Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving 2013.

Hello there. I meant to post about ol’ T-Gives last year, but never did. It wasn’t the best holiday I’ve had–I made a couple of spectacular creations which went mostly unappreciated. Sometimes I forget what palates I’m cooking for and that you have to know what a ramp is to appreciate it.

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Cheddar Quick Bread loaded with Cranberries, Pecans, Daiya. It was a sweet & savory delight, which most of my family was too intimidated even to try. Sigh. It was enjoyed warm with some Earth Balance by a select few.

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Then there was this masterpiece salad. I baked homemade ginger bread and subsequently turned most of the loaf into croutons. Add sauteed smokey tempeh, roasted chunks of squash, pickled ramps (!!!!), all on a bed of arugula. It was incredibly flavorful, so I opted not to dress it. With this dish, I honestly feel that dressing would have ruined all of the amazing flavors. Family was very confused by it; I think it was mostly the tempeh. I had slipped the same smokey tempeh into a delicata squash/apple creation the year before (which was a big success), so I thought I would go a little bolder with the tempeh. For whatever reason, most of the table was scared by it. A few family members were brave enough to try it however, and those that did were fans. :)

I have never been afraid of trying new foods. Food anxiety or fear of something new is not a feeling that I easily understand or relate to. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I love to cook + bake. While my family does prepare feasts for other holidays, Thanksgiving is the big food day and I always take on a lot of the dishes. I experimented last year, but will probably play it a bit safer this fall. Part of my joy that comes from making food is the comfort, warmth, happiness etc experienced by those that try and enjoy my various creations.

I’ll be back with an actual recipe someday soon. :)

Papaya Glazed Tempeh Sandwich w/ Breadfruit Hummus.

Did you know that June is National Papaya Month or something? Not that it matters. Papaya is always delicious, regardless of month, but in honor of June, let’s talk about papaya.

Papaya are rich in nutrition loaded with fiber, Vitamin C, folate and more. They also contain really cool protein digesting enzymes like papain making them really good for the tummy. If you ask me, my favorite papaya are the Sunrise papaya which have a deep orange or red flesh–the latter more rich in lycopene. My favorite way to eat papaya on their own is with lilikoi and lime, but papaya can also shine in your food in countless other ways.

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All Natural Li-Hing Almonds w/ Dried Gold Pineapple.

Ling hing mui is a powder made of dried, salty plums. It is used, in Hawaii, to flavor preserved or dehydrated fruits and treats known as crack seed. 100% of the crack seed treats I have found for sale in Hawaiian shops contain aspartame and artificial red food coloring among other chemical ingredients. When I found Grandpa Mui’s all natural (both a red version colored with carmine and a white vegan version with no coloring) on OnoPops, I knew I’d have to try making my own crack seed style treats. Oddly enough, a month or two later, a small sample of the same powder came in my Makana box. :)

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I tossed these almonds in Maui Preserved’s Pineapple Cane Syrup and a little cane sugar. I added some gold pineapple that I dehydrated at home, plus some of Grandpa Mui’s magic.

Vegan Guava Cake.

I love strawberry guava. Such a beautiful and aromatic fruit with it’s light yellow skin and bright pink flesh. Finding them while hiking is like finding treasure. My lovely friend Ashley is a great tour guide and hiker. She took me through a breathtaking forest. We discussed plant life, ate ice cream beans, sampled a single kukui nut (don’t eat more than one), observed the beauty and had a delightful and refreshing swim.

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Perfect spot for a swim

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Mango Galette w/ Hawaiian Lavender & Vanilla.

I woke up today in California and couldn’t help but feel a little sad. I just returned from the Aloha State and no matter how long I am there, it never feels like enough time. Don’t get me wrong; I love California, but every time I am in Hawaii, I feel more and more at home there. Although I did have a fair amount of business to attend to, this trip, like all of my others was also jam packed with delights.

When I arrived, the sun was shining and hot. I stopped over at Wow Wow Lemonade first thing and picked up an ice cold, perfectly sweet star apple lemonade. From there, I began my journey over to the northwest side of the island. I stopped at one of my favorite grocery spots, Down to Earth, an entirely vegetarian market with a hot bar–similar to Whole Foods. To my delight, they had a pile of mangoes from Yee’s Orchard in Kihei. Yee’s has been growing mangoes for over 60 years. One of their specialties is the Golden Glow, a variety of mango known for its sweet, juicy, string-less flesh. I am not a huge mango person; the mangoes we get in SoCal are very hit and miss. Sometimes they are wonderfully tasty and other times they are chalky, stringy and dry. But with Yee’s, you can always count on the fruits being memorably delicious.

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Breadfruit Nachos.

The first time I laid eyes on breadfruit was when my friend and I were driving the road to Hana. After we grubbed on some Coconut Glen‘s vegan ice cream, we continued to drive until I saw a sign that said: lava tubes. I followed that sign down a dirt road and we ended up checking out a little place that rents helmets and lights for people to go exploring with. We decided we didn’t want to do it, so I continued to drive down the dirt road, hoping it may lead us some place magical. I started to see massive trees, some with what seemed like enormous green orbs hanging from the branches. Row after row of trees and we came upon the entrance to Kahanu Garden. Kahanu Garden is home to the largest collection of breadfruit species in the world, some of which are now extinct in their native lands. We found it all by accident.

Back in California, I wanted to see what I could do with breadfruit in my own kitchen. Recently, I was lucky enough to find a single fresh breadfruit, the last of its shipment in a small caribbean market. It was a fairly large fruit (lucky!), so I thought I could get two solid dishes out of it. And I was right. The first thing I wanted to make were nachos, as breadfruit makes notoriously good chips. I opted to bake the chips, rather than fry them. I topped them with black beans, Daiya and homemade Mango Salsa Fresca w/ Avocado.

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