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I’m Mari.
On Marivelous Me! you’ll find recipes, food gifts, food I’ve traveled for and food solutions. Poke around, maybe you’ll find inspiration for something you’re working on. Enjoy! 


TVP & Meat - Loaf

TVP meat loaf meatloafTVP meat loaf meatloaf slicedMany moons ago, I sang TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)’s praises and you haven’t heard boo from me about it since. Well, since Mr. Mari and I are trying to shed our Freshmen Ten, I pulled Ole Faithful out of the cupboard. The first thing I made was meatloaf, substituting the breadcrumbs for some TVP. Success! The meatloaf was super moist and flavorful (I soaked the TVP in chicken stock). Now I’m thinking about trying to use TVP as fried chicken breading. Stay tuned for that experiment! Meanwhile, click on over for some TVP & Meat - Loaf!

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Tasks, Birthday Gifts and Bartending School

Like most couples, Mr. Mari and I divide our tasks - I cook, Mr. Mari does the laundry; I scoop the cat box, Mr. Mari replenishes the cat’s water fountain. The task of gifting falls to me. I enjoy thinking about the recipient and what they might like whereas it totally stresses Mr. Mari out. Typically, when it comes to my birthday Mr. Mari just flat out asks me what I want. Recently I've started sending him links throughout the year so he has things to choose from when birthday season rolls around. This year however, I just did my job.

Instead of getting Mr. Mari to buy me a fun, new (read fancy) pair of sunglasses (I do live in sunny Southern California now) I opted for a 40-hour bartending class taught by National Bartenders Bartending School - I found a coupon for over 50% off so how could I resist? Obviously I’ll learn how to make cocktails (they say over 200) but I’ll also learn about bartending: precise free pouring, substituting liquors, garnishes, as well as some business stuff like opening and closing procedures, service setup and breakdown, cutting off customers that had a few too many, etc. Sounds fun, right? No, I’m not planning on opening a bar or taking over another one of Mr. Mari’s tasks but if I ever decide to open a restaurant, these would definitely be useful skills to know. For now though, it’s just a fun gift for me. Thanks, Mr. Mari!

What would you gift yourself for your special day? 

(Image of Tom Cruise in Cocktail via Everything Action)


"Red" Hong Yi Plated Art

These make me just say wow, wow, wow over and over again. How much fun are these edible pieces of art? "Red" Hong Yi started a project called 31 Days of Creativity with Food. Every day during the month of March, she designed a piece of art using food as her medium and a plate as her canvas. So inspiring! Wow, wow, wow!

Have a fabulous weekend, Everyone! See you back here on Monday!

Images, from the top! Day 6: 'all you need is love...' with cherry tomatoes, nori and soy sauce; Day 23: An eggplant circus; Day 7: Hokusai's 'The Great Wave' with long-grain rice and nori; Day 10: Oreo dogs; Day 18: cucumber landscape. Made from one single cucumber.

(News bite via Trendcentral; Images via Hong Yi)


My "Freshmen Ten" and Hard-Boiled Eggs

For the past couple of months, Mr. Mari and I have been eating out way more than we should. Not only do we need to trim back for our pocketbooks’ health but we need to for our waistlines too. Between all the fun dinners we had with friends and family in NYC, all the fun places we’re trying in our new city AND our decadent Easter trip, we’ve put on the “Freshmen Ten”. Yikes. We were once sitting at the counter at Eataly’s The Pasta & The Pizza restaurant and saw one of the chefs put half a stick of butter into each pasta serving. Doinks! No wonder the food you eat when dining out tastes so good. What does this mean? This means I’m doing a lot of cooking at home - where I can control what I put in my dishes and I’m not cooking a ton of carbs.

Many moons ago, Mr. Mari and I decided to try the Atkins diet. We did the two-week induction period (no booze, no caffeine, very limited fruit and vegetable options) and the pounds just melted away. You’re supposed to reintroduce carbs back into your diet slowly, little by little, keeping tabs on your weight to carb intake. Unfortunately for me, I have very little control when it comes to pasta. Once I start eating it, it’s all I want. So the pounds came back. Not back to where I started but I definitely lost some ground.

So, the next few weeks of posts probably won’t include much in the way of baked desserts (except for my attempt at a Princess Cake for Mr. Mari’s birthday) but it will have lots of carb-friendly thoughts. They won’t necessarily be carb-free but they will be carb-light “enough” - like no baked potatoes or wheat-based pasta dishes.

The first recipe is a simple one: hard-boiled eggs. What? I know, it sounds crazy to write about this but after reading website after website on how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg, I think I finally cracked the code. I make a dozen eggs at a time so Mr. Mari and I can have them around for a quick protein snack or easy addition to a salad. Just keep them in the fridge, shells on. They will last probably about a week.

It doesn’t matter which color egg you use - white, brown, green. We’re told with food that fresher is better but the older the eggs, the easier it is to peel them. I buy a dozen eggs and keep them around for at least a week before boiling them up.


Makes one dozen 

One dozen large eggs

Take your eggs out of the fridge and place them in a saucepan that fits them well in a single layer; you don’t want your eggs bobbing around too much or stacked in layers. Cover the eggs with one inch of cold water. Place on the stove, turn the heat to high and bring water to a boil. Stir them around for a while once the water starts warming up (this will help keep the yolk centered).

Meanwhile, get a large bowl and fill it with water and lots of ice. Set aside.

Once the water boils, remove from heat and place a tight fitting lid on it. Keep it covered for 12 minutes. Immediately drain the eggs and plop them into the ice bath until they are chilled. The shock of the icy water helps loosen the shell too. If all your ice has melted, dump out some water and add a little more ice (your water bath is too warm). Once cooled, drain and keep in a covered container in the fridge or if you’re ready to eat one, keep reading.

To peel, lightly tamp the egg all over. Gently roll the egg to finely crack the shell. Start peeling from the fat end (where the air pocket is), peel around, occasionally running it under water to help loosen the shell and to wash away any shell shards. Enjoy! 

Note: If you use medium sized eggs, keep them in the hot water for 9 minutes; for extra large eggs, keep them in the hot water for 14 minutes. 


Gifting Candied Kumquats

This is the final post in a three-part series. To see the first one, click here.

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Pickle Martinis

We have a new tradition: As part of our Easter trip to Florida (and Christmas for that matter), every night we have a pre-dinner snack of stone crab claws and pickle martinis at The Seafood Bar at The Breakers. I never tire of it. The crab claws are amazing, especially during Christmas but it’s the pickle martini that’s super wow. I love a good Dirty Ketel on the rocks but some days the olive brine can be well, too briny and honestly, I’d take pickles over olives any day.

The waitress said they use Effen Cucumber vodka and Claussen pickles. I’ve gone to four supermarkets in my neighborhood and haven’t been able to find these elusive pickles. Perhaps it's an East Cost thing. Mr. Mari shook us up a couple batches using Target's Kosher Dill pickles. They were definitely close (especially with the added pinch of salt), but there's something about the Claussen brine that makes this drink fantabulous! I’ll keep hunting for Claussen pickles since there’s nothing like a good tradition.


Makes 2 thumping good drinks

4 ounces Effen Cucumber Vodka
2 ounces kosher dill pickle juice (adjust to your liking)
2 pinches of kosher salt
2 pickle spears, for garnish

Pour one ounce pickle juice into each martini glass. In a cocktail shaker, fill with ice, salt, and add the vodka. Shake vigorously for one minute. Pour into glasses and garnish each with a pickle spear. Enjoy!


Candied Kumquat Rosettes

This is the second post in a three part series. To see the first post, click here.

I only needed a couple kumquats for the candied flower project so I had a bunch leftover. Instead of candying just the peel, I decided to candy the entire fruit, turning them into little candied rosettes. Since I was giving these kumquats as a gift, I also needed to figure out a way to package them, a la Mari.

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Kitazawa Seed Co.

One of the things that would've helped my mom re-create Japanese dishes in America 40+ years ago would've been to know about Kitazawa Seed Co. Kitazawa Seed Co. was founded in 1917, the oldest Asian seed company in America. They sell all sorts of hard-to-find Asian seeds that with a little soil, one could grow. For example, you could grow yomogi, mibuma, akanata mame and more. Luckily, some Asian ingredients are now commonplace (edamame and bok choi leap to mind) so they're available in regular supermarkets but for the more esoteric vegetables, Kitazawa Seed Co. does mail order.

(News bite via Gardenista)

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