Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sustainable Sunday: Eat That Pumpkin

Pumpkin and black bean burrito guts

I was happily sipping an Octoberfest draft and watching a World Series game at our local sports bar yesterday when the Halloween spirit crept up on me. Surrounded by several annihilated revelers with the sun on our backs, we started at a man shuffling drunkenly outside of the bar. He was having a hard time staying upright and we watched him carefully, concerned he may pitch himself into a nearby patch of sharp lava rock. He turned toward us and I gasped at his bloody, bandaged face. If only he could have seen me to benefit from this naive reaction. He was, of course, simply dressed as a zombie for the weekend's Halloween festivities.

Pumpkin casserole with bleu cheese

So now I'm officially ready for tricks and treats. Bring on the candy and costumes and popcorn and cider. Bring on the scary movies and plastic cobwebs and yes, please, more candy. And let's carve pumpkins but let's also eat pumpkins. Here in Hawaii the Kabocha squash is quite common, and since I'm fairly obsessed with its sweet, sweet flesh, I have many recipes at the ready.

Kabocha squash ravioli

On this Sustainable Sunday, find yourself a locally grown pumpkin, try one of these recipes, root for Detroit, and watch Pet Sematary or some such quality horror flick.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Tacos

Squash Sandwiches (2 ways)

Little Slices of Orange

Kabocha Squash Ravioli

Sweet Potato Casserole with Bleu Cheese (sub pumpkin)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sustainable Sunday: Ice Cream Bean

Introducing the world's funnest fruit! Or is it most fun fruit? You'd think a teacher would know this stuff. Anyway, this bean is fun to eat!

Ice cream beans aren't really a bean at all. They are a fruit that grows on a tree right here in Hawaii. To eat, simply split the bean open and eat the white fluff that surrounds the black seeds. Watch this video to see how it's done.

It's a lot like eating a sweet cotton ball. A super delicious sweet cotton ball. I've never had anything like it. Fun in a bean! Bean fun.

These ice cream beans were found at the Keauhou Farmers Market along with armloads of other goodies including mac nut oil, tomatoes, Kabocha squash, limes, and breadfruit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sweet and Sour Poundcake

You take a sour thing. A lemon. You take a sweet thing. Sugar. You mix them. You get another sweet thing. It's science. It's life. It's a lot of short sentences.

The lemon represents the bad times. The time you drove to work in your gardening shoes. Or the entire day you spent in the kitchen and none of your recipes turned out. Maybe you've had a sour year infused with depression or stress or the loss of a loved one.

All of us in the Joy the Baker podcast community got word of some sour news recently. Veronica, a dedicated fan of the podcast, passed away not long ago due to complications in surgery. Tim, her husband, wrote in to let us all know what happened. Tim, my warmest aloha goes out to you.

It's just like that you know. We're here and then we're not here. It's sour. So, just like in this recipe for lemon poundcake, I suggest we add some sugar. Go right now and tell your dearest you love them. Make this cake for a friend. Volunteer your time somehow. Give your co-worker a pat on the back. Call your mom. Think good thoughts.

Because when you add a sour thing and a sweet thing, you get a sweet thing. Veronica's husband Tim suggested volunteering somewhere to honor Veronica's memory. I'm going to start taking a garbage bag with me every time I go to the beach to fill with trash. How can you make this sour time sweet? To begin with, make this cake, and think of Veronica and think of Tim and think of all the people you love.

Sour + Sweet = Sweet

Lemon Poundcake
recipe from Joy the Baker

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 325.  Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside.  Cream butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer.  In the mean time, work the lemon zest into the granulated sugar.  This process should take about five minutes, and the sugar will become very fragrant.  Add the sugar to the butter mixture and continue creaming.  Add the lemon and vanilla extract.  Add eggs one at a time, beating for about one minute each.  Scrape down the bowl after each addition.  Slowly add the sifted flour and baking powder.  Don't over mix in the electric mixer.  Bring the ingredients together with a wooden spoon.  Pour into a greased and floured pan and bake for 60- 75 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sustainable Sunday: Beef Kidneys

Against my better judgement, and the advice of most on the old internet, I am stewing some beef kidneys. It's just that I keep seeing them for sale in the "grass-fed beef" section at the store and got curiouser and curiouser. There was a big stamp on them that said "Eat Me." So we will.

Let's get straight to it. These kidneys stink to high heaven. And I'm not the squeamish sort. As I've often told my husband, as long as it's dead no amount of gore really bothers me, but the smell is a little hard to take. I followed all of the tips I could find on ridding the kidneys of this smell; I blanched them, rinsed them, salted then rinsed them, soaked them in milk then rinsed them, and braised before adding to a crockpot with lots of veggies and spices. Basically, I cooked the piss out of them. Literally.

...Excuse me while I laugh at my own joke...

So now this stewish concoction is bubbling away in the slow cooker. I'm not going to include a recipe until I've tried it but I will tell you that I used Okinawan sweet potatoes, Maui onion, carrots, garlic, shoyu, ketchup, and a bunch of spices.

Here's to hoping this Sustainable Sunday stew is edible.

Buy local, it matters!

The stew came together nicely. The kidneys taste vaguely of liver. However. There is a smell. Proceed at your own risk.

Beef kidney stew

Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Ways to Get Motivated

Dawson wants my sandwich

As great as sitting on the couch watching episode after episode of Dawson's Creek sounds, there are actually lots of things I really should be doing instead.

Ya know, like painting the badly scuffed baseboards and door jams in our house, submitting first quarter grades, or developing a new recipe for the upcoming Kona coffee recipe contest. But, here I sit,  eating scotchmallows and drinking tea, perpetually mesmerized by Pacey Witter.

People, I'm in serious need of some motivation. I do, however, have a few tricks up my sleeve.

1. Listen to some uplifting tunes. I have a special Pandora station dedicated to my good female friends Pat Benatar, Cindy Lauper, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Janis Joplin, and Stevie Nicks. They always know what to say.

2. Watch an uplifting movie. Careful here. Some movies seem inspiring because they're our favorites, but films that play too heavily on our nostalgic sensibilities might bring us down even more. "Almost Famous," "The Karate Kid," and "A League of Their Own" are my go-tos.

3. Get out. If you are stuck in front of the TV, go to the next room. If you are stuck behind the wheel, take a different route home. If you are stuck in a dorm room, go to a coffee shop. Get out, get away. Fresh air is good for your synapses.

4. Make a list, set a deadline, divide your work in chunks. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Could this list be a little more cliched? That's why I'm skipping number 5 to say that, you know what? Sometimes nothing works. Sometimes life sits on your head while you're sleeping and all you can do is crawl deeper under the covers. Sometimes when all you want is to be highly productive, creative, and efficient you only get  frustrated, twisted, and buffered down with an inferiority complex.

I don't have that magic touch called "drive," but I do have something else, it's called "grit." Life can keep sitting on my head, but I'll figure out a way to move forward, however slowly. Sometimes this involves chocolate and Joshua Jackson. I can't help that.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sustainable Sunday: Here Fishy, Fishy

Sustainably raised Kona Kampachi

My soon-to-be brother-in-law recently returned from another summer fishing for salmon in Alaska. We love having him home and we also love having our freezer stocked with the freshest and most sustainable fish out there.

Being a northwesterner, salmon happens to be my favorite fish. Unfortunately, I don't buy it much because salmon doesn't exactly swim all the way to Hawaii, and I prefer to buy and eat locally raised or caught fish. Which leads us to today's Sustainable Sunday topic, how the heck do we make sustainable fish choices?

The first thing to do is reduce or eliminate our fish intake. I know, I know we gotta get our omega-3s, but these important fats can be found in lots of other foods including flax seeds and olive oil. Keep in mind that most omega-3 supplements are made from fish oils, so be sure to check the label if you are going that route. Scientists are predicting an end of edible ocean dwelling fish by 2050 if current consumption continues, so I'd say it's kinda crucial that we all take eating less fish seriously.

In real life many of us do eat some fish. Hey me too! So let's figure out which fish to bring home that won't contribute to the overfishing problem. In Hawaii, stores must mark the source of their seafood, but if you live in a place where this is not required, get to know the person behind the fish counter, they are most likely full of helpful information. Also, get to know which fish are local to your area, the less the fish has travelled the tastier it will be. Here are some online resources to help you sort it out:

Monterey Bay Aquarium: find seafood recommendations through their search engine, pocket guides, and iPhone apps.

NOAA - FishWatch: everything you ever wanted to know about fish, including farming practices.

NELHA: if you are on the Big Island and haven't gone on the NELHA tour, it is must. Learn all about Hawaii's energy and aquaculture future.

I hope that helps. If you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments below. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Up Country Bakery & Cafe in Captain Cook, HI

Bagel with lox & breakfast burrito at Up Country

It's not often that I get REALLY excited about a new restaurant. As you can imagine, living in a tourist center means restaurants come and go nearly as often as the tides.

Dustin & Cruiser soaking up some rays outside Up Country

Up Country Bakery & Cafe, located 30 minutes south of Kona in Captain Cook, makes food to get really excited about.

Oatmeal cookies with cream cheese frosting at Up Country

It's your usual cafe fare with an island twist. The homemade bagels, breads, and pastries won't disappoint. Plenty of vegan, vegetarian, organic, and gluten-free options to choose from. Everything we ate here was fresh, simple, affordable, and filling. There is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, the staff is super friendly, and I'm happy to say I will definitely be back.

I was not paid or compensated in any way to write this review. Check out my other (boring but to-the-point) reviews on Yelp

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What's in my toolbox?

Kitchen gadgets I can't live without currently:

From top left, clockwise

Stand-up knife sharpener. Simply stand on the counter and drag knife through. Takes the guess work out of free-hand sharpening.

Microplane grater/zester. Works wonders with ginger and parmesan.

Madoline slicer. A dream with onions.

Boy scout style can opener. Tried and true, never breaks, super-cheap. I got tired of paying big bucks for can openers that only lasted a year, these little guys never fail.

Wooden spatula. Great for stir-frying and just general stirring. Won't melt, like plastic, or get too hot, like metal.

Last but not least, my beloved woo-woo. Or as most people call them, an immersion blender. Awesome for soups, mine comes with a mini chopping attachment that I use to make salad dressings, pesto, and marinades.

What's in your toolbox? Please share here or visit MauiShopGirl to find out what others have tucked away.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...