Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

The Easter hen came a-layin'

April 22nd, 2014
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nest   I looked down to find 10 eggs, nine white and one brown.Nadine Kam photos

Easter came a day early for me when I returned home from an early morning blessing and grand reopening celebration at the Louis Vuitton store at Ala Moana Center, to find that recent high winds had blown a bird nest out of my mango tree.

It was a small nest, likely meijiro, and appeared to have been long abandoned, so I tried tossing it in my compost heap, in a repurposed water fountain, from about four feet away. But the winds picked up and blew it off course. As I walked over to pick it up off the ground, there was a huge commotion as I shared the terror of the chicken that came clucking and flying off the compost heap.

I had purposely filled the heap with thorny bougainvillea branches just to keep chickens from digging up the compost. I don't mind their churning leaves and dirt, but in doing so, they also eat the worms that help break down the dried leaves, grass and vegetable scraps.

My whole yard is often overrun by feral chickens, and as much as I try to scare them off, they keep coming back, not only digging up dirt but pavement foundations, causing a lot of destruction. Finally, I set up a trap last week, baiting it with corn and peanuts. The only thing is, the trap attracted the doves that roost in the eaves of my house. They set up camp near the trap, nestled in the ground, none stupid enough to actually enter the trap, but smart enough to enjoy the free meal.

Perhaps the presence of food also made the chicken feel at home enough to start nesting in the compost? The number of eggs roughly corresponds to the time the cage appeared, at about an egg a day, if two chickens are involved. The brown egg would have come from a second chicken.

I wasn't about to allow more chickens to hatch and continue their path of destruction. But then I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not it was safe to eat the eggs. Of course I was going to try out of pure foodie instinct. But as a city slicker, it dawned on me that I knew nothing about how to eat an egg straight from a chicken.

eggThese eggs passed the water test by sinking to the bottom of a container of water.

A craving for eggs usually means heading straight to the grocery store and picking up a carton. So what does the modern person do when he/she has a question? We put it to our lifeline, our Facebook friends, whose responses ranged from, "Don't eat them," to "If there's something inside, isn't that just balut?"

The most helpful came from my sister-in-law Laurie Jacobs, who referred me to two websites http://www.thekitchn.com/kitchen-tip-testing-eggs-for-f-46368 for testing eggs for freshness and embryos http://lancaster.unl.edu/4h/embryology/candling.shtml

The last thing I wanted to find on cracking one open was balut, or, for those not familiar with the Filipino delicacy, the developing embryo.

At any rate, the eggs were dirty from sitting underneath the mother, so I did what came naturally and washed them.

WRONG!

I had to go out again, so I simply left the eggs sitting on the counter for the rest of the day.

WRONG AGAIN!

About midnight, when I had a chance to rest and read up about my eggs, I learned that washing destroys the protective bloom that coats the eggs and prevents bacteria from entering the porous shell. Washing pulls in bacteria, which can grow quickly at room temperature, so washed eggs should be eaten immediately, or stored in the refrigerator.

With bloom in place, eggs will stay fresh in your refrigerator for about 8-1/2 weeks.

Reading on, I had to get out of bed to candle the eggs, holding them up to the light to see whether there is anything solid inside. Satisfied that none of the eggs held chicks, I looked forward to a breakfast of scrambled eggs on Easter morning.

egggGolden yolks are a mark of fresh eggs.

The benefits of fresh eggs is that, compared to typical store-bought, pasteurized eggs, they contain:
>> 1⁄3 less cholesterol
>> 1⁄4 less saturated fat
>> 2⁄3 more vitamin A
>> Two times more Omega-3 fatty acids
>> Three times more vitamin E
>> Seven times more beta carotene
>> Four to six times more vitamin D

There was one more test to perform before actually cooking the eggs. Because I don't peer into the compost heap every day, I had no idea when the eggs started appearing and how old they were. The water test, for freshness, can be performed with a glass of room temperature water.

Place the egg in the glass and see how it falls. If it lands on the bottom of the glass on its side and stays there, it's a good egg. If it stands on one end, it's older, meaning air has entered the shell, but you may still be able to eat it hard-boiled. If it floats, it's full of air and gasses and should be discarded.

On Facebook, chicken expert Sandy Tsukiyama put it much more dramatically and colorfully: "Floats = danger of exploding pilau, but pretty, turquoise-colored, sulphurized contents all over. Carefully wrap in newspaper & dispose asap!"

Finally satisfied that the eggs were edible, I cracked one open, relieved to find a perfect yolk inside, just as described as being more golden than the typical supermarket egg.

Then came a second and a third, and I soon had a perfect Easter breakfast of fresh scrambled eggs. I will make omelettes of the others and hope the chickens come back with more peace offerings.

eggssThe end.

Post detox: Return to normalcy in the new year

January 2nd, 2014
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klacquer
The table was set with beautiful lacquerware at Kensei Takeda's Japanese new year dinner.Nadine Kam photos

New Year's Day marked Day 2 of my return from Blue Tree Cafe's five-day "Renew" juice cleanse. I'd been slowly introducing solid foods back to my diet, and after starting the morning with a banana, another handful of raw, unsalted almonds, and lunch of more of my homemade chicken soup, dinner would mark my return to normalcy.

I had been invited to a friend's home for what was described as "a little traditional Japanese New Year's food." Knowing Kensei, it probably would not be a little, but it would be healthful, and delicious. It sounded ideal for my return to social dining.

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"Creation namasu" of cauliflower and Japanese cucumber marinated in ume and rice wine vinegar, topped with turkey bacon and cracked black pepper.

Of course his idea of "traditional" involves what he calls "Creation," a bit of fusion and contemporary interpretation. Traditional foods and ingredients such as ozoni, mizuna and mochi, were not to be found, for instance. He explained that every year in Japan, people die after choking on mizuna and mochi so he wanted to offer alternatives.

The resulting meal numbered eight courses presented on a mix of antique Wajma, Imari and Noritake porcelain, Japan Imperial household lacquerware, European crystal and ceramic ware by the artist Nanzan, whose work also inspires meals at the Pensacola Street restaurant Nanzan Giro Giro.

It was a lot of food, though the meal comprised mostly vegetables, and I rationalized that most of it would have filled only two of the 16-ounce juice jars I was ingesting over a two-hour period the past few days. With dinner spread over three-and-a-half hours, it worked out fine.

Did I overeat? I would say yes, by five dishes, but it was worth every bite on this special occasion.

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Second course of steamed edamame potsticker topped with a light Middle Eastern style sauce of tomato, onions and cumin.

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New Year Osechi platter including kuro-mame (black soybeans) signifying good health, datemaki (sweet rolled omelet), kamaboko topped with uni,  kazunoko (herring roe) with a touch of yuzu, and chestnut purée.
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Detox Day 2: Temptations begin

December 28th, 2013
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Jamm Aquino photograph's my Day 2 meals.Nadine Kam photos

I feel guilty that I only had 2 glasses of water yesterday, so the first thing I do when I wake up is to drink a glass of my hydrogen water before heading back to Blue Tree Cafe for Day 2 of the Renew cleanse.

I’ve arranged for SA photographer Jamm Aquino to take photos of the juices, which range from the vibrant orange of “Carotene Cure,” to the translucency of “Honey Badger” and white of almond milk. They look so pretty when backlighted.

Barista/juicer/martial artist James tells me Honey Badger is his favorite and I look forward to this first drink of the day, comprising apple, lemon, ginger and the spice of cayenne. Very yummy.

While there, I take a look at the menu board, where most of these juices are $6.95 if you were to purchase them singly.

I start drinking the Honey Badger at 10:30 a.m. and I’m ready for my first potty break at noon. Walking through the office, I’m hyper aware of the scent of co-workers lunches and everything smells wonderful, from meat to mustard. I’m hyper aware of food, and even though I’m not hungry at all, I want to pop things in my mouth. I guess the childhood oral fixation never goes away. Maybe we’re hardwired to pop things in our mouths.

Realization 4: I have a lot of restless energy and do a lot of social eating. Even if I’m not hungry, if I’m sitting with a bunch of people and there’s food at the table I will eat it as a way of staying active while sitting through lunches that can last from noon to 5 p.m., before moving on to dinner at another location.

I'm slated to go to the one-year anniversary party for Flag-J tonight at The Modern Honolulu. I figure it will be easy not to eat. It'll be a little harder meeting friends at Anna Miller restaurant after the party. It's hard to watch other people eating and not participate. It just seems rude.

At 1 p.m., I get up again to move my car. By the time I walk back, I’m ready for another restroom break. It’s so annoying.

detoxverde

Very Verde.

At 1:30, I’m still not hungry, but I better start drinking again, or I’ll never complete the day’s regimen. Next up is “Very Verde” and I’m looking forward to this blend of kale, avocado, spinach, banana, coconut water, hemp, chia seeds and apple. I taste more banana. I wish there were more avocado. I guess I’m craving fat, but I’m enjoying this lunch. This is what I would typically order at Blue Tree, though I’d have it with a curry chicken wrap or chicken sandwich.

At 3 p.m., I start on the Green Lemon Aid of kale, celery, ginger, apple and lemon. At 5 p.m., I head home for a change of clothes before going out to the Modern. I consider bringing one of my juices along in case I get hungry, but I'm juggling camera, video and clutch and don't want to risk dropping a jar on the ground. Of course I start feeling hungry as soon as I get there. I remember what James had said to me that morning. He said the body can't differentiate between hunger and thirst, so if you feel hungry, drink more water.

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Falafel at the Flag-J party.

At the party, there was a Mediterranean food setup, with the likes of hummus, crudite, falafel, pita and pesto. Not bad for dieters but I still can't have any. I really miss the mouth-feel of food. I always thought drinking all our nutrients or getting them in pill form would be so convenient, but neither delivers the satisfaction of chewing and savoring whole foods.

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I couldn't indulge in cheese or even a healthful selection of vegetable crudités.

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I leave the party at 9:30 because I have to meet some Leeward side friends at Anna Miller's at 10:30. Stop off at home to change and pick up my next two drinks, more kombucha Hydrator, this time with chia seed, and the Carotene Cure. At Anna Miller's I look at the menu. If freed from detox, I would be ordering the bacon avocado burger. Alas. One of my friends orders lemon meringue pie. My other friend orders a grilled cheese sandwich with fries. It was relatively easy to resist a taste of each. I finish both by the time we leave at 12:30 a.m.

I finish up this post while drinking the last concoction of the day, again the calcium- and vitamins D- and E-rich almond milk, that includes dates and agave. This drink is said to promote a healthy heart and enhanced immune function. It makes a soothing finale.

anna
I end up at Anna Miller's, house of pies, and eat nothing.

Detox Day 1: The new year cleanse starts now

December 27th, 2013
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renew

My day's "meals" on one of Blue Tree Cafe's juice detox plans are clearly marked and numbered.

2013 did not feel like a good year to me. Every high was tempered by the blow of losing my husband to lung cancer in April. Grief takes a toll on mind, body and spirit in a way in which I totally understood how, when the elderly lose a spouse, the grieving survivor often follows soon after.

I have spent many months working on mind and spirit, but still have trouble sleeping, getting only four or five hours a night. And my diet has been a steady stream of restaurants. I haven’t cooked once since he died, down from three to four times a week.

I wanted to start the new year clean, so headed to Blue Tree Cafe, where a five-day “Renew" juice cleanse is one of handful they offer. This particular one is geared toward any newbie to detoxing. You get six smoothie/protein drinks per day, at about $40 per day. Pick them up your jars in the morning and you’re set. There is a bottle deposit you get back when you return all the bottles.

For me, the day after Christmas was the perfect time to start. It’s the slowest time of year for me, and I haven’t gone out on New Year’s Eve since I met Chris more than 20 years ago. He always said he didn’t want to risk being out on the road on “Amateur Night.” I just have to keep friends at bay with promises of going out after the new year, and in cases where there is a party or getting together with a friend moving to Korea, I’ll just not eat or bring my smoothie along.

I’ve never been on a liquid detox diet before, so don’t know how my body will respond. I think I’ll be OK because when I do drink smoothies, I feel full for hours.

likeoxtail

Last supper: Oxtail soup at Likelike Drive-Inn. Detox that!

I decided to have one last hurrah on Christmas Day. After heading to the movie theater to watch “The Wolf of Wall Street”—a good movie but perhaps an hour too long due to all the gratuitous sex, orgy and drug scenes (We get it OK! Has every director caught Peter Jackson fever and become overindulgent on the editing?—my friends and I headed to Likelike Drive-Inn (one of the handful of places open late Christmas Day), where at 10 p.m. I ordered the oxtail soup.

I didn’t think it was that heavy, but as happens when I have a heavy late-night meal, I woke up starving. Usually, I don’t feel hungry in the morning so don’t eat breakfast, but with my stomach already rumbling, I hoped the detox drinks would be enough.

I had called in my order on Christmas Eve. They told me they had five other pickups starting the day after Christmas and had already put in their produce order, but it would be fine if I could arrive after 9 a.m. Perfect.

When I got there this morning, the numbered bottles were already sitting in the refrigerator, ready to go and arranged nicely in a recycle bag.

First up was the light green “Perfect Start.” I didn’t have a menu, so everything would be a surprise. It was a sweet surprise, a refreshing, eye-opening blend of pineapple, cucumber, green apple and mint. So far so good. I started drinking at 10:30 a.m.

It was a work day at the paper, and at a certain point, I had to leave my desk and talk to someone about a deadline. Of course the day after Christmas, there were new boxes of candy around, and while talking to the person I mindlessly picked up a Mauna Loa milk chocolate-covered macadamia nut. I took a 1 centimeter bite of the chocolate before realizing I wasn’t supposed to eat anything outside my Blue Tree drinks.

Realization 1: It just demonstrated how much mindless eating I may be doing throughout the day. I wasn’t even hungry. I was just standing around talking, and it was there within reach. I toss the uneaten candy away. (more…)

Drop into Santa's Gingerbread Village at Princess Kaiulani

December 24th, 2013
By



gingerbread sydney

The Sydney Opera House is the newest addition to the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani's Santa's Gingerbread Village.Nadine Kam photos

Adding to the festivities of the holidays, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani's Santa’s Gingerbread Village is open for viewing through Jan. 2 in the resort’s lobby.

The village stands more than 14.5 feet high and more than 28 feet long, constructed with 320 gallons of icing, 150 pounds of dark chocolate, 50 pounds of white chocolate, and 100 sheets of gingerbread.

Executive chef Ralf Bauer’s edible winter wonderland took nearly half a year to complete. After years of perfecting the gingerbread buildings representing the quaint mountainside villages of his native Germany, including medieval churches, bell towers, train stations, a carousel, a skating rink, German Village with its castle, Swiss chalet and Alps, Bauer moved on to creating such iconic Hawaii landmarks such as Kawaiahao Mission Church, Moana Surfrider and Aloha Tower, as well as other world-famous landmarks such as Washington D.C.'s Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower, London's Tower Bridge, and Nara, Japan's Yakushiji Temple.


Non-flash video

This year, he added the Australia's Sydney Opera House, which took three months to complete, as he engineered its sails of rolled sugar dough.

Bauer was assisted by pantry chef Amie Tungpalan, executive sous chef John Hightower and the hotel’s engineering department.
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The hotel is at 120 Kaiulani Ave. Call 922-5811 or visit www.princess-kauilani.com.

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The village started with executive chef Ralf Bauer’s desire to recreate the mountainside villages of his native Germany.

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The Aloha Tower in gingerbread, and incongruously, with snow!