CG: Mushroom Risotto

I love mushrooms.  I tend to add them to almost any dish: pizza, pasta, soup, bread and so on.  So when I found this recipe for Mushroom Garlic Risotto on Not Your Average College Food, I was ecstatic.  This is a fairly simple recipe that does involve some chopping but it is definitely worth it.  As with most recipes I find online, I altered this one a bit to better suit my taste.

While I love mushrooms, they have not always been loved back thanks to the many poisonous varieties out there.  According to an article by PBS, there tend to be two kinds of people out there, those who love mushrooms, called mycophiles, and those who fear mushrooms, called mycophobes.  Despite being a mycophile myself, I would never dare try to find edible wild mushrooms due to the deadliness of some.  In part because of more ease of access to edible mushrooms in grocery stores and the rise of using locally sourced and organic foods, mushrooms are now more popular than ever.

Types of mushroom. Image from PBS.org.

Types of mushroom. Image from PBS.org.

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Ethnicity in Los Angeles

In September of 2015, the Los Angeles Geographical Society (LAGS), began their lecture series with a presentation by Gary Booher, a former professor at El Camino college and former president of LAGS.  His lecture was titled: “The End of the Rainbow: Ethnicity in Los Angeles”.

He began the lecture by discussing the diversity of people in California compared to the US.  California aka the “Golden State” is #1 in population with 38 million people.  It’s #3 in area after Alaska and Texas and #8 in economy with $2.3 trillion.  The US as a whole makes $18.1 trillion (the highest of any country).  China comes in second with $11.2 trillion and Japan is third with $4.2 trillion.  California’s economy is between India ($2.3) and Brazil.

Moving on to California’s population, 27% of it is foreign born while over 50% is native born.  This is the highest for both categories in 100 years.  Not many people come to California from other states (19%).  In recent years there has been a net migration of people moving out of California.  When it comes to California immigrants it’s considered a destination for migrants, mainly Spanish/Mexican.  Looking back to earlier US history, the government pushed people to move out west partially because of the Gold Rush.  There were also those who were health seekers, moving to California because of its good climate.  Some say it was the climate for health and wealth.  Railroads were selling land for this reason.  This created jobs and as it become seen as the land of plenty, more international migration occurred.

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Cultural Nights 2015-16

Ok, so I kind of lied in my last Cultural Nights post, “Cultural Nights 2015“.  The three mentioned were not the only ones the Geography Student Association (GSA) attended in 2015.  I forgot about two more that occurred later that year.  So here are three more Cultural Nights, two from 2015 and one from 2016.

In September 2015, the GSA went to Los Compadres, a Mexican restaurant located in Long Beach.  This restaurant is a favorite in Long Beach and fills up quickly during the dinner hour. The wait can be over an hour and it’s almost impossible to find parking.  Many times people have to park in nearby residential areas and then walk back to the restaurant.  You know that is a sign that the food is good.  Los Compadres serves traditional Mexican food as well as specialty margaritas in flavors like lime, mango and strawberry.  The lollipops they hand out at the end of the meal are also said to be amazing with unique flavors.

These days Mexican food can be found almost everywhere in America but the history of its spread throughout the country is long and complex and of course directly tied to the immigration of Mexicans into America.  Because of the length and complexity of Mexican food history, I can’t explain it all here but you can read more about it in this NPR article, “The California Taco Trail: ‘How Mexican Food Conquered America”.   I also highly recommend the book “Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food” to learn about its spread all around the world.

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Walking Along the Malibu Beach (With Video)

The final field methods class took us to the beach.  Not just any beach, but Carbon Beach in Malibu.  But boy was it a loooooooooong drive there.  Because of the never-ending traffic and the one way streets, it took my group about 4 hours one way to get to Malibu.  After such a long ride it was pure joy to finally get out of the car.  I wasn’t looking forward to the ride back so instead I focused on the assignment.

So why Carbon Beach instead of the many other beaches available to us (and much closer)?  Carbon Beach presents a unique landscape in terms of the battle between private and public space.  Because of the desirability of the area and its many wealthy occupants, they fight to keep the public from accessing the beaches, despite the fact that the majority of the area is in fact public property.  Many residents put up fake signs saying that people cannot park along the street and hide public access points so that people cannot find a way down to the beach from the road.  This can create a very hostile environment between the public and the residents.

For our assignment, we observed the landscape, seeing ways in which this battle is visible, while also examining how the landscape made us feel.  Unlike previous trips, for this one we had to record ourselves and interview each other on how we felt about what we saw as we walked along the beach.  Of course we all agreed the beach and ocean view was beautiful.  The string of houses and restaurants between the beach and the road though produced mixed feelings for us.  Some homes looked Bohemian and very beaten up by the sea wind.  Others looked like typical wealthy residents.  The newest looking building appeared to be a restaurant.  Mixed in were also empty lots, which seemed very out of place among such a landscape.

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CG: Blue Cheese Tuna Pasta

I have always been a bit of a picky eater.  Not such a good quality to have when you travel the world and have to try different foods all the time, such as I had to do when I lived in Japan.  Having a sneaky dad who likes to throw the foods I do not like into various dishes did not help either.

Today’s recipe will be one of my dad’s favorites and one he made himself, Blue Cheese Tuna Pasta.  I have never been much of a fan of blue cheese (despite that fact that I love blue everything else).  Nor do I enjoy bell peppers.  But as I have gotten older I like to think my sense of taste has evolved and that I can enjoy things now that I once hated.  So I decided to give my dad’s recipe another try.  The biggest difference this time would be that I was making it myself, no assistance from my dad (since he’s living in another country), and that I would get to alter the recipe a bit.  It turned out better than I expected.  But that may have been because of the alterations I made.  I’ll provide both my dad’s version and mine so that you may try out either one.

Blue Cheese. Image from Wikipedia.

Blue Cheese. Image from Wikipedia.

When it comes to eating blue cheese by itself, I just cannot do it.  The pungent taste and smell are more than I can handle.  After reading about how blue cheese is made, I am even more thoroughly disgusted by it.  But then this is just my opinion.  If you love blue cheese then you’ll love this recipe and that’s great!  I’m sure my dad will be very happy.

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Discourse Analysis in Downtown Los Angeles

Our next Field Methods class took us to downtown Los Angeles (DTLA).  Thanks to a previous geography class called Urban Scene, I was already familiar with DTLA.  You can see the post I did on that trip here: Downtown L.A.: A Geographer’s Perspective.  For this class, instead of examining the physical and architectural aspects of the landscape, we examined the social constructs that define DTLA.  There are several districts within DTLA, such as the Historic District, Fashion District, Arts District, Civic Center, Bunker Hill, Chinatown, Financial District, Gallery Row, Historic Core, Jewelry District, Toy District, Little Tokyo, Flower District, Skid Row and so on.  My group attempted to walk through each of these areas and analyze the social-spatial construction of each one: what kind of people and business were found in each one, and what kind of socially constructed rules were found there as well.

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CG: Garlic, Herbs and Butter – Cheesy Bread Four Ways

I’ll return to my culinary posts with this multiple dose of cheesy goodness.  This all started thanks to biscuit bread, you know the kind in a can.  These biscuits are also known as American biscuit bread because they are soft and leaven while biscuits in other places such as England are hard, flat and unleavened. American biscuits are made with baking powder or baking soda rather than yeast and are also known as quick breads because they don’t need to rise before baking.

Biscuits are especially popular in the south.  They are great with butter, jam, mashed potatoes and gravy or as a sausage sandwich.  Basically biscuits are the best (says the woman who grew up in the south).  One reason for the popularity of biscuits in the south may be due to the better climate for growing the soft winter wheat, which produces the flour used in not only biscuits but also cookies, cakes and muffins.  In the north, the colder climate means that hard spring wheat is grown there, which is used in all-purpose flour.

Biscuits. Image from Wikipedia.

Biscuits. Image from Wikipedia.

I love biscuits with butter. To quote Nora Ephron: “You can never have too much butter”.  Never. But after a while, even I got tired of the plain old biscuit and butter routine.  One day, I decided to shake it up.  I raided my pantry and fridge in search of ingredients I could mix with my biscuits.  What I found was shredded cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt and of course butter.  Not much to go on but it was worth a try.

My ingredients. Photo by Laylita Day.

My ingredients. Photo by Laylita Day.

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