Friday, February 20, 2015

Homemade Pickled Jalapeños

My dear son-in-law, Joe Q, is a big fan of pickled jalapeños.  Being the uber creative and resourceful man that he is, he figured out how to make his own.  When we were last together, I asked him to make some and show me how so I could start doing my own too.  So get ready for some yummy stuff!

The first, and most important part is, of course, the jalapeños.  You'll want about a dozen, which can be thinly sliced, cutting off the stem and tip, but leaving the seeds in.  For a dozen peppers, peel a small head of garlic - about 10 cloves - quarter those lengthwise, and add 1/2 a yellow onion, sliced in crescents.  If you're a contact lens wearer like I am, best to put on some gloves or your eyes will scream at you later!

In a small pot, put equal parts water and white vinegar - about a cup each, and add 1 Tablespoon salt. Bring that to a boil:

Once the vinegar / water mixture has boiled, take it off the heat and stir the jalapeño mixture into it:

Once they're all stirred in, the vinegar/water mixture will change the color from the bright green to the color of "store bought" pickled jalapeños - just like that!  Store them in the fridge in a glass jar, and you've a nice condiment to add some zip to your food.

Here's the recipe:

12 jalapeno peppers
10 garlic cloves, quartered lengthwise
1/2 yellow onion. cut into lengthwise crescents
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1 Tablespoon salt

Cut the stem and tip end off the jalapeños and slice into rings.  Take care with your hands and wear protective gloves as the jalapeño on them will burn your eyes if touched, long after handling them. Peel and quarter lengthwise the garlic.  Slice the 1/2 onion into lengthwise crescents.

In a saucepan, combine water, vinegar and salt,  Bring to a boil

Remove vinegar mixture from heat and stir in jalapeño mixture.  After it has cooled awhile, pour into a glass jar(s) and store in the refrigerator. You can enjoy them right away!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Another classic: Korean BBQ

Yesterday, before leaving Incheon, (the city of nearly 3 million people where the international airport is) for the mega city of Seoul, we were treated to another amazingly tasty lunch - the Korean BBQ!  This is one where we cook the food ourselves, giving time for lots of great conversation....the Korean version of the fondue experience.

The icy cold outdoors was traded for the steamy, fragrant warmth of this simple restaurant.  We slipped our shoes off at the door (thank goodness my socks matched, were clean and didn't have holes in them!), and found that heat radiated through the floor -- felt so good, I began to thaw out.  We were taken to our table,  and somehow I got these long legs of mine crossed and tucked in, Korean fashion, to enjoy the meal, seated on floor cushions.

Enjoy this short video, and then read all about it....

What I've found in the restaurants that I've been to here, is that each table has its own butane burner, like this one that I found on Amazon.  But instead of a regular stove top plate, there are interchangeable cooking surfaces.  I think I'm going to buy one when I get home - it's a fun way to enjoy a meal together!  Starting with a blank palette of a dining surface, quicker than a wink, bowls and plates and platters filled with panchans (side dishes), sauces and meats appeared, ready for us to make our own creations.

In a traditional Korean BBQ, meats and side dishes are brought to the table for guests to cook.  On the left of the cook top, there is Kim Chee, green salad with the pink salad dressing, mushrooms for grilling and a salad of carrots, enoki mushrooms and green onions in a chili dressing.  To the right of the cook top is daikon radish in the same flavored Kim Chee sauce, various cuts of raw pork, a bowl of fresh greens: red leaf lettuce and sesame leaves for rolling the grilled meat in, onions in a sweet garlic sauce, radish in water.  Then at each place setting, a bowl of sliced onions, salt, Korean chili paste and raw garlic.  In the center of the cook top is a broth based chili soup with tofu and zucchini.

We had pork to cook at our table.  Our friends at the next table had beef, which you can see in the photo below:  steaks topped with the most beautiful thinly sliced and rolled beef.

The table next to us had all the same "Panchans" (side dishes) but ordered beef instead of pork.  The rolled beef was so thinly sliced that it was like a stained glass window if held up to the light.

The method is to lay the raw meat and mushrooms on the grill, turning until cooked.  You can also grill the garlic for less of a bite, as well as the Napa cabbage Kim Chee.  Once cooked, the meat is cut with scissors into bite-sized portions, then placed on the backside of the red-leafed lettuce or sesame leaf along with any veggies of choice (or not), garlic and the chili pasted.  Roll it up and stuff everything into your mouth in one gigantic bite!

It seems that the most common element in all Korean meals is the 밥 "bap" (rice) and 김치 Kim Chee  - a spicy, fermented cabbage based condiment.  I wasn't a fan for quite a long time, but once I plunged in, I found I was hooked!  Here is a recipe for fresh Kim Chee - more like a salad, and here is a more traditional one for fermented Kim Chee

Then, of course, there's the will ANYONE stand to be next to me after eating all that garlic??  It's seems to be the ground floor ingredient of all things in Korean cuisine.  I have found something that seems to counteract the after effects:  Peppermint Beadlets!  It's mint oil encased in a tiny gel caplet that you bite open and swallow, giving freshness to your mouth, but enters the digestive system to bring relief there as well.  

I've hyperlinked the table top cooker and peppermint to Amazon Smile - a division of Amazon that donates a portion of sales to non-profit organizations.  By signing on, every time thereafter you order from Amazon, the donation will occur automatically: you can shop AND give and the same time!  If you don't already have a favorite charity, please consider selecting Alabaster Ministries, Inc (based in Hawaii).  It is the non-profit my husband and I operate to bless Fatherless and Widows around the world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Korean Lunch

Hi all!  I'm in Incheon, South Korea where the temperature is well below freezing and the food is delicious!  For lunch today, our friend James took us to a local restaurant -- shoes off at the entrance, seating was on cushions on the floor.

A bowl of roasted rice tea was ladled into the cup, and was as much a hand warmer as it was delicious.  It was made by browning rice in a skillet, and pouring water over until it boiled.  Instead of continuing on to cook the rice, the water was poured into the bowl and served for our drink.
Rice Tea -- made by browning rice in a skillet, pouring water over until boiling, and then drinking that water
Quickly following the tea service, a big tray of sliced, boiled pork was brought to us along with a whole host of "panchons" - side dishes with loads of garlic, cabbage, radishes chilis and sauces.

The steamed Napa cabbage (at least that's what we call it at home) was the base for the rolls we would create.  After first separating the fat from the meat, the pork was laid on the cabbage and topped with kim chee, spicy radish, a green chili, and for the truly brave (not me) a slice of raw garlic.

Meat, Kim Chee, Radish and Chili all put onto the steamed cabbage, roll it up and tuck it away.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Singapore Deliciousness

Moments after checking into our hotel in Singapore at 1:30 AM on Wednesday morning, Bob and I wandered to a late night Chinese restaurant on the next block to indulge in some Mee Goreng and Kang Kong (fried Malay noodles with squid and shrimp and wok-fried greens).  Ahhhh...the sweat broke out with the spiciness of this lovely food.  We were back!

Singapore, in my observations over my myriad visits here, has THE most restaurants, cafes, eating stalls of any other place on the planet.  And the variety is endless too in this multicultural, multiracial "red dot" of a country.  From any given location, it seems one could walk 100 yards (or meters) and find no less than 25 places vying for the privilege of tickling your tastebuds.  A little slice of heaven to me.

Yesterday we were treated to a full blown feast of Thai food with friends at the Golden Mile complex: fresh coconut, green curry, green papaya salad, green mango salad, tom yum soup (is your moth watering yet??), chicken feet salad (I passed on that one), larb, and the list continued to my great delight!

"Don't bother me...I'm eating! :-)"
Little baby squid in the Tom Yum soup

 Then last night, a sumptuous Indian meal at Samy's Curry on Dempsey Hill served on a banana leaf with fresh lime juice completed the wonderful feasting of the day.  What a treat!
Chili potatoes, dal, fish head curry, mutton curry, prawn curry- each with its own special spice and flavors

I remember being scared by my first fish head curry.  Squeamishness aside, I dove in and enjoyed every bite!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Getting It Together

It turns out, we all like to eat.  And pretty much, we all have busy lives.  Here's some things that I do so that meals are better and easier at the same time:

When I browse magazines, and I see a recipe that looks like it would be good, I tear it out right then, or take a picture of it to save for later.  If I don't do it right then, I'll more than likely forget where I found it.  I keep them in a notebook (which my sister-in-law, Annie, calls "the vault"):

"The Vault"  -- where I keep recipe and decorating ideas as I find them in magazines
or on my computer within a documents folder I've named "Idea Book":

When I see a recipe online, or take a photo of a recipe, I store it here

And I've got a couple of favorite cookbooks that are also "go - to's" for inspiration.

Once a week, I'll sit down with a notebook, jot out the week and include any nights out that we'll be having, or guests that are coming.  With The Vault, my computer and the cookbooks at hand, I'll create a menu for the week.  Though this seems like extra work, it saves me from coming around to 4:00 and thinking "what on earth are we going to eat tonight?".  I include menus that may have similar ingredients with different end flavor profiles.  This reduces the overall shopping list, makes the groceries less expensive, and the meals much more interesting.  With the recipes at my side, I create my shopping list. Here's last week's:

My menu this week and the shopping list for it

There are three stores I do my shopping at:  Costco (a big warehouse store that has large quantity items) for my meat, coffee, yogurt.  I've got pretty small cupboard space in this little 1 bedroom condo, so I can't buy too much there.  Then I go to a local grocery store, KTA, where as a matter of fact, they also sell Pig Blood (see previous post).  But they also have locally grown fruits and veggies and all the other basic groceries.  Then my last stop is "the market" set up under tarps and run by Filipinos who drive 2 hours to Kona every morning with fresh papaya, pineapple, avocados, tomatoes, herbs as well as other tropical fruits for really great prices.


 I also keep a stock of things in my little freezer to have on hand.  For example, if I have extra chicken stock, or tomato puree, or a sauce I've made, I'll pour it into ice cube trays which will give me small manageable portions for another time.  If they were frozen in bulk, it would take longer to thaw, and might leave just a big ice block after being used a few times.  Here's some of what I've got in my freezer:

Leftover sauces and juices, frozen in ice cube trays for later ease of use
So all these little bits of taking extra time to do actually add up to being huge time and money savers for me, and helps keep the dining interesting and delicious.  Hope it will be helpful for you too!

Share your "getting it together" cooking styles in the Comments section, OK?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What I did NOT buy and eat!

A few minutes ago, I popped into the store for some milk.  While walking by the meat section, I saw a container filled with....pork blood!  Can anyone tell me what on earth anyone would do with this, and why it's being placed in the cooler with a hope to sell it??

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome To My Blog!

Here it is, January 1, 2015.  This isn't so much as a New Years Resolution, but just finally decided to start this blog that I've had reserved for the last 5 years or so under the name "What's To Eat?".

My husband, Bob, and I spend a good part of every year traveling, meeting people, leading Christian worship in churches and events, operating a charitable organization for fatherless and widows, and.....enjoying the food (almost) everywhere we go!  If there's one thing that joins all of human-kind together, it's the love of eating and sharing food with friends and strangers.  It's fun to watch them in disbelief when we actually eat something they've challenged us with, and sometimes pretty surprising that anyone could actually enjoy some of what they rave about as delicious!

I also really like to cook: not so much fancy, it just has to taste good!

So, in this blog, I'm going to write and photograph some of the foods that cross my path, the markets along the way (not everyone shops the same way you may be familiar with!), stories behind the food...who know?  But let's have some fun!  And enjoy the food!

Last week, when I made my very first foray into cracker making, I posted a picture on FaceBook of them along with the goodies I served alongside that we took to the beach across the street to eat while we enjoyed the sunset.  Several "friends" asked for the recipes.  Here you go!

Flax Seed Crackers served with Goat Cheese and Cranberries, Bacon Jam, Gorgonzola Cheese

My son, Andy and his wife Julie moved away from Hawaii (where our home is) a few months ago, and left some of their cupboard with us when they left.  Among the stash was some flax seeds - a large bag of them.  Well, I just don't like throwing things away, so there they sat in my cupboard for 6 months.  Finally, in a clean out stage, I thought I'd see what I could do with them.  A quick internet search, and I found this recipe, compliments of,  which I tried out successfully.  I'm not one to follow a recipe thoroughly, especially if I want to make something and don't have all the required ingredients.  You see the ** next to the flaxseed ingredients?  I put those ** there to let you know that I only had the seeds.  So I put them in my coffee grinder and made flour from them.  So I used the cup that I had instead of the two 1/2 cup flaxseed things the recipe asked for.  And I didn't do the variations either...

Flax Seed Crackers
Baking Time: 20 Minutes
Yield: 24 crackers

1/2 cup stabilized ground flaxseed **
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flaxseed flour **
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp butter, softened
1/2 cup skim milk

Onion: 1 tbsp powdered onion soup mix.
Cheese: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese.
Italian: 1 tbsp oregano and 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese.

1. In bowl of stand-up mixer, add stabilized ground flaxseed flour, bakingpowder, salt and butter. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
2. Stir in milk and mix until mixture forms a soft dough. (You can also mix the dough by hand.)
3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 10 minutes.
4. Divide the dough into quarters. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Roll out very thin to a rectangle 2 mm
(1/16 inch) thick. Cut into 2ó inch squares.
5. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.
6. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
7. Preheat oven to 325º F.
8. Bake 20 minutes until crisp and golden.

Now what's REALLY good is the bacon jam!:

Bacon Jam


• 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

• 2 medium yellow onions, diced small

• 3 garlic cloves, minced small

• 1/2 cup cider vinegar

• 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar

• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

• 3/4 cup espresso (strong brewed coffee works too)

• 1 tablespoon cracked pepper (unless you use peppered bacon)


In large saucepan, cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet; add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, coffee, and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits.

While sauce is cooking, mince bacon into very small pieces and add to sauce. Continue to cook on a low simmer uncovered (stirring occasionally) 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until it has reduced down to a thick syrup, it will get thicker as it cools. Refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks.

Serve w/ Blue Cheese, crackers and a hearty red wine