Oke Poke

Editor’s note: for the purposes of this post, all words that end with the suffix “oke” should be pronounced or more likely internally read as “okay”.

Guest blog brought to you by marriage.

Left coast living will bring you to Hawaii if you are of the means or the miles to get there. East coast has quick access to Europe and I guess the Caribbean and Newfoundland, but we get the tiny volcanic islands. Upon recommendation of my cubicle-mate, I decided to try and enjoy some Poke during a recent visit to Kauai. A few foursquare searches later, I settled on Pono Market. No joke (please see editor’s note), the poke was delicious, and we ended up going back again prior to departing the island. The final meal was garnished with a bit of sadness due to the knowledge that I would not be able to reproduce this dance of flavors again upon returning to the Pac.

 

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In sharing/gloating about my Kauai Poke experience (outside of this blog post) to my aforementioned cubicle-mate, he corrected me and convinced me that with proper determination, grit and Rock Clock aided training I could reproduce approximate this dish. He imparted his recipe passed down from his family or alternatively googled and modified, which is noted below.

Ingredients

– 1 lb ahi/salmon
– 1/2 cup Aloha Soy Sauce
– 1 tablespoon sesame oil
– ½ cup (or as appropriate) dried flake chili peppers
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice (better for salmon)

Suggested Ingredients for Better Pictures and/or Flavor

– Toasted Sesame Seeds
– Seaweed
– Green Onions

Why Aloha Soy Sauce?
It tastes less salty and bitter when compared to other soy sauces.

Do I need to buy expensive sashimi grade tuna?
I didn’t for this exercise but it would help. In either case, you should avoid pieces that have that white membrane because it will make the tuna chewy. I went frozen.

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Steps
1. Assemble ingredients and take picture. This will provide time to allow for your tuna to defrost. If you bought fresh tuna, keep tuna in fridge during this step.

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2. Assemble the marinade by combining the soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. I would recommend scaling down the red pepper flakes, since it’s easier to dial up, but more difficult to dial down after the fact.

3. Place fresh tuna in flat container and pour marinade over tuna.

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4. Place flat container in fridge and wait 12-24 hours.

5. Remove from container and strain in Chicago Blackhawks goalie-like sieve.

Enjoy over rice or in a taco as shown below. Inspired by the Minnesota State Fair? throw it on a skewer.

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Yield: Serves 2 people

Novelty Rating: 4 of 5. Was surprised at how easy the preparation was. I had a psychological barrier when it came to preparing fish, so I was very happy with the effort to taste ratio.

Likelihood of Repeat: 100% [I still have frozen tuna in my freezer]

Lesson(s) Learned: Do not start with a half a cup of red pepper flakes. I scaled down to 2 tablespoons.

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Bank Your DIY Holiday Gift Game with..
Beeswax Coconut Candles

One of these days I will finally sort through my reflections from hiking Sahale Arm and seeing a Glacier up close, or adventures in the Catskill Mountains of New York, but in the mean time, this:

The days are getting shorter, the weather’s getting crisper early in the morning. School supply ads reign supreme on live television between sports games. Before you know it, it’ll be Fall, and then Winter, and you might find yourself scrambling to put together a gift for that office party exchange, or family get-together where everyone draws a number from a hat. Well..


Do you have lots of leftover expired coconut oil?

No no, I mean LOTS.

Do you have a weakness for collecting empty containers your spouse/housemate/talking cat keeps suggesting you recycle, but perhaps they are the classy-looking “biscuit” tins you brought back from London last November, and they make you nostalgic for your travels to the the land of tea time, so you keep saying you’ll make candles with them?

Primary inspiration from internet research:
I did some other research on soy wax, and paraffin wax and decided beeswax was my preferred option, as I try to avoid ingesting processed soy for myself and paraffin is a petroleum byproduct, so it strikes me as a little odd to be breathing either in. See citations at bottom of post for more. Mad props to my co-conspirator Jillian who balanced out my OCD-craziness with wingin’ it like a boss, plus ensuring I didn’t burn my house down in the process somehow.
Amass your supplies, pioneer!

Amass your supplies, pioneer!

Ingredients:

– 1 lb beeswax pellets
– 1 lb coconut oil (use a postage or kitchen scale to measure same amounts)
– 100 pack medium 8 inch wicks (check the diameter of your tins to match wick thickness)

Tools (the more disposable, the better the cleanup):
– optional: chopsticks
improperly sized recyclable aluminum tray, or other container to melt wax atop double boiler in
– a makeshift double boiler setup that will fit the tin. You can use a large tin can, washed for reuse. A big tomatoes can can be good. If you use a tin can, careful handling when hot. If you want, you can also buy a metal cup with handle for candle-making, but why?
– pens, pencils, or other utensils (same amount as the number of tins you have to fill)
– oven mitts
– tin foil
– optional: various essential oils for scents (I used lemongrass for one, vanilla extract for another)

Makes: 2 medium candles in biscuit tins

Pre-prep your candle tins thus: with wicks wrapped around pencils or pens (see below).

Pre-prep your candle tins thus: with wicks wrapped around pencils or pens.Steps:
1. Put together a make-shift double boiler, get the water to boilin’.
Spare your counters! Line with tin foil (Jillian is a genius!)
2. Place your beeswax in the disposable tray atop double boiler, with a 1/2 to 1 cup water in the top boiler to help transfer heat.
3. Melt down beeswax (careful! it could just evaporate if you don’t act quick after melting). I did this intermediate step pictured, so you didn’t have to:

Melting beeswax with bits of coconut oil mixed in, take 1.

Do NOT do this option: melting beeswax with bits of coconut oil mixed in, take 1.

Melting beeswax with bits of coconut oil mixed in, take 2 (with a tin can).

DO do this option: melting beeswax with bits of coconut oil mixed in, take 2 (with a tin can).

4. Wrap top of wick around a pencil or other utensil if you didn’t already.
5. When wax is almost melted, secure bottom of wick to bottom of candle receptacle by dipping quickly in wax, then using a stick to push the metal stay on the bottom until solid, set the pencil over the top of receptacle.
6. Pour a half inch of wax into bottom of receptacle, let it cool some to help the wick stay down.
If you want less of a mess, you can get a chopstick (or similar tool) to help guide the wax as you pour it. This is a good time to stir in some essential oil scents if you want some. To cool faster, put in fridge.

Candle topped off with more wax.

Candle topped off with more wax.

View of a candle, just poured partway.

View of a candle, just poured partway.

7. Pour the rest in, let candle cool for a day. If you are impatient, you can put it in the fridge. Marvel at how you are now making hobby of what people used to do out of necessity.

Candles snug in the fridge, cooling down after a halfway pour to anchor the wicks.

Cozy l’il biscuit tins, chillin’ in der fridge.

Friendly Reminder: Do not pour waxy water down your drain! For any wax that’s snuck into your hot water, remove the solids as they cool (like fat off of chicken stock), then pour the mixture into a container lined with paper towel to get the rest. This will both spare your drainage system, and also save you on wax that you can reuse. How economical.

Novelty Rating: 5 of 5, novelty makes my house smell GOOD, in this case. 🙂
Likelihood of Repeat: 50% depending on what my friend Jillian wants to do, and if I manage to hang on to more tins before impulsively throwing them out in some fit of Konmari method practice.
Lesson(s) Learned:
(1)Small container of wax mixture in double boiler = more frequent rounds of measure-melt-pour, but bonus: faster learning through more iterations. 1 lb beeswax is not really that much, it turns out.

(2) Next time: use giant can (tomatoes?) or buy smaller tin pan
(3) You can remelt down leakage in pan to make more candles.
(4) WARNING: Ironically, this activity may lead to more excessive tin-container-saving, including crappy ones for melting wax in.
(5) Candle-making is more fun with two people, and then you can have one pouring the wax and the other guiding it.

Other Inspiration/Citations:

Your homework is now to go try this smoke bomb cocktail, take a video, and report back, please.
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One More Way to Keep Your Home Cool in the Summer:
Quinoa, Cucumber, Tomato Salad

Double-feature bonus posts this week! My offering to you, Dear Reader, for being a faithful audience. Enjoy!

A few years ago, I found myself buying one of those cup-salads from Whole Foods a lot in the summer. I liked it so much I figured I should start making it, so I can (a)get it without cilantro and (b)stop feeling like such a yuppie for buying a salad I could clearly reverse-engineer to make myself. Now when I’m up for more than throwing together some greens with nuts (read: up for more chopping), I’ll use this mix as the base recipe and improvise from there. I was actually pretty surprised when I couldn’t find a blog entry for this. Perhaps because it’s so straightforward, it didn’t feel like a recipe. This week’s weather in Seattle is sneaking up to the mid-80s, which counts as hot, so here’s a good option for those hot late Summer days when you don’t want to add another degree to your house by turning on cooking appliances. Air conditioning is a luxury, yo.

Quinoa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad (+Avocado)
Jumping-off point: Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber and Tomato Salad by Martha Rose Shulman (NYTimes)

Ingredients:
– 1 cup quinoa
– 2 cups water
– salt to taste
– 2 cups skinned & diced cucumber (if you don’t skin it, it will be bitter)
– 2 cups finely diced tomatoes (used: garden tomatoes! freshly picked!)
– 1/4 c sunflower seeds for nuttiness (today I used toasted pepitas)

Optional things I threw in this time:
– 2 thinly-sliced radishes
– 1/4 c leftover chickpeas
– 1/8 c red onion, finely minced
– 2 bulbs scallion, diced
– other protein: this time I did 1 lb. chicken, diced, with arbitrary dashes of soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp garlic, and oil for sautéing.

Optional but not included this time:
– highly recommended: 1 avocado, sliced, for garnish (sadly, the bag of avocados I got this week went rotten within a day so I had to skip this delicious part).
– 1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers (to taste), seeded if desired and finely chopped (I skipped this)
– 1/2 c chopped basil or mint (it was almost 8pm when I finished making dinner, I skipped this this time)

Ingredients: cucumbers, red onion, garden-fresh tomatoes. Not shown: quinoa, scallions, radishes pep it's, vinegar and olive oil.

Ingredients: cucumbers, red onion, garden-fresh tomatoes. Not shown: quinoa, scallions, pepitas, vinegar and olive oil.

For Dressing:
– 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (if you are out, you can use lemon juice, but it’s definitely different)
– 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
– 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Foreground: dressing. Background: drowning onions.

Foreground: dressing. Background: drowning onions.

Steps:

1. Place the quinoa in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes. Drain through a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. Bring the 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt (1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon) and the quinoa. Bring back to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and translucent; each grain should have a little thread. Drain off the water in the pan through a strainer, and return the quinoa to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean dishtowel, replace the lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes. If making for the freezer, uncover and allow to cool, then place in plastic bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing.

2. Meanwhile, place the finely diced cucumber in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse the cucumber with cold water, and drain on paper towels.

Diving dicing dicing.

Dicing dicing dicing.

3. If using the onion, place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for five minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water and drain on paper towels.

4. Combine the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Add the cucumber and onion, season to taste with salt, and add the quinoa and cilantro. Toss together, and taste and adjust seasonings.

5. Optional: This time, I also prepped and cooked some other protein, cancelling out all those appliance-heat savings, but getting more protein in our diet by marinating chicken in soy sauce and sesame oil and sauteeing it up with some garlic.

Optional sautéed protein: in this case, chicken with arbitrary dashes of soy sauce, sesame oil and 1 tsp garlic. Gluten-free option: tamari sauce. Vegan: tofu. Don't forget! Safe eating temperature for chicken is 165F! No one wants Salmonella for dinner.

Optional sautéed protein: in this case, chicken with arbitrary dashes of soy sauce, sesame oil and 1 tsp garlic. Gluten-free option: tamari sauce. Vegan: tofu. Don’t forget! Safe eating temperature for chicken is 165F! No one wants Salmonella for dinner.

6. Lightly toast your seeds. Serve garnished with sliced avocado, optional protein, seeds, and mint/basil sprigs.

Yield: Serves 3-6

Advance preparation: The quinoa freezes well, and the assembled salad will keep for a day in the refrigerator. The leftovers will be good for a couple of days.

Quinoa, cucumber, tomato salad with chicken: I didn't even miss the avocado!

Quinoa, cucumber, tomato salad with chicken: I didn’t even miss the avocado!

Novelty Rating: 2 of 5. This was novel when I started trying it, but now I’ve been making it a couple years. It’s only novel in that I am surprised every time, how much I like it, despite it’s being called that dreaded word, ‘salad’.
Likelihood of Repeat: 95%
Lesson(s) Learned: It’s still tasty without avocado. Those indigo rose tomatoes I grew outside on my patio have extra antioxidants, but not so much extra sweetness like the sungolds. Still, they taste good as visual candy. I was excited to eat this for lunch the next day.

Indigo Rose tomatoes (developed by Oregon State) started ripening to violet-red just in time! Started using them for this recipe, and the next morning some critters had already started chomping on them!

These Indigo Rose tomatoes (developed by Oregon State for extra anti-oxidants) from my deck started ripening to violet-red just in time! Started using them for this recipe, and the next morning some critters had already started chomping on them!

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Kelp Noodle Japchae – Low Carb Noodle-mania!

Okay folks, I admit, I’ve been a little distracted by the glorious Pacific Northwest summer, traipsing about in the mountains. Between that, work, and other personal projects, feeding the Internet Blog Machine has gotten a little backlogged. So without further ado, here’s one more..

 

Quite some time ago, I went to school in the other Washington -the District of Columbia. While there, I was exposed to the experience of an even more humid climate than my native Midwest summer. Wandering the concrete jungle blocks from my job at a nonprofit and nerd-exciting statistics classes, I was exposed to my first taste of Korean food ever. It was ironically a vegan Korean shop, and my favorite dish was tofu japchae. In retrospect it was an easy gateway crossover from my beloved childhood Cantonese restaurant dish of beef chow fun (see fellow pun lovers’ recipe at Woks of Life, and really, anything noodle. That first taste opened me up to a whole other cuisine full of spicier, more vegetable-filled and bbq-beef-laden meals like dolsot bibimbap and tofu soup!

Fast forward to years later on a warm Seattle summer day, living with some one who eats low carb, and here is my experiment in turning Japchae paleo friendly.

Japchae Ingredients

Japchae Ingredients

 

Ingredients:
5 oz kelp noodles, like these ones off Amazon
1/2 onion (medium), sliced
1 oz carrot (large carrot), julienned (or in my case, an annoyingly tedious pile of baby carrots, julienned)
½ oz shiitake mushroom (I got fresh ones but you could also use dried ones and rehydrate them beforehand. See Crazy Korean Cooking‘s recipe that inspired this post, for rehydration tips)
3 oz thin-sliced beef (i had shabu shabu meat on hand, sliced it while partially frozen)
2 oz spinach  (did not have on hand, skipped it, although it has been in every japchae I have ever eaten before)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tbs vegetable oil
¼ tsp salt to taste
pinch black pepper

Optional: sesame seeds

For seasoning:
2½ tbs soy sauce (for gluten-free use tamari sauce)
2½ tbs sugar
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
½ tsp minced garlic
a pinch black pepper

Steps:

    1. Slice mushrooms and beef into thin strips.
To get really thin slices, cut meat while it is slightly frozen.

To get really thin slices, cut meat while it is slightly frozen.

    1. Marinate beef & mushrooms: in a bowl, mix beef and mushrooms by hand with 2 teaspoons of the seasoning sauce and let it marinate at least for 15 minutes.
Marinade sauce.

Marinade sauce.

    1. Blanch in high heat water 1 minute or sauté spinach (optional), drain out the water. Season spinach with a pinch of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of minced garlic. Mix by hand.
    2. If you weren’t using kelp noodles, this is where you’d cook regular glass noodles, rinse them in cold water, and drain them. With kelp noodles, boiling in water is not necessary.
    3. Coat a frying pan with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, and preheat the pan on high heat for 1 minute. Sauté carrot and onion with a pinch of salt and pepper on high heat for 2-3 minutes or until the carrots are almost cooked. Add more oil if the vegetables start sticking to the pan. Set aside.
Sautéed veggies.

Sautéed veggies.

    1. Coat a frying pan with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, and preheat the pan on high heat for 1 minute. Sauté the marinated beef and shiitake mushrooms until the meat is fully cooked.
Gotta keep 'em se-par-ate-ed.

Gotta keep ’em se-par-ate-ed.

    1. Cut noodles: place fully-drained glass noodles in a big bowl and cut the noodles with scissors. You can just cut a few times randomly just so that noodles are easier to serve. Do not over-cut them.
Cut der noodles. Kitchen scissors work best.

Cut der noodles. Kitchen scissors work best.

    1. Pour the rest of seasoning sauce onto the noodles and mix well.
    2. Add all the sautéed vegetables and beef to the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Shown here: before being fully mixed.

Shown here: before being fully mixed.

  1. Sauté the noodles mixture on medium heat for 3 minutes or until all the noodles are warm. Stir frequently so noodles don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Taste the noodles and salt to preference. Kelp noodles will soften as they warm and absorb liquids form the other ingredients, you can warm it on low heat if they are still really crunchy.

Optional: Sprinkle sesame seeds as a garnish. Enjoy!

Final product!

Final product!

 

Likelihood of Repeat: 80%

Novelty Rating:
5 of 5
I added some thin-sliced zucchini noodles, which added some more al dente factor while making it taste more like smooth noodles at the same time.

Kelp noodles plus a few stray zucchini noodles.

Kelp noodles plus a few stray zucchini noodles.

Lesson Learned:  It gradually dawned on me as I was making this that if tried this exact kelp noodle brand before to make some cold sesame noodles, to ill effect, making me dread the result of this experiment. When I was disappointed at the crunchiness of the noodles, I said nothing, and my focus group of one was a fan! The kelp noodles had softened as they sat with the warm ingredients between completion time and serving, sucking up some moisture from the other ingredients. Plus, the low carb factor was a strong selling factor.

A closer look at the kelp noodle brand I tried.

A closer look at the kelp noodle brand I tried: not so bad after all.

For comparison: homemade japchae with the standard sweet potato noodles. Yum.

For comparison: homemade japchae with the standard sweet potato noodles. Yum.

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Tricking Yourself into Exercise:
Recipe for an Active Day

Apple trees in Meridian Park, approximately 100 years old. Netted by City Fruit to protect fruit from pests.

I really wanted you to know this:

Apples most likely originated in Kazakhstan from the Malus sieversii and brought over to America with European colonists then became a part of American culture with a little help from Mr. Appleseed himself, John Chapman. Around the turn of the 19th century, Johnny Appleseed bought some apple seeds from a Pennsylvania cider mill and headed to the Midwest to develop his orchards. At the time, the Homestead Act required settlers to plant 50 apple trees within the first year of holding their land and soon the apples, along with the settlers, began to establish their roots in America.
Layla Eplett, Scientific American: Food Matters

The portion above on Johnny Appleseed was just one of many exciting things I learned while on a bike tour one recent Saturday (and subsequently fact-checked for this post, because that’s how I am). Here follows a loose recipe for an active day.

Ingredients:
– An interest(s) that can be done outside (here: biking, learning, trees)
– Sunscreen
– Any Related equipment (in this case, a bike)
– Access to the Internet

Steps:

  1. See an event online. In this case: a bicycle tour called Fruit Cycle, of heritage trees (from City Fruit‘s website).
  2. Note date and start time on your calendar. On hand: Gasworks Park at 10 AM on a Saturday.
  3. Critical non-step: intentionally avoid asking distance to be traveled (or similar details).
  4. Invite spouse, tell friends you are going (so it’ll feel weird if you shirk it).
  5. RSVP (so you feel obligated to go).
  6. Get your stuff together the night before, don’t forget some bright clothes for traffic visibility.
  7. Put on sunscreen, go on tour, be distracted and fascinated by all the things you learn and see, not noticing you are also biking around north Seattle for more than 2 hours.
  8. Realize you forgot about also having to bike home.
  9. Stop for coffee, bike home.

Makes: 11 miles + 3 bonus mile bike ride

A few snaps from my exciting tree-bike adventures.

Refueling in Wallingford with an apple off a fallen branch.

My co-conspirator. Thanks, K!

This heritage tree is an elm in the Ravenna neighborhood. Coming from the Midwest, it was pretty amazing to see an elm at all.

Riding under a cool canopy of trees along a boulevard, also known as the University of Washington frat row. :>

Apple branch grafted on to a Hawthorne tree along the Burke Gilman Trail. The initial grafting was done last year, and the branch has since grown out from the hawthorne branch stump!

This Week’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5, very neat!
Likelihood of Repeat:20% This percentage is a lie. That’s part of the trick to it. Honestly, I already pulled this one on myself again the next day, trying out a volunteer stint, and when I went kayak-camping the first time in my life and failed to think about the task of the return trip after paddling 4 miles out to an island, aHA!
Lesson Learned: If you feel a mix of dread and anticipation for an activity, it is probably in your long-term interest not to ask details like how far you will be going, so you take less time getting worked up about it.

Apparently, that Homestead Act spurred a whole lot of apple tree planting in the United States back in the day. These days apples you buy in the store tend to be from grafted versions, to control the consistency of produce, not big old trees like in Meridian Park shown above. I remember reading about this in school, but it’s a very different thing to really see it. It is literally one apple branch shoved into the cut off branch of another tree to make a frankenstein of a tree (done at the right time of year, with a little sealant to keep things together). It’s a real thing! That blew my mind to see the Hawthorne tree on the Burke Gilman. At least, I think it was a hawthorne tree (apologies if I am wrong). Grafting is, like, tree magic..

I’d be interested to learn more on the ebb and flow of the American cider industry in relation to the Homestead Act and Prohibition, but even googling it at this point would delay shipping this post, and also going to bed, which I’ve been trying to do at a more decent hour lately. So that’ll just have to wait another day (or you can look it up and post in the comments for us all).

Bonus delight derived from fact-checking the Johnny Appleseed tidbit resulting in me rediscovering a habitual favored read from when I was a kid in my parents’ house, reborn as an online source. Yeah I know, Scientific American, total nerd-dom. I don’t care, the Food Matters section makes that part of my brain that goes ‘aha!’ light up. Look! They even have one on Potential Implications Brexit May Have on Food.

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What is healthy to eat? Nutritionists vs American Public

 

Twenty years ago, I think we knew about 10 percent of what we need to know” about nutrition, said Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “And now we know about 40 or 50 percent.”

Read more at the NYTimes’ The Upshot:

Is Sushi ‘Healthy’? What About Granola? Where Americans and Nutritionists Disagree

Interesting items included in summary:

  • Coconut oil
  • Granola bars
  • Quinoa
  • Shrimp
  • Butter
  • Apples

Just kidding on apples, everybody agrees apples are good for you (except my unique friends who are allergic to raw apples, of course).
Thanks for reading while I try out different formats and topic areas!

y

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How to Beat the Heat: Office Edition (Skill Level: Beginner Cook)

Here in the Pacific Northwest, folks are still getting used to having more than a week’s worth of 80+F degree weather. Many houses don’t have air conditioning, and even offices can feel pretty warm. Mine is LEED-aspirational, which means the temps swing up and down just outside most people’s comfort zone, and certainly outside mine.
If you’re lucky enough to have fridge access at work, with ice cubes, and you haven’t struck on this yet, here’s a couple things to try:*

“Instant” Ice Tea!

Ingredients:
1 tea bag of your choice
2 cups
~7 ice cubes
~8 oz hot water
Optional: your choice of creams or sugars

Steps:

  1. Steep tea in one cup with hot water, let it steep a little longer than you usually prefer for hot tea, so you’ll still get the full flavor once it’s cold (when chilled, foods generally taste less intense).
  2. Fill other cup with ice cubes.
  3. Once tea is done steeping, pour over ice cubes into other cup (preferably over a sink).
  4. Enjoy!

Poor Human’s Iced Coffee
(Similar Process)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup coffee gone room temp (generally 3+ hrs old, from the coffee pool carafe, blegh)
~5-7 ice cubes
1 cup
Optional: your choice of creams or sugars

Steps:

  1. Fill cup with ice cubes until about 3/4 full.
  2. Pour coffee over ice until cup is full, sip a little off the top as ice melts, pour the rest until cup is full.
  3. Enjoy!

*If you’ve tried it already, what other combinations have you done?
Seattle’s seen it’s share of Summer drink trends, from last year’s Espresso Tonics (click here for FWW video) to the pucker-worth shrub trend. What could be next?

Likelihood of Repeat: 100% I love a ‘free’ iced cup of coffee or tea. FReeeeeee!
Novelty Rating: 2% Been there, done that.
Lessons Learned: I need to stock more herbal teas so I can keep hydrated after my caffeine cut-off time..

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Run Away and Nurse Your Broken Heart in the Woods with a Hot Toddy

Sometimes, don’t you just want to set the world on fire?
No? Well, maybe at least shake it around a little to tell it to behave itself better? Doesn’t the state of it just break your heart some days?
Let’s go back to setting things on fire. I extra-think plenty on the things that are hugely wrong with the world when I’m in the city, but let’s take 10 here for a fireside break of something to warm your heart (and belly). Not discounting it: my sincerest condolences to the families who have suffered losses by the products of our institutional racism and other issues built up over decades of bias. I’m sorry the rest of the post may land tone-deaf, I have no reasonable segue to such a trivial topic below. :(..
Stay tuned for some scenic photos that will hopefully prove a little calming and restful.

French Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

China Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Some long-time readers may recall last summer’s Campfire Cooking Methods post, which included mention of a hot toddy recipe for camping. Scarcity is a blessing. I drained the last of my private collection of whiskey (population: 1 bottle) for my go-to hot toddy mix  on last month’s weekend trip to Leavenworth. I was also short on lemons a couple weeks ago while I packed for a weekend escape to the North Cascades, but I did have oranges. Shoutout to Rachelle Lucas, who supplied this gin hot toddy recipe on first googling. Same ingredients, different steps:

Video here, visual and written steps below:

Note: almost goes without saying, but scale this according to the servings you want. I actually did this one times four, but left it in its single serving here for easier scaling for you.

Ingredients:
For mason jar:
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp gin (1 oz)
1-2 Tbsp orange juice (optional step for tastier: squeeze from 1 orange)

1/4 cup hot water

1 stick cinnamon
1 slice orange

Tools:
Mason jar
Camping percolator
Fire (as in camp fire..or grill)
Mitt or other implement for high heat

Steps

Orange juiced, honey, gin and juice mixed.

Orange juiced, honey, gin and juice mixed.

1. Mix honey and gin in mason jar. Pack cinnamon sticks in a dry plastic ziploc bag. Optional: using a black permanent marker, label ziploc with proportions above.

If your brain is lazy about remembering recipe proportions like mine, jotting it down on ziploc in areas of zero cell phone reception can be useful. Or you could just remember it, haw..

If your brain is lazy about remembering recipe proportions like mine, jotting it down on ziploc in areas of zero cell phone reception can be useful. Or you could just remember it, haw..

If you have cold cooler access the whole time: mix in orange juice. Other option: pack whole oranges with a good knife and fork for juicing, or pick up some inferior bottled orange juice on the road.
2. Drive to your excitingly scenic woodsy/beachy/mountainous destination! Start a campfire (or grill).
3. Set mason jar near fire for honey to melt, boil water with campfire and percolator. Stir mixture.
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4. Using high heat mitt, pour 1/4 of mason jar mix into a cup to serve, add 1/4 cup hot water, garnish with 1 cinnamon stick and 1 orange slice. If making additional servings, do the same for remaining servings. Protip: to pour with less spillage risk (and wasted alcohol!) pour liquid along the straight edge of a utensil, like a knife, into the cup. This protip brought to you by my father the chemist.
5. Stir with cinnamon and enjoy!
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Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 Similar to the whiskey version, but better.
Likelihood of Repeat: 100% Observant followers may notice the use of actual oranges in photos, and orange juice in the video. First trial was at Lone Fir in the North Cascades, second was at French Beach in Vancouver Island, British Columbia (yes, those are Canadian bird squawking in the background). So I’ve effectively already done a repeat. My camping buddy K said he liked this one better than last year’s version.
Lessons Learned: The satisfaction of ironically drinking a hot toddy out of a mug labeled ‘Junior Ranger’ cannot be underestimated. Also, iMovies editing via iPhone is much easier than in a Mac, but correspondingly has fewer options. Lots to learn in the video editing world for me, fun times.

Somewhere near Juan de Fuca trail on Vancouver Island

Somewhere near Juan de Fuca trail on Vancouver Island, human is for scale.

Will you be my drinking buddy, giant spotted slug?

Will you be my drinking buddy, giant spotted slug?

French Beach, BC

French Beach, BC

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Kelp Noodle Japchae – Tumblr-Style Post

Today’s experiment.

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What CAN you eat off the ground?

Forest Fire Fruit: Morels!

Morels, with their buddy thyme.

Morels, with their buddy thyme.

I was lucky enough to score some wild-foraged morels from my friend Tesia, after she came back from a good weekend of collecting them. Apparently, her s.o. even maps out last year’s forest fires to track where good spots to find some morel treasure. It definitely peaked my interest, especially after a stint earlier in the year at a local community garden prepping for summer, when we found a morel poking out through the cardboard laid over a garden patch for winter. No- I didn’t eat it, my fellow volunteers warned me it was ‘a city mushroom,’ with unknown consequences. Even NPR did a segment on it.

From Northern California to Alaska, commercial and amateur mushroom hunters will be scouring hills that were ravaged by fires last summer and fall. Their prey? Morel mushrooms.
“Sometimes we call it ‘chasing the burns,’ ” mushroom enthusiast Kevin Sadlier says, in search of the black morel mushrooms that grow in the springtime after a forest fire.
After Fires In West, Mushroom Hunters ‘Chase The Burn’

Apologies, much of the ingredients are amounts “to taste,” and I was trying to track too many things so don’t have any exact times on here. The Serious Eats article did not specify times either.

Now, a rare medium on this blog thus far: a video.*

Ingredients:
Morels from your friend, the mushroom-gatherer (or from your friend at the farmer’s market)
1/2 onion, minced (alternatives: garlic, shallots, minced)
High heat oil for pan
Butter, about 1 pat
soy sauce, 1 Tbs (or less, to taste)
lemon juice, 1 tsp (to taste)
chicken stock, 1 Tbs (or less, to taste)
optional: chives, minced
salt & pepper, to taste

Optional but very useful supply:

pastry brush (or in my case, an extra toothbrush from my travels, because my pastry brush is silicone and the bristles would have been too big)

Steps:

  1. Check out Serious Eats’ How To, on Morels to clean mushrooms -thoroughly (also see video far below)!
  2. Once you’ve gotten over that, heat high heat oil on high, begin searing mushrooms.
  3. Add onions, lower heat to prevent scorching.
  4. Add butter, stir.
  5. Add soy sauce, lemon juice, and chicken stock
  6. Lastly, add optional chives, and salt and pepper to taste.


Today’s Trial Ingredient Rating:

Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 O_M_G, so novel! I was looking forward to this experiment all day before I got to run home and try it out. Bonus points for finding a use for an extra hotel toothbrush.
Likelihood of Repeat: 30% Maybe if I spot some that are pre-cleaned at a farmer’s market, but otherwise, it was way more trouble to clean them than I was into, and my final product was not as delicious to me as the serious Eats article’s pictures implied.
Lessons Learned: Oh so many..
Forest fires bear fruit!
This is not a vegan food, see video below.
Lots of prep time cleaning and brush and freaking out quietly
Don’t underestimate these Pacific Northwesterners and their mild climate, some of them are hardy enough to go through all that morel-cleaning and still stomach the mushrooms.
If you think you’ll have hesitant diners, trying the morels 20+ minutes beforehand will allow you to guarantee that any food poisoning will likely hit you first, and you can be their canary.**
Unanticipated travel benefits: hotel toothbrushes can double as mushroom brushes.
Oh, and don’t forget about the bok choy you may have started steaming earlier or it’ll go grey…

One more video, on cleaning morels:
Hopefully you will find this one amusing. Not a video for the squeamish.*

*Apologies for the Bourne Identity-style shaky cam. Next time will be better.
**Don’t worry, my guinea pig friends also got a healthy slice of strawberry rhubarb pie, made to spec per Smitten Kitchen, except the tapioca I didn’t have on hand.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie: the before picture, because I didn't snap one of after that didn't already have a piece cut out.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie: the before picture, because I didn’t snap one of after that didn’t already have a piece cut out. Ok, I admit, I cheated on the crust.

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