thoughts..r.un..n.in..g


Day 2 Meal 2

If it weren’t for purchasing the box of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) veggies, I would never thought to make some of these vegetables as they are out of my normal cooking repertoire.

Tonight the star dish was roasted root vegetables. And in the supporting role was flounder fillet with lemon and dill. I never knew how easy it was. It was simply chopping up the vegetables, toss it with a marinade of sort, and let the oven do all the work! Can’t be simpler than that.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium size turnip, chopped into chunks
  • 3 medium size fresh beets, chopped into chunks
  • 2 jumbo carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion (or 1 medium), chopped into large wedges
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled but leave whole
  • 1 medium okinawan sweet potato (or purple sweet potato), peeled and chopped
  • 3 small red potato, scrubbed clean and chopped
  • 2 medium sprigs of rosemary, washed and coarsely chopped

After cutting everything, put into a large bowl for mixing with the following:

  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (more if needed)
  • freshly ground pepper

Coat vegetables with marinade and spoon veggies onto foiled baking pans. Preheat oven to 400ºF, place baking pans into oven for 45 min to 1 hr. Turn vegetables after first 30 minutes. Bake until veggies are brown and caramelized, but not burnt. Transfer to serving dish and ENJOY!

flounder fillet with lemon and dill

The dish was amazingly satisfying. The beets retained its crunchiness, a nice contrast to the softened sweet potato, which is sweet like candy with a starchy texture, which is a nice contrast to the juicy turnips. You get the idea. It’s good and good for you.



Day 1 Meal 1 – Raw Kale Salad
July 15, 2010, 4:24 am
Filed under: Cooking/Food | Tags: , ,

While I’m still identifying the mystery veggies and searching for recipes, I know my cruciferous greens, and kale is one of my favorites. I’ve only learned to use kale in my recipes in the past few years, but mostly in soups. There’s a notable surge in popularity for these curly heads as they are now ubiquitous at salad bars or healthy markets. You see them raw, you see them cooked. Kale is not a wimpy green; it’s got a crispness when eaten raw, and it doesn’t just wilt into the texture of a wet plastic bag when cooked. And of course, there are all the health benefits of these dark, leafy greens.

I decided to try it raw today and made a nice salad with it. With summer fruits in hand (in fridge, rather), I put sweet nectarines, grape tomatoes, toasted walnuts, and shaved pecorino cheese for some salty balance. I also made my own salad dressing that has a hint of ginger to give me tastebuds some excitement.

Ingredients:

  • kale, stemmed, washed, dried, chopped
  • 1 ripe nectarine, cored and chopped into bite sizes (green apple or peach would go very well in this too)
  • handful of grape tomatoes
  • handful of walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • pecorino cheese shavings

Throw everything together into a large bowl.

Salad dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • minced ginger (amount determined by your liking)
  • 1 small shallot minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix everything together, let it sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors meld together. Drizzle and toss salad with it.



veggie tales
July 14, 2010, 9:48 am
Filed under: Cooking/Food, Cool Stuff | Tags: , ,

Sometimes I evaluate my diet and realize I’m almost a vegetarian. And I feel guilty. You see, I take pride in being a meat eater. My grandma made me nothing but a big plate of tasty meat with a bowl of rice for lunch everyday when I was in elementary school. (Uh, yes, I was chubbidy fat kid, but very cute, must I add...) One of my favorite t shirts now from threadless.com reads “Vegetarians are eating the rainforest.” But because I’m too lazy to cook raw meat, I rarely buy it. Unsure of how prepared meats at the supermarket are prepared, I never buy those either, so I unless I eat out, no yummy meat goes into my tummy.

As a result (of my laziness), I have learned to love veggies. I like it so much that I don’t use dressing in my salads because it masks the sweetness of the lettuce and other vegetables. And as a result of this love for veggies, I am constantly seeking out places to buy fresh vegetables, which turns out to be local farmers markets. I have, then, indirectly learned to understand eating local, reducing carbon footprint, and community supported agriculture to be not just trendy-sounding buzz words but my responsibility to my community. Even though it’s more of an investment, the produce is much fresher compared to the airflown ones in regular supermarkets.

So this week, when people at my school co-ordered fresh picked vegetables from Otsuji Farm, a local farm in Hawaii Kai, and although it is not organic, I was excited to try out a case for $15. We were told that the variety of veggies in the case will depend on what’s ready for picking that day. The element of surprise makes the whole experience even more fun. The possibilities!

Today the first thing on my to-do list was to pick up veggies. Once in my hands, I opened the box like it was Christmas morning. The sight of the vegetables made me realize I’m not such a veggie expert after all as I had the slightest idea of what some of them are, let alone how to tastefully eat them. How many can you identify??

I feverishly looked up recipes for each of the vegetables, and I’m excited to try out everything. Stay tune to see what I end up putting on the table in the next couple of days!





a lesson from Sunshine
July 6, 2010, 11:52 pm
Filed under: babble, Cool Stuff | Tags: , ,

It was a dreary, rainy morning. I am a little sick and jet lagged, involuntarily waking at an obscene hour. The thought of hopping on a moped to work in the rain did not appeal to my achy head. Looking at my cereal, I suddenly remembered that Moped has been sitting in the garage downstairs well over a month untouched, ignition unfired. I gulped down the rest of my cereal, realizing it may take some time to kick start the engine. After all, she’s an old bike.

“I’m gonna be late, I’m gonna be late. Please please please, Moped, be good. I’m sorry I forgot to ask someone to fuel and fire you up while I was away…and for so long. But I need to get to work, please please,” I mumbled as I waited for the elevator door to open. Through the glass door I saw Moped sitting staunchly, with her head tilted longingly awaiting my return, to unchain her and to put her to use.

Releasing the heavy chain from her back wheel and fumbling through the routine of packing my bag, putting on my helmet, I gave Moped a sincere yet slightly admonishing pat on her back. “Don’t fail me,” I thought to her.

I hopped on, turned the key, revved the famished engine with fuel and waited for a response. I expected Moped to whine a little with that teasingly prolonged start up sound she makes when refusing to actually start, but to my great surprise and joy and gratitude, she hungrily guzzled the fuel and growled a powerful cry as if screaming “let’s go!”

Moped and I dashed out of the garage into a different day as the sun had peeked out and scorched the rain away. As we rode into morning traffic, I understood why her previous owner had lovingly named her Sunshine.

Epilogue–

Sunshine is a modest Rexy 50. Her years is unknown to me although I can probably check her registration to find that out. I am her third owner who admittedly sometimes wished I had a prettier bike, like this Italian-made one:

If there’s a lesson to be learned today from my modest yet utterly loyal and reliable bike, however, it is that I’d wish my life to be as achieving as hers–to unreservedly fulfills the purpose of her being made.



Accidental Motherhood
July 1, 2010, 5:01 am
Filed under: babble, Life

It is my father’s birthday this week, so my sister and the kids came down from up north to spend the week here celebrating the birthday and to spend time with me. Their trip was almost threatened by a tummy virus that Abby has had for a few days. Wait. Their trip is still threatened by the virus now that they are here and my sister caught it.

This means I play mommy. I knew being a mom is a full time job, but being a mom of two is time and a half. The majority of the time and a half is spent washing; washing dishes, washing clothes, washing fruits, washing them.  And then they EAT! “Can I have cheese toast, please?” “Cheerio! Cheerio!” “Bloo bloo bloo (blueberries).” Just when you think you can leave the kitchen, you return again to make more snacks.

Now I understand why many moms look the way they do. I stayed in my yoga clothes all day yesterday after my morning class because there was no point in changing. All I did was washing things, fix them lunch, wash more things, blew bubbles outside, make them snacks, wash dishes again. By the time they went down for a nap, I was too tired myself to work on anything else so I napped as well. It’s much easier to keep the kids within the confines of the house, I can’t even imagine taking two kids out by myself. But their faces start to take on a grayish tint after a day of staying indoors. They start to get whinny about every little thing. Oh, the sun does wonders to souls young and old.

And what did mothers do before PBS? Who knew Elmo and Dora and Barney can be so incredibly helpful? It’s puzzling to me why kids love the ugly purple thing. I don’t even know what animal it’s supposed to be, but as long as they love dancing with it and it gives me a breather, I’ll love the purple thing too.

I have always been good with kids, but I have never learned so much about them as I have this week. It’s tiring but fun. It’s rewarding but restricting. I can’t tell how I feel about motherhood. The restrictive feeling may be abated by the knowledge that this is only a one week deal, but may be the fun is too. Well, it’s just a thought, not that I have decide now.



A different kind of energy II

WELL, I fell into a food coma after just re-viewing those photos in that last post. And I surmise that it’ll happen again after this one because the food pic continues.

Let’s see, where did I leave off? oh yes, after a perky cup of organic, locally roasted coffee at Flipnotics (their website is so quintessential Austin, it makes me smile) and FlipHappy (I just noticed the theme there), we were just in time for Sushi-A-Go-Go. Yes, raw fish from a trailer.

Coming from Hawaii where grade A sushi is bountiful, I did not have high expectations. Whenever Austinites, or Texans for that matter, say that their sushi is ‘good,’ I smile the same smile as when someone in Hawaii say we have ‘good’ Mexican food. Although the man sitting inside the trailer does familiarly Japanese, I was still skeptical, especially on this 95+ degree day…

We ordered the spooky roll (spicy tuna, avocado, salmon over the rice), the summertime roll (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna mix, avocado, spicy go-go sauce& tempura crunchy on the top), and a special–one with ika (squid), ume (dried pickled plum) and shiso leaf (perilla; annual herb in the mint family)–my favorite combination of flavors. First bite into the spooky roll, my eyes got big, my instinctive reaction to taste buds happiness. The rice was fresh, the fish was fresh with firm texture, the taste was clean. Had we put the rolls on a fancy plate, you’d believe it came from a very decent sushi-ya. The only imperfection is the ubiquitous mayo concoction over the rolls. I’m a sushi purist, the simpler the flavors the better. But I still deem it another trailer success!

The next wheel over from Sushi-A-Go-Go was Sno Beach Hawaiian Shaved Ice. Cyn had wanted it since the night before but I was not ready. First of all, if you’re going to call it Hawaiian, you’d have to do it right and drop the grammar. There’s no ‘d’ in shave ice; it’s not a past action, its Hawaiian time (and grammar). And as a loyal Waiola customer, all other shave ice is second tier. But since Cyn, who has also had the real deal assured me that Sno Beach has Waiola-grade ice, I agreed to give it a try.

It did live up to Waiola’s level of silky smooth ice. My usual flavor combo at Waiola is green tea and milk, here I had a sweeter combo per Cyn’s recommendation of almond and wedding cake with creme added on top. I still don’t know what wedding cake flavor is, but it tasted good. And at $2.50, it’s the perfect palate cleanser.

By then the blazing Texas sun was directly overhead, perfect time to go back into the cool water. We paddled for nearly two hours working up another appetite for more. There were so many people also paddling, kayaking, canoeing, tubing. Leisure does it.

We returned to Torchy’s once again because of the alleged best queso in the world. It’s quite a claim so we have to see for ourselves.

It’s their green chili queso topped with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and diablo sauce. I don’t know if it’s the best queso in the world, but it is surely the best queso I’ve had. And you didn’t think we stopped there, did ya?

From top to bottom:

Dirty Sanchez–Scrambled eggs with guacamole, fried poblano chili, escabeche carrots, and shredded cheese served on a flour tortilla with our poblano ranch sauce.

Brushfire–Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, Sour cream, and cilantro served on a flour tortilla with our Diablo sauce.

Don’t remember what the third is.

Baja Shrimp–Hand battered shrimp fried with cooked cabbage slaw, topped with pickled onions & jalapenos, queso fresco, cilantro and a lime wedge. Served on tortilla of choice and our creamy chipotle sauce.

Two words: DAMN GOOD.

Trailer food is great. And Austin is great largely because of it. There are many other trailers still waiting to be sampled: hot dogs, pizzas, burgers, cupcakes, bbq, you name it.

………….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz



a different kind of energy

Some times what you didn’t even know you’re looking for is just right around the corner.

Since I am in the market for a new city, I have a list of ‘must haves’ that I am assessing each place with. A thriving classical music scene, close to New York City, job opportunities, walking city, public transportation, runner and bicyclist friendly, active lifestyle (mountains and bodies of water nearby), earth-friendly, farmers markets, fantastic food scene, eclectic cultures–not too much to ask for in one place, right?

A few cities encompass parts of my wish list, Philly being one of them. This weekend, I had a chance to hop over to Austin from Houston. I thought it was just a chance to stand up paddle (SUP) while away from Hawaii, but little did I know that I was about to leave Texas and find much of what I want.

After a nearly three hour drive and a speeding ticket, Cyn and I arrived in Austin at about 8pm. Sky still lit, we went looking for food (of course). We decided that the flourishing trailer food scene in Austin would be this trip’s theme. So first up, South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery.

We got tacos from Torchy’s Damn Good Tacos and a frozen hot chocolate from The Holy Cacao. The tacos were truly damn good. I got the green chile pork, and Cyn got the seared ahi. Tasty.

Our love for progressive eating prompted us to move on to the next set of trailers. After circling downtown Austin, where a few other well-known trailers are supposed to be, we twittered, googled, and called to find what is to be the reigning BEST taco I have tasted.

TaKorea‘s (smart name) pork katsu taco with curried vinaigrette and kimchee puree. This unassuming looking taco is by far the tastiest little bite I have ever chomped into. The breading is crunchy yet there’s plenty of tasty meat underneath. The sweetness of the meat perfectly balances the tang from the vinaigrette highlighted by the slight heat from the very mild kim chee puree. I was speechless until I heard myself ordering another one. My thumb was up the entire time I was trying to tell the guy that he’s got that taco down. I went to sleep smiling that night.

DAY 2

The purpose of the trip was to SUP. I admit that I lost focus for a bit there in the midst of taco fever. Waking up early the next morning, we made it to paddling on the hot Texas day at Town Lake. Austin has an entirely different energy from any other Texas city I have been to. My sans coffee body was invigorated merely by the sight of the dozens of runners, bicyclists, kayakers, canoers along and in the lake. Just 165 miles away from the once fattest city in America, Austin is FIT, and there is the smell of sweat and health in the air!

SUP-ing in a lake is not as fun as in the ocean, but there’s certainly a placid serenity to the waveless water. After trying out the free demo given by SUP ATX in the morning, we planned out our day to eat, SUP for another two hours, eat some more. Nearby and still relatively slow, we got in line for some famous pancakes.

As seen on Food Network’s Throwdown, the ladies at FlipHappy Crêpes easily beat out Bobby Flay with their crunchy on the outside, soft but not mushy on the inside crêpes generously filled with savory or sweet ingredients. I had the tarragon mushrooms crêpe with goat cheese, spinach, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. The 15 minutes wait was worth every bite.