Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Maui Bargains

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since we got back from our Maui trip. Oh, how time flies!

We have so many fond memories of the trip. Last Thursday I visited my daughter's preschool and shared some of the pictures from Maui. I showed the kids a couple of videos from the hula show we went to, and the preschoolers even tried a little hula themselves! It was super cute, and the kids seemed to love it.

The hula show we saw in Maui was really pretty special. For one thing, it was free. That's right ~ FREE! It was put on by a local hula school at the Lahaina Cannery Mall, and all of the dancers were children. The smallest child looked like she was not more than four. These girls are talented!

They did several dances using a variety of traditional instruments. Here's a video of them getting started with their first dance:

If you're ever in Maui you should definitely check out this show.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meatless Mondays: It's Time

You'll have to excuse my sparse posting recently. Instead of talking about food (and life!) I've been enjoying it. So now it's time to start catching up. In fact, I'm blogging with today's Meatless Mondays post just in the nick of time. In most parts of the U.S. it's not even Monday anymore. But who's counting anyway!

In recent weeks I have finally realized that summer is almost over. School has started for all the children here in Davis, and we've even seen a few cooler nights. Clearly it's time to prepare for Fall, but I'm not quite ready. I have yet to really enjoy the best of summer produce ~ the garden-fresh tomatoes, the locally grown sweet corn, the eggplants and bell peppers. I'm hoping to make time for all of these summer treats...and fast.

For today's Meatless Mondays post I'd like to share this luscious tomato salad. It's perfect for this time of year because it features tomatoes straight from the farmstand.

It requires zero cooking.

And, it is light enough for even the hottest of days.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did ~ even my daughter dove headfirst into this, herbs and all!


Marinated Tomato Salad

  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pints of the freshest mini tomatoes you can find (using a mixture of heirloom cherry tomatoes might make for the prettiest result)
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp. each of sea salt and freshly ground pepper (or more to taste)
Whisk together the vinegar and oil in the serving dish. Add the tomatoes to the dish, top with the herbs, salt, and pepper, and then toss well to coat the tomatoes. Adjust the seasonings if necessary, then chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours before serving.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Surprise, Surprise!

Don't you love surprises? I do. And our trip to Maui was full of wonderful surprises. We enjoyed every place we visited, and we were amazed by the variety of things to do there. A perfect example is the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm. Talk about a place not to be missed! This Local Great offers something for everyone.

We headed to the farm after a full morning of sightseeing. We had sort of skipped lunch, but we wanted to visit the goats before we ventured out for food. Boy were we glad we showed up hungry!

This was not your ordinary farm. In addition to its location on the side of a volcano and its breathtaking panoramic views, this turned out to be a haven for gourmet munching at its best. Before we got to munching, we toured the farm.

We fed hay to the goats, which of course my daughter loved since she adores animals of all kinds.

This little guy's name is Elvis ~ because of his hair-do of course!

We saw the goats lined up for milking, and we saw where the milk is pasteurized and made into cheese within mere hours of leaving the goat. No wonder it tastes so fresh! After the tour we ended up here:

This may look like a surf shop, but it's actually the farm's cheese stand. For us it was the source of the most luxurious meal we had enjoyed up to that point in the trip. To start we had lemonade, iced tea, and smoothies. We sampled fresh goat milk cheese, then realized we needed to hang out for a while. We ordered a goat cheese caprese salad and a flight of the lightest, creamiest, best flavored goat cheeses I've ever tasted. That's right, a FLIGHT of goat cheese! Who knew there was such a thing?

If you are ever, EVER in Maui you should visit this place. They also sell their cheeses online, including a cheese that was served at the Obama Inauguration festivities.

If you're curious what my favorites were, they were the"Rolling Green" made with fresh garlic chives (not so surprising that I would like this, plus it won the 2nd Place National Award in 2005) and the exotic "Mandalay" made with apples, bananas, and curry (a very surprising combination in my opinion, and the winner of the 1st Place National Award in 2004).

Yum, yum, yum. These cheeses just might show up in my life again...maybe for my birthday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Oh, the Kiddies!

My husband and I are raising our daughter vegetarian. We figure that at some point she'll be old enough to decide for herself whether she wants to continue being vegetarian, but for now it makes sense for her to eat like us.

I realize that raising a vegetarian child could become complicated at times. Nevertheless, I continue to be surprised at the ways in which it's complicated. Now that our daughter is four years old, we've started talking to her about what the word "vegetarian" means. We mostly do this so she won't accidentally trade her cheese ravioli for somebody else's ham sandwich at preschool. These discussions have made an impact, and we're happy that she seems to understand what we're telling her. Still, our talks have led to some. . . well. . . side effects.

Let me explain. On our trip to Maui we stayed in a condo complex with a really nice grill area right next to one of the pools. We frequently swam in the late afternoon, just us many of our neighbors fired up the grills for their evening meal. One night the grill area was particularly crowded because a tour group was eating together. All of a sudden our daughter turned towards the group munching on hot dogs and hamburgers, pointed her adorable little finger at them in the most accusatory manner possible, and then loudly announced, "Look, Mommy. They're eating MEAT....ooooooooooooooh! We don't eat meat, do we?"

I'm sure I blushed. Then my hubby and I chuckled a little, and we quickly lured our daughter back to the other side of the pool. As usual, we're going to have to make some adjustments to how we explain this topic. It's not that eating meat is gross, it's just that we don't do it. So how do you teach this to a four-year-old? How do you explain that it's us that are the weird ones, not the rest of the world? Afterall, most of our friends and family are meat-eaters.

I guess this is a work in progress. If you know any secrets to tackling this little problem, please share!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear World

I was just looking over my latest blog posts, and it dawned on me that my recent interest in blogging about eggs, like here and here, is about as untimely as it could possibly be. Plus, I'm helping to host a baby shower this weekend that will include a menu of no fewer than 4 dishes containing eggs.

Dear World, I promise that I'm not trying to poison you! I swear the salmonella outbreak is just really bad luck. You believe me, right? Right?

It started with nail polish . . .

A few nights ago my hubby and I decided to go out for a fancy dinner with our daughter in tow. It was a huge success. The secret was a little nail polish, capturing our daughter's interest by calling it a "princess feast," and ending the dinner with some really, really good ice cream. I can't wait to share more from our Maui adventure! We just got back, so I'm very jetlagged right now. . .

Monday, August 16, 2010

Did you catch it?

Did you remember Meatless Monday this week? One of my recipes was featured ~ I'm so excited! Check it out here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Tips for Eating Out

Last week I told you how I love to splurge and eat out. I find a little planning can make eating vegetarian at restaurants much easier. Here are a few tips if you're new to eating out veggie-style:
  • Check the menu in advance for vegetarian offerings (This is especially useful if you don't want to make a big stink about the fact that you're eating vegetarian. I always do this before professional events.)
  • Call ahead or ask your waiter if there are dishes that can easily be made vegetarian ~ there usually are.
  • Assemble your own vegetarian meal by combining several side dishes or appetizers.
  • If there really are no great veggie options, then enjoy what you can eat ~ salad, bread, and dessert make for a great {occasional} backup plan!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Playing "Favorites"

Do you have a favorite tool you like to use in the kitchen? My favorite tool has become my pizza cutter, although I rarely use it to slice pizza. Since it is sharp enough to slice through all kinds of things, I find that I can save a huge amount of time and mess by pulling out the pizza cutter for all kinds of uses. I use it to slice quesadillas and sandwiches and also to remove crusts from bread. It's kind of fun, too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Taco Remix 2

Do you have a favorite way to "package" up your food? Tacos are probably my favorite food package. Today's taco remix is inspired by Real Simple's 3-ingredient recipe challenge. Although I packaged up my 3-ingredient recipe inside a taco, you could easily eat this egg/green onion/cheese combo as is.

Beat 6 eggs
Lightly saute 4 green onions, sliced
Add 1/4 cup feta (or other flavorful cheese)
Season with salt and pepper
Eat as is or serve on tortillas with tomatilla salsa

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Eating Out

I love to cook and I love home-cooked meals. I find it's so much easier to monitor healthy-eating when I prep food myself. On the other hand, my hubby and I also love to eat out. We tend to save restaurants for the weekend and we make it more of an experience. A splurge, if you will. We don't feel like we have to grab the cheapest grub around, and we can have a more leisurely meal together.

As vegetarian-eating has become more and more common, eating "vegetarian" at restaurants has also become easier. These days there's a lot more out there for us than just salad and fries. Nevertheless, eating out is still pretty complicated at higher priced restaurants. Nicer establishments often make their food more "upscale" by offering finer meats and seafood. While some of these restaurants do offer one or two vegetarian dishes, they often are overpriced and rather ordinary in comparison to the other menu offerings. Unfortunately I've had some bad experiences on this front, including last Valentine's Day.

But there's still hope. In finalizing our plans for our upcoming trip to Maui, I was delighted to discover a rare veggie-friendly fine dining restaurant. Since the executive chef's wife is vegetarian, The Plantation House offers a separate vegetarian-friendly menu. Since it's also known for great service and fantastic views, this just might be a truly rare find.

I hope we'll have the opportunity to try The Plantation House on our vacation ~ I'll be sure to report back!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Can't Wait!

Great news ~ I'm going to be hosting my first giveaway soon! I'll post more info as soon as I know more details. Keep checking back!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fun With Ola

Last weekend I was looking for a fun cooking project to do with my daughter. We were in the mood for something sweet, but I was hoping to avoid heating up the house with the oven. I showed my daughter a picture of homemade granola bars. Then she launched into this extended story about how her preschool friend Emily likes ola bars with chocolate chips and how her other friend Maria likes ola bars only sometimes.

Since we almost never eat granola bars around our house, this was the first time I had heard my daughter call them "ola bars." She was dumbfounded when I explained that they are actually called "granola bar." So cute!

In the end we did make a batch of granola bars. Truthfully these are somewhat of a cross between granola bars and Rice Krispie treats. They don't have granola in them, and they aren't baked like homemade granola. But they do have the flavor of granola bars with some of the same treats you would expect mixed in ~ dried fruit and chocolate chips. The cereal is more like over-sized Rice Krispies, similar to what rice cakes are made of, and I found it in bags with all the other cereals.

It was a super fun project ~ easy, very child-friendly, and SO tasty. The first time I made these I followed my penpal Emily's recipe, then last weekend I used another variation. My version is a little less sweet than the two recipes I looked at.


Peanut Butter "Ola" Bars
  • 3 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 3 cups crispy kamut cereal or toasted oat cereal
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or other small dried fruit)
  • 1/2 regular raisins
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 16 oz jar natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan. Combine the cereals, raisins, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Place the peanut butter and honey in a microwave safe bowl and microwave briefly to soften the mixture, then stir well to combine. Pour over the cereal mixture, then mix well. Press the combined mixture into the prepared pan. Cool, cut into squares or bars, and serve.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Playing Tourist

My mother-in-law is in town visiting, and yesterday we headed to San Francisco to play "tourists." We only went to a handful of places, but San Francisco is always so much fun!

I thought I'd share a few of my hubby's pictures. Our first stop was the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco was pretty wintry yesterday ~ fog, wind, and no warmer than about 60 degrees.

We walked under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was an exciting experience because the floor rattled underneath us along with the traffic, and the ceiling above us boomed as the larger trucks passed overhead.

The sea lions at Pier 39 are so entertaining! My daughter could have stayed there all day long watching. She brought home a stuffed sea lion to cuddle with, and we found out later that the sea lion has a button to make it bark. My hubby and I could do without that noisy feature!

We were surprised to find this little nature oasis in the middle of the mall at Pier 39. My mother-in-law fell in love with this fountain area and little bird, and she's actually planning to recreate it in her backyard in Florida.

It was an all around fun day, and it's so fantastic to finally be enjoying summer. Hope you are too!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Labeling

Back when I started this blog almost eleven months ago (can't believe it!) I wasn't really sure how I should label myself. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to write a "food blog" or whether I wanted to write more of a "life blog." I quickly found that the topics I most enjoyed writing about were food, cooking, parties, and excursions. Even after I discovered these things, I still resisted labeling myself ~ I never became a true "food blog," I never confined myself to any particular topic, and I definitely never let on that most of what I was writing about was healthy eating.

So now I've decided to come out of the pantry so to speak. I'm going to label myself. Get ready . . . It's almost time . . .

I am a vegetarian. There I said it. Had you guessed? Anybody who knows me in person probably already knows this, but I've somehow managed not to mention it here. Now I'm going to start mentioning it. Regularly.

I've been a vegetarian since I was eleven years old, and I knew even earlier then that I was destined to eat meatless. I never cared for meat much, and I was always a bit squeemish about my animal friends being part of my meal. I've always been somewhat of a healthnut, and I've long known that I just feel better when meat is not part of my diet. So instead of eating stew I eat beans and rice. No biggie, right? I never thought it was.

Recently I've become a little interested in telling people about what I eat because eating IS a big deal. To quote Michael Pollen, "four of the top ten causes of death today are chronic diseases with well-established links to diet: coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer." Diet matters. So my goal is to talk about going meatless once weekly as part of the Meatless Mondays movement, a public health initiative encouraging people to occasionally cut out meat.

So tell me, have you ever tried going meatless?
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