The Next Time You're in Waikiki...

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'll be honest...I'm not really a warm, white sand beach girl. I prefer big cities, mountains and a colder, rockier coast line. Watching mass amounts of tourists squeeze themselves into bathing suits that are inevitably the wrong size or drunkards walking around in sagging board shorts gulping Bud Light isn't my thing. I'd much rather relax fireside in Bodega Bay or engage in broken-English fights with taxi drivers in Paris or New York City. It's now Monday and all I can think about is the fact that it's 10am in Waikiki and we'd most likely be lounging in a chaise near the aquamarine water, sipping mango sodas (I just peed myself. I LURVED these sodas and it looks like they're available at Nugget Foods. Be still my cold, dead heart). To keep myself sane, I decided to do a blog post on things I think you must do if you're going to Waikiki. And, I know stuff, so trust me. Diamond Head Crater. Want a gorgeous, 360-degree view of Honolulu? Do this. It's a hike, but it is easy. We saw people of the older ilk and approximately 432 women wearing some type of wedge heel walking up steep flights of stairs (WTH. Why would you do that?! Same people who walked around downtown Honolulu in their bathing suits only. Save it for the beach and pool, people. Sigh, my mama just taught me right.). Moana Surfrider Hotel. This hotel (the oldest in Hawaii, dating back to 1909), had "Faith" written all. over. it. Gorgeous plantation-style architecture, open-air lobby, on-site Honolulu Roasting Company (DO IT. If you go to Starbucks in downtown Waikiki, I'll personally hunt you down) and...wait for it...lovely, comfortable, wooden rocking chairs on the front patio! No words. Moana also housed my favorite beach bar. One mai tai brought the boyfriend down. Those homies do not mess around with their rum drinks. The Moana is pricey (naturally. Things I love always are. Eyeroll.), but well worth it. Two words: mango daquiri.

Hanauma Bay. This is THE place to snorkel. Just watch out for the kiddies, because you know what they're doing in that warm water. You'll watch a great nine-minute video pre-snorkel that will teach you about the coral and wildlife. My tip is to grab water and snacks at the top of the hill before you go down to the water. That hill ain't no joke, you will not want to traipse back up it for something to drink. I never found Nemo (where IS that freaking clown fish?!), but you'll see tons of beautiful, colorful fish. Another tip is to BYOU. Bring your own umbrella, shade is hard to come by at Hanauma Bay.

LOST. Fan of the ABC show? If you aren't, why the hell aren't you? That show is epic. Netflix it now. Visiting the filming sites was amazing, and I'm not afraid to admit that I was half hoping the smoke monster would fly right out of the mountains. Judge away. You can freely access The Others' Camp, which is a still-used YMCA campground. I totally felt Ben Linus' "Am I evil or am I not evil?" presence lurking. Mmmhm. Next we hit Police Beach, site of the survivors' camp. Visit this site to get driving directions, it can be tricky. Bonus: Tim and I saw at least eight enormous sea turtles at that beach...they were sunning themselves and eating before setting out for....well, whatever they do.

Eat at Taormina Sicilian Cuisine. It's mere blocks from the major Waikiki hotels and not only is the service attentive and nice, but I had the best lasagna of my LIFE here. LIFE, people. Bleu cheese and bolognese lasagna.

Drink Coffee at a Honolulu Coffee Roasting Company. The one in the Moana Surfrider had exceptional service and they use kona coffee (DEE.LICIOUS) alongside their fresh pastries and bagels. And they make acai bowls. Get on that, California.

Eat a leisurely breakfast at the Royal Hawaiian. Their egg white omelet was to die for and they offer four flavors of tropical jam with their toast! It's the little things, people. Warning: everything here is pink.

Summer Denial

Monday, August 23, 2010

Before I start whining about my hatred of Sacramento summers, I'll preface this by saying that this might be the most mild summer season I've ever experienced here. I'm not sure it's gotten over 100-degrees here in three months. It's usually 128-degrees in August. Ok, that's a ridiculous overstatement, but I just roll like that. So, on a summer evening with the thermometer kicking in at 68 degrees, I'm in the mood for some soup. What of it? And, tomatoes taste better in the summer, so I suggest you roll with this, too. Dee-licious Tomato Soup (alongside my award-winning grilled cheese. Because, why would you eat tomato soup without grilled cheese, you weirdo?) Serves roughly 6ish. Or 3 hungry peeps. 3 tablespoons good olive oil 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions) 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves) 4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large) 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade 1 tablespoon kosher salt 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 3/4 cup heavy cream Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender. Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that's left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves.

Homemade Granola With a Healthy Twist

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I have it on good authority (mine) that you will likely never buy granola again after making your own. Not only is it easier than I'm guessing most of you think, but it's heartening to know exactly what is going into your food - and being able to pronounce it.

Granola has generally been denounced in the health food world due to most companies filling it with truckloads of sugar. The other problem is that it's expensive. Why oats covered in sugary binding agents cost so much is beyond me. But there's a skirt around the issue: Double Coconut Granola.

I made this batch as a gift for my colleague who just announced her pregnancy. Buy some Ball Jars at your local hardware store (totally inexpensive, woot!), some cute wrapping accessories and you'll be on your way to easy gifts. Or eat it yourself. Or shoot, do both and call it a day.

Double Coconut Granola
courtesy of Opera Girl

6 C. rolled oats
1 2/3 C. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 C. honey
1/3 C. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. kosher salt

1. Heat oven to 300F.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats and shredded coconut.
3. In a small saucepan, cook honey, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt over medium heat until the mixture just begins to simmer.
4. Pour honey/oil mixture over oats and coconut flakes, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

5. Spread out granola on a baking sheet. Place in oven, bake for 10 minutes, then stir granola. Repeat until granola is well-toasted — this took me four stirs, or 40 minutes total cooking time.
6. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. When cooled, store in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks. Can refrigerate or freeze for longer shelf life.

Sloppy Janes

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oh, lentils. How tasteless and disgusting I once thought you were. A key player in the one and only bad recipe my father made in my youth - the dreaded lentil stew. But look at you shine now! You're a star! Everyone loves you!

Actually, I'm sad to say, dear lentils, that I'm afraid not many know your multiple personalities. For instance, I bet it will come as quite the surprise to many that their beefy sloppy joes can be transformed into vegan beauties, enjoyed even by those who cringe in fear when the word "vegan" is uttered (you should see the boyfriend's eyes widen. It makes me giggle.)

These bad girls are tasty. Sure, you may miss the beef. My goal isn't to make things that are vegan taste exactly like their meaty counterparts, but instead, when I make a vegan dish, it's to enjoy a good alternative to a favorite, with major health benefits on the side.
Here's what you'll need:

Vegan Sloppy Joes
courtesy Post Punk Kitchen

  • 1 cup uncooked lentil
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 green pepper, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard (wet mustard)
  • 4 to 6 whole grain hamburger buns.
Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.

Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can't wait.