Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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Waiting for Flossie

We don’t get a lot of rain where we live in Pukalani, so today’s rain was welcome. The morning sky was a mix of blue, gray clouds & sun breaks; the wind was soft. Big winds are a frequent occurrence in Pukalani, winds so big it’s a wonder that plants have any foliage & that any of us have a hair left on our heads. But they aren’t the sustained winds that come with a storm. We are waiting for Flossie, the Tropical Storm that is currently headed for Maui, to arrive. Right now, the rain is falling a little harder & the palm fronds are swaying gently. A few birds are chirping here & there, but we aren’t hearing the usual afternoon bird symphony of chirps & tweets. We hear an occasional cock-a-doodle-doo from a neighborhood chicken.

We spent the morning preparing for Flossie. The smart thing to do if you think you may lose power is to make some food so you are ready if it happens. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for over 20 years, we are experts at getting ready for a power outage; we experienced many. A big difference is that when the power goes out on Maui, it isn’t freezing cold outside. We have plenty to eat, so I just prepared a few things to make our day just a little tastier. I made cornbread using Bob’s Red Mill Blue Cornmeal, which I hear is more nutritious than yellow cornmeal, these oatmeal muffins and Passato of Vegetables , one of our favorite soups {good hot or cold}. Today is cool enough to enjoy the soup hot, and warm enough to eat it cold, should we be sans power. Fingers crossed that the power stays on!

Blue Cornbread {adapted from Moosewood Cookbook}
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 cup blue cornmeal {of course you can use yellow}
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Whisk together honey, buttermilk, egg & butter. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry & mix well.

Bake in a greased 8″x 8″ pan at 425 degrees for 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. I love it with butter & molasses.

Blue Cornbread

More rain has arrived, along with thunder! And now there is lightning! Time for hot soup.


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“Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first.”  Ernestine Ulmer

I saw some beautiful flowers on my walk today, & couldn’t resist photographing & sharing them with you.  My walk was enjoyable as always, and warm, because I didn’t leave until a little after 7:00 am.  The sun doesn’t take long to “warm up” in Hawaii; it pretty much makes its appearance & is hot right off the bat.  If you want a cool walk, you need to leave before the sun peeks over Haleakala, or after it dips behind the West Maui Mountains.

Sunset from Bedroom Window

If you have visited Maui, or live here, you know that there are chickens all over the place.  I have seen some beautiful chickens here, but the family I saw on today’s walk are about the homeliest bunch I’ve encountered.

Fowl

Truth be told, I am more excited about what I made after I returned from my walk.

I made this. . .

This is a fantastic way to end a walk on a hot day!

This is a fantastic way to end a walk on a hot day!

Oops…I was so anxious to eat my dessert that I forgot to snap a photo until these two bites were left!  Side-by-side with ice cream, I could certainly tell the difference.  All by itself, I don’t need ice cream.  We always have a stash of frozen bananas, so this is a breeze to make {& eat}.

Banana Mocha Peanut Butter Soft Serve

2 frozen bananas, sliced
1 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 tsp instant coffee {I use Starbucks Via}
1 tsp cocoa {I use Dagoba unsweetened with bits of unsweetened chocolate}
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of kosher salt
1/8 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
20 dark chocolate chips {or your favorite}
Splash of milk, dairy or otherwise, if you need it for blending

I used my Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor for this recipe.  Put the bananas, peanut butter, coffee, cocoa, vanilla & salt into the processor.  Process until the mixture starts to become creamy; you may need a little liquid to get it going.  I used a little of my homemade almond milk.  Add in the peanuts & chocolate chips & blend until they are somewhat chopped up, but not totally.  Eat right away, or freeze.  I prefer eating it right away, or freezing for just an hour or 2.

Serves 2 {or 1 if she doesn’t feel like sharing}

Bon Appetit!

Life is too short to eat mediocre bread, and there is a lot of it out there.

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Bread baked and cut final

One of life’s great pleasures is the aroma of yeasty bread dough in the oven, transforming itself into a beautiful, delectable, crusty loaf of bread.  If you have never baked homemade yeast bread, you are in for a treat.  It really doesn’t take a lot of time; you can have delicious bread from start to finish in 3 hours or less, depending on the bread.  Much of that time is rising time, so you can be doing something else, like making soup or salad to accompany your freshly baked bread.

It isn’t just the smell that is enticing though.  Bread dough feels good in your hands.  Not so much at the beginning, when it is a sticky, shaggy mass of dough…

Rough shaggy dough final

but when your mindful kneading transforms it into a silky, supple ball of dough, it is a pleasure to behold.  I find kneading bread to be therapeutic and calming.

Kneaded bread final

I have been making yeast breads by hand for many years, although I am certainly not an expert on the subject.  I will say that I am not a fan of bread machines.  Perhaps I had a bad experience with one.  My mother-in-law had a bread machine when they first came out, and she made some tasty breads.  She enjoyed hers so much that she gave one to us.  I used it a few times.  It was nice to wake up to freshly baked bread courtesy of the bread machine, but it had a hole in the middle of the cylindrical loaf.  I could live with that, but the outside of the bread was slightly burned when the inside was undercooked.  So I decided to try letting the bread machine do the kneading, and I would bake off the loaf the “old fashioned” way.  Doing that deprived me of the pleasure of getting my hands into the dough and experiencing that lovely change in texture from rough to silky smooth.  Bread machine?? Not for me, thank you very much!  I gave ours away to an appreciative uncle.

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Whole Wheat Rye Potato Bread

1 medium sized potato
reserved potato cooking water
2 packages dry yeast
2 tbsp butter, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 cup warm milk {low fat is fine}
3-4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups dark rye flour
3 tbsp coarse cornmeal + 3 tbsp ground flax seeds + whole wheat flour to make 1 cup
3tbsp caraway seeds {or fennel, anise or a combination of them}

Peel & dice the potato.  Cover with water & boil until potato is tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Save 1 cup of the potato water {add hot tap water if you do not have enough}.  Mash the potato & set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups whole wheat flour, rye flour & cornmeal/flax seeds/whole wheat flour mixture.  Keep the additional cup of whole wheat flour in case you need to use it.

Pour the {not too hot} potato water in another large bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast & stir with a wooden spoon.  Add the butter, honey, caraway seeds and salt, and then stir in the mashed potato {approximately 1 cup}, warm milk & 3 cups of flour mixture.  When you add the yeast to the warm potato water, it will begin to activate.  It will begin to get bubbly as you add the remaining ingredients & will look like this. . .

Bubbly yeast final

Beat until smooth, and then add enough additional flour to make a stiff dough.  When it gets hard to incorporate any more flour with the spoon, turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter.  Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.  Wash the bowl in which you mixed the dough, butter it and then place the dough back in the bowl, turning to coat all sides with butter.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel & let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.  This should take 45-60 minutes.  I like to turn on the oven for 2 minutes, turn it off and then put my bowl of dough in the toasty warm oven to rise.  Don’t forget to turn off the oven or you will bake your bread prematurely!  I have heard that the pilot light in a gas oven has enough warmth to be a good place to let bread rise, but I have never had a gas oven, so can’t vouch for that one.

How do you know when your dough has doubled in bulk?  It is difficult to “eyeball it” so there is a little test you can use.  Poke 2 fingers into your dough after it has risen for 45 minutes; if the indentations remain, your dough is ready for the next step.  If not, cover it back up for 15 more minutes & repeat the test.

Indentation test to see if dough is finished rising final

When doubled, punch the dough down, cover and let rise again in a warm spot for 20 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter & knead for 1-2 minutes.

Now you are ready to shape your loaves!  Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces {I use my kitchen scale to do this} & shape.  You can either sculpt the dough into a loaf with your hands, or you can do it jelly roll style, as shown in the slideshow {right before the recipe}.

Note about yeast:  When you are adding warm liquids to yeast, make sure the temperature of the liquid is between 100 & 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  If your liquid is too hot, you risk killing the yeast & your bread will not rise.  Be sure to check the expiration date on your yeast to verify that it is not outdated.  It may still work. . .or it may not.

Enjoy the kinesthetic, aromatic & flavorful joys of baking your own yeast bread. . .and don’t forget the butter!


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Amazingly Delicious Banana Nut Muffins

Banana Muffins final

If you are a banana nut bread lover, you must try these muffins.  They are dense, moist, banana-y, and just plain delicious.  I have put my own spin on them to make them healthier and even tastier than the original recipe.  The list of ingredients is perhaps a little longer than most muffin recipes, but they go together quickly, and are definitely worth your time.

As far as I’m concerned, any banana bread or muffin must contain walnuts & be eaten with butter;  preferably the bread is cool enough so that the butter just sits on top so you can really taste it.  There is something special about the flavor combination of sweet banana bread, crunchy walnuts & creamy butter.  Another “must ingredient” for me in these muffins is cacao nibs.  Cacao nibs are one of my favorite ingredients.  As you can see from the package, they are a Mayan Superfood, with antioxidants, iron & magnesium! Don’t expect to snack on them from the package, because they have no sweetening, so aren’t like popping chocolate chips.   I buy these from Amazon:

Cacao nibs are a nice addition to banana breads because they add a little punch of chocolate flavor in every bite.  What's not to like about that?

Cacao nibs are a nice addition to banana breads because they add a little punch of chocolate flavor in every bite. What’s not to like about that?

The original recipe calls for strong coffee & suggests water if you don’t have coffee.  I highly recommend using coffee, even if you are not a coffee drinker, because it adds a layer of flavor that you can’t detect as coffee; it’s just good.  I buy the Starbucks Via packages from Costco when they go on special.

Starbucks Via fina;

Banana Nut Muffins
Adapted from http://busterbucks.hubpages.com/hub/Worlds-Best-and-easiest-Banana-Nut-Muffins

Wet Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp. strong coffee {you can use water, but I highly recommend the coffee}
Milk, buttermilk or coconut milk-enough to make 2 cups TOTAL wet ingredients {if you use 3 bananas you may only need a few tablespoons; if you use one banana, you may need to add 2/3 cup or more}

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp. ground flax seed {preferably grind your own from whole flax seeds}
2 tbsp. hemp seeds
2 tbsp. raw cacao nibs
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg {I use whole nutmeg, freshly grated on a rasp.  Definitely worth it!}
1 cup broken walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Be sure to put the muffins in a fully preheated oven.

In a small bowl, put all of your wet ingredients-make sure you mash the bananas thoroughly with a fork.  Stir in the egg with the fork, and then add the remaining wet ingredients.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix your dry ingredients.  I always put the measured baking soda & baking powder in my hand & smash any lumps; it’s not pleasant to bite into a lump of baking soda in your muffin.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir gently {12-14 quick strokes}.  Do not over mix-this will result in tough muffins.  Who wants tough muffins?  There may be a few streaks of flour but that is ok.

Spray your muffin tins with coconut oil spray {or Pam}, or grease them with butter.   Lightly spoon in your batter {don’t pack it in}.  You can fill the tins up to the top.

Put the muffin tin into the preheated oven & bake for 20 minutes {I always start checking at 18 minutes}.  They are done when a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Leave the muffins in the tins for 5-10 minutes, and then remove them to a wire rack.  Enjoy with butter!

Here are a few other ingredients I like to use.

Penzeys Nutmeg2

Hemp Seeds

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

Penzeys Cinnamon final


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Homemade Almond Milk

Why should you bother making homemade almond milk?  Because it doesn’t contain any of the additives or weird ingredients found in packaged almond milk & is delicious, healthy & simple to make. A regular blender can be used to whip up this luscious milk, so what are you waiting for?

I’ve been following Gena Hamshaw’s fabulous blog called Choosing Raw-Vegan & Raw Recipes {even though I am not vegan, nor do I adhere to a raw diet}, and have been contemplating making homemade almond milk for some time.  I finally took the plunge & made 2 batches & am thrilled with the results!  The only ingredients needed to prepare this delicious vanilla almond milk are almonds, water, agave nectar & vanilla.  The first batch was served up unstrained, in all its textural {read fibrous} glory-it was very tasty but I decided to strain the second batch & I am glad I did.  The resulting milk was smooth,  creamy & delicious.  I used cheesecloth, because I always have cheesecloth on hand.  A nutmilk bag is probably in my future though, because it can be washed & reused.    So far, the only thing I’ve used my almond milk for was chocolate milk, using Dagoba Unsweetened Cacao with Bits of Unsweetened Chocolate-very tasty!

almond-milk-026-500x375    Photo by Gena Hamshaw from www.choosingraw.com.


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“In 1911, Henry Ginaca invented the Ginaca machine that could peel and core 35 pineapples per minute, making canned pineapple much easier to produce.  Before this, each pineapple had to be peeled and cored by hand.  Because of this invention, Dole’s pineapple canning business exploded and other pineapple canneries soon adopted the machine.” {Eat This!  http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/20-facts-about-pineapples.html}

If you have ever been perplexed about how to deal with a whole fresh pineapple, just follow the pictures below.  You won’t be able to do 35 pineapples per minute, like the Ginaca machine, but in less than 10 minutes, you can have a delicious pineapple cut & ready to eat, or use for smoothies, margaritas, pancakes, yogurt, ice cream topping or whatever you fancy.  If you have a dehydrator, fresh pineapple is delicious when cut into pieces & dried.  No sugar is required before drying, so it is less sweet than commercially dried pineapple, which I have seen crusted in sugar.

If you can get them, I highly recommend Maui Gold Pineapples, not because I live on Maui, but because they are lower in acid & are tastier.  Try pineapple sprinkled with a little sea salt-it complements the sweet-tart flavor of the fruit.

Why eat pineapple?  Here are a few reasons, from The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth {Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.}:
* 1 cup cubed fresh fruit has almost 100% of the Daily Value of manganese, which is a trace mineral required for healthy skin.
* Pineapple has a good amount of vitamin C, plus some other vitamins & minerals.
* 1 cup fruit has about 2 grams of fiber
* Pineapple’s glycemic load {the impact of a food on your blood sugar} is relatively low.
* It tastes great!


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“There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast” Anonymous

This is so true!  Jack has all kinds of tricks to wake us up when he thinks it is time for him to eat his breakfast.  He’s just like Simon’s Cat.

It’s late, so this is going to be short.  Breakfast is important because if you think about it, when you wake up, you probably haven’t had any food for 10 hours or so; it’s time to nourish your body.  We had a simple, but tasty breakfast this morning.  Rye toast topped with my husband Gerald’s eggs fried in a little coconut oil and pasture butter, broccolini with a bit of home made mayonnaise and a beautiful mango with freshly ground salt and pepper.  And tea, of course!

Eggs, Broccoli & Mango