Monday, August 29, 2011

Herb Specimens

From my garden. 



Lemon grass. 

Green onion. 




I'm frustrated with how these photos turned out but posting anyway. Photography can be so stinkin' hard! Having a garden with fresh herbs cheers me up though. 

I would be ecstatic if you voted for my Hawaiian Style Fish Chowder in the Flavors Take Flight contest by clicking the link and giving it a "thumbs up."

Mahalo! Hope everyone out there had a great start to the week. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

French Toast Casserole

Sometimes when you make fondue you have lots of leftover bread.

You could make croutons. You could make teeny little munchkin pizzas.

No you couldn't.

Alas, I have the solution. French toast casserole. It's a little like bread pudding and a lot delicious.

And this is not just breakfast. This could totally be dessert. You could have a complete breakfast themed dinner party; bloody Mary warm-ups, omelets, fried potatoes, and mimosas for dinner, French toast casserole for dessert, Irish coffees to round it out. Now that's classy.

Before you run off and make this for breakfast, don't forget to vote for my Hawaiian Style Fish Chowder in the Hawaiian Airlines Flavors Take Flight contest. Mahalo for your support!

French Toast Casserole
serves 6

6 cups French bread cubes (or enough to fill a 9x13 baking dish)
2 TBL butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 c milk*
1/4 c white sugar, divided
1/4 tsp salt
tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c pancake syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter. Add bread cubes. In a separate bowl beat eggs, milk, half of the sugar, salt, vanilla, and pancake syrup. Pour over bread cubes. You may want to gently stir it around a bit so all the bread cubes get coated. Allow to stand for at least 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the goodness.

In a small bowl combine remaining sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the top of the bread mixture. Dot the bread mixture with the remaining butter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and eggs are set. If you used sliced or soft bread, it may take less time to bake, so keep an eye on it. Enjoy!

*Milk note: we don't drink cow milk except half & half for coffee, so I mixed 3/4 c half & half and 3/4 c rice milk. I'm noting this, because I don't think rice milk on its own would have worked. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Vote for me! Hawaiian Style Fish Chowder

**Voting has closed, but you can see this and a collection of other amazing soups at Easy Natural Food**

Hawaiian Airlines is offering a free trip to Honolulu and a culinary adventure with Chef Chai in their "Flavors Take Flight" contest. The entry with the most "likes" on Facebook, Twitter, and the Hawaiian Airlines site are entered into the top 10.

Why am I telling you this? So you'll consider voting for my Hawaiian Style Fish Chowder! Doesn't it look yummy? Vote here: Flavors Take Flight.

It all started with some dirty hands.

Hands that pulled these Hawaiian sweet potatoes (aka Okinawan sweet potatoes) right out of our own garden.

Then I said to myself, "self, let's make a fish chowder with island ingredients."

And you said to yourself, "another fish chowder, huh?" Just go with it.

We had to drive around the neighborhood in search of a green papaya to pick that wasn't super-obviously in someone's yard.

Lucky we live [in] Hawaii.

Hawaiian Style Fish Chowder
serves 4
Don't forget to vote for this recipe:)

1 TBL canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced Maui onion
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
2 1/2 cups Hawaiian sweet potato, cubed to 1/2 inch
1 TBL fish sauce
2 cups water
1 tsp Hawaiian sea salt
2 tsp sesame oil, divided
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
1 lb ono, or other white fish, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup finely julienned green (raw) papaya, 1 inch long, 1/4 wide
1 TBL shoyu (soy sauce)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/2 tsp sesame seeds

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add canola oil, onion, ginger, and chili garlic sauce and cook until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add chopped sweet potatoes, fish sauce, water, salt, and 1tsp of the sesame oil. Liquid should just cover potatoes; if not, add a little more until covered. Cover the pot and cook 13-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

In a separate bowl, add green papaya, shoyu, remaining sesame oil, green onion, sesame seeds and toss.

Back to the stove, turn the heat down to low and add coconut milk and fish. Cook, uncovered, until fish is cooked through, 6-10 minutes. Don't boil or simmer the chowder, this is also a good time to check your chowder for seasoning and add salt if needed. Check the fish frequently for doneness, you don't want to over cook it. Turn the heat off and cover the pot, allowing it to rest at least 30 minutes.

For serving, spoon desired amount into bowl and top with green papaya mixture. Enjoy!

If you liked this, consider voting for me by clicking here: Flavors Take Flight

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Baking a Cake"

Selections from Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones.

"When you bake a cake, you have ingredients: sugar, flour, butter, baking soda, eggs, milk. You put them in a bowl and mix them up, but this does not make a cake. This makes goop."

"In a sense, this is what writing is like. You have all these ingredients, the details of your life, but just to list them is not enough."

"You must add the heat and energy of your heart."

"You can't just mix the ingredients in a bowl; they have no life. You must become one with the details in love or hate..." 

"Ovens can be very cantankerous sometimes, and you might have to learn ways to turn your heat on."

"And you are never sure once the heat begins whether you will get a devil's food or an angel food cake."

"In writing  with detail, you are turning to face the world. You are offering up some good solid bread for the hungry."

Natalie, you rock my world.

MHD, thanks for bringing me back to it.

Want to make these Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcakes? Visit: Our Best Bites for the recipe I (mostly) succeeded in replicating. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Positive Self-Talk Potato Salad

"I is kind. I is smart. I is important."

I made a kid write this today over and over for kicking another kid in the nads. True story. Oh but I substituted "am," because as a teacher I feel grammatically responsible. This quote is from "The Help," which I saw last night with some book club gals. A heart warming flick with deep roots. Should have read the book, which is actually staring at me right now from the coffee table, but I have a hard time reading a book when I already know what happens.

So let's eat some potato salad instead.

I am kind...

to my husband, for making him a potato salad. 

I am smart...

for adapting my recipe from Paula Deen's.

He didn't want "crunchy stuff," so I omitted the bell pepper and onion and added hard boiled eggs.

I am important...

enough to eat all the asparagus and not share it with anyone. 

Positive Self-Talk Potato Salad
serves 8-10

12 cups cubed red potatoes
5 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 TBL dijon mustard
2 TBL mayo
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp (at least) fresh ground black pepper

Boil the potatoes in a large pot, covered, for 10 minutes or so, until fork tender. Drain and allow to cool. Boil eggs for about 17 minutes. Cool, peel, chop. Meanwhile, whisk oil, vinegar, mustard, mayo, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Once potatoes have cooled, transfer them and the eggs to a large bowl. Pour dressing over all and mix. Allow the flavors to meld before serving, at least an hour, mine sat overnight. Perfect for a beach bbq. Enjoy! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cheese Fondue with a side of Life

Cheese fondue can be a very impressive dish, especially to those that have never tried it. And you know how much I like to impress.

Being the owner of a (quite fancy) fondue pot and needing a potluck dish to bring to a book club for "Life" by Keith Richards, I happily obliged, following a simple recipe from Fondue Recipes.

Melted cheese (and chocolate thanks to the hostess), rock-n-roll, and imagining what life would have been like for '70s band members, is always a good thing.

In fact, it's a great thing, since my favorite movie of all time is "Almost Famous," based during the same years Mick and Keith were in their prime. Time for movie references.

"If you think Mick Jagger will still be out there trying to be a rock star at age fifty, then you are sadly, sadly mistaken." Stillwater's (soon to be) manager trying to convince them to "take what [they] can, while [they] can." Love it.

In "Life" Keith talks about groupies. He saw them as women who took care of them on the road, not necessarily babes who couldn't get enough. Band-Aids, not groupies! As Sapphire says, "They (the new girls) don't even know what it is to be a fan. Y'know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts." 

There is a moment in the movie where they walk by a hotel room (at the Riot House, also mentioned by Keith in the book) with a man and woman singing a duet, and it wasn't until I read "Life" that I realized this is supposed to be Gram Parsons (who recorded briefly with the Stones in France) and Emmylou Harris, who went on to perform and record together. Now I have a great anecdote. Whoop. 

I love this film so much, not only because of the era it captures, but the amazing coming-of-age story it captures, too. If there are any other Almost Famous obsessives out there, I'd love to hear from you!

It's all happening. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Birthday Brownies and a List

We celebrated a milestone this week. My loving husband turned 30.

So the cat and I had some champagne on his behalf.

Brownies were certainly in order (chocolate peanut butter ones). This time from scratch. Thanks Joy the Baker. 

Making a list for someone who likes organization seems logical. So here is my list:

30 Reasons to love Dustin (who is 30)

1. He doesn't own a video game device that connects to the TV.
2. He always "likes" my blog post links on Facebook.
3. He hates skinny jeans.
4. He's a badass biker.

(Birthday sandwiches)

5. He makes use of the word "beautiful" in so many ways.
6. He makes use of expletives in magical ways.
7. He agrees that farm fresh eggs are better than store bought.
8. He thinks I'm badass. I totally am, see proof below.

9. He is an organizational master.
10. He drinks wine from a milk glass.
11. He didn't get mad when I posted a photo of him clipping his toenails.
12. He still listens to Master P.
13. He does real smart stuff like run his own business.
14. He likes my cooking.
15. He's a risk taker.

16. He likes bananas in his ravioli.
17. He likes treasure hunting.
18. He smells good.
19. He's incredibly kind.
20. He eats really fast, which actually comes in handy at times.
21. He is someone to be admired.

22. He is accepting and tolerant.
23. He's handsome.
24. He looks good in white.
25. He knows some pretty groovy dance moves.

26. He's quitting smoking. One day clean!
27. He loves our kitty Abba Zaba. She's his only friend.
28. He lets me be who I am.
29. He's a dreamer. And he's not the only one.
30. Last but not least, I love him because he's no longer a twenty something.

Happy Birthday D! You'll always be an ear-pierced, minor providing, crotch rocket riding 21 year old to me. 


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