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Table Chat News for Health, Travel, & Coffee Lovers and Connoisseurs.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010


Mount Baldy got powder dumped and the skiers turned out in force this past weekend. My friend Chris turned 40 and invited 20 of us up to join him at an affordable hostel cabin: approximately 20 bunks on the women's side and 20 bunks on the men's side. Couple's often bunk together on either side. Tip: the women's side is one floor above the living room fireplace so warmer. 

My friend Dave aka DAK took the gorgeous outdoor photos. He is a pro photographer as you can tell. Check out his amazingly beautiful unique photos. He is an artist with the camera. 

We all stayed together at the huge log cabin Harwood Inn, which is only open for Saturday night stays. If you are a Sierra club member you pay $12 and if you are not a member you pay $15. It is a lovely cabin next to the Zen center and across the street from Snow Crest Lodge (bar and restaurant), which sell many tummy warming dishes including my two favorites: hot rum toddys (coffee added on request - Bunn coffeemakers) and steaming hot fresh cheese or chicken tamales covered in homemade red sauce. ($4.00). Fantastic!

There is a great kitchen at Harwood Inn. It is totally organized and labeled for pots, lids, openers, utensils, etcetera! It has a cabinet near the huge gas stove that is filled with spices and oils for anyone to use. The pantry has three refrigerators!  With so many of us coming, Chris organized who brought what, and hence, there was lots of great food. The party began by the fireplace with four couches and many chairs encircling the fireplace with a nice big round wood coffee table. It was chilly, so I stayed in my warm ski clothes! I was soon warmed by the fire and the companionship of many. 

The munchies hit us all. Some folks brought hummus dip, guacamole dip, and spinach/cheese dip with crackers, breads and vegetables for appetizers. Red and white wine, beer, and bubbly water were brought by others to share. There were a few other couples there on their own that became a part of our festivities. It was a warm interesting mingling of people.

Satiated by the appetizers some of us realized many of us would have gone to bed happy. Picking up the cuisine baton some decided the gluttony must not yet end and made a huge spaghetti dinner with fresh salad and garlic bread (meatballs on the side so the vegetarians were set as well). We all moved into the kitchen to line up and serve ourselves, and we settled together in the spacious dining room by the wood burning stove. It was fantastic and even warmer. 

After dinner, we moved back into the woodsy living room. For dessert Dave brought out a chocolate cake, sprinkled with coconut to simulate the snow theme, and then we sang the infamous 'happy birthday' song to Chris. 

That night eight of us headed to Snow Crest Lodge across the street. They have a huge fireplace that really warms the place nicely, a friendly bartender, juke box music, darts, and a pool table. We played some games and chatted up some locals. A hot scotch toddy is great after a cold walk through the snow at midnight I have to say.

Mt. Baldy ski tickets are typically $54, but this year early in the season they offered season passes for $50! Now they have gone up to $200, but the season pass is something to keep in mind and a tip for next year's possibilities. If you have a season pass and a reservation you breeze past long ticket lines, which can typically take an hour or more to wait through on a big dump day especially if you are there for a discount offer. This past weekend there were two major offers. 

1) if you make a reservation in advance (which costs nothing to do) there was a half price ticket offer. The reservations were full by Thursday prior, so plan ahead. 

2) On Friday 98.7 radio station announced that if you bring in four Guru energy drink cans you can come for FREE on Sunday! We got some at Ralph's grocery store.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crazy Ottos Restaurant Review / Veg Abby Heart Tip

Crazy Otto's Restaurant

43528 20th St W. (661) 948-6502
1228 W Avenue I (661) 940-9177 (This location in the review and pictures)

Lancaster, CA

I love Crazy Otto's restaurant. It is an icon going back to my childhood days. My memory is a bit fuzzy as I want to say the restaurant was located in a converted train car, but I could be wrong. It was located near the train tracks, and the owner had an innovative way of turning a negative into a positive for the customers. Every time a train would go by the customers located at the bar nearest the greatest disturbance got the chance to spin and see if they would get their meal for free. You can imagine how customers began looking forward to the train coming by instead of dreading it. Those not involved in the contest enjoyed the entire spectacle greatly. A mini choo choo train was installed around the inside of the restaurant that was activated to go around the top of the room and was a part of the shenanigans. It was great fun. 

Now the train is just a part of the logo in the newly located establishments harkening back to those beginnings. Hailey in the picture below is my favorite waitress at my favorite Avenue I restaurant location. The service is friendly and fast.

The food portions are LARGE as you can see in the photo below. I got the Hobo Scramble, which is eggs (egg white substitute available), hash browns, onions, bell pepper and mushrooms combined. I think the mushrooms might be canned and that would be my only criticism though the taste doesn't seem to suffer. It is delicious. The portion was so large however that I ate 1/5 of the meal and had 4 more breakfasts at home with it! The breakfasts range from about $5 to $10. Smaller portions are available, but for an extra buck or two it seems worth getting the larger portion to eat later.

Another happy customer. I've had the eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce on english muffins with hashbrown as well and found it alarmingly yummy. I split that breakfast with a companion, and we ate it all. Mmmm. My friends often get an omelette and recommend those as well. Count on leftovers unless you split your meal.

The coffee is Farmer brothers, which frankly is my least favorite, so I wish they would get some better coffee beans to roast up. They use commercial coffeemakers similar to Bunn-o-matic automatic coffee brewers. The brewers are excellent, but coffee choice is an equal partner if not greater influence in a great cup of joe. They do sell espressos and lattes using Rosito Bisani specialty coffee. Thumbs up.

Dear Veg Abby Healthy Heart Tip of the Day:
There is a new product offered called Cholest-off. It advertises that the cholesterol comes off as one uses it. The main ingredient seems to be plant sterols, which I like the sound of myself. I began taking it as high cholesterol runs in my family, and I have to say I think it helps. Two pills twice a day is the dosage. Ideally, a diet low in fats will be the most beneficial cure (vegan or raw), but it doesn't hurt to have a healthy side kick to help the healing process.

A minimum of 20 minutes of aerobic activity several times a week is also very helpful in lowering stress and cholesterol. Yoga is a great way to maintain flexibility and avoid injuries as well, especially as one gets older. I have a several dogs and I especially notice how they stretch first thing every time they rise from a resting position. I've adopted this same practice and find it very enjoyable as well as a pleasant gentle way to welcome the day in the morning. I'd recommend one stretch in bed before one even rises especially if it is cold as it is in my home.

Combine yoga and healthy eating habits along with your juicing and feel years younger. Veg Abby vegetarian, vegan, raw recipes and juicing recipes lead the way to healthy living.


Sunday, December 13, 2009


My friend Frank, who lives in Manhattan Beach, had a get together tonight at his place overlooking the pier where there was to be a gorgeous holiday firework show at 6:30pm. The whole wall by the dining and livingroom is glass, so the pier show would be easy to see and a lot less cold than having to walk down the strand.

We enjoyed many "Frank"-tastic gourmet delights such as fresh homemade tomato basil soup, white yam mashed potatoes, sauteed shitake mushrooms, spinach salad with strawberries and papaya, grilled salmon, proscuitto rolled-up on melon, chicken potstickers, and many other dessert delights such as cookies and homemade flan. The flan was simply amazing. It tasted more like cinnamon cheesecake. It was less gelatinous and more airy like cheesecake. I ate two pieces!

Around 6:40pm one guest got a bit panicked that we may have missed the firework show. It was suppose to start at 6:30pm and was known to start on time. She worried we simply could not see the firework display from our location. The guests got a bit nervous and some began peering around outside, one walked out the door to get closer to the pier and see, and I began searching Twitter and the internet on my iphone. The tension began to grow over the next couple minutes. Disappointment was beginning to loom as a possible outcome, then wham, bam the fireworks starting flying and the worry turned to joy. I think we were more ecstatic than ever due to the preliminary drama that we had somehow missed the show.

After the fantastic fireworks Frank asked if anyone wanted coffee or tea. Several of us, despite the hour for a Sunday night, opted for espresso. He made the most flavorful cup of espresso with a dash of creme. It was so mellow and delightful I had to snoop around. He had Illy pods. I asked where he got them. It turns out
Costco sells "illy" espresso pods that work great with a single/double cup espresso maker machine. Illy is Italian, and so the espresso is Italian as well. The Italian in attendance agreed it was a lovely espresso. His machine I found was a Breville Cafe Roma espresso machine and loves it. It made a delicious, tasty espresso  that is not too strong but filled with a smooth delightful flavor.

He had a larger model Breville and returned it for a smaller model because it fit perfectly in his cupboard whereas the pricier model did not fit by an inch. Size does matter when it comes to storing appliances comfortably in the kitchen. An organized kitchen is easy to keep neat, so I think it is a good tip to measure the space you are thinking of keeping your new coffeemaker and keep those dimensions in mind when shopping, especially online where returning a product may not be as convenient.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Dear Veg Abby Healthy Bones Tip of the Day
A great way to get calcium from greens is juicing. Kale is the best leafy green to juice or eat for high calcium content.  It has approximately 200 mg. per cooked serving, so juice 5 servings and get 1000 mg. of calcium, which is the recommended daily requirement according to the USDA for women 35-50. Younger adult women need 1200 and older adult women require 1500 mg. Children require 800 mg. and infants 600 mg. Women require more calcium than men due to frequent hormonal changes and times of pregnancy. Kale is a low oxalate leafy green and those absorb calcium the best along with some vitamin D. Enjoy 15 minutes a day in the sun as Vitamin D bone nutrition. Spinach is a high oxalate green so is not as easily absorbed into the bones.

Bone Up and Stay Bone Healthy! 


Griddle up some pumpkin pancakes this Thanksgiving month. You can either buy pumpkin pancake mix or add some pumpkin spice to your ordinary pancake batter and make them extra special. 

An even better idea is to heat up the waffle maker and pour the pumpkin batter in. Pop out fresh smelling orangy pumpkin waffles. I like to use agave syrup on mine. Some people I know like to sprinkle chocolate chips on top AND in the batter in the waffle maker. I think pumpkin chips would be neat to add if I could find any.

What are delicious pumpkin waffles without a cup of pumpkin coffee?  Just add pumpkin spice into your coffee bean grind and brew up in your best coffeemaker. Pour a cup of pumpkin coffee and dash a sprinkle of some more pumpkin spice on top. Inhale, exhale, enjoy.

This coffee cup says "Sundance" but it appears backwards in the photo. Sundance Film Festival is coming up in January next year. Now is the time to start planning your trip if you want to go and enjoy skiing, bars, parties, and movie-going amongst independent filmmakers, actors, and some stars. The films shown are the new and upcoming films that may or may not make it to the box office depending on if they land distribution at places like this festival. It is an easygoing Hollywood crowd on vacation together basically. Good and goofy times for all to be had. Think about it.


Sunday, November 8, 2009


Dear Veg Abby Healthy Heart Tip of the Day
Add Garlic to your juicing recipes.
Buy garlic pills at the store and take them. If you get the ones with parsley added then it will help eliminate the garlic breath odor. You can also just eat some parsley with your garlic.

Get your cholesterol levels checked especially if you have hit your 40's. You might be surprised. Even vegetarians get high cholesterol from eating dairy and eggs. Vegans do not get high cholesterol unless they are overdoing the avocado, coconut, and roasted nuts and seeds.

Be Heart Healthy! Many people love you.


Don't you just love the holidays?  Whatever religion you are or aren't there is a winter celebration of some sort.  Last night at 11:15pm the House of Representatives voted to pass the health insurance reform bill. This is a celebration day for many today. It still has to pass in the Senate. Here is a video message from the President if interested  

In America, we have Veteran's Day coming up in a few days on November 11th.  Thank a vet in some way.

Of course, our fantastic Thanksgiving day is coming November, 26th.  Begin planning where you are spending your day and who is bringing what. 

Spice up your family's winter holiday coffee this season by adding this special blend to your coffeemaker.  Grind white peppercorns, red peppercorns, cinnamon and clove and add to your own freshly ground coffee.  Enjoy the spicy aromas that will fill your home, palate, and memories this season.  

Be sure to do your Christmas gifts shopping early or you may be in the huge crowds of shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. This is notoriously the biggest shopping day of the Christmas season... perhaps the year. 

Here is one xmas gift idea I like.  The Omron body fat monitor analyzes your body fat and you can enter up to 9 personal profiles. Here is what it looks like:


Friday, November 6, 2009


If you go to New York and order a regular coffee, then you will get a cup of coffee with milk and sugar. That is the way that most people there drink it. If you order a regular coffee elsewhere in the U.S. then you will get a black cup of caffeinated coffee, and if you want room for cream then you have to request it.

A regular in the western states means a caffeinated cup of coffee. "Regular or decaf?" is what the waitress asks and in some places, "Leaded or unleaded?".

One theory is that people from the northeast/east states tend to favor coffee with cream and sugar more than the people from the northwest/west coast. Also, on the east coast if you ask for only sugar they will likely put in the sugar for you and it may be a lot more than you wanted. On the west coast it is typical to put the sugar in yourself.

In Canada, they like to order double-doubles for their coffee. A double-double consists of double cream and double sugar.

In Cottswold, England a regular cup of coffee is instant coffee, hot water, and milk.

In Turkey, a regular cup of coffee is turkish coffee. On a bus though it is Nescafe instant coffee inclusive with dried milk and sugar, then added hot water.

Espresso is the basis in coffee in really good cafes and restaurants. In those establishments, regulars mean non-espresso cups of coffee as you would have at home. It would mean using a french press or drip coffeemaker.

I own this Progressive Coffee and Tea Press, which is a long way of saying french press. I make coffee and tea in this press. I love it when I'm craving a really strong cup of coffee. If you do not want a strong cup, then you need to use less grounds then you may be use to using in a drip coffeemaker. The flavor is very full in a french press. It's great for steeping loose teas as well.

It's a nice affordable gift as well.