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: