Our Happy Thanksgiving Menu

As a three seniors (60+) family, it is hard to find a small turkey that we wouldn’t be eating for the next month. Plus, I found out my mom doesn’t like turkey. What! Who doesn’t like turkey? Well, in my life, this makes two. Oat tolerated it for my love of turkey, and now it’s my mom. Huh!

Dad’s annual Thanksgiving drawing. Loves to draw on newspaper. #jo1drawings

With no help from the parental units, I came up with the menu of shrimp tempura, veggie tempura, and mom’s famous pumpkin shortbread.

Mom’s eyes are close but it’s the only shot of the table: shrimp tempura, eggplant, veggie tempura; Okinawan sweet potato, Hamakua mushroom, three types of tsukemono (Japanese pickles by me), black sesame tofu with ume salt, black soybean natto with shoyu koji

Everyone loves mom’s pumpkin pie even people who hate pumpkin pie. It’s the combination of the creamy custard and the slightly sweet shortbread cookie crust. I have fiddled with this recipe over the years, changing the pan shape and size, using sweet potato, and even trying it with a regular pie crust (not the best). My sweet potato pie is based of this recipe. Here’s my adjusted version.

The corners are the best with it’s caramel edges

Mom’s Famous Pumpkin Shortbread–adjusted

makes 9 x 13 pan, roughly 20 pieces
Pre-heat oven 425º

Crust*

  • 3 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c cold butter, cut into small pieces

Prep pan with a light coat of non-stick spray, be sure to get the sides. Mix flour and sugar, cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, till a sandy texture. Press flour mixture into the pan, slightly up the sides. Refrigerate crust while you mix up the filling.

Filling

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 t salt
  • Large can of pumpkin about 3 1/2 cups**
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon***
  • 1 t ground ginger***
  • 1/2 t grounded cloves***
  • 3 1/2 c evaporated milk
  • 1 t vanilla

Combine all the filling ingredients, making sure it is blended well. 

Pour the filling into the crust—Bake at 425º for 20 minutes. Turn down the oven to 350º and bake for 55 minutes or when the toothpick comes out clean. 

*If you want to use the springform pan instead of the 9×13 pan, half the crust amounts. The baking time will differ because it has a thicker filling. It has a longer bake time at 350, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Test with a toothpick. The center shouldn’t be jiggly. Cool to room temp. Then put in the refrigerator to set.

** I’ve used both can and roasted pumpkin for this pie. The differences would be you can control the caramelization, chunkiness, and you will have pumpkin seeds to roast up as a snack. My preferred pumpkin is Kabocha because of its smooth texture.

*** I use my spice mix. Here are the proportions: 1 t cinnamon and ground ginger, 1/2 t ground cloves, 1/4 t nutmeg. I mix up a large batch and keep it in a small jar in the spice cabinet. I used 3 t of the mix in the pie. You also can use it in apple pie, oatmeal, or whatever suits your fancy.

New Look

So many changes of recent, I decided to add one more. What the hell, why not? A new look–not to me but my blog. I hope I to generate more traffic and post on a more regular basis. I added advertisements to the site as I’m working part-time, and hopefully, I can generate some extra income.

one of the items going into my Etsy shop: knitted market bag, 100% cotton

And speaking of generating extra income, photos have been taken, and I will be posting to my Etsy shop soon (next week, keep your fingers cross). I’d hope to have more of an inventory; I guess I gave away many gifts during the prototyping phase.

The patio area, looking toward laundry room and storage

Another thing I’m aiming for a new look is the patio area of my parent’s house. I need more space. Going from a four-bedroom place to my childhood bedroom, a mere 10 x 10) is an incredible feat on my part.

I decided to enclose the patio and add a full bathroom, storage, and a bedroom. I met with the draft person to get drawings of what I want, and hopefully, 2021 will be the year of having more space—no more piles of stuff. There will be a lot of decluttering to happen. In the meantime, I’ll start a look board for what I love for the bathroom, entertainment area, and the bedroom.

Life: 11.11.2020

Who knew in a matter of two three months, my life would change so much. Here’s what is going on. I started this post on 10.20.2020 and have started on a few things.

me from the trail
  1. Furlough officially turned into unemployed.
  2. Decided only to work part-time 
  3. Staying put in my parent’s house.
I guess I need to look life from a different point of view

I mentioned in my post Moving Forward; I need to update my to-do list. I looked back at my list, and it seems going longer and longer. Hmmm. I thought I made more progress. 

Well, I need to adjust the ever-growing list to make it attainable for me to feel like I’m getting things done. I’m putting out in the universe. 

Do List

  • Clean out my storage unit by the end of the year; last week I cleared out 4 boxes; and I think I found a home for the dehydrator and my imac.
  • Get plans to rework the house: call someone to draw up the ideas.
  • Make a budget; made the budget sheet; need to make an appointment with myself to enter my month expenses
  • Work on projects with scrap materials and yarn
  • Draft a blouse pattern for me and make so clothes for me
  • Start stitching my aloha shirt patchwork quilt
  • Open my Etsy shop; scheduled myself for a photo shoot for my inventory this week
  • Make a sourdough starter and make more bread
  • Experiment with my pickle and jam flavors

This list is my wish list that things I want to do and over time hope to achieve.

Wish List

  • Go on another hiking trip to Japan.
  • Learn how to double knit and brioche stitch
  • Make a batch of miso
  • Make a batch of croissant

Recipe Testing: Pickled Ogo

Coming back to Hawaii has triggered many food memories for me–shave ice (extra fine snow cone), seed (flavored preserved fruit), malasada (Portuguese yeasty donut), to name a few. Pickled ogo popped in my mind during my monthly girls’ zoom meetup. J was telling us about the Marine Learning program at Waianae High School, raising and selling ogo. That spiraled into talking about pickled ogo and ended with four of us buying 5lbs each. 

What is “ogo”? 

Blanched in salt water

Ogo is an edible seaweed that we used to handpick at the West Oahu beaches when we were kids. It has since been over harvest, and only the people who know the secret spot pick it. Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, and Hawaiian use it in their dishes. The Hawaiian name for this variety is called Limu Manauea. You can find it mixed in with different pokes.

I just learned that ogo is short for ogonori, which means large amounts of ocean moss in Japanese. Here’s a link to an article about ogo and Waianae’s Marine Learning Program, where I got my giant 5lb bag full. Here’s another piece if you want more information about the different limu (seaweed in Hawaiian).

The recipe

The funny part about the recipe is I thought my mom had one at the ready. I have distinct memories of coming home from the beach and her cooking up a storm making the pickled ogo. But when I asked her, she didn’t have a recipe. But my friend, Google, did several recipes. They were similar in ingredients, with slight variation in amounts. I picked this one, “My Dad’s Ogo,” from feeding my ohana.

First off, a 5lb bag of ogo is enormous. In my mind, it should be half the size. Fitting it in the refrigerator overnight was challenging, and I played refrigerator Jenga to make it work.

Smelled like the ocean
Ingredients ready to go: chili pepper, garlic, onion, green onion, shoyu, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, no sesame seeds

The hardest part was blanching the ogo in salted (Hawaiian) boiling water. It cooks so fast, as soon as it turned green, within seconds, I was scooping it out of the water to drain in the colander. Back and forth, back and forth. Remember, there were 5 pounds to blanch.

I got through half minus a bag of ogo saved for another time. I decided I better see how much of the dressing I need to cover half the bag. I figured to double the recipe would cover it. I mixed all the ingredients well, making sure the sugar dissolved. On tasting, I added a tablespoon more of shoyu. It needed a more saltiness to it.

I dumped everything into a giant yellow Tupperware container from the 70s and mixed well. Everyone (Mom, Dad, and I) had a taste test and agreed it was delicious. Letting it sit would make it even better.

First batch done

Still had another half to do but had an evening training, so that would have to wait till tomorrow morning. Mom wanted a version with Gochujang in the dressing.

First thing in the morning, started the salted water to boil. Now that I’ve done it once, I have the process to follow. The dressing would be similar to version one, without garlic or round onions plus five teaspoons of gochujang.

L to R: version one with garlic and onions, version two with gochujang, version three with salted cucumbers, more rice wine vinegar, and gochujang

Mom made a version of her own using the gochujang version; adding sliced salted cucumbers and more rice wine vinegar (not sure how vinegar she added; I say approximately 1/4 cup). It was more like a namasu dressing-much tarter than rest. I would have added another teaspoon for gochujang for a little sweetness and umami.

Hiking: Poamoho Trail

Hiking this trail isn’t easy to come by. It’s a permitted trail, only allowing hikers and hunters on the weekends and federal holidays. The permit enables five people and one 4-wheel drive vehicle. It’s a 45-minute slow drive up a rutted (if it’s been raining, muddy) road. But once you arrive, it is all worth the effort.

My effort was very minimal as I was one of the five that didn’t have to apply for the permit or drive the truck. All I needed to do was to arrive at the meeting places at a reasonable hour (7:00). I’m a lucky girl (really an old lady). Haha.

Beautiful day for a hike

Our group of five hiking friends that met through my cousin, “E.” There was “L,” “J,” “R,” “E,” and myself. Pretty well paired with each other as hiking ability goes. Several of them have excellent knowledge of fauna and birds on the trail. Always nice to have that on a hike.

The trailhead

The weather was beautiful; winds picked up from earlier in the week. Sunny, with a minimal amount of clouds. It had been dry the previous days before making the mud at a minimum.

The trailhead looked different because of the tall grasses surrounding the sign. Hiker “L” heard the trail upkeep might be lacking because of the quarantine. Grasses were tall but still walkable.

It has been at least two years since I last hiked the trail. It was a similar type of day; dry and sunny. I’m happy because of the stories I’ve heard slipping, sliding, and walking out mud up to mid-calf doesn’t sound like fun.

On the way up, we were met with a brisk breeze around every corner, making corners something to look forward to. The trail was narrow, on foot in front of the other in places. Making it a good workout on our balance.

Much of the Strawberry guava was past it’s prime. The fruit flies were swarming in those areas (needed to breathe through our nose or get a mouthful). And where there wasn’t guava, there were ferns. I’m not sure what type of fern, but a sturdy variety as it saved me from falling into the mud.

Once you reach the summit, you understand why this is one of the beautiful hikes in Hawaii. You can see all the way to the east side beaches. On this day, the breeze was more than a breeze but a Pali Lookout style winds.

We had our rest and back on the trail. It was as comfortable as the morning as the sun had risen high in the sky. Turning the corners, we were not greeted with a gust of wind. But we made our way to the last bench for orange slices and the last of the water to get us out to our truck.

We all feel accomplished finishing the 7 miles and dreaming of our next hike together.

Moving Forward

I had a good run of 21 years at my job. My furlough has turned into a layoff. I made many great friends in the 21 years who I will miss, not working with them. I will miss working with beautiful images and illustrations in my designs. I’ve learned so much from these many years with these people.

Hiking will get me through it

But I think it’s time. I was antsy throughout the leave, wanting to know if I would be going back or not. Being laid off is the kick in the pants that I needed to move on with my life.

The last 3.5 years has brought so many major life changes and I’ve been running with it non-stop. Now it’s time for me to slow down and think about what I want to do with my life and how to achieve it.

Lone torch ginger bud standing strong amongst the brush

The first thing I decided it to work only part-time 30 hours a week to be available for my parents when they need me. I move back to Hawaii to help them and with COVID, life has changed for them and they seem to need me more.

The folks with a mid day threat–ICE CREAM!!!

I need to prioritize my ever-growing To-Do list. That should be the top of the list. So many things I want to do, and at times it gets overwhelming. For now, I’ll make a shortlist of the most important things.

  1. prioritize my TO-DO List
  2. make a budget
My furry twosome kept me entertained.

My time off hasn’t been unproductive. Here’s what I’ve up to since August. I’ve been busy knitting, crocheting, jamming, and pickling Japanese-style.

Knitting and Crocheting

Jamming

Pickling Japanese-style

In and Around Cora’s Garden: 08.13.20

Better late than never. A post that was hanging out in my draft folder.

Cora’s garden is blooming and fruiting as the summer gets hotter and hotter. It’s been hot and humid but with a breeze (my only hope for not melting).

Fruits

papaya and calamansi

Our papaya tree ripening fruit about 1 every 3 to 4 days. Not as big as those giant ones in the beginning but still big enough for my parents to share for their morning breakfast.

The calamansi tree is hasn’t stop giving for a long time. There are new flowers and baby fruit on the trees so I don’t think it will stop for awhile. This box will be turned into marmalade.

local oranges, lemons, and limes with a papaya ready to eat.

I guess the hot and humid weather has been great for other people’s garden as we got some local oranges and lemons (ugly) which are super juicy and limes.

Long squash

And we also got this long squash. It has delicate white insides and very mild taste. It absorbs the broth it is cooked in.

Flowers

Not a whole lot of flowers, they surprising me as I find the buds as I do my morning watering.

White cattelya

This orchid had 2 previous buds that the awful slug decide to eat one before it bloomed. Moved the pot to a higher position to spare it from slimy beast.

little red anthurium

This on got repotted and I was surprised that it had a bloom. Really sweet heart blossom.

A little sad . . .

#24

. . . but I feel accomplished. I’ve decided square #24 will be my last. Making too many mistakes and spending too much time ripping things out, I feel it’s a sign to stop and making it into a finished piece.

I enjoyed this project immensely and have learned so much from it. My tension has become more even and learned that I can watch Amazon Prime Videos while doing it, even ones with subtitles (haha).

My finish piece will hopefully be done by the end of summer. I even treated myself to some new yarn for t-shirt for my next project.

Thank you so much for this KAL, Arne and Carlos.

Recipe testing: Hurricane Douglas Dinner

What do you do when you are waiting for Hurricane Douglas to arrive. Well, I decided to make a dinner of Japanese dishes that I’ve been wanted to try for a while.  Tonkatsu (pork cutlets with savory sauce) and simmered daikon (Japanese radish). My mom added spaghetti salad (like Hawaii Mac salad but with spaghetti). 

I started cooking around noon-ish just in case we lost power. Started with the simmered daikon in a dashi sauce. I used TabiEats Simmered Daikon [link: https://youtu.be/GXpiOZ6QrYE]. I just started watching Shinichi and Satoshi’s Youtube channel about food and travel. They do feature Japanese recipes and this recipe looks so delicious, plus I got two more homegrown daikon from my mom’s friend.  

Sliced the center section into four 1 1/2″ pieces. They all should all be the same height and size to cook evenly. I peeled and rounded the edges of the rounds. Satoshi explained the rounded edges help the daikon from breaking apart. Then place and “X” one side of the round, about 1/2 inch deep. This “X” helps the daikon absorb the sauce it is cooked in.

The daikon is prepped for cooking. Place in pot big enough to fit all of the rounds in a single layer, “X'” side down. Satoshi suggest to a 1 tablespoon of uncooked rice to the pot to help take out impurities from the daikon. Add water to cover the top of the daikon. Bring to boil then turn down to simmer. Cook to daikon is soft, to test stick a screwer or paring knife in the center if it goes in and comes easily, it is done.

Once daikon is soft enough, put is a bowl of water to clean and add to a clean pot (as before in a single layer) “X” side down. Add sauce ingredients bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook to daikon turns a light brown. I did help the daikon along by spooning the sauce over them every so often.

Ready to eat

Serve with a little bit of sauce. It was so tender and sweet with the mild dashi flavor. I could eat this as my meal with pickled veggies and rice. Yum.


While I was simmering the daikon, I prepped the leftover daikon to make shoyuzuke (pickled daikon in soy sauce). I made shoyuzuke with cucumbers and celery and decide to try it with daikon. I quartered, sliced and salted the daikon, letting them sit longer that I usually do with the cucumbers. I then added the slices to the my mason jars, then added minced ginger and a chopped chili pepper. I poured the brine in to the jars. They should be ready to eat in 3 hours but we’ll try it tomorrow as we needed to finish the other daikon that I made. I swished around the brine to get the flavor to the top.

While on tsukemono (pickled veggies), I decide to try a eggplant in hot mustard sauce. Here’s the link to recipe I decided to try: https://tgmeltingpot.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/eggplants-in-mustard-tsukemono/

No finished shot yet. I’m letting it sit in the mustard get more flavor. This is my first eggplant Tsukemono. Let’s see how it goes.

Now for the main course, Tonkatsu. Been thinking of the fabulous tonkatsu I had on my trip to Japan last year and decided I’m going try and recreate it.

I really like Just One Cookbook’s recipe and decide to try it out. Here’s the link: https://www.justonecookbook.com/tonkatsu/ I also used her recipe for tonkatsu sauce.

I really like the technique she gives for frying it really was crispy and still juicy, not oil. Next time I’m going to use the boneless pork chops instead. I picked up different cut was sliced thinner than pork chop. But I can see how a thicker cut would taste better, more like what I had in Japan. Her tonkatsu sauce was good, I would add less sugar or some shoyu to make it slightly more salty.

One last thing is Mom’s spaghetti Mac salad. Hawaii Mac salad has hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, elbow macaroni, and Best Food mayonnaise. This salad uses spaghetti instead of macaroni, adds, can of black olives, minced onion. Looks a bit odd but it’s a great combination.

we had some at lunch

That’s my Hurricane Douglas dinner. It’s was good use of waiting around in the humidity before the storm. I think we dodged a bullet and the storm move north and we probably missed what could have been bad. Glad I did something productive and tasty at the same time.