Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
I began Christmas morning making crepes for my family. I used one of my brand-new, work gift-exchange non-stick skillets! I love the rhythm of making crepes: That moment when the pan is exactly hot enough and seasoned, and the crepes just smooth out over the bottom, are cooked and flipped and end up light and fluffy and lacey. We filled them with nutella, homemade lemoncurd, and ham and cheese.
Next I made pies for my mother's party later in the day. Have yet to hear how they went.
Thanks to my parents, who bought me lucious copper-bottomed stainless steel pots for my brand-new stove! (What does it mean when your parents start buying you traditional wedding gifts for Christmas? Have they given up?)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Just One

The bounty at the farmers market can sometimes be overwhelming: Mountains of greens, tumbling heads of lettuce, heaps of avocados. A veritable horn of plenty offered by our local farmers. I love it: A pocketful of bills and a few spare grocery bags can turn into a weeks worth of vegetables, an awesomely local and healthy meal, a celebration of the labors and talents of our local small farms.
Last Saturday I was purchasing heads of ruffley lettuce from Honopua Farms when I witnessed the following transaction:
Ron: All the lettuce is 2.50 per pound.
Shopper hands Ron one head of lettuce and $2.50.
Ron: Oh no, that is too much. It's 2.50 per pound...
Shopper: But it's only me.
Ron: One head of lettuce is only like 50 cents...
Shopper: But it's only me...

It was sad to me that this shopper felt she should almost apologize for cooking only for herself, should almost have to pay the per pound rate yet only take one small head of lettuce. Like feeding yourself well, like only buying what you need, is somehow not acceptable. I think we are constantly encouraged towards overbuying in huge quantities. Costco and package stores convince us we need massive amounts of things, food is in huge portions or super-sized, and a lone diner is not expected to treat themselves well.
My biggest pet peeve in restaurants occurs when I walk in the door, unaccompanied by a date, husband, or family, and am stared up and down by the hostess. With a sneer, she asks, "JUST One?" I feel immediately judged, like I must be such a loser to come in alone, dateless. Or that I must be some sort of glutton who will sit at a table, pig out, and leave the waiter with a reduced income at a "wasted" table. None of this is true, of course. I very often dine alone because I enjoy it. I don't have to make conversation, I don't have to abide dining companions who want to "help" me with my criticism, and I don't have to shell out cash to lug along a date just so the hostess won't give me that look. (I also go to movies alone).
As a point of advice: Hosts can still do their job, greet a customer, and find out about a reservation without being so judgmental. The problem lies solely in the use of the word, "Just". That small qualifier doles out the judgment! Instead, I offer, "One for dinner?" and the always useful, "Is there a reservation I can check in?" Both statements find out information and acknowledge the customer, without the accompanying judgment.
Incidentally, as a single diner, I tend to tip my waiter more, because I am aware that a single diner may not yield as much income as a table with more diners (of course, I often order the monetary equivalent of multiple diners...). And I know that in all the fine dining establishment in which I have worked, the single diner is treated with extra care: Often their entrees are hurried, or more staff make an effort to stop by and chat. All of this is appreciated.
Perhaps the problem here is loneliness. As singles (and re-singles), we often feel the glances full of pity or judgment when we do things alone. Or we feel the need to explain ourselves, "No really, I'm not sad and dateless, I'm here alone by choice, and dammit I only need one tiny head of lettuce! And I have people in my life who love me! Really!"
Sadly, it is more acceptable to drown loneliness by over-indulging. That same host would probably totally get it if I stayed home alone and fed my emotional loneliness with a costco sized tub of iced cream while perched in front of the television. But no!
Singles Everywhere! You are worth a dinner out! You are worth going to see the movie YOU want to see! And you don't have to over-buy out of guilt or explanation! Look at all the money and cupboard space we can save: Raise your tiny single-serving lettuce heads in pride!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I concede.

I hereby concede my "Pastry Queen" crown to Maria. She blows me out of the water for addictive and beautiful desserts, and the girl can make a damn good cupcake.
And I usually hate buttercream!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Hawai'i earthquake, right near where I live. 6.7! And plenty of aftershocks! This is what my house looks like after the Earthquake that hit today (okay, we stacked those 3 boxes on the right while searching for the cat). Shelves empty, all glass broken, drawers open, pictures off the wall, cracks in the plaster, door doesn't shut right, and cat headin' for the hills! No electricity, gas shut off, no cable TV but since my television did a faceplant onto my wood floor, it's not like I can notice. Outside it is even stranger: Several cracks across roads and bridges, huge landslides and boulders in the roads, broken water mains flooding the streets. All the streetlights are out (Drive with Aloha people! And an out streetlight means a four-way stop!) but since there are only 3 streetlights in town, we are doing okay.
My mother and I went through the 1989 earthquake in Northern California, so we are jaded Californians about it. When the shaking started, we knew instantly what it was, and for the first few seconds it is a bit of a fun ride. Then the knowledge kicks in, and in our heads we go through the following thought process: "Earthquake! This is fun!...Wait, this is strong! Wait, this is going on too long! Okay, fine, I'll get up and head away from the windows...Hmmm...About a 6, maybe 7..." Funny how I didn't notice things falling. I moved away from the walls and windows, and I watched the walls shake. I guess the structure was more of a worry than the falling items. Immediately afterwards, I went outside, of course. Checked on the neighbors, all whom were looking for pets. The first aftershock came while I was outside, the ground surging in P-waves, like dirt surfing, under my feet.
Ironically, my big strong father is taking it the worst. He was away during the 89 earthquake, and maintains this was the worst earthquake he has felt in his life: Stronger than any in California or Japan. My mother and I set to work cleaning up the glass, but since we have moved alot, been through earthquakes, and, well, we are both pretty clumsy, we had experience in briefly mourning and throwing out the broken shards of favorite things. These items are just possesions. They are with you for awhile and then they break and you move onwards.
What is more important is the blessing of everyone's safety, and family and friends are fine. Utilities are back on, our service-people in safety and utilities sprang to work, and I hear we are under a state of emergency. The beauty of it is how everyone pulls together, sits outside, waves at cars, calls all their friends to make sure everyone is okay. Thank you to everyone who called, emailed, texted, and checked or commented on this site! What aloha!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Writing Going Live!

Check it out! The Hawaii Island Journal is slowly but surely publishing more articles online! Included is my last restaurant review of Tommy Bahama's.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Esquire

My friend says goodbye to a beloved watering hole here. Beautiful post. Please check it out.
Although he is not technically a food writer, and this is a bar and not a restaurant, he has managed to acheive what I always strive for: He made me feel like I was there, with only his words. I am sad for the closing of a bar I have never actually been to.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Violence in Thailand

From the New York Times:
Jesse Lee Daniel had just called for mustard for his chicken burger when the first bomb went off with a thud strong enough to shake the Swan Bar, where he was sitting in the southern city of Hat Yai.
After the second bomb last Saturday evening, 100 yards away at the Odeon department store, he hurried out with other foreign teachers who had been eating at the bar to take a look.
He was standing in front of the New Cherry Ancient Massage parlor, in a crowd of onlookers and masseuses, when the third bomb exploded on a motorbike parked at the curb beside them.
Mr. Daniel, a Canadian, died instantly, apparently the first Western victim of the almost daily violence that has taken more than 1,700 lives since the start of 2004 in Thailand’s largely Muslim south.
The next morning, when Boonmi Ngoeichai, 27, returned to the Swan Bar, where she works as a waitress, she discovered that the manager had saved Mr. Daniel’s chicken burger, still unsure why he had not returned to eat it.
When he learned that Mr. Daniel had been killed, the manager threw it away. But he immediately regretted what he had done, she said.
“Oh, I wish I hadn’t done that,” the manager said. “I wish I’d saved it, and I could have taken it out to feed his spirit.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pu-erh Tea

While I am quite the bad vegan, another habit of good health has been quite the pleasure: The consumption of Pu-erh Tea. My lovely friend got me started with this tea by purchasing a tin for me, and recently sent me the rich, 8 year aged tea in the photo. She has it for sale on her online tea shop.
While I am lucky enough to have an authentic Chinese tea pot (thanks, sis!) dedicated to the brewing of only Pu-erh tea, I thought some instructions may be useful. Following please find the instructions listed in the tea shop:
Brewing Palace Pu-erh Tea
For brewing Palace Pu-erh, take 5 grams (approximately two teaspoons) of the loose tea and place in a teapot or gaiwan. Wake up the tea by pouring 4-6 ounces of boiling water over it and letting it sit for 15-30 seconds. Pour off the rinse water. Smell the Pu-erh tea and enjoy it before adding more water. Add 8 ounces of boiling or just boiled (do not let the water simmer or over-boil) to the teapot and infuse for 10 seconds. Pour off into a serving vessel or directly into your teacups. This can be repeated for 3-7 additional rounds with the same tea.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I recently dug out this recipe from one of my earliest spiral-bound recipe cards. I had forgotten how fun, fast, easy, and cute these little morsals are! I made a batch of lemon-blueberry ones for a friends birthday, and a batch of cherry ones for a Bon Voyage party. (And I saved a few for myself, and topped them with Amarena Cherries!)
This recipe came to me from an ex-boyfriend, who used to take them as potluck favorites. Note that 'Nilla Wafers have gotten smaller in recent years. What up with that?
Update: They lasted a mere 20 minutes or so. One lovely coworker hoarded a bunch to take home! I love it when people like what i make them.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Scorpion Belly Eggplant Dishes of Yore

In my present search for eggplant dishes, I came across this great article about a 10th Century cookbook. Charles Perry writes for Saudi Aramco, "Cooking With the Caliphs":
It comes as a surprise that eggplant shows up so rarely in these recipes. In today’s Arab world, it is sayyid al-khudaar, the lord of vegetables, but at the time it was a recent import from India and not yet quite popular. It was considered impossibly bitter; in a widely repeated anecdote, a Bedouin declared that eggplant had “the color of a scorpion’s belly and the taste of a scorpion’s sting.” It was actually considered bad for the health. Doctors blamed it for everything from freckles and a hoarse throat to cancer and madness.

Yeah...that's it...that's where my freckles come from...but who you callin' Mad?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More Excessive Produce! Japanese Eggplant Version

A farmer brought this massive box of Japanese Eggplants into my work today. Now, since they are free and on the elder side of fresh, I must use them up quickly. (However, even non-farmer-market-fresh is still pretty darn fresh!)
In my humble opinion, eggplant needs olive oil, salt, and high heat to be delicious, and very little else. The best eggplant I have ever had was sliced, salted, and fried in a huge iron kettle at stall #54 in the Djamaa el Fna in Marrakesh. I could have eaten every piece that came out of that kettle!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Oooooo! Presents!

Sixteen days before my birthday, dearest BF gave me presents!
My favorite glasses in the world: The Riedel Burgundy glasses! And if that wasn't enough, the very chic and modern Riedel "O" stemless glasses in both Pinot and Chardonnay versions! And if that wasn't enough: A 40 bottle wine rack for my spiffy new kitchen! And if that wasn't enough: A beautiful bottle of 1994 Sea Smoke Botella Pinot Noir!
I am in heaven with all the winey attention, and immediately popped a bottle of Supermarket Pinot (BV Coastal) to test out the Riedel glasses against any other glass in my arsenal. Riedel claims that they have designed each glass to best bring out the characteristics of its named grape varietal: They design the glass to enhance both the aroma and the flavor or the wine. A very fun time can be had by testing their theory!
Pour similar sized tastes of the same wine into several of your favorite glasses, including your brand-new birthday Riedel glasses! Swirl, sniff, taste, and speculate until bottle is empty and all your glasses are dirty and in the sink. Repeat (with progressively less expensive wines!).

Monday, July 24, 2006

How to Dismember an Offensive Pineapple

Dearest BF brought me this sweet white pineapple from "someone at work who grows them". I was pleased, as I always am, when he brings me anything. Perhaps I am so starved for affection and sweetness that I grasp at the first prickly secondhand fruit I can get and read affection into it. I love fruit. When I was a child, my father and I would finish all the fruit on the table, while the rest of the family chose other items. Lately I have been yearning for the peaches, nectarines and apricots of California summers, and trying to be happy with what I have at hand: Prickly tropical fruit, and a somewhat prickly and distant man.

Grasp the pineapple firmly, and with your beloved's dangerously sharp Japanese vegetable knife, swiftly decapitate the leafy top of the pineapple. Turning the fruit, decisively slice the disc of root end, leaving a solid cylinder on your cutting board.

My father worked in the pineapple fields during World War I. I guess the kids helped bring the fruit in during wartime. He talks about how hot and itchy it was, and how they would refresh themselves by eating the pineapple cores rejected by the cannery. (Dole? Maui Pineapple? You getting this about child labor, and product losses?) Pineapple cores for him are a taste of childhood: the sweet fruit, drippy juice, and woody stringy texture of the core. He almost prefers them to the soft outer fruit, and he was the one who first taught me how to cut a pineapple.

With your beloved's excessively sharp knife, cut the skin from the pineapple in long, curved strips, following the curve of the fruit. The peel should be thin, just taking off the green reptilian skin, and leaving most of the yellow fruit behind. The cylinder left behind should be bright, juicy, yellow with "eyes" left on the fruit. Discard the peel and base, keeping the top only if you plan on using it for decoration.

My beloved BF, whom I adore beyond a logic or reason, does stupid things that make me, my friends, and my family doubt his character. When I received this pineapple from him, I took it down to my parent's house. I did this for two reasons: I wanted to share the fruit with my father, like we did when I was young. Maybe he could cut it for me, since he does a much cleaner and more beautiful job than I. The second reason was perhaps more crafty: I wanted to show off the gift. Use the pineapple to say, "See? He can be really sweet, and sometimes he brings me stuff and tells me I am beautiful and I think he loves me and I am sure he doesn't mean the moodiness and criticisms and such...Look! Pineapple! See!"

Cut out the eyes: The nicest way to do this is slicing a wedge along about 3 eyes at a time. This leaves a beautifully spiraled, eye-free fruit. My father's spiraling is much shallower, prettier, and geometric. Mine is a bit hacked. I have also used my tomato corer on tougher fruit, although it tends to tear really ripe fruit. The eye areas are tougher than the surrounding soft fibers.

Yesterday he came over all moody and with his Irish all up. He searched the refrigerator for the pineapple, and I reported that I took it down to the house. He was enraged that I could give away his pineapple. He claimed that next time he just wouldn't give me anything, and when the grower at work asked him how it was, he would have to lie. I protested that I didn't give it away and it wasn't that I didn't like it or the thought behind it, I scurried down to the house and brought the pineapple back, but it was too late. He stormed out and I haven't seen him since.

If you own a pineapple corer, now is the time to use it to remove the core. If not, the core can be removed by cutting the pineapple into quarters lengthwise, slicing off a triangle of core from each wedge, and then slicing the fruit as desired. The cores can be given to my father (if that doesn't offend anyone). I chose to puree the cores and the eyes in the blender, pass the puree through a strainer, add coconut milk, ice, and rum, and make the following delightful tropical beverage.

So today I slice the crap out of the offending pineapple, leaving tasty chunks in the refrigerator in case he comes back. I won't bring it down to my Dad, I won't bring it to work, I will cherish every damn slice of this fruit like it is the edible affection I so desire. After all, when life gives you lemons, skin the f**kers for the zest, slice them open, cram a citrus reamer into their hearts, pulse their juicy lifeblood out, and drink it with copious amounts of tequila.

(This is a Duane Fish Tiki Mug from Honolulu from about 1960. It is chipped but I love it. See also copious cocktail monkeys!)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cherry Tartlets

I had just enough tart dough left over to make these silver-dollar sized mini cherry tartlets. I free-formed the dough into rimmed cookies, filled with chopped and sugared bing cherries, and served with a dollop of vanilla yoghurt.
I miss cherries, but at least the Bing Cherries from the west coast can travel to us only a bit bruised. What I really miss are peaches, nectarines and apricots so fragrant and delicious! Like summer on a pit! I contemplate spending too much money on shipping in order to experience Frog Hollow peaches. And check out what Julie is doing at Oliveto: White Peach Sorbetto?! 'June Pride' Peaches with Prosecco Zabaglione and Blackberry Sauce?!?! You are killing me! Well...I have...Papayas...I guess that is the same...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chocolate Walnut Tarts

I made these delectable Chocolate Walnut Caramel tarts for my friend's birthday: He is the kind of guy who likes Tarts!
I used to make this recipe all the time when I worked for Pastry Chef Chris Draa at Wente Vineyards in Livermore California. That was my first pastry job! Chef Draa later contributed the recipe in a Livermore Winery cookbook entitled "Cooking a Honker". We served the tart at the restaurant with chocolate and caramel sauces on the plate, and a dollop of Chantilly Cream.
The tart is regular tart dough (I love tart dough! So tender! So crisp! So endlessly forgiving and versatile!) filled with Walnuts and huge chocolate chunks, and a rich caramel sauce poured over. There are just enough eggs in the caramel to solidify the tart into a rich gooey candy-like confection.
We used to steal a broken piece, cut it into bite sized morsels, and store it on a plate in the reach in for instant sugar-shock snacking.

Monday, July 10, 2006

No, I am NOT a Cucumber Cookie!

You Are a Chocolate Chip Cookie

Traditional and conservative, most people find you comforting.

You're friendly and easy to get to know. This makes you very popular - without even trying!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Oh Now I Have Done It...

Cucumber Cocktail:
1 oz Sake
1/2 oz Homemade Limoncello (perhaps more on that later)
2 oz Cucumber water (squeezed and filtered from shredded cucumbers)
Squeeze Lime
Shaken in cocktail shaker and served in an antique green coupe with slice cucumber and, of course, green cocktail monkey!

Now, I really liked the cucumber latkes, don't get me wrong... But this is just... the epitome of refreshing!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Even More Cucumbers!

Cucumber Latkes With Cucumber Raita:
Cucumber Latkes were shredded and squeezed cucumbers and onions, spiced with salt, pepper, Chinese Five Spice (I lacked my first choice of Anise), Chili, and Tabasco, mixed into a batter with flour and eggwhite, and fried in Canola Oil in a cast iron skillet. I ate them with ketchup and some cucumber Raita.
Cucumber Raita was shredded and squeezed cucumbers and minced garlic, mixed with yoghurt and spiced with s&p, dill, and chili pepper.

I now have a jar of cucumber juice, and am contemplating cocktails. Although I read that cucumber juice mixed with lemon juice is a secret to clear skin...

More Cucumbers!

Egyptian Cucumber Salad:
This salad is everywhere in Egypt, and I ate tons of it there and since. It is best with fresh sweet summer cucumbers and ripe red tomatoes, and it is simply dressed in vinegar, lemon juice, salt and plenty of pepper. I have also had it with onions, garlic, green peppers, parsley, sprinkles of cumin or cayanne pepper...
This salad was just cucumber, tomato, garlic, lemon zest and the dressing.

When I told Adrastas of the cucumber bounty, he expressed his love of Egyptian salad and confided that his favorite part was removing the bitter from the cucumbers: Slicing off the end and rubbing the exposed parts together furiously. It seems I had heard something about this, and I must admit that it is fun, but does it work? How does it work? And how do you know it works unless you taste it first and compare? I speculated about the plants protecting themselves against decapitation or insect attack, and then I turned to the internet and found out the following facts (none of which answered my question):
* Cucumbers on the vine really are "cool as a cucumber": Their internal temperature will often be 20 degrees cooler than air temperature.
* Bitterness is prevalent in the dark green skins and the light green sections right under the skins. Bitterness is most often found in the stem end rather than the blossom end.
* Slicing the cucumber thin and soaking in salted ice water is supposed to remove bitterness. Perhaps through osmosis into the saline solution?
* Bitter comes from Cucurbitacin, a chemical that probably developed in the plant as a natural pesticide. So it does kind of make sense that the cucumber might rush this chemical to a bitten or otherwise exposed bit of flesh to deter insects. This chemical is supposedly beneficial and anti-cancer in small doses.
* Burping is supposedly caused by Cucurbitacin, although others claim it is from the seeds. If both are true, then is the bitterness also in the seeds?

To bring it back to the Egyptian Salad, I found this quote from Groser's Scripture Natural History:
We need not altogether wonder that the Israelites, wearily marching through the arid solitudes of the Sinaitic peninsula, thought more of the cucumbers and watermelons of which they had had no lack in Egypt, rather than of the cruel bondage which was the price of these luxuries.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

442 Cucumber Recipes?

Someone dropped off a huge box of cucumbers at work yesterday. We divvied up the bounty with dreams of namasu in our heads. J suggested a contest to see who came up with the best recipes. I suggested cucumber margaritas with Hawaiian Rock Salt rims. I gave some to my mom, who searched for her Japanese Pickle recipe she has used since she lived in Japan,where I was born. I love old family recipes!

I slivered some up and showed my BF how to roll sushi. The rolls got progressively worse as the Sake flowed and I neglected to take a photo.
Epicurious.Com lists 442 cucumber recipes...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I Told You We Were Dangerous!

And I thought knitting needles were bad:
Seems being a food writer could land you in Airport Security these days. This article from Yahoo Strange News tells of a Saveur writer who closed down the airport in Tallahassee with Honey:
The way that the honey, electronic gear and batteries were positioned looked like an improvised explosive device, he said.
Todd Coleman, food editor for New York-based Saveur magazine, was detained but later released after the bag was removed from the terminal and a robot opened it to disclose the contents.
"I was afraid they were going to blow my bag up," Coleman said. "It would have blown my story up."
Coleman said he was in Tallahassee to visit his parents, who live in the area, and to write about the food of nearby Apalachicola, Florida's oyster capital. The Apalachicola area also is famous for tupelo honey, which Coleman had in his bag.

I have had my bag opened in the airport to reveal 4 jars of Amarena Cherries...And there was that time in Tijuana when my bag was searched to reveal a quart of Vanilla...And the drug dogs were unusually interested in my bag containing smuggled un-pasteurized French cheese...Or that time when my brother and I smuggled eggs and milk into Chuuk...
But probably the best ever confiscation story:
My roommate's mother mailed a care package of Mexican and Italian foods and ingredients to her and her hungry college roommates. All arrived safely except one bag of Oregano. We figured there was an Egyptian customs official somewhere smoking our oregano and wondering why he wasn't feelin' it...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Damn Self-Righteous Vegans!

Well, it has been approximately two months as a Vegan, albeit a bad, cheating Vegan at that. (I have eaten a lot of fish, and have cheated a bit with the meat...And am not so good about butter already in things...)
I have lost somewhere between 5 or 10 lbs, although that is so little it could be water or the weight of my jeans...
But I had my cholesterol re-tested:
(Drumroll please...)
189. One hundred Eighty Nine!
That is a drop of 59 points in 2 months.
Freakin' amazing what a (mostly) vegan diet can do. I am amazed, and hopefully this is some much needed motivation to keep going with it.
But still fighting the shame and the urge to kick self-righteous Vegan's squarely in their thin asses. (Does that count as Cardio?)

Friday, May 05, 2006

1149 Lau Laus

This evening I helped a coworker prepare for his son's wedding. I was one member of a team that eventually produced Eleven Hundred Forty Nine Lau Laus. For those who have never tasted even one, a Lau Lau is a tasty bundle of fish, pork, beef and/or chicken wrapped in Taro leaves and then wrapped in Ti leaves. The cute packets are then steamed, often in coconut milk, until the meats are cooked and the Taro leaves are soft like spinach. Ti leaves are sacred, and I believe such packets of love are good luck.
Good luck to the happy couple!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


According to Hostess, it takes forty-five seconds to explode a Twinkie in a microwave.
This is true, but you are damn sure I am going to go prove it!

But I was shocked, (Shocked! I tell ya!) To find out the truth about the following food rumors:
Carrots do not improve your eyesight.
Turkey does not make you sleepy.
Twinkies are baked, and they do have a shelf-life, and that shelf-life is only 25 days.
McDonald's Shakes are not made of plastic and styrofoam.

But luckily, my favorite-ever food rumor is still true:
Cherry and Grape flavor sodas contain musk from Beaver glands. (mmm mmm good!) Go ahead, Google Castoreum.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Falling Off the Wagon...

And into a big bowl of whipped cholesterol:

This is the Tiramisu I made for my friend's birthday party. It holds the land-to-mouth record of lasting maybe 6 minutes from the time the plastic wrap was removed until the last scrapings of decorative chocolate were licked from the bowl.
I have always been disappointed that tiramisu never had enough chocolate: A small sprinkle of cocoa powder is nothing but a tease for a chocolate lover. So even though I often bitch about "fusion" cuisine, and nosy chefs gettin' all creative with a traditional recipe... I confess to being just such a chef. The other change was a desperate one of necessity: Couldn't find any (un-moldy) marscapone cheese in Hawaii, and alas, lacked the planning and time to make my own. (And being on a low-cholesterol diet -stop laughing- had no cream in the house with which to make cheese) so used cream cheese and whipped cream instead. Doh! And Kahlua instead of Rum. So this was very non-authentic tiramisu, but tasty and magically disappearing none-the-less.

The slippery slope actually began with my friend's delicious braised and shredded pork. It was tender, delicious, and all agreed that it was even better tasting than Kahlua Pig (gasp! No, it really was.)
Happy Birthday! Now back to our regularly scheduled boring Vegan Diet...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Spaghetti and a View

Attended the annual Kawaihae Canoe Club Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction on Saturday night.
While I went with the Vegetarian choices of salad with Italian dressing, and Spaghetti with tomato sauce, other attendees reported the meat sauce, alfredo sauce, and pesto chicken sauces were also tasty and filling.
Mom made and donated this beautiful woven lauhala purse.

I hope lots of money was made for this great club!
Link to Kawaihae Canoe Club HERE.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

No one says it better than JK

JK Rowling had an unexpected rant on her website: (Extras:Misc.:For Girls Only...Probably)
Wherein she rants about the pressures on young girls to be thin. She ends with a wish that we all be Hermiones instead of Pansy Parkinsons.
For many reasons this writer is my hero.

For Girls Only, Probably...

Being thin. Probably not a subject that you ever expected to read about on this website, but my recent trip to London got me thinking...

It started in the car on the way to Leavesden film studios. I whiled away part of the journey reading a magazine that featured several glossy photographs of a very young woman who is either seriously ill or suffering from an eating disorder (which is, of course, the same thing); anyway, there is no other explanation for the shape of her body. She can talk about eating absolutely loads, being terribly busy and having the world's fastest metabolism until her tongue drops off (hooray! Another couple of ounces gone!), but her concave stomach, protruding ribs and stick-like arms tell a different story. This girl needs help, but, the world being what it is, they're sticking her on magazine covers instead. All this passed through my mind as I read the interview, then I threw the horrible thing aside.
Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it's really not. It's about what girls want to be, what they're told they should be, and how they feel about who they are. I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before 'thin'. And frankly, I'd rather they didn't give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls. Rant over.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Week One as a Veggie-Bean

I have subjected myself to different eating habits over the years, but what is more intriguing than my own process of motivation, denial, and habit-forming, is the process that spectators to the diet go through. As a Chef, I have scoffed at patron's odd and unusual requests in the name of diet and "allergy". As a former dancer, I can pinpoint the exact stage of eating disorder a starlet may have reached: I even put money on Mary-Kate over Ashley way back when they were 16. Both of these reactions are that of judgmental spectator. But what I am watching right now is not my waistline, but how other people are watching my waistline. I have noticed the following stages:

1) Denial: Wherein I am told that my plan is bad and will not work. Usually accompanied by a story of personal experience or hearsay where someone in my place failed spectacularly. Often followed by unsolicited advice.
2) Temptation: Wherein my resolved is tested through sabotage in a bid to prove that the plan is bad and will fail spectacularly. Often accompanied by offers of tasty forbidden morsels and innocent comments like, "Oh... You mean Pork has Cholesterol?"
3) Competition: Wherein my immediate motivation is "borrowed" to "inspire" other's diets. While this seems like health all around for everybody, it is sometimes not so: If my motivation flags, then my task as "inspirational motivator" has failed. If their motivation flags, then healthy competitive inspiration can turn into backstabbing sabotage (see #2 above).
4) Support: Wherein family and friends offer words of encouragement, helpful recipes, or full Vegan meals cooked on Sunday night by a very talented boyfriend. (Due to above stages, this stage may be viewed with suspicion. But it feels nice and tastes great!)
5) Jealousy: Wherein I am told that I have gone too far, done to much, and should back off. Backhanded compliments are heard. (While people think my plan is extreme and my motivation serious, I have not reached a stage to inspire jealousy. I hope to make it there someday).

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Next Gen Food Critic

Met a new person yesterday: My beautiful 3 month old cousin Kai. He was becoming aware that food maybe comes from other places besides his mommy. He was fascinated by the ice-cold juice glasses and their straws, and even managed to suck out some lemonade from his father's glass.
It is great to see the next generation so intrigued by fine dining!
(Hey... He did seem unusually interested in my rack...)

More good stuff about Kai can be found here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


My very disciplined brother recently dropped his (inherited) cholesterol down. After his scare, I had my cholesterol checked and sent him this:
Got my bloodwork back.
Cholesterol at 248.
Did I beat you?

To which he replied:
198, you win. Exercise, cut out the fast food, lose the butter and cheese, and blame mom.

Animal fat, cheese, butter, dairy, eggs...
Looks like I am to be an exercising Vegan again.
I view this move with the trepidation of knowing the discipline it takes to control my diet, and the weird, obsessive mindset that food control requires. I become an obsessive, eating-disordered witch. I find a joyful (hedonistic?) view of food to be much more mentally healthy, just apparently not physically healthy. Forget eating healthy: How does one think healthy?
Sometimes we can't blame our genes for all of our problems. Although cholesterol is apparently genetic, I can't blame Mom as my brother laughingly suggests. I have to blame myself and the process I have been through to completely reject the control, the obsession bordering on eating disorder, that I was accustomed to as a ballerina teenager. It all became unnatural, unhealthy, and just too much work. I went completely to the other extreme when I stopped dancing and dieting and went to France to cook, later making a living as a pastry chef surrounded by ice cream (mmmmmm... ice cream...). By rejecting any control and all that stood for, I dropped into the hedonism of restaurant life: where all feeling and sensuality was experienced through the flavors and aromas we could consume.
Somewhere between these two extremes is healthy moderation. I just don't know where to find it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

mmmm... Coffee...and Scones!

Nothing quite like 20 ounces of Kona French Press with Cream on a Sunday morning! (Yes, I allow myself cream on the weekends. Otherwise it is black black black or espresso at work for me.)
This is Greenwell Farms Private Reserve 100% Estate Kona, ground by me and pressed. Mmmmmmm...

In other cooking experiments:
Mom is attempting to re-create a Scottish Scone recipe that her grandmother always had in the cookie jar. These are not big fluffy butter-ridden scones like the wedges at Starbucks or the recipes that I used to make, but fluffy cookies studded with sultanas and painted with egg yolks. Oddly, this recipe calls for the eggwhites to be beaten to soft peak and folded into the already hefty and brown-sugar-sticky dough. Either we are doing something wrong, or yet another recipe falls victim to our altitude, but these cookies turned out too thin and crispy. However, we shall be trying again, because as far as I am concerned, nothing beats the women's history of passed down recipes!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This Little Piggy...

Sometimes I stay late at work to get that extra project done in the cool and quiet of dusk. Recently, around 6:15 pm a mother wild boar and her piglets (boarlets?) have wandered through the property in search of nibbles. It has been a fun evening break to watch her herd the babies and teach them how to forage. The other day she had them in the road, and bravely squared off against my car until all her babies had crossed the road.
Early last week we heard that the mama boar had been shot.
Of course I was sad, and worried about the little ones. Now, I am no longer a vegetarian, and I know not the rules of hunting. But it seems to me that shooting a mama before her babies are out on their own is unecessary cruelty. I feared the little ones would be scared and unable to feed themselves, and would starve to death in a hole somewhere... eventually stinking to hog heaven and attracting pests.
I am also practical: I knew that as cute as they are now, we can't have seven full grown wild boar running around the property. They are voracious wild animals with big scary tusks! I knew they had limited lives. Nor am I against a good roasted Kahlua Pig. I just kind of thought we would pick off the yummy suckling pigs one by one. But not the mama!
So I was really excited this evening to see this:

Somehow that mama did right: In an environment being encroached upon by industry, she was able to teach her young to find food. I even liked seeing them all together: the siblings helping one another to find a meal...

In a completely unrelated story, and I am in no way attempting to implicate him, my Father made delicious Char Siu Pork!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Red Hot Fire Whiskey Cookies

In the usual manner of damned Februarys, the month opened with a fire at my workplace:

Now, February is a nasty month everywhere and for everyone, and February in Hawai'i is no exception. I have always hated February, and if a destructive event will occur, my money is on it occurring in February:

So what to do now that March is upon us?
PARTY! Of course!

At work tomorrow we shall have (fittingly) a Keawe-smoked Barbeque party to thank all the employees who pulled together to clean up, rebuild, and pull long hours on fire-watch duty. I shall be bringing these:

Red Hot Fire Whiskey Cookies:

Paddle (in a mixer, you dirty-minded folk!) 8oz softened butter with about 1.5 cups white cane sugar and about .5 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add 2 Tblsp Whiskey (alright, go ahead and make it 3 Tblsp) and 2 eggs. Fold in about 1 tsp Baking Powder and about 1 Tblsp Baking Soda along with around 1 Tblsp cinnamon and about an inch of fresh grated ginger and juice (used my microplane: love that thing!) and add what was probably 2 cups flour (could have been less... But you know what cookie dough is supposed to look like? Add flour until it looks like that.) 1 bag white chocolate chips and 1 little jar of cake decorator cinnamon candies. Taste dough. Decide it needs more whiskey. Taste dough again. Decide you need more whiskey. (I know, I know, raw eggs in cookie dough and salmonella and all that. Get over it: Life is short and cookie dough tastes good!) Bake until done in a 325 degree oven.
I baked these on my silpat silicon baking mats. The cinnamon hearts melt a bit and ooze out the side. If you let them sit for a minute upon taking them from the oven, the red sugar cools and solidifies into a glassy lava pool of sugar.

At a Newstand Near You... Or Not...

If you are on the Big Island, please check out my restaurant reviews! Every third issue of the Hawaii Island Journal:

And in the Big Island Issue of the Honolulu Weekly:

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Creative things from my Brain

On the advice of my sister, who is probably sick of hearing from me, I am posting all this yummyness on this blog instead of on my unfinished webpage.