Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eating a Lot of Orange Food

Garnet yams, kabocha squash.


I've already eaten these! They are the fuyu variety.

We picked some up at the Waialua farmers' market, which are taking longer to ripen.

How do you know when they're ripe? The first group we ate softened markedly, so I just cut them in half crosswise and ate them by spooning them out. The ones we ate last night were the right color, but crispy-firm. I cut them into quarters, then peeled and ate them - yum!

Remember - do not eat the skin, and do not eat them until ripe - when the skin turns from yellow to orange. Unripe fruit has tannins which are astringent and bitter to the taste.

The price is right - under $1.50/lb - and you'll be treating your body to beta-carotene and antioxidants in this lovely orange fruit.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ho'okupu & More Roasted Vegetables - Sweet Potatoes & Beets

Mahalo, Kawaiaha'o Church School, for the lovely pu'olo, and the even lovelier ho'okupu ceremony. They were thanking us for all the times throughout the year, when the teachers bring their classes for us to read books, tell stories, do fingerplays and sing songs.

The ho'okupu consisted of chants, translation, lots of honi honi - OK, it was just hugs and not the nose pressing and inhaling. It was very touching, and I learned some things I hadn't known before. Makali'i - the Pleiades star constellation, or Seven Sisters - begins to rise in the night sky, and become visible. This also marks Ho'o-ilo, the rainy season, and the season of rest.

What does this have to do with sweet potatoes? Well, these lovely pu'olo bundles contained sweet potatoes and yams and salt. There were several varieties - Oriental Beauty, a white-fleshed Satsuma imo, Red Garnet yams (I just learned some are being grown on the island of Molokai!) and a couple of others. As I love sweet potatoes, I was thrilled to get a couple of these!

What to do with all of this bounty? Now that it's actually cool enough to turn on the oven, why not roast them?

I peeled and cubed the Beauty and the Garnet, along with 'uala I'd bought at a farmers' market. BTW, I've read that 'uala can be mashed into a version of poi, or mixed with water and left to ferment, making a beer! I love the taste of 'uala, but these were so tiny and like bumpy little sausages, they were WORK to peel. To roast them, I put heavy duty foil in a pan, tossed the tubers with olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and sea salt. At 400 degrees, they were done and caramelizing in less than 25 minutes - before I could even turn them.

At the same time, I washed beets, dried them and put them in a foil packet with a little olive oil. I put a rack on a shallow pan, put the packet on top of the rack. These took longer - after I took out the potatoes, I turned the heat down to 350 and ran the oven for another hour. When a knife still didn't slip easily into the beets, I kept them in the closed oven for another half hour more. When this cooled, I peeled several of them, sliced them and drizzled them with more olive oil, lemon, French feta cheese and slivered red onion. The DH liked this a lot better than the beet pasta I came up with next.

After the sweet potatoes cooled a bit, I used about 2 cups of them - in place of the large yam - to make this:

Groundnut Stew

  • ½ to 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
  • 1 thumb ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 large yam, peeled, ½-inch cubes and 1 medium potato, peeled, ½-inch cubes, cook in water to cover in microwave until almost tender

  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala or curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or similar pepper spice 
  • ½ cup peanut butter
Sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and cook until soft. Drain yams and potatoes, add to the pot with ginger, and sauté for a few minutes. Pour in juice, tomatoes, chickpeas, and spices and heat through. Add peanut butter and stir until incorporated, and salt to taste.

Optional: slice a carrot and cook with the potatoes. Add a handful of fresh green beans, okra, spinach or chopped cabbage. I did not have orange juice, so I used what I had – mango. The original recipe called for tomato juice AND tomatoes, and apple or apricot juice and NO beans. Serve with brown rice and your choice of hot sauce. Add chicken or vegetable broth and serve as a soup the second time. My husband asked if this stew is vegan. I don’t know or care. I just eat what tastes good!

In this month of gratitude, I'm thankful to Kawaiaha'o Church School for sharing. Their generosilty has filled me with satisfaction and warmth, and reminded me to be grateful.

Note: Red Garnet yams are at fantastic prices in your neighborhood markets this week - 50% to 75% off the usual per pound price. I've bought several to roast, and think I'll be roasting ears of corn and some tomatoes at the same time! Soup, here we come!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ghastly Goblin to Pumpkin Soup and more

After Halloween, this guy - a duded-up kabocha pumpkin - was scrubbed, peeled, and cubed. Along the way, so was my thumb.

Well, the peeler and the thumb collided with negative results.

After some Bandaid action on the thumb, the pumpkin, along with garlic, onion, sea salt, cracked black pepper, olive oil and thyme were all tossed together and put in the oven at 400 degrees for half an hour. I was on a roll, so the pumpkin seeds and some asparagus were also roasted.

I used 2 cups of the pumpkin, a handful of crimini mushrooms, some goat cheese, penne pasta and pasta water and garnished with pecorino romano curls. I liked this better than the DH did. 

With the remaining 3 cups of pumpkin, I heated those with a cup of chicken broth, stirred in a heaping teaspoon of curry paste and half a can of coconut milk. The resulting concoction looked like baby food, but the baby had better like Indian spices! Good and warming on a cool November night in the 808!

Yes, 74 degrees IS cool!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You can't pay me to eat these things!

Natto - fermented soybeans. The smell and mucus texture = NO, NO, NO!

Bitter melon - a cucurbit, in the same vegetable family as cucumbers, zucchini, melons, squash. BTW, I love all those other cucurbits. Bitter melon is just THAT - BITTER! You can soak it, salt it or cook it with fatty pork, but that won't make it taste any better for me. Big, big NOOOes!

Eggplant with miso. UGH! I LOVE eggplant: marinated in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, pan roasted and topped with goat cheese, pine nuts and golden raisins. Fried and sprinkled with Gorgonzola and served with spaghetti, like Auntie Pasto's - it's so good, it's hard for me to eat anything else. Adobo-style with garlic, shoyu and a touch of vinegar - lip-smacking! Korean banchan-style: braised in liquid with white potatoes, carrots, a touch of shoyu, a pinch of sugar and salt. But NOT with miso and sugar! YIKES!!!

We were talking about natto, and the other person urged me to try it again. I told him with so many other wonderful things to eat, I was not going to waste my appetite on stinky fermented mucus bean natto!

Edited to add:

TRIPE! I do not eat it. When I was young, my mother made me cook it. In those days, it was not as well prepared for sale as it is now. You would need to cook it (stew in water) at least 3 times, changing the water. I still have no idea why you would want to eat something that tastes like rubber bands and smelled THAT BAD!

This is proof the things you are made to do/eat as a child CAN scar you for life.

For New Year's, my job was to fry the tempura. I do not need to fry ANYTHING EVER AGAIN. I smelled like cooking oil. YUCK!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dinner at Plancha

We drove up to Morning Glass in Manoa last night. We'd missed out on Bob McGee's dinner last week with mullet and opelu. sigh.

This time, it was Big Island Puuwai Ranch lamb brochettes, tzatziki sauce with Naked Cow Dairy yogurt, the brightest green olives I'd ever seen (but yum!), ono pita, cranberry bean hummus (sorry Bob, my pinto bean hummus IS better!) Also lovely salads of barley with purslane, Ma'o farms greens with a sherry vinaigrette, INCREDIBLE Hamakua tomatoes with watermelon and feta (do I remember mint, or am I making it up?) Dessert was affogato - vanilla ice cream with espresso.

The Morning Glass owner, Eric Rose, and I talked about our love of Stumptown coffee (Portland, OR) and how we'd be back there for breakfast. Promise!

Everything was fresh and delicious. Our table had 6 people and 4 bottles of wine - pretty good ratio! A rioja, valpolicella, and 2 cabs - one an organic Bonterra. 5 sane people and one maniac. You know who you are!

Our tablemates kept it interesting, and the talk ranged from rambutan to lamb brains, wallaby in the imu(!) and beyond. Yes, mostly about food.

I ate ALMOST everything on my plate, so that should tell you how good it was. I am usually the queen of the doggie bag. (Hey - breakfast, lunch or dinner the next day! Just sayin'.

It was a fun evening, and the guys at our table extended it by sharing/swapping cigars they smoked afterwards. That lasted until the Manoa mist/drizzle turned into some serious rain. Well, all good things must end!