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Island Life. Recipes. Frugal and Sustainable Living.

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Aloha Friday

Aloha Friday

In celebration of the upcoming Earth Day, I’m going to begin a new tradition of sharing photos of my backyard horticultural adventures and other botany around the island, on Aloha Friday. It’s such a feel-good way to positively kick off the weekend and celebrate the […]

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Earth Day

Earth Day

After a much needed spring break, I have returned with my newest creative project and frugal living idea. On Hawaii Island, we have a ban on plastic bags, and are encouraged to bring our own reusable shopping bags to grocery and retail stores; therefore, it’s […]

Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox

Today is the first day of Spring, or the Equinox, and it was supposed to be the official end of my spring cleaning ritual and “Cookbook Challenge”. The spring cleaning tasks will be wrapping up in the next few days, but the cookbook challenge was finished a few days ago. Originally, there were seven cookbooks, and I have reviewed six of them, but decided not to attempt the final one, “World of the East Vegetarian Cooking”, by Madhur Jaffrey. This behemoth cookbook is a daunting 460 pages, and covers an enormous range of cuisine, from Indian to Filippino, and from Indonesian to Korean- and beyond! It would have been unfair to only cover two or three recipes and still give it a fair and full review.  My new plan for this cookbook is to review and sample one or two recipes from each featured Asian country. Perhaps I will do something like that this summer, when I need some inspiration during my summertime, post-barbeque lull.

Somehow I still managed to eliminate three out of the final six cookbooks and the remaining cookbooks will joyfully take up valuable space on my kitchen counter. Two of them will go off to the thrift store, and the third one will be donated to a friend. I must confess, that I had a favorite cookbook while attempting all of these recipes, and it was “Vedge”. It was great to rekindle my appreciation for the many talents of the two chef/owners who co-wrote the cookbook, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. I am forever humbled by their flavorful concepts of creating out-of-this-world vegetarian dishes that are delicious enough for even the most staunch meat-eater. It’s easy to do a cookbook review when you have perfectly-made cookbooks such as this one, and I will continue to search for recipes that are of the caliber shown in this book. Indeed, this entire cookbook challenge was an inspirational project, but I am ready to get back to posting my own recipes and new updates on gardening and sustainable living. Happy Spring!

 

Encore: Revenge of the “Vedge”

Encore: Revenge of the “Vedge”

You just can’t keep me away from the cookbook, “Vedge”, by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. Everything I make from it is so dang flavorful and unique that I feel like a culinary rock star. In my search for recipes for this cookbook challenge, I […]

Cookbook Challenge: “The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook” Part 1 & 2

Cookbook Challenge: “The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook” Part 1 & 2

This cookbook has a little bit of everything for everyone and you can get as intensely garlicky as you want. Some of the amounts of garlic per recipe, range from as little as 1/4 teaspoon, all the way up to 40 cloves. When I’ve been […]

Rainy Day Blues

Rainy Day Blues

Aloha Friends,

I have been away for a few days because there was tragedy in our chicken coops. It was necessary to put my “Cookbook Challenge” on hold until I could figure out how to stop an evil predator, or more specifically, the Small Asian Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), from killing my chickens. The issue of a mongoose as a predator may not be a common thing for most people, but for those of us in the tropics, it’s a harsh reality. I’m still pretty upset as I write this because I hate to see my animals stressed and try my best to keep them safe.

We recently acquired a Polish crested rooster named Hip-Hop, and he was a fun, quirky, little guy. He was smaller than any other rooster I’ve had in the past and he didn’t crow like one either. The tuft of soft feathers on top of his head was hilarious looking and made him look like some sort of chicken punk-rock star. He was so tame you could pick him up and carry him around, and he seemed to really enjoy the attention. I’ve heard in the past that getting a rooster will help you keep out predators, but I’m here to tell you that in my case, it did NOT work. As a matter of fact, our dear little Hip-Hop became a free lunch for a pregnant mongoose. Unfortunately, because he was with us only a short time, I did not take a photo of him before he passed.

The other chicken to be savagely attacked and killed was our dear Lucy. At six years old, she was our oldest chicken. She was originally wild-caught as a small chick. We rounded up six feral chicks from the forest around our house and kept them, but she was the one who had survived the longest. Lucy was tough as nails, and I can tell from the amount of feathers and dig marks in the dirt, that she put up a fierce fight against the mongoose. My poor girl had a terrifying end to her life and I blame myself from not getting out to the coop fast enough to stop the carnage. In addition to losing two hens, our newest egg-layer, Misty, was attacked, but thankfully got away with only an injured leg. The leg will be carefully monitored and hopefully we can keep any infection away.

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My sweet girl, Lucy.

The truth of the matter is, that it’s almost impossible to make any coop 100% predator proof, but you can try hard and do the best you can. I believe that everybody’s situation may be different and will also depend upon the type of predators on your area. Previously, we’ve had to cover the tops of both pens with chicken wire because there was a Hawaiian hawk attacking our ducks. Today, because of the mongoose, we had to reinforce our coops with additional, smaller-wire fencing around the bottom two feet, as well as stacking rocks and building a berm around the base to keep anything from burrowing under the fencing. The chickens and ducks now have something that more resembles a WWII bunker than a chicken coop, but that’s okay, because this IS war. In my quest for ideas, I found some useful ideas and information about ‘predator proofing’ your coops from an awesome website called “Our One Acre Farm”. They have plenty of other great information about suburban farming, wildlife, sustainability, and cooking. I highly recommend checking them out.

In addition to the mongoose, in Hawaii we have an invasive plant called the Himalayan ginger, and it just so happens that there is a large, tall patch of it behind my two coops. This ginger is not the good kind of ginger for cooking, it is a prolific nuisance that crowds out, and eventually kills, native plants. The ginger patch is where the mongoose was lying in wait for my hens to lower their guard and then stealthily snuck into the coop. Once I figured out her hiding spot, I decided that the Himalayan ginger really needed to go; so today, I grabbed my machete like a crazed samurai and decimated that whole patch of wild ginger in the pouring rain, and it felt great. Nothing helps with anger management quite like pursuing a vendetta against a chicken-killer, all while wielding a large, sharp knife. Unfortunately, I did not find the hated mongoose while whacking the ginger down. My handiwork does make it hard for to her to lurk nearby, undetected, and hopefully she will go elsewhere in search of food.

If you can stomach learning more about this invasive, nasty, predator who is additionally killing our native Hawaiian birds, you can go the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources at: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/invasive-species-profiles/mongoose/.

Two Gallon Chicken Waterer with Horizontal Nipple Set-up

Cookbook Challenge: “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” Part 2

Cookbook Challenge: “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” Part 2

After such a successful first recipe, I had a hard time picking something that I thought would capture my enthusiasm. It seems funny to me now, that out of everything in this cookbook, I decided to pick a very normal, popular baked item. Somehow, I […]

Cookbook Challenge: “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook”

Cookbook Challenge: “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook”

It’s not very often that I get novelty cookbooks, or that I expect anything amazing to come from them, but this recipe was the exception. I was gifted this book for Christmas one year and I have only made one recipe from it prior to […]

Cookbook Challenge: “Steam Cuisine” Part 2

Cookbook Challenge: “Steam Cuisine” Part 2

Recipe number two from the Steam Cuisine cookbook by Marina Filipelli was one of the most simple, yet easy, dinners I have ever put together. My choice for this was the Tofu with Spring Onions, Ginger and Ponzu Sauce. The sauce for the tofu is what really makes the dish and gives it a light taste that doesn’t weigh it down with sweetness like a teriyaki sauce might. I love fresh ginger, and had green onions in my garden, so this was a natural choice. The recipe calls for cutting the tofu into thicker pieces, but I chose to dice mine into bite sized cubes. At the end, I garnished the dish with furikake seasoning, instead of bonito flakes that the recipe calls for. I’m just a huge fan of furikake seasoning and I like to sprinkle it on many things, including popcorn. I served this tofu dish with brown rice, goma wakame (seaweed) salad, and steamed bok choi. This recipe is getting added to my growing list of “keepers” because it’s easy, healthy and delicious!

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As for this cookbook:

This is cookbook is a lovely way to learn how to prepare and appreciate simple, healthy food. My time spent cooking in restaurants had tricked my brain into thinking that I need to over-season and over-cook things. I realized through using recipes in this book that I really needed to ‘unlearn’ those bad habits. These recipes have also opened doors in the dessert realm that I hadn’t even thought about, and inspired me to use less fat and oil in my cooking. Most of the recipes have a very basic ingredients list of about 8-10 items and most ingredients are easily found or substituted. The novice chef could easily do any of these recipes, and yet, they are exquisite enough for a seasoned pro. I was worried that steamed food would look bland, boiled or lifeless, but the photos provided are pleasing to look at and give the reader a sense of the richness of the dish. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and it’s recipes are great way to fine-tune your culinary pallet, and sort of re-set your taste buds.

If you would like to try adding another approach to healthy eating through steaming your cuisine, check out this cookbook on Amazon:

 

“Steam Cuisine” by Marina Filippelli

 

Cookbook Challenge: “Steam Cuisine”

Cookbook Challenge: “Steam Cuisine”

This book came from the same school book fair that my tapas cookbook came from. I remember being so excited when I found it, because I had recently been gifted a bamboo steamer and wasn’t sure where to start. When I use this cookbook, I […]


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