Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My First Wave

Prompt provided by Sometimes Sweet were you can join the fun by writing on the prompt in your blog (feel free to grab the image up top), then come back here and leave a comment with a sentence or two from your entry, and the link. 

Describe a "first" (first date, first lie, the first time you experienced something, first time in a particular setting, etc). Include as many details as possible to paint a picture.

I'd tried surfing a few times before, but always ended up paddling, defeated, towards shore after getting pounded mercilessly by waves I didn't know how to get over or under. Some new surfer friends I recently met insisted on helping. 

Surrounded by white sand, blue sky, and the ever-laughing ocean we set off early one morning from the campsite we'd inhabited the night before, boards in tow. My board, yes mine, is of the Costco variety, made of blue foam, with little (ok major) cat scratching etched completely over one side. It had been sleeping under the house for a couple years. And this is the part where I get nervous. See the ocean looks real inviting, but those waves will smack you around real good, and here on the Big Island, you're liable to land on lava rock, or worse, sea urchin, if the water is shallow. My girlfriends confidently stride up the beach, tanned, gorgeous, surely smelling my fear, and slowly as if time ticked with my heart, we wound leashes over our ankles and slid noiselessly in the water. 

The paddling itself is tough, but for me facing a wave and hoping I crest the top crosses into the opposite of my comfort zone. We try and try, and I fall and fall. I watch them catch wave after wave, red-painted toenails lifted high as their boards glide down the wave, then they're up, smiling salty grins. You gotta catch a wave, they say, you can't go in without it. Cheer me on then, I say, this can't be that hard. This one's yours! Paddle! Paddle! So I do, and my legs are shaking, my toes pressing the edge of the board, rush of wave in my ears, chasing me. It lifts me up, the wave actually lifts me up, and I'm riding it, fast. I push myself up with shaking arms and now standing the world goes quiet, peaceful, fast. Everything stops but me, this board, this wave. I did it. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quick Hair Tip - DeGunk Those Locks

Spending long summer days in the ocean and at the pool is horrific for the hair. My hair had been feeling tacky and sticky and generally yucky no matter how many times I washed it, until a trip to the salon cleared it right up. My hair dresser recommended adding a little baking soda to my regular shampoo, which I tried right away and it worked beautifully. To a couple TBL shampoo in the palm of my hand I added another couple TBL of baking soda, mixed it around with my finger and scrubbed the mane good, leaving it in for a couple minutes for good measure. Rinse well.


She also recommended I get ahold of a quality clarifying shampoo and use that every so often. I found some good ones on Etsy:

Fresh Rinse of Belle Hair - SoapStarCanada

Lavender Herbal Wash - beautyinbalance

How do you get rid of the pool greens?

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dream Days -and watermelon cocktail nights-

What a dreamy weekend this is turning out to be. I spent the morning in South Kona as a student at the Hale Kai yoga teacher retreat. This was an awesome opportunity not only for the amazing setting and wonderful people, but they helped me iron out some bad yoga habits.

After yoga I cruised down to the adjacent beach, had a little lunch, caught up on some reading (currently Shark Dialogues) and, lucky me, spotted dolphins spinning in the bay. Good thing my overstuffed car happened to include a set of snorkel gear. The dolphins graciously let me swim with them, coming close enough to touch. I couldn't be more thankful to live in Hawaii.

Coming home to a sunny backyard and a smiling husband (he'd just come home from an incredible motorcycle ride), we couldn't resist lighting up the bbq and blending up some delicious Watermelon Cocktails:
1 big pile of cut up watermelon
lemon or lime juice
1/4 jalapeno (seeds removed)
crushed ice

I'm not including measurements because it's better to just eyeball it. You'll need at least 6 oz of vodka per blender batch, depends on how strong you want them. Or leave the booze out, which is what we probably should have done;) The salt and jalapeno give it a little kick, an idea I got from a watermelon soup recipe while listening to the Splendid Table.

We enjoyed another batch of homemade veggie burgers, although I'm not ready to share a recipe yet, still need to work on it a bit, unless someone out there has the secret to making them stick together? The sauce oozing out was some jalapeno and garlic sour cream I mixed up, it helped moisten up the veggie burgers. Rounding out the meal was some fresh grilled asparagus from our garden, three years in the making! I love this asparagus so much, I want to cry every time I eat it.

Stay tuned for more breakfast reinventions, coming your way this week. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beach BBQ - Warm Eggplant Salad

To celebrate the longest day of the year we decided to soak up a little sun and surf, and have us a beachside bbq. We packed some veggie burgers and I dreamed up a new recipe. Enjoy!

Warm Eggplant Salad (Featured on Easy Natural Food)
serves 4

1 tsp dijon mustard
1+ tsp honey
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 clove chopped garlic
salt & pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tomato, chopped
1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise in 1/4 inch thickness
1 cup or so fresh watercress or arugula
4 oz goat cheese

In a large bowl, begin assembling the dressing, in the order listed. Stir with a whisk to combine.

Add the tomatoes to the bowl and cover. Place the eggplant slices in a ziplock bag and add a TBL or 2 olive oil and some salt and pepper. Tote these along with you to the beach, along with the watercress or arugula and goat cheese in separate containers.

When the grill is hot cook up the eggplant, this is quick, maybe 2 minutes on each side or until nice and browned.

Cut the cooked eggplant in chunks about the same size as your chopped tomato.

Add the chopped eggplant to the bowl with the tomato along with the greens and goat cheese. Toss to coat.

We enjoyed our salad with veggies burgers topped with goat cheese on Hawaiian sweet bread buns.

Surfing, sunset, and good food. What a relaxing day. What's your favorite picnic fare?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What to do with watercress?

A mysterious force caused me to buy watercress seeds for my newly plowed garden, without really knowing what I'd use it for. Of course, the lovely little spicy green was the first to sprout and first to harvest. Large bag of watercress in hand, I went about finding a way to use them.

Garden fresh watercress
My first instinct was to make sushi, because the local favorite sushi joint, Hayashi's, uses it in some of their rolls. I won't get into how to make sushi because I'm really pretty bad at it, but below are the ahi (locally caught, I swear) and watercress I rolled up with brown rice.

The real star of the meal was the Miso with Watercress Soup. Adapted from this one from the Mayo Clinic.

Start by chopping up half of a yellow onion and soften for 5 minutes over medium heat with 1 TBL olive oil.

Add 1 TBL chopped fresh ginger, 2 cloves chopped garlic, and 1 chopped tomato. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until tomato is softened.

Add 3 cups vegetable stock, broth, or plain old water. If you use water, add some salt. Bring to a boil, and then right back down to a simmer.

Add 1 heading TBL of miso paste and stir to dissolve. Be sure not to boil the soup after you've added the miso paste or it will kill all the wonderful little living microorganisms that make it a beneficial food. Once dissolved, add 1 cup of watercress and allow to simmer for another minute or so. Garnish with chopped green onion.

We really liked the flavors and chunkiness of this soup. My husband normally doesn't like soup because he says it's not filling enough, but approved this one.

On to more experiments. Got any uses for watercress I should know about? 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

My friend SM, who was a chef in a former life, has graciously entertained my request for cooking lessons. Last time we got together, we made misoyaki butterfish and a variety of salad dressings. Now that I've gone veg, we whipped up these vegetarian enchiladas with tomatillo sauce.

First off, tomatillos are those little green tomato things with the green "paper" on the outside. You'll need about 3 lbs of them, a large yellow onion, and at least one jalapeno. Peel the paper off the tomatillos, slice up the onion and jalapeno, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Broil the veggies for about 5 minutes each side, or until nice and charred and the tomatillo's skins burst.

Pour the veggies and their juices, along with a nice handful of cilantro, several cloves of garlic, and salt into a blender or food processor. Depending on the size of the blender, you may have to do this in batches.

Now that the sauce is done, you'll want to prepare your filling. We sauteed up some onion and garlic with corn and spinach, and the next night I used corn and peppers. It's your call, fill them with whatever you like.

Once you are ready to fill the tortillas (use corn if you can), start by warming the tortillas in the microwave. Pour a ladle of sauce in to the bottom of a glass baking dish and spread around so the tortillas don't stick. Take a pie plate and place a 1/4 cup of the sauce inside with about 1/2 cup water. Grab a warm tortilla and dip into the pie plate with the diluted sauce, wetting both sides. Grab a handful of your filling and place in the center of the tortilla along with a TBL or 2 of cheese. We used goat cheese (chevre), but pepper jack, or queso fresco would be wonderful, too. Roll up the enchilada, don't worry if some filling falls out the sides, and place in your baking dish. I was able to fit 8 enchiladas in a 10"x13" baking dish.

Pour the sauce generously over the top, adding more cheese of you wish as a final touch, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until cheese is melty and enchiladas have warmed through.

I guess my husband really liked them, he looks full.

If you like spice, you will need to add another jalapeno or some chile powder to the sauce, it was pretty mild.

Who knew making enchilada sauce could be this easy? I will definitely make this again. What's your favorite version?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grow your own sweet potatoes

Got some sweet potatoes in the pantry that are starting to sprout leaves or roots? Stick them in the ground and watch them grow! Of course, Hawaii's tropical climate makes this even easier. I recently dug up over two pounds of Molokai (orange inside) sweet potatoes I'd forgotten in one of my neglected planter boxes and decided to replant again. What a nice surprise! We also found lots of asparagus and a couple of lovely butternut squash growing right out of the compost. Even when I do nothing in the garden, the island gives me something. This has inspired me to get back into gardening mode, more on that later. For now, here's how I planted my sweet potatoes.

Start by cutting off the parts of the sweet potato that have sprouted

 Find a fairly large pot, you want it to be at least a foot deep. I do this because the sweet potato plants tend to spread out a lot and take over, I wanted to control this as well as not have to dig all around to find the potatoes once they are ready to harvest.

Add dirt and place the potatoes leaf side up. I'm not sure how long it will take to harvest the potatoes, but at least 3 or 4 months.

My secret ingredient! Compost, compost, compost.

The can on the left is the fresh kitchen scraps, the can on the right is the stuff that's been marinating for awhile. I rotate once one fills up and I've used all the black dirt. Notice we drilled holes in the plastic to let the stuff breathe. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gotta see: Bridesmaids

Saw Bridesmaids for the second time in the theater this week (I never do that by the way) and had to recommend. Not only is this a really funny movie starring female comics, but brought me to tears on the that's-what-friends-are-for scale.

Brief synopsis: Annie (Kristen Wiig), slides into breakdown mode after her best friend (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged and she's appointed maid of honor. It starts with "frenemy" Helen, the bossy bridesmaid, who is always making Annie look incompetent as the maid of honor, after which many wedding mishaps occur. But Annie's breakdown is really about some other issues in her life that she learns to deal with in the course of the movie.

This movie made me appreciate my amazing friends even more. "Friendship" being a subject I'm currently obsessing over, as in, what makes a great friendship and how do you explain this love you have for your friends that is so different than any other kind of love? My research on this topic has included a double viewing of Bridesmaids (as mentioned), a day long Sex and the City marathon (season 3 this time), and catching up with my beloved friends as much as possible since I'm now on summer break and have time to harass them.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Black Out Dance Team
A major perk of teaching middle school is that I get to teach an elective course the school calls a "wheel class" every Wednesday afternoon. The teacher gets to pick any topic they want and the students choose the class they want to take. Last quarter my topic was Dance Team. We had a group of 14 girls who learned a dance I choreographed with a student helper and my sister. On the last day of school the girls performed it at the talent show assembly. They danced to "OMG" by Usher.

Despite the sometimes weary middle school melodrama of teaching 14 girls how to dance, this class is what often got me through the work week. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know so many amazing young women, not to mention it was just downright fun seeing them get so excited about performing all. And as you may remember from last year, I do love a good talent show!

I had so much fun with dance team this year, I can't help but dream about what we will dance to next year! Any suggestions? 

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Girl Can Dream, of the Pacific Northwest

After a three year hiatus, I will be crawling off the rock to visit family in Oregon and Washington, where I grew up. Not sure why it took so long, but let's just say it is easy to get sucked into the Big Island vortex. While reading Snow Falling on Cedars (obviously I liked this book, one word: imagery) I began to miss many sights, sounds, and smells of the Pacific Northwest.

I'll be considering flowers, especially roses. How many colors can we find? My favorite is the peachy one.

Cassia Beck

And eating fruit. Cherries, peaches, blackberries? We used to pick blackberries for days. They probably won't be ready to pick in July, but just seeing those old sticker bushes again will do.


Admiring wild, rushing rivers, and I hear there will be plenty of rush. Maybe if it's really warm we'll go for a dunk.


Shuddering for colossal crashing waves against rocky cliffs. Inhaling that salty, mossy air that you can't smell anywhere else.


Walking through the woods among the wonderful ferny, wet, fauna of greenness. The trees, the mud, the snowmelt creeks, the giant trees. I love it all and can't wait.

Elemental Images

Don't even get me started on what I miss about Portland. What did I leave out? What are your favorite things about the Pacific Northwest?


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