Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Happy Anniversary to Us

A few weeks ago, on the 9th of September, I got a Facebook notification telling me that exactly 7 years ago, I posted my very first Swigs and Grinds article. 
It wasn't an article so much as a proclamation to an invisible, unknown to me, blog-world to which I was gingerly cracking open the door and awkwardly stepping into it's room. 
My credentials were: 
"I'm not sure why I am starting a blog, other than I love to eat, I like to write, and I need an outlet. Plus, I seem to get myself into situations that my friends seem to think will entertain the masses. 
I'm not so sure about that."
And that was that.
I had started a blog. That first post was titled, 
"Will Work For Food".
I never would have guessed where that motto would take me over the next seven years, but in the immediate future it took me to my next post...

"The almighty Ingredient" wasn't that much more exciting, but I did name myself as an 'ingredient girl", which I still stand behind. 
Lemon Rosemary Cocktail

I'm not surprised that my first "recipe" such as it is, was for a "Whacky Lemon Rosemary Cocktail". A damn good one at that. 
Well, the cocktail was damn good, the recipe itself went:
"So the key is making the syrup in advance and letting it cool. So make it at some weird time when you're hangin' in the kitchen, or when you're making your coffee or whatever, then it will be ready to roll when it's cocktail time."
Haha what more do you need to know? I was never professing to be an expert, just someone with an eat-drink-and-be-merry-motto.
Savory Tart

Next was another not-so-recipe recipe called "What a Tart!", where the only real valuable instructions I provided was to
"Embrace your inner tart and go for it!"
And the best part was a quote from James Beard,
"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch".

That first month in September 2009, I posted 16 articles. The next month, my all time high of 20! I was on fire with ideas and my appetite was raging. I also worked from home during that time and usually cooked three meals a day for myself, my three young children or for friends and family.
Book Lust

Eggplant Parmesan - A Love story...



Crazy Chocolate Cake

Fresh Pasta

Stories of Salt and Pepper

Herbs make all the difference

Rice addiction

Discovering Breadfruit

Eau De Summer

Hello giant piece of sugar cane
Escapism in Chinatown

I wrote about escape-ism in Chinatown, my book lust and the discovery of an amazing bookstore, giving and getting second chances with eggplant, and in life in general, as well as Eggplant Parmesan - A Love Story. I waxed somewhat poetically, on and on about Harissa, orzo, crazy chocolate cake, fresh pasta, secret ingredients, salt and pepper, herbs, rice, breadfruit, eau de summer, and 8-ft. pieces of sugar cane.
Lilikoi Cheesecake

I posted the secret recipe for my sister's coveted lilikoi cheesecake, which she begrudgingly divulged to me, along with my own recipes-slash-adventures-in such incarnations of brie and grape quesadillas, fingerling potatoes, falafelpear and gorgonzola salad roasted garlic, (again from "recipes"  such as they are, that inform you that: 'If you haven't been practicing this move, you really, really need it! It couldn't be simpler. Just lop off the top of a couple of heads of garlic, pour on a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. Wrap the whole thing in some tinfoil and toss it in the oven. Leave it there until the smell starts making you're brain want to be slathered in it.'... 
Truly expert advice.
No, really.
Brie and Grape Quesadilla

Fingerling Potatoes. Because they're cute.


Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

Roasted Garlic

  We talked about comfort food, and I asked, "So how about comfort foods? When is the last time one wrapped you in it's arms? And why do they comfort you so?".
Comfort Food

 We also talked about having swanky breakfasts and outrageously fabulous sandwichesI begged you to see the movie, "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs"and we publicly began the conversation which has now defined my culinary point of view: "sexy food".
Swanky Breakfast

Outrageously fabulous sandwich: Exhibit A

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Sexy Food!

I chewed on through the first couple of years as we shared meals consisting of poached pears, where you could find some encouragement to "see what you have in the creamy department. I had some plain yogurt and some goat cheese that I whirled into a food processor with some vanilla, sugar, lemon thyme, and some ground up walnuts. (I think that was all, but who knows)...
Serve with the warm pears and you will look like some kind of freaky chef-ish type, but really, you just worked with what you had and were willing to part with and came up with a comforting, warm, simple dessert! Go for it...", (my mystery basket skills go way back!). 

There were also recipes for  
 potatoes confit, sausage meatballs, Morroccan chicken stew, and Mamala's cranberries, where I caution you that "If you're saying to yourself that you're not such a fan, you may want to rethink that after you try this. This is not your aunties gelatinous stuff slithering out of a can", no, this is MY mama's recipe and it rocks, and as a bonus, I also gave you her famous B.J's Baked Beans recipe. There's a baked brie, where you can use said cranberries, Asian Chicken Cabbage Rolls, Bruschetta and Stuffed Dates.
Potatoes Confit

Sausage Meatballs

Moroccan Chicken Stew

Mamala's Cranberries

Baked Brie

B.J.'s Famous Baked Beans

There were also plenty of wines that I was just discovering, mostly because they had awesome names like Bitch, Plungerhead, Molly Dooker, the Ballbuster and 7 Deadly Zins, until wine started to arrive at my doorstep for me to sample and write about, which was obviously very very exciting.  
Ahh but what's in a name? Everything....


Molly Dooker

The Ball Buster

7 Deadly Zins

That time when wine started to arrive at my doorstep...

And of course there's been plenty of cocktails like Soul de Cuba's Mojito, and my own renditions of a Lychee Martini, Watermelon Cocktail, Bloody MaryLimoncello, Infused Vodka, Ginger Martini, Shave Ice Cocktail, an ad-lib recipe called "Ginger Peach Martini - The Saga...   and one that became a very popular Swigs and Grinds photograph of a very sexy Ginger-Grape Cocktail

Lychee Martini

Ginger Peach Martini

When life gives you lemons... make limoncello 

Infused Vodka

Watermelon Cocktail

Bloody Mary

Shave Ice Cocktail

Ginger Grape Cocktail

In the beginning of 2010 I decided to conduct some food surveys of sorts to as many different demographics as I could wrangle. I interviewed KidsMountain Bikers, and Moms; and I sadly just realized that my interviews with Business Professionals, Singles, Restaurant People, and Swanky Artists somehow only got saved as drafts and I can't figure out how to publish them now and keep them in sequence. Sigh.... just know that it was fascinating stuff. 
Because who doesn't wonder what mountain bikers eat?

There was my bread dough phase, where I was freakishly determined to master the alchemy of yeast, flour and sugar. I shared my first success as well as my Dough Mishaps, and as I gained a little bread making confidence,
  there were recipes for Naan Bread, Pecan Raisin Bread, Pretzels, Pita Bread, Midnight Bread, Flour Tortillas and finally Pizza Dough - which I now make several times a week  professionally, but that story comes later...
Bread addiction

Dough mishaps: what to do when you screw up the dough...


Pecan Raisin Bread


Pita Bread

Making bread at midnight...

Those first couple of years I was cooking and eating like a maniac and dragging my readers, few as they were, along for the ride with more recipes for Melty Chocolate Cake and Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Melty Chocolate Cake

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Sexy Pear Tart

Bacon and Egg Sandwiches, Chicken Pot Pie, a Pastrami Invention, Lasagna Lunches, Corn and Potato Chowder, Artichokes, Berry Custard Cups, Caramelized Tomato and Onion Tart, Roasted Beet Salad, Fondu, Indian Spiced Chicken, Creamy Rosemary Potato Soup, Pork Roast w/ Caramelized Onions, Pear Tarts, Savory Crepes, a gnocchi recipe with confessions of several previous failures, and my Brussels Sprout recipe that has converted many a hater over the years, (and also almost caught my house on fire)... 
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon 
Bacon and Egg Sandwiches

Chicken Pot Pie

Pretty sure I invented the Reuben Calzone...

Lasagna Lunches

Corn and Potato Chowder

The Art of the Artichoke

Berry Custard Cups

Carmelized Onion Tart

Roasted Beet Salad

Christmas Fondu

Indian Spiced Chicken

Rosemary Potato Soup

Savory Crepes

FINALLY, successful gnocchi

Writing this blog over the last seven years has been so much fun for so many creative reasons, even during the creative famines where I was apologizing for abandoning my post(s) - (literally), promising to post more in the new yearwaiting for my muse to return, or seeking that muse on a sunday morning in bed with some food porn and the realization that "when I am in this space, it shows up and inevitably leads me to beautiful imageswords, thought, and then takes me by the hand and leads me into the kitchen, pours us both a cocktail and watches me do my thing."
Luring the children outside to play

It's also been a bit of a time capsule for my life, seen through the eyes of food and drink. 
My kids have grown up in the span of these seven years, but they are chronicled by such a Perfect Thing as my joy in watching them eat something they love, while Strange Things Invade My Kitchen - thanks to my mother, or while I become my own mother and tell them to Go Outside and Play, and get their Hands Dirty from bbq sauce at the beach.
There's stories of my mother and of my own childhood sprinkled throughout, and are expressed in memories of Mother's Day and food fights, as well as new traditions I had begun like Sunday Dinners

Get your hands dirty!
Sunday Dinners with Family
From a story about my mama

There was the helplessness of feeding someone who is in mourning and the beauty in realizing "When there are no words that need to be said, a simple bowl of scrambled eggs, or a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, or even a coffee cup full of Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream can begin the process of healing an un-healable wound. The mind must shift to taste and texture, making room around the pain and welcoming the true meaning of "comfort food".
Once again, I am grateful for the role of food. As distraction, comfort, and nurturing - to fill the pockets of grief that words, embraces & even love can't reach. And I am also grateful for swigs.
For something that can be lifted in salute to the fallen, in remembrance."

I have in the "pages" of this blog, my list of Perfect Things, and further appreciation for things like my dishes, coffee, Lucky Peach, Picky Food, Bacon Jam and Sam the Cooking Guy
My List of Perfect Things

Dishes for days...


Best. Magazine. Ever

Introducing: "Picky Food"

Bacon Jam. Click on the link and make this NOW

Sam the Cooking Guy

along with some of the places I have loved, like Brasserie Du Vin, Shogunai Tacos, Le Crepe Cafe, the Hawaiian Shochu Co., Lucky Belly, Scratch Kitchen and Bake Shop, the K.C.C. Farmers Market, Hale Maluhia
Oysters from Brasserie Du Vin

My boys from Shogunai Tacos

Le Crepe Cafe

Learning from the masters at Hawaiian Shochu Co.

Lucky Belly, I love you

Chef Brian making things pretty at Scratch Kitchen and Bake Shop

Scenes from the K.C.C. Farmers Market

and of course, the best of all...

My Italy adventure... Where first I had to introduce you to a verb I created called Dickwolfing before I could tell you about Having This Dream, learning to say I Love Your Face in Italian, having a Strawberry Epiphany, and advice on what to do when your Friend Has a Winery in Tuscany.
March in NYC

Mi Piace la tua facia

My favorite faces of Italy

While having a Strawberry Epiphany

Terasole Winery, Tuscany

The Good Stuff

A beautiful dinner with a beautiful family. Unforgettable...

Campo di Fiore = my mind BLOWN


The day I fell in love with Pisa

Castle Rooftop Shenanigans

And let's not forget about what finding the crapier side of Livorno taught me. Oh Italy..... I still have stories upon stories still to tell of that trip of a lifetime.  

I have learned to Be Careful What You Ask For, as I was handed the keys to my own little cafe and began my unplanned adventure of the last three years as a chef.

Which brings us to today. My posts have gotten further apart, I sleep less and work more. I no longer cook three meals a day at home or even entertain at home much, in fact my home fridge contains more take out containers than actual ingredients and my own meals are usually wolfed over a trash can or nibbled on between kitchen tasks instead of being eaten or sipped in the garden. I am more involved in food than I ever have been and much of my time is spent planning catering menus or four course wine pairing menus, doing mountains of dishes, and practically living at Costco. But it's pretty cool. 
The Real Food Cafe's Monster Brownies

Special of the Day: Enchiladas

From the days of making endless trays of baklava

It's all about our famous pizza though...

It's true and I've met some of the best....

My cafe is in a residential building in downtown Honolulu. Customers become friends and pop in through the back door throughout my day to bring me a cocktail or to have some kitchen scraps and talk story. My children are learning to work and serve and cook, and the crazy memories and experiences that I have collected as a result of ALL of this is the most beautiful reminder which is found in my logo, and which I wrote on that first day as a blogger seven years ago, "When your motto is 'will work for food', who knows what adventures may come. Really when you boil it down, aren't we all just working for food? In the pursuit to obey the eat-drink-and-be-merry advice of old, there is plenty to laugh at and chew on along the way."

And ain't that the truth. 
Happy 7th Swigs-and-Grinds-a-Versary!!!!!!!

So here on this seventh Swigs-and-Grinds-a-Versary, I want to say how truly grateful I am to see life unfold through the mess of food and the revelry of drink and I am blessed beyond belief to have been able to connect with readers, friends and family through the powerful connection of Swigs and Grinds. 

So if you're reading this, could ya do me a solid and leave me a comment? Tell me how you found Swigs and Grinds, or how I know you, or what you connect with in these stories and through food and drink itself. Please. Pretty please. And thank you. 
Thank you and cheers to where this will take us next....  

P.S. You can click on the links for recipes, stories and more.