Green & Garlicky Rice Bowl (with a Lesson on Food & Eggs)

I reaaallllly like rice bowls. Particularly this one because it uses leftover veggies + herbs + other greens in the fridge that otherwise may have been composted. Of course, a fried egg on top never hurts either. Oh, and did I mention that the only thing you have to cook in this dish is the rice?! It’s that simple.

But first, a tangent…

Errrggg – I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. To say that life has been hectic is an understatement, but nowadays, who’s life isn’t all over the place? (If yours is going well, please send me some advice). The truth is towards the latter half of 2020, I lacked motivation to share recipes.

Buuuuut…new year, new… just kidding, haha.

It’s not that I neglected cooking or delving into new recipes – quite the opposite. I experimented more in the kitchen and discovered dishes that are now favorites. However, my relationship with food changed within the past year –

I love food. No, I don’t mean just eating food. I love everything about food. The aroma of the blended ingredients, the cultural roots of each dish, the meticulous process in cultivating key ingredients, the science behind food, etc. Food is extremely fascinating and transcends simple nourishment for our bodies and I’ve learned to appreciate its sentimental and complex nature, and the way food connects us all.

I love the conversations and relationships built during eating & cooking meals together with friends & family. I love the stories & laughter shared over the dining table (or couch) – especially the kind that makes you snort food out your nose. To me, food is intimate. Food is sacred.

But during the past year, I learned so much about the role that food plays in climate change. To love food while ignoring the negative impact of the way we currently produce and consume food harms our environment, doesn’t sit right with me.

Currently, food production counts for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emmissions1. This includes producing food, transporting it, and storing wasted food2 in landfills. I won’t delve into this issue today as this blog post won’t do enough just, but there are plentiful resources3 if you’re interested in doing your own research.

Yeah, we can blame industrialization, urbanization, the government, and those large corporations who know that our food system is fucked up and still refuse to to anything about it, but I believe that it’s up to each of us, as individuals, to make a change in our consumption habits for the ‘big guys’ to follow suit.

Here’s an excerpt that I really like from a recent Forbes’ article4, which quotes Charles Michel (a chef, food educator, advisor to the World Food Programme, and whose #FoodActivism community I joined on Patreon!):

“I believe the conscious kind of food lovers should lead the charge on diet… We need to educate more intelligent consumers by making healthier foods more sexy, and generate a movement around it.”

“We need everyone to be involved—from soil to gut—consumers, farmers, activists, chefs, artists, scientists, politicians, and entrepreneurs. That means lifting up food and consumption, all across the board, as maybe the most potent acupuncture point to transform food systems to reach the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Pleasure and beauty are the key, experience is the medium.”

So what does this mean for me as an individual? What can I do to be a more conscious consumer?

Within the past year, I made a consistent effort to reduce my food waste (at home & in restaurants) and I started to compost vegetable & fruit scraps. When I order food to-go, I make a conscious effort to decline plasticware (I have utensils at home!). I bring my own grocery bags to the market and purchase certified organic foods, when I’m able to. My money started going towards more locally-sourced foods & ingredients. I also started to cook with less meat5, and if I do cook with meat, I try my best to only purchase grass-finished beef and pasture-raised chicken & eggs. I recognize that this can often get expensive and mostly only available in higher-end markets, but privilege, in regards to food sustainability, is a whole ‘nother conversation on its own.

Despite these efforts, I realize how much more I have to learn and the work that remains to be done. I am constantly refining my consumption habits. I am not vegetarian or vegan. I occasionally still waste some food that I forget is in the back of my fridge. I still purchase packaged bread. I wish I can grow my own vegetables & herbs in my apartment. But, change comes from a lot of small things done well. The commitment to the solution is the answer to the problem.

Nevertheless, I’m revitalized with a renewed purpose for this blog – to commit to educating others on food. With each post, I want to share with you things that I’ve learned that has helped (is helping) me become a more conscious food lover.

In today’s post, I’ve decided to highlight my favorite part about this rice bowl – the egg – and the animal welfare marketing terms around in attempt to make us feel better about eating it.

I’m lucky enough to be able to purchase Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs from my local grocery market.

Pasture-Raised Eggs vs. Cage-Free Eggs vs. Free-Range Eggs

Pasture-raised, cage-free, free-range – all the rah rah and the blah blah…what does it all mean?! Numerous articles have explored this topic and the research is overwhelming. I will attempt to recap my findings below.

In case you didn’t already know, let me start off by breaking your heart – “cage free” & “free-range” eggs is really just a whole bunch of bullshit. These terms have no legal definition and are purely used for marketing purposes, taking advantage of consumers who are [rightfully so] confused about these labels. Actually, even pasture-raised doesn’t mean anything either!

Yes, I guess you can say that there are certain humane standards6 that differentiate these terms e.g. # of hours of access to sunlight during the day, square footage of indoor/outdoor space where chickens are raised, etc. but again, these terms are not regulated, so anyone can slap on these words on an egg carton and call it a day.

(Other words that don’t mean anything on egg carton labels: vegetarian-fed, natural, farm fresh, fertile, omega-3 enriched, pasteurized)

Wait, so are all of these terms are bullshit?! Why have I been spending double for pasture-raised eggs when they’re all the same?! This is the right question to ask.

The answer is no, it’s not all complete bullshit. The key difference between finding out what is actually real vs. what is not is the presence of an auditing agency. These agencies (e.g. Humane Farm Animal Care, Rainforest Alliance, National Organic Program) charge a small fee to come inspect farms to see if things are up to their standards. When it comes to eggs, it means they’re looking at the chicken’s access to outdoors, sunlight, space to move, etc. If the farm passes their inspection, they’re allowed to use the agency’s emblem on their packaging.

The thing is, the Human Farm Animal Care agency’s minimum standards aren’t too hot either for “cage-free” and “pasture-raised”7. However, in order to get the “Certified Humane” emblem and be allowed to write “pasture-raised” on the egg carton, the farm must meet some pretty intense standards – more intense than organic certification. So if you do see an egg carton with both “pasture-raised” & “Certified Humane” labels, it means it’s the best option out there… besides raising your own chickens in your backyard! Personally, I have access to Vital Farms8 in my local grocery store, and it’s the only eggs I cook & bake with.

This matters to me because I care about ethically produced (& sourced) food, and in general, pasture-raised animals are better for the environment9.

I’m not saying that I never eat eggs that are not pasture-raised. Sometimes I’m in situations where it’s not accessible to me or there are no other options (e.g. eating out in restaurants and/or food that was served to me). However, I do have the ability to only bring pasture-raised eggs into my home, and I will continue to do so.

One thing I’ve learned throughout my #FoodActivism journey is that becoming a more conscious consumer doesn’t mean you need to be perfect all the time. We need more imperfect conscious consumers. It’s the small changes that make a big impact.

I think I’ve rambled enough for today. Let’s make this rice bowl.

Green & Garlicky Rice Bowl with Fried Egg

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 & 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine or basmati rice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Butter or olive oil
  • 2 – 3 pasture-raised large eggs
  • Small bunch of kale
  • Small bunch of fresh parsley
  • Small bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 2 – 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Handful of small radishes
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic
  • Queso fresco
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Furikake seasoning*, optional but highly recommended
  • Your favorite hot sauce, optional for topping
  • (Other ingredients that you may have in your fridge that would also work: avocado, black beans, diced mango, shredded cabbage, etc.)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash your rice, add about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and cook according to instructions. I use a rice cooker. Use whatever your fool-proof method is.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop all the veggies & herbs you are using. In my bowl, I used kale, parsley, cilantro, cilantro, jalapeno (seeded & cored), garlic. Go ahead and slice your radishes too.
  3. Heat up a non-stick skillet with a little bit butter or olive oil on medium-high heat. Crack the eggs on the skillet and cook until golden-brown around the edges, about 2 minutes. Cover loosely using a lid (or aluminum foil) and cook until the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny but starting to set. Season with salt & pepper.
  4. Once your rice is done cooking, mix in your greens: kale, parsley, basil, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic. Add salt & pepper to taste (and Furikake seasoning, if you’re using). Make sure you are tasting the rice as you are mixing in the seasoning so that it doesn’t become too salty/garlicky.
  5. Prepare your bowl: Scoop in rice & veggie mixture first, lay the fried egg on top of the rice, add sliced radishes, and queso fresco. This would be a good time to add in other ingredients you may also have: avocado, beans, diced mangoes, shredded cabbage. Top with your favorite hot sauce, if you desire.

*Note: Furikake seasoning is a Japanese spice blend made with dried seaweed (nori), toasted sesame seeds, salt, spices, and optional bonito.

Sources:
1. Focus on What You Eat
2. Wasted Food
3. Resources to learn about food’s impact on climate change: Environmental Impacts of Food Production, Kiss the Ground – learn about regenerative farming (Netflix documentary), The True Cost of our Food Systems (YouTube)
4. Why It’s Falling To You—And Not Your Government—To Decarbonize The Food System
5. Environmental Impacts of Food Production
6. Difference between pasture-raised and free-range eggs
7. Consumer Reports on Certified Humane
8. Vital Farms
9. Raising Animals Sustainably on Pasture

A Regular Gal’s Opinion on [Blueland] Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Once upon a time, I became interested in using “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” cleaning products in my home. Maybe back then I was less conscious about actually being sustainable but rather couldn’t stand the headache that often occurred after deep cleaning my home from the fumes of those super-duper effective cleaning products.

After trying several brands of “eco-friendly” cleaning products over the last few years, I realized that none of them reallllyyyy got the grime out where I wanted it to, especially in the bathroom. Or the products smelled a bit too natural – like a really smelly sneeze (yuck).

(One thing I should note too is that since I’ve worked in restaurants/cafés, I’ve been spoiled with using those commercial-grade cleaning products – the ones that make everything super squeaky clean, so when I clean my own home, I need it to be THAT noticeably clean.)

Notes about “Eco-Friendly” Cleaning Products

Alright, alright. I’m getting to the product review, I promise. But before I do, I want to address several important things when it comes to “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” cleaning products.

  • “Eco-friendly” and “sustainable” products aren’t a trend. To say so would be an insult to people who have been using more natural products their whole life. For example, my mom has always refused to purchase cleaning products with bleach. Instead she makes her own cleaning concoctions with things like vinegar, baking soda, citrus peels, etc. It’s not because she’s oh-so sustainably trendy, it’s because that’s how she learned how to clean where she grew up (a small, humble home in a province in the Philippines).
  • Just because it’s a natural cleaning product, doesn’t mean it’s safe. These marketing gurus like to trick people and label products as “natural” but actually contain things like fragrances, dyes, allergens, and irritants that may not be good for people who have asthma, other respiratory issues, and people who have sensitive skin allergies/irritation. Some multi-purpose cleaning brands that have received an Environmental Working Group (EWG) rating of D and below are Seventh Generation, Method, Green Works, etc.
  • Yes. There are environmental impacts from cleaning products. Just to name a few: water pollution (chemicals washed into streams & rivers), air pollution (volatile organic compounds in cleaning products can affect indoor air quality & outdoor smog), and waste (many containers are not made from recyclable materials and O M G, so much empty plastic bottles. Not to mention, some of the more hazardous materials need special energy for transport & disposal). ‘Green’ products typically are more biodegradable, lower in toxicity and VOC, have minimal packaging, and produced with less energy.

OK, ok. Getting closer to the product reviews.

Blueland Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

From Blueland.com

I heard about Blueland after hearing recommendations from YouTubers who try to live a more ‘sustainable’ lifestyle… and hearing that it actually works. After digging through Blueland’s website and reading about them in various articles, here’s a few facts that intrigued me enough to make a purchase:

About the Products:

  • The packaging is reusable, BPA-free acrylic (for the spray bottle) and the refills are little tablets wrapped in compostable paper packaging. The best part is that the refills start at $2!
  • Products are made without: triclosan, parabens, phosphates, ammonia, chlorine bleach, phthalates, or VOCs.
  • Blueland is Certified Platinum Material Health by Cradle to Cradle, EPA Safer Choice, USDA BioPreferred, Leaping Bunny (cruelty free).

About the Company

  • “Better for You and the Planet” is their brand mission.
  • They’re constantly innovating and on a mission to reimagine all the categories of household packaged goods with innovating form factors and environmentally responsible packaging.
  • The carbon footprint involved in shipping Blueland refill tablets is a fraction of that of a standard single-use plastic container of cleaner or hand soap.

After going through all their products, I decided to only purchase the Multi-Surface Starter Set, $16 and Bathroom Starter Set, $16 (since multi-purpose & bathroom cleaners are what I mostly use anyway).

The two bottles I ordered!

I guess I should say that I’m O.K. with the current cleaning products I use. Some are more “eco-friendly” and some are not. However, I want to switch to using only ALL eco-friendly products and decrease my use of disposable plastic in general. In this review, I’m going to compare those two Blueland products with the ones I currently use:

  • All-purpose cleaner (counter tops, glass, door knobs, etc.): Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface, Clean Day Basil
  • Bathroom cleaner: For countertop, sink, toilet cover & toilet seat, I use Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface, Clean Day Basil. For tub & tile, I use either a homemade cleaner made with Dawn dish soap + baking soda + splash of hydrogen peroxide + drops of essential oil (for more casual cleaning) OR Clorox Bathroom Bleach Foamer (for deep cleaning).

And finally, the product reviews:

  • What you Get: 1 reusable spray bottle + 3 multi-surface cleaning tablets (although I only received 1) + instruction sheet
  • How it Works: Fill up the bottle with hot/warm water, drop in the tablet, watch it dissolve, and it’s ready to use! Makes 20 oz of cleaner.
Multi-Surface Cleaner

Multi-Surface Cleaner. Overall, I like this a lot. I used it on several surfaces: countertop, stovetop, and kitchen sink. On my stovetop was where I really saw its effectiveness – I used this cleaner after cooking something that had a lot of splashes and grease and I was very happy with the results. In case you’re curious, to me it smells like… warm lemon…? Not a bad smell, but not as pleasant as the Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface cleaner. After using it several times, will I be making the switch? Yes. I will.

Little refill tablet
Dissolving tablet. It takes about 30 minutes to fully dissolve.

Bathroom Cleaner: First of all, I reeaaaalllyyy like the smell – it’s minty and eucalyptus-y, and much better smelling that the products I currently use. More importantly, I think this worked pretty well. I used it in my entire bathroom – countertop, sink, toilet cover, toilet seat, tub, and tiles. It took away the grime and soap scum by just wiping (not too much scrubbing happened since my tub & tiles weren’t super dirty). Overall, I think this will replace both the Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface cleaner. Also, in comparison to my concoction of soap + baking soda, this one is just so much easier to apply on the surface (rubbing vs. spray) AND it reduces the plastic I go through from the dish soap. All good stuff here.

Final Thoughts

I think if you’re interested in making a switch to more eco-friendly cleaning products, Blueland is the one to try. I don’t really have anything bad to say about the brand and the products. I love how it is definitely ‘better for you and the planet’.

I also love that it’s affordable. Maybe the starting cost isn’t cheap (purchasing the bottles/packaging for the first time), but the refills are relatively inexpensive (starting at $2).

Another important thing to note is that none of their cleaners claim that they kill bacteria (unlike some competitive eco-friendly brands who claim their ability to kill 99% of germs), so I’m still going to be using my disinfectant wipes from time-to-time. Other than that, I’m very happy with my purchase and I’m definitely going to re-order refill tablets for both cleaners.

I’m also looking forward to trying some of their other products. The ones I’m interested in trying next is the Dish Soap, Hand Soap, and Dishwasher Soap. Maybe I’ll write a part 2 review.

xo,
Donna

3 Simple Ways to Start Reducing Food Waste

Food waste is a growing problem in our modern society.

In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30–40 percent of the food supply. In 2017 alone, almost 41 million tons of food waste were generated, with only 6.3% used for composting from landfills and combustion for energy recovery1.

Why You Should Care about Reducing Food Waste:

  • Saves money from buying less food.
  • Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
  • Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).

I know there’s a larger problem at hand than just me and you. I know there’s large corporations and companies that are responsible for a large chunk of food waste in the U.S.. I’m not here to talk about them (not yet anyway). Today, I want to address how you and I can start making a change in our own homes. As the CEO of the company work for always says, “You cannot control what goes on outside these four walls, but you can always control what happens inside.” (…or something like that).

I also know that there’s an overwhelming amount of information out there telling you how to reduce food waste in your home (and here I am adding to the mix with this post), and you may be curious and want to start applying some tips, but you don’t know where to start. Or you may be a creature of habit and hearing about “100 ways to reduce food waste” just seems daunting. I totally get it – which is why I want to share just a handful of tips that have personally helped me make lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes is key here. What I don’t want to happen is that you practice these things and it feels good for now, then forget about it two weeks later when things get inconvenient (yikes, this is what happened to me at first)! You should start to become more conscious about food waste and hopefully these are simple enough tips to get you started.

Image from Milk Means More

3 Simple Ways to Start Reducing Your Food Waste

Meal Plan. This is the biggest tip that has helped me reduce my food waste significantly. By this, I don’t mean that you need to cook for the whole week in 1 day. What I mean by “meal planning” is to think about what meals you will be preparing (or eating out) for the following week (or at least 4-5 days) and then write down a grocery list before going to the store. Also, make sure to check your fridge to see what items you already have so that you can either plan your meal around that or you don’t double purchase.

Below is a photo of my simple meal planning list on a good ol’ sticky note (I don’t eat breakfast (only coffee), which is why I only have lunch & dinner listed). It’s okay if you don’t know what you’re going to eat every single day for every single meal. I find that even just a little bit of planning helps me buy less (grocery store & eating out). Even if I don’t plan on eating a home-cooked meal for a specific day, I still like to write down where I’m going to potentially pick-up food (e.g. Sweetgreen for Thursday lunch) – it puts less stress on me that day. Also, don’t forget to plug in your leftovers when meal planning!

Proper Food Storage. Great. You’ve planned your meals and went to the grocery store without buying anything extra… now what?! How do you keep your groceries fresh for the next week so that you’re not throwing away spoiled food?! Luckily for you, I’ve already done some research. I wrote a post about two years ago on How to Store Herbs, Vegetables, and Fruits to Maximize Freshness (these are more common produce items). For meats, I like to chuck them in the freezer if I’m not going to be cooking them 2-3 days after purchasing. In general, freezing food is the best way to keep them from spoiling until you’re ready to eat them.

Another important thing to learn about food storage is knowing the different “best by”, “sell by”, “use by”, “freeze by” dates on food packaging. Apparently, confusion over these labels accounts for about 20% of food waste in American homes and this equates to about one-third of all food produced in the U.S. being wasted or lost2. Just imagine if you’re walking out of the grocery store with three bags of food… and then you toss one bag straight into the trash can. This is ridiculous and it makes me mad that there are millions of people that are starving everyday and we (the fortunate ones) are throwing away so much food.

Anyway. Most date labels are about quality, not necessarily safety, and leads us to toss away food that’s perfectly safe to eat (of course there are things like infant formula, etc. that have very strict discard dates). For me, the best way to figure out if food has indeed gone bad is checking smell (does it smell like your feet after a running outside on a summer day?), physical signs of mold and discoloring (are your avocados black instead of green? make sure to also check the bottom of glass jars/tupperware for mold!), and texture (are your veggies and deli turkey feeling slimy? or maybe your milk has gone from silky smooth to chunky? toss out that bad boy!).

Pro Tip: If you’re ever unsure of how long different items can be stored in the fridge/freezer, use this FoodKeeper App and/or Is My Food Safe App! Available for both Android and iOS devices. Also, here are 5 easy ways to tell if your food has gone bad.

Keep Track of Your Food Waste. This one is simple. Keep a “food waste journal” and jot down what you toss out each week. This way, you can easily see what you are throwing away on a regular basis so you can reduce or eliminate that item from your shopping list. Maybe it’s half a loaf of bread each week? If you buy fresh bread, perhaps you can ask your bakery if you can purchase half a loaf. Maybe you can make bread crumbs! Or my favorite, make a “pizza toast” – add some chopped tomatoes, herbs, and grated cheese on top of your sliced bread and put it in a toaster oven for a few minutes!

But before tossing out your food, you can also donate what you won’t use! Never going to eat those canned beans or soup? Give it to a food bank! Click here to locate a food bank near you.

Lastly, if you do end up with food waste, please dispose of it properly. If you live in an apartment, I wrote a post on how you can easily compost. Even if you don’t live in an apartment, you can still perhaps learn a thing or two!

I truly hope you learned something! And honestly, even if just one person takes something from this post and starts making a lifestyle, I’ll be happy.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” -George Bernard Shaw

xo,
Donna

1 Source: Food Loss and Waste | FDA
2 Source: To Reduce Food Waste… | NPR

Bibimbap Bowl (Mother of All Bowl Meals)

I’m so late to the game. I really only started to appreciate ‘rice bowls’ within the last year or so. They are so convenient to eat and I want to share my newfound love with you!

In case you’re not familiar, Bibimbap is a Korean dish which typically consists of warm rice, sautéed vegetables, kimchi, gochujang, soy sauce, maybe meat, and fried egg… then you stir it all together before diving in. Because of the different flavors and textures in this bowl, it’s typically considered the ‘mother of all bowl meals’ – if that makes sense.

(Anyone else feeling like this bowl lately? A mix of… well, everything? Happiness. Confusion. Anxiety. Excitement. Hope. Sadness. No? Just me? OK – I will go back to my corner now).

I enjoy making this dish because it’s quick, easy, and it only requires one pan! It looks like there’s a lot of steps, but mostly because there’s a bit of chopping to do in the beginning, but not too much. I also like this because you can really customize it however you want and with what you have in your fridge e.g. substituting or adding different veggies, meats, etc. I don’t prefer kimchi, so I leave it out of my recipe. However, you can add it on if you want! I’ll list alternatives below in the ‘ingredients’ section.

Last note: this makes really good leftovers or good for meal prep (except the fried egg).

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!

xo,
Donna

Bibimbap Bowl

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice (or any white rice)
  • 3-4 scallions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 thumbs ginger (or 2 teaspoons minced ginger from a jar, which is what I use)
  • 4 gloves garlic
  • 5 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons gojuchang (Korean Chili Paste) or sriracha
  • 1 pound grass-fed or grass-finished ground beef or ground chicken/turkey or ground pork (your choice, but I always prefer grass-finished ground beef)
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, about 1-2 tablespoons total needed
  • fried egg, as needed
  • Options for other veggies to add/substitute: spinach, bok choy, bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, homemade OR premade kimchi
  • Optional toppings: toasted sesame seeds, gochugaru, sriracha

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook your jasmine (or white) rice however method works for you. I use a rice cooker (it makes my life 10000x easier). Just add a large pinch of salt to your water before cooking.
  2. Thinly slice scallions, separating the ‘greens’ and the ‘whites’. Set aside the greens. Take the whites and put it in a small bowl with white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Stir and set aside – we’re going to let this marinate (we’re “pickling” this).
  3. Peel your carrots. If you have a peeler, shave your carrots lengthwise into ribbons (which is what I did in my photo above). If you don’t have one, no worries! Just slice it thinly into rounds or use a shredder.
  4. Chop your zucchini. I sliced mine into thin rounds, but you can also slice it lengthwise so it looks like zucchini fries.
  5. Mince your garlic and ginger. If you’re adding other vegetables, this is a good time to chop them up as well.
  6. In another small bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, gojuchang or sriracha, and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  7. Heat your skillet and drizzle with oil. Add carrots, season with salt & pepper, and cook for about 4-5 minutes until lightly softened. Remove the carrots from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Add zucchini to the pan, season with salt & pepper, and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes for each side. Remove the zucchini from the pan and set aside with carrots. If you’re using other veggies, you can really just cook them until they’re soft, then set aside with all the other veggies.
  8. Drizzle the pan with a little bit more oil. Add your ground beef to the pan (or whatever meat you chose) over medium-high heat, breaking it up into little pieces as it cooks. Add minced garlic and ginger, and mix it in with the meat. It should take about 4-6 minutes to cook. Add about half of the soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Season with ground black pepper.
  9. If you’re adding a fried egg on top, you can fry it however you prefer it. I like mine a bit runny.
  10. Now it’s time to assemble! Take a bowl. Add rice to the bottom of your bowl. Arrange ground beef, carrots, zucchini (and other veggies or kimchi) on top of the rice. Top with the now-pickled scallion whites (and the liquid). Drizzle with the remainder of the soy sauce mixture. Add your fried egg on top, sprinkle with the scallion greens (and if you’re using sesame seeds or gochugaru or sriracha), and serve!

Cinnamon Swirly Bread (Dairy Free)!

Finally, a recipe post!!

OK, but please don’t yell at me because it’s a bread recipe.

I know that yeast is a hot commodity right now and it’s easier to spot Waldo nowadays than to see yeast in stock in grocery stores… but just in case you were one of the people who hoarded yeast and you’re running out of recipes to try, this one is for you.

Let me start off by saying that breads are not my forte, but this one is SO easy. My favorite part about this recipe is that it only takes about an hour for the dough to rise, unlike some breads + buns that need to rise for hours AND set overnight (cinnamon rolls). Also, my apartment smells the best when baking these (well, second to banana bread).

Alright, I’m not going to ramble any longer. Mostly because my eyes are so droopy and I need to reunite with my bed soon.

Goodnight,
Donna

Cinnamon Swirl Bread (Dairy Free)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup warm water, (105-110 F degrees)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry or quick-rise yeast (I prefer Red Star brand!)
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour + extra as needed (I prefer King Arthur brand)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar with the warm water in a very large bowl in stand mixer with dough attachment. Add the yeast and stir just a little bit with your finger. Let it sit until frothy (and it kinda smells like warm beer) about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and oil and knead, adding more flour if too sticky until the dough forms a large, soft ball. If you don’t have a stand mixer, no worries, you can do it by hand! You’ll have very strong (but sore) arms after.
  3. Flour a table or work surface and knead the bread with your hands for 5-10 more minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and brush the top with a little extra olive oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour. It should be very puffy. Punch down the dough.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough into a rectangle (but let’s be honest, it’s going to look more ‘oval’). The dough should be no wider than your bread pan so that it fits after it’s been rolled up – does that make sense?). For more tight rolls in the bread, roll the dough thinner. For thicker softer rolls in the bread, roll thicker.
  6. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle over the loaf. Be generous. Roll up the loaves tightly and put in bread pan (lightly brushed with oil). Let rest for a few minutes before putting in the oven.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when you tap it with a knife. This is one recipe that you may actually want to over bake if you’re in doubt. If it looks too brown on the outside, it’s okay because the inside really needs to bake all the way to get the layers filled out.
  8. Let the bread cool down all the way before cutting into it or else it may sink. If you have leftovers, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store room temperature!

American Elections, Simplified

I know voting and elections are such sexy topics, which is why I want to bring it up again today!

Today’s post won’t be a long guide, but instead I want to share this must-watch, extremely informative, easy-to-follow video by Hasan Minhaj about American Elections.

We’re Doing Elections Wrong | Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj | Netflix

Let me start off by saying that I am SO glad that this message is on Youtube and is freely accessible to everyone in the US. I truly believe that to make a change in your country’s system, you have to learn the history of how it became that way to avoid making the same mistakes over and over.

Secondly, my favorite thing about this video (and really all his other topics) is that he is teaching us about the American two-party election system and why plurality voting (vs majority voting) is the cause of so many issues we have. He touches on “negative partisanship” which simply means that our voting decision tends to swing in the opposite direction of who we HATE, rather than voting for someone who we actually like. For example, Republicans voted for Trump not necessarily because they liked him, but because they hate Democrats more.

So how do we fix this?! Hasan mentions in the video that even if we fix Electoral College, gerrymandering, and campaign finance, it won’t fix the fundamental issue. Instead he discusses a better long-term solution called “ranked-choice voting”. This is where you rank the candidates in order of your preference (essentially what majority-rules voting is), and that this is something we can do RIGHT NOW because all we need is a local law to implement it.

Couple of fun facts from Hasan’s video:
1.
Trump never got a majority of voters. Only 13.5 million Americans voted for him. That’s only 5.5% of all eligible voters!!!
2. There is nothing in our Constitution says that we have to have two parties… but the reason we have this is because the Founding Fathers just copied what the British were doing even though they didn’t want the U.S. to only have two parties.
3. Maine is the first state to implement ranked-choice voting.

Since Texas Primary Runoff Election is July 14th, this is probably going to be my last post about voting until it gets closer to the General November Elections. I will do similar posts about the positions & candidates that are national, state, and local for Harris County/Houston.

If you live in Texas, I hope you got a chance to vote with ease during Early Voting. If not, the last day to vote in the Primaries are July 14th. If you live in another state, I hope you got to vote during your state’s Primaries.

I’ve been enjoying educating myself (and hopefully others) and hope to keep providing relevant, simple-but-accurate information to all.

xo,
Donna

P.S. For those who care to know, I will be voting for Biden in November. I don’t love Biden, but I believe that voting Blue is certainly a step to the right direction. I really miss Bernie.

P.P.S. I mentioned to my friend the other day that I finally understand why people ‘unfollow’ their ex after a breakup and you still have feelings for them – it’s very painful to keep hearing about them and wishing things worked out. This is how I feel about Bernie losing the Democratic vote. He was the one who got away.

Edit 7.15.2020

Hello! Just doing a mini-edit! Below is the link to view the results for the Texas Primary Runoff Election. I believe this is an ongoing live page, so it will keep updating until all results have been counted.

My Favorite Foods in Houston

I looked back at my Lasagna recipe that I posted beginning of the year and it made me do a knee-slapping laugh – I was talking about big things happening in 2020 and it is hilarious to go back and read about it.

You would think during quarantine, I would have posted a million recipes on here with all the extra time I had working from home. Don’t get me wrong – I cooked a lot. If being in quarantine for two months taught me anything, it’s that I realized I don’t love cooking as much as I thought I did.

Well, I still love it, but cooking 5-6 times a week, and sometimes even up to twice a day started to feel like a chore. And then came the worst of it all– those damn dishes. So. many. dishes. This fueled my lack of motivation to take ‘professional’ photos of my cooking process. All I wanted to do was eat at a restaurant, share stories, and laugh with friends. Do I sound like a brat yet?

Which leads me to today’s post – I’m reminiscing and want to highlight all my favorite restaurants & foods in Houston! These are the ones that I dreamed about during quarantine. These are the food and restaurants that I recommend to e v e r y b o d y. These are the ones that make me happy when I’m sad… or just make me happier in general.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to the day when things get back to “normal” and I can once again dine-in at my favorite spots with friends and family.

*Note: photos below are not my own.

*Another Note: this is not a food-critic review post!

My Favorite Foods in Houston

Relish Fried Chicken Bucket | Image from Facebook

Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant: Relish Restaurant & Bar
This restaurant has a special place in my heart. Relish Restaurant & Bar is described as a “contemporary classic American comfort food with French and Italian influences” and I think that is very accurate. I could go on and on why I love this place. I have a couple of all-time favorite foods here: Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit (found in their Brunch menu only, which they’re not currently serving), Fried Chicken with Hot Honey (the breading is unbeatable and you can purchase in buckets!), Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes (it is mostly crab meat and not so much stuffing), and Brussels sprouts (roasted with some type of balsamic glaze). Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had a bad item on their menu. Their wine list and cocktails are amazing as well.

Relish is only serving curbside for now, but typically they are counter service for lunch & brunch and seated service for dinner.

Relish, 2810 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Killen’s BBQ | Image from Instagram

Favorite Barbecue Restaurant: Killen’s BBQ
Confession. I did not enjoy eating barbecue until I had Killen’s BBQ. Their Brisket, Beef Ribs, and Pork Ribs are excellent – packed with flavor, tender, and juicy. But my favorite part about this restaurant is their unrivaled sides options.

Contrary to popular belief, I think that execution of side dishes are just as important as the meat when it comes to barbecue. I’ve tried other popular BBQ spots in Houston (…and in Kansas City) – Rudy’s, Goode Company BBQ, Truth BBQ, etc. – it’s not that they don’t have good barbecue, it’s just that their sides are subpar and Killen’s BBQ’s sides are magnificent. My top two favorite sides are the mouth-watering Mac ‘N Cheese (so creamy and cheesy) and Creamed Corn (sweet and creamy but with a hint of spice). Even their desserts are some of my favorites around town – Banana Pudding (very Southern traditional) and Bread Pudding (made with croissant).

Killen’s BBQ is offering both dine-in and takeout service at the moment. If you’ve lived in Houston and haven’t had Killen’s BBQ before, you are missing out. Venture on out there and your taste buds will thank you.

Killen’s BBQ, 3613 E Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581
Website | Instagram

TacoKeto | Image from Yelp

Favorite Authentic Mexican Street Tacos: TacoKeto
My sister and I first discovered this little food truck during college. We were craving something good… and something greasy. I don’t know how my sister found this place, but I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this eatery. I remember it clearly – we both ordered beef tacos (we had to add cheese) and Mexican coke. It was the most glorious little meal I’ve ever had. The beef tacos were greasy, slightly crunchy, and delicious. The green salsa that came with it was amazing too.

It’s been a while since I’ve visited, but I’m drooling as I’m typing, so I will have to make a trip down I-45 soon.

TacoKeto, 1401 Cullen Blvd, Houston, Texas 77023
Facebook

Favorite Americanized Tacos: Velvet Taco
I know, I know. Some of you are probably shaking your head at me. Americanized Tacos… and a chain?! What can I say – sometimes, it’s done well. In this case, I truly believe that Velvet Taco is not just a copycat Mexican taco restaurant – I think that a good chunk of their menu is unique and you cannot find at other taco places.

My go-to tacos are: Picnic Chicken (rotisserie chicken, avocado crema, warm honey-dijon potato salad, crispy chicken skin) , Nashville Hot Tofu (crispy tofu, napa slaw, ranch crema, house brined pickles), and Spicy Tikka Chicken (crisp tenders, spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice, raita crema, Thai basil).

Velvet Taco is currently offering dine-in and takeout service.

Velvet Taco, 4819 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007 (preferred Houston location)
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Melange Creperie | Image from Instagram

Favorite Crêpes: Melange Creperie
This was another spot that my sister & I discovered during college that still frequent even now. Melange Creperie was a Parisienne street style creperie stand that started in Montrose (corner of Taft & Westheimer) and now they have their own restaurant in the Heights! The crepes speak for themselves. My favorite is a basic Nutella-Banana crêpe – the actual crepe is thin and crispy and they put just right amount of Nutella. This is one of my go-to comfort foods in Houston.

Melange Creperie is currently taking takeout orders. It’s perfect because their crepes are wrapped “street-style” – you can eat while taking a walk around the neighborhood!

Melange Creperie, 711 Heights Blvd #B, Houston, TX 77007
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Luce Ave | Image from Instagram

Favorite Coffee: Luce Ave
This one was a battle. I contend that great coffee is extremely subjective, but I believe this place exceeds expectations. I had a few runner ups, but ultimately, Luce Ave won. I’m a little picky when it comes to coffee (and espresso drinks) because I have 6+ years of experience working as a barista. I’m not an expert, but I guess know more than the average person. I won’t bore you and get into technicalities, but I love how consistent their drinks are. Their baristas are thorough – from measuring the ground espresso in the portafilter to extracting it with perfect timing. Their espresso drinks are top-notch quality each time.

My go-to drinks are: Cortado (half espresso, half steamed milk), Iced Creamericano (when I have a sweet tooth), and Black Peach Iced Tea (they brew the tea upon order, so it’s fresh each time).

Bonus: Their chocolate chip cookie is amazing and a must-try.

Luce Ave, 3995 Richmond Ave Suite A, Houston, Texas 77027
Website | Facebook | Instagram

State of Grace | Image from Facebook

#1 Favorite Restaurant: State of Grace
State of Grace is a “jubilant medley of old favorites played with new spice, accent, and freshness: southern, American, Latin, Gulf Coast, German, and Asian.”

This restaurant is brilliant, excellent, and amazing from food to service. I’ve eaten here perhaps 182638x over the last couple years and have eaten through their different menus – lunch, Sunday brunch, dinner, and Sunday Supper. I’ve never eaten anything here that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. This is my favorite restaurant for date night, small celebrations, and just-because.

Again, I’ve tried a majority of their dishes but my top recommendations are: Redfish “On the Half Shell” (with ginger and lime vinaigrette, pearl onions – always cooked perfectly – dinner menu only), Chicken Fried Chicken (topped with butter biscuit, sausage gravy, and sunny side-up eggs – brunch menu only), and their Sunday Supper, which is a prix-fixe menu for $29 pp.

Bonus: For Happy Hour, they have $1 oysters (and it’s just not the Gulf oysters )!

State of Grace is currently offering dine-in and takeout service. Kaykay and I ate here last month and felt very, very safe (at least safer than grocery stores).

State of Grace, 3258 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Happy Eating!

You Should Be Composting… in Your Apartment

What the F*ck is Compost and Why Should You Care?

(n.) Compost is decayed organic material used as a fertilizer to help plants grow.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food is the biggest ingredient in American trash. Currently, more than 35% of the average garbage can is filled with kitchen scraps – the ones that should be composted instead of ending up in landfill. When you compost, you help keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas1.

“Wait, hold on. I thought methane was good?” you ponder.

Well, you are partially correct. Let me explain.

Natural gas consists primarily of methane. When methane is produced from non-fossil fuel sources such as food & green waste, it can take the carbon out of the air (which is a good thing!). Methane provides a great environment benefit, producing more heat and light and energy vs. fossil fuel (coal & or gas refined from oil). It also produces significantly less carbon dioxide and pollutants that produce smog and unhealthy air.2 However, when methane is released into the atmosphere before it is burned, it becomes harmful to the environment. Essentially, methane becomes 26 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.

(Have you fallen asleep yet?)

Just a few of the many other benefits of compost are:

  • Reduction in garbage volume
  • Provides a rich, natural fertilizer and in turn cuts back on use of chemical fertilizers
  • Improves soil aeration and drainage
  • Helps control weeds
  • Decreases the need for costly watering

You should care simply because of this – the earth is your home and you should take care of it as much as you can.

I’ve known about composting and its benefits for a while (mom always talks about it but you know, 50% of the things she says still goes in one ear and out the other). I never gave it much thought before since I thought it was only possible for people who either a) have a backyard/balcony/patio or b) have a garden. Well, it turns out I was wrong. Maybe I should’ve listened to my mom more.

All I needed to do was stop being L A Z Y and do some research! It is possible for someone like me who lives in a city apartment with no backyard, no patio, and no room to start a garden!

Ways to Compost (in an Apartment)

Today, I will be specifically talking about easy ways to compost if you live in an apartment.

1. Collect & Drop Off

Stainless-Steel Compost Pail, 1-Gal. | Williams Sonoma

If you don’t have a backyard/balcony/patio, this may be the easiest method yet! You can collect your kitchen scraps in a container and take it to a local food-scrap drop-off location!

There are a couple ways you can store kitchen scraps without stinking up your apartment. One is to put them in any container and stick them in your freezer – this method is F R E E! The other way is to purchase a ceramic or stainless-steel compost pail and keep it on your counter if you don’t have room in your fridge. Either way, once your container is full, it’s time to drop it off.

Note: It is important to check the rules for the drop-off location where your taking your scraps!

If you live in Houston, check out this link to see which location is closest to you! If you live in another major city in Texas, check out this link that lists where you can compost. If you live anywhere in a major city in the U.S., you can easily do a Google search (“food-scrap compost drop-off”) or check out your city’s Department of Sanitation’s website.

This method is what I just started to do! It’s easy AND free. Literally the hardest part is driving down the shitty roads of Richmond Ave!

2. Countertop Food Digester | Electric-assist Composter

FoodCycler FC-30

OK – this method LOOKS awesome… and is also a great method for people who have minimal outdoor space. However, this doesn’t necessarily compost your food waste – it just converts it into something that you could immediately put on your patio planters. If you don’t have patio planters, I’m sure your apartment complex has some garden beds that you can take your processed food waste to! One other benefit to using one of these electric-assist composters is that they can process even avocado pits to chicken bones overnight.

I think the only negative thing I see about this is that they are a liiiiitttleee bit pricey ($299.99 USD). If you’re interested, check out this one by FoodCycle. I may actually purchase one soon. If I do, I’ll update this post and let you know how it goes.

There are other methods too…

I can list other methods such as worm composting but since I haven’t done it myself, I don’t feel confident discussing it. I’ve watched YouTube videos of how people are accomplishing this in their apartments. It seems simple enough, but also time consuming and have a lot of requirements e.g. controlled temperature, etc. I eventually DO want to do this but I have more research to do… and maybe when I move somewhere that has at least a patio or balcony. When/if I switch to this method, I’ll be sure to share my worm adventures.

What & What Not to Compost

I know it’s a little confusing on what you can and cannot compost, so here’s a small list of common food/kitchen items:

Compostable

  • Coffee grounds and coffee filters
  • Crushed eggshells
  • Fruit & vegetable craps
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Tea & tea bags
  • Toothpicks & burnt matches
  • Paper towels (if not soiled with grease/fats or dairy)

Non-Compostable

  • Meat, fish, egg, or poultry scraps
  • Dairy products
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils
  • Citrus peels (in worm composts)

Click here to see a longer list of what you can and cannot compost. If you don’t see the item you’re looking for here, just use your best friend Google.

Sources:
1 Composting at Home
2 Methane and the Environment

What’s & Who’s | Texas Primary Runoff Election (Part III)

It is 1:48 AM CST and I am finally ready to publish this post. We have a lot of ground to cover, so grab a bunch of snacks and a mug of coffee before diving in. Apologies in advance for any typos and grammatical or language errors. My English typically suffers as the night goes on. Kaykay typically proofs for me but he’s knocked out and currently snoring like a bear.

Before you read this post, make sure you check out Part I & Part II first.

Today I want to give you information about all the other races/ballots/people in the Texas Primary Runoff Election, in addition to the Senate & Representative candidates I mentioned in my last post. Please note that these candidates are within Harris County, so some of these people may not be in your county’s ballot. If you do not live in Harris County, click here to find out who’s in your county’s ballot. Select Year > Select either July 14th REPUBLICAN or DEMOCRATIC Primary Runoff on the Election drop down > Choose your county > Candidates will automatically populate on the page.

I’ll briefly describe the role of each race/position. I won’t go into detail about the candidates, but I’ll simply list their website, social media accounts, and any other relevant links so that you can do your own research about each role/person.

Side note: Click here to find out who’s currently representing you [where you live]!

OK – Let’s get started.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY

Race: Railroad Commissioner
One of three seats on the railroad commission is up for re-election. Funny enough, this commission does NOT regulate railroads but instead oversees the oil and gas industry, gas utilities, pipeline safety, and safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry, and surface coal and uranium mining.
Railroad Commissioner Candidates:
– Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo: Website
– Chrysta Castañeda: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
The winner between these two candidates will be going up against Incumbent Ryan Sitton (R) in November.

Race: State Board of Education, District 6
This board is composed of 15 elected members, each representing one of the state’s 15 education districts. Board members set policies and standards for Texas public schools including setting curriculum standards, reviewing and adopting instructional materials, establishing graduation requirements, overseeing the Texas Permanent School Fund and more.
State Board of Education, District 6 Candidates:
– Michelle Palmer: Website | Facebook | Twitter
– Kimberly McLeod: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
The winner between these two candidates will be going up against Incumbent Donna Bahorich in November. *edit 7.5.2020: Donna Bahorich is not running for reelection. The winner between Palmer and McLeod will go against Will Hickman (Republican) and Whitney Bilyeu (Libertarian).

Race: State Representative for Districts 138, 142, and 148
The Texas House of Representatives is composed of 150 members, elected every two years. State representatives introduce and vote on laws that represents the interest of the people who live in their voting district. They create new laws, modify or update old laws, and more.
Candidates for District 138:
– Akilah Bacy: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
– Jennifer Rene Pool: Facebook
– The winner between these two candidates will be going up against Lacey Hull (R) in November: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Candidates for District 142:
Incumbent Harold V. Dutton Jr: Website | Facebook
– Jerry Davis: Website | Facebook
– One of these two candidates will be going up against Jason Rowe (R) in November: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Candidates for District 148:
Incumbent Anna Eastman: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
– Penny Morales Shaw: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
– The winner between these two candidates will be going up against Luis LaRotta (R) in November: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Race: Justice, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7
The Texas Court of Appeals are part of the Texas judicial system. Simply put, the state of Texas is divided into 14 regions, and each court has jurisdiction over cases in its’ area. The 14th Court of Appeals is the “group” that is over the Houston region, and is made up of 9 Justices. Justices are responsible for hearing and reviewing appeals from legal cases that have already been heard in trial-level or other lower courts.
Justice, 14th Court of Appeals, Place 7 Candidates:
– Tamika “Tami” Craft: Website | Facebook | Instagram
– Cheri Thomas: Website | Facebook
– The winner between these two candidates will be going up against incumbent Ken Wise (R) in November: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Race: District Judges for 164th and 399th Judicial Districts
Texas District Courts are the trial courts of general jurisdictions in Texas. As of September 2019, there were 450 district courts in Texas (one judge per court)! Most district courts consider both criminal and civil cases but in counties with many courts, each may specialize in civil, criminal, juvenile, or family law matters. Harris County has 60 district courts! District courses have original jurisdiction in felony criminal cases, divorce cases, cases involving title to land, election contest cases, civil matters, etc.
Candidate for 164th Judicial District:
– Cheryl Elliott Thornton: Website
Incumbent Alexandra Smoots-Thomas: Article
– The winner between these two candidates will be going up against Michael Landrum (R) in November: Facebook
Candidate for 339th Judicial District:
– Te’iva Bell: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
– Candance White: Website | Facebook
– The winner between these two candidates will be going up against incumbent Jesse McClure (R) in November: Facebook

Race: County Commissioner, Precinct 3:
The county commissioner is responsible for roads and bridges within their precinct and makes policy-making budget decisions. Additionally, the commissioners court is made up of the county judge and four commissioners. The court is responsible for adopting the county’s budget and tax rate, provides and maintains all county buildings and facilities, and more.
County Commissioner, Precinct 3 Candidates:
– Michael Moore: Website| Facebook | Twitter
– Diana Martinez-Alexander: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
– The winner between these two will be going up against incumbent Tom Ramsey (R) in November: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Race: County Constable for Precincts 2, 3, and 5
A county constable serves as a licensed peace officer and performs various law enforcement functions, including issuing traffic citations, serving warrants and civil papers such as temporary restraining orders, and serves as a bailiff for Justice of the Peace Court.
Candidates for County Constable Precinct 2:
Incumbent Christopher Diaz: Website | Facebook
– Jerry Garcia: Website | Facebook
– The winner between these two will be going up against Daniel Vela (R) in November
Candidates for County Constable Precinct 3:
Incumbent Sherman Eagleton: Information
– Ken Jones: Facebook
– The winner between these two will be going up against Andre Hines (R) in November: Website | Facebook
Candidates for County Constable Precinct 5:
– Randy Newman: Website
– Mark Alan Harrison: Website | Facebook | Instagram
– The winner between these two will be going up against incumbent Ted Heap (R) in November: Information | Facebook

REPUBLICAN PARTY

Race: Court of Appeals, Place 5
The Texas Court of Appeals are part of the Texas judicial system. Simply put, the state of Texas is divided into 14 regions, and each court has jurisdiction over cases in its’ area. The 14th Court of Appeals is the “group” that is over the Houston region, and is made up of 9 Justices. Justices are responsible for hearing and reviewing appeals from legal cases that have already been heard in trial-level or other lower courts.
Candidates for Court of Appeals, Place 5:
– Terry Adams: Website | Facebook
– James Lombardino: Facebook
– The winner between these two will be going up against Amparo Guerra (D) in November: Website | Facebook

Race: Sheriff
The duties of a Texas sheriff generally include keeping the county jail, providing bailiffs for the county and district courts within his county and serving process issued by said courts, and providing general law enforcement services to residents.
Candidates for Sheriff:
– Paul Day: Website | Facebook
– Joe Danna: Website | Facebook | Twitter
– The winner between these two will be going up against incumbent Ed Gonzalez (D) in November: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Race: Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 1
The Justice of the Peace oversees the justice court in cases involving misdemeanors, small civil dispites, landlord/tenant disputes, and more! They also conduct inquests and may perform marriage ceremonies.
Candidates for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5, Place 1:
Incumbent Russ Ridgway: Website
– Mike Wolfe: Information
– The winner between these two will be going up against Israel Garcia (D) in November: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

….and that’s a wrap! Now it’s your turn to do some reading. Go research all the people [in your party]! Put your social media stalking skills to work and do some digging and find out what they’re really about. Google their names – read the articles that they’ve featured in, read their past interviews, etc. Research the incumbents – go find out what laws and bills and actions they’ve made in the past that have impacted your community positively or negatively.

If you live in Harris County, early voting is coming up from June 29th – July 2nd and July 5th – July 10th! I know it may seem scary right now since Covid cases are significantly rising, but I hope that doesn’t stop you from voting [very safely]. If you do vote, please wear a mask and stay 6 ft. away from others. If you are [feeling] sick, please do not leave your house! I’ll be going next week to an early voting polling location – perhaps I’ll do a quick update on my experience (good or bad).

Until next time!

P.S. I promise I’ll start posting food-related stuff again!

Source, Source, Source

What’s & Who’s – U.S. Senate & U.S. Representative | Texas Primary Runoff Election (Part II)

Alright. It took me longer than I thought to research this information. But as promised, this post is about the positions & candidates in the Texas Primary Runoff Election for Harris County on July 14, 2020 – particularly, the U.S. Senate and U.S. Representative.

I tried to be as unbiased as possible – most of the information here were pulled from each candidate’s website and/or a non-partisan source. I am here to inform you, not necessarily persuade you on who to vote for. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a perfect candidate. It’s also okay to disagree with some views of your top candidate(s) – just like how you and your best friend don’t agree on everything. I want to encourage you to do your own research on these candidates and vote for whoever is the best choice for your own beliefs and priorities.

Remember, if you voted in the March 3, 2020 Primary, you may only vote in the Runoff Election of the same party. If you did not vote in the March 3, 2020 Primary, you may vote in the runoff of the party of your choice.

We often hear about Congress on the news – “Congress blocked X bill!” or “Approval rating of Congress sucks!” – but what is Congress, exactly?

The U.S. Congress is made up of two parts – the Senate and House of Representatives. That means there are two types of Congressmen, Senators and Representatives. A new law (bill) could be authored by either, but in order for a law (bill) to pass, it has to be passed by both the Senate and House. I’ll go into detail about each role below.

U.S. SENATE

There are 100 Senators in the U.S. (two from each state). Senators are part of the legislative branch of the government and are responsible for writing and voting on new laws (bills). They are also responsible for approving or rejecting some actions taken by the president including treaties, job appointments, cabinet officers, supreme court justices, and ambassadors.

We (the citizens) are constituents of the Senator. They should be taking phone calls, e-mails, and letters from citizens they represent to inform their decisions. They are in Congress to represent OUR views when writing and voting on new laws. Their main responsibility is to represent US and OUR VIEWS.

Senators are up for reelection every 6 years. The current Senators in Texas are Ted Cruz (who won reelection in 2018) and John Cornyn, whose seat is up for reelection in November 2020.

John Cornyn has been a U.S. Senator for Texas since 2002, representing the Republican Party. Some of his key votes1 are:

  • Voted to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother in the 114th Congress.
  • Voted to defund Planned Parenthood Federation of America (S.1881 and H.R.3762) in the 114th Congress.
  • Supported an amendment to ensure that federal funds aren’t used to purchase health care plans on the Obamacare exchanges that cover abortions.
  • Voted to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant program in the 113th Congress.  

To find out more about his political views, click here.

The two Democratic candidates who are running for U.S. Senator for Texas are Mary “MJ” Hegar and Royce West. Whoever wins in the Texas Primary Runoff Election on July 14th (must receive more than 50% of votes) will be the one to face against John Cornyn in November Elections. If you’re voting in the Democratic Party, you will chose between these two candidates for U.S. Senate. If you’re voting in the Republican Party, you will not get a chance to vote for these candidates.

Mary “MJ” Hegar is a combat veteran, working mom, and a Texan. She believes in creating a public option to make Medicare available for all those who want it and is opposed to those who want to privatize, dismantle, or undercut Medicare. She supports Roe vs. Wade and believes politicians should not be able to legislate a woman’s most intimate decisions. At the same time, she believes in providing support for women and increasing access to sex education, affordable OTC contraception, and cost-effective childcare. Regarding current events, Mary supports police reform solutions detailed in Campaign Zero, including ending for-profit policing practices. To learn more about Mary Hegar and her views on issues, click here. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

Royce West is currently a member of the Texas State Senate (not U.S. Senate), representing District 23 (Dallas County). One of his top priorities in investing in K-12 education. For over 30 years, his position on fun reform has been clear – in the 1990’s, he wrote laws on both universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. Royce is also a proponent of $15 federal minimum wage and has fought for legislation to raise the minimum wage in Texas. To learn more about Royce West and his views on issues, click here. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

*edit 6.29.2020: These Democratic candidates are statewide, not only for Harris County.

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The number of U.S. House of Representatives in each state is determined by its population – the more people that live in the state, the more Representatives there are. The total number of U.S. House of Representatives is 435 (Texas has 36).

House of Representatives is sometimes called “the People’s House” – that is because the U.S. Constitution sets few restrictions on who can run for a U.S. Representative! They can be as young as 25, can be rich or poor, belong to any religion, and while most members are born in the U.S., more than 300 members have been immigrants.

U.S. Representatives hold hearings, develop policies, and vote on federal laws. They investigate suspected wrongdoing by people in office and can bring charges against them. U.S. Representatives serve on committees – agriculture, homeland security, budget, foreign affairs, and many more. Representatives must serve in 2 committees, in which they become subject matter experts. The committees closely examine laws (bills) before they get voted on by the rest of Congress to become federal law. One of the most important things they are in charge of is the ability to tax and spend public money for the national government. Like a U.S. Senator, they are also responsible for listening to their citizens (YOU AND ME) to represent their views.

U.S. Representative represent the people who live in part of their state, called a district, and are up for reelection every 2 years.

In the Democratic Party Election, U.S. Representative District 10 (stretches from Austin to Houston) is up for reelection. In the Republican Party Election, U.S. Representatives District 18 (includes part of Harris County) and District 22 (includes parts of Fort Bend, Harris, and Brazoria counties) are up for reelection.

The current U.S. Representative District 10 is Michael McCaul of the Republican Party.
Michael McCaul is currently serving his 8th term as a U.S. Representative. He is devoutly pro-traditional marriage, and voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, on four weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees, and on Impeaching Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, Article I & II. To read about all his votes, click here. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

The two Democratic candidates who are running for U.S. Representative District 10 are Mike Siegel and Pritesh Gandhi. Whoever wins in the Texas Primary Runoff Election on July 14th (must receive more than 50% of votes) will be the one to face against Michael McCaul in November Elections. If you’re voting in the Democratic Party, you will chose between these two candidates for U.S. Representative District 10. If you’re voting in the Republican Party, you will not get a chance to vote for these candidates.

Mike Siegel is a civil rights lawyer and a former public school teacher running for Congress. He believes that our current economy and political system is not working for most Americans. Huge corporations use their money and influence to rig the game to their own advantage. Mike believes that we need a movement to build a stronger America. To learn more about Mike Siegel and his views on political issues, click here. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

Pritesh Gandhi is a father, husband, primary care doctor, and community advocate. Pritesh supports in the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 as well as shifting social welfare responsibilities of police officers, abide by progressive community policing strategies to rebuild trust between police officers, end retrograde practices like quota-driven and stop-and-frisk policing, etc. He also supports universal background checks when purchasing firearm and banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. To learn more about Pritesh Gandhi and his views on political issues, click here. (Facebook, Instagram).

The current U.S. Representative District 18 is Sheila Jackson Lee of the Democratic Party.
Sheila Jackson Lee is serving her 11th term as a U.S. Representative. Her priorities are fighting for healthcare and the environment as well as work to expand affordable housing for families, young people, and the homeless. Sheila has voted NO on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman, on banning gay adoptions, on more persecution and sentencing for juvenile crime. She has voted YES on expanding services for offenders’ re-entry into society, $40B for green public schools, and on Impeaching Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, Article I & II. To learn more about Sheila’s votes, click here. (Facebook, Twitter)

The two Republican candidates who are running for U.S. Representative District 18 are Robert M. Cadena and Wendell Champion. Whoever wins in the Texas Primary Runoff Election on July 14th (must receive more than 50% of votes) will be the one to face against Sheila Jackson Lee in November Elections. If you’re voting in the Republican Party, you will chose between these two candidates for U.S. Representative District 18. If you’re voting in the Democratic Party, you will not get a chance to vote for these candidates.

Robert M. Cadena is the current President for Harris County MUD 150 Board of Directors and has served as a Grand Juror for Harris County. He believes that healthcare, illegal immigration, and protecting our constitutional rights are the three most important issues and he supports penalizing states or cities who provide sanctuary for legal immigrants. To learn more about Robert and his views on political issues, click here. (Facebook, Twitter)

Wendell Champion served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for over five years and was honorably discharged after earning the rank of U.S. Army Captain. His focus is on infrastructure that provides, safer, secure neighborhoods with emphasis on decreasing flooding and disaster relief. Introduce and support development of dedicated resources to promote education, job skills training and career opportunities. Promote industry development to create higher paying and accessible local jobs. Require accountability for proper use and spending of tax dollars. To learn more about Wendell and his views on political issues, click here. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

The current U.S. Representative District 22 is Pete Olson of the Republican Party.
Pete Olson is a former Navy pilot and. Some of his recent and past votes include YES on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion, federal funding to groups like Planned Parenthood, terminating the Home Affordable Mortgage Program, barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. He has voted NO on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation, on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending in 2009, and on Impeaching Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors, Article I & II. To read about all his votes, click here. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

The two Republican candidates who are running for U.S. Representative District 22 are Troy Nehls and Kathaleen Wall. Whoever wins in the Texas Primary Runoff Election on July 14th (must receive more than 50% of votes) will be the one to face against Pete Olson in November Elections. If you’re voting in the Republican Party, you will chose between these two candidates for U.S. Representative District 22. If you’re voting in the Democratic Party, you will not get a chance to vote for these candidates.

Troy Nehls served the U.S. Army for 21 years and has spent the last two decades serving Fort Bend County in various law enforcement roles. Troy stands with President Trump to build the wall, deliver his America First agenda, drain the swamp, and Keep America Great. To learn more about Troy and his views on political issues, click here. (Facebook, Twitter)

Kathaleen Wall works to be the leader that President Trump needs, someone who will fight alongside him to defend conservative values, stop illegal immigration, and build the wall. To learn more about Kathaleen and her views on political issues, click here. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

*edit 6.29.2020: The candidates mentioned above in both Democratic and Republican party are in the Harris County-only election.

Coming Next

In the next post, I’ll go over the remaining positions & candidates who are also part of the Texas Primary Runoff Election. I won’t go into so much detail as I did for this, so it will be easier to read!

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