Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is this any way to eat your vegetables?

I rarely go to Jamba juice. Probably because I seldom drink smoothies. My idea of a good smoothie is a lot of frozen fruit and some juice and maybe sorbet. A local indie shop makes some excellent examples, one with berries and another with pineapple. I won't name it for now, as I can't find their current address - I know they've moved. Yes, the sorbet makes it sweet, therefore a treat, and a sometimes indulgence, not for every day or even every week.

I just got this announcement via email, about smoothies "packed with a full serving of vegetables and two full servings of fruit". When you read the ingredients in two out of three of these, they include bell peppers and kale, among other things. I love bell peppers, folks, but NOT in a smoothie. And I DO NOT EAT KALE - cooked or raw. Here, I am admitting to my paranoia because at least two people who have eaten similar raw leafy vegetables have been rendered comatose in Hawaii, and others were sickened from an organism that causes rat lungworm disease. They thought they were eating healthier by not cooking their green leafy vegetables, but they became seriously ill.

I'm not planning to join them! And READ CAREFULLY: I am NOT saying you will get sick from drinking these, I am saying I don't like veggies in my smoothies. I am also saying I now avoid buying and eating certain vegetables. Heck, I no longer buy/eat lettuce or spinach. Most of the veggies I eat are scrubbable, like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, broccoli and more.Yes, just call me paranoid.

So, do you drink smoothies, and would you drink the Apple 'n Greens or Berry upBEET™?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vegetable love: broccoli salad and curried ratatouille

Now that I'm back at work 8 to 5, I find myself making 2 salads or vegetable dishes on one of my days off. Those vegetables require so much peeling, chopping and slicing. Two days off in a row are rare, too.

I'm trying - and often failing - to resist the temptation of picking up food to eat outdoors. The weather has been SO beautiful. Yesterday after work, I thought the DH would want to eat his usual tantan ramen from Goma Tei, but he had pho for lunch, so he was open to takeout from Kakaako Kitchen or Kua Aina. We decided on the latter, with a bacon burger with Monterey jack for him, cheeseburger with cheddar from me. We had a small order of fries and coleslaw with that.

We made it through hideous traffic - Ala Moana Blvd. narrowed to 2 lanes on the way to Ward, one lane after that! - to the waterfront park. Breezes were soft and westerly, the sea was rather flat, picnickers were grilling, people were walking pets, children, bicycling and just ENJOYING. On days like that, I know I'm fortunate to live in a beautiful city and state. To have a job I love, and a husband who indulges me.

We ate our burgers, greasy fries, and wished we had more coleslaw! Well, DH ate all of his, I took half of mine home!

Tonight, there's a modest piece of salmon waiting to be sauteed, but I've already made a broccoli salad and a large batch of curried ratatouille. I may cook some whole wheat pasta or quinoa for a change from 12-grain rice.

Larry's Broccoli Salad

Larry is Ted’s cigar friend. He got this recipe from a cookbook, and it originated with Denise O. See my modifications.
  • Head of broccoli cut into 1-in. florets, peel and slice stems, too
  • 6+ slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (I use turkey bacon)
  • ¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds (I used pine nuts, but slivered almonds would be good, too)
  • ½ cup raisins or craisins (I prefer the latter)
Combine the above ingredients, and toss lightly with the dressing below. Stir together:
  • ¾ to 1 cup mayonnaise (I use light mayo)
  • 1 to 4 tablespoons sugar (I think 2 is plenty!)
  • 2+ tablespoons vinegar (I use rice vinegar)
Please adjust dressing to your taste. You may want to add a pinch of salt to the dressing. I added some freshly ground black pepper, too. Note: better to use less dressing than more!

Suzanne’s Curried Ratatouille

Based on one from

Sauté the following in oil in a medium-hot pan: 
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • ½ tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 12-15 curry leaves - optional but a delicious addition
Cover with a lid to contain spattering. Quickly add:
  • 1 chopped medium onion
  • 2 minced large cloves of garlic
Stir and saut̩ until soft, then add the following ingredients Рall chopped into 3/8 inch dice Рin the following order:
  • One medium zucchini
  • Yellow or orange bell pepper
  • 2 medium long eggplants
  • One medium tomato
Add oil as necessary. Finish with salt to taste. Serve with chickpeas with tomatoes. Leftovers make a great omelet or grilled sandwich filling. Or serve with poached or lightly fried eggs.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fast, tasty and filling on a week night work night

It pays to rummage through the freezer!

Thursday night, on my last shift at the reference desk, it suddenly occurred to me that I had the fixings for a quick dinner. When I got home, I pulled out what was half a package of frozen, commercially-prepared kalua pork.

Kalua means roasted underground, and the real, homemade version involves digging an imu - a pit in your backyard (I don't have a yard!), making a fire and piling igneous rocks into the pit, covering it with banana stumps, then lining that with ti leaves, putting in your whole pig, turkeys, whatever else you want to cook, covering that with more ti leaves and burlap, then shoveling a lot of dirt over that and leaving it for at least 6 or more hours.

The pig meat that comes out is falling off the bone and smoky flavored. You shred it and remove bone and fat and put the skin aside for those who like it. Season with alae salt (Hawaiian salt made by evaporating sea water in coastal ponds) and serve. Try hard not to smack your lips.

You can make a decent version at home in the microwave with a pork butt, using liquid smoke, shoyu or ginger or all of those. Better, of course, if you can wrap with a couple of ti leaves. Or you can use the commercial product. Back on topic, to the recipe!

Easy pulled-pork fajitas

I had the DH take the tops off half a Costco package of mini peppers and slice those in half. I sliced a small onion and minced 3 cloves of garlic. Sauteed the onion and garlic, added the peppers and pork. Then mixed in a sauce of 1/4 cup wine vinegar (you could use cider or regular vinegar), one Tbsp sugar, 1-1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 tsp salt and heated through.

I warmed some flour tortillas, topped them with a couple of Tbsps of leftover 12-grain rice. Piled on some pork/pepper mixture and a sprinkling of shredded cheese. Sliced avocado or chopped tomatoes would be good, too, but by this time my brain had stopped working from lack of food. I would have added sour cream, but it had gone the way of old dairy...

Fast, tasty and filling, and a bit leftover, too.

Note: I use leftover kalua pig in a sauce that reminds me of a venison ragu over homemade noodles that I ate in a wonderful restaurant in Portland, OR.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another convert to raw beets

I was in the lunchroom, eating leftovers of lentils with carrots, 12-grain rice and sliced raw beet salad. I shared samples with an old friend and a new one. Today, the new friend told me she'd made a similar salad, and her husband loved it. You can't go wrong when you start with terrific ingredients.

Since I've gone back to work recently, I have less time to be creative in the kitchen. I'd peeled and sliced beets for a raw salad, and put the tops and stems aside for later. When I needed a vegetable side, I washed and chopped them - stems in 1-inch pieces, tops in 1-inch shreds. I sliced a quarter of an onion and a handful of oyster mushrooms and put those in a pan of heated olive oil - 1/2 tablespoon. After 5 minutes or so, I added 1/2 tablespoon of butter and the beet tops and sauteed until they started to soften. Added 2 glugs of wine and sprinkled generously with garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Beach Bum Cafe redux

Now that I'm working downtown, I can pop into Beach Bum Cafe for some caffeine!

I did some errands at lunch time, and it was one of those Hawaiian days that feels like summer - hot and humid - and just makes you thirstier. I headed for the Cafe and an iced Americano from Dennis, the friendly owner.

He was serving a gentleman who was already seated, and a woman waited for his attention. After me, he had a third customer, then a fourth - it's great that so many folks want to drink good coffee!

When my coffee was ready, I asked if it was OK to sit and eat my lunch - some naan bread with Havarti, capicolla and soppressata. I had to eat much too quickly, but enjoyed the time I spent watching good coffee being made, and the wonderful aromas.