Friday, December 17, 2010

Hana Treehouse!

So as I mentioned, Aaron and I just went to visit my dad in Maui. We had  a great time...especially when we went to Hana and stayed in a TREEHOUSE! To be honest, it was an adventure...TONS of mosquitoes, lots of spiders, toilet outside in the jungle, insanely large avocados were pummeling the roof all night. Needless to say, I did not get much sleep. But we could see the ocean from where we were and the drive to Hana was gorgeous.

Here we are at the beach:

 Here we are having mai tais! Yum!

 Here we are in the bottom of an extremely scary lava tube. I felt like Indiana Jones!
 Here is the inside of the treehouse!
 These flowers grew all around the treehouse wild. It was literally in the middle of the jungle. We had to drive through mud to get to it, and then we had to hike through lots more mud to get up to the treehouse. There were no people around...except menehunes!!!
 These are the towels for the shower that was outside. Not a good idea with the amount of mosquitoes everywhere! Seriously, we got eaten.
 Here is the firemaster bringing us light...since there was no electricity!
 The man that owns this property has built treehouses all over the world. He wrote a book about it and Aaron was taking a look.
 See all those citronella candles in the background? They didn't really work that well. There were all kinds of dead bugs inside the candles in the morning.
 In the background is the ocean. It's about 1.5 miles away. It was raining like crazy.
 This is where we ate our dinner which was purchased at Mana Foods which was the coolest store in a cute little town called Paia. In the background you can see the "bathroom".

 This is the side of the treehouse. Right below we found 5 pound avocados which were knocked off in the middle of the night. They could have killed us! There were tons of guavas and other things that the storm had knocked off branches. It was wild.
 The treehouse was three stories with the bedroom in the middle. The top floor was really cool with great view but it had a grass roof which was ineffective against all that rain, so we stayed on the middle floor most of the time.

 The sun came out in the morning and it was so pretty.

 We had dinner at Lahaina Grill one night and the famous Amanda made an appearance! We had a blast catching up since we hadn't seen each other since high school.

Here are me and my dad. 

All in all...a great trip to Maui. Lots of relaxing, healthy foods, lots of exercise. It was the first vacation in a while where I actually lost a few pounds! Aaron and I were so active the whole time. My dad and I also took lots of long walks, which was lovely! I must warn you, if you decide to do the treehouse, bring lots of bug spray! It was not for the faint of heart. 


Hi Bloggies!'s been a while. I don't really have an excuse: work, travel, yoga? Where have I been? Well, I have been cooking lots of vegetable delights (much to the chagrin of poor Aaron) and have been working, was in Maui, and have been having fun. I love blogging but am not good at keeping up with it, clearly.

Moving on, let's talk about some cooking tidbits.

These cookies from Eat, Live, Run are wonderful. I made some and brought them on a trip to Maui to visit my dad for Thanksgiving. I highly recommend them. I think mine were made even better with freshly harvested walnuts from a good friends family farm!

This recipe for soba noodles and other delicious ingredients made a great introduction to vegetarian cooking for my dad in Maui. Made with farm fresh baby eggplants from Hana Fresh, which Amanda so perfectly displayed here. I substituted Mango with pineapple and it was delish!

I have a new found love for cabbage...really! I have never really liked it before, but it's so crunchy and versatile, I am really digging it.

Here are some cabbage ideas:

Cabbage, apple, and nut slaw: Shred some green cabbage, slice some apples, toss with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Top with pinenuts or walnuts...absolutely wonderful. Even Aaron really liked this.

Steamed cabbage with ume vinegar and flax oil: Gently steam some cabbage (this works well with bok choy too) but leave some crunch. Top with flax see oil, a dash of ume plum vinegar, sesame seeds and salt. OMG. Sounds so simple but really, really, really tasty and good for you!

Shredded cabbage tastes great mixed into green salads, topped on tacos, and sauteed into stir frys. Give it a whirl!

We recently celebrated Aaron's promotion at work by dining out at this restaurant. Holy moly. This place is not joking around! Sapporo on draft, hot hand towels, freshly made pickled cabbage, gorgeous dishes and glasses, wonderfully fresh fish, lots of veggie options, perfect Japanese decor...I think we found our new favorite sushi place.

Last, I have had lots of cooking failures lately. I bad I threw the stuff out. Am I off, or is it just trying new dishes that don't always work? Probably the latter. I am going to keep trying new stuff and hopefully I have more wins then failures.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cooking Failures and Wins

Well...I had hoped to have some wonderful dishes to share with you today. I sat down on Sunday with a list of what produce I had on hand in the kitchen....fresh pumpkin, butternut squash, fresh tomatoes, kale, chard, cabbage, carrots, etc....and made a menu plan for the week. Mochi dumplings, pumpkin and chickpea stew, black bean soup, and apple spice cookies were all on the menu. Everything sounded wonderful! Well, not everything has turned out quite as I had imagined....

First, let's look at one WIN:

Apple Spice Cookies, Adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup and 2 TBSP canola oil
2 cup peeled, cored and grated fresh apple
3/4 cup sugar, plus some for coating
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped or grated crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl.

Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

It will be messy. Roll 1/4 cup balls of dough and roll into more sugar for a nice coating. It's a big mess, but worth it.

Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake for 20 minutes.

These cookies are great the first day or two, but start to get a bit soggy afterwards. If you make them with whole wheat flour they are pretty healthy. I have been eating them with tea for breakfast as they are more like muffins. If you don't plan to share, I would halve the recipe. Even a bit soggy, they are delicious. I was lazy, so I put the apples and the ginger in the food processor. I used freshly picked apples from my cousin Rosemary's tree. You could also use applesauce, but I would add less oil and you might need a bit more flour. They are really pretty tasty, though, and vegan, to boot! Aaron even likes them. :) Cooking WIN #1.

Some of the failures as of late have been heart breaking. I had high hopes and really dug deep into my cookbook collection to really plan out this week's meals. I usually have a loose plan, but really wanted to make sure I was using up all of my gorgeous CSA produce. I spent about two hours on Sunday looking at cookbooks, my magazine clippings, and my recipe box. I really planned everything out and decided to try some recipes I have been wanting to try for quite a while.....

Well, this didn't go well. These are some mochi dumplings I have had ear marked in Clean Food since the first day I read it. This is the second time I tried to use mochi....I just am not feeling it. It sticks to your teeth when you cook it. It's weird. I stuffed these with a veggie mix that was tasty, but Aaron and I could not get past the texture of the mochi. Failure #1. 

We made the dumplings with the salad from The Grains of Paradise from Flatbread's....a place in Paia I can't wait to visit. I printed out the recipe from Amanda's is a simple salad with rice vinegar, oil, sesame seeds, I used some nice lettuce, lemon cucumbers, organic pre-fried tofu, carrots, hijiki,, etc. This was all great and I should have LEFT IT ALONE! ...But I did not leave good enough alone. I thought the dressing was too sour, so I added a little sesame paste.  The sesame paste over powered the whole thing and gave it a really weird taste. I am sure it would have been great without it. BLECK! Bad dinner. Cooking Failure #2.

The next dinner we had was a WIN!...but I made the recipe up myself! I guess sometimes I should go with my gut.

Black Bean Soup (I added whatever I had in the fridge...use what ever veggies you have on hand.)
1/2 chopped white onion
1 whole chopped purple onion
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped yellow bell pepper
1 fresh bay leaf (these keep forever! buy them...they make a HUGE difference and last for a couple of months in the fridge, seek them out from a farmer if you can)
S and P

Saute for about 5 minutes.
Add in 2 cups of dried black beans that soaked in water overnight (or use two cans of black beans and reduce cooking time)
Add one 15 oz can roasted tomatoes
Add 4-6 cups water or stock (I started with 3 and added more as the beans soaked it up)

Simmer until you reach your desired consistency. I added lots of chopped cilantro on top. Yum. It would be great with some lime, cheddar cheese, or greek yogurt or sour cream on top. I am cutting down on dairy, but would have enjoyed any of these toppings. It was fine without, too. I actually had some of this soup for lunch today with a small piece of sourdough toast...OMG, it was great!!!!! Cooking WIN #2.

What else was a fail? I bought some frozen lobster tails on sale for $4.99 each and was actually only charged for one of them. Good deal, right? WRONG! They were fishy and gross. Cooking FAILURE #3!!!

Tonight I made some stuffed chard leaves from Vefa's Kitchen, a great Greek cookbook. These turned out ok, but it was more like a casserole. My chard leaves fell apart so the rice and vegetable stuffing fell out everywhere. They looked awful, but actually tasted pretty good. I guess this was a WIN / FAILURE combo. I took pictures but they were too hideous to share. 

Tally: Wins...3, Failures, 4

Part of going into the kitchen night after night is that you don't necessarily know what you are going to come out with. It could be the best you have made, it could be the worst, or it could be a good lesson for the next time you try the recipe. It's only Tuesday, and I have 5 more meals planned for the I have something to look forward to! 

In the meantime, I leave you with Peroni...his dinner (actually...his breakfast) is always the same....and he always loves it, especially when I mix in some carrots for him. :)

Get in your kitchen, don't be afraid to might just win! 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

San Diego Back Country....

One of my favorite things to do in San Diego County is to head out to Julian for the day. I actually prefer to get a cozy hotel room, rent a cabin or camp overnight, but the day drive out is fun too. Yesterday was a dreary (and lovely!) fall day and Julian seemed like the place to go. Sometimes all the freeways, traffic and people in San Diego get to me....and I just want to be where there are open spaces and old world charm. Julian and the drive there has it all. They also have some cute little wineries, restaurants, and tons of apple orchards. It is actually apple harvest right now so most people go and pick some apples. We have some many apples from our CSA and my cousin Rosemary's house that we thought it would be a waste.

First we stopped in Santa Ysabel which is on the way. We went to this really odd little "treasure shop" with lots of faux indian goods...mostly made in Pakistan? It was VERY odd.....

 I actually really wanted this basket but couldn't buy it once I realized it was made in Pakistan? Seemed to odd?


So, we ventured out to Hawk Watch (which is actually outside of Julian). It was a bit of a long drive, but the wine was very nice and the owners were so friendly. The winery was very pretty too...lots of over sized pots of flowers, big white wooden chairs everywhere, and two fat cats watching over the whole thing. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Next up, we went to the oddest fruit stand I have ever encountered. There were three random people sitting in chairs on the side of the road selling all of these random squashes, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, etc. I wanted to take a picture, but was worried they might get a riffle and shoot me. The roads in this part of the county are definitely....rustic? I bought some lemon cucumbers and a little edible pumpkin.

We then ventured to a biker bar called The Hideout, which is right by the lake we camped at earlier in the year. There were plenty of bikers when we arrived, but they all dissipated as we were there. There were also a handful of rat rods like Aaron's car, but he wouldn't let me take pictures..I guess that is against biker bar policy. As the bikers thinned out, I took some shots and even did some yoga on stage!!!!! Aaron was SO embarrassed. I guess I am not all that least I like Budweiser!

Then we headed up to Wynola, which is another little town on the way to Julian (we never actually made it to Julian proper...but that is the fun of it, just poking around and finding what you find). We tasted some cider and liked it so much we bought some with some appetizers we had, and we took a couple of bottles home. I think Aaron was over me taking pictures at this point! 

All in all, a great fall day in one of my favorite places.

I am LOVING fall. It's been cold and rainy and I just love it. I have a newfound love for squash, pumpkin, sweaters, blankets, cuddling, cider, and baking. I am also loving going to hot's pretty easy to get in that hot room when it's cold and rainy outside.  I have some new recipes to share...coming soon.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


In case I never mentioned it, I was born up at Lake Tahoe. I wish I had never left. It is so majestic, peaceful, and I really feel so at home up there. But, unless you are in construction or the skiing or hospitality industry, it's tough to make a living up there. Maybe I will go back upon retiring....

This summer I went up to Tahoe to visit our friends Annie and Reuben, to go to a friend Michelle's wedding, and to take some time off after the tumultuous break from my old company. I got to go boating, see old friends get married, took walks, cooked great food with my friends, spent time at the beach, spent time with my mom, my sister, Aaron, Peroni, Tucker (Annie and Reuben's dog), went to a couple of bars, restaurants, etc. It was just what I needed and I left feeling much more relaxed and at peace then when I got there.

Here is Reuben on his boat....where he belongs!
Aaron and that lovely Tahoe Blue....
I'm happy!!!

Two of my favorite guys.....
Reuben's friend jumping off a dock that should have been condemned......
Thunderbird Lodge.....


 This is the boat area at the Thunderbird Lodge. I have never seen it open before! I have seen their boat (a classic woody) riding around the lake...
 Friends!!! I have known some of these people since before kindergarten!
 See what I mean about feeling at peace???
 Peroni, don't you think you could help?
 Here we are getting ready for the wedding....

At the wedding....
 Matching Glasses?
 Mom looking quite cute....
 My dad used to have a softball team "Scott Construction". This picture is still hanging in a bar in Tahoe City called Pete and Peter's!!! It has been there almost as long as I have been alive! It's really sad, many of these men are dead. My dad is third in from the left on top....
 This was an amazing chocolate souffle that Annie cooked for us....

 Here is the famous Pete and Peter's.....

Aaron, Reuben and I all jumped off this rock. 

 Mom looking cute again....
 Aaron taking the jump!!!

 I am the captain of this ship!!!!!
 Looking at giant birds nests...
 The nest is at the top of the dead tree.....

 Mom ended up getting stuck up at Tahoe for an extra day, so I decided to stay too. We ended up going to the beach and then had a beer at this cute little bar on the beach. It was the most relaxing day I had up there. The rest of the trip was pretty darned busy. 

 This is incredibly sweet and hyper puppy!!!

Tahoe is always such a nice reprieve. I prefer it in the summer, but would love to head up in the winter again too. I highly recommend it!