Have you ever made your own lobster sushi rolls… from a living lobster?

This past year, one of the most memorable nights I had was held by a New York City experience company called Sidetour. It was called: Crack the Japanese Food Making Code with a Lobster Lesson
the meal! at misa cropped

The experience was led by a lovely, charming Misako Sassa. (A chef who, coincidentally, when I mentioned the cooking class to my roommate, was actually in a column she had fastened to our fridge from Chopsticks NY Magazine.)

liz with misa article


Misako (or Misa) floated around the open New York City space, showing us the best way to de-pit an avocado, teaching us about the perfect kind of rice that she specially orders, and letting us learn as she fanned the rice to the perfect temperature for use. We learned about how to quickly blanche the lobster meat, and put just enough cucumber and rice on the nori sheets, so that it would roll smoothly, and still taste full of fresh flavors. But, I’m actually leaving out the best part…

misa fanning rice

The beginning of the lesson started with our cooking stations set up in front of us. Clean mats, towels, knives, and a bowl of moving, living lobsters.

Since we were making the freshest possible kind of lobster without the use of hot water, something had to be done, we had to kill them ourselves first.

Now, this might sound impossible (or easy, I guess it depends on who you are!). I felt game to jump in, but became a little bit of a wimp while holding the lobster belly in my hands – it moved while I was trying to pinpoint the exact spot where I was supposed to give a quick jab with the knife. But as soon as Misa saw my hesitation, she gave a great quick example. Once you see this petite, delightful woman handle a lobster with speedy, dexterous craftsmanship, you feel a lot less able to wimp out, and much more empowered to seize control and finish the job!

The rice Misa had selected tasted nothing like what you’ll usually find in any ordinary sushi place (or even the places that are always packed on weekend nights). It had a multi-layered rush of flavors, nutty, sweet, and satisfying, and hard to forget. She made the miso soup with the heads of the lobsters for flavoring, and it was the most delicious miso soup I remember having in a long time. And the lobster rolls, which all the guests rolled, were unbelievable. I had wondered if I would feel a twinge of regret participating in the end of the lobsters life, and then eating it, but, as my friends and I had discussed that week, it’s really a much more honest and authentic way to come to the table. And it was delicious! I am really looking forward to getting a few of my friends together and doing this again very soon…

the sushi! cropped

The fall is a great time to curl up with a book…

Publisher’s Weekly has released their list of “Best Books of 2011”

I can’t think of a better source to find great books to delve into. There’s a great variety to choose from like the historical non-fiction of “Catherine the Great” by Robert K. Massie, to modern fiction like, “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides.

I really enjoyed Tina Fey’s autobiography “Bossypants,” which is on the list. And, I can’t wait to get my hands on “There but for the” by Ali Smith.


Learning about Sufism

When I was an undergrad I took a South East Asian music and culture class to fulfill a humanities requirement. It turned out to be a hidden gem full of great writings. One of the lessons that really struck me was the study of Sufism. The praise of happiness and music as strengthening one’s spirituality really flowed for me as a genuine belief of nurturing the soul. It was just a brief part of the course, but it touched me enough to want to seek out more information.

Last year I bought the book, “The way of the Sufi” by Idries Shah, it is wonderfully well-written. Many gifted teachers and mystics have contributed to the writings and lessons of Sufism for hundreds of years, and so instead of generalizing their teachings together, Shah has divided much of his book into bios of these spiritual philosophers, followed by their individual contributions. I strongly recommend it as both a learning tool and an eloquently written history book.

The following is Idries Shah’s bio from the beginning of the book:
“Idries Shah devoted much of his life to bringing the West a clearer understanding of Sufism. Born in 1924 into a family that traces itself through the Prophet Mohammed and the Sassanian Emperors of Persia, and beyond that, back to 122 B.C. – perhaps the oldest recorded lineage on earth. Shah was the author of many books. He wrote on subjects as diverse as travel, bibliography, literature, humour, philosophy and history, but it was for his books on Sufi though that he was best known. Shah’s enthusiasm for cross-cultural studies led him in 1965 to establish an educational charity, the Institute for Cultural Research in London, where he became Director of Studies. He also founded the Afghan Relief organization after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Idries Shah was awarded the Dictionary of International Biography’s Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Service to Human Thought. He died in 1996.”

Here are a few powerful quotes from Sufi writings:
“Every clique has a theory about me – I am mine; what I am, I am.” -Omar Khayyam
“I will not serve God like a labourer, in expectation of my wages” – Rabia el-Adawia
“Do not regret the past and do not worry about the future” – Dhun-Nun

And my two favorite:
“All wisdom can be stated in two lines:
“What is done for you – Allow it to be done. What you must do yourself – make sure you do it” -Khawwas
“If you could untie your wings and free your soul of jealousy, you and everyone around you would fly up like doves” -Rumi

Chickpeas a wonder food for living healthy easily

Many people who know me have heard me talking about chickpeas. I think they’re a great addition to so many, many dishes and perfect even just as a snack with lemon juice squeeze on them (spice optional). Throw them into soups, salads, I can’t think of a meal they don’t compliment, largely because they adopt the flavor of your other foods so easily. They also have scientifically proven health benefits.
I love them so much that at a recent show I was in, as part of my bio, it said that I was, “always ready to talk to you about how she loves chickpeas and why you should eat them.”

Here are some more concrete reasons to appreciate this legume:

A funny new site to read stories from the single life

Baddategreatstory.com is a site that gives a humorous outlet to the antics of dating life. Started by two New York city writers, constantly surrounded by their friends telling them hilarious stories from the nights before or years passed, the site has funny stories from men and women, videos, and motivational spoofs.

The site became so popular in a few months of being online, that the editors decided to create a rotating performance group that has a show every three months in Manhattan.

On December 2nd at the downtown venue Solas, the 3rd Bad Date Great Story comedy reading/stand-up show will strike again!

The site is always looking for new stories from a wide demographic, if you would like, send them a story to be published, they’re always interested in hearing from writers and funny people: baddategreatstory@gmail.com

A Philosophers Notes – A great new site for spiritual expansion

I happened to come across a new site that I think is really worth taking a look at www.philosophersnotes.com

The “Chief Philosopher” of the site, the very well-spoken and positive professional, Brian Johnson, has put together a website with pdf synopsis’/mp3 audio clips and a plethora of other sections geared to providing information gleaned from 100 personal growth books. Johnson picked the 100 books mentioned, which date from history to present day, that he had found to be most influential. Many of the titles such as “The Four Agreements” and “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” are very recognizable, and Johnson’s clean breakdowns act as effective guides in highlighting key points. The nice thing about the breakdowns, is that they don’t act as replacements for the books, in fact, Johnson usually begins by saying something similar to “You must read this book,” or “Only read this book if you want to change your life.”
Think of it as sort of a book club/school for personal growth.

In addition to the book sections, Johnson provides individual segments on energy, courage, and more. The goal being to create a strong personal core for success in all parts of your life. There are also “Blissations,” subliminal messages you can have personally made for you. When it’s bedtime, check out the meditating sleep noise, such as ocean sounds (I am a fan). I’m glad to have come across this website. I think it’s a great boost during the day and a good way to see a glimpse at a number of powerful books, we may not have discovered on our own.

Have you used the site? We’d be interested in hearing your feedback, too!

Failure is a first stop to success

I’m reading a book now that I find really inspiring. It’s called “The Secret of Success is Not a Secret” by Darcy Andries. It is a brilliant volume of condensed biographies, about individuals in the world from different places who succeeded beyond a multitude of failures. Not one failure, or two, some people seemed to “fail” about ten times, thirty times, before even seeing a hint of accomplishment. These people had names like Issac Newton, Milton Hershey, Billy Crystal, Cole Porter, Barbara Walters, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Sanger, Jerry Seinfeld, Louis Pasteur, Steven Spielberg, Auguste Rodin, George Lucas — the list goes on. Most of them had failures that were more humiliating than devastating. Their companies folded, they were told they were talentless by countless agents, no one would accept them to their universities. Others had setbacks that left them disabled or incarcerated, but regardless the measure, they kept at it. Beyond their contributions to society, they are a good example of a saying I heard once, “The only time you are sure to lose is when you stop trying.”

New camera, new look at scenery

I am overjoyed to have just gotten a new camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC- GH1. It is amazing!
I took it out for a little walk and here are a few stills I took in Morningside Park, uptown NY. Being a filmmaker, I also can’t wait to take some great video of the city… Emi

Haiku Mind by Patricia Donegan

My mother gave me a book last year for my birthday that has really made an impression on me. It’s called “Haiku Mind” and it is by Patricia Donegan. She (my mom, not Patricia Donegan 🙂 ) said that when she looked down in Anthropologie and saw it on a table, she thought of me. I could only be grateful for that. The book is Donegan’s reflection on various well thought of haikus and the writers who penned them. In a busy city such as New York, standing in the train station and waiting for the C train, can be a dreadfully boring experience. Sometimes it seems one cannot have enough gadgets, phone, itouch, ipod, book, magazine, nook, and still the time can’t pass quickly enough. This book is somehow the easiest escape journey. It lifts you up out of the bottom layer of the city, the one filled with screeching cars and people who play sidewalk chicken, and puts you in your own defined thinking peace box above it all. It is like a portable meditation cabana 🙂

Seasoned Vegan est. in Harlem, not just for vegans

I’m not a practicing vegan (I try to eat well though!), but yesterday when I walked in with my vegetarian friend, and Brenda gave me a taste of her “chicken” corn bread, and macaroni and cheese I was sold. Not only does Brenda radiate with a loving energetic persona towards her customers, but her food is delicious; it’s well thought out, and I’m so glad. This area really, really needed something like this. There is also frozen food to last you the days in between Saturday and Wednesday. Welcome to the neighborhood Seasoned Vegan, please don’t leave!

Seasoned Vegan is located inside Lee Lee’s Bakery, Wed.-Sat. for lunch and dinner only. (frozen dinners are available too.)
283 W 118th St
(between St Nicholas Ave & 8th Ave)
Manhattan, NY 10026
(917) 232-3446