Monday, July 25, 2011

bang for your buck: convertible dress

 
Kirra convertible dress/skirt, PacSun.com  $26.50

Though I usually consider myself too old to be dressing myself in anything from PacSun, I will occasionally fine a gem amongst all the surf-brand stuff.  I bought this dress/skirt for $26.50 (plus tax) at the PacSun store in Ala Moana Shopping Center (Honolulu, HI).  I wore it on the flight back to OAK – a nice transitional piece from the 90 degree weather in HNL to the cool 69 degree weather in Oakland (just threw a cardigan over it, and voila!).  I also wore it while running errands and lounging around the house this weekend – super comfortable in lovely soft fabic, and flattering too.  You can adjust the height of the dress by folding over the top band or leaving it full length.  It is my new favorite piece of clothing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

picture postcards from the beach

South shore of O'ahu:  Queen's Beach


North shore of O'ahu:  Shark's Cove

South shore of O'ahu:  Waikiki Beach at sunset

Monday, July 18, 2011

when you can't stand the heat...


Get thee some shave ice!


Coming from mild weather in San Francisco, the 88-92 degree range is just way too hot for this former island girl.  I think I’ve been in front of a fan or air conditioner every chance that I could since I got to Hawaii.  (Seriously, I am breaking a sweat just sitting here.)  After a short stint at the beach this afternoon, I took my cousin to Waiola Shave Ice, where we split a large rainbow-flavored shave ice with ice cream on the bottom, topped with condensed milk.  The more I come to Waiola, the more I am convinced that this place is even better than Matsumoto’s on the North Shore (and I *love* me some Matsumoto’s).  

p.s. How cute is my cousin?





Waiola Shave Ice
3113 Mokihana St (at Kapahulu Ave.)
HonoluluHI 96816



Hours:
Mon-Thu  10am-6pm
Fri-Sun  10am-6:30pm

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

wish you were here!

Hawaiian skies, over my parents' house


Sorry I've been lacking in posts lately - I'm actually on vacation in bright and beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii!  I'll be landing back in the mainland in the middle of next week, but I'll post a few photos during my stay here.  Until my next post...as they say here, a hui ho!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

not your average chicken noodle soup: soto ayam


The final product, all dressed up.

This recipe was suggested to me when I was looking for some "new" chicken soup recipes to make for someone who had a cold.  I'd never had it before, and didn't really know what it was supposed to taste like, but according to my "patient", it was really good. 

INDONESIAN SOTO AYAM

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 chicken breast meat, skinless and deboned (cut into small cubes)
1 stalk of lemon grass (cut into 3 strips)
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of chicken broth
1 glass of water

SPICE PASTE:

1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
4 shallots (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 pieces of turmeric (peeled and chopped) or 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder
2-inch piece of galangal (peeled and sliced)
2-inch piece of ginger (peeled and sliced)
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of sliced cabbages
2 cups of bean sprouts
1/2 pack of vermicelli or 1 small package of glass noodles
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 hard-boiled eggs (cut into wedges)
1 bunch coriander
1 stalk of spring onion (chopped)



METHOD:

Blend the spice paste in a food processor. Add some water if needed. Pour some oil in a pot and add in the spice paste. Stir the spice paste and wait for it to turn light brown. Add in chicken broth, coconut milk, lemon grass strips, and water. Once the broth starts boiling, add in chicken breast cubes. Cover the pot and lower the heat and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Blanch beansprouts, pre-soaked vermicelli / glass noddles, cabbages in another pot of boiling water and transfer them into a bowl once they are cooked. Add in toppings of hard-boiled eggs, chopped spring onions and pour the hot chicken broth into the bowl. Serve hot with lime wedges and sambal (see recipe below).



SAMBAL:

3 tablespoons oil
¼ cup minced onion
1 -2 tablespoon minced garlic
4 -6 teaspoons tinydried red chilies, crushed or 4 -6 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
1/3 cup finely minced fresh tomato
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons molasses

DIRECTIONS:

In a small frying pant or in a wok, heat the oil and stir fry the onions and garlic.  After a minute, add the hot pepper flakes or dried chiles.  Reduce heat and stir constantly so the peppers don't burn.  As soon as the flakes darken a little, add the rest of the ingredients and on the lowest heat, cook the sambal until most of the moisture has evaporated, about 15-20 minutes.  The final product should be so well cooked that you can't detect the tomatoes.  Refrigerated, this will keep for months.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

eating what you're hearing: lule kebabs




The observation was made that my cooking whims are directly influenced by the music I happen to be listening to at the time.  Since my latest iTunes downloads are a couple of songs from Khaled (“Aicha” and “Didi”, my earworms for the month of July), it was no surprised that I went into full-on Middle Eastern Food mode.  With all the hot weather we’ve been experiencing, it only made sense that I want to cook a cuisine that incorporates plenty of fresh vegetables, herbs, and cooling yogurt sauce.  On Friday night, I made Armenian Lule Kebabs – a dish that they serve at my neighborhood Middle Eastern restaurant, La Mediteranee. 

Here is the basic framework:

LULE KEBABS

 3 pounds ground lamb or sirloin (I use a mix)
1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (about 2 cups)
¼  cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 large egg
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
½ tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of ½ lemon
 
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Using your hands, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl just until combined (overmixing may toughen the meat).  Gently squeeze meat around 10-in. metal skewers to form log-shaped kebabs, each about 8 in. long. Put kebabs on baking sheet. Cover sheet with plastic wrap and, if you have time, chill 30 minutes to let flavors meld and firm up meat.  Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for high heat (450° to 550°; you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 2 to 4 seconds) and grill kebabs, turning twice, until grill marks appear and meat feels firm, approximately 8 minutes total. Sprinkle with parsley.

What I did:

I followed the recipe above, more or less, but I made sure to “test cook” a small piece of the meat mixture in a non-stick skillet to make sure it was seasoned to my liking.  My first test piece needed salt, so I upped the amount of salt I used and tried again until it tasted right.  I served the kebabs on a bed of rice pilaf (from a box, admittedly), and a salad of red onion, tomato, and cucumber with a lemon-parsley dressing.  I also made some baba ganoush from scratch, and topped it all off with a piece of flatbread and a side of tzaziki.  The above recipe makes about 8 big kebabs.

Bil-hana wa ash-shifa!

all that remains...



Okay, people...I have some good news, and some bad news.

The bad news is, we had some weird weather here that caused my lettuces to grow out of control and pass the point of no return (they started to flower).  Then, something dug up my radishes.  Jules suggested that I add more soil to the existing beds, so this weekend, we picked up another 4.5 cubic feet of organic soil so I could re-do the garden beds.

The good news is, I was able to successfully pull up one lovely watermelon radish plant, which I photographed before I cut them open.  They were just as promised - pale green on the outside with a lovely red center, just like a watermelon.

The rest of the garden has been replanted.  I sowed new radish and lettuce seeds, replanted the carrot and cucumber seedlings, and added a couple of rows of tomatoes.  So here we go - another few weeks of waiting and hoping that these babies will pull through.  I'm heading out to Hawaii on vacation starting on Sunday, so the fate of the garden for the subsequent 10 days is in the hands of my co-pilot.

Wish us luck!

Monday, July 4, 2011

happy independence day!!

view from the porch

I spent half of today in bed, a couple of hours cooking up some couscous and garlic french green beans, and then the afternoon at a BBQ in San Francisco.  We came back to Oakland while it was still sunny, and I snapped this photo right before the fireworks started.  Happy 4th, y'all!
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