Run for yourself. Run for Boston.
Why is my dirty running shoe on a food post?No matter where we live, we were all rocked by the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.Why is the weekly menu starting on Wednesday?
Monday and Tuesday were simply an unfiltered cascade of emotions. DISBELIEF
. I have friends and family who live, work or go to school along the towns in the marathon route. I've spent many happy weekends in Boston during college. Many of my friends and relations and I run, whether in events or just on the streets and trails.
With prayers for the departed and injured and gratitude for the ordinary citizens who responded in extraordinary ways, I'm coming around to RESOLVE
. And with that, here's what we are eating for the rest of the week.WednesdayTacos from scratch.
Requested by the children.Meatless ThursdayZaru soba with green onions.
No recipe needed. Regular soba, Hon-Tsuyu and green onions. Done.FridaySmoked Salmon Pasta
. Also requested by the children, "with lots of chard." My kids are funny like that.
And now, I'm putting on my dusty old shoes to run for Boston
. I hope we all do.
Several members of my New England ohana maintain gluten-free diets. This means wheat, oats, malt, rye and barley are off limits. No bread, pasta, panko, beer or beef barley soup. Rice, quinoa, corn, tamales and mochi are all OK. Spam also appears to be gluten-free.
I'm thankful to have learned so much about gluten-free cooking in such a short time. Wheat products, and wheat flour in particular, show up in unexpected items. For example, shoyu (soy sauce), oyster sauce, and cream of chicken soup all contain wheat flour and therefore, are not gluten-free. I suspect it may be used as a thickener for oyster sauce and cream of chicken soup, but I'm not exactly sure why wheat flour is even required for shoyu!
Coming back to my own pantry, Bulldog katsu sauce, mustard and Worcestershire sauce are gluten-free. I also found a host of gluten-free products, even organic, gluten-free shoyu stocked at Safeway.
This week menu is gluten-free in honor of my New England ohana. I picked these specifically because I think they are gluten-free as is. Last week's lobster in melted butter is also most certainly gluten-free!
MondayMediterranean Lamb Stir Fry
. The one questionable item was the store-bought chicken broth. It contains yeast extract, but this is gluten-free.TuesdayTaco Meat--No Mix
with corn tortillas, Laurie's Guacamole
and Tropical Fruit Salsa
. If it's difficult to get mangoes in New England, fresh peaches will work for the salsa too.WednesdayClam and Cannellini Bean Soup.
Perfect for the land of cherrystones, quahogs, steamers and littlenecks. It's supposed to be a little cooler in New England this week, so a nice light bowl of soup is in order. Eaten outside, of course!ThursdaySalt and Pepper Shrimp
, green beans and rice. The crisp on the shrimp is from constarch and not flour. In case you were wondering, the 5 spices in Chinese Five-Spice powder are cinnamon, anise, star anise, cloves
. All gluten-free.
Tart-style Rat-pa-tooty. Summer veggies are in season!
Peak-season tomatoes, zukes, and red peppers are good for all.IMPORTANT NOTE
I am by no means an expert on gluten-free eating. So please make sure to check your own versions/brands of the ingredients listed to make sure they are gluten-free.
Like going vegetarian, going gluten-free is not as daunting as it seems. One family member even made a kid-friendly gluten-free cookbook to prove it. The food is simple and yummy.
It would be much more difficult to go potato-chip or ice-cream free. What other gluten-free recipes and resources do you have out there?
Send 'em in or post 'em.
This is not a food-related post. But since graduation, aka lei season, is in full swing, it may come in handy.
I made 5 leis over the weekend for various graduations. With three simple materials, you can make a beautiful, forever-lasting lei while watching an episode of "The Big Bang Theory."
What You NeedPlastic straws from McDonald's.
And yes, McDonald's specifically. These straws are wide enough for the ribbon to thread through, sturdier than other straws and free. Be advised that the eyeball/pearl tea straws are too wide.Skeins of fun fur
Available at craft stores like JoAnn Fabric or Michael's. I used a variegated fun fur to make the blue lei above. Red and orange will mimic ilima
or ohai alii
. If you are in Hawaii, it is well-worth the trip to Ben Franklin
for their huge selection of fun fur and other yarn that can be used to make flowers.3/8 inch grosgrain ribbon
Any color is fine because it won't show. Grosgrain is important because the ridges help the lei stick together.Making a Simple 1-Straw Lei
Thank you to Acornbud's Yarns
, which has the clearest directions that I've found. Here's a quick summary.
1) Measure the grosgrain ribbon to the length of lei you want and then add 8-10 inches to that.
2) Cut a small (1/2") slit on one side of the straw. This is to anchor the ribbon
3) Thread the ribbon through the straw and run it through the slit. Tape it down to secure it.
4)Tie the fun fur around the straw.
5) Start winding the yarn around the straw. Just make sure that it's not too tight and fairly consistently spaced. But these leis are very forgiving.
6) When you are done with the whole skein, tie the end in a knot. Know the grosgrain ribbon to keep the length of lei you want.
7) Tie the lei together and use the extra grosgrain ribbon to make a bow, or trim it off.
NOTE: If you do this while watching TV, it's best not to watch anything too exciting. Stanley Cup and NBA playoff games are not conducive to good lei-making. Stick to sitcoms, Glee, Law and Order, Golf Channel or baseball.
Detail: 3-straw with central band
3-Straw Variations--Fancying It Up
I did two slightly more complex versions using three straws. These Ben Franklin videos are great step-by-step instructions.3-Straw Lei with inner band3-Straw Lei with central band
Because I couldn't find similar 'flower' yarn, I used 3 skeins of fun fur. There are a lot more ways to customize these versions, particularly if you have access to more flower-like yarn.
If you can braid, you can make these lei. The 3-straws are simply variations on twisting around the straws. See school-color versions below.
3-straw, central band
3-straw, inner band
The Real Deal
If you have about 3 hours to make a lei, a fresh haku headband is a fabulous gift, especially for a female graduate.
Interestingly enough, it still involves twisting to create a lei. Buy flowers in bunches--alstromeria and baby roses work well as 'main flowers' baby's breath and assorted greenery work to fill everything in. Use the fern as the backbone and then simply wind the raffia to secure flowers and wind around the fern stems. For haku, it's important to wrap tightly.
Congratulations all graduates!
Haku headband--fresh flowers
The venerable Empress Hotel. Victoria, BC
When one of the teenagers declares, "High Tea at the Empress Hotel was the best thing about our vacation.
" you know it has to be something amazing.
Why? Well, after all, it's the Empress Hotel
and they've been doing this fabulously well since 1908. The tea room is a huge European-style salon and you are served on Royal Doulton china and silverware. It is Old-School Fancy.
It's utterly civilized but never descends into snobbery. After settling into a perfectly set table near the fireplace, our first course of fresh strawberries with whipped cream appeared almost immediately. Just the simple act of being seated is a totally calming experiences and makes you feel like someone is taking care of you.
Next, we each chose our individual varieties of tea. Then four individual pots of tea come out with two sets of a stunning array of finger foods is gently deposited onto the middle of our table (see photo below).
Choose from 4 perfectly brewed varieties of tea
This is the 2-person portion--sandwiches, scones and sweets
Our server kindly explained that it's perfectly fine to use one's fingers and that one eats from the bottom to top. It goes from savory to sweet.
The bottom layer held a cucumber finger sandwich
, egg salad in a mini croissant, smoked salmon in a dark rye roll
and a pork pate on a crostini
. The first three were delicious, and it was quite surprising that these small sandwiches could be so filling.
Then we all stared down at the pork pate, the gatekeeper to the upper layers of goodness. My son said, "YOLO," teen-speak for "You Only Live Once" and took a bite. "Tastes like Spam, but better." That's all we needed to hear. Bottom layer was a clean plate.
The scones on plate two are the highlight. My husband makes good scones but I had to tell him that these were were better. Buttery, flaky, warm and just enough sweetness. Definitely one of the best things I've ever eaten. The top layers were a shortbread cookie, a marzipan petit fours, a lemon meringue tart, and a mini cheesecake. At the end, we were pleasantly full and none of us could finish everything.I cannot emphasize enough how kind and genuine the staff is
. They have impeccable manners and treat you like a treasured friend. Our server was more than happy to photograph us. He even offered additional scones ("You have growing kids!") and made sure that we took home any leftovers, including the unopened mini-jam jars. As part of the service, we all received 4 boxes of tea to take home as well. We were never rushed, and despite the fact that we were definitely on the 'casual' side of casual elegant dress, we just felt very welcome.Afternoon Tea at the Empress
is pricey. It was the most expensive meal we had. However, on this trip we opted not to buy "stuff" and tried to create memories--teenager charmed by afternoon tea? Priceless
.Eat Well. Be Well.
The Trans-Pacific o-miyage exchange never fails to bemuse me.
O-miyage (pronounced "oh-me-ah-gay) is a Japanese word describing little gifts one brings back from travels, or sometimes just a little something you take to someone's house. Whenever we visit in Hawaii, we never go empty-handed and never leave empty-handed.
Here is how this dynamic plays out across blue Pacific.
I have relatives visiting from Hawaii. This is a good thing because besides in addition to being allowed to turn the heat up to slightly-above-tundra, we are on the receiving end of various gifts and snacks, including a brand-new Hawaii Regional Cuisine cookbook, Big Island snack mix, private reserve Kona coffee, various forms of macadamia nuts, and all things li-hing mui.
Now for the quid-pro-quo, or what my husband sometimes calls the accounting of affection.
My Hawaii-based ohana asks for Trader Joe's
and Archer Farms
food. Yep, you read that correctly. Target food
. And yes, there are 4 Target stores in Hawaii, but they don't have the same stuff as our neighborhood Target. Like Lemon Raspberry Granola Bites
or Paul Frank Kids clothes. Go figure.
But Trader Joe's
is my Hawaii-based ohana's version of the Holy Grail. What I not-so-fondly call squirrel food and what serves as my post-Hawaii plate-lunch detox, is what my relatives lust for. 10 bags of trail mix, 6 boxes of Trader Joe's Mac and Cheese and assorted bags of pistachios, almonds, cashews and dried apricots.
The best part is that we all think we got the better end of the deal.Eat Well. Be Well.
Last week, I showed you my amazingly talented friend's Angry Birds cake pops
. Let this post serve as a cautionary tale of when cake pops go rogue.
Lesson 1: Prep is very easy. Make the box cake. Cool it and then crumble it to smithereens. Add about 3/4 of the tub of pre-made frosting to the crumbs, and then mold into small self-contained shapes. Toss them in the fridge to set. Before you start dunking pops in candy, make sure you have a place to stick them. Otherwise you'll have 2 in your hands and then be stuck wondering what to do.
Lesson 2: Melt the candy well and definitely in 30-second increments. Use something narrow and deep, like a tall coffee cup. The wrist action will give a smooth all around coating.
Lesson 3: Do not make the shapes too big or let the melt get too thick. The cake pop gets naturally bigger once it is dunked in candy melt. Thus, if they start too big, they will split and splat. If the candy melt is too thick, it looks like an acne pop. The picture at left shows the morgue for dismembered cake pops.
Lesson 4: Use icing and food coloring like paint. We tried Wilton's Edible Ink Pens. Do not waste your money. They don't work on candy melts, and worse yet, scratch the candy surface.
Use a very, very fine paint brush and add food coloring to the leftover frosting. I was feeling nearly homicidal after the frustration of the ink pens. Notice the scratchy, weak Jason mask at the left, below. But it was easy to give him a makeover using a brush and food-colored icing.
Jack Skellington using food-colored frosting.
Lesson 5: It's fun.
Despite the non-functioning ink pens, my daughter and I spent a great afternoon making these. Until we figured out the icing trick, we made the best of the icky-ink pens with "emoti-pops" --> :P, XD and T_T and the riddle pop: What does the equation the square root of -1 is greater than 3u mean?
Eat Well. Be Well.
Let's hear it for Moms.
My Grandma, Mom, Sisters, Aunties, Cousins, friends' Moms, Nieces, Mother-in-Law, gal-pals--Be grateful to them all. For they have nourished/nurtured/advised/supported/encouraged and just-plain-loved you, physically and emotionally.
In honor of the amazing women in my life--heart-and-soul food
Grandma's Meat and Macaroni
--my dear Japanese-speaking grandma, who never drove a car, and loved sumo and Las Vegas, made this thoroughly down-home American one-dish pasta meal.Sanny's Hamburgers and Gravy
--my sister is the master of "throw-stuff-in-and-I-think-it-will-work" cooking. Slightly crunchy on the outside but moist and full of complex flavor on inside. Add a sunny-side up egg and voila-ici, perfect loco-moco.Mayonnaise Chicken
--my mom's alternative to fried chicken. My Sister must have have learned a 'mayonnaise' secret from my Mom because the mayo in both my mom's chicken and my sister's hamburgers is what keeps each from drying out, but yet not greasy.Grandma Nancy's Brownies
--my mother-in-law's light, chocolate-y, just-sweet-enough brownies. It was her 'secret' recipe...but it's too good not to share :)
Anna's Broccoli Salad
--from our very much beloved Anna, who was my daughter's day care provider. Everyone who has the good fortune of meeting Anna and her family became
her family. Anna is the embodiment of ohana.Karen's Mom's 7-Layer Bars
& Jane's Napoleons
--from the moms of two of my best friends in college. Thanks to them, I was never an 'orphan' during the Easter, Thanksgiving or the Jewish holidays.Eat Well. Be Well. | Celebrate All Those Who Have Mothered You!
We've all had them. What sounded like such a good idea all-too-quickly torpedoes into Complete and Utter Cooking Disaster. Doesn't taste good. Doesn't look good. One substitution too many and bam! Unlike Emeril, it's an into-the garbage and go-get-the-takeout fast day.
I've had a bunch of them. While my family is very tolerant and will eat pretty much anything once, my children are merciless, and have made a sport of thinking up entertaining names for kitchen failures. A chicken curry with eggplant, green beans and coconut milk was dubbed Prison Curry and they asked if it was served in orphanages. Another recipe whose official name is "Savory Lamb Burgers" was endowed with the title Poop Burgers because of aesthetic and aroma shortcomings.
Finally, there is the outrageous disbelief that two lovely foodstuffs can be combined to ruin each other as in, "How in the world can can you take perfectly good furikake and and perfectly good salmon and have it taste like something weird called furikake salmon?" However, the all-time worst is simply called by its given name,
Salmon Couscous. This is the meal against which all epic fail meals are judged.
The most recent fail was Macadamia Nut Eggplant. It was edible, but barely. It sounded like a good idea, scoop out the eggplant meat, dice it upy and stir fry in some olive oil, garlic, Worcestershire, shoyu. Cook in a little ground turkey and chopped onion and top with bread crumbs and macadamia nuts and bake in the eggplant shell. Easy one-dish meal.
Not. First of all, do you know how hard it is to scoop out raw eggplant meat? Strike one. Second, all I taste is salty. Strike 2. Finally, you get this hash-like brown food that you stuff back into the eggplant that you cored and bake it. Let me just say that long brown, cooked stuffed eggplants just do not look good and really don't look much like food. Strike 3. Out. The children said, "Well, it wasn't as bad as Salmon Couscous, but..."
And it was time for dinner by phone.
Thanks Shutterfly's offer of a free book and my husband's thrifty ways, in two weeks, I'll have my very own Feeding My Ohana | Family Favorites hard-bound book. Print run = 1.
This turned out to be a harder task than I thought. Currently, Feeding My Ohana has over 200 recipes, and there were 18 8" x 8" pages for the book. What do you pick? Add three very opinionated at-home 'consultants' proposing their own preferences. "Why can't you put Spam musubi in there?" "But I looove broccoli salad!" "You can't seriously be thinking kamaboko sandwiches" and "I can't believe you're not putting lemon bars in"...
We came to consensus on most items, and have managed a detente for the rest, with side agreements to make the non-book ones in the near future. But why did we pick out these as our favorite? Tastes good, of course. Some of them, like tofu steaks or sesa-miso eggplant, were definitely descended from magazines and cookbooks, but we've made them our own, by adding, subtracting, or just plain changing things up a little.
But beyond flavor, most of the family favorites revolve around a good time or friends and family. Shave ice, Rainbows plate lunch and malasadas always make us appreciate going home to Hawaii. Sugar cookies in the shape of our favorite Sharks (12, 22, 15 & 20) attacking a hapless duck bring together our annual Christmas cookie-making and our family Sharks games. Even the names remind us--my Mom's Chicken Katsu in Hawaii, Christine's Clam Chowder at our annual Christmas party, Steve's Hummus from my long-time boss, and Todd's Pecan Pie every Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So what are your family favorites? What do they remind you of?