Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Love Liliha Festival

Thanks to the Honolulu on the Cheap blog, I decided to check out the "I Love Liliha" festival, especially since I drive past the area every day on my way to work.  Every rubber slipper wearing kama'aina is aware of Liliha Bakery, home of the cream puff, (photo courtesy of the Liliha bakery website), but Liliha is going through a revitalization process and the citizens are proud to showcase their community and give back to the residents.

The festival this year was moved to Kuakini Street between the corner of Kuakini and Liliha to the end of the Liliha Bakery parking lot. What I really liked was the fact that the committee chose the vendors with the whole community in mind. There was a jumping castle, craft stations for kids and a climbing wall, but there also was a health tent behind Longs that offered free testing for kupuna. I saw a lot of people taking advantage of the Lion Club's retina van for eye screening, the free flu shots outside of Longs and the diabetes booth with free blood pressure testing.

I appreciate those things, but I really went to check out the food booths and ended up at the booth with the longest line: the Hula Shrimp Company. For $10 each I got two combination plates (seared garlic ahi, Kahuku shrimp, grilled steak and guava chicken). Each plate came with hapa rice and a choice of Nalo greens or potato salad. The wait was a little long, and the portions are more Blane's drive inn mini plate size, but nobody balked at the prices, so it must be reasonable for Honolulu. It looks great and smells wonderful. I wish I could talk about what it tastes like, but I'm waiting for my son's lunch break from the hospital, so the pics will have to speak for themselves.

This is an annual event, so if you missed it this year, plan on stopping by next year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Honolulu on the Cheap

I must confess that I am a self-described home body, so although I'm now in Honolulu, Hawaii's own city of lights, I really should get out more, but when I come home at 4:30ish, I'm home for good. I feel extremely blessed to be able to get to work and back without touching one freeway. I'm also blessed to be able to travel to work in 15 minutes (hmmm, same in Hilo. . .I must be a 15 minute girl).

One reason for not leaving the house is that I can hear the city buzzing outside. The freeway noise is a constant slow hum down the block, and until I hear cars passing by, that means the freeway is at a stop and go pace. The second reason is that it takes a lot of planning to go anywhere when there are like a million people and two million cars all in an area the size of Hilo town.

I vow to get out more, so I've been checking out several websites and I kind of like the Honolulu on the Cheap site.  Some sites have more coupons, but I'm not interested in coupons, because to really save money you don't need a coupon, you just don't need to buy it. You save 100%. This site seems to have more festivals and things to do for free, so I'll probably check out the Aloha Festivals block party on the 27th and the I Love Liliha festival on the 29th. The trick is to eat first and go enjoy the entertainment. :-)

Will post pics later. Have a great weekend.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

POM: Banyan Court Mall, Honolulu

The People's Open Market (POM), was founded in 1973 to provide fresh produce to citizens at a reduced rate and to provide a place for the farmers to sell their merchandise.  I think this is a project of the city and county of Honolulu because I found the information on their website, and the POM staff regularly inspect the sites, and survey the retail markets to ensure that the POM prices are reasonable.

The third thing they wanted to do was provide a place for people of the neighborhood to get together and socialize, which is probably why most of the people we encountered this morning walked.
We went to the original POM site -- the Banyan Court Mall at 800 N. King Street. It runs on Saturdays from 6:15 am - 7:30 am. That is so bizarre to me, but I guess if you want the POM to travel around to different neighborhoods, it can't be open all day.  At 8:15 am - 9:30 the POM moves into Kalihi by Kalakaua Intermediate. This is the largest of the POMs so maybe we'll check it out next week.

The same tips apply at this "farmer's market" as the other farmer's markets we frequent. Look around first to see what people are offering, check prices, check quality, bring your own bag and bring small cash. I usually put a $10 limit, but that's just me.

We normally see the same things, but some of the farmers brought things that I don't usually see: pipinola greens, kalamungai leaves for chicken papaya, and some other fast spreading greens that looked like pipinola but it was more delicate with small yellow blossoms.
I didn't quite spend my $10 because I don't know how to use the Filipino veggies including bitter melon, and we're not really into tropical fruits: papaya, mango, sad looking, wish it was from Hilo lychee. . .
Manoa lettuce - 2 heads, looks like hydroponics  $1
Bag of carrots - 6 count $2.50
Green onions (we cut off the bottoms and planted it in our little side of the apartment area (it's not a yard) - $1
Sweet potatoes- 6 count $3
Onions, round - 4 count $2

This POM is between Kaumakapili Church and St. Elizabeth Church. I actually found parking on the street, but it looks like people can park at Kaumakapili Church. I'm wondering if the quality of the veggies goes down as the day progresses because they offer 5 POMs in the Honolulu-Hawaii Kai area on Saturday with Hawaii Kai's POM happening from 1 - 2 pm.

Anyone have a favorite POM they go to?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scones Attempt #3: Chocolate Chunk Lazy Girl Scones

I love scones - not too crumbly, slightly dry, perfect with morning coffee and one of the things I'll carry with me on the plane with my cafe misto. Still, I don't like paying $2.25 for a scone, so I've been trying to make scones without actually going out to buy special supplies.

This is attempt number 3: chocolate chunk scones using things I already have in the kitchen. Living cheap is about knowing what staples you need for the kind of cook you are, buying them on sale, or always knowing where the cheapest place in town is to get them. 
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper. (I love parchment paper. It's an indulgence, but it bakes the bottoms more evenly than if you don't use parchment)

2 cups flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (for some reason, I only have sea salt, so I just grind it up a little)
Cut into the dough:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cold, cut into pieces
(I don't have a pastry blender, and the two knives method is irritating because I don't like the sound of metal on metal, so I cut pieces of butter into the dry ingredients, then go with my hand to push the flour mixture and butter pieces together until it's crumbly.

1/2 cup chocolate chips ( I only had chocolate chunks)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, craisins, figs, stuff like that (I didn't have craisins, so I doubled up on chocolate chips)

Mix in wet ingredients:
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk

Mix, but don't overmix. Only mix until the dough comes together. If it's too dry, add more buttermilk, too wet, more flour.

Lazy girl style is to make like the scones are drop biscuits so that you don't actually have to knead the dough, make a round and cut the scones into wedges.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until it's golden brown and the toothpick comes out clean. The original recipe says it makes 8 scones, but drop biscuit style made me 11 scones.

I served this with some cut oranges, and if I were to do it again, I would have added the orange zest for my fruit element, but still double up on the chocolate chunks.

The only unusual pantry item that I used was the buttermilk, but that's because I tried to make scones two times before and the Safeway brand buttermilk only came in the large size, so I also used the buttermilk for making fried chicken, and I've been using it in my coffee (can't waste).

I'm posting scone attempt #1 because besides my blueberries bleeding, they look ok, but I put the same amount of baking powder as baking soda - ugh. Failure.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Living Off the Dollar Menu

While we were setting up the apartment in Honolulu, we were on a mega strict budget and still trying to feed 5 mouths, so two meals were cheap (living off the dollar menu) and we saved one meal for a "splurge."

I did see Food Nation and that other documentary where he only eats at McDonald's for one year and he develops high blood pressure, obesity, etc. Still, breakfast on the dollar menu for 5 is not bad. Check the price.
 The most expensive item on the tray was a small coffee. The special for the dollar drink was any size for a dollar, plus we sat inside, so the kids got free refills before we left. So that's 5 breakfast burritos, two sausage biscuits, one sausage mcmuffin, four drinks and a small coffee.

We can't eat this way all the time, but sometimes food is just sustenance, so we were ok with going cheap for breakfast.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday Dinner: Shabu Shabu

Shabu shabu is a Japanese version of the Chinese hot pot where thinly sliced meat and vegetables are swished into a pot of boiling broth. The pot is placed on the table with the raw ingredients and diners just cook their own ingredients in a common pot by swishing the pieces in the pot. The word shabu shabu, then is to "swish swish."

The ideal meat to use is wagyu, (commonly known as Kobe beef), but not only is that expensive, but I'm not even sure where to buy that in Hilo. The broth is just water and konbu (dried seaweed), and the sauce is either a ponzu (shoyu and citrus) or a goma (sesame) sauce.

Like many Japanese dishes the urusai (irritating) part is in the preparation. The sample of veggies we used were mustard cabbage, Chinese cabbage, green onions, round onions, enoki mushrooms and slivers of takenoko (bamboo shoots).
The other urusai part is that there needs to be all these little dishes on the plate. Chawan for rice, small plate for your cooked goodies, and a dipping bowl for your sauce. We used thin slices of beef, pork and shrimp for our protein.
With six people around the dining room table, and one electric deep fryer, it's easier to just have one or two people cooking items, then having the cooked pieces available for others to grab, so that's how we changed it up. It's a great Sunday dinner sit down meal because everyone has to be totally involved in the journey. It's a slow way to eat dinner, so everyone is present for talking while waiting. 

This has nothing to do with shabu shabu, but this is a great pupu idea. Take the chikuwa (it's in the kamaboko section), and stuff it with kim chee, cut and serve. Rubber slipper style simple.

Thanks for joining the erratic Sunday dinner putt putt. I'm currently away from my family and totally homesick, so I'll be posting on living in the big city of Honolulu, rubber slipper style.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Dinner Overkill: Dim Sum Madness

Every so often to keep the dinner excitement alive, someone will come up with a theme, so the theme was dim sum. Hubby is the dim sum seeker. Everytime we go to a new city, he urban spoon or googles the nearest dim sum restaurant. If we are the only ones speaking English, he is a happy Buddha.

Dim sum is normally served on small dishes with two or three pieces of dim sum. The key is to order a VARIETY - and that's where we got into overkill trouble. There are many dim sum recipes online, and I think we tried them all. I don't remember what was good or not because it was all good, but labor intensive, time intensive and over eat intensive. Here's the pics.
Dim sum using a pork mixture and won ton pi wrappers. My attempt at being fancy with the folding.
Shiu mai with a shrimp mixture using the shiu mai wrappers. The wrappers are thinner and harder to manage, so excuse the shoddy workmanship. I kept ripping the wrappers.
This lovely piece of dough turd actually hides a piece of oily lup cheong (Chinese sausage). Looks are deceiving. Behind it is the extra pork mixture put into shiu mai wrappers.
Ken's homemade char siu wrapped in Ken's homemade dough (bao) turns into char siu bao or manapua. What we couldn't control was the amount that the dough rose in the steamer. They just kept growing and pushing each other around.