I hope everyone is feeling warmed and at peace. Thank you to each and every person who responded to this gift of Reiki. I am so happy I could end this year and begin the next with you on such a wonderful note.
My warm up exercises began this morning at 4, and Reiki about 30 minutes later. It was a very unusual session for me. I was aware of three distinct phenomena I had not experienced before. The most profound was the change in energy when I transitioned from healing for those on my regular healing list to those on our special New Year’s Eve list. The energy “ball” that I sense and in which I hold the folks to whom healing is sent usually pulses outward strongly and rhythmically, but this shifted quite dramatically to a very gentle, wave-like sensation. It grew in strength but remained wave-like in its rhythm for the entire 45 minutes it lasted on its own. The session ended just before 6:30, and I was surprised how much time had passed once I looked at the clock!
For everyone across the Dateline, I know you are already well into the New Year, and as all the rest of us join you “in the future” I want to wish you all good health, laughter around great meals with your family and friends, and love:
Rowena, Dario, Pammie, Stephanie, Olga, Lyssa, Lorraine, Ate Belinda, Uncle Moj, Anne, Kat, Mom and Dad Cruz, Seth, Sophie, Andy, Dhivya, Laurie, Diane, Alison, Troy, Cynthia, Leonardo, Lauren, Vanessa, Gladys, Stephen, Jeff, Tracy, Vicki, Cath, Bhavana, Darlene, PJ, Ron, June, Robert, Maia, Manisha, Nicola, Patrick, Jennifer, Nicolette, Nicolas, Flore, Joyce, Elizabeth, James, William, Jessica, Jennifer, Stacey, Amanda, Kendra, Jeff, Angela, Victor, Masato, Debi, Carla, Leesa, Victoria, Andreas, Paula, Kit, Vann, Malinda, Alysa, Craig, Ruth, Debi, Ulrike, Ditmar, Izzy, Jen, Ken, Louie, Ernest, Ruth, Ron, Cathy, Barbara, Peter, Daniel, Andrew, Jo, Robert, Medha and Divyesh . . .
Happy New Year 2008!
UPDATE: Resources if you would like to explore more about Reiki here.
. . . the first programmed station on your car radio is your local NPR station
(you’re DEFINITELY a public radio geek if the second programmed station is also tuned to NPR)
. . . you can tell what time of the day it is by what NPR show is currently on the radio
. . . you know the difference between NPR and PRI
. . . you want Carl Kasell’s voice on your home answering machine
. . . you think Derrick Malama is talking to you when he says Aloha in the mornings (Hawaii only)
. . . you wake up to public radio
. . . you could pick out Ira Glass’ voice in a crowded room, but wouldn’t recognize him if he was standing on your big toe
. . . you have stood in line to get tickets for a live taping of A Prairie Home Companion and still saw the movie of the same name
. . . you are a member of your local public radio station
. . . you know the difference between Terry Gross and Liane Hansen
. . . you listen to ancient episodes of British radio game shows that your friends in the U.K. can’t believe are still on the air in the U.S.
. . . you think listening to commercial radio when public radio is off the air (e.g., during national disasters) is a painful experience
. . . the first thing you do when you rent a car in a strange city is turn the dial all the way to the left to look for a station
. . . you know who all these people are just by their first names: Derrick, Noe, Kayla, Lillian, Ray, Wayne, Cedric, Beth-Ann (Hawaii only)
. . . you think Ray and Tom Magliozzi are funny
I'm a public radio geek. And proud of it, too. T and I have been members of public radio wherever we've lived, but especially so here. Hawaii is one of the rare places in the world where geeks such as myself have not one, but two, public radio stations to choose from each and every day. Hawaii public radio provides not only the diverse national and international news programming one can’t find in other media streams, but also insightful and in-depth local news during the day. It also has the only Hawaiian language news cast on radio.
But it’s not just news. If you’d like to hear and learn more about contemporary Hawaiian music, you will find 3 hours of listening pleasure on Kanikapila Sunday and Music of Hawai’i every Sunday afternoon (1-4pm HST). Or you can hear short stories written by local authors and read aloud by local actors on Aloha Shorts every Tuesday evening at 6:30. The actors’ readings fully bring to life the humor, pathos, and wisdom in these stories, especially capturing Hawaii's distinctive pidgin. (This is one show I hope will soon be made available as podcasts, too.)
If you live beyond Hawaii’s airwaves, you can still listen to these and most of Hawaii public radio’s original broadcasts in a live audio stream here. For a complete program guide for KIPO, the news, talk and contemporary music station, check here; and for sister station KHPR, the classical music and news venue, click here.
I’ve been a supporter and fan of public radio since it first came to Guam in 1994. I was a free-loading listener for a year, then decided to step up and become a member, too. When I stopped by the studio one evening to drop off my check, I was solicited to also become a volunteer. I agreed, thinking I was going to stuff envelopes or man a fundraising phone line. Instead I was asked to take a radio control board for 3 hours every Wednesday evening. Hmmm, I’m pretty "mechanically challenged." But I was told I would be trained well by the operator whose shift I was taking over. The trainer I met on the appointed day was very patient, if a little bemused by my dearth of competency on the control board (I put Post-its with numbers and arrows on each sliding control button I had to use). But since all the programming was pre-taped, it left us with 3 hours to talk, in between half-hourly station announcements. So talk we did. We talked again the next week, and the next, before he flew off for a month to Thailand. And we still talk — about music and politics, books and computers, poetry and food. Every day, just as we did that first evening twelve years ago this day.
Are you a fan of public radio? Tell us what do you love about your public radio station!
I've thought about this for a couple of weeks. And I hesitated only because I can still see vividly the skeptical looks of my own friends and family the first time I tell them about this. It's that "Oka-a-a-ay, what crazy thing are you talking about now" look. (Deep breath) Okay, here goes.
I am offering to every person who comes across this post the gift of Reiki healing this New Year's Eve. On that day I will include in my daily Reiki distance healing session, every person who requests a healing by [sending an email] below. As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, for over two years I have been a Reiki practitioner in the second-degree, which just means that I can offer healing to persons who are not physically present in front of me — you can be in the next room or on the other side of the planet, and receive healing. I practice daily self-healing with Reiki, and usually end with a distance healing session for close friends and family who have accepted Reiki to heal physical, emotional and spiritual hurt.
A quick recap: "Reiki is a form a energy healing and balancing that was developed and named by Japanese researcher and teacher, Usui Mikao, in the late 19th century. Dr. Usui studied many ancient healing arts in Asia, including India. He distilled what he learned into the practice he called, Reiki — a term coined from the Japanese words, Rei, meaning “universal” and Ki, meaning “life energy.” . . . [In] Reiki, the healer does not direct or in any way control the energy — she is only a conduit; instead, it is the patient’s responsibility to accept the energy, which flows always where it is needed most. "
Some important things to know about Reiki to assist you in your decision whether you want to accept this gift.
Reiki is not based on any religion or faith practice — there is no calling to any god, saint or other personification. Personally, I am a Roman Catholic, and when I practice Reiki I only pray that I may be empty of any bias or need to control the outcome. When done in person, the healer lays her hands above the recipient's body in different positions, moving from head to feet or directed in a place where healing is desired (a particular backache, for instance). In distance healing, the healer simply thinks on the person requesting healing at an agreed time and place.
Reiki does not require that the recipient believe in Reiki or know anything about it. Only two things are required. First, and most important, the recipient must want to be healed and must ACCEPT HELP. This may sound self-evident, but I know from my own experience that some people find it hard to accept help, any kind of help. I do. The first time I experienced healing in my first Reiki course I had all kinds of barriers that blocked the energy flow. I thought I wanted healing, I thought I was receptive to it. But it wasn't until my teacher pointed out that I was resisting the healing and said, "it's okay to receive help, you know" that I took a deep breath, then began to feel the energy she and the other students were sending. If you're a caregiver or nurturer by nature, it's important that you give yourself permission to accept help.
The second requirement is that the recipient take responsibility for their healing. This is demonstrated by returning the energy value of the healing received. Among friends and family, exchange of energy value between the healer and the recipient is part of the give-and-take of a close relationship. But with those who are strangers to the healer, the recipient most often demonstrates the value of the healing received with a monetary payment. I'm not asking for anything like that. The value I ask for is a personal kindness to someone who is a total stranger to you. This does not have to cost money, but it does have to be personal (person to person), and it does have to cost something — whether it's personal discomfort from looking a homeless person in the face and greeting her warmly, or taking time from the holiday frolicking to visit a hospice or elder care home, or finding something kind to say to the harried retail clerk at the mall. How do I get value from something you do for someone who is a total stranger to us both?? Trust me, I just do.
Reiki does not provide an instant cure. It is healing that is part of a process of correcting imbalance. Normally, Reiki practitioners will work with a client for several sessions lasting a half-hour to an hour, depending on the need. Many healthy people enjoy the warmth and deep relaxation they receive during Reiki and will seek healing as a way to keep their energy flow in check and themselves healthy (maybe that's you, too).
The most common side effect of Reiki healing is falling into deep sleep during or the evening after a session. I'm not kidding.
So you're not sick. There's nothing wrong with you. Why would you want to do this? Energy imbalance causes all kinds of mess. This knowledge is at the heart of the great traditional medicine practices in the world -- Traditional Chinese Medicine, Indian Ayurvedic, Japanese Kampo, and so many others. We're seeing this on a global scale, too, ecologically, politically, socially. Many of the aches and ills we experience daily (sleeplessness, anxiety, headaches, back aches, cramps) and even great ills (cancer, heart disease) are caused by energy imbalances to which we are completely blind. But our bodies know what is out of whack — and given a chance, the body will begin to heal itself. I'm offering this healing on this particular day so we can all participate in correcting an energy imbalance in ourselves (maybe) and in the world (definitely). You will have taken a brave step and spent energy in a kindness to a stranger, and now a gift of energy healing will come back to you. See how that flow works?
How to take advantage of this offer? Simple. Please leave a comment with 1) your full name (first and last), 2) the city and country you will be in on Dec. 31st, and 3) this statement: I would like Reiki healing. That's it!
Only your first name and the city/country you are from will appear in the comments that the public sees -- I moderate and will remove any identifying information before publication. But your name and location are necessary for me to include you in the healing. If you are a blogger who writes anonymously under a "nom de web" (as I do), just leave the URL field in the comment form blank so there's no connection between your real name and your blog.
I don't need to know anything about why or for what the healing is intended. Reiki healers do not guide or direct healing in any way, the energy goes where it is needed.
The final thing is that if you would like healing for other people in your life, please have them leave a comment themselves. We need to establish a connection as healer and recipient, and they must take responsibility for and accept the healing personally.
On New Year's Eve day, I will start my normal Reiki session at 0430 Hawaii Standard Time (1430 UTC/GMT), and this normally lasts an hour. Depending on how many folks participate, this could go longer. You do not need to remember the hour or even be aware (or awake!) during the session, I mention the time only as general information. I will check comments and include all who have asked for healing up to the time I start.
I hope you will do me the honor of accepting this gift. Thank you for hearing me out and reading this far into a non-food related post! If you have any questions, any at all, about Reiki or about this gift, please don't be shy. Your interest is valued and your question is welcome.
UPDATE: Resources if you would like to explore more about Reiki here.
As you all can attest, time is really at a premium right now. Anything that will get dinner on the table quickly and with delicious results (does that go without saying by now?) is a gift and a joy. Well, since I had some extra Sweet & Spicy Nuts from the last post, and all the ingredients to whip together the sauce for the Sweet & Spicy Prawns that we put in a recipe kit for friends (same post), I went with the easy meal and made the prawns for us last night. The shiitake mushrooms were a last minute addition, only because I already had some re-hydrated from the previous evening's preparations. As it's still flu and cold season, the shiitake are an added boost for our immune systems, along with the heavy dose of ginger in the sauce.
The local ginger available here in the Islands is so fresh, it can be quite tender (no woody filaments), with a papery-thin skin that will peel off with a firm rub with one's bare hands. When it is this fresh, I thinly sliced the ginger instead of grating it as the recipe suggests. The tender spiced ginger can be consumed as part of the dish, similar in texture to bamboo shoots. From opening the fridge to decide on something for dinner to setting the table, this meal was done in 35 minutes. We actually had to wait for the rice to finish cooking and steaming after the shrimp was already done. (Anyway, it was a chance to snap a few photos!)
SWEET & SOUR PRAWNS
1 lb./455g raw prawns, boneless chicken or firm tofu
1 egg white
3 TBL. cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBL. sake or water
Marinate prawns for 20 minutes in egg white, cornstarch, salt, water. If using chicken, cube, then marinate. For tofu, press dry, then cut in large (2 in./5cm) cubes, and either deep-fry, or pan-fry to brown all sides. Do not marinate tofu.
2 TBL. ketchup
1 TBL. sambal oelek or garlic-chili sauce
1-½ TBL. sugar
1-½ TBL. rice wine or apple juice
1 TBL. cornstarch stirred in 2 TBL. water
Mix together ketchup, sambal/chili-garlic sauce, sugar, rice wine and cornstarch mixture. Set aside.
Heat 3 cups oil in a pan or wok to smoking point. Fry half of the prawns, chicken or tofu. Remove when meat or tofu is evenly browned and floats to surface of oil, drain well on paper toweling. Re-heat oil, then fry second batch. Meanwhile, prepare sauce.
5 TBL. oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 TBL. grated fresh ginger (or thinly sliced if very fresh)
1 1/2 cup water or broth
6 medium shiitake mushrooms, re-hydrated, squeezed dry and quartered (not traditional, optional)
1 bunch scallions, washed and chopped finely
1/2-3/4 cup (60-90g) Sweet & Spicy Nuts (chopped)
In another pan or wok put 5 tablespoons of oil and fry garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. When fragrant, add mushrooms, if using. Add Sauce and water or broth, cook together for about 1 minute. Add cooked prawns, chicken or tofu, and stir to coat with sauce.
Remove from pan and garnish with chopped scallions and Sweet & Spicy Nuts. Serve with hot rice and your choice of vegetables.
This recipe has been submitted to the Ginger Event sponsored by the unstoppable zorra at 1x umrühren bitte.
(The lead photo is entered in the CLICK! Photo Event sponsored by Bee and Jai at Jugalbandi -- a chance for amateur photographers to play with a food theme and get some feedback. December's theme is, of course, Nuts!
Is this droolworthy??)
It's the season for gifting and remembering not just family and friends, but colleagues and teachers, veterinarians and mechanics — all those who touch our lives on a regular basis. A gift from the kitchen, like all hand-made gifts, is a gift of love. But many folks are wary of sweet treats at this time of year when so many sweet temptations are swirling and calling ("Taste me" . . . "I only come around once a year")
With this in mind, I opted to make Sweet and Spicy Nuts, instead of our usual Dark Chocolate Merlot Truffles. Tree nuts, such as the almonds, walnuts and pecans used here, provide a healthy dose of unsaturated fats — which can reduce the LDL (bad) cholesterol in one's blood and lower the risk of heart disease. (A) In fact, since 2003, the US Food and Drug Administration has recommended daily consumption of 1.5 ounces of tree nuts as part of a low saturated fat and cholesterol diet to reduce the risk of heart disease. Tree nuts are also an excellent source of heart-healthy vitamins and minerals. Although the FDA does warn against sweetened nuts because of the higher calories, these nuts are much less sweet than commercially sweetened nuts, and they're on offer as a healthier alternative to my beloved chocolate truffles.
This easy recipe coats the the nuts in egg white and spiced sugar mix, then they are baked for until the coating hardens. The recipe is incredibly versatile — change up the nuts, or the spiced sugar mix to suit your taste (try cumin, cinnamon, chipotle or Aleppo peppers, Chinese five spice, quatre epices, pumpkin pie spice, whatever your imagination conjures up!).
The final bonus is that you can dress up these nuts for the harried gourmets in your life as part of a Recipe Kit. Include the nuts, and your pre-made sauce or salad dressing, and a recipe card to put it all together in a snap. This year I tried to re-create the wonderful flavor of a sweet and spicy shrimp with candied walnuts dish we had in a downtown restaurant: the pre-mixed sauce and a cup of spiced nuts will allow the recipient of this package to add his or her own chicken or shrimp, and have a gourmet Chinese meal on the dinner table in in the time it takes to cook a pot of rice. But maybe you have a chicken salad recipe, or a stir-fried noodle dish, anything you think your recipient will enjoy to which these nuts will add that "je ne sais qua" touch.
SWEET & SPICY MIXED NUTS
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 large egg white
6 cups unsalted nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, natural almonds and/or cashews
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease two 101/2” x 151/2” jelly-roll pans. (Or do in batches)
In small bowl, stir sugar, salt, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne.
In large bowl, beat egg white to soft peaks. Stir nuts into egg white. Sprinkle sugar mixture; toss well until nuts are completely coated.
Spread nuts evenly in pans, no overlapping. Bake nuts 25 minutes, or until golden brown and dry, stir twice during baking. Quickly transfer nuts to waxed paper, and spread in single layer to cool until hard. Package as desired in tightly covered container and store at room temperature up to a month.
Gifting tip: These beautiful heavy cut-glass tumblers made perfect vessels for the nuts before wrapping. After nibbling their heart-healthy treats, the recipients can use the glasses as a candy dish, votive candle holder, or a drinking cup (what a novel idea) in lieu of disposable cups at the office. Thrift stores and flea markets often carry vintage glass, and even crystal, alternatives to expensive but cheaply-made "partyware." Don't be afraid to re-use and recycle!
(A) Read more about the health benefits of tree nuts in this WebMD article: The New Low-Cholesterol Diet: Nuts
More Holiday Gift Ideas: Green Tea Shortbread, Nut Horns, Cocoa Cherry Biscotti
Fresh fish, fast. And easy. That's what comes to mind when I think of fish tacos. As the myriad holiday and end-of-the-year preparations are underway, it's the kind of quick and healthy meal every busy cook has tucked in her or his sleeve. The fish tacos I first fell in love with over 10 years ago had lightly battered and deep-fried fillets; but more than anything, it was the garlic sauce that put it over the top for me -- very distinctive, the perfect binding agent between the sweet fish and the crunchy but bland cabbage. I've since adapted the dish of my memories to one using flaked grilled fish, to save on both calories and time. Fresh or frozen fillets work equally well -- choose any flaky white meat fish. The key is the fresh garlic sauce.
Purchased tortillas and pre-shredded coleslaw mix means dinner can be on the table in 30 minutes, and everyone can have some fun putting together their own tacos as they eat. But these also dress up well — we've included them with beef and chicken fajitas as part of a festive dinner cooked at the table with friends. (See last month's post on How-to-do Tabletop Cooking) For a fajita-style presentation, or for tabletop cooking in general, slice the fish against the grain before marinating, and cut marination time to 15 minutes.
FRESH FISH TACOS
for 4 persons
2 1lb. fillets of skinned white-meat fish, such as ahi or snapper
Juice of 1 large lemon, about 3 TBL.
1 tsp. cumin
1 TBL. oil
Combine lemon juice, cumin and oil. Place fish in glass or other non-reactive dish, pour marinade over fillets and coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup mayonnaise
3-4 TBL. milk (optional)
Place garlic and salt in mortar and grind to make a smooth paste. Combine with mayo and milk, if using, to reach desired consistency. Set aside to serve.
1 medium head of cabbage, finely shredded
2 limes, quartered
20-30 fresh corn tortillas, warmed and kept covered
sliced pickled jalapenos (not traditional)
homemade or bottled salsa (not traditional)
Remove fish from marinade and lightly pat dry. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Grill or broil for 5 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Immediately dress with fresh squeezed lime juice, and flake meat with fork.
Place warmed tortillas, cabbage, garlic sauce and other optional garnishes at the table with flaked fish. Let each person make their own tacos as they eat. Can be served with rice and beans, too.
Ehrr, what were Santa and the Mrs. tucking in to in the Honolulu City Lights display two days ago — laulau? Looks very exotic and strange. Kinda scary, too, all wrapped up in one leaf! Well, do you like smoked pork? How about slow-cooked greens? Yeah?! You'll love laulau! Smoky pull-apart pork shoulder or butt are wrapped in meltingly tender greens (taro leaves, to be exact) and encased in non-edible ti leaves for steaming and presentation. A tiny piece of salted butterfish is included for seasoning, but does not impart a fish taste or smell to the meat or greens. Untie and remove the ti leaves to reveal a delicious ready-made meal.
Here in the islands, almost every supermarket carries vacuum-packed pre-cooked packages of laulau (3 in a pack) in the chilled section that need only a 30-minute steam or a shorter ride in the microwave-go-round. Cook a pot of rice, or pick up a bag or tub of poi (also in the chilled counter), and you have a nutritious instant meal (we have both poi and rice -- it's all about the starch . . .). We keep laulau in the freezer for those REALLY lazy days when even chopping onions or washing salad greens is too laborious, and T takes them to work for lunch too. (Separate the laulau into individual quart-size freezer bags unless you plan to cook 3 at a time).
If you're visiting the islands, many local drive-inns and the bento counters of the supermarkets will have hot, ready-to-eat laulau. On the Mainland, I've seen laulau both at the bento counter and in the frozen section at the Uwajimaya chain of Japanese/Asian groceries in the Northwest. I'd love to know if other Mainland markets, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, carry laulau, too. (You can leave a comment below or email me — thanks!) There is also a local fast-food chain, L&L Drive-inn, that has locations along the West Coast — I haven't tried them outside of Hawaii, but they might carry laulau as well.
What did you think of laulau the first time you tried it? Would you try it if you saw it after reading this?
Having had your photo op on the lawn of Honolulu Hale (pronounced HAH-leh) with the over-sized North Pole denizens vacationing in Hawaii (last post), it's time to see what's happening inside. Once through the doors of the Hale (City Hall) — and after your eyes adjust from the bright sun to the softer natural light of the the Hale atrium — you are met with a charming Christmas tree display organized and decorated by city and county employees. Each tree is sponsored by a department agency and sports a theme (recycling, protecting wildlife, family tradition, etc.). The first photo of the atrium is actually from last year's display because I forgot to take one this year, but this gives you an idea of the effect.
The blue Christmas palm tree is one of my favorites this year because it envisions a foxtail palm as a Christmas tree, which seems more practical in the tropics — and has lauhala (coconut woven) fish as decorations. It looks blurry because it's actually spinning, to simulate the fish swimming underwater (I think).
Santa goes local with an aloha shirt and grass skirt; an elf chef sports an aloha shirt and apron.
These little miniature houses represent a few of the many cultures at home in Hawaii: Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese and Portuguese (click on photo to enlarge)
All these last photos are from the same tree display hosted by the customer service department -- it's theme was protecting Hawaii's native species and using recycled materials to build "homes" for them.
At the foot of the tree are a mynah and a couple of mongoose; as well as a band of gecko fans plugging for the UH-Warriors in the Sugar Bowl.
These mice seem to be playing petanque (aka bocce) in front of their exquisitely constructed straw and wood house. The detail in the doors, lanai, and windows is inspired. As is this bird house cleverly recycled from a Zippy's chili tub and plastic eating utensils!
As you step back, the full effect of this creatively imagined and beautifully realized tree can be enjoyed. An endangered white fairy tern alights at the tree's top.
If you head through the atrium and to the right, then left just before the exit, you'll find a wreath display. Several dozen wreaths were made by schools and individuals for an annual island competition. They are all well-crafted, but here are four that really captured my attention. The first is from a local school championing conservation and recycling (something dear to my heart). The garden implements envisioned as a wreath is just darn clever!
This tribute to Queen Keopuolani by the women of her namesake dormitory at the Kamehameha Schools just took my breath away. There is such grace and power in the woman's form, which is covered in a decoupage of pictures of the Queen, as well as moss. The red and gold are the colors of the Ali'i, the native Hawaiian ruling class. The last wreath recycles dried native flora into a beautiful wreath that can be displayed long into the new year.
To see pictures of the Honolulu Hale Christmas Tree and lawn display with their lights all aglow for the opening night festivities, visit the Honolulu City Lights official site.
Christmas trees amid swaying palms, Menehune (Hawaiian "little people" of fable) on trains, Hawaiian sea turtles playing with penguins, a snow family braving the full tropical sun — must be Christmas time in Hawaii! The annual Honolulu City Lights display is in full swing again in front of city hall, Honolulu Hale. It's a whimsical glimpse of how the Clauses might spend Christmas morning after Santa's hectic dash around the globe the night before. Hawaii is one of Santa's last stops on this side of the International Date Line, so it's time to kick off the slippahs (uh . . . boots), and have a tropical cocktail juice and some local grindz (laulau and poi). (Now that's what I'm talking about!)
Next in store: The Christmas Tree display inside Honolulu Hale . . .
Earlier this week I had ground pork and beef out and was debating whether to go "loaf" or "ball." Italian flavors? Maybe Thai? How about Greek? I was leaning toward a feta/spinach flavor combination — which is sort of Greek, so I thought of looking at Laurie's Mediterranean cooking site, Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, for other ways to go. Wouldn't you know it, her latest post was for Soutzoukakia (soo-tsoo-kah-kee-ah), a hand-formed sausage made from ground pork and beef, and simmered in a red wine sauce. I'm pre-disposed to like anything long-simmered in a red wine sauce, so this was a no-brainer. It also allowed me to play with Aleppo pepper again since both the meat "balls" and sauce had this special pepper. After tracking down this spice for 2 years, I finally happened upon it at The Souk spice store at Pike Place Market in Seattle last January. The Plasto recipe that we had last week also called for Aleppo pepper, but it's flavor was not as pronounced as it was this time. It's a very flavorful and mild heat that reminded me of Spanish hot pimenton.
The recipe calls for the meats and spices to be combined, then formed into football-shaped "sausages" and browned before being added to the simmering red wine tomato sauce. It comes together fairly quickly, and the house was redolent with a rich meaty smell that T commented on as soon as he stepped through the door. We served this as recommended, with feta (I still got my cheese fix!) and kalamata olives; but skipped the rice in favor of fresh-garlic bruschetta to sop up the wonderful sauce and to ensure we got our garlic dose for the day. The cumin and pepper really differentiate this from its Italian cousin, as does the surprise addition of red wine vinegar. This is another one for the keeper files. Here is Laurie's Soutzoukakia recipe on her site. I used only half the given quantity for the sausages (11 palm-sized footballs), and shaped the rest as meatballs, fried them, and immediately froze them for future use (maybe with grilled polenta?).
FRESH GARLIC BRUSCHETTA
1 loaf of French bread or a baguette
2-3 large cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
Halve loaf or baguette lengthwise. Toast or broil until just golden brown. Immediately rub garlic cloves over all cut surfaces of the loaves. Drizzle with olive oil. Great with any dish with a sauce, especially these Soutzoukakia, but also Crab Cioppino, Crawfish Etouffe, Chicken Barbera, and Stuffed Cabbage.
We only ate half the sausages for dinner so there were these tempting ground meat things swimming in delicious gravy in the fridge the next morning. You know what that means, don't you? Loco-moco, of course! For the yet-to-be-initiated, loco-moco is an Hawaiian breakfast favorite consisting of a bed of rice topped with a meat patty and fried egg, and covered in brown gravy! We christened this version . . . you guessed it — the Soutzou-moco! (You heard it here first, Folks!)
It's still pretty damp and dark, but the worst of the weather seems to be behind us (knock on wood!). Unfortunately, many folks on the Leeward (west) Coast and the North Shore are still without power because the electrical company still has to string up new lines to the 30 resurrected utility poles that were downed by yesterday's gusty winds. As the veteran of many many Super-typhoons (maximum sustained winds over 150mph) growing up and living on Guam, I feel their pain. It's usually at least a few weeks following any super typhoon before our village (Dededo, in the north of the island) would get power back. But in 1976, we had no power for 4 months after Supertyphoon Pamela came directly over Guam, THEN reversed direction and came back directly over the island again! Her 200mph winds in the eye wall hit the island in 2 directions so devastation was pretty widespread. So to make a short story long, this legacy has left it's mark on me in terms of disaster coping.
One mark has been to get creative with the canned goods we usually stock. Depending on how exotic your pantry stock is, you can make some really wonderful hot meals to get you through a power shortage. (Suggestions for how to stock a Basic, Expanded, or Exotic Pantry are offered in the "In the Pantry" section.) So starting with a Basic Pantry, if you've got canned tuna, canned tomatoes, some capers and/or olives (and maybe some anchovies) you can make this Penne con Tonno (penne with tuna). Of course, you don't have to wait for a power outage to try this — we made it with the fresh tuna our neighbors gave us in last month's post, and it's an easy meal-saver when you only have 30 minutes to put dinner together on a weeknight.
So light the candles, open a nice bottle of wine and you'll almost be sorry when the power does come back on!
PENNE (OR FARFALLE) CON TONNO
(for 2 persons, but easily doubles and triples)
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 TBL. olive oil (don't skimp on the oil, it will coat and flavor the pasta)
1/2 cup (or more, to your taste) olives (green, black, mixed), chopped or left whole
2-3 TBL. capers (I don't rinse for this recipe, but you can)
1/2 can (8oz/225g) diced tomatoes (pictures show roasted cherry tomatoes because that's what we had on hand that day)
2 anchovy fillets (you won't taste them in the final dish, I promise)
1 can (6oz/170g) tuna in olive oil, or water
1/2 box (230g) farfalle (bowtie), penne, or other pasta shape
flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)
Put water on to boil for pasta.
Saute garlic in oil over medium heat. Once garlic is fragrant, add olives, capers, tomatoes, and anchovies, and stir until the anchovies dissolve. Add tuna (including oil if using tuna in olive oil), and cook over low heat at least 10 minutes, with pan covered. (The last picture shows this same sauce made with fresh tuna.)
Cook pasta until barely al dente (cooking time will vary depending on pasta shape). Drain well, but don't rinse.
Turn heat to medium high for the sauce, move the sauce ingredients to the edges creating a hole in the center, and add hot pasta to the center. Fold sauce ingredients over pasta and coat well. Turn heat off, cover and let rest for 5 minutes while you open a bottle and set the table. Garnish with parsley, if using.
It's a bit of a mess here in not-at-all-sunny Oahu today — power lines and trees are on the roads, roofs have blown away, schools are closed, buses aren't running, many homes are without power. All this the result of a freak windstorm in the early morning hours. The weather reporter said the UV (ultra-violet) Index for today was 1 (it's usually 10-12), so that tells you how dark and dreary it is today, and will continue to be until the weekend. I always think of our poor visitors, some who are here on a vacation of a lifetime, some to escape the dreary weather in their cold hometowns. How awful to have come so far and then be told by the civil defense authorities that people should stay indoors, seas are too rough for boat travel or swimming.
So here's a little aloha to all of our wind-swept visitors (and to everyone in a colder clime): a ray of island sunshine in a cup, the Pina Colada Trifle. A fresh pineapple and rum cake is enveloped by a creamy, gently sweet coconut pudding. Easy to make, easy to serve. What could be better during this busy season? (The cake improves with one day's wait, so bake it early if time permits.)
PINA COLADA TRIFLE
Part I: Pineapple Rum Cake
12 TBL. (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (250g) brown sugar
6 egg yolks
3 cups (270g) sifted cake flour
1 TBL. + 1 tsp. (20 grams) baking powder
3/4 tsp. (5g) salt
½ cup (112 ml) dark rum
½ cup (112ml) milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups (360g) chopped fresh pineapple
Preheat oven to 350F (177C). Butter and flour 2 9-inch x 1-1/2 inch (23 x 3.75 cm) cake pans, or 1 13x9-inch pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.
Combine rum, vanilla and milk.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar on high until sugar dissolves and mixture is light. On medium speed, add egg yolks, one at a time, ensuring each yolk is incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down bowl. Add dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with rum mix, and ending with dry. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated, then increase mixer speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl. Add pineapple and fold in.
Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or when the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center. Cool in pan on wire rack.
Part II: Haupia (Coconut Pudding)
(This recipe produces a looser pudding than haupia served by itself. If you want to make Haupia squares, increase cornstarch to 4 TBL.)
1-½ cup (350ml) coconut milk (12 oz. can)
1 ½ cup (350ml) water
3-4 TBL. sugar
3 TBL. cornstarch
Combine water, sugar, and cornstarch and cook over low heat until just below simmering. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Slowly add coconut milk, stirring constantly. Keep stirring, shifting directions, and stirring across the center so the mixture is in constant motion and doesn’t burn. After 10 to 15 minutes the color will change from chalky opaque to shiny bright white, and the mixture will thicken. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.
To Assemble: Cut cooled cake into 1 in. (2.5cm) cubes. Place in individual wine glasses. Pour slightly cooled haupia over cake. When pudding has completely cooled, cover and chill until serving time. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh grated coconut.
Tabletop cooking need no longer be relegated to special nights out at fancy teppanyaki restaurants, where smiling chefs send shrimp and vegetables flying through the air. If you can live without the theatrics, you can grill or have sukiyaki or shabu-shabu at home anytime. It's a great family experience, and a wonderful way to entertain at home, allowing each family member or guest to add the meats or vegetables they desire to the pot or grill. We've done everything from fajitas, pancakes, teppanyaki, sukiyaki, Korean bulgogi and fish juhn, Japanese nabes and okonomiyaki, and this grilled Vietnamese style pork with rice vermicelli noodles.
Rather than buying an electric appliance that leaves you with a trailing electrical cord and extension to deal with, we recommend this simple butane stove that sits compactly on the table and has an easy-to-control flame. This model comes in a plastic case for carrying and storage, and retails here in Hawaii for less than $20. I have also seen sleek stainless steel models selling for closer to $70. The non-refillable butane cartridges are less than $2 a piece. If you're having a hard time finding a butane stove, try a Korean or Japanese grocery. The added bonus, especially for we who live in hurricane-earthquake-tsunami prone areas, this doubles as a handy emergency stove. In fact, we bought this for that latter purpose and had it in the house for almost a year before the little light bulb went on over my head, and I remembered a dinner with friends who used a butane stove to grill bulgogi at the table. That was such a fun meal! Why not make everyday meals more fun, too?
The cookware you use for tabletop cooking should be pans that do NOT have a long handle. With one or more persons reaching toward the hot pans, a long handle is easy to tip over, catch in a sleeve, or bump. With hot liquids and oils, and an open flame, it is an invitation to disaster to use any pot, pan or wok with a long handle. Here are some safer options.
For grilling, this yakiniku grill is ideal. This model is non-stick and includes a drain hole for the excess grease (you need to put a small bowl at the drain point to catch the hot oil). We use this for fajitas, pancakes, yakiniku (literallly, "grilled meat" in Japanese), and okonomiyaki. It retails between $20-25 (in Hawaii, sometimes Long's has it on sale too — same with the stove and butane cartridges). In a pinch, you could also use a shallow pan like the paella-style one we use for sukiyaki, below.
For soups and nabes, we used to use this 3 quart pot from All-Clad just because it was already in the kitchen, any similar pot will work. Recently we've acquired this beautiful stoneware nabe pot too. We make kimchee soup, nabes, and other quick soupy stew-like meals in these.
For sukiyaki and other braised dishes, this shallower paella-style pan from Calphalon works well. Photos of traditional cast-iron nabe and sukiyaki pans can be seen on this commercial site.
Here is a simple and tasty dish that's perfect for entertaining or to liven up a weekend meal at home. Thin slices of pork (you can certainly use beef or chicken, as well) are marinated in a sweet lemongrass marinade, grilled and served atop a bed of rice vermicelli noodles (called bun, "buhn") and fresh salad and herb base. Of course, you don't have to grill the meat at the table — prepare it all in the kitchen and simply serve this delicious "Vietnamese noodle salad"!
VIETNAMESE BBQ PORK BUN
Recipe for 4 persons
Marinade for 1 lb. (450g) pork, beef, or chicken
1 TBL. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. cornstarch
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots or 1/2 small onion, minced (about 3 TBL.)
1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and tender parts minced
2 TBL. fish sauce
1 TBL. oil
Thinly slice (as for sukiyaki) pork or beef. (In these photos I used pork sliced for tonkatsu, but that's too thick. Next time I'll get a thinner slice, or pound this cut thinner.) Or slice and pound thin chicken breasts or thighs. Combine marinade ingredients and add meat. Let marinate at least 1 hour, and up to 3 hours.
10 oz. (280g) bean sprouts (moyashi)
1 large bunch Thai basil
1 large bunch mint
1 large bunch cilantro
4 stalks scallions, roots trimmed
1 Japanese cucumber
1 head Romaine or leaf lettuce
1 package of rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water 30 minutes or until pliable
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped (optional)
Carrot Pickle (recipe below)
Wash and pick leaves off basil, mint and cilantro. Rough chop herbs and scallions and set aside.
Peel cucumber. Cut off ends, then cut into quarters lengthwise. Cut off seeds, then julienne. Cut lengths into 2" (5 cm) pieces. Set aside.
Wash and remove thick ends, if necessary. Julienne.
Blanch the soaked rice noodles in boiling water until they turn bright white, about 30 seconds. Drain and set aside.
Combine 3/4 of the herbs, cucumber and lettuce together. Place 1/4 of the salad in the bottom of a deep bowl (like a saimin or ramen bowl).
Coil 1/4 of the rice noodles over the salad in a mound.
Garnish noodles with remaining herbs, cucumber and Carrot Pickle (and peanuts, if using). Place garnished bowl, chopsticks and a small bowl with dipping sauce (Nuoc Nam, recipe below) in front of each diner.
Remove meat from marinade and arrange on serving platter. Lightly dab with paper towel to make sure it is not too wet (it will splatter in the hot oil).
Assemble the grill and place it where the cook can reach it safely (this meal is best prepared where one cook handles the raw meat, placing it on the grill — while other diners remove pieces to their bowls as the meat cooks). Set the grill pan securely on the stove notches to make certain it doesn't move around or slip. Put a catch bowl at the oil drip spout, if necessary. Turn on grill and allow pan to heat to cooking temperature. Lightly oil grill and carefully place slices on the pan (do not drop pieces onto oil, which will splatter). Have a clean plate on hand to remove meat as it cooks, if the diners don't keep pace with the cooking. Let folks remove cooked meat to their bowls and begin eating.
A final caveat: you have an open flame and hot liquids or oil on the table, so you do keep a close eye on the stove; and never allow young children to reach near the open flame. Also, since you're cooking meats with some fat on them, there will still be some splattering from the grill, so all diners should be warned of the possibility of splatters, no mater how careful you are. It should go without saying, too, that you probably want to try this out before inviting friends to participate so you have a better idea of how far the splattering oil can reach.
This photo is BBQ pork bun from our favorite restaurant. (See how thin the meat is?)
More tabletop cooking to come . . .
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TBL. sugar (I still use brown sugar)
6 TBL. fish sauce
2 TBL. lime juice
1/2 cup water
1 sliced serrano or bird's eye chile (optional)
Stir well until sugar dissolves. Divide into 4 dipping bowls.
2 medium carrots, shredded or julienned
1 TBL. sugar
1/4 cup water
2 TBL. rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Sprinkle carrots with sugar. Leave for 15 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over carrots. Set aside until needed.
UPDATE: Table-top Cooking, Part 2: Sukiyaki
The weather is quite dreary here this weekend and will remain so into the middle of next week, if you believe the weather guy. Our poor hibiscus looks quite weighed down by the heavy rains we got yesterday, doesn’t she?
Nevertheless, there’s a big game today at Aloha Stadium — the undefeated (11-0) University of Hawaii Warriors face off against the Washington Huskies in the last game of the regular season. The excitement on Oahu is palpable and infectious, even sweeping in sometimes-sports fans like yours truly. We casually tuned in to last week’s televised game against Boise State and then sat glued to the TV to the end. Luckily we still had Thanksgiving leftovers (ala tetrazzini) then because I was too into the game to cook.
(You can listen to today's game via the UH website here or watch on ESPN2)
This week we’re prepared with the perfect Hawaiian TV football-watching food: the venerable Portuguese bean soup. And judging by the empty Portuguese sausage shelf and dearth of ham hocks and shanks at my local supermarket yesterday, I’m guessing there are lots of soup pots bubbling away right now. This ultra-hearty spicy island classic rivals American style chili con carne in its variations and plain down-home comfort. For me the key ingredient is Hawaiian style Portuguese sausage, it’s quite distinct from its European ancestor and whatever the blend of spices they use here, it’s uniquely Hawaii. And ono. When we lived in Europe, I made this soup a couple of times using sausages (chouricos) from Portugal and those were good too, but in my heart I felt like something was missing.
The method I use for this (and most soups) is different in that I use a slow-cooker. This will require that you start at least 48 hours before you plan to serve, if you also want to de-fat the broth (which I do), at least 36 hours if you skip the cooling process. It does take a while, but I like the fact that I’m not tied to the stove making the broth or soup. In Europe we found a slow-cooker made in the U.K. that was 220-volt, and eliminated the need for a voltage-converter for a 110 volt machine. And the multiple draining and rinsing may seem like a bother, but according to Aliza Green in "The Bean Bible," this process, along with the parboiling, reduces the beans’ propensity to cause flatulence — so skip this step at your own peril! ; P
The substitution of mustard greens for cabbage is a new thing in the evolution of this soup for us — we tried this variation in a soup we had near Hilo on the Big Island a couple of years ago. The slightly bitter green brings a nice balance to the spicy meaty soup.
PORTUGUESE BEAN SOUP
Make the broth:
1 large smoked ham shank, whole
1 medium onion, peeled but left whole, or halved
4 whole cloves
4 celery heart branches, with leaves
2 large bay leaves
2 carrots, peeled and cut in large chunks
Stick cloves in onion halves or whole. Place all ingredients in 5 quart or larger slow-cooker. Cover with water, at least to 4/5 of the ham shank. Set slow cooker to High and cover. After an hour or so, check and remove scum rising to the surface. When water comes to a boil, turn setting to Low and leave for 8-10 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone.
Meanwhile, soak 8 oz. (225g) of rinsed red kidney beans in 8 cups (2L) cool water. After 4 hours, drain the water, rinse, and cover with 6 cups (1.5L) cool water. Repeat after 4 more hours.
When the broth is done, remove the ham shank and all the vegetables. Debone and shred or chop the meat, and return to broth. You can either cool the broth overnight and remove the fat in the morning, or proceed to finish the soup as is. These pictures show the cooled and defatted broth.
If you choose to cool the soup, after de-fatting, return to slow-cooker and set on High for one hour before proceeding.
For the soup:
10 oz of Hawaiian Portuguese sausage, halved lengthwise, then sliced into half-moons
4 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups water
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes, including juice
1 6oz can of tomato paste
1-½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. black pepper
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 medium bunch Chinese mustard greens, Italian chicory, endive, or other bitter green, chopped
4 oz. (113g) dry elbow macaroni, or other small pasta shape
Drain and rinse beans. Bring 6 cups of water to boil, then add rehydrated beans and boil for 15 minutes. Leave in water until ready to use. Then drain, rinse and add to hot broth.
Over medium heat, pan fry the sliced sausage until browned, then add to hot broth. Remove the excess fat from the pan, then add garlic and cook until just fragrant. Turn heat to high and add water to pan and deglaze, add to broth with tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper and paprika. Turn slow-cooker to Low and let cook about 4 hours. Add potatoes, carrots, stem parts of cabbage, and uncooked macaroni. Cook on Low another 1-½ to 2 hours, or until potatoes and beans are tender. (Add tender green parts of cabbage last half hour.) Correct seasoning (salt will depend on type of sausage or smoked shank/hocks used) and serve with cornbread, hawaiian sweet bread, or garlic bread.
If you want to use cooked pasta or macaroni, reduce water to 1 cup, and add cooked pasta with tender cabbage greens, in the last half-hour of cooking.
For a great step-by-step pictorial on how to make Portuguese bean soup local kine, check out Pomai’s site at The Tasty Island.
For a European take on this island favorite, see local girl Rowena cooking in Italy at Rubber Slippers in Italy.
Update: The Warriors took it in a come-from-behind, nail-biting finish, 35-28. . .
See also Portuguese-style pork, clam and periwinkle stew