Saturday, April 11, 2009

k-brow: grillin' and chillin'

More veggie grilling
In answer to the questions about my veggie grilling...I take asparagus, zucchini, onions, peppers, whatever veggies I have on hand, and I just hit 'em with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Sometimes, if I'm REALLY ambitious, I mince some garlic, or use sesame oil and herbs. I used to just brush them with salad dressing, but recently, I'm trying to eat more very basic, simple foods, so it's usually just the olive oil and the lemon juice.

I pre-heat the grill to about 500 degrees and then just put the raw veggies on and grill away. Sometimes, (but not always) I brush the grill itself with olive oil, first. I grill the veggies about 5 minutes, grill lid closed, on high, and then check them, turning them with tongs.

With peppers, I start them with the outside skins on the grill first, and then when they get sear lines, I turn them and do the other side.

With asparagus, I start them spread out, and then as they get more done, I pile them together. You have to make sure they're perpendicular to the grill grate so they don't fall through.

I grill and taste and grill and taste till everything's done, and not too burnt.

Expect a lot of shrinkage. What looks like a huge amount of veggies cooks down rather quickly, so grill more than you think you're gonna need. They make good omelet fillings, salad additions and snacks.

I have not grilled eggplant. I'm a little afraid of it, having had the good, the bad and the ugly with this nightshade. I'm thinking to start experimenting with it, as I had some superb eggplant milanesa at Soul de Cuba in Chinatown the other night. And I like Baba Ganouj, so I'm thinking that grilling the eggplant may just make it palatable.

Today, I've spent the day entertaining my handyman, who came to give us estimates on rebuilding our rotten deck and termite damaged bathroom. These things are liveable for us, at this point, but the house cannot be marketed with them as is, in this economy, so we're tackling them as major repairs. Those, and the replacement of the dead dishwasher (though in truth, we get by just fine washing our own dishes) and the repair of the ailing washer are just big investments that we are biting the bullet and making, in hopes that they help to sell the house. My handyman reminds me that houses don't come up too much in Nuuanu, and by the time we put it on the market, it'll be hot on Oahu, and Nuuanu will seem cool and green and welcoming to all comers. I bought the house in June, and used to sit in our condo in Waikiki and watch the morning mists pour over the pali and envelope the Nuuanu and Manoa valleys and dream of living there... now, of course, I go down the hill and head east to Hawaii Kai to see the sun, and breathe some dryer air, but all things change as the seasons change.

It feels like we are in some crazy nuclear winter these days though. Maybe it's just that I work on the Windward side of the island, which gets lots of afternoon cloud cover and due to my cross-Ko'olau lifestyle, but winter seems to still have us in its grip. Cloudy, low 70's, and I've worn long pants and long sleeves more here now than ever before. I usually work in shorts or skirts and tank tops, but this spring, it's not the case. Craziness. The shawls and sweaters are definitely getting a workout.

A sweet shot of Ella sleeping.
She seems thinner, and less muscled, these days, though her senior panel at her annual physical revealed robust health and good physical condition for her nearly 11 years. She sleeps more deeply, now, too. Cricket is most definitely in his physical prime, these days, big, very fast and powerful. His fearfulness with strange people and dogs makes him a constant worry out in the public sector, but I feel like I have to walk a fine line with him; keep the stress threshold down, expose him in a safe, pleasurable way to as many new sights and sounds as possible. It takes more energy than I think I have, sometimes. When he gets to Atlanta, we'll resume working with a trainer, privately, this time, to deal with the reactivity. I know the trainers who do that work here, and feel like the venue isn't a good one for him; I want to work with someone new, someone I don't have a history with, too.

The prospect of moving has triggered all sorts of questions and wonderings...

Will I have to dress up more for work? And wear makeup?

Should I sell the CR-V here, and just drive my dad's truck, which he left to me, in Lexington?

A new place seems to be the ideal situation to start new patterns, to keep the good stuff, and to cast out the not-so-good. I think this is what's keeping me working on this move so far, as it seems, at times, altogether too much to face.

Must Have is stitched together. Photos to come this weekend. I'm not 100% thrilled yet, but as you know, my FO's grow on me. I love the sheepy smell of it, but it's gonna get washed and blocked, because I want to squeeze some length out of it.

I'm swatching for the February Lady Sweater, with some Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed. I love the yarn, though it's DK nature worries me a little with gauge issues; the pattern calls for worsted yarn. The Silkroad is a pretty fatty DK though, and I nearly have gauge with #7 needles, and I'm told that the pattern sizes run big, so I'm pretty ready to cast on. Time to knit something purple.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

k-brow: feed your head

So many things, these days, are restoring my energy and joy. I am a moody person, by nature, and go up and down, with the moon and as the wind blows. Recently, though (probably with lengthening days and a steady diet of supplements and nettle infusion) I am more "up" than "down."

Here are a few things that are making me happy recently...

Reya's blog, with its recent series of entries on spirit guides, complete with tonic and recipes is giving me food for thought. I highly recommend her as a regular read, especially if you're interested in the seasons, shamanism, or photography.

I swear, would starve if it weren't for the gas grill. Most of my dinners cooked at home involve, if not the Le Creuset dutch oven, the big rusty gas grill. Asparagus and red peppers, from Costco. Basted in lemon juice and olive oil and eaten right off the grill.

My neighbor's bird of paradise flowers are blooming. Just gorgeous! I see it on my daily stroll with Ella, who likes a little walk away from the ever-bouncy Cricket.

Red and green foliage in Waimea. I don't know what this tree is. It has fat shiny leaves.

This pic, which I took last fall. A pile of opihi, or limpet shells that I found on the Big Island. I wish I'd taken some, but for some reason, I thought they might be kinda stinky, and I was roadtripping in a rental car, and wasn't sure of my ability to get them back to Oahu without complications. I have never eaten opihi; apparently they're hard to find, and quite delicious. Somebody had themselves a little feast.

Aloha Shorts is this terrific local storytelling program on our NPR station. It's on every Tuesday, at 6-ish, and is a wonderful showcase of the voices and experiences of the islands. I will definitely try and get this show through some streaming source, once I move back to the mainland!

Off to cook dinner now; leftover potato-kale soup and salad, with fresh-baked bread.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

k-brow: spring breakin'

My spring break is winding down to a close. I'm trying to get last minute bills paid, laundry done, lunches for the week planned and organized, and am doing a fair job of working through my to-do list.

After we recovered from the jet lag and sorrow of losing the beloved Modern, spring break has turned out pretty nice.

We went to Blogless Michelle's art opening at the Chinatown Boardroom on Wednesday night. She'd painted an ukulele that was in a show of local artists. The Blogless One was fresh in from Wisconsin, and didn't seem worse for the wear, though I wonder if she crashed later? I gave her tea and a shower and she trundled on down the hill with husband and baby to her opening, which we attended later. Great fun, and it's amusing to see how different artists painted the ukeleles.

We put an offer in on our backup house, and it was accepted. Though this is a pricier house, it needs far less work than the Modern would have, in terms of updates, fencing, flooring, etc. so we are pretty much breaking even on what we'd spend. Which is far less expensive than housing in Hawaii, Northern VA or California, given the adjustments for the times. The new house, which we shall call El Rancho Sur (remember, now, I'm currently living in Chez Nuuanu Estate) for want of a better name. So El Rancho Sur is a ranch house, with a big tree-filled yard, a screened in porch, and a white brick fireplace. Assuming everything goes well, we'll own it by mid-May, and P moves in at the end of the month. I'll follow in late June or early July, depending on when Chez Nuuanu Estate sells or when I've had enough of sun and sea...

We took a road trip on Friday:

We went to the North Shore, via the H-1, coming through Wahiawa, stopping for excellent Mexican food at La Palenque, then through Haleiwa and on to Shark's cove and Sunset Beach. We made a stop at Ted's bakery for chocolate haupia pie, and I spotted Pamela Sue Martin, the actress who used to play Fallon on Dynasty. She was eating pie and looked happy to be doing so. Then we proceeded to drive, through Kahuku, stopping to get banannas at a roadside stand; hoping for lilikoi - passionfruits, but no luck, and on around the Windward side of the island.

We stopped at this gorgeous beach park, that looks like a scene out of "Lost". Not sure what it was, maybe Heia?

It was getting stormy.

The sand was very hard and packed, a perfect place for a walk down the beach.

We were alone, except for a few surfers and these two, who were trying to warm up after a swim. We walked too far down the beach, and got caught in a rather cold rain, and raced back to the car, absolutely soaking, and drove on home, to warmer clothes and potato-kale soup for dinner.

There has been knitting going on, and even the attending of the Mocha Java Knit Night last Thursday, after a cheering dinner at Genki Sushi, with Opal and her mom, and Dayna and Barbara. I've been on a knit night hiatus, of late, preferring to cocoon in my own house with my own food, but spring break has me feeling resilient and social, for a change.

I'm finishing up the button band of Must Have, and will stitch it together tonight or tomorrow, for a final completion of this sweater which has been too long on the needles. I fear it may be too short, and if I had to do it all over again, I'd have just added 3 or 4 inches to the pattern, right after the ribbing, since there's no shaping whatsoever on this thing. My final verdict is that it is a fun knit, with some design flaws, namely the fact that it wouldn't have killed the designer to mirror the cables, and add a little waist shaping. When I began the pattern, I had no idea how to really plan for those things, and so didn't do them, followed the pattern verbatim. It's been 1.5 years on the needles, though, so I'm happy to power through this UFO. I think I'll be able to squeeze some more length out of it with wet-blocking, and will certainly wear it, as it's soft and cozy, and utterly comforting in color and demeanor.

Whiteout conditions and sheeting rain coming off the pali have me worried about my planned grilled chicken and asparagus and red pepper dinner...Really, it's white outside, with a fine mist pouring into the bedroom windows before I shut them. Arrgh. Will this winter never end?

Gonna go put some rice on, now, and pretend that it's just a passing shower.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

k-brow: back from atlanta

So I'm back. My whirlwind trip to Atlanta was more work than play, I've gotta say. We must have looked at 60 houses, due to a real estate agent who really does her homework, and my husband's need to see every damn thing on the market. We made an offer on a house we'd been admiring for 2 months online, one that P had actually visited twice before, on previous trips to Atlanta. Incredibly, the day we put the offer in, other offers went in for it, too, and ours wasn't accepted. It was a 60's modern, unimproved, on a huge lot. I was heartbroken, in the way that one shouldn't be over househunting. I cried loud and long, yesterday, when the realtor called and delivered the sad news. I was so sad, because we could have made the offer weeks ago, and we just waited, saying "it's too early, we're not ready yet." It was too early, but even if we'd made it 2 days earlier... Now I'm over that, though I think it will be a long time before I can drive by that cool house, once I'm in Atlanta. No other moderns on the market to speak of, though, so I think we'll write an offer on one of our backups. So much for my dream of the 60's kine atomic ranch lifestyle in the Deep South. I think the backup house is a normal ranch with a screened in porch, and a fireplace, though, so it's a happy compromise. It's a nice house, with a shady yard and some ethnic restaurants not too far away.

I really have to get my head out of the hypothetical imaginings that the real estate search always triggers in me. Like the job search, I can't put energy into it, unless I visualize vividly, the new life in the house. The meals cooked, the way the dogs look lounging on the floor of the living room. The way the light will fall across my bed in the morning. All that thinking and projecting causes me to fall in love, which invariably breaks my heart a little when the offer isn't accepted. I think I need to be more Buddhist in this endeavor, practicing nonattachment. Or more Wiccan, setting some energy loose in the Universe to work on my behalf, in the best way possible. And then, trusting in that process. This "I see it, I want it, I can see us in it, and I love it" approach is painful.

P says "toughen up". But he was sad, too, as he's the great fan of modern architecture, and is, in fact, the one who got me to start considering it.

I give you P's creation of "cheezettes"- little cheese turnovers made with feta, cheddar and the leftover filo dough. Great cocktail food, and a decent lunch with salad. Our friend Janis' mother makes the BEST version of these; I think she uses puff pastry and stuffs them really full with a mix of cheeses and herbs.

Our dishwasher died an untimely death last week. Nothing like having to replace an appliance when you're trying to make a move. The wiring was shot on it. But while the repairman was here, he found evidence of mice and rats back in the dishwasher cavity, and so the war begins anew. I had caught a rat in the snappy trap last week, and last night, my mousetraps were all sprung but caught nothing, so I suspect it's one of rat bastard's relatives. I've patched all the holes I can figure out that might be giving them egress, but apparently they're doing well in the house, or they have another way in. Dammit. The appliance repairman remarked that living against the mountain as we do, we couldn't avoid having vermin. And even last night, driving up our alley, I saw a mouse running from neighbor Vernon's to neighbor Barbara's yard. Grrrrrr...

Nevertheless, it's spring break, and even when I'm sad, I'm happy. I finished one of my jolly neapolitan socks; just need to graft the toe, and cast on for sock two. I haven't really felt the knitting mojo, but my 8 hour flight from Atlanta to Honolulu left me no choice; I had to knit that sock. I guess I'll be grateful, come next November.

Today, an attack of my teaching storage room, and a great purge of school and teaching stuff that I just don't really use. I've been dreading this part of the house clean up, as it's the biggest mess ever. A tarot reading yesterday focused on the Justice card, and the message of making decisions with wisdom and discrimination. Does the decision call for severity or mercy? I think severity is the order of the day as I attack that room. Not a lot of time to do it, since I'm lunching with Charlene at 2, and Blogless Michelle is coming by later to use my shower so she can go to her art opening, clean, after a daylong flight from Wisconsin. With a baby. Yikes. The woman has more fortitude than I do, that's all I can say.

Off to be severe with my stuff.