Spring has Sprung

IMG_6118Easter weekend came and went and now it’s back to the daily grind and the gorgeous, everyday is 80 weather. (Just saying, not complaining!)

Last weekend we escaped the mundane “everyday is the same, every week blends into the next” with a quick getaway/extended Easter weekend in Portland with the Kam fam.  And, lucky for me, Daniel was able to escape his crazy schedule and join me in Portland for the weekend too.  The whole family, all together under one roof=total happiness for this girl.

As you may have figured out if you’ve been following my adventures for a while, Oregon has my heart, and is where my family lives so I visit frequently.  And as a visitor these days I take advantage of the short time I have there and play tourist with my family as much as possible.    (Check out my top recommendations for things to do in Portland.)

Living in Hawaii, I often complain that it’s hard to tell the seasons a part.  With basically the same weather all year round you start to miss the changing of seasons.  Having not visited Portland during the Spring in who knows how long, my family and I added a new experience to our list–the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.

Not only does living in a place with one season make you appreciate the changing of seasons but also, flowers! Tulips!  There are so many flowers I never realized you don’t see here in Hawaii that I miss.  And, at the Wooden Shoe Tulips Festival we’re talking literally MILLIONS of tulips.

Talk about more flowers than you could ever imagine and a reason for an impromptu photo shoot with every color of tulip you could imagine. I seriously have more pictures of tulips on my phone and camera now than I really know what to do with.

Not ‘yo Average Dinner

Every once in a while there’s a food event that excites me. Ok, maybe more than every once in a while but it has been a while since I saddled up for a true enthusiasts meal and this one goes down in the books.

A couple weeks ago (I told you, I’ve been lazy!) my girlfriends and I got wind of a Natto dinner happening at  Izakaya Torae Torae and knew that we wanted in.

It’s not very often that you have events that celebrate this ooey, gooey Japanese ingredient–not for the light hearted–and even less often that you have people in your life who love natto as much as you do, so when we heard it was happening, we signed up immediately.

Natto, for those of you unfamiliar, is fermented soybeans.  It gets a bad rep because of its strong smell, bitter taste and stringy consistency (don’t judge as I know it may be sounding worse and worse but all those things are what I love about this sticky Japanese treat.)  Most often you might see a natto enthusiast eating it with hot rice or Japanese curry (and maybe even scrambled eggs, ohhh scrambled eggs, but we won’t go there).

The dinner consisted of eight different courses, all highlighting the night’s star ingredient.  From natto and truffle oil edamame to fried mochi smothered in azuki beans one dish after another celebrated what should be everyone’s favorite ingredient.

While all were delicious, these are the ones that kept me wanting more and that I will likely recreate at home on a night very soon–lucky for Daniel whose love for natto doesn’t run as deep as mine although it’s slowly growing.

Onsen Egg with Yama Imo and Natto

I’m a sucker for an onsen egg, so with soft cooked whites and ooey, savory yellows this dish was right up my alley.  Swimming in Japanese dashi and covered in yama imo (mountain potato), natto and nametake mushrooms, I could’ve eaten eight servings of this dish alone.

Tempura Chiso Wrapped Natto

Of course, anything battered and fried will always be good.  But this tempura just hit the spot.  Natto mixed with tobiko, add a crunch from chunks of yama imo, then wrap in shiso leaves and nori and fried?  What more is there to say?

 Nebaneba Don

And the Nebaneba don? Talk about knowing how to get a girl excited.  Put all my favorite things in a bowl (natto, ikura, okra, nametake mushrooms, ahi, yama imo and a quail egg?) and call it a night.  Let’s just say this dish was a combination of all the best sticky items that I could think of making it one for the books. Looking forward to the next Natto night in celebration of annual natto day in July!

 

Savory Chinese Chicken Jook

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Iʻd like to believe that there has been good reason for my disappearance. That life has been too busy or too full of this and that to find the time to dedicate to le good ʻol blog and write a few words. But the truth is that Iʻve just been L-A-Z-Y to the nth degree.

If youʻre like me, you have moments where everything is whirring and buzzing and right where you know it should be.  Youʻre pushing yourself to your limits and committing your time to things you feel passionate about.

And then there are times like this, where youʻre just not sure and the best thing to do is shh…be quiet and wait for the buzzing and whirring to return.  Does that make any sense?  Even if it doesnʻt, I think thatʻs ok because sometimes itʻs ok not to make any sense.

Anywho, with all the nothingness, naps and Netflix that continue to go on here (ok letʻs be clear, my version of nothingness might be anotherʻs version of normal, but compared to my usual do everything agenda weʻll call this nothingness.) the weather has been rainy and cool, for Hawaii, underlining my motivation to curl up on the rug with my cat and stare at the ceiling.  And to add to the lethargic fog draping over my head Iʻve been feeling a cold coming on.

So, whatʻs the best remedy when itʻs cold and overcast, and you have a cold and a leftover whole chicken?  Make jook!

For those of you who donʻt know what jook is, itʻs a Chinese rice porridge also widely known as congee.  And when you have a sore throat and need a little something comforting it sure does hit the spot.  Growing up, we would mostly have jook one day of the year–the day after Thanksgiving.  My dad would take it upon himself to boil the bones to make the most flavorful broth for the soup.  After removing the bones and adding rice and a few other ingredients weʻd have day after Thanksgiving jook, full of the savory flavors from dinner the night before.

So while itʻs not Thanksgiving nor is my dad in town to make me soup when I have a  cold, I took it upon myself to roll out of bed and make myself a bowl of something oh so good.  The variations of how to make this and garnish it are endless but this is how I recommend it.  The best part, is the yolky egg–talk about taking savory to the next level.

 

Ingredients

  • Savory Chinese Chicken and Rice Jook
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    Print
    2253 calories
    352 g
    424 g
    18 g
    157 g
    5 g
    3461 g
    6180 g
    19 g
    0 g
    10 g
    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size
    3461g
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 2253
    Calories from Fat 158
    % Daily Value *
    Total Fat 18g
    27%
    Saturated Fat 5g
    26%
    Trans Fat 0g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
    Monounsaturated Fat 6g
    Cholesterol 424mg
    141%
    Sodium 6180mg
    258%
    Total Carbohydrates 352g
    117%
    Dietary Fiber 7g
    28%
    Sugars 19g
    Protein 157g
    Vitamin A
    37%
    Vitamin C
    76%
    Calcium
    49%
    Iron
    87%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
    Ingredients
    1. 10 Cups Chicken Broth
    2. Two Cups Rice
    3. Two Cups of cooked, shredded chicken breast
    4. 6 Cloves of Chopped Garlic
    5. 3/4 Cups of Celery
    6. 3/4 Cups of Diced Onions
    7. 1/2 inch of Ginger, sliced into 3-4 chunks
    8. Eggs
    9. Green Onions
    10. Sweet Pickles
    11. Salt and Pepper
    Directions
    1. 1.  Add the celery, onions, ginger, and garlic to your chicken broth (can be made from scratch or from the can, although I recommend the former) and bring to a boil.
    2. 2.  Once boiling, turn down to low and add the rice.  I like to add only two cups of rice, as I like my jook soupy, but if youʻre going for more of a porridge consistency, you could add 1/2 cup to a cup more of rice.  Cover and let the rice cook.
    3. 3.  After about 15 minutes, check the consistency of the rice to make sure itʻs cooked. Remove the slices of ginger.
    4. 4.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
    5. 5.  Serve piping hot in bowls garnished with a poached egg, diced green onion, sweet onions and sweet pickles.
    beta
    calories
    2253
    fat
    18g
    protein
    157g
    carbs
    352g
    more
    orchuterie http://www.orchuterie.com/

 

 

Valentine’s Day Weekend

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What a month.  Or really even a few months at that.  I feel like I blinked and not only did December fly by but January as well.

And, while Iʻm usually the one in our relationship to be making plans and demanding adventures, our usual busy lives made busier by me came to a halt when December literally exhausted me and oh, I rediscovered how much I love Netflix.

So, while it hasnʻt been an excuse not to be here and writing, Iʻve been filling my down time with naps, leisurely evenings with my cats and ok, lots of Vampire Diaries.  My mind and body literally came to a screeching, screaming, train wreck halt and it Iʻve been enjoying a glorious few weeks soaking up nothingness.

With Valentineʻs Day just in, I have been thinking about home and how seriously amazing my mom is at celebrating every holiday.  Growing up, my mom never failed to disappoint (and still doesnʻt) with showering of gifts for every special day, including Valentineʻs Day.

So, as Valentineʻs Day approached last week (yes Iʻm a little late at to the game on posting but sorry Iʻm not sorry I was napping) I thought Iʻd brighten our week with one of my favorite Valentineʻs Day treats, my momʻs shortbread cookies.

I have fond memories of eating and decorating these cookies with my mom and sister, year after year.  So pulling out the butter and flour and topping it with festive powdered sugar icing, did not disappoint.

And, Daniel enjoyed the cookies all week long.  He blames me for eating four cookies a day while I just know that means he enjoyed my “Valentineʻs Week”
gift.  Cookies all day eʻry day.

Take Me to Brewvana

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99 bottles of beer on the wall 99 bottles of beer, take one down, pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall!

I have never truly been a beer aficionado up until several years ago.  I was the girl in college that started off drinking Smirnoff Ice, who would play beer pong as long as you drank my beer, and who never really understood why people insisted on drinking something that tasted like old bread.

Truth be told, I was and still am much more appreciative of my wines and a good ol’ shot of tequila with lime.  I know what you’re thinking. Girl who grew up in Portland and doesn’t like beer?  I know, I know.

But somewhere down the line things changed. I started appreciating an ice cold beer on a hot sweaty day and developed the taste for a deep, coffee and bourbon tasting stout.

Back in Portland again for the holidays, I was determined to experience what Portland really has to offer and enjoy me an ice cold brew.

In the end, we barely scraped the surface.  Did you know that there are roughly 55 brew pubs just in the metropolitan Portland area?  With a little research from one of my favorite travel sites, Travel Portland, we carefully selected four breweries to visit.  Having realized from last year’s wine tour that you can only safely visit and enjoy a short list in one day I carefully selected four breweries to stop in at. In the end, we only visited two from our list with a last minute addition because we passed it on the way to our second stop!

Be that as it may, it was a successful introduction to Portland breweries. We made our way to Portland Brewing Company, Widmer Brothers and Ecliptic.  Between our party of eight we must have tried over fifty beers–having tried all 24 beers at Widmer Brothers alone.

So here’s my tips on an introduction to beer tasting in Portland, for all of you doing your own brew tours:

1.  Be smart.  Despite the fact that there are 55 tours, there’s no way in hell you’ll be able to hit them all in a short amount of time.

2.  Spread it out.  We found that with all eight of us we could really taste a lot of beer. As I mentioned, at Widmer Brothers and all the other breweries, we tasted all the beers between all of us, which was just the right amount of tasting and buzz to get the afternoon going.

3.  Order food.  All three of the breweries had food to order with our beer flights, and we happily munched on warm soft pretzels and mustard between sips of beer.

Happy tasting! Prost!

Mochi Three Ways

IMG_5592For some people, starting the New Year means making a resolution.  To resolve to eat better, cook more, lose weight–travel to far off places or advance in our careers.  It’s a time to reflect on the year that passed and look forward to new adventures.  And in my household, it’s a time for mochi.

Since I was a young girl New Years Eve and New Years Day always meant that we would have Japanese food on the table.  Although I’m too far removed to really have known the meanings behind each thing we ate (although there are meanings for everything the Japanese eat traditionally on New Years Day) I could appreciate that it was the one time of year that we got to eat some of my favorites like Nishime, a chicken and vegetable dish, and Ozoni, a clear or miso broth made with mochi (rice cakes).

This year, before returning to Hawaii after a nice trip with my family, my mom still made sure to make my favorite, Ozoni, for good luck.

There are so many ways that people enjoy mochi in Japan.  But, I thought, for extra good luck to send out to you and yours, I might share my three favorite ways to eat mochi as you begin your new year.

Kinako Mochi

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Mochi dusted with dried soy bean powder that’s mixed with sugar and salt.

 

Ozoni

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Broiled mochi that is in a miso or clear based soup with vegetables and chicken.

Shoyu Pan Fried Mochi with Nori

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Best wishes for all that’s to come in 2015!  I have a feeling it’s going to be one of the best year’s yet!

Shoyu Pan Fried Mochi with Nori

Yields 1 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 Piece of Mochi, Dried or Fresh
  • 2 Tbs of Butter
  • Nori (seaweed)
  • 1 Tbs Soy Sauce
  • Salt

Directions:

Add the mochi a little water to a small pan and cover with a lid to steam.  Once the mochi becomes soft, about 4 minutes, add the butter to the pan.  Allow the mochi to fry in the butter, flipping it so it’s crisp on both sides.  Add the soy sauce to the mochi right before taking out of the pan (once mochi is soft on the inside and crisp on both sides).  Sprinkle with salt to taste and wrap in seaweed.

 

 

For the Love of 2014

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As the year comes to an end, I can’t help but reminisce on the memorable moments of 2014 that my family and I shared. And, of course, look forward in hoping that 2015 continues to bring us many more.

I know it has been quiet here on Orchuterie for the last few weeks as I have taken some time to myself for some much needed recuperation and celebration with my family. (Full of over-indulgence, wine, beer, and not very many Whole 30 compliant foods I might add.)  And, I hope you did too!

2014 was an amazing year for us.  We traveled, a lot, celebrated our first anniversary, and stayed true to our passions. (For me, much of that is here with you on Orchuterie and with the new My Aloha Post!).

As the holidays already come to an end–I only wish they would linger a little longer.  It’s a time for me when I get to spend constant time with my family, watch Elf on Christmas Eve and go wine tasting in Willamette Valley.   It’s time for me to make up silly games for us to enjoy and remember for years to come.  And a time to show the people in my life how much I love and appreciate them.

For me, the year was a year of great joy, opportunities and friendships.  As it comes to an end,  I thought it’d be fun to share my favorite highlights of the year.

1. Our Honeymoon in Bali where we cooked in a traditional Balinese home, went shell searching on the shore of their beautiful beaches and

2.  Committing to Orchuterie and making it official, thanks to Daniel, as I round out the last year of my twenties.

3. Starting My Aloha Post.  It is all about supporting local and helping other people–which I couldn’t love doing more.

I wish you nothing but positive karma and vibes for the next year and hope that you have several equally memorable moments that you cherish from the last year.

Happy New Year!