Oyster Mushrooms with Orzo

IMG_7538It seems like a funny time of year to be harvesting mushrooms, but I suppose as long as conditions are right, those little fungi are going to bloom! I’ve never been really confident on picking mushrooms, but there are a few that I know well, that are safe to eat. Oyster Mushrooms, Puff Balls, and Prince Mushrooms are so easy to identify in this region.

The oyster mushrooms were blooming all over a downed balsam-log. Mushrooms are the blooms of fungi that live in the ground, wood or organic matter (factoid).

There were about 8 feet of them, all over the top half of the log. I found them when they were perfect, the bugs and slugs hadn’t got to them, and they hadn’t started to dry out at the edges. A totally unexpected bounty! For dinner I made up a super easy orzo based risotto type dish. As we’d recently returned from travels, my pantry was quite depleted, but I had all I’d need to make an incredibly mushroomy dish.

I don’t expect that most people will stumble over an oyster mushroom laden log conveniently behind their chicken house, but if you do, harvest those beauties for your meal. If you don’t stumble over such a log, buy some at a grocery store. Continue reading

Nutty Peanut Butter Cookies

IMG_7580I was sitting waiting for my car to be serviced, and noticed on the coffee bar that there was a container of homemade cookies. As I sat, I watched how many people took one as they walked by. Pretty much everyone took one, including a gentleman who took one simply to feed to another customer’s dog. It was such an easy thing for the dealership to do, and yet it instantly made the area homey. For employees and customers alike, it made it less of just a work place, and more friendly.

Having been away for a while, in a non-baking climate, and busy before hand, I haven’t made cookies in a long while. With just the two of us home now, I certainly don’t need a jar full.  But when the urge to bake some arose, I used my usual catering trick, I made the cookies but didn’t bake them. I formed them and put them in the freezer until frozen solid, then tipped them all into a freezer bag. All that needs to be done, when we want some fresh cookies, is to cook 8 or so at a time. They cook just as easily from frozen as they do fresh, with maybe a minute or so longer in the oven.

I decided to clean out my nut supply (which I keep in the freezer), as most containers were getting low. There were about 2 cups of mixed raw, unsalted nuts, including some salted Virginian red-skinned peanuts. Somehow that inspired me to make peanut butter cookies, filled with a good selection of other nuts as well. The extra bit of salt from the red-skinned peanuts are great addition.

Without the nuts, this is my very oldest peanut butter cookie recipe from the 1970’s. Hand-written on an well-worn index card. Although I’ve tried other versions, this is the one I use most often, especially when someone is expecting a traditional slightly chewy peanut butter cookie. The recipe works well with Cup-4-Cup all-purpose gluten free flour. Continue reading

Rose Petals

IMG_7587This weekend I’m working on several menus for upcoming events.  It’s a bit rainy out, keeping the grasses growing, and the flowers blooming!  For the island’s Annual Summer Soiree & Art Auction, we’re having a Moroccan themed dinner. Looking out the office window, the view is full of wild roses, in all sorts of shades of pink.

Dried rose petals are often used in North African spice mixtures, but are lovely as a traditional garnish for salads and for topping other dishes.  These ones have ample time to dry before the event in August, and will retain their beautiful colour, giving their dishes a little something extra.

 

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Farmers’ Markets ~ a daily happening here…

Everyday somewhere on this island, there’s a farmers’ market. There isn’t a huge amount of local produce in the stores, because of this daily event. Straight from the farm, to us! The produce is amazing, and diverse. We go from stall to stall (or truck bumper to truck bumper) buying this and that.

After one such outing, we arrived home considering some options on what to do for dinner. One new item for us was a black radish, black and rough on the outside and pure white inside. I popped a big chunk into my mouth, ready to taste anything. What I got was a taste between a very sharp radish, and horseradish. In our bag we’d also brought home some limes, ginger and dark purple basil. The peeled radish and ginger were grated finely, and then tossed with some lime juice and avocado oil. After several minutes, the hard flavours had left, and the slaw was brightly flavoured, with earthy undertones. We added it to some cooked Calrose rice, with a big handful of sliced basil, and served it with some lime based Ponzu. Amazing!

Yet again, something new inspired us to go a step further.

Poking around on Kauai

We were wandering from little shop to little shop (there are no other types), in Hanapepe, Kauai, and found ourselves in Aloha Spice Company’s shop.  All sorts of spice mixes, rubs, and specific salts.  Hidden amongst it all was this book about tea.  Lo & behold, what should grace its cover but Tea Eggs!  Just seeing it made me start to feel the cooking urge, to start back at things in the kitchen.

001We’ve been eating fish, rice & fruit, and are doing well on it.  Eating out occasionally, picking and choosing our food spots carefully.  New to the north coast is Sushi Girl, literally a hole-in-the-wall in Wainiha, super clean & deliciously fresh.  We miss Red Hot Mamas (a fabulous burrito spot that used to be in the same place), but will look forward to its food truck when it hits the road.

Had a late lunch today at Tortilla Republic at the Shops at Kukui’ula in Poipu.  I had 3 perfectly sized fresh ahi tortillas with fresh mango salsa & chipotle mayo.  We had a salsa sampler for starters.

We headed out to the maikai side of the restaurant to view the setting sun.  A beautiful end to a great day!

Will be home next week, with “fresh” on my mind.  Aloha!017