We just spent the most amazing weekend in California visiting my family. You wouldn't believe how much we were able to squeeze into one weekend. The weather was gorgeous and the food was fantastic everywhere we went.
First, we met my cousin Alex at a sushi restaurant in Marina Del Rey. My parents joined us there. Sushi is always fun; but, this place was more unusual than most. We all had to take our shoes off upon entering. They had little cubbies to store them in. I was fine with that until I had to go to the bathroom. Then, it seemed weird not to have my shoes on. I knew I would definitely need to change my socks afterward. It wasn't that the bathroom was dirty or wet even. It's just that I like to have that extra layer of protection provided by a shoe when in a public restroom.
We sat on cushions on the floor. We ate salmon sashimi, these delicious grilled peppers, and spicy tuna hand rolls. Oh, and my cousin ordered filet mignon. What? That's not even sushi.
A black bean burger with grilled portobello burgers, tomato, onion, arugula and creamy sauce.
Black beans are mashed in a bowl.
Diced onion, red bell peppers and garlic are mixed with the beans, along with bread crumbs, eggs and spices.
Black bean burger patties are formed and cooked at 400°.
Unfortunately, the servers were not dressed in kimonos. I thought with us needing to remove our shoes and sit on the floor, they should dress the part. They didn't have a suggestion box and I didn't have the guts to make this recommendation in person.
At the end, I told my mom I was going to look for some designer shoes in my size to leave with. She didn't think that was a good idea. I said, "Did you see our bill? I think slightly used designer shoes should come with the meal." She disagreed. I decided not to steal and sadly left with my own old non-designer shoes. There weren't any in my size anyway.
After sushi, we headed to Venice Beach for a little pre-spring shopping and, of course, people watching. Venice Beach is the best place to people watch. I didn't eat anything there. Although, it was a challenge when I could smell the brats and warm cheese pizza. Even with a tummy full of sushi, I could have stuffed a brat with sauerkraut in there if I really tried.
Black Bean Burgers
Time: 30 minutes
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour the beans into a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Mix in the onions, peppers, and garlic. In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, spices and bread crumbs. Mix this into the bean mixture. Form into eight patties. Place in the oven and cook ten minutes each side. Place in a bun and top with grilled portobello mushrooms, arugula, a slice of tomato and creamy sauce (recipe follows).
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or vegannaise)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
Mix all ingredients together.
Finally, we headed to San Diego to spend the rest of the weekend with my cousin, Julie. Once we had all of the young teenager cousins settled in at her place with pizza and movies, the grown ups headed to the pub. I ate a cobb salad. It didn't compare to what my cousin ordered. She ate Irish Nachos. There didn't appear to be anything Irish about these. They consisted of potato chips, refried beans, cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. They were so disgustingly fattening and unhealthy that I was forced to steal more than a couple of bites. They were almost as bad as French fries with their addictive appeal.
Later, an extremely drunk stranger bought me a glass of wine (he pronounced it, "cabsherjay" as in, "bartender, give her a glass of cabsherjay.") even though I was sitting with my arm around my husband. Even with his lack of sobriety, I was flattered. I've still got it! My older cousin was carded and I wasn't. Maybe I don't got it. I danced and sang my heart out with several different people while a great band played. Then, at the very end, in the wee hours of the night, a young girl referred to me as, "The lady over there with a baby in her belly." Huh? I didn't feel like I still got it after that. I am not pregnant. It was an evening of highs and lows.
The following morning (actually two in the afternoon), the older folks (us) and our children descended on the local theater to watch my cousin's son play the lead in "Guys and Dolls". It was so much fun to watch. I love plays. However, the best part of the play was the Mexican food we ate afterwardand the most delicious margaritas I have ever tried. How do some Mexican restaurants get the salsa so perfect? I love that and hate it because I am always the one who eats the whole bowl. This requires the use of many tortilla chips, which I use as spoons. I was so in love with my fish tacos that I don't even know what anyone else ate. Mexican food: when it's good, it's good. I ate a big portion of outrageously tasty black beans on the side.
If you are looking for protein and fiber all rolled into a delicious food, black beans are for you. In fact, one cup of black beans provides nearly 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein. Black beans are fantastic for the digestive tract, blood sugar regulation and the cardiovascular system. To prove how delicious black beans can taste, I made them this week into black bean burgers. These are super spicy (you can cut out the chili powder and chili sauce if you prefer them mild) and so easy to make. I topped them with grilled portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, arugula, and smothered in a creamy delicious sauce.