smartphone to bless my grubby fingers. I am loving the ultra-wide (13mm) and telephoto (77mm) lenses, along with RAW capture capabilities. Shots are sharper than I would ever expect from a device with relatively small sensor and which primary function is not photography.

All combined, the 13 Pro is creative fun—and that’s from my only surface skimming the sea of benefits. The Featured Image is example, with distortion from the ultra-wide lens adding character to an otherwise mundane scene. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 50, 1/122 sec, 13mm; 1:01 p.m. PDT, yesterday.

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An Orijen Story

Let’s talk kitty kibble. Our longhairs, Cali and Neko, eat a variety of McDonald’s-caliber wet food and the exceptionally healthy Orijen Cat & Kitten hard stuff. We typically buy the 5.4-kilo (12-pound) bag, which will last for months. On Sept. 25, 2021, with the last bits eaten, I walked from our apartment in University Heights to Pet Me Please in neighboring Normal Heights. But, uh-oh, so much time had passed since our last purchase that Orijen changed recipes. Ugh.

Cat & Kitten is gone. Where was one, there are now three: Original Cat; Kitten Formula; and Guardian 8 Formula. The store clerk claimed, and surely packaging means to suggest the same, that Original is closest to what we previously purchased. But he warned that the new recipe is different enough. Lovely. We ended up feeding our putty-tats the equivalent of wet fast food following formula changes made to two different manufacturers’ better quality canned brands; our beasties refused to eat the revised recipes. What they get now costs less and isn’t as healthy (grumble) but they like it.

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Lettuce Grow for You

Perhaps you remember “Carport Lettuce” from July 2020. The grower, located in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, is preparing to take his hydroponic garden to one of the area’s farmers markets—and possibly to several. My wife chatted with him yesterday, and we returned to his mobile grower today.

The Featured Image and companions come from Leica Q2, and I scold myself for not rushing to get the shots. When Annie and I ventured out on a late-morning walk, the sky was overcast. By the time I remembered the lettuce cart, the sun had come out, casting hard shadows. Diffuse light would have made for better photos. First of the set is cropped to remove, from down the street, two cars with visible license plates. Vitals, aperture preset for all: f/8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 12:34 p.m. PDT.

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Grapes, Anyone?

Walking about my San Diego neighborhood, I see food growing everywhere—on personal property and in public places. Take your pick: Apples, avocados, grapefruits, lemons, lettuce, oranges, pomegranates, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and watermelons—to name a few. Yesterday’s grape sighting adds to the list, but with surprise. I frequently walk by the location, several times a week for at least 10 years. How could I possibly have missed seeing clusters during past growing seasons?

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image—and companions that are presented to provide some locational context. Vitals for the first, aperture manually set for all: f/4, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 1:04 p.m. PDT, yesterday. You really want to click the link and zoom in.

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I Won’t Go Soft on Hard Seltzer

Before the Wilcoxes relocated to California from Maryland some thirteen-and-a-half years ago, I generally replaced soda with a couple tablespoons of apple juice mixed with a 12-ounce can of seltzer (e.g., carbonated water). But finding the bubbly proved to be really challenging in SoCal. A few stores stocked seltzer in quart-size plastic bottles but no cans and for considerably higher price than what we paid back East.

Then came LaCroix’s bold brand turnaround early in the last decade. Packaging makeover and consumer rage against sugary soda won over mainstream Millennials, ultimately leading to a seltzer surge—whether measured by increased number of brands, flavors, or sales. That’s good for me, now a drinker of straight seltzer; no juice added by my hands or artificial flavors by bottlers.

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A Valentine’s Day Story

A favored walking route from Old Trolley Barn Park is the alley between Alabama and Florida streets. Occasionally, Pace (pronounced paw-chay, according to his owner) appears—and, on some days, Coon or Ghost (both nicknames) in an adjacent, expansive yard. Today, I passed by a woman either emptying recyclables or trash (not sure which) and she wished: “Happy Valentine’s Day”. She was cheerful, which emotion a higher-pitch voice accentuated. Her apartment overlooks the alley, and she recognized me from looking out her windows on other days.

The 35-year-old Salt Lake City native has resided in San Diego for about a decade. We talked about the terrible expense of living here, mainly housing, which she offsets by having a roommate and adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s several SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns put her on unemployment twice, which led her to become entrepreneurial, rather than depressed and destitute. Adapting her mom’s recipe, she bakes and sells chocolate chip cookies by the dozen—$15 a box.

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You Can Ride During the Pandemic, Why Not Eat?

I am a big fan of public transportation, particularly subway and trolley transits. No argument from me: During the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—better known as COVID-19pandemic, public transportation is a necessary service that gets people without cars to the grocery store, pharmacy, or, if essential workers, to their jobs.

Something bothers me: If San Diegans are safe enough riding in an enclosed bus for, say, 20 to 40 minutes, why does California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom consider open-air dining to be risker and, therefore, is prohibited? I surely would worry much more about being inside a bus for any length of time, where riders feeling asphyxiated—particularly older folks who are more likely to be on board and are high-risk to catch COVID-19—pull down masks below their noses and even their mouths. Can you say super-spreader event? Because I surely can.

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If the Lockdown Lasts Long Enough…

I am so tempted to buy a can of spray paint and replace that last zero in twenty-twenty with a one. Because given that Southern California’s COVID-19 crackdown continues unabated—and that the restaurant couldn’t have opened in “Early Fall” because of it—autumn twenty-twenty-one looks ever more realistic. That assumes the place isn’t forced into insolvency, like so many other local eateries. In this County, SanDiegoVille keeps a running list of restaurants and pubs permanently shuttered during 2020—the majority since the pandemic’s start. I count 113 entities, but more when accounting for establishments with multiple locations.

These businesses are prohibited from seating customers, indoors or outdoors; take-out and delivery are the only options, and they don’t generate enough revenue to keep operations aloft. The widening spread of COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), demonstrates that forced closures are ineffective killing the pandemic. But they sure look likely to massively massacre small- and medium-size businesses.

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Must Dark Chocolate Taste Bad to Be Good?

The answer depends upon your tastebuds and eating habits. In July 2013, following a diabetic health scare, I voluntarily adopted a low-carb, low-sugar diet—and the latter isn’t easy, given how much sugar is added to everything. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “For most Americans, the main sources of added sugars are sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, desserts, and sweets”. I stopped eating all these things seven years ago. Granny Smith Apple is my main treat; dark chocolate is the other.

In a relatively recent change, the FDA requires “added sugar” to be included on a packaged food’s Nutrition Label along with the overall total—the remainder being naturally occurring. The amounts can be staggering. For example, in a half-cup (130 grams) of Bush’s Baked Beans (original recipe) there are 12 grams of sugar —11 of them added, for 22 percent of the daily recommended total of 50 grams if consuming a 2,000-calorie diet. But other organizations recommend much less intake. The American Heart Association guidance is no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men. Ladies, one cup of Bush’s would fill your daily quota.

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Carport Lettuce

This morning, my wife and I scampered down an alley behind North Ave., between Madison and Monroe, to look at new construction—a rapidly rising multi-unit building that replaces what was once a charming house with lovely yards front and back; before bulldozers leveled the lot.To our delight, further along, we discovered a suburban-style lettuce patch that someone is growing in a carport. How clever!

Like the Urban Pumpkin, the leafy plantation joins an explosion of garden projects throughout San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. This summer’s sowings are  unlike anything that I have seen in nearly 13 years living here. Could it be that people stuck at home because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic are using the time to garden? Perhaps some people (rightly) worry about supply-chain disruptions and food shortages savaging the country later in the year. Whatever the reason(s), inventive green thumbs are hard at work growing crops in unexpected places.

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Too Much for Some, Not Enough for Others

Today, while walking with my wife along Meade Avenue in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, I was reminded about the food giveaway still going on at Garfield Elementary. Four full cartoons of skim milk littered the sidewalk and, later, a twist-tied bag containing unopened cereal and other sugary breakfast eats that would appeal to children.

In mid-March, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of most businesses and all schools. While the state is now reopening and adults return to work, kids remain home—many with parents who are still furloughed or fired. San Diego County’s unemployment rate is a staggering 15 percent, up from about 3.5 percent before the lockdown precipitated by the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic. Select schools offer free food to needy families, and they are many.