Oh, Boy, Snow!

Mauna Loa snow
Well, isn't this festive? The nice thing is that it's up there and I'm down here. A choice is involved. Do I go up to the snow or not. Don't call me, I'll call you. Can you tell my choice is usually NOT to. There was a lot of snow on Mauna Kea, but the roads were closed, so grandpa took the nephew and grandkids to Mauna Loa instead. There, they had fun getting cold, wet and pumped throwing snowballs at each other and down their clothes. Uuueee!

Apparently, they weren't alone, there was a long line of cars and trucks going up and bringing snow back home, just for the heck of it. That's what we do in Hawaii.


Green Cabbage Rose

You've got to love these collard greens. They keep going on and on. Makes me feel like I've got a green thumb (I don't). I clip all the leaves, except a cluster of small ones in the center, and the next thing you know, there is another head ready. It looks a bit like a cabbage rose.

I've found the fastest way to cook them by far (would you believe 30 seconds) is from Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby's Big Flavors of the Hot Sun, a terrific book with lots of good tropical and hot zone recipes. The trick is to heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on high heat, til beginning to smoke. Then, quickly saute the shredded, washed and de-stemmed greens , throwing in some salt and pepper (I also throw in some minced garlic). You stir like crazy for 30 seconds until they have wilted a bit and turned a nice bright green. After removing from the heat, add the juice of a lime, and some hot sauce. Yoww!

Then, there is the slow cooked with ham hocks, Southern method. I'm usually short on time, when I figure out what to fix for dinner, but after watching Dave fix collards on his video, I did try the longer cook method. I especially liked how he took those stems off in record time.


Still Thankful

Meet Scott, a friend of ours from way back, now living too far away. He is still an inspiration to many for his fantastic attitude, in spite of immense challenges. He has been paraplegic since the age of 17. He loves the Lord and, I believe, would credit that faith for his ability to live so successfully.

Are you at all depressed? Just having a pity party? Going through some horrific times? I recommend watching this short video. Here's another guy who will lift your spirits.
We have lots to be thankful for. Especially if we know Jesus.


My confession by Ben Stein

Remarks from CBS Sunday Morning (everyone should read!)
I thought this message was definitely worth a post.

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees.. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we k new went to.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein


Something Fishy?

This stuff will grow on you too.
What is fish sauce all about anyway? I became vaguely interested in it, when I heard that remnants had been found in old amphorae retrieved from Roman shipwrecks and at Pompeii. Apparently, people have been using it from ancient times to give food that special something, that je ne sais quoi. I didn't know what and you may not either. Probably it all started with a glut of fish in the village. The ancient Greeks and Romans called their version garum from the Greek word garos or garon. And no, anchovy paste is not an equivalent as it is not fermented. Given my fascination with things fermented, (cacao, fruit wines, vinegar, sourdough) this might be considered a natural. However, judging from what I've read about the process, I don't think I'll do my family the favor of fermenting fish guts around here.

However, for those of you brave enough, who might want to experiment, I am including a recipe for the old Roman stuff.


Making Vinegar

You've heard the expression, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?" Well, how about this one: "When life gives you junk wine, make vinegar?" This is my vinegar crock. I keep it in my pantry. You start by pouring in a bottle of apple cider vinegar (raw, unfiltered, with the "mother" - which is what they call the vinegar culture - not an exotic period in history) then dump in any wine you happen to have that doesn't meet your high standards of excellence. Keep a clean cloth over it so that the vinegar can breathe, but not with any bugs. From time to time (maybe once a week or so) add a glassful, or the rest of a bottle of wine. After a few months, lift off the thick layer of culture that will have formed on top, so it won't take over the entire production. By now you can probably open the spigot and fill up a small bottle. Maybe even attach a fancy label, which you've just designed and printed out. What I was doing today. Voila, add oil and you get dressing.

It's also a good parable for life, which often hands us junk. One of my first blog posts was on this very subject, but something we have to keep going back to. I do anyway. Every time there's a set-back, large or small, the temptation is to have a pity party, to whine, grumble, complain and blame. I need lots of reminders to look for the opportunity, the possibility or prayer in the situation. To keep remembering that God is good, and that he is doing a good work in me and,
"will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Jesus." Philippians 1:6


Spicy Guava Chutney

It felt like a real Fall Harvest Frenzy around here this morning. I chopped up, yes ... more guavas, added some exciting tropical spices - Hawaiian chili peppers, allspice, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, etc. and made up a batch of chutney. Meanwhile cacao pods were roasting and then, cooling for me to husk, grind and make into truffles. In between which I was trying to get a batch of macadamia nuts shelled . I'll put them in the truffles after a bit of toasting.

For those interested, the recipe for Guava Chutney:

5 cups guavas, peeled, cut in quarters, seeds removed; then cut into thin slices
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 thumbs young ginger or 1 thumb mature, peeled and sliced thin
2 cups water
1 lb. granulated sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded, stems removed
2 whole allspice leaves (or allspice powder)
1  1/2 Hawaiian chili peppers, seeds removed (or not if you want it hotter) & minced
1/2 teas. salt
1/4 teas. coarsely ground black pepper
1/3 cup raisins

Cook the guavas with ginger, garlic and water, then add sugar, and remaining ingredients. Cook, on a hot fire, stirring occasionally until thick. Ladle into jars. This made 3 normal size jam jars and one smaller jar.

Guavas turn a lovely deep burgundy red when given a long cook.


Growing Your Own

I went on the Hawaii Aquaponics Farm tour last Saturday with my friend, Linda, and grandson, Isaiah, and I'm just now getting to a post on it. Aside from personal and or commercial use, this looks to be a tremendous opportunity for implementing grow-your-own fish and veggies instead of monetary aid in various Third World countries, and even here in poor areas. Any money could go toward start-up costs. A friend came into our office last week with news that a large warehouse had been donated for Community development use in a very beleaguered neighborhood of New Jersey. This could happen, ideally, even in such urban settings.

Simply put, there is a tank with fish, growing them for sale and for fertilizer. The water from that tank then drops down into a bed tank(s) with floating vegetable rafts made of styrofoam. Pesticides are not needed and water consumption is lower than for traditional farming. Sounds great. Linda and Isaiah are going to take the class, starting next week. Then on to bigger things. This system can be scaled up or down, depending on the size needed. For home use only or for a commercial or community project.

I like the idea of keeping my lettuce from drying out so fast here without watering continually and fertilized at the same time. Not to mention having a source of naturally grown protein. At the farm they were raising tilapia and prawns. There were also mosquito fish in the water of the vegetable beds. We didn't get any bites while there.


More Guavas Than You Could Shake a Stick at

Guavas on my mind. They're everywhere in abundance this year in Hawaii, and I'm trying to utilize as many as possible, thereby avoiding the guilt of having tons go to waste on the ground. So far have made: jam, wine, catsup, BBQ sauce, cakes (2 kinds, attempting to find the perfect recipe). And in the process of which I discovered some great cooking blogs. One being Sonia Tastes Hawaii, and another, Evil Jungle Prince. He had a tempting-looking recipe for Guava Cobbler with Coconut Crust, that I really need to try. In fact it will be Sunday.

Tonight though, we're (in the Royal sense) doing a version of candied yams (in order to get it down before Thanksgiving). Yes, Guava Candied Yams, which I will be improvising, based loosely upon Camotitos Potosinos (Sweet Potatoes and Guavas in Syrup) from the Texas Monthly site. To use them for Thanksgiving I'll have to freeze some I suppose.

The yams and guavas simmering in a brown sugar syrup

Guava Candied Yams
1 cup brown sugar
1 teas. cinnamon
2 allspice leaves (or powdered 1/2 teas.)
1/2 teas. cloves
2 lbs. yams, rinsed, peeled and cut into 2-3 in. pieces
1 lb. fresh guavas, cut in quarters, seeds scooped out (this would work also with figs or apples)
juice of 1 orange or passion fruit (I used the passion fruit) & 1 tab. orange or lemon peel (without pith)

Place the brown sugar, juice and 1 cup water in a 2-quart pan with lid, and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally til the sugar is dissolved.

Add the spices & peel. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer, covered 10 min.

Add the yams, and turn them a few times to coat. Continue simmering, covered for 20 min.

Stir in the guavas and simmer an additional 20 min. (uncover the last 10 min. - though, next time I may try raising the heat and going for more of a caramelized effect by quickly reducing down the syrup) Note: If using canned guava, just heat through on low heat, uncovered, for 10 min.

I served this with some leg of lamb and a small salad of cucumbers and arugula in a yogurt dressing. It was quite good if I do say so.


Go Operation Christmas Child!

We had our stint at the fair, Kealani and I, manning the Operation Christmas Child booth. Helping anyway. They had quite a few volunteers so she got time off with Grandpa to go on some rides and eat cotton candy (yuck). But, maybe that's where she got all her energy, outdoing everyone with handing out balloons, tattoos and informative leaflets.

Yes, it's time once again to begin collecting items for these shoe boxes, which will be sent all over the globe to needy children. Click on the name above to find out good ideas for filling your box(es) and for a great video and information on the project. For the inspiring story of a young boy who gave up his Christmas to give one to others, click here.


Just an Easy Recipe

Cauliflower in Bearnaise Sauce
This was absolutely good. I had to stop eating, get my camera and take a quick picture (though it didn't come out as clear as I'd like) so I could post it for you. And, why it's so easy ........

Not to advertise or anything. I'm sure other brands would be as delicious? Maybe.

All you need to do is wash, trim, cut up and steam some cauliflower. While it's steaming (just til barely tender) follow the directions for the sauce and put water on for your pasta (or maybe do that first). I added about 1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar to the sauce. Then, add the steamed cauliflower to the sauce and sprinkle with some toasted macadamia nuts. A little arugula or a nice salad on the side. Oh boy.


Chocolate Date Truffles

Today, having just finished a new adaptation of my homemade chocolates, I thought they were worth posting an approximate recipe with photos. I didn't measure anything but the cacao nibs, though can guesstimate for you:
Chocolate Date Truffles
2 1/2 Cups roasted, husked cacao nibs - grind fine
1/2 Cup toasted almonds*, chopped roughly
1 Cup dates, seeded and chopped/mushed
1 Tablespoon lecithin
1/2 Cup honey
*We've been harvesting more macadamia nuts, so next time I'll use toasted mac nuts in these.

Notice the chaff flying here - I'm grinding the cacao nibs in my Sumeet Asia Kitchen Machine, which was kindly recommended by John Scharffen Berger of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Makers, whom I met at a Kona Chocolate Festival several years ago. Ahh what sweet memories that. I had the best ever mole there, inspired by a recipe of Frida Kahlo's .

This machine doesn't obtain that professional, super smooth, chocolate finish, but is fine enough for me and my truffles. Hey, we're not a commercial kitchen here. The chaff was flying about.

Now you mix in the ground cacao (cocoa at this point) with the date mixture, till well blended.

The final step, rolling them into nice little truffle balls and wrapping in cling film. Then refrigerate in a container. They will keep nicely.

The uplifting thought for the day: God didn't have to give us chocolate, along with everything else he provided, but he did. Thank you Lord!


Decadent Day

Don't expect any lofty thoughts here.

I have to confess, I had a totally unredeemable, practically sinful, frivolous day yesterday. A chocolates with spirits pairing class/occasion (a class implies learning something semi-useful). Beautiful, tasty chocolates made by local chocolatier, Melanie Boudar of Sweet Paradise. And, wine pairings, courtesy of Volcano Winery, after which we moved on to Ms. Boudar's B and B for other spirit pairings.

My friend, Linda, and I started off with a light lunch (we split an order) of Cajun Mahimahi, which was excellent, at the Volcano Golf Club Restaurant. Then, met up with our group at Volcano Winery for the fun taste testing of wines and chocolates - it is important to know which go best with which. Oh yeah.

These are Oriental inspired confections with sesame seeds on top, a ginger infusion and hints of chili pepper.

Ok. Enough already. I think you get the picture(s).
One uplifting, thing - God has given us an amazing array of flavors that we can enjoy, combine and experiment with. Thank you Lord!


Lychees and Kedgeree

Lychees, it's summer and that's the good news. I'm sitting here writing with a bag of frozen lima beans in the back of my pants, trying to get some relief from an incredible lower back displacement. Tomorrow is chiropractor appointment #2, so I'm asking for prayer. Also a recipe for something wonderful to do with unfrozen lima beans. Maybe just steamed with some butter?

Which reminds me, last week, for the Fourth of July we had potato salad, among other things. I boiled too many potatoes and had a full container of extra. What popped into my head is the real mystery. I don't believe in akashic records so it's probably even spelled wrong, but maybe the ancient Celts in my DNA were speaking to me? (a joke folks, just a joke) Anyway, the word kedgeree came to me, mash those potatoes up and add that slice of smoked salmon from the freezer, with sauteed onions in butter. Now I looked it up, so I do know that kedgeree is from India. And there's supposed to be rice with boiled eggs. But hey, this is my version, and there were a lot of Scotch, Irish and English over there for a time, if I'm not mistaken. I added some minced dill and basil as well, salt, pepper, more melted butter and dumped it all into a nice ceramic pot, topped with grated cheddar and baked at 350 C for about 30 minutes. We all liked it a lot. That last piece is now gone.


What's wrong with this picture?

What's missing is substance and sustainability. Also missing in much of Christian education. You might ask what the optimum method might be for teaching Christian core values and passing on the truth of God's Word to students. At one time in America (harking back to our Independence Day) and at present in some countries, it would be taught. Facts, information to be learned, understood and processed, hopefully into lives and action. Instead, we're getting a ton of current theories, speculative "ear-tickling", and melt-in-your-mouth emergent drivel.

On an intriguing blog I happened upon today, Baglady, this quote from her father's story of life as a new immigrant to America, highlighted for me the problem with most "Christian" colleges and Universities.
"Here in America, the professors often put students in small groups so that they can debate amongst themselves and students are encouraged to have different opinions. Additionally, on the written exams students do not necessarily have to agree with a professor’s opinion in essay questions. As long as you have a great idea and great supporting points you could still score quite well."

All very well for many subjects, however I believe Biblical Studies, mathematics, and some of the sciences should be excluded from this method. They have something in common: that understanding and applying is the important thing, not questioning. Though this is almost heresy in some circles. What good does it do to question and disagree that 5x5=25? Not a lot. And the same should be said of God's Word.

Of course, much has been learned in the sciences by questioning and testing the various theories and coming up with new ones, and testing those. I'm not talking theories here. And, I don't mean questioning in the sense that Nicodemus asked Jesus, "How can this be?" He didn't understand and was asking the Teacher to explain, with a heart to learn.

We, some of us, presume to question as Satan did, "Did God really say...?" and then to disagree with what he does say - "You will not surely die...", beginning, as the Tempter did, in Genesis, along with the majority of scientists in our time. Did God really create in six days? No, of course not. However, not being reproducible and involving the supernatural, it should be considered outside the field of science anyway. We can look at the fossils and say, as does Ken Ham, "millions of dead things, laid down in rock layers all over the earth." Yes, the flood explains that. Or, DNA research says we all came from one woman. Yes, Genesis says so, it must be true. DNA research changes, scientific study evolves and changes from year to year. Scripture does not change "a jot or tittle", the least stroke of a pen.

Interestingly, a few verses later, Jesus continues: "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." And, we know that their "righteousness" included questioning (in a wrong sense) and re-interpreting and layering on their own opinions, endlessly - a large set of oral teachings by the elders - a religious elite. Later, they broke with their own scriptures and allowed them, the Mishnah, to be written down, cementing in place the already sad corruption of Jesus' day. And, they still prefer their own "traditions" to the Word of God.

My point being, the same thing is done today by theologians and professors in our "Christian" seminaries, colleges and Universities, with few exceptions. Genesis is only the beginning of it, and I'm sure Satan is well pleased with them. His method of operation has not changed - question and pick apart Scripture. Students come out passing along misinformation, doubting their faith, or deserting it altogether. Not strengthened properly to do battle in our culture. And, it is a culture war.


Clementine the Yeasty Girl

Clementine, 200-year-old French sourdough starter.

This (name changed to protect the original) girl's been around for quite awhile, though she's just joined our household. Another mouth to feed. Only once a week though, if we keep her in the refrigerator.

Of course, when I first followed? the recipe for a loaf of sourdough bread I used 2 cups of starter, instead of 1 like the directions called for. Figured if one is good, then 2 will be better? Right?? Later, when the final proofing didn't rise as high as I would have hoped, the thought occurred to me that rising power comes from the yeasts eating available flour. Less flour plus more yeast = less food for everybody. Deep thoughts. And, this Scripture popped into my head to batten things down, just in case I didn't get it: "Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?" 1 Corinthians 5:6

On the bright side, the bread tasted great, especially while still warm. A moist, chewy texture with crunchy crust, melted butter, oh yeah. Also, it went very nicely at lunch today with a bowl of my (left-over) Cold Kefir Cucumber Soup, posted on the yummy food blog, Nami-Nami.

For me, it's a parable of following God's directions - his recipe for a blessed life. Going off on your own, thinking you have a better idea than your Creator, doesn't produce optimum results. Gotta keep checking that manual.


What is that smell?

"Thanks be to God, who...through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him."

I may be off base, but don't you think that the Church's use of the Greek word "Christ", instead of the Hebrew "Messiah", has needlessly put an additional barrier in the way of Jewish acceptance of him? We know there is a veil, but this extra covering might well be taken away, and anything which contributes to sight promoted.

Besides the fragrance, I am a letter from my Messiah and he has made me competent (not in myself, but a competence from God) as a Minister of the new covenant of the Spirit. (from 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 & 6) We are ministers of reconciliation, in
"that God was reconciling the world to himself in the Messiah, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Messiah's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Messiah's behalf: Be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:19-20
I am a bit more conscious of this fragrance and ambassadorship lately. My husband discovered only a few years ago that he had a Jewish cultural and religious heritage through his mother. So, all this exciting new ancestral background, along with getting me three Jewish cookbooks. I'm getting with it. Some.


Steely-eyed Focus

Meet my brother's dog, Eddie. You see that ball? He's very protective of it. Fixated you might say. Puts up a tremendous struggle if you try to take it from him. You throw the ball and he's ON IT.
No distractions. It is priority one.

So, what is my focus? What is priority one in my life? Hopefully, not anything material. I was just talking to my nephew about Emergency Medic as a career option, discussing how you deal with the death of someone you may have grown close to. But, we're all on that train called life, not knowing what stop will next be ours. We're all terminal, in that sense. Only a relationship with God extends the trip into eternity. You can think of it in that way. You may be the one who keeps them on the train for awhile, and or the one who helps them get an eternal ticket.

You get the idea. Number one, top priority, intense focus needs to be that relationship with my Creator. Because I don't know, and none of us do, how much time we have.  Deep Thoughts.


Hilo Farmer's Market and Prayer Post

It's A Farmer's Market Day

In Hilo, that's Wednesdays and Saturdays. So, I went with mangoes on my mind and was not disappointed. Besides that, there were fresh radishes, and etc. etc....

While there, I took a few pictures, and talked to an old acquaintance, Danny, who mans a corner stall, selling plants, especially carnivorous ones. Yes, they do eat bugs. I mentioned putting the photos on my blog and about the parables we encounter in our lives. Danny reminded me that these plants use a sweet attractant and then trap the insects once they're drawn in. Just as we are warned about in various Proverbs, "My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them." We can be seduced by something that seems good.

Do you see the little sacs? Those are the traps, holding rain water to drown the unwary bugs. Poor dears.

Being armed against temptation is only one reason why we need to be in prayer. I was reading some of the responses on a Meme that was recently circulating in the blogosphere - comments were invited about the things we are afraid to mention in church or to other Christians. It seems that many people have trouble with prayer, the need for it, the usefulness of it, and making time for a prayer life.

If I have a question about something that's discussed in the Word of God, that's where I go for an answer. What did Jesus do? If at all possible, we can check that. Jesus, as perfect and sinless as he was, and Creator of the Universe (it boggles the mind), found the time, saw the need to spend time in prayer with his Father. He is our model and best example. Do we need it less than he did? And, sometimes, we are told, it was for the whole night! Luke 6:12

Even with people around him (what I would call a real distraction), he was able to be "praying in private." Luke 9:18 Not being able to get off by ourselves is not necessarily an excuse. He was an example to his disciples and us, and taught about prayer. Luke 11:1-13

In addition, it was a habit with him. Reading in Luke 22:39-42, we see that he went "as usual to the Mount of Olives" to pray. He "knelt down" - now this is God's own Son! And, He asks "If you are willing, take this cup from me; (the request) yet not my will, but yours be done." What about naming and claiming it? Also, "he prayed more earnestly." This brings to mind what James 5:16-17 says about the fervent prayer of the righteous.

Some of the comments mentioned not wanting or feeling like praying at or for meals. Jesus is once again our model for right action. He, Creator of the Universe, gave thanks. Someone else suggested that those people should fast for at least 24 hours and then they might be more thankful for the next meal.

How can you sustain a relationship with someone without talking to them (prayer) or listening to them (reading his Word and listening for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit)? I don't think it's possible.


When You've Got Bananas

Father's Day Breakfast Special

When we have time for a more leisurely breakfast, one of my all time favorites is fruit-filled crepes. I usually dribble a bit of marmalade down, add either fresh sliced mangoes or, as today, bananas sauteed in butter, a little creamy, thick yogurt or sour cream, roll it up and top with syrup or, as I do, with a dusting of powdered sugar. They're unbelievable!

Almost any fresh fruit is good, but bananas are even better when they're lightly sauteed in butter, just til softened. So, you see, I DO use bananas for something besides wine. There's cream pie, banana muffins, banana waffles, banana pancakes and, of course, banana bread too.

The easy crepe recipe is:
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups milk (batter should coat spoon well)
  • 3-4 eggs (depending on the size)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
Beat flour in gradually with whisk, then add the butter. Swirl a small amount in hot crepe or small saute pan. Flip after a minute and voila!

I was thinking about how Jesus told people many times that their faith had healed them - Luke 18:43 for example. Besides actually healing people he used parables, and the healing was also a form of illustration. You come to Jesus Messiah, and ask him to lift you above your circumstances - to save you. That is faith - that he not only can, but will. And, he does, by his mercy and grace. Because he loves us.


Joining the Lotus Eaters

God is so amazing. What a creation! I went to a plant sale today and could not resist this lotus. It's like a foot across. And, it was so beautiful I had to share it with you. Next year at this time, I'm hoping mine will bloom. I got a small rooted starter and it's now in my pond, awaiting SHOWTIME!

Also, I will be a lotus eater since all the parts are edible: flower, young leaves, roots & seeds. And, very healthy too. Just from weeding out my pond.

Another thing I want to share is my Gazpacho experience of last night. I got this terrific recipe from Lobstersquad, a very artistic sort of cooking blog by Ximena in Spain. I have a surfeit of cherry tomatoes right now and wanted to do something other than salsa. Not that I have anything against salsa, but anyway...


With a few variations - mainly that of using cherry tomatoes instead of the plum kind - here it is. And it came out very good, I must say. A refreshing, summertime cold soup, and nice alternative to salad.
  • 1.5 lb. ripe cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 orange or red bell pepper
  • 1/2 a peeled cucumber
  • a wedge of onion
  • 1/4 - 1/2 a garlic clove (more if you want)
  • 1 slice day old bread
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • salt (& grind of pepper- optional)
I let the bread soak in the water while I chopped and sliced the vegetables roughly; then dumped the bread & water, about 3/4 of the vegetables, oil, & vinegar into the blender; whirred to get it semi-smooth & for the level to go down sufficiently to add the remainder of the ingredients; then blended very briefly so it would still be a bit chunky. Refrigerate until well chilled.

Ximena blends it smooth and then strains it, but to me, that is a vegetable smoothie, not what I think of as Gazpacho. But hey, I'm American, what do I know? That sprig of garnish is mint, but basil would work nicely.


Attack of the Strawberry Guava Gall

Or Belated Earth Day Meditation

It's not my usual sort of post, but maybe they should all be unusual. Anyway, I just couldn't resist this one. The Dept. of Agriculture here has plans to release an alien species of insect that causes galls on the leaves of the strawberry guava plant, reducing its fruit production, with the hope of slowing its spread into "native forests" - which of course, means THE ENTIRE ISLAND. Does anyone think the little insects will restrict themselves? I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IT.

And, does this make sense, to oppose alien species of plants by bringing in alien species of insects?
Now I realize where the gall attacking our local hibiscus (STATE FLOWER) came from, and the sudden strange disease on rose apple trees. Environmentalists run amok in the Dept. of Agriculture? At least on this one advance word has gotten out to the public ahead of time and we can protest. If that helps. The deadline is apparently May 23.

According to news reports I've read, we are currently in a time when famine is rampant worldwide and food prices are rising. The little strawberry guavas are a great source of vitamin C, full of nutrition and a local favorite for jams, jellies, juice, wine, etc. etc. Wildlife also love the fruit.

Next, I suppose will be all other food and ornamental plants, not "native" to the island. Pineapples, mangoes, lettuces, etc. anything you might grow in your gardens to eat or for flowers - they're all alien species.

You may email comments to tracyjohnson@fs.fed.us with a copy to oeqc@doh.hawaii.gov and savetheguava@gmail.com or call the USDA FS at 808 967-7122.


The Expelled Movie

This movie is a MUST SEE guys!
"For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." Deuteronomy 4:24 And, yes, he is.
The new Ben Stein movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, quotes Richard Dawkins, who rails on against God for this very aspect of His character. (Actually, Dawkins reads from his book during an interview with Stein.) His invective so totally shows a lack of understanding, shared with many today, of the absolute goodness, truth and love of God - who loves his creation and is jealous for us - of whatever pulls us away from him to our own detriment; and the lies of the enemy engage that "wrath of God." He cannot tolerate evil and what is allied with it.

My little granddaughter said she "had to plug my ears when I heard what that dumb guy was saying about God." What was funny though was the way Stein brought Dawkins to the point of saying that maybe we were seeded by more intelligent aliens from another planet. One scientist had the brilliant suggestion that molecules rode in on the backs of crystals. Heigh ho silver! Anything but admit accountability to a Creator who has revealed himself to us and given us a game plan for surviving. The movie exposes (in a very entertaining way) the alarming extent to which the religious activists who are pushing evolution, will go to protect their faith. Any spirit of scientific inquiry is out the window in academia.

Well done, Mr. Stein! We appreciated hearing from honest and reputable scientists who dare to question and speak out against the monolithic spirit of politically correct propaganda coming through our media and the educational system. I especially enjoyed hearing from the author of The Dawkins Delusion, Alister Mc Grath. Another book for my need to read list.


Fresh Grease

I went to see Grease last night, never having seen the movie, or another production of the musical, and accompanied by a group of women, only one of whom I knew. Turned out well though. We had dinner first and by the time we finished they felt like a bunch of friends.

The main theme of the show seemed to be - the rebel kids are cool - and it's dumb to "just say no". Great message for high schoolers....NOT. But, if we can put all that aside, I will say their performances, the music, singing (super voices) and dancing were terrific. The acting was very good as well and the set creatively designed. What a talented group they got together for this show. And, as per usual, great directing!

I guess it's comparable to a lot of songs you might hear on the radio, where the lyrics stink or don't really say anything at all, but the music and recording are super. Or, some ads that are so clever and well-done you forget they're just trying to sell you something. Sometimes ads are better than the show they appear on. THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT...da da da da!

Is there a parable here? I don't know. You tell me.


From Cacao to Morning Cocoa

I was reflecting on the cacao nibs drying in my oven (on pilot light) and the whole process, from the raw fruit, through fermentation, drying, etc. to the point of chocolate or cocoa. Our understanding of how to prepare all sorts of produce is handed down from generation to generation, everything from making cheese to wine or coffee. But, how did it all start? Current teaching would have us believe it was pure chance, a process of trial and error, and random discoveries, moving slowly through thousands of years of human technological evolution, like the rest of our supposed history from drifting protoplasm to modern man.

I hope most Christians would tend to question that theory or begin to, since God's Word has another version of our accumulated understanding. There we learn that God is the source of wisdom and knowledge, in the physical world as well as the spiritual. While Adam and Eve walked in the garden with their Creator, I'm sure He was explaining the uses of and methods of caring for and preparing all of what He had planted. I can imagine their curiosity as they walked with their Lord in his beautiful garden. We are told, "The land produced vegetation..." (Genesis 1:12) but, "the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden" (Gen. 2:8) There is a difference. Wilderness grows as it will, but "God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (Vs. 15) And, we know from the following verses that God walked with them and talked to them in the Garden.

Further, the prophet Isaiah tells us directly where agricultural knowledge comes from. It is such a beautiful passage, I'm going to quote the whole thing (almost). Isaiah 28:23-29:
Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
When a farmer plows for planting, does he
plow continually?
Does he keep on breaking up and
harrowing the soil?
When he has leveled the surface,
does he not sow caraway and scatter
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
barley in its plot,
and spelt in its field?
His God instructs him
and teaches him the right way.
Caraway is not threshed with a scythe,
nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
and cumin with a stick.
Grain must be ground to make bread....
All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
wonderful in counsel and magnificent in

Back to the cacao, all this considering was brought on by a recent cooking blog post about a new way of preparing the fruit using a food dehydrator, skipping the fermentation and roasting processes. I thought, hey this is great, short and simple. Went out (well really it was Craig's list) got a food dehydrator and gave it a try. Guess what? Used up a lot of electricity and didn't get the job done. Sometimes the old ways are better.

Though the different techniques employed for utilizing produce may have changed, the processes are pretty much the same today. i.e. instead of fermenting cacao under palm or banana leaves outdoors, it is more convenient for me to use a pasta pot in a gas oven with pilot light, or for a factory to use a big mechanized operation to deal in quantity. And, isn't it interesting that processing plants remove the cocoa butter for other uses, then add in milk products to achieve that same delicious unctuousness that is part of the chocolate experience. I like mine the way it comes - non dairy. Grind the roasted pods and put in my French Press, add hot water. Voila!

a cacao pod opened

One of my Bible Commentaries compares the verses in Isaiah to the way God created people so different from one another, and how everyone should be treated with understanding and respect for their individuality and uniqueness.