Sunday, September 30, 2012

Breadfruit Festival & Cooking Contest Results

Award-winning 'Ulu Gnocchi 

Yesterday we spent the morning at the Breadfruit Festival in Captain Cook, Hawaii. The main aim of the festival is to promote breadfruit use in everyday cooking.

Making 'ulu (breadfruit) poi

The starchy fruit, similar to potato, is a logical replacement for rice, bread, flour, tortillas and potatoes when eaten in the "green" stage. Once the fruit ripens, it can be used in various desserts.

Sam Choy giving a cooking demo

Breadfruit grows abundantly here in the islands, although it is not widely used. We know this because most of our food is imported from abroad, particularly our most common starches. Hopefully attendees were able to learn some new uses for the fruit at the festival, I certainly did.

My 'ulu gnocchi won the heathy choice award!

I currently have a breadfruit and portuguese sausage stew bubbling away in the slow cooker as I type this, inspired by the winning recipe at the cooking contest. My entry, recipe below, got second place in the entree division as well as nabbing the "Healthiest Choice" award of which I am particularly proud. You all know by now how passionate I am about making food that is good for our bodies as well as the 'aina. I hope you will give breadfruit a chance, maybe even by trying the recipe below.

'Ulu (Breadfruit) Gnocchi with Hamakua Mushroom Ragout
serves 4-6

For gnocchi:
1 green breadfruit
1 to 1 1/2 cups flour
2 egg yolks

For ragout:
2 cups alii mushrooms, chopped
½ Maui onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4-5 sage leaves, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
grated parmesan to serve

Peel, decore, and chop breadfruit into bite sized pieces. Steam in a steamer basket for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Place in a large bowl and mash.

When breadfruit has cooled some, but is still warm, add flour and beaten egg yolks. Use your hands to mix and knead until it becomes a ball of dough. Do not over work the dough. Take a small handful of dough and roll into a tube about ¾ inch in diameter on a floured surface using the tips of your fingers. Cut the tube into 1 inch pieces and press each with your thumb to make a small indentation. Place gnocchi on a wax paper covered cookie sheet and continue with the rest of the dough.

Begin making the ragout by sautéing onion, garlic, and mushrooms in the olive oil over medium heat until soft, adding salt and pepper to taste as you go. Add the balsamic vinegar and sage, cover and turn off heat. 

To cook the gnocchi, bring a salted pot of water to a boil. Add a cup or so of gnocchi to the pot at a time, boiling for 1-2 minutes or until gnocchi float to the surface. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and boil the next batch. Take care not to crowd the gnocchi, this is why we cook them in batches. 

Toss cooked gnocchi in the ragout and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Bunch of...

I'm playing along again this week with Maui Shop Girl and her "Just Another Photo Challenge" series. This week the photo prompt was "A Bunch of..." I always have a bunch of something growing in the garden.

A bunch of shampoo ginger.

A bunch of broccoli flowers, which are edible as well as the leaves.

A bunch of basil. Pesto party here I come!

A bunch of papaya. My husband planted these trees from seed last year. It is amazing how fast they grow. Hoping to make some green papaya salad soon, one of my favorites.

I hope you'll join us by taking your own "A Bunch of..." photos. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Baked Apples

Nostalgia is my happy place.

It's 8 in the morning and I'm on my second viewing of Midnight in Paris. I couldn't sleep last night after watching it, this is what nostalgia does to me. I get to thinking about Paris and great literature and better cappuccinos and midnight walks in the rain. I get to thinking about the books I should write, the adventures I should have, the life I should be living.

At the end of the day (and of the movie) the indesputable truth is that the time is now.

The time is now.

To walk in the rain. To write. To read great literature. To create art. To run away on adventures.

The time is now.

To sit on the couch with a sleeping puppy. To take a bath in the morning. To contemplate the sunshine through the windows. To rest.

The time is now to bake apples and look through old pictures and call our dads. He'll tell us stories about our grandmother we never knew. Like how she ate a baked apple and a soft boiled egg for breakfast most mornings. I can picture her in the kitchen, waiting for her apple to bake as she cradles a coffee cup with two hands.

Nostalgia is a living thing and a memory. Nostalgia is a baked apple and a playlist on iTunes. A dream and now. Live it.

Baked Apples
serves 2

2 apples
2 pats of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
lemon juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 325. Core apples using a paring knife, taking care not to pierce the bottom of the apple. If you do, all the sweet juices will leak out. This is tricky, but don't worry, no need for perfection here.

In a small bowl, combine sugars, spices and a little lemon juice. Place a small piece of butter inside each apple. Fill with sugar mixture, pushing in with your thumb to pack in. You may need more or less sugar depending on the size of your apples. Top with another piece of butter. Bake on center rack for 1 hour or until apples are cooked and soft all the way through.

Serve with milk, cream, whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eatin' Right in Minneapolis

Flowers at Mill City Farmers Market

You guys I've been busy. So so so busy.

With work. With school. With putting my house back together. With organizing book clubs and having birthdays and getting the garden straightened. With life.

And I don't like to be busy. When I'm busy I get stressed. And when I get stressed my face breaks out and I eat too much and exercise feels like a far off dream. And when those things happen I feel bad about how I'm living and I end up working out too hard or drinking too much and waste my only day off recovering.

Last week I made a mad dash trip to Minneapolis for the wedding of a dear friend. It's a 14 hour situation to get to Minneapolis that involved too much candy and not enough sleep. I was a little stressed about leaving all the busyness back home to pile up. But some things are once in a lifetime. Busyness is not once in a lifetime, busyness is all the time and it can wait. Seeing my friend all woman-like in her white dress and gorgeous smile walk down the aisle was more important than catching up on all the to-dos in all the world.

Congrats BooBoo!

In between all the wedding festivities I managed a stop at the Mill City Farmers Market and a lively meal at Travail. After reading about the Minneapolis food scene in Food & Wine Magazine, I was eager to explore the local flavors.

Wild rice at Mill City Farmers market

The farmers market was lively, bright, and full of great finds including wild rice, chocolates, flowers, cheeses, sausages, and the usual, but equally exciting, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and baked goods. My score of the morning was a prune and chocolate roll that was rather like a cross between a bagel and a donut.

Chefs/servers at Travail

Travail was a flurry of extravagant small plates with a focus on fine ingredients. My favorite was a corn chowder topped with popcorn. Plus, the atmosphere is "what must be the country’s most entertaining avant-garde food" as Food & Wine describes it. The servers are the chefs here, a unique but very welcome twist. Just like at home, the passion for the food goes right on the plate, instead of being lost in translation somewhere between the kitchen and your table, as it does in a typical restaurant.

Beef tartare at Travail

I'm happy to report that Minneapolis does it right, not only with the widespread use of locally grown and made ingredients, but in creating a cuisine of comfort food all their own.

Back to the grind.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Taste of the Hawaiian Range Highlights

Serious eating.
The Big Island's ultimate food festival, Taste of the Hawaiian Range, was held on Friday, September 21 at Hilton Waikoloa Village.

This lucky girl won a ticket via a Facebook drawing and I can't believe this was my first time attending. I have really been missing out.

Food booths are in green. We couldn't possibly try them all, but we made a valiant dent.

Dustin and I ate our way through dozens of food booths celebrating grass-fed beef, lamb, mutton, and goat.

Utensils, cups, and plates were all recycled at the event. We made sure to reuse our forks as we ate our way through. 

Town Restaurant's shepard's pie with mutton
We were surprised to learn that blueberries are being grown in Volcano, grass-fed Portuguese sausage can be found at our local grocery, and that the gaminess of mutton can be a good thing.

I was even served by Food Network Star participant Ippy Aiona. Star struck!

The best dish of the night was served by Kamehameha Schools, tacos made with steamship round that had been basking over flames all day. Other notables were the beef heart by Aloha Mondays, and the beef cheek lau lau style by the Fairmont Orchid.

Kamehameha Schools amazing steamship round. 

Not only was it a pleasure to witness the incredible creativity of all the restaurants and chefs that participated, but we learned so much and were inspired by the efforts of our community to make eating local a priority and furthering the efforts to make the islands sustainable.

Buy local, it matters!

Other fun write-ups about this event:
Damon Tucker
A Sari-Sari Life

PS: Happy Sustainable Sunday

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Maui Shop Girl ( is hosting a weekly photo challenge on her blog. Since I'd really like to focus on improving my photography skills, I decided to join the fun. This week's theme is "Peaceful."

Peaceful is...

Feet in sand.

Clouds overtaking the sun.

Private tide pools.

Sorry this post is so wonky folks. I'm trying to publish from my iPad in the airport on the way to Minnesota for a wedding. Hope you all have a peaceful day!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sustainable Sunday: Making Yogurt

Aloha friends! Today I have my very first podcast to share with you. I am talking all about making yogurt with locally produced milk. Have a listen here:

Yogurt Podcast

You will have to download the podcast as an mp3 to listen for now. Hopefully I'll have the techy aspect figured out soon so you can listen directly from the blog post. Please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Buck It! Summer's Over & I'm Almost 30

I guess it is September already. Summer is officially over, although since we started back to school in the beginning of August, it already feels like a long time ago. Trips were taken, food was eaten, and this summer was, in general, a really good time. I'm so glad Joy and Tracy suggested creating a summer bucket list, it got me super pumped and I'm happy to report that I checked (almost) everything off that list.

As a kid, I always enjoyed having a September birthday. I got all the benefits of having a summer birthday, backyard bbqs or parties in the park, while also celebrating in school. There was something so special about classroom cupcakes and the teacher leading us all in song.

This year, I'd rather crawl in a very dark cave, eat an enormous amount of cake and champagne, and emerge without anyone noticing that I, Gwen Edwards, am 30 years old. And for those that know me, this just isn't right. You see, I'm one of those people that loves a good birthday party, would never pass up a chance to blow out the candles and make another wish. And I won't bore you with the usual cliches, "Oh, I feel so old!", "Geez, I can't believe my 20s are over!" No, you see, that's just not what's bothering me at all.

It's just that, damn, what happened to those 30 years? It's a shock to the system to think, really consider, how many years it's been since I played softball, rode a roller coaster, saw my aunts and uncles, or went fishing. Time. Time. Time. It jut goes and goes and has no feeling at all. It selfishly rolls on and over my 30 birthday wishes, never stopping to ask me how I'm doing, no.

I don't have a problem with getting older. I just have a problem with time. Stop time, please, I need to finish my book, call my best friend, plan better lessons, cook my grandma's chicken and dumplings. I need to travel the world, have kids, start a business, write a book. But time is unmerciful, moving past me everyday without even a word or a smile.

When will it be too late? Time is surely not waiting around for me. I've gotta do those things I need to do, whether time likes it or not. Can I keep up with time? Probably not, but I'll not wait around for time to keep passing me by.

Here's to 30 more.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sustainable Sunday: Broccoli Leaves

Broccoli leaves
I struggled to find something to write about on this Sustainable Sunday. The truth is I haven't been cooking much this summer, for a couple reasons.

As some of you are tired of hearing about, we are putting new flooring in our entire house, which is amazing and long overdue, but has taken longer than predicted. While we (actually mostly my incredibly talented husband) toil away at cutting, setting, and grouting tile, our house remains a cluttered and dusty mess. We just don't like being at home right now, and for me, competing with all the dust in the kitchen is less than ideal.

On top of that, I have been uber busy with work this year. I am back teaching middle school after my position at the elementary school was cut. This change is exciting for me, as it brings different challenges and I get to work with many teachers I respect and enjoy. It's just a whole lot of work starting from scratch in a new position with new classes and new subjects to teach. What I really mean to say is, I'm having trouble keeping up and staying positive. I'd love to be that person who embraces change and challenge with lots of energy and enthusiasm. In real life, I'm about to turn 30 and am just kinda over the constant change and challenge that is my job. That's all.

Broccoli overthrow in my garden. Look at all those leaves!
Can we get back to eating sustainably? I've been experimenting in my garden this year with some big ticket items like cabbage, eggplant, and broccoli. The broccoli has grown very well, but every time I harvest the crowns I wonder if it's worth the real estate in my small garden. The yield is pretty small compared to the room it takes up.

It turns out the leaves of the broccoli plant are edible. Rejoice fellow gardeners! Although, maybe I am way behind and you already knew this. You'll want to pick the leaves while they are still small and tender, bigger leaves will be more bitter and fibrous. You can cook them as you would chard, kale, or collards. I don't juice, but this would probably be a great addition to a juice or smoothie. If you do decide to use the larger leaves, remove the stem which will be hard to chew. Or, add them raw to this salad.

"Costco" Style Broccoli Salad
Also featured on Kahakai Kitchen 
serves 8-10 as a side

5 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups chopped broccoli leaves
1 cup shredded carrot
1 green onion, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup roasted & salted almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 cup mayo
1/2 white vinegar
3 TBL sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper
black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Chop salad ingredients and toss them in the bowl to coat. Allow the broccoli to soak up the dressing in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Great as a potluck item. Enjoy!


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