Professional Animator • Photographer • Road tripper • Foodie

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  • Why have we stopped cooking?

    Lately I’ve embarked on quite a few recipes I once thought were too hard and too time consuming to make from scratch. And it wasn’t until I started reading Cooked, Michael Pollans newest novel, did I realize that perhaps I had been made to think this way by the food industry. For instance I have always eaten Spanakopita pre made and frozen in a Trader Joe’s box. I never once thought to make them because I always assumed it would be too difficult. Why did I think that? Because I purchased it in a box? One day I stumbled upon a recipe and took on the task and yes, it is time consuming but it is by no means impossible to make fresh, homemade delicious Spanakopita.

    Next, homemade pasta. Seriously? It’s flour and eggs. Why did I think this so hard? Sure having a pasta maker makes it easier but realistically all you actually need is a rolling pin and a knife and you’ve got homemade delicious pasta (trust me, once you make it you’ll never want to go back..)

    But my all time favorite is something I have never once bought pre made. And that is tomato sauce. I can thank my Italian mother for that one as I have never been exposed to Prego, Newmans Own or any other tomato sauce that comes in a glass bottle. Given how it only takes a can of tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic, olive oil and some herbs..I really don’t quite understand why we are made to think we either don’t have time to make it or that it’s too difficult and thus must be bought pre made. Really?

    On that note I have always been intimidated by Asian cooking. It always seems so involved and included so many items that I didn’t know what they were or where to find them. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a recipe for mooncakes, a Chinese desert made in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The Mid Autumn festival is a sortof Chinese Thanksgiving, where people come together to celebrate, worship the autumn moon and eat mooncakes. I personally love mooncakes so after giving the recipe a quick read I embarked on a quest to find mooncake molds. Obviously they were high in demand and all the good ones were sold out, so I ordered a sub par mold from the only online seller in the United States. A few days later my boyfriend picked up the one wildcard item we needed to make the dessert, lotus seeds for the filling, from a Chinese market.

    On Saturday night I soaked the seeds in water and early Sunday morning I boiled and mashed them into the paste.  We then headed out to the farmers market to pick up our food for the week. We came back a few hours later to make the dough which took no more than 5 minutes and after letting it set we measured out portions of our filling and dough and assembled! 30 minutes later the cakes were baked and my boyfriend and I enjoyed a freshly baked and might I say delicious mooncake!

    I suppose the one downside to cooking could be that once you make something from scratch you’ll never want to buy it pre-made again (as is the reason we have a case of canned San Marzano tomato’s sitting on top of our fridge..). OR you’ll never eat it again once you see how much butter or sugar or lard the recipe actually calls for (damnit fudge!). But similarly to the Mid Autumn festival one of the many upsides to cooking is that it brings people together and that alone makes the art of cooking a meal totally worth it. After we made our mooncakes I thought about how EASY it was and how nice it was to cook something from my boyfriends heritage and to share the experience together. We shared a few with his family who were also really impressed and remarked at how I was the first one they knew to attempt to make the cakes, and I’m not even Chinese! Why as a culture have we stopped cooking? To quote Michael Pollen, "How is it that at the precise historical moment when American’s were abandoning the kitchen, handing over the preparation of most of our meals to the food industry, we began spending so much of our time thinking about food and watching other people cook it on television?" 

    Think about it :-)

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  • When my boyfriend suggested we visit the Griffith Observatory I thought it would be nice to avoid the parking nightmare by hiking up from the boulevard. It was a pretty quick hike however very very hot. Definitely worth the climb as we also got to view the telescope (which I don’t believe I’ve ever seen before) and just caught the tail end of the Tesla Coil (b/c they ran it early!).  Griffith Observatory is always a nice small local trip in LA.

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  • Alot of people poke fun at food photography, or rather they poke fun at people who take unappetizing photographs of what they are eating. I tend to agree because some of it is really really awful. Like this one!  I never would of given that recipe a shot, but luckily my mom did and the bars turned out awesome! So I made them myself and took some much more flattering photos. Turns out they are very photogenic and just as yummy as they look. When done right food photography can be a very important marketing tool for any restaurant or recipe. Which bar would you rather eat?

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  • I love farmers markets. Not only do you find unbelievably fresh vegetables but (for me at least) I get way more bang for my buck for my favorite produce. Here is a couple of weeks worth of farmers market salads I make for my weekly lunch. I usually pick a grain/bean then add whatever I can find at the market (heirloom tomatoes, heirloom carrots, sweet italian peppers, cucumbers, and an herb like basil or cilantro. ) And of course my beloved Shishito Peppers  which I like to make during the week as a quick dinner. Oh so delicious! I will be quite sad when they go out of season :-(

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  • Who doesn’t love Peach Pie?? Okay, I have a boyfriend who loves peaches, and I made him this pie to celebrate him returning from a work-cation. I actually like making pie and despite my shortage of ripe peaches it turned out pretty awesome! This recipe also doesn’t contain much sugar but you can always add more. :-) 

    Smitten Kitchen—Peach Pie

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  • Who doesn’t love a really excellent roast chicken?  This recipe hails from one of my favorite cookbooks Simple Organic. It basically contains a cumin, salt and pepper rub for the chicken and topped with a mixture of leeks, peaches, cinnamon, nutmeg and tarragon. It’s the PERFECT summer chicken and one of our absolute favorites :-)

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  • I drink almond milk pretty much every day, so I was ecstatic to hear I could make it myself with just 2 ingredients. Almonds and water! I used this simple recipe to make my first batch this morning: Organic Almond Milk

    And just like that I had my own homemade almond milk ready for the week, in the awesome milk bottle I got from World Market this past weekend (yes I’m a nerd!)

    And on top of that I spread out the remaining almonds on a baking sheet to dry out in the oven for a few hours and viola! Almond meal! This is a great substitute for breadcrumbs (such as on fish or chicken). 

    Yum!

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  • "When it’s 100 degrees in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When it’s 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it’s still 72. However, there are 6 million interesting people in New York, and only 72 in Los Angeles." -Neil Simon

    I was searching for awesome quotes about New York and this one made me laugh out loud. So true, but I still enjoy year round 72 degrees ;-)

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  • Spanakopita a.k.a. spinach pie.  This recipe is very time consuming but worth all the extra leftovers for the week! Its basically alot of spinach, onions, feta and eggs all wrapped up in a ‘hot pocket’ puff pastry.  One day I will make it with filo dough. 

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  • Apparently when the flatiron building was built the strong wind currents around the building coined the phrase “23 Skidoo”, which was what police men would shout at men who tried to get a glimpse up a womans skirt when it flew up from the wind.

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  • Built in the late 1700’s, the Montauk Lighthouse may be sitting on some treasure buried at its base by pirate Captain Kidd.  But probably not…

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  • vanessamakesthings asked : Yay about the photo selection! Your so work is so good I definitely think more people should see it! :)

    Thanks Vanessa!!