Friday, October 26, 2012

Green Curry with Shrimp

Thai food just happens to be my family's (except for yours truly) favorite meal .  But when you have lemongrass, coconut milk, Thai fish sauce, basil, etc. what else could one possibly make but Thai curry.  I had to substitute a few ingredients though.  As I mentioned many times previously, I like to use what I have at hand without having to go to the store. The exception was with the eggplant.  I actually used the ones from my garden in minestrone yesterday so I had to buy this at the store


1 lb. Tiger prawns (shelled and deveined) You can actually leave the shells on if you want a richer flavor
1 medium onion
2 inches or so of young ginger, julienned
1 can coconut milk (not the sweetened cream)
Lemongrass stalk (I used the leaves which I tied together for easier removal)
2 large potatoes (preferably organic), peeled and cubed
1 large celery stalk (preferably organic) sliced
1 large Japanese eggplant, sliced
Green curry paste (start with a tablespoon of the paste and add more if you wish)
1 coconut can filled with water (I used two cans of water and it was more like a soup than a stew consistency)
Thai fish sauce
Thai basil (I used Greek basil which was all I had handy)
Kaffir lime leaves (I didn't have any so I used a squirt of Meyer Lemon)  If you don't have Kaffir, you could try using the zest of a lime.  Using lemon juice will curdle the coconut milk so I don't recommend it. But it did give it a nice flavor.

In a large saucepan, heat one tablespoon oil. Add the onions and ginger.  Fry for a couple of minutes.  Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, basil, green curry paste, 1 teaspoon of the fish sauce. Bring to a boil and then add the water, potatoes, celery, eggplant, Kaffir lime leaves.  Season to taste. You may have to adjust the amount of curry, fish sauce and/or salt. Bring to a boil and then lower heat.  Cook until the potatoes are cooked. Then add the shrimp.  Cook another minute or so.

Serve with Jasmine rice.

Crispy "Garbage" Cookies

Before going into the oven

Right out of the oven
Many years ago a friend shared her very delicious cookies with me.  She actually gave me the recipe one Christmas.  I think I made them once since then.  Today, I was searching for another cookie to make (being tired of the usual chocolate chip, oatmeal and/or sugar cookies) and remembered her recipe!  I changed the recipe a bit to my taste preference.  I like very crispy cookies.  I also wanted to use ingredients I had in the pantry.  The original recipe was also for double the amount.  I thought that was way too many cookies for our small family.  Although, I don't think my family would agree.  They were very happy with the results.


1/2 cup butter, oil or shortening (I used the Mediterranean blend)
1/2 cup organic sugar (or plain white sugar)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg (fresh local eggs preferred)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup unbleached flour
Pinch salt (I used coarse Hawaiian sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

"Garbage" Ingredients:
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup Corn flakes, Rice Crispies, etc. (I used crushed Frosted Flakes)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup Craisins
1/4 cup sesame seeds (I used organic)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with Pam, or a similar shortening spray (or grease by hand).

If using butter, make sure it has softened.  Cream the shortening with the sugars.  Add the egg and vanilla and blend well.  Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder together by sifting (I actually skipped this part and added these ingredients directly into the sugar mixture.  But, I made sugar to mix well so that no white was left in the bowl.  Add the "garbage" ingredients and again, mix well.

Place teaspoon full of dough onto the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart.  Bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes or until nicely browned.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Marinated Oven Baked Wild Sockeye Salmon Fillet

Baked Wild Salmon Fillets
We are trying to eat more wild salmon. This is in part due to the fact I am now doing what my sister does...buying the big bag of frozen wild sockeye salmon from Costco.  Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon is supposed to be very healthy for us. It is full of Omega-3, a good fat and less likely to be contaminated with Mercury, etc.

The following is the recipe I created based in part on a friend's grilled salmon recipe.


3 individual wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon fillets (one per person)
1 large piece of fresh ginger (peeled and sliced)
1/4 cup sliced fresh green onions or chives
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup Shoyu (Soy Sauce, I used Kikkoman)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a Pyrex baking dish, place all the ingredients except for the salmon fillets.  Blend well.  Coat both sides of the fillets with the marinate.  Place the fillets in baking dish with the skin side up.  Bake for approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until the skin is crispy and browned.  Serve with rice and vegetables such as wilted Kale or Swiss Chard.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

My mom sent me vanilla beans so I could make my own vanilla extract.  I found a very easy recipe here.  So today, I made vanilla extract.


1 bottle of 80 proof vodka (I do not think it has to be the really good stuff)
12 vanilla beans

Remove approximately 1/4 cup of the vodka from the bottle.  With a sharp knife (I used a sharp cleaver) slice the vanilla beans lengthwise.  Add the the vodka in the bottle.  Shake and put in a cool dark place for approximately 2 to 3 months.  The instructions indicate that we should shake the bottle at least once a week.

All this extract will surely come in handy for cookie making season...i.e.  Christmas!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fresh Organic Strawberry Cupcakes and Icing

Batter and cupcakes getting ready for the oven

another angle

Cupcakes right out of the oven


These cupcakes came about because I could not find an exact recipe for what  I was hoping for.  My family really enjoyed them!


1 pint organic* fresh strawberries (washed, thoroughly dried of all moisture and hulled).  Set aside 12 whole smaller strawberries for the center of the cupcakes)
2/3 cups organic* sugar
1 cup white whole wheat flour or organic* unbleached flour
2 teaspoons organic* baking powder
1/3 cup organic* plain yogurt
1/3 cup organic* low fat milk
1/4 cup organic* butter, softened
1 organic* egg
1 teaspoon organic* vanilla
Pinch salt

*organic products are optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the meantime place cupcake or muffin cups in the muffin pan (I used an older cast iron muffin pan which makes 11 smaller cupcakes.  I therefore had to buy smaller muffin cups to fit).

In a large bowl mix the sugar, butter, egg, vanilla until well blended. Add the milk and the yogurt and mix well.  Add the flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix well.

Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into muffin cups.  Place one small strawberry in each cup with the batter.  Fill the  these cups with the remaining batter.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool.


Remaining strawberries (mashed)
Organic* powered sugar (1 cup or more)

 Slowly add the mashed strawberries into the powered sugar.  Mix well until it is the consistency of icing (not too thin or watery).  Add more powered sugar as needed.  Refrigerate for a few hours.

Ice cooled cupcakes with this icing.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crispy Kale Chips

I bought a big bunch of Dinosaur Kale at the Farmer's Market the other day with the intention on trying kale chips which is what I made tonight as a side dish for dinner.  TIP:  Prepare the kale a day in advance (wash and dry thoroughly with salad spinner and paper towels).


1 bunch Dinosaur Kale, washed and dried, torn or cut into big pieces (or any other kale you may prefer or have)
Olive oil
Salt (preferably Hawaiian sea salt (fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix the kale with enough oil to lightly coat (be careful to use too much.  Approximately 1 or 2 tablespoons should suffice.  Sprinkle with salt.  Place on baking sheets.  I actually sprayed a little shortening on both pans.  Place the kale leaves as pictured above.   Do not crowd.  Bake for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.  Chips should be crispy but not brown.

Serve immediately.

NOTE:  I thought these chips had a slight Korean nori taste.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blueberry Yogurt Bread

This is the first time I have made a quick bread from ingredients I had at hand.  In other words, I created this recipe.  The quick bread was very moist and not too sweet.


1 1/4 cup organic sugar (or whatever sugar/sweetener you prefer)
1/2 cup Mediterranean blend oil (combination of canola, olive and grapeseed sold at Costco)
2 large eggs
3/4 cups organic plain yogurt (regular plain yogurt is fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used Hawaiian sea salt)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup frozen blueberries (or fresh)
1 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease rectangular baking dish (Pyrex works well).

In a large bowl, mix sugar, oil and eggs.  Add the yogurt and vanilla.  Blend well.  Carefully add the flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix well but be careful not to over mix.  Add the blueberries, walnuts and orange zest.  Mix to blend.  Pour into greased baking dish.  Bake for approximately 3/4 hour to an hour. It may take as little as 1/2 hour depending on your oven and baking dish.  I used a big shallow baking dish and it took 1/2 hour to bake.  Use toothpick to check.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bamboo Rice - Fried Rice

Picture source

I found this new rice at a local store a few weeks ago. It is a medium grain Calrose rice with bamboo concentrate.  It has a slight herbal tea taste. But real difference in taste was not noted when made into fried rice.  That is exactly what I decided to use it for today.  TIPS:  Do not use too much water as this rice will get soggy.  It is usually 1 3/4 cups of water per cut of rice.  I think 1 1/2 cup water per cup of rice may be better.  Bring rice to a boil and then cook at low heat until water is absorbed.  There is no need to rinse this rice.
Sorry for the poor picture.


2 cups cold cooked bamboo rice (or any other cooked rice)
1/2 to 1 cup Chorizo sausage, sliced thinly, fried and drained
1 cup fried pork belly (seasoned with salt and pepper) and sliced thinly
1 cup thawed peas (I used organic)
1 envelope of saimin soup seasoning (optional)
1/4 cup Kikkoman soy sauce
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dried Shittake mushrooms (reconstituted in boiling water and drained)
3 large eggs, beaten

Fry the chorizo sausage and drain on paper towel.  In the oil that is left in the pan, fry the pork belly, drain and then cut into smaller pieces.  Remove most of the oil and scramble the egg.  I actually cooked it like I would an omelet. Then I cut the egg into smaller pieces.

Hea a wok or larger cast iron pan.  Add two tablespoons oil.  Fry the garlic and onion.  Then add the cold cooked rice and fry in the hot oil.  Season with the saimin seasoning and soy sauce.  Add the other ingredients except the green onions.  Fry until the rice is somewhat caramelized.  Top with the green onions and serve.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Crab and Mushroom Frittata

On the rare occasion when we have Dungeness Crab for dinner and the even rarer occasion when there is leftovers, I make a frittata for breakfast the next morning.


1 cup crabmeat
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 green onions stalks, sliced
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh herbs (whatever you have available)
5 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Beat the eggs and set aside.  Heat a heavy cast iron pan and add approproximately 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Fry the garlic until lightly brown.  Add the mushrooms, saute for two minutes.  Add eggs.  Add the crabmeat on top of the eggs.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Lower heat to low and cover.  Cook until the egg sets.  This will take approximately 10 minutes or less.  When the eggs are cooked, sprinkle with fresh herbs.  Serve with potatoes or bread.

Serves 3 to 4.

KBLT - Kalua Chicken, Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich

One of my son and his friend's favorite meal is when I make them a Kalua chicken sandwich.  A short cut to making Kalua Chicken can be found here  or here via the slow cook method as opposed to the buried in a hot pit method.

The following is my simple recipe for this ono sandwich.  But if you have hungry young men and his friend, you may want to make two for each.

Kalua Chicken or pork (cooled)
1 Italian submarine sandwich bread for each (see picture)
1 large ripened garden tomato, thinly sliced or a bunch of ripe grape tomatoes (cut in half)
1 or 2 heads of Manoa lettuce (washed and thoroughly moisture)
1 slice of crispy bacon for each sandwich
Your favorite cheese slice such as provolone and avocado slices are optional.

Lightly toast the buns.  Lightly spread mayonnaise on each side of the inside of the bread.  Add a layer of lettuce leaves, then the kalua chicken, tomatoes and top with a bacon slice and a dash of freshly ground pepper.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some of the Plants in My Garden

Echinachea plants

Native Hawaiian Hibiscus

A vine variety of Jasmine



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beef Stroganoff using Organic Japanese Mushrooms

Marukai is currently celebrating a big anniversary.  That means they put their delectable organic mushrooms from Japan on sale.  Each 3.5 oz package is on sale for $1.99.  I am using the two shown in the photo below in Beef Stroganoff tonight.  Grass-fed ground beef is the substitute for sirloin tonight.  Yogurt is the substitute for sour cream.  I still can't decide whether to serve this dish with rice or pasta.  (We had pasta last night).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Plants in Garden - Early September

Heirloom Cantaloupe
Started from seeds in the ground. It was recently moved to a raised bed when the true leaves emerged.  The leaves were drooping.  Reason for this was that there were ants under the leaves.  This means an aphid problem.  Treatment:  Lavender soap sprayed on leaves.

Bush Beans

These too were started from seeds sowed directly in the ground.  It is producing slowly at least 2 beans a day.  I thought about transplanting them into a raised bed but since they are already producing beans I decided to leave them alone.  PROBLEM:  ground is compacted.

I save the potatoes that have sprouted eyes and plant them directly into the ground.  I have successfully grown baby potatoes but not full grown potatoes.  The longer the potatoes are in the ground the older they get not bigger.  I don't know why.

Olena (Turmeric) surrounded by Purslane
It is taking a long time for the turmeric plants to grow but I think it will be well worth it!  I need to shade the plants from the long direct sun.  As you can tell from the photos the tips are drying.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gardening in August

It has been a long time since I posted.  I haven't stopped cooking or baking but I really haven't been preparing anything new.  What I have been busy doing is replanting my garden.  There were a few water shut offs in the garden that caused many plants to die.  I don't know if I mentioned this before but I have a little community garden plot nearby.  It is a ten by ten plot.  Not big but sufficient to grow for family and to share. That is unless there is a drought that kills the poor plants!

Because of these and other problems, the soil in some areas has become compacted.  The soil amendments will help but it will take some time for it to make a difference.  So I decided to plant in mini raised beds.

The following are some pictures from my garden today:

The cantaloupe seedling was transplanted into one of the raised beds (see middle of photo).

The lettuce seedlings were transplanted yesterday in another raised bed (which my husband prepares for me using old dresser drawers).  The lettuce seedlings were covered by a sun protection cloth to prevent them from burning in the hot and intense Hawaiian afternoon sun.

Tomorrow I will finish mulching the path areas and will gradually plant small sections of green manure to enrich the soil.  I already planted a small section of Sunn hemp seeds which seem to be doing well.  Those are planted next to the sunflowers at the right hand of the photo.  The sunflowers had to be protected with a tomato cage and netting because the doves were eating each batch of seeds we planted.

I always stop by the San Damiano Crucifix first and ask Jesus to bless my garden.  I hope to find the right statue of Our Lady to place in the garden too. I would like to grow flowers near those.

The Brandywine seedlings were transplanted in still another raised bed.  I may have to move a few of them to another spot because I understand these heirloom tomatoes grow very big!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Square Foot Gardening: How to Get Started for $50

The following was shared with me. I recently got interested in square foot gardening. I have been reading a lot about this subject and watching videos on Youtube. I haven't started square foot gardening yet but may in the near future with the heirloom seeds I recently bought. Frugal Dad: Square Foot Gardening

Gardening Infographic

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I harvested a variety of vegetables from my garden.  I decided to try my hand at making tempura.  For tempura to be perfect, the batter must be light and very crispy.  I used the following in the tempura:

1.  Kale

2.  Eggplant

3.  Green beans

4.  Maui onions

5.  Shrimp

My recipe came from different sources including an old  Asian cookbook I have in my collection of cookbooks.

The results were as follows:

The only vegetable that retained the crispiness that made this meal a success, was the kale.  The other vegetables and also the shrimp wilted quite rapidly.  I used Grapeseed oil for frying and I also found it extremely important to maintain a consistently high temperature.  Whenever the temperature dropped even the slightest, the tempura started absorbing too much oil.

I made more than enough tempura for that evening's meal.  The rest was reheated in the toaster oven the next day.  I heated it low for approximately 15 minutes and the results were quite good!

For dinner I served the tempura along with the traditional dipping sauce of grated daikon with soy sauce, diluted a bit with water.  I also served Miso soup with it to compliment the Japanese theme. One recipe I used in order to learn the right technique in frying was here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sunflower in the Garden

This is what greeted me when I visited the garden yesterday.  What a lovely sight to behold!  Such a happy flower!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

10 Organic Gardening Tips for Hawaiian Gardeners

Contrary to what people may believe, it is not that easy to successfully garden in Hawaii.  It takes a lot of work,  trial and error.  A couple of challenges are getting the soil conditions right for growing vegetables and also battling the garden pests.  In my own garden, I am fighting off Asian Flower Beetles (adult and larvae) as well as the slugs.  

I found 10 helpful tips that I think is very helpful.  

1.  Test your soil...  
2. Know your pests...
3. Follow the ebb and flow of nature... You can read the entire list of tips
Tomato plant

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!

Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Honolulu

I hope you and your family have a very blessed Easter!

Joint Prayer for the Easter Virtues

O Lord,
the resurrection of your Son
has given us new life and renewed hope.
Help us to live as new people
in pursuit of the Christian ideal.
Grant us the wisdom to know what we must do,
the will to want to do it,
the courage to undertake it,
the perseverance to continue to do it,
and the strength to complete it.


People's Prayer Book

Making a Garden Apron from an Old Pair of Jeans

Shared by my son. click here.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Photos from the Garden

Potatoes, Plum Tomatoes (Romas) and  Kale plants

Tomatoes in different stages of ripening
The long pole is holding up the Jasmine branches that are spreading
My favorite new tool (I even marked it "Esther's Favorite Tool"

Corn, lemon basil and lemon grass (Kale belongs to a neighbor)

Jesus accompanies me in the garden.  The San Damiano crucifix is a gift from one of my sisters

Kabocha Pumpkin Japanese Style

This happens to be my husband's recipe. He loves squash and pumpkin cooked just about any way. He particularly loves this recipe.

Kabocha Pumpkin Recipe:

1 large Kabocha pumpkin, washed and cut up into large size pieces. No need to peel. Just be sure to remove the seeds (which can be roasted).
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 envelope Dashi or you can use your own homemade Dashi
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup water

In a large saucepan, Heat the oil and then fry the ginger. Add the pumpkin and blend well. Add the water, brown sugar, Dashi, soy sauce. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to medium low. Cook until pumpkin is tender.

Spicy Lentil Curry

My family does not like legumes. In fact, I really do not like legumes. As a child, I disliked one legume in particular, the humble lentil. However, it is essential for good health that we eat at least one meal containing legumes per week. The following is the lentil dish I prepared today. I liked it! Boy, will my mother be surprised.


1 bag lentils (picked over, rinsed and drained)
1 medium onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh chili (I used three small Hawaiian chili peppers, remove seeds)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 can tomatoes
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup frozen corn (or any other frozen vegetable)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
1 cup water
1/4 cup Craisins or raisins
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder

Heat a Dutch oven. Add the oil. Then add the garlic, chili, ginger, onions. Fry until onions soften. Add the cinnamon, chicken bullion, turmeric powder, cumin and curry powder. Mix well with a spoon. Add water, tomatoes, including its juices, and the lentils. Bring to a boil. Then lower heat to medium low. Add the potatoes and corn. Cook until potatoes are tender. Then add the Craisins or raisins. Cook another 10 minutes or so. Adjust the seasonings if needed (salt and pepper).

Serve with rice.

I also made Kabocha pumpkin Japanese style to accompany this dish.  Recipe to follow.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Today's Random Selection of Topics: GMO's Seaweed Mulch and a Monthly Garden Calendar for Hawaii

Dried seaweed 

Thanks to my husband, I was able to obtain seaweed for my garden plot. It was enough to cover the area.

How ocean plants help earth plants

Seaweed, which originates from the ocean's garden, is one of the best materials for an earth garden. For one thing, kelp helps stimulates soil bacteria. This, in turn increases fertility of the soil by humus formation (which feeds on the bacteria), aeration and moisture retention. Let's look at some other ways that kelp helps:

Seed germination is improved
Fruits and vegetable have a greater nutritional value
Plants develop more extensive root systems, which means healthier foliage, flowers and fruit
Plants have a greater resistance to nematodes, disease and pests.
Source: Help from kelp
How ocean plants help our garden plants

It was wonderful to learn how the simple ocean plant can benefit our gardens!  It was also very exciting having access to a nice size portion of seaweed without much effort.

I also found a gardening almanac specifically for Hawaii. It reminded me of the old Gardening by the Moon Calendar from the Farmers' Almanac.

This is so true:

My motivation for gardening is similar to what got me into cooking two decades ago. I like good, fresh food, and that's not often easy to find outside my home. I also enjoy following the seasons and tuning in to what's going on around me. And I still delight in popping a sunwarmed cherry tomato into my mouth and sharing a minutes-old salad with a supermarket lettuce-eater.

Organic gardening is a challenge in Hawaii. Decades of intensive monocrop chemical agriculture have nearly destroyed the soil and littered it with black plastic. The year-round growing season is great, but introduced diseases, weeds and insect pests also thrive 24/7. In the veggie garden, I've learned to plant plenty and continuously, harvest early and often and change crops quickly to keep ahead of the forces that prey on my plants. And I'm grateful for whatever I get, because I enjoy the process as much as the product.

Monthly Garden Calendar for Hawaii
Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

The more I learn about the dangers of GMO (Genetically modified organisms) in our foods without the consumer even being aware, (The United States currently has no laws that require such labeling), the more I am learning to go back to our basic roots, specifically organic gardening. It was a little disconcerting to see that the strawberries and the mushrooms I bought over a week ago are still looking fresh. This is a strong indication that these two different types of produce have been genetically modified.  I hope I am wrong.

 To learn more watch this older film entitled Deconstructing Supper. It is available on Netflix. Actually, there are a slew of documentaries dealing with the food industry on Netflix. Another, I would recommend is also an older film, King Corn.