Monday, June 30, 2008

Coming to Fruition

It's about this time of year in Hawaii when I start feeling gluttonous. Fruit gluttonous.
I arrived home from Tokyo at the perfect time for mangos. I was feeling positively decadent about eating an entire mango myself, especially ones as luscious as Pam's. The tree is so full that even between the three abodes holding nearly 14 willing pickers (counting Adam and kids), we will probably end up letting a few go bad.
Our anniversay hit today, just in time for a hike into Green Valley that revealed trees laden with mountain apples. Did I say "laden"? More like "leadened." The branches were lined up and down with perfectly drip red fruit and I bemoaned the fact that I had left my camera at home. I seem to do that a lot. We didn't even bother too much with lilikoi fetching, since we were full up on mountain apple which Amaya happily munched to and from the flumes.

Jake enjoys this time the most. I think of him as a fruit hunter. He becomes a kid climbing trees, combing through branches, and saddling up his goods to head home. He cleans, cuts, and juices the fruit while I just pluck pieces of mango, chew it up, and happily digest.

Hawaii Sunday Night

Did I say once?
Now it's twice.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hawaii Sunday

First impressions on being back:
Hawaii is HOT. I've been complaining about it non stop.
Amaya is back to screaming for an hour or more at night (plus waking up multiple times). Vomit on the floor once.
It's nice to have a husband to clean it up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tokyo-ing: 5 little known things about the Tokyo Palmers

1. Bekah is ah-maze-ing with a map. I mean, she really knows how to get around. Tokyo, I mean. We did end up in a funny Yakitori place where none of the waiters spoke English and we had mistakenly left Jesse at home. Bekah was at least a bit useful in her Japanese reading abilities, but I flipped through the 10-page long menu several times expecting the Japanese to just miraculously return to me. After several hilarious exchanges between waitress and dumb gaijin (us), she suggested "Mix?" We gratefully accepted and Bekah graciously consumed the cow innards on sticks that came to our table.
2. Jesse clearly rivals (referring to the twin phenomena) on the kids/housecleaning detail. He babysat while Bekah and I went out for a couple of long day/night trips, and we came back to sleeping babes and a totally clean house. Also amazingly, he was still in a good mood.
This picture is of Jesse and Bekah on their date that never happened, because they were too busy being good hosts and taking me out.

3. Miriam=Fashionista: Miriam and Gwyn really know what they like. Gwyn is also fashionable, but I have to credit her older sister with her taste. I think that Miriam and Gwyn did not wear pants the entire time I was in Tokyo, which says something about their wardrobe, especially because they changed clothes at least 5 times a day. I loved their knee socks the most. These say the most about their fashion sense, because it was hot in Tokyo and knee socks were definitely a statement about fashion over comfort.

4. Gwyn is a champion explanationist. You may have seen Bekah's post on her precocity, but I have to reemphasize it here. Mostly you just don't expect to meet a girl this young with this much reasoning power.
Jesse: I don't want you to play with this [metal rod]. You shouldn't touch it, okay?
Gwyn: But sometimes I touch it.
Jesse: But I don't want you to.
Gwyn: I know, Mom tells me not to, but sometimes I do anyway. You should put it up high so I don't have to touch it.
Jesse: You should practice self control-- then I wouldn't have to put it up high.
Gwyn: I can't do that. Sometimes Mom tells me not to do something, and then I want to do it. So you should put it up high, okay?
Gwyn explained many things to me over the course of the trip, usually about her decision making processes. I think she thought it was weird that I laughed so much when she presented her perfectly Gwynnian logic.
5. Who knew that Laie dwellers like us could thrive in a megacity like Tokyo? Jesse confessed to existentialist questioning from time to time, but mostly he seems to enjoy it. Everyone was nice enough to trot me around to their favorite places and shop way too much. Even Jesse has become tempered to Tokyo expectations. Bekah and I bought crazy deliciousness from an expensive bakery (food will be reserved for a later post) and Jesse was excited when we got home with the goods and I never once saw him flinch at Tokyo prices. Bekah's eyes glistened at sumo practice (although it may have been reflections of fat men's sweat). Miriam loves playing late at school with her Japanese friends and uses Japanese phrases in her every day kid speech. Even Gwyn's pronunciation of her sister's name--"Mee-dee-um-chan" is Japanese. Everyone looks forward to Matsuri and yukatas, co-op food ordering, weekly shrine and temple tours, and daily romps at the local parks. There's a language that the ex-pat group (a large one--another surprise to me) has that radiates love for Tokyo. I never would have guessed that it might actually be painful for them to leave this place.
Thanks for letting me stay. I had a wonderful time. I miss you already!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Visitation Rights

Several rights I've discovered about being a visitor at someone's house:
1. Guilt for invading someone else's space: Jesse and Bekah are gracious hosts and they don't complain about this, but I've displaced their kids for sleeping, been present in the living room during a friendly spousal spat, and been in the bathroom when Miriam needed to use the toilet. Auwe.
2. Cheer about doing housework (the little I've done): Doing dishes when you're a visitor is extra. It's nice to feel like the work you do is extra rather than a daily chore. I say things like, "This vacuum is awesome!" and "These stainless steel counter tops are so easy to clean!" And I mean it. I can also blog while Bekah is scrubbing the floor.
3. Embarrassment over my own parenting: Amaya has thrown some major tantrums here, and my normal reaction is annoyance, but under scrutiny its "What the heck have I created?"
4. Un-organization: this may be a right I have at home, but it's even worse when I'm looking at a suitcase that is holding my current life, and I can't find anything. I lost my brush three days ago and have been borrowing Bekah's ever since.
5. General non-chalance about schedule: In my home life I wouldn't dream of staying up until midnight every night talking with friends, especially when I have a baby who wakes up at 6:30, but putting her to bed at 9, eating all day long, staying up late, finally getting out the door by noon-- these are all things that are expected about the visitor.
6. Spending: The visitor can buy more things than normal under the assumption that one cannot buy these things wherever they are from. I have so far bought a Taiyaki pan, bento items, and some stuff from Ikea, along with some other items that I will not mention here because Jake is probably reading this. I like to chalk it up to "Japan is expensive."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father looks like Fay-ther.

In the last five minutes of our travel to Jesse and Bekah's place in Tokyo, after the long hours of waiting, plane riding, seat jumping, toddler tantruming, Amaya vomited all over her front, my front, our bag front, the seat front, the floor in front of us, and the aisle-way. I've never missed Jake so much in my life.
Although several people jumped up to give us tissues of different sizes, and luckily, a plastic grocery bag, I was the one cleaning the vomit and holding the vomit-stained child, and trying to keep calm. Usually when Amaya does this, I put Jake in charge of vomit clean up, and I deal with her, which is always less work.
One thing about being a father is that I expect him to deal with things I find very unpleasant. He's very good at that. I don't really feel bad about it, unless I'm vocalizing it like this, and I realize that other people may consider me selfish. On the good side, Jake will seem unselfish, which is what Father's day is all about, right?
Jake is lucky that he can take the father role very seriously, considering that he watches Amaya more than I do. He's conscious of how she's developing and what he can do to help her become a better person. I am grateful that he is consistent in his parenting because I am not. How much I pay attention to what rule she's breaking is directly correlated to how tired I am. Which is often.
Jake is also fun. I, am not.
He makes Amaya sized jokes, runs Amaya sized outings, and does Amaya sized talk. My itinerary is usually follow Amaya in the yard, watch shows, or read books. I rarely vary from that. I'm trying to emulate Jake more while I'm in Japan. Yesterday I took her for a walk and climbed over rocks, and felt a little better about myself.
When I married Jake, I had no idea that I was marrying such a good father. Lucky, aren't I?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Gourmet '99

I had this recipe when it first came out in 1999, made it about 4 times, and then lost it in a move. I was devastated. It was like losing a friend and I had no way to find her. This is the perfect chocolate cake. I have dreams about this cake. I have tried a dozen recipes since then that are all too eggy, too souffle-y, too flour-y, too sweet. Whenever I searched on the Epicurious site I could not find the right one. I gave up a couple of years ago on flourless chocolate cake recipes, but smitten kitchen's writer, Deb, my favorite foodie writer, posted the recipe on her site about a month ago. I was overjoyed. I even commented on the post saying "Bless you" for finding this recipe, which I thought lost forever.

You cannot overlook this. It is the best excuse for eating a humongous truffle that I can think of. Follow the recipe to a T. The next day and cold is the best way to eat it. I made it yesterday for a dinner party along with Beef Korma. I didn't take any pictures, sorry. I will also have to post the Beef Korma recipe because it is divine. I've been buying whole spices and toasting/grinding them myself in my magic bullet, and it makes all the difference. I've made several Thai recipes this way. Don't be scared off by the number of ingredients because grinding the spices takes all of 2 minutes. I got it off a website (several had the same recipe) and I added the chutney and the granny smith apple. It adds the right touch.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze
For cake

12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, separated

12 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For glaze

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Chocolate shavings
Make cake:Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or waxed paper; butter paper. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, stirring often.
Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold lukewarm chocolate mixture into yolk mixture, then fold in vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake cake until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack (cake will fall).
Gently press down crusty top to make evenly thick cake. Using small knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Place 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round atop cake. Invert cake onto tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper.
Make glaze:

Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.
Place cake on rack set over baking sheet. Spread 1/2 cup glaze smoothly over top and sides of cake. Freeze until almost set, about 3 minutes. Pour remaining glaze over cake; smooth sides and top. Place cake on platter. Chill until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; store at room temperature.) Garnish with chocolate shavings or leaves. Serve at room temperature.

Beef Korma


1 tablespoon coriander seed

1 tablespoon cumin seed 1 teaspoon cardamom seed (without pods)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

6 whole cloves

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds

8 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon gingerroot; coarsely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 lb beef or lamb stewing meat; cut into 1-inch cube

1 tablespoon cooking oil 2 tablespoon cooking oil

2 medium onions; thinly sliced & separated

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

1 granny smith apple sliced thinly

2 heaping t. chutney (mango, apricot, whatever)

1 T sugar

2 tablespoon snipped coriander or parsley

Directions: Toast the spices in a fry pan over medium heat. Stir and remove from heat once the aroma kicks in and they are slightly browned. In a blender container combine coriander seed, cumin seed, cardamom seed, crushed red pepper, and whole cloves. Cover the blender container and grind the spices into a fine powder. Add 1/3 cup water, the slivered blanched almonds, garlic cloves, gingerroot, salt and ground cinnamon. Cover the blender container and blend till the mixture has a pasted consistency.

In a 4 quart saucepan or Dutch oven brown 1/2 of the meat on all sides in 1 tablespoon hot oil; remove. Repeat with remaining meat, add 1 tablespoon additional oil, if needed; remove. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the saucepan; add onions. Cook and stir over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or till onions begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium. Add blended spice mixture; cook and stir 3-4 minutes more or till slightly browned. Add meat and 1/2 cup water to the saucepan. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours or till meat is tender; stir occasionally. Add apple slices about 10-15 minutes before done. When meat is tender, stir together whipping cream, yogurt, flour, and garam masala. Stir mixture into Dutch oven. Also add sugar and chutney. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes more.Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with coriander or parsley. Serve with Indian Spiced Rice or hot cooked rice. Recipe by: BH&G (Hot & Spicy) Posted to MC-Recipe Digest V1 #696 by on Jul 29, 1997

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Picture? Picture?

We've gotten to that stage that I've been dreading. The "I know I'm cute" stage and "I can get away with being a real pill as long as I am cute." She has been throwing some enormous tantrums lately-- not that you can tell from the pictures. Whenever she puts her glasses on she asks me, "Picture? Picture?" because I've always tried to capture those cut moments.

Pistachio Gelato

The recipe for this is here
I love pistachios for dessert. I'll probably put less sugar in next time-- maybe something that's slightly sour.

Salted caramel ice cream will be my next endeavor, although I did find an interesting cardamom/pistachio/saffron indian icecream that looked lovely.

Yes, my purchase through Zingerman's ultra chic food site was totally worth it. Ever since I bought from them I've been drooling over the rest of their gourmet by mail foods. My want list is way too long from there. When I'm rich I am going to buy my way into the Zingerman Z club, which is a "you never know what you're going to get" rare and specialty foods basket that they only send out 4 times a year. Bronte's pistachio creme is amazing. Amaya couldn't keep her fingers out of it when I was trying to scoop it out.