Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oahu's KCC Farmer's Market

Today I'm going to take you on a photo safari through the Farmer's Market at Kapiolani Community College. This tale starts on a Saturday morning, when I awoke in a strangely pissy mood, given my usual sunny disposition. I don't know what my problem was. But I knew that I had already planned to make the trek to town to FINALLY check out the farmer's market. I was going to go alone, saunter around, sniffing & chatting & touching & photographing & tasting. What was there possibly to be pissy about? Those are among my favorite activities.

But still. The clog in the parking lot once I got there didn't help. I finally found a spot about 700 miles away, gathered my stuff and started heading toward... I wasn't sure where I was going. But there was a steady stream of people coming from the opposite direction, so I swam upstream. Men passed with kids on their shoulders, dirtying their dads with sticky fingers, tourists passed by with bonzai trees and flower arrangements, a gorgeous girl with a huge bunch of sunflowers, and a guy with a very sexy, um... loaf of bread. Seriously, it was a great looking french bread!

And I realized as each person passed me, my mood was steadily improving. I was heading toward a food wonderland! It was a beautiful day in Hawaii & I had hours to putter about. sigh..... With a renewed attitude & a growl in my stomach, I made my way to the rows upon rows of tents and people & food, oh my!

There was a crap load of people, which started to arose a bit of grump in me, but I jumped in & watched them & soon became one of them.

There is something so much better about shopping for food while talking to the guy who grew it. Baskets overflow with pineapple, mangoes, onions & turnips...

I stopped to smell the flowers, and all was right with the world. The white ginger below is sold in bunches and used in making ginger leis. My favorite!

The buckets of tropical flowers reminded me of how truly lucky I am to live here.
Then I met Paul, the honey guy. I experienced my first honey tasting as spoon upon tiny spoon was thrust my way with an enthusiastic description of the process & the flowers that were the go-to's for the bees to make each one. I was amazed at the difference in taste from one to another. I left with a jar of Ohia Lehua (a hawaiian flower) honey and I have been using it in sparing, special circumstances, like it's liquid gold.

I really wanted to try these BBQ'd abalone from the Big Island, but the line was crazy. I plan to check out their farm the next time I am on The Big Isle though, especially since I just saw an episode of Dirty Jobs where they went to an abalone farm. Fascinating stuff....
And my search for the sexy bread came to an end here. Loaves & loaves & loaves of manna from heaven. I too would be the owner of a sexy loaf!
Soon enough my bag was filled with a strange array of things, and the growl in my stomach was screeching at me. Thankfully KCC's Culinary Program had a tent selling some killer kalua pork sliders with coleslaw on a taro bun. Oh. Yeah. Baby. I pulled up a patch of grass and wolfed mine down while watching crowds of people, bags overflowing with their own goodies, hunched over mountains of shave ice, slices of pizza, fried green tomatoes and god knows what else. It was a beautiful thing.
And with my day's plunder of jalepenos, limes, tomatoes, mesculin, melon, honey, heart of palm, breadfruit, and yes - my sexy loaf of bread, I rode the wave all week making many a concoction to feed my people & my soul.

So the moral of the story is: When Life Makes You Pissy, Surround Yourself With Food. Worked for me anyway.
When you're in the neighborhood, be sure to hit the KCC Farmer's Market on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Parking Lot C (Off of Diamond Head Road)
Kapiolani Community College
4303 Diamond Head Road
Honolulu, HI 96816

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Coffee. Thank God for coffee!

Herein lies a cup of love. Liquid warmth & energy that is the fuel that wakes up the eyeballs & softens the hard edges of the morning. I don't mess around when it comes to coffee. It's gotta be real coffee, not that junk in a can. Although I do have a can of "emergency" coffee, because on those terrible, terrible mornings when you wake up & realize you forgot to get more freakin coffee, as if there's anything more important, emergency coffee is better than no coffee, if only by a small margin. I have a tiny little KRUPP'S espresso maker that I got for $30 bucks at Walmart. It makes one coffee at a time; thick, strong coffee and then it turns milk unto something, dare I Yeah, sexy. I need a sexy coffee first thing in the morning.

I'm almost always looking down the barrel of my favorite coffee cup, which is the sole survivor of a set of four. It's chipped & cracked & It's days are numbered, but unless it's been forgotten in the garden after yesterday's coffee ritual, or buried in a sink full of dishes, it's the only one that will do. It is my soul mate of a coffee cup. Freakish, I know.

It's not only about the coffee, the sexy foam or my favorite coffee cup, it's also about creating the blissfull, comfy, renewing atmosphere in the pocket of the day in which to suck it down. Sometimes I can stomach watching the morning news over my cup of Jo, but usually being bombarded by murder, scandal, natural disasters & human disasters before having my peaceful coffee moment makes me squirmy. Not to mention trying to savor my moment while Spongebob is blaring in the background, don't get me started.

When I first moved into my house, I didn't have cable TV. Sigh..... This meant coffee-time in bed, or in the quiet sunlight on the couch... But things have changed. Now, I have finally created my little haven outside in my garden. Since I have recently gotten back on the watering-the-garden-bandwagon, I have figured out that if I drag my coffee down to my haven, it forces me to water and then I can sit on the bench, kick my feet up on the table and have my peaceful moment. Then & only then can I face the day's scandal & natural disasters that I will undoubtedly encounter.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Citrus Granita

In Hawaii, we have shave ice, which is usually flavored with crazy, (delicious) artificially flavored syrup. The other day I made this granita, or shave ice with my kids and it was the perfect cool, summer treat. Plus, me being me, I quickly realized that if you pour a little citrus vodka over the top, it turns it into a lovely grown up treat!

Put your cookie sheet in the freezer while you make the liquid to help the freezing process.

4-5 large lemons, oranges etc... or enough to get about 2 cups of juice
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

Cut a couple long strips of rind from the citrus, making sure to not include any of the white pith.
Cut citrus in half & juice them.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil.
Lower heat to simmer, add the lemon juice, and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Add the lemon strips and allow to cool to room temperature.
When cool, strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
Transfer the mixture to the cookie sheet & put back in the freezer.

About every half hour, scrape the mixture with a fork to make ice crystals. Continue until it's frozen to your liking. Serve in a swanky glass.

I'm happy to have this basic recipe to be able to do some improv with! Imagine this with watermelon, peach juice, or even espresso!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Go outside & play!"

Once again, I have realized that I have become my mother. It's summer, my kids are on break, and I find myself constantly shooing them outside. We argue back & forth, I say things like, "because I said so", or "Yes, there ARE things to do", and my favorite: "No I am NOT being unreasonable!" We live in Hawaii, for crying out loud (there's my mother again!), why is it such a chore to go play outside?!

Well, at least I have figured out that I can make them eat outside. I'm like the Pied Piper, I carry the food outside and they follow. And then something pretty cool happens. A bowl of summer cherries turns into a ruckus, funny contest to see who can spit more seeds into the bowl. When I sneak back inside to finish dinner, they slowly trickle back in & attempt to turn on the T.V. & provide me more opportunities to say those motherly "Don't-make-me...." warnings.

But then when we gather around the outside table for dinner, the chatter turns to having a bonfire & making s'mores, which we do as the sun sets, the stars come out and we settle around the fire pit talking about our favorite memories.

Later that night, my hair still smelling of smoke, I find myself in a moment of gratitude for the things of summer; a sweet bowl of cherries, gooey s'mores, the silly sweetness of my kid's faces in the firelight, and the wise words of my mother shooing us all outside to breathe in the summer air.

Monday, July 5, 2010

B.J.'s Baked Beans

Twenty-six years ago today, my parents opened their restaurant called B.J.'s BBQ & Deli. They sold it & retired 10 years ago, but it remains the backdrop for much of my childhood as well as the breeding ground for my love of food. When the restaurant opened, my mom's goal was that "B.J's would become a household name". And that it did. We lived in a small community in Northern California & B.J's went from a tiny take out BBQ place to a slightly expanded restaurant that seated 55 and would serve up to 300 dinners on a Friday or Saturday night.

The menu consisted of deli sandwiches, bbq ribs, chicken & prime rib, deli salads, corn on the cob, and my mom's famous baked beans. Every few days she would bring to life a huge vat of beans which would slowly sit cooking for an entire day. There was a lot of love & time poured into these beans.

So this year some internal clock went off inside of me. A few days ago, I dragged out my mom's recipe for baked beans, which I had never made myself before, and began my adventure of de-coding a restaurant portion recipe into one that would fit onto my stove. The process takes ALL day, but is about a million, billion times better than anything you will find in a can. Just the smell of them cooking on the stove sent me straight back to the many, many days I spent in my parents restaurant.


2 C. Great Northern Beans (1 small bag)
1 C. BBQ sauce
1/8 C. cider vinegar
1 Tbs. mustard
1-2 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 C. thick sliced ham, cubed
1 Polish sausage, cubed
1 Tbs. Kitchen Bouquet (if this is not something you use, you find it in the condiment section at the store - it's great for adding a dark, rich color & flavor to sauces & gravy)
1 tsp. salt
1 C. brown sugar

What you do:
Rinse beans & put into large stock pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn off and let sit for 1 1/2 hours. Dump out water, and refill with fresh water, then turn back on a and simmer until tender, about an hour & 1/2 more, until tender. Make sure there is enough water remaining to cover the beans. Then add Kitchen Bouquet & salt and continue to cook for another 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile, saute onion, ham & sausage until slightly browned. Pour in 1/4 C. of water to deglaze pan and then add remaining ingredients except brown sugar, and simmer in a small saucepan until beans have cooked for 1/2 an hour.

Add sauce mixture to beans and cook for at least one hour, stirring often.

Add brown sugar and cook another hour. By then you will have tender, sweet, tangy beans that will be the star of your BBQ. These are great if you make them the day before you plan on serving them, and let them hang out in the fridge overnight. They are great hot or cold.

Last night, on the 4th of July, as I found myself hunched over a plate of BBQ spare ribs, fresh corn on the cob, and my mom's baked beans, I realized I had subconsciously re-created an exact replica of what would be served at B.J's. And now that I read these words, I see my mom's dream of having B.J.'s being a household name has lived on all these years later.

I hope you will try these and I hope that they will continue to live on in infamy in your family.

Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pita Bread

So the other night I decided to revisit the falafel recipe (October '09) - and for those of you who thought making them seemed too ambitious, you really must try it. I promise it's no harder than making meatballs!

Anyway, I also decided that pita bread shouldn't be so hard to make, given my recently gained bread making confidence. So I went for the first recipe I found, mixed the ingredients, then finished reading the recipe, where it said to let the dough rise for THREE hours! It was already like 7:00, so I disobeyed, let it rise an hour and voila! Homemade pita bread!

And let me say this. As with most things, homemade is SO much better. They were soft & still warm from the oven when we stuffed them with the falafel, veggies & yogurt/cucumber dressing. Killer, killer, killer. Please give this a try, you will impress yourself with your skills!


* 1/2 Tbs yeast
* 1 1/2 cup warm water (120-130 degrees)
* 3 cups all purpose flour (I used bread flour)
* 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon sugar

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.
Combine flour and salt in large bowl.
Add the yeast-water and stir with wooden spoon until combined.
Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic.
Coat a large bowl with olive oil and put dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.
Allow to sit in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size. (Since I was trying to rush this part along, I turned on the oven to about 200, then turned it off after about 5 minutes. Then I put the bowl of dough in the oven to rise.)

Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces and shape into balls. Let them sit covered for 10 minutes to rise. Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheets. I think this scorching heat is the secret to getting that cool pocket in the bread. Not sure what magical thing happens in there, but it works.

Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.
Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes.
Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.

And there you have it!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Brasserie Du Vin

There are times when the sea calls me. Not with the need for me to be in it, but more so the need for it to be in me.
And when this call comes, it comes in the form of oysters.

I was one of the strange kids who would eat anything - except liver - especially if it would make my mom cringe. And oysters definitely make my mom cringe. But to me as a kid, it was almost like an adventure to eat something so ugly & slimy & strange. I didn't even taste it, really - I just went for it in the name of adventure.

But now, many years later, I have come to appreciate these mysterious creatures. The cool, taste of the sea makes them the perfect summer treat.

Which brings me to my point of introducing you, dear reader, to my favorite place to have dinner with a girlfriend, an early evening drink, a Saturday lunch or even a birthday bash. All of which I have had at
Brasserie Du Vin, in downtown Honolulu.

Du Vin is a brasserie & wine bar, which opened two doors down from my photography studio in 2006. My culinary prayers had been answered. Since then, owners Dave & Mari Stewart have become great friends of mine and the Mediterranean, rustic feel of this cafe has made it my favorite little spot.

Most of the food served at Du Vin is almost tapas style - small plates of salads, breads, cheeses, & olives meant to be shared. There is also a great selection of daily specials as the well as the regulars on the menu, my favorites by far being the mussels in garlic, butter & white wine & the pork chop, which never fails to knock my socks off, if you will.

And then there's the oysters...

New Zealand oysters are served on the half shell with a bit of cocktail sauce & lemon. Order up a glass of chilled Famega (the only white wine that you will find me talking about), and sit back and savor all that these strange little creatures have to offer.

The next time you are in the neighborhood, you must make a stop at Brasserie Du Vin, located 1115 Bethel street. Chances are you will find me there sipping a glass of wine, chatting with friends & hopefully full of oysters...