Passover Week and Resurrection Sunday

I received this painting from a dear friend of mine, Andrea Dyroff, via the miracle of email.  Her artwork is so lovely I wanted to share it with you.  She is a beautiful person as well, a cancer (twice) survivor, and a former Drama buddy.  The original is 7+ ft. by 6 ft.!  Also, her accompanying Easter meditation, which the painting illustrates, is as follows.
Palm Sunday....the day before, Jesus was overlooking Jerusalem and knew that most of the very-swollen-for-Passover-week crowd who were there would not know who He truly was, would not recognize that indeed, He was their Messiah. He wept. So....as He entered Jerusalem amidst the crowds who at that moment thought that He was the Messiah, the crowds hailed Him, Hosanna! Hosanna! (Save us now!)  Jesus knew that in a few days most of the same people would be shouting Crucify Him, Crucify Him.
Gethsemane....alone, abandoned by His closest friends, betrayed, aware on His human level of the extraordinary, excruciating physical, emotional pain just ahead. Aware as the Son of God that He was being asked to bear, pay the debt for, the entire sin of the entire world...angst beyond our understanding.
Golgotha, Calvary..... our debt stamped: PAID IN FULL.
RESURRECTION!!!!! Victory over death. "I will send you a Helper, a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Lo, I AM with you always!!!" I pray that You will have a life-giving celebration of this most significant of all Holy days, holidays, that whatever your present circumstances are, that the truth and power of what our Creator Father God did for us, gave to us, will energize you wherever, however needed in your inmost being! : )
Her P.S. - The "rainbowy" colors (top of the painting) are a symbol that in the death
and resurrection of Jesus
all the promises of God have their "YES". 

My hope is that you would all have a joyful, peaceful, and Spirit 
filled, Passover week and Resurrection Sunday.


Eat Local - Snails

 Aren't they lovely?
This is my encouragement for you all to eat these pests.  I can't, because they're a bit of trouble to prepare and I would be the only one in our family eating them.  Therefore, since my plan is to sell them, it is important that YOU EAT THEM!  Now the only problem is finding escargot lovers who would like a fairly regular supply.  BTW, the ones in my photos are young, they get much bigger. I found some interesting information about our local (invading) variety on this site, as cited below:
West Africa giant snails. archachatina marginata and achatina achatina
Snail meat is high in protein (37-51%) compared to that of guinea pig (20.3%), Poultry (18.3%), Fish (18%), Cattle (17.5%), Sheep (16.4%) and Swine (14.5%). Iron content (45-59mg/kg), low in fat (0.05-0.08%) and contains almost all the amino acids needed for human nutrition. In addition to the nutritional value of snail meat, recent studies indicated that the glandular substances from edible snails cause agglutination of certain bacteria, which could be of value against a variety of ailments including whooping cough. In folk medicine, the bluish liquid obtained when the meat has been removed from the shell is believed to be good for infant's development. It is believed in some quarters that snail meat contains pharmacological properties of value in counteracting high blood pressure.
At the imperial Court in Rome, snail meat was thought to contain aphrodisiac properties and was often served to visiting dignitaries in the late evening. The high Iron content of snail meat is considered important in the treatment of anemia and in the past the meat was recommended as a means of combating ulcers and asthma.
There is a flourishing international trade of snails in Europe and North America. In France the annual requirement is about 5 million kg, over 60% of which is imported. The estimated annual consumption in Italy is 306 million snails. In West Africa, snail meat has traditionally been a major ingredient in the diet of people living in the high forest belt. In the Cote d'Ivoire, for example, an estimated 7.9 million kg is eaten annually. In Nigeria, although the consumption figures are not available, it is clear that demand outstrips supply.


Banana Almond Chocolate Clusters

 These Chocolate Clusters are the easiest desserts you will ever make.  Aside from buying one already made, that is. I was encouraged by the very inspiring blogger, Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini to use up those bits of dried fruits and nuts I have cluttering up the shelves and refrigerator, as well as an exorbitant amount of dark chocolate, which really didn't need using up.  In fact, more had to be bought.   Spring cleaning comes at a price I guess.  But, so worth it.

All you need is a handful of dried fruit and one of nuts, some puffed grain, throw into the melted chocolate, and voila.  Well, you do stir things together and drop from a spoon into those cute little mini foil cups.  When doing next, and yes, I will, I'll be using a bittersweet chocolate, rather than the unsweetened dark, or else add a bit of sugar.  I really like dark, fairly unsweetened chocolate, but this was over the top just a wee bit.  The real test though, was the kids did eat them.  Usually they like things much sweeter.  Recipe after the jump...


Sourdough Starter - Free Giveaway

Her real name is Genevieve.  I called her Clementine for awhile.  In fact, for so long I had forgotten her true name.  My only excuse being a slight mental block with Genevieve.  Just wanted to get the record straight here.  This lovely 200+ year old (after 200, who's counting?) French (former), sourdough starter is still going strong in my kitchen.

In fact,  I just finished feeding her the weekly ration of flour and water.  Sounds like prison fare, doesn't it?  Which action made me think a new post on her life might be in order.  And, a GIVEAWAY.  Yes people, something FREE.  And, that would be .......ta da......a bit of the real thing.  You too can own harbor a 200+ year old French madam. I will send la bébé in the post, well packaged, to the lucky winner.


Infomercial (and Other) Cure-alls

 Guess what folks, your troubles are now over!   A new drink has been invented, which gets rid of all those nasty pains in your body (that is if you are old enough to have any).  I kid you not.  It is called Nopuloser.  You may have heard of this miracle potion. So yes, absolutely all aches and pains can be HISTORY.   Shout Amen here!  And, not just pains, also diabetes, allergies, snot, cardiovascular problems, skin diseases, respiratory ailments, Alzheimer's, and housework.  Because you will be feeling soooo much better, who would expect you to waste precious time cleaning toilets?  Not anyone.

Do you ever find yourself sitting in a relaxed, semi-comatose state, perhaps after scrubbing those toilets, staring at the TV, and watching an infomercial?  Just because it's there. Then you know what I'm talking about.  A nice lady looks right out at you, very sincerely, extolling the virtues of whatever it is, and you  find yourself reaching for the phone.  Yes, and that is how "they" can afford those expensive commercials.  Air time is not cheap, lovey.  That particular one is still going on and on, with countless testimonies.

As I type, Bob is talking about ordering the first bottle, which is said to be free.  Well $10., but that is just for shipping and handling.   I suppose you'd be hooked after a first dose, and get right on their regular delivery list at $45 a pop??  Do you suppose the mad chemist put some secret addictive drug in there?  But, you won't know for sure if it's actually working until two bottles.  One is only a two week supply.  You have to take it for at least a month. I know all this because, yes, he's gone and done it - ordered two, and that is what he was told. As well as, "I want more for you than you do for yourself.  I don't want you to run out after a month.  I can give you a 5 bottle deal at a discount.......(Bob is silent here) ...how about a 3 bottle deal?"  Apparently, there is a lady out there who buys it by the skipload, drinks a bottle a day.  She likes it so much.  I guess that is better than a whiskey bottle a day habit.  Good, in fact, diverting money from the wicked liquor distillers of the world.

I wouldn't want you to think he is the only one around here listening to infomercials.  I get sort of sucked in by the nifty kitchen gadgets.  Will be reporting more on the potion phenom later.  After the trial period.  Maybe even before.


Dancing the Champandongo

I seem, without any real forethought, to be on a South of the Border groove.  We recently had Columbian Cassava Cake, Pork Enchaladas in Green Sauce, Chicken Molé Poblano, and now, thanks to our  Cook the Books Club, a Mexican dish called Champandongo.  Hosted this time by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, the book selection for February/March was Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

Her novel is a love story, as well as a fantastical, adult fairy tale, on the order of the Brothers Grimm?  It reminded me a bit of an ancient Greek tragedy, only with more sex and magic, besides recipes, which is usually fun.  I won't go into any summaries of the story here, (there is a good one one at Cook the Books' site) just read her novel, if you haven't already.

So, for a strange tale, I thought an unusual concoction was called for here.  Something not seen on the ordinary Mexican restaurant menu, and, one I'd never made or heard of.  My research didn't turn up very much on the origin of, or alternate recipes for Champandongo.  I have three Mexican cookbooks, none of which had a mention, and my online surf came up mostly with references back to the book, and tourista restaurants in Mexico that serve it  (mainly due to the books' popularity).  Though it was described by a few as delicious, albeit ugly.  So, my challenge was to keep the deliciousness, and improve on looks, if possible.  Anyway, when you get right down to it, how lovely is a slab of steak?  Ok, without prior taste memory?

Our Cinderella heroine, Tita, makes her dish with a lot of interruptions due to family strife, and suppressed rage.  Which is interesting, because here in Hawaii, a Tita is usually a woman who doesn't suppress any of it.  In fact, you'd better watch out.  If I did that, probably half the ingredients would be either left out or mixed up.  As it is, I forgot the citrus element.
Since the amount of molé called for in this was equal to what I had remaining from my Chicken Molé Poblano, it seemed doubly appropriate to make this ASAP.   Frugal sort that I am.  Also, luckily, our local natural foods store carries queso Oaxaca, very close (maybe just in my imagination) to the queso Manchego called for in Champandongo.  Sounds like a dance, doesn't it?  Put on some salsa music while cooking.  I love all these names.  This dish has also been called a Mexican Lasagna, as it layers meats, sauce and cheese with tortillas, rather than pasta.  Directions continue after the jump.


Strange Fruits

My latest citrus acquisition.  New member of the family.  These beguiling little fruits are in their infancy, some just barely in toddler stage.  Citron Hands, also known as Buddha's Hand (possibly because of its Asian origin?), came from North East India and migrated to China in the 4th century.  They seem to be in a praying position. Might be saying, yes, you too can pray.  Just try.
It's pointing at me.
The mature fruits are supposed to be beautifully fragrant and are used to perfume a room in China and Japan.  What a thought.  No more room aerosols.  Just put one of these babies in every bathroom.  Although there is no juice, the white pith is not bitter, so the whole fruit can be used in cooking. I have been inspired by Linda, a very innovative,  professional chef, doing some incredible things with citrus at her site.

I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for these guys to grow up already.  I want to know what it smells like, how is the taste different from other types of citrus, how can they be used to best advantage??  It's telling me, just wait.  Hey, no rush.  Maybe we'll learn patience here.


Le Migliori Polpette di Tonno or Tunaballs

Just so you know, right off the bat, these cannot be improved upon by using (murdering) a nice piece of fresh ahi tuna.  Frozen might be excusable.  They are quite excellent, in a groove of their own.  This marvelous recipe converts canned tuna, yes folks, you heard it right, to... ta da....a new dimension. Originally inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe, considerably altered here, and again by me right here.  So, you have the advantage of all the bugs being worked out.

Le Migliori Polpette di Tonno

Serves 4-6
 I did not include directions for the marinara sauce.  I think you can handle that.  If not, or even if, there are some excellent prepared versions out there. The pasta as well, just use your favorite.

And, you will get no careful photos of the preparation.  By the time we realized it was going to be post worthy, the meal was finished.  So next day, before eating those two remaining Tunaballs for lunch, I quickly whipped out my camera.


Chicken Molé Poblano for Recipes to Rival

Our February Recipes to Rival project, hosted by Temperance of High on the Hog, was a delicious Chicken Molé  Poblano.  Since this entry is coming from Hawaii, I should perhaps call it my Tsunami Chicken Molé?

It wasn't really all that difficult, and well worth the bit of effort as it was soooo good, besides making twice the amount needed.  So, you can freeze enough for a different meal later.  I love molés and, in looking through my various cookbooks to compare recipes, realized that they come in a rainbow array of  black, red, and yellow ones, besides this Poblano, which is a lovely terracotta color.  Like Mexican quarry tiles, ha ha, sounds better than brown.  And, what is guacamole, but a green molé?  My favorite Mexican cookbook, the fabulous Frida's Fiestas,  is full of wonderful photos of her house and art, with recipes for the black, yellow and red ones, as well as a fresh green.  Each very different, and now I've got to try them all.  In fact, this feels like the beginning of a post series.  Look for it right here folks.

Chicken Molé Poblano
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Molé sauce:
2 dried Ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried Anaheim chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried Chipotle chilies, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican, broken in pieces
1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican (I used my fresh Puerto Rican)
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded, chopped
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Mexican, chopped

1 capon or large chicken, cut into 10 pieces
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving
I added salt to taste at the end
Directions after the jump ...