Tuesday, March 31, 2009

some Kauai pictures

Just a few pictures from our Kauai trip. Yes, I'm wearing spf 50 and covered up as much as I could. Had to take off the shades for pictures, you know!

(ignore the poochy stomach, yes it's really my stomach and not just the shirt)

Gary and the boys at a lookout on the Waimea Canyon drive. I made them all sit because ever since I had my babies, I get terrified when they (or me) gets close to the edge of anything. It makes me dizzy. I can't even stand to see them get near the 2nd story railing in the mall! My head just starts spinning. My friend Jenny says she's been that way since she had her boys too.

Me and Gary in front of the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge sign. Pam will appreciate this bridge.

See?! This thing is suspended and bounces and swings as you walk, and the wind really gets it swinging! It was a windy day. See those people behind my family? Well, I started to head out there and they started to head back my way and that jerk man was really walking side to side and laughing at me as I was clutching the edges. Some people are just born jerks.

This is us after our helicopter ride and that's our helicopter. The other couple who flew with us took the picture. I don't know why I look so unhappy in this picture - bad timing I guess. The yellow packs are our life vests.

Jake and Gary in the back.

Ryan and our pilot Kurt. We rode up front. They assigned seats by weight. Yes! They weigh you!! But they keep it secret. (except Ryan said that the flight roster had our weights - and the pilot taped it up front on the dash - so your weight can be seen by the initiated) I was glad I got to ride up front, but I tried my best not to gloat.

a windblown picture of me at Kilauea lighthouse. The whole trip was very windy.

I'm sorry I don't have a better picture of this waterfall. It's the waterfall you see in Fantasy Island (da plane! da plane!) - Wailua Falls.

Chickens are everywhere on this islands. And all the roosters are gorgeous like this one! They just run around wild - I saw a shirt that said "Kauai's native un-endangered species".

These pictures are a little out of order. This is a shot of Waimea canyon. (the grand canyon of the pacific) This really isn't a good photo and does not do the canyon justice.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Terrifying Tuesday Vacation Edition

We just got back last night from 4 days on Kauai. There was no way I was going to the bother of forcing another abominable dish on my family on our lovely vacation.

So I did a little experimenting on myself.

I ordered vegetarian when I could, when it was available.

So here's what I/we got, in case you ever go to Kauai and you want to know where to go (or not). Mind you, we did NOT hit ANY fancy digs. We basically used the book "Kauai Revealed" as our main guidebook. Each of the islands have a "revealed" book, which I do recommend. Locals hate these books because they reveal all the hidden gems. Hey, we hate that the tourists have discovered Kailua beach and Lanikai! (the beaches near us) So there is that little moral delimma going on.

*sigh* I can't find the book right now - you know how it is when you get home and the suitcases explode... So I'm winging it by memory - ha!ha!ha!

We arrived Sunday around lunchtime and we decided to let Ryan pick out lunch - well, he had already spotted a restaurant in the book that he wanted to go to, so why not. It's called Brick Oven Pizza, and was rated Ono (delicious) by the book. However, the pizza is not baked in a brick oven. rats. The pizza is very expensive, and we didn't think their large would feed us all, so I ordered a sandwich for myself. I ordered the veggie sandwich. It had mushrooms, onion, peppers, olives, lettuce, tomato, cheese and pizza sauce - on a great french bread-like bun. It was good (despite me not liking olives or mushrooms) but the flavor too much of the same old, same old. It needed something on the side, like some pineapple slices or well, anything. BTW, we had two slices left over, so the large would have fed us all after all.

Sunday night we made sandwiches.

We stayed in a condo, so we fixed our own breakfasts. Sorry, I know breakfast can be the best meal.

Monday lunch we ate out at a place that was featured on Anthony Bordain - Puka Dog. www.pukadog.com You gotta check out the menu. Puka is Hawaiian for hole. The bun is like a loaf which they poke a hole in (jam it on a hot spike to toast the inside), squirt in the sauces and slide in the dog. The relishes and secret sauce and lilikoi mustard makes the dogs unique and fun. BTW, relish is a misnomer. If you read the reviews online it's true, the relishes are more like a syrup. I actually like the sweet and salty mixture. My order: the veggie dog with spicy secret sauce, mango relish and lilikoi mustard. You get two veggie dogs stuffed in the bun. If you order the polish dog, it's big enough for one in the bun. It dripped and oozed. The bun was soft and white bread, so all the sweet syrup on it kind of made it like a dessert along with the dog. Yum! Oh, the spicy sauce was NOT hot. The barest hint of spice. And I have a kinda tender tongue. So other lilly livered people can order spicy without fear.

The rest of my party ordered so plain it's not even worth writing about. Ryan and Gary had theirs plain and Jake had ketchup on his.

Monday afternoon we went on a helicopter tour. It's a "must do" in Kauai. We went on Blue Hawaiin Helicopters and our pilot was Kurt. He was cute and had that nice local way of talking. The tour was breathtaking.

Monday night we grilled steak, but went out for ice cream at Lappert's. Yum!

Tuesday we went to Waimea canyon and on the way back we ate lunch at a little deli called Kalaheo Cafe and Coffee Co. www.kalaheo.com It all smelled so good. I don't drink coffee, but sometimes you go to places that you wish you did. I ordered the cajun tofu and eggplant wrap. It was good, but very drippy. I wish they had sliced the tofu thinner to absorb more of the cajun sauce and wish they had sliced the eggplant thinner, just because I'm not a fan of eggplant. But I gobbled it up. Ryan ordered the grilled cheese which was just beautiful. You can see on the menu I had a few vegetarian options to choose from. It was a hard choice.

For supper we had pizza in Poipu at Pizzeti (IIRC). We got half cheese/half pepperoni. It was alright. We ordered thin crust, but I would not call it thin crust. More like a regular crust. (same for the other pizza joint) I like my thin crusts crunchy, cracker-like. (it makes it easier to over-indulge!) We had more ice cream for dessert.

Wednesday lunch was our last meal there. I really did some fast talking to get the people to agree to eat where we did. We had decided to drive up the north shore way, hoping to get a last glimpse of whales at the lighthouse, and I was scrambling through the book to find a place to eat. We ended up at a gas station (of all things!) in Princeville ( a very hoity-toity area). It was the Chevron in Princeville Station (IIRC) the restaurant was called North Shore Grindz. They boasted a burger called Bubbas BBQ burger which had bbq sauce and onion rings - the beef is locally raised/grown beef. Gary said it was good - the onion rings were a little larger than he likes and it was drippy good. The boys had pizza which looked and smelled so good. Nothing like what you would find at any other gas station (or 7-11), so get that out of your head. I ordered the "mean veggie" which was the veggie burger. It was a falafel, which I'd never had before, so I was dying to try it. It was fried, huge and crunchy. It didn't taste bad, but it was intimidating in size. And definitely not good for you since it was fried. Our burgers came with fries, nice and salty. A strange mix of skinny straight ones and fat crinkly ones. I guess they ran out of the fat ones. There are a few places to sit outside with the ambiance of cars and diesel.

One thing I've got to add about this whole thing. Hawaii in general is remote. Oahu is the main island, population-wise. So the outer islands are doubly remote. That is why I was so pleasantly surprised by what I saw in the grocery stores and even that Chevron as far as selection. Wow. Even better than the commissary. Well you gotta keep in mind that Hawaii is very hippy dippy, crunchy granola, close to the earth, tree hugging, you get my drift. So imagine my surprise to see gluten free cookies and organic goodies at the Chevron. There is a little grocery store in Poipu that has a great Asian section - specifically it had a LOT of the secret/mysterious ingredients we needed for our Thai cooking class. That was spooky weird, because it was quite hard finding the ingredients here! Made me think the owner had taken our class! There is even a vegan restaurant that I didn't make it to. It would have been a hard sell to the family. Oh, I even found Lara bars at the Times Market - I've read about these on blogs, but have yet seen them. So I snatched up 3. They were pricey. I bought a cherry one that I would cut up half into my morning oatmeal. Yummy! Just picking out oatmeal was an ordeal. The selection was huge. At the commissary (here) the only oatmeal brand is Quaker, and maybe a few generics. And they've been out of the plain instant oatmeal for weeks. At the Times, there was a staggering selection of brands and styles. The prices were staggering too. I just couldn't bring myself to pay $7 for a box of plain instant oatmeal, so I opted for the more generic version at $6.19. Ack! But there were all kinds of flavored, organic, steel cuts, flax seed added, yadda, yadda. I saw the Lara bars right beside them.

Anyway, this is hugely long. So I'll sign off. I hope this helps somebody, anybody, when they decide to go to Kauai.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Terrifying Tuesday: Apple Turkey Picadillo

This recipe I got from a popular website - popular if you are a weight watchers fan. It's by a member that has collected recipes and the recipes are "core" - of course, the core plan no longer exists...at least not by that name. She gave credit to Eating Well magazine.

Here's the link I just found: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/apple_turkey_picadillo.html

The recipe suggested tucking it in a tortilla. So that's what I did, I rolled it up in one of the high fiber, low carb wheat tortillas.

What did we think? Jake gave it a thumbs up, but he didn't finish his tortilla. Ryan gave it a thumbs down, but he agreed to finish a half a tortilla (which is huge in ryan's world). Me and Gary thought it was so-so. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. It was edible. But not craveable.

I didn't mind the mix of apple and ground turkey, but the flavorings was just blah, despite having a variety of spices in it. I didn't like the vinegar and worchestershire sauce flavors in it.

It also involved a LOT of chopping.

I deem it a waste of good food.

*sigh* can't one of these recipes be a good'un?
Yesterday I had my dermatology appointment. I was there for about 5 minutes - long enough for them to tell me they were referring me out to a dermatologist in town that does a special surgical technique called Mohs. It's a skin sparing technique. They take thin slices and look at it under the slide immediately to determine if there are still cancer cells - they are able to take out exactly the amount of skin they need to take and no more. And this is good for cancers on the face. I tell you, I was imagining them cutting out a large chunk and when they suture it, it pulling my eye tight - where I can't close my eye!

Anyway, when I got to the appointment, I was told I was going to see a PA. As I was waiting I was stewing in my juices, all angry that they'd put me with a PA and not a Derm. No way I'd have her cut into my face! As you can tell, I got worked up for nothing.

While there I asked about the time frame of all this, because of our move this summer. She stressed that I should tell them that when I have the appointment and maybe they'd be able to work it in. The doctor is retired military, so he understands. My worry is not the doctor so much as my insurance. Military medicine is like socialized medicine.

In the meanwhile, I emailed a friend and she assured me that this doctor was the best. (her DH is a derm.)

Okay, get this: shocker of all time. I got a call this morning as I'm walking the boys to school. Before 8 am. From the dermatologist in town! To make an appointment for Friday! woo-hoo!

So now I'm worried about WHY this is happening so fast? (I wouldn't be me if I didn't worry about something...)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Terrifying Tuesday: Smothered Beans

I got this recipe from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley.

Listen to his description: "I like to imagine that up in heaven the saints all order this dish at a club where Louis Armstrong is leading the band. It is that delicious." How could I resist?!

Again, I won't post the recipe, but it involves dried Great Northern beans, pinto beans, leeks and collards. And braising. Ever braised before? I hadn't. I found out in an article in today's paper that that is one of the top 10 cooking trends for 2009! I feel so current!

I also used this recipe to get a new pot. It calls for a heavy flameproof casserole. The only casserole dishes I have are Pyrex, which I don't think you can use stovetop. I found this calphalon pan - I just so happen to be trying to convert all my pots and pans to calphalon, one piece at a time. It's just like my 12" pan, except for the handle deal. I would never be able to fit my 12" pan in the oven with it's long handle.

Anyway, back to the recipe. I do not have a good track record with cooking dried beans. I always use the overnight soak method, and the beans yesterday got soaked at least 12 hours. This time it was hit or miss. There were some crunchy beans and some cooked beans.

The collards and leeks take up a lot of fridge space.

The verdict: 3 thumbs down and 1 thumbs up. I LOVED it! And goody, I get all the leftovers for my lunches this week. My kids gave it a thumbs down because they are kids, and it was vegetables, blech, blech. Gary gave it a thumbs down because he could taste the collards. He did say it had good flavors. Maybe I could find another leafy green to use.

I think I will cook this recipe for my parents sometime.

As far as ease, it was not a hard recipe, but it's a recipe that requires planning ahead. You have to soak the beans. Leeks and collards are not vegetables I have on hand. You have to do a little boiling, then saute'ing, assembly and then the braising (which takes up the oven for a while).

Obviously the nutrition is good with all the vegetables. And it was tastey and filling, so it was satisfying for a main dish. The recipe called for 3 tablespoons of olive oil, which seems like a lot, but this is going to spread out into a lot of servings for me - so I should be okay.


But I want to mention an uber-easy tastey recipe that a friend told me about that I made Monday. Super, super easy. Chicken stuffed manicotti. I think it's a betty crocker recipe. Take the dry manicotti shell, stuff in a raw chicken tenderloin (or cut up chicken breast into strips) that has been sprinkled with garlic salt. Mix 3/4 c water with a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce. Spread a little sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish, lay out the stuffed shells, spread on the rest of the sauce covering all the shells and bake, covered at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Uncover and top with cheese and bake for a few more minutes until melted.

As you can tell, you can make as much or as little as you want at a time.
**edited to add a picture of the smothered beans (today's lunch)

Friday, March 6, 2009

quick biopsy update...

Not good news. But not the worst. Just got a call saying that it's squamous cell carcinoma. I have no idea what this is, so I'm out to google and scare myself to death. Actually, I think it's not a bad thing, the doc says it's easily treatable. Anyway, I haven't told Gary yet.

It's probably a good thing we are moving out of the tropics with my fair skin...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Terrifying Tuesday: Catfish Sloppy Joes

Yep folks, it's about as yummy as it sounds.

Ooops! Didn't mean to start with the conclusion!

I saw these on the Oprah show. Gayle went around the country in search of the best sandwiches. Oprah rated this one a 6 on a scale of 1 to 5. Should be good, right? Ha!

Let me just say that I do like fish, but I don't like fish to taste fishy - or to smell fishy. I bought frozen catfish fillets and thawed them in the fridge, but when I opened the bag, I got a whiff of fish. Isn't that supposed to be a bad sign? I dunno. The fish odor went away, so I supposed they were fine.

This is a link to the recipes. http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/recipes/catfish-sloppy-joes-44092908 You can google and find it in several places, but not all of them have the bbq sauce recipe. I decided at the spur of the moment to be authentic and make the bbq sauce (sans clam sauce).

I think this would be a pretty good sandwich if it didn't taste fishy. But I don't think I'd rave about it. I think Oprah has been on her low carb diet for way too long, so anything with bread and sugar would taste good to her.

Not only does the fishy get a thumbs down, the fat content gets a thumbs down. I didn't realize how much oil is in this recipe. A whole hunkin lot! I didn't even put in as much as it called for and thought it was swimming in oil. I didn't butter the buns either. You don't need to butter buns to toast them - listen up restaurants! We don't want that unnecesary hidden fat!

If I had used bottled bbq sauce, then the recipe would fit into the easy/fast category. (Not that real sloppy joes are difficult to make)

As far as the family vote goes: 2 thumbs down from the adults, and 2 thumbs up from the kids.

Go figure.

I'm thinking next week better be a good one or the family will definitely start revolting. This week was supposed to be good. (at least I had tater tots as a side dish)
On a more positive note, my Thai cooking class is going well. Only two more classes to go. Plus Gary has requested that I make Evil Jungle Prince. I'm trying to gather the ingredients - but I haven't scored the red curry paste yet.

This coming weekend we are making summer rolls, Tom Yum soup, and Chieng Mai Beef or Chicken Salad (also called a bunch of other names, including Laab). We buy our own groceries, which is a task in and of itself. I've been trying to find Sweet Chili Paste and Tom Yum Paste. I may have to find time to visit Chinatown again. (I need to go to get the curry pastes). I've found Chili Paste and Sweet Chili Sauce, but not sweet chili paste. LOL! The instructor is also going to show us how to make sticky rice. I haven't had it, but people rave about it.

On another good note, I googled and found out that Atlanta has some Asian markets. So that's promising. I'd hate to lose all my Thai cooking experience!
Today I took Jake to get a phrenectomy (or some such). The dentist cut (using a laser) his frenulum - which is the little piece of skin that you see when you lift your upper lip. His connects way down at tooth level - while it normally would be a bit higher. This is important since we are going through all this trouble to give him nice teeth and this extra skin would prevent his front two teeth from coming together. We really don't want the David Letterman look. (although, Gary has it to a lesser degree) Really, it was Gary's idea - I didn't have an opinion about it.

Jake is doing well. But we'll see how he feels in the morning. The dental assistant gave him a warm washcloth that was infused with lavender and Jake has been hanging on to the thing. I've already reheated it for him once.

Oh, Jake lost his 3rd tooth in 2 weeks this morning when he was brushing. The tooth fairy will visit tonight!
The boys have been going to the local community center to practice basketball on Mondays and Wednesdays and today was their first game. It was fast paced and hard hitting! Whew! They got a really good workout. I expect they will sleep well tonight.

I think they will get good experience from this, even though it lasts only a few more weeks. Knowing how to play basketball with agressive people will be good for them when they play with their friends when they get older.

It was funny watching the girls play against them. They were tall like trees compare to our short team! Ryan had a ball plucked from his hands by one girl - he was holding the ball above his head and she walked up and took it! LOL!
The side of my face is still ugly looking. And I haven't been able to make my MRI appointment yet. I called Tuesday like they said, but it hadn't been signed off yet by a doctor so they said call back today. Today has been wicked busy, so I'll do it tomorrow. I guess I do that while I'm hunting down Thai ingredients! So busy!

Busy is good though, at times.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

taking charge, and feeling a little blue

I said in my last post that you really have to take charge of you own health. You must be proactive and you must follow through - no one will do it for you. I really mean it.

For example, yesterday I called to make an appointment for my MRI. Remember back in September I had a bad mammogram? They said to come back in 6 months for an MRI. I called and the orders weren't in my records. Ugh! That made me so upset. But I screwed up my courage, fought back the tears, and called the radiology department. Talked to a very sweet lady who said it was written in my records but the request (or whatever the correct terminology is - I think I need a brain MRI!) was not there. So she got a tech to do it. Voila'! Look how close I came to throwing in the towel?! So I have to call back this afternoon and schedule the appointment. Wish me luck that I don't get any grief!

Another example, last week was the two week mark when I was to call the doc if that spot on my face had not healed. It had healed considerably, but still not all the way. I even asked a friend what she thought. Don't you just hate being in that position - should I or shouldn't I? I didn't want to self diagnose, so I ended up leaving a message with the doc describing what I saw. She called back making an appointment with me for today. I just got back from there. I could have easily blown it off. Anyway, the upshot of today's appointment, she took a scrape and will send it to the lab. She gave me 3 choices: freeze it again, take the scrape biopsy, go directly to a dermatologist. So now I have this ugly wound on my temple. But at least I will have peace of mind that I will KNOW.

The C word has been in my vocabulary too much in my lifetime. Hate it.
Oh, the sad part? The other night I took some pictures of my progress. I thought it would be a good idea to take a picture of what I look like in a t-shirt - au natural. It was awful! My bit is higher and wide right - you can tell there's an oddity at 30 paces! Egads! Good thing I don't ever plan to go braless! I swear it was a shock to me. You see, my bathroom mirror is a magical mirror. When I look in there I don't see my wrinkles or gray hair and my you-know-whats are front and center. The camera is an awful, awful thing. I don't know why, but it never pictures me the same as what I see in the mirror. Weird. I guess it's like your voice. You hear one thing, but everyone else hears something different.
It's been rainy and chilly all day. It's been chilly for at least a week now. I know, it's snowing like gangbusters on the mainland - well, we're getting paradise's version of winter. Brrrrr.

I made a really good lunch today. It's black beans and rice with pumpkin vinaigrette that I got from the blog Megan's Munchies. Never fear. It doesn't taste like pumpkin at all. And it's mellow, despite the balsamic vinegar. But I think I would cut back on the oil in the future. I like easy meatless lunches. Tastey too!

I have an interesting main dish up my sleeve for TT tonight! The report will come tomorrow.