Saturday, December 28, 2013

On my walk

I decide to start walking [maybe some running] to work out my stress. So I thought I'd take pictures of something on my walks.

Today was beautiful for a walk. Here's a couple shots.

Friday, December 27, 2013

I finished it . . .

on Christmas day. Weaving in all the ends, now just to send it out. I need to make one more item for the package and then off it goes. 

It started out looking like a mound of garter stitches. 

It got bigger and bigger 

Till the finished product. I think the picot edging adds some fun to it.  100% cotton bath mat. Handmade and washable. The pattern Muriwai Bath Mat is from Knit 2 Together by Tracey Ullman/Mel Clark. I didn't block this piece. If I did, they wouldn't get till who know when.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cookie Butter

or Speculoos. Seems like all the rage. It's a bit sweet for me but used up my bottle making some cookies for my holiday baking. Adjusted recipe from one of my old favorite cookbook. A friend wanted the recipe so I thought I'd share with everyone. They make a real sturdy crispy cookie good for traveling or sending in a care package.

Cookie Butter Cookies
adapted from Favorite Island Cookery Book II, Peanut Butter Cookies

Bake 325º
Time: 15–20 minutes

3 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.

1 c butter, soften
1 c light brown sugar
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 c cookie butter

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla then eggs, one at time till blended well. Mix in cookie butter. Then add dry ingredients, do not over mix. Make 1" balls and place on cookie sheet, lined with parchment, 2" apart. Use a fork to flatten cookie, making a crisscross pattern. Bake until light brown.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. Store in air tight container.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My, oh my, I'm so busy!

And I haven't posted for a month. Thought about it . . . hmmm, should I post or watch continue to watch Homeland . . . hmmm. 

That's what happens when you learn how to use your cable box and see what kind of free stuff you can watch. Now, I'm suck into Homeland and I need to make it stop. If only Homeland would make want to exercise at the same time. You know like a combination Homeland and Insanity workout. 

I've been really busy and not with baking stuff. Been working late at my job-job. Thank goodness, I was smart enough to ask if I could work from home Thanksgiving week.  On Monday and Tuesday, I put in 12 hour+ days only stopping when WG came home from the restaurant. But I have been making . . .

"WHAT?" you asked

Lilikoi Tea Cupcakes with Lilikoi Jelly filling and cream cheese frosting
that lilikoi filling peaking out under the frosting

Using stuff that I got and made from Hawaii--Lilikoi tea and Lilikoi Jelly. The jelly looks a bit scary--like an experiment gone bad. A dark almost black color. But don't let that fool you it is soooooo good. {see my post on the making of the lilikoi jelly} Found some frozen passion fruit at my supermarket and will be testing out some lilikoi [now do I really call it lilikoi if I got it from the frozen food section my suburban supermarket?] curd next. Maybe I'll try some lilikoi bars. 
All filled with goodness
So these cupcakes are version of my earl grey cupcakes with orange marmalade filling. The jelly was a little loose so I heated it up and add some cold butter to thicken up. Tested out at work first, it was a thumbs up. Then made a batch for the restaurant.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Passion for Lilikoi

Guess what's in these jar. Gold to me!

In my quest for ideas to bring back to the restaurant, I knew I would find some ideas for Lilikoi [passionfruit] because:
  • I had a jamming date with my girlfriend and her daughter to make a batch with lilikoi from her mom's yard [reason one to move back to Hawaii, you can grow lilikoi in your yard]
  • It's one of my favorite flavors; tart and bright
  • It's exotic enough to spur some interest from my customers
I wish I had some pictures of lilikoi but I don't. Here's some facts that I learned about it on my trip:
  • the purple ones are sweeter than the yellow ones.
  • the purple ones start out green
  • they are not native to Hawaii and are invasive [learned this after talking to UH extension people at the KCC farmers market. See how informative the farmers markets are. I love farmers markets. Wish I didn't have to wait till May till my favorites open up again.]
  • my mom is as crazy about them as I'm
My jamming date starting off with dinner at Acapulco Mexican Restaurant in Waipahu. Once again, bad, no photos of food but I had great dish--pork with green sauce [not the real name Mr. A order for me as we were having the same thing]. Lots of garlic.

Then off to make the jam/jelly. Brought with jamming stuff that was needed; bottle lifter, funnel, jars . . . but the most important--pectin because lilikoi doesn't have much. Looked high and low for the Pomona stuff but could find first in NJ and then in HI and on top of that I only could get powder not liquid. So as you can see we were a little off from the start. 

After a couple of search on how to use powder pectin as sub for liquid we got started. We de-seeded [Mrs. A had scooped out the pulp and threw in the freezer] the pulp and started our jamming. We used this recipe from my lilikoi kitchen

STOP! We don't have enough sugar. Well, really, we can't stop because we were in the middle of it. What to do? Then we see the big bag of coconut palm sugar on the counter. 

So this is how our batch of lilikoi jelly became this darkest [almost black] and really delicious jelly [it is suppose be this beautiful bright yellow jelly] . A little bit scary when you first look at it. The coconut palm sugar gave is a slightly caramelized flavor. And it is suppose to be better for you than white sugar. Either way it is GOOD!

The jelly was a little loose but I had different plans from batch. But how bad could it be on great slice of toasted rustic bread with butter. Hmmmmm. Mr. A used on top of his ice cream. I think we can start a trend of this dark mysterious jelly. 

So now I'm hook and need to find lilikoi up in NJ. Probably frozen but good why to test out my skill before the next time I get out to Hawaii to whip up a batch. In my endless search about all things lilikoi, I found this leaflet of recipes from University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service from 1955 for award winning lilikoi recipes. I can't wait to try some. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Much Needed Vacation

from my hike up Tantalus

Ahaaaa! 9 days away from my normal life. So I can sleep in, eat what I want [with no guilt] and no making for the restaurant. [well I hope]

So far I've been sleeping earlier but waking up around 5ish. For the first 2 morning, it was useful because I places to go early. With such short amount of time, I've packed lot into my days. 

Okay, okay. I've been back 12 days and the ahaaaa! feeling is almost gone. Back into the grind. Wanted to get a few pictures up before a for get. This is first of a couple of posts so I don't overwhelm you with me going on, on. 

Most of my days were filled with seeing family and friends, eating up a storm and just having fun. Was very bad at capturing pictures of what I was eating but got some beautiful pictures of lots of other things. 

Here's a couple pictures from my hike from Tantalus on the second after I arrived. The hike was hard enough make me sweat but not too hard for a jet lag old lady. A large bowl of Wun Tun Min with a bbq stick from Palace Saimin was my reward for all that sweating. Palace Saimin an old style saimin stand. The wun tun were delicious. Should gotten the small couldn't finish the whole thing.
view from the start of the hike
yellow ginger everywhere
at one of the junction point
turn around point, nuuanu reservoir in the background

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What's purple and yellow inside?

Well, at one point, it was the purple heirloom carrots. For this post it's Italian plums (or prunes) from Rutger's Garden Farmers Market.
Yellowish green on the inside

Got these last year and made a batch of jam that so sweet and delicious. They are great for eating but the jam is great and easy. I make small batches about 2.5–3lbs a batch, about 2 pints. And I don't add anything special with these just the fruit and the sugar. That's all it needs. 

Here's what it looks like cooking down.
It really turns this beautiful plum-y color.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

To Pickle

UPDATE: I tasted it after day in the refrig. This so delicious. The brine is like a namasu (Japanese cucumber salad) with a little bit of the sea taste from the kombu. The beets are crispy and add a bit of the sweetness to the pickle. I'm thinking maybe a different slice and I can add it to to a sandwich. 

Yes, of course. Veggies for my garden and my local farmers markets, why would I say no. And add to that my latest obsession with beets of all colors and the perfect recipe, there's no stopping me.

Let me back up a bit. I was chopping up my veggies for another batch of pickled veggies slaw (I'm on my 3rd batch). And was wondering if I could add my beets to the slaw. I had a bunch in my frig and waiting for me to roast them up. I wasn't sure if I could pickle raw beets so I googled pickle raw beets and I first found a Martha recipe that looked good but then I saw it, Momofuku Beet Pickle recipe from The recipe has rice wine vinegar and kombu (dried seaweed) and that was all it took for me to dig out my cheap Japanese version of a mandoline to slice the beet thin.

Beets and Kombu stacked in the jar

The kombu I used. Hope to make some dashi with the rest.
All brined
This needs to sit for at least a day so I can't tell you what it taste like. I'm excited to taste it. I'm thinking it will have that umami taste to it with the kombu in it. Will post an update after I have a taste. Still need to make my pickled veggie slaw. Probably tomorrow. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I don't know . . .

I read a helpful hint about writing and editing a better blog was not to edit mid stream. And I'm guilty of that constantly. An even right now, as I write this in evernote before I put it in my blog. I've written and deleted my title several times already. So with that said onward to finishing my thoughts and this post

I don't know what's got into me but I have been cooking and baking up a stop for about the last month. It's not that I have any more tme on my hands or have parties or people to cook for. I think most of the inspiration comes from my garden and the farmers market goodies that I've got this summer. 

All my pickles have come from my picking up those great heirloom carrots from Canal Farms. People still can't stop talking about them

I've been testing recipes left and right and most of them have been great. The last one was the roasted tomato salsa from It was super delicious. Way better than I even expected. And it make so much. I made half a batch and still was able to give some away bring it into the office. Here's the link to the recipe:

not the best shot bur really good

And yes, I've been on a veggie kick. Kind of started with my new eating habit [salad, salad and more salad] and looking different things to eat. And I've trying to eat what is in season also. And with that said here's what I've tested: frittata, beet and black bean burger, baba ganoush, and kimchi. I've also been roasting up some veggies to add to my endless amount salads I eat. 

one of my salads: tofu and soy/ginger dressing
Healthy Snack
baba ganoush with veggies from the farmers market
1st attempt @ Kim Chee
1st attempt at kimchi

And last but not least, I promised my cousin Julie I'd post my apple bread pudding recipe. I have to say this is my go-to recipe, easy and can be made ahead of time and frozen. I make this at least once a week for the recipe  restaurant. I tried this with other fruits but the customers seem to only want the apple. Wish I had a picture of my bread pudding but I never took one. Maybe later this week I'll post a picture.

Caramelized Apple Bread Pudding
Serves 8 or 12

1 gallon zip lock bag of stale bread, cubed**
1/2 c raisins

3 c whole milk 
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c brown sugar
2 t vanilla
2 t cinnamon
1 t salt
2 T butter plus extra 1-2 T butter for pan

Caramelized Apples
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced 1/8" thick*
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c sugar

4 eggs, beaten

Vanilla Sauce
1 can condensed milk
2 t vanilla
1/4 c powdered sugar--you can add more or less to taste

Grease baking dish with 1–2 T of melted butter. Note about the pan: My pan ceramic that is 8 x 11" and 3" deep. Use a 9 x13 pan if you don't have this size the slice will be thinner. 

In a large bowl add bread and raisins and mix together.

Making the custard
Add custard ingredients to a pot, heat over medium heat until you see tiny bubbles forming on the edges. Don't boil. Stirring occasionally. The milk should be steaming. Pour milk mixture over the bread and the raisin and mix till all the bread is soaked with milk mixture. Don't over mix, you still want the bread cubes to keep its shape somewhat. 

Caramelizing the apples
Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a frying/saute pan medium heat. Add sugar to the melted butter, slightly stir it to help it melt evenly. It should start turning brown at the edges, keep stirring you want all of the sugar to turn evenly brown. It should be light brown all over. It's probably better to lighter than darker brown because the darker it get the more bitter it will taste. Add the sliced apples. Now this is when you will probably freak out because you think you just ruin your beautifully caramelized sugar. Nope, you didn't. The sugar will seize (becomes hard clumps) because of the juice from the apples, but just keep stirring the sugar and apples together. Apples start producing a lot of juice and the clumps of sugar will melt into the juice. Now reduce the apple juice to half and the apples should tender. 

Pour the mixture into the bread custard mix. Mix well so the apples are evenly mixed in.

Now turn on your oven to 350º.  Once my oven is ready, my mixture is cool enough to add the eggs to the bread custard mix. Mix well but try not to break up the cubes too much. Pour mixture into butter dish/pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Top should be golden brown and puffed up a bit. You can you a cake tester to see if comes out clean or I just press down on the top with my finger and if it springs back it's ready. 

Vanilla Sauce
Mix all the ingredients together well. 

We serve it warm with drizzle of vanilla sauce. This recipe keeps really well in the freezer. I slice it up into the serving size, double wrap in plastic wrap then in foil. Should keep for a month. Take out and defrost in refrigerator. I heat up the slice for a minute in the microwave to get the texture of the bread soft. 

*I use fuji because it hold up to the caramelization but use whatever apples you like.

** I get my bread from the restaurant, usually hard rolls. I cube the bread and put in the gallon size zip lock bags and throw them in the freezer. So I have the bread ready to make when I need it. It's usually 5-6 hard rolls to fill a gallon freezer bag. Stale bread works the best for this recipe. If the bread is too fresh, it becomes really mushy when you add the wet ingredients. Still useable/eatable but doesn't look as good.  I also have adding some slices of whole wheat bread, it adds a nice sweetness. 

Finally note: after I wrote this, I realize this my recipe doesn't sound as easy as I think it is as.  I make it on weekly basis. But give it a try, I think you will like it. My customers keep coming back for and always get a to go order when for later when they are too stuffed from dinner. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Stubby Carrots

  by april_yurie
photo by april_yurie on Flickr.
Made me smile when I harvested them today. They are taking a long time to come in.

I've gone pickle crazy

this past weekend. On top of the pickled veggie slaw and made a batch of Pickled Carrot Slices from NYT that a friend sent me the recipe to try.


Here's the brine cooking up. Dried chili, coriander, bay leaf, star anise [it was suppose to be cloves but I didn't have it] and the green garlic/scapes are the spices. I used the purple and yellow heirloom carrots I picked up at the farmers market from Canal Farms.

Kind of looks like pickle mango from Hawaii.

Here's the finished product. The purple carrots tinted the brine this reddish purple color.  These pickles are a little sweeter than slaw. It smells great when you open the bottle from all the spices. Thought it may too spicy from the dried chili but it wasn't. Made 2 pints. 

The eggplants in the background I also picked up at the farmers market from Pop's Farm. They had all kinds of colors and shape of eggplants there. The girl at the register told me the lavender ones are most mild. I do love my Asian purple eggplant [sliced and pan fried and topped with lemon shoyu], so as a good foodie would do, I picked up a couple of both types to make up a batch of baba ganoush. Stay tune for some pictures.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

For a Breakfast Birthday at work


Tomato Swiss Chard Frittata. Veggies from my garden. Made the veggie frittata so everyone could eat. Most of have gone off the carbs. It came out really great and quite beautiful.

Used this recipe as the base: How I adjusted the recipe: 3 egg whites (what I had)  and 4 whole eggs, fresh basil from my garden and Gruyère cheese (what I had). 

What I've been cooking . . . again and will cook again

I've been moving up the ladder of canning and started pickling. But instead of have bottles of pickles stacked on my shelves, I've been stuck on one recipe because it so delicious and adds so much interest to my eating routine: Pickled Veggie Sandwich Slaw from In addition to the tasting great, the finish product looks so beautiful. It's a great gift.

I made my second batch with most of the veggies from my farmers market--heirloom carrots (purple and yellow) [the yellow was incredibly sweet], radishes, red and orange peppers, garlic scapes, kirby cucumbers, celery and sugar snap (from the asian food store). 

waiting for the brine

purple carrot, some are much more yellow inside
The purple carrots added some color to the brine. Making it even more beautiful. I ended up with 2 pints and 6 half pints.
Pickle veggie slaw
marinating in my fridge. YUM!

Another great way to eat this slaw on top of a pulled pork sandwich. Sandwich provided by, of course, Cafe Bua. From our daily lunch specials. It add an extra tanginess and crunch to the sandwich. 
Sandwich from the restaurant, pickle slaw by me from the 1st batch

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Summer Vacation: Part 3--Garden of the Gods

I thought I posted this weeks ago. Oh well, here you go.
See those people looking up at the top of the left path: there's a rock climber going up there

Our last full day, we started out driving south from Estes Park to Garden of the Gods--about 2-3 hours. As like the rest of the trip, no planning had not happen and we were just kind of winging it. I just entered "Garden of the Gods" into my google map app and off we went. Drove past Boulder--tons of cyclists in both directions.

Got to the park visitor center right around lunch time. Out goes the diet and it was chili dogs for both of us. We finished up just in time for the movie about the park--nicely done. Really worth the $5. And I assume that how they make their money to maintain the park, since the park is free. 

Now we are down from the mountain and it is hot and dry. Of course I forgot to put on sunscreen, my hat was somewhere in the car and no, we didn't bother to bring a bottle of water. I think we were too excited to be lucky that we got a parking in a packed parking lot and those red rocks were calling out. 

After the park we were going to Pike Peak but we found out it would take 3 hours up and back and we were spent. We went to a historical castle in the town of Manitou. We basically ran through that because we were too tired stop and read all the description. It's a nice town probably worth a stop and roaming around. But it was pack with holiday crowds and we just wanted to get to the hotel and rest up for our early (extremely) morning rise to catch our plane back home. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday's Harvest

It's the end of July and my garden is not a bed of weeds! Hurrah!!!


Today I harvested:
  • all of my manoa lettuce--8oz worth. Not bad for the weed whisperer
  • 4oz of swiss chard--they are still going strong 
  • 2oz of assorted herbs--flat leaf parsley, basil and mint
  • pulled some carrot to test to see how they are doing. 

And I planted:
  • row of manoa lettuce
  • row of beet--one more try
In my kitchen, I'm rooting some thai basil from some cutting from the restaurant. I hope to pot them tomorrow. I'm trying to root some celery, doesn't look too great. 

Oh!I forgot I got 8oz. of tomatoes on Friday.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Garden, My Breakfast

So it's terribly hot and humid out and I think my garden is only thing that is enjoying it. I'm getting tomatoes, lettuce (manoa), flat leaf parsley and swiss chard. My beets not so good but I'm eating the greens. Waiting for my carrots. I just put in some scallions and will adding some thai basil, more lettuce seeds and beets seed soon.

As for my breakfast, I've been trying to cut down my carbs fro the last several months. I decided my breakfast this morning would be a salad with lettuce and swiss chard from my garden. Yum!
My breakfast salad with leftover salmon from dinner last night, red pepper, my homemade salsa  and harrisa and splash of balsamic dressing. Maybe next time I'll add a fried egg. My love of harrisa has been a slow rise but I'm definitely on bandwagon now. I love it in my salad.

Did I share last week's farmers market goodies.
My farmers market goodies
4 white peaches for some white peach cupcakes [as soon as the heat goes away] and 3 round squash to be stuffed with ground chicken and today's harvest of swiss chard. I'll try and get some picture of the process. 

Oh yeah! WG bought more strawberries. Yes, 8 more lbs. The only thing I'm thinking of is ice cream at the moment. I just don't want to turn on the oven. I hope it ends soon.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Summer Vacation--Part 2: Rocky Mountain National Park

I think I keep this short and sweet. We have a fun time RMNP. Altitude was intense, that's why we end up at the Cub Lake trail. But wasn't disappointed. At the end of trail a beautiful lake with duckling swimming by and tons of dragonflies.

Here's a links to the RMNP sest in flickr:

Trail Ridge Road:

Old Fall River Road:

Cub Lake Trail

Okay, okay. One little story to make you laugh.

Yes, WG donned the crazy costume for pictures.

Let me set the scene, the parking area was packed, both sides of the road. I could only hope that the parking area would clear out soon so people would stare. In the background, I could hear screaming and laughing from a group of Chinese tourists who were across the road.

So WG gets all dressed up and crosses the road to poise on the stone wall. There was a car parked right next to where he was going to poise. WG said take a lot of pictures from all angles as he readies he's mask. Right then the driver of the car walks up to get in and does a double take at WG. He looked very confused.

But right at the exact moment the crazy tourists decide to cross the road--did I mention their inappropriate hiking outfits--tight high black patent leather stilettos boots with short shorts--screaming and laughing and stopping traffic. That enough time to distract the driver and for me to get all the pictures I could to make the lone ranger happy.

That poor driver. He must think he maybe getting a little light headed from altitude because all the asians he's encountering in the park are dressed for costume party.

Here's the Lone Ranger on Trail Ridge Road. High-Ho, Silver! Away!

Strawberries, strawberries and more strawberries

I bought 2lbs for the restaurant and 2lbs for home on Wednesday. I'd mentioned on vacation if WG saw fruit that looked good and at a good price to buy some and I'd make something with them. The last resort being jam. Well, I guess that really stuck in his mind. He calls me on Friday and said "you bought strawberries?!" I guess he was looking in the refrigerator and noticed the strawberries. "I just bought 4 (2lbs) containers." said with a bit of a panic in voice.

So guess what I'm doing this weekend. Making jam (4lbs), sorbet (2lbs) and hand pies (.5lb) and the rest just to eat [for my breakfast and WG dinner--he's been eating fruit for dinner for months] or I could make some strawberry ice cream for home . . .hmmm

He's a couple of picture of the fruits of my labor. 

Strawberries jamming
4lbs of strawberries jamming = 4 pints and 1 half pint of jam 

2lbs of strawberries = very intense cooling experience
Strawberry hand pies
.5lb of strawberries = 7 hand pies waiting for the oven

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Summer Vacation--Part 1: South Dakota

Mount Rushmore from viewing platform
This is a little teaser of the our vacation. I'm usually crappy at getting my photos from vacation up in the timely fashion. Before I get tied down with the craziness of my life, I've decided to at least get one leg of the vacation done. Not even back a week and I have something up on my blog. Now that's a record.

This year's summer vacation was out west to Colorado and South Dakota. To start the festivities, WG had a fashion show of his outfits for the the trip.

Lone Ranger
as the Lone Ranger
as General Custer
Yes, he did bring all the accessories including the mask, badge, and gun belt. The only thing that didn't make it was the big Custer hat. He replaced it with a smaller version. I posted these pictures on FB and cause a little bit of commotion amongst my friends. I guess people didn't know what a nut he is.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tomorrow's Lunch and beyond

I've been really good at bring my lunch and sometimes breakfast to work most days. And with my new eating routine, I've been trying to cook healthier. I've been wanting to make Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes from for a while. Probably would have been better to make it when the weather was cooler. But making it now, I have the swiss chard from my garden.

As always at the beginning of a new recipe, I always think I have all the ingredients. This time I checked before and even went out to get what I was missing. Oh well, I guess I still have vacation brain.

Not enough sweet potato--added 1 regular potato
Forgot the curry powder from the restaurant--used the vindaloo powder instead and eliminated the jalapeno, thought it would be spicy enough
No cilantro--used flat leaf parsley from my garden instead
Too lazy to go out and get tamari almonds--use this savory nut topping that I picked and TJ's to try. Can't remember where I read about but at least I get to use it.

I didn't cook it as long as the recipe said because I used small lentil and they cooked up much quicker. I think I could have added a little more vindaloo powder but I think I should wait to see what how the taste develops when I eat it for lunch.

It makes enough for at least 6 servings. I packed away 2 serving in the freezer. 1 for lunch today, 1 my nephew at for his dinner last night and 2 more for the next two day's lunches. I hope I don't get too sick of it by then. Next up is on my savory cooking list: Portuguese sausage empanadas/hand pies with the last of the Portuguese sausage from Hawaii. Here's a couple of pictures. I never remember to get pictures of the ingredients and the beginning steps.

Cooking lentils and potatoes with spices and broth

Chopped swiss chard from my garden

Loved the color when I added the swiss chard