Brown University, Providence, RI
This post is dedicated to all college kids (and a few in particular) who are now living the dream of off-campus apartment living.
Ah, yes. The freedom of selecting exactly what you want to eat. No more mass-produced, pre-selected dorm food to be eaten at specified times.
The reality of which quickly becomes, "Oh (appropriate college-level profanity here)!? I have to cook! And wash dishes!? And buy food?! Hello, Mom!?"
A friend of mine has a child is in just such a predicament, with two vegetarian roomies thrown in, just for some added fun.
Do not despair, or worse yet, whine. Armed with a salad spinner, rice cooker, a non stick pan, a non-stick spatula and a baking sheet, you will neither starve nor burn through your parents' money eating out.
Feeding Your Ohana 101: Staples you should always try to have in-house
Spices & Seasoners
Garlic. This makes everything better
Coarse sea salt. Say no to refined salt
Black pepper. The kind you can grind on your own
Olive oil. For general-purpose cooking
Canola oil. For when you decide to fry something, and you will
Shoyu (soy sauce). Low-sodium, green label Kikkoman is my favorite
Roasted sesame seed oil. Dynasty or Kadoya brand
Sriracha sauce. Look for the rooster on the label. He is your friend.
White vinegar. Buy a gallon and you can also use it to clean your floors. When you clean them.
Balsamic vinegar. Impress your friends
Brown sugar. For homemade teriyaki sauce
White sugar. If you bake. A mom can dream!
Cooking sherry and ginger
Generally non-perishable items
Onions. Technically perishable, but they last a long time and you will use them a lot
Rice. White or brown short grain, Koda Farms if you can
Quinoa.That you can cook in your rice cooker
"Noodley" type pasta like linguine
"Shaped" pasta like penne, farfalle, or elbows
Nuts. Pine nuts, walnuts and cashews
Dried cranberries. Good to toss into salads
Bread. Add cheese and it's a sandwich
Perishable Items--stored in the fridge
Cheese. Parmesan and your favorite for sandwiches
Firm tofu. If you and your roomies can make peace with it
A bottle each of lime and lemon juice. Fresh are always preferable, but these are good to have on standby
What you can make with the above supplies plus a trip to the grocery store for fresh produce.
So whether you are Lions, Tigers or any-type-except-Golden-Bears,
Cardinal, Crimson or Big Red--enjoy college.
Remember that if you have aluminum foil and an iron, you can make grilled cheese, and that snow banks are excellent temporary coolers.
Eat Well. Be Well.
Study Hard. Play hard, but not too hard. After all, I'm still a mom!
Avocado poke stacks are wondrous combination of flavors and textures. I first had these from Alan Wong at a Taste of Hawaii
. It is a piece of ahi heaven.
Poke, avocado and wonton crispies sound so simple in concept. So I set out to make a home version, using the construction guidance from Alan Wong.
Source: Chef's Table, ABC News
Avocado poke stacks--Home Version
The original Alan Wong's recipe is in The Blue Tomato Cookbook.
In the interest of full disclosure, I bought the book with my own hard-earned cash, and do not receive any compensation for mentioning it here. Generally, Alan Wong recipes can be hard to do family-style because they tend toward individual portion dishes that require fine construction and finish work. This one is unusually simple but know that it does use a raw egg.
I attempted a home version to use up leftover guacamole
. Instead of a circular mold, I used my trusty Spam musubi frame.
I started with my own poke
recipe, but cut down the shoyu. I did switch to the sambal oelek, as per the Alan Wong's recipe instead of pepper flakes. This is a good switch and I've edited the poke
I also used Hawaii Candy brand pepper flavored wuntun strips
instead of making them from raw squares of wonton wrappers.
Mayo, mustard, sambal and lemon juice
The biggest change was in the aioli that drizzles on top of the dish. I substituted mayonnaise both canola oil and the raw egg because using raw eggs just freaks me out. I also left out garlic because I like the brighter flavor of lemon and shiso leaves. As well, the guacamole had a hefty dash of garlic in it already.
I definitely recommend the Haute version at least once, especially if you can go to the restaurant. The portion size is just right, and it really is quite beautiful. And I'll take it on faith that the chefs know how to handle raw eggs properly.
Home version tasted great, but doesn't come close to the plating perfection from the professionals. The Spam musubi mold works as a construction device. However, the stacks are pretty substantial for an appetizer, but not big enough for an entree. And it's hard to grab and go or share.
For round 3 of the Home version
, I'm thinking it might be better to crisp up full wonton sheets to make single-serving versions. The serving size will be more appropriate, construction will be a lot faster, and people can just pick 'em up and eat 'em. Time to have a potluck to try this out. Click here
for the work-in-progress recipe. The flavor is all there, but the construction needs refining.Eat Well. Be Well.
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
My incredibly creative friend made these. There was a pig, but his house fell down.
Yes, they are sugar bombs. But who can resist such a thing, especially for Halloween?
All you need is a box cake mix, a tub of frosting, sticks, candy melts (available at Michael's), assorted candies, and a bit of creativity.
Make the box cake, then mash it up to crumbs. Mix in about 3/4 of a can of frosting. This will make cake-Play-Doh that you can shape into whatever you want. Birds, pigs, Pokemon, or the simplicity of a singular creepy eyeball. Freeze of refrigerate them for a bit to get them to stick better.
Now the fun part.
Follow the directions for melting the candy. Dip one end of the stick into the candy melt and then into the cake ball. This is so that the stick stays stuck. Then, dip the whole ball into the melt. Decorate while the candy coating is cooling around the cake ball. Angry birds were made using Twizzlers, candy corn, black licorice and candy eyeballs from Michael's.
One box of cake mix can make about 48 very angry birds, or at least 6 levels of house-of-pigs-collapsing mayhem.
Eat Well. Be Well.
Onions. Garlic. Ginger.
The first two are, by far, the most used ingredients in my house. And while I don't use ginger quite as often, for each of them, I found a very useful, wacky and ridiculous-sounding way to make cutting, peeling and chopping the Big Three a lot easier. This isn't a "Punk'd" blog
. I have adopted these new ways.Skinning garlic in 15 seconds
I posted this link
on to the Feeding My Ohana Facebook Page
a couple weeks ago. It was so quirky and unbelievable, I had to try it. Bash a whole head of garlic with your hand to split the cloves up. Then dump all of it into a covered bowl and "shake the Dickens out of it" for about 15 seconds. And peeled garlic magically appears.
It's utterly amazing. I even used a Tupperware instead of the the two metal bowls, but it still worked. My only advice is to do the garlic smash outside, either on a table or a cookie sheet, because it's a little messy. Also, this is best when you need a lot of peeled garlic all at once because the garlic get a little dented in the "shaking the Dickens out of it" phase.
Cutting an Onion with a Piece of Bread Sticking Out of Your Mouth
I use onions about 4 times a week. So I cry a lot. Someone recommended that I put a half-slice of bread in my mouth so it hangs out like a bad moustache. Blogs and message boards both swear by and thoroughly pan this technique.I tried it in the privacy of my own home with no pictures. I looked ridiculous. I felt ridiculous. My kids thought it was ridiculous. But it worked (more than once), so there's definitely something to it. I've done a little more research and it seems that burning a candle as well as a very sharp knife will help. We shall see.
Skinning Fresh Ginger with a Spoon
Thanks to the good peeps at Hui 'Ilima
for showing me this trick. Don't bother with a peeler or the precision, slightly risky peeling with a knife.
Simply cut the fresh ginger and use the side of a spoon to peel the skin off. Like the Dickensian garlic method, you'll be done in about 15 seconds. No knives makes it a job for anyone. This should be read, "Your kids should peel your ginger from now on."
So try these and let me know how they work. Better yet, post or send me your best human kitchen tricks.
Eat Well. Be Well.
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.
For more than 10 years my task has been to provide an acceptable answer to "What's for dinner??" in a timely fashion, and at least 5 times a week.
To do this, I needed to learn an entire process--finding a recipe was only the beginning. How to plan for multiple meals, how to shop, what to stock at all times, what tools work best. An Ivy League education and a full career in marketing and advertising left me woefully underqualified.
I learned enough to make a dinky self-published, cookbook of my old favorites (print run 25, see above). Since then, recipes have drifted away, been rejected with authority, and many more have been added. I'm blessed to be around a host of talented people who really and truly know how to cook and a very tolerant family who will try darn-near anything. As well, my near-pathological obsession with 641.5 library books (cookbooks) and Google.
Here's what I learned along the way.
1. You know what tastes good. Be confident that you can cook well. Which brings me to
2. A recipe is really a “guideline.” I typically can’t leave well enough alone when trying out new things. So consider all these recipes as “guidelines” and adjust them to your personal taste as well.
It still genuinely surprises me when I'm asked for a recipe. Feeding My Ohana is my way to share my absolute love of eating, with the reassurance that you won't have to go through crazy cooking hoops to make it.