One More Time . . .

Duane’s Ono Char-Burger in Anahola

Last night at dinner Brett, YaYu and I came up with a list of local places we wanted to be sure to eat one more time before we left. We have enjoyed some wonderful food here on the island, but in the end we came up with just these three locations:

Brett’s favorite at the Char-Burger: the Old Fashioned

  • Duane’s Ono Char-Burger: Located in Anahola, the Ono Char-Burger was the first place we ate at on our first visit to Kaua’i back in 2012, and their burgers are still our favorite. YaYu isn’t eating beef these days but plans to order their fish and chips which are also very tasty. I’m going to have one last Local Boy burger (my favorite), and Brett will probably have his favorite, an Old Fashioned burger.

    Hamura’s famous saimin

  • Hamura’s: There’s no way we can leave Kaua’i without having one last bowl of Hamura’s famous saimin and one last piece of their lilikoi chiffon pie.

    Food of the gods: The lilikoi chiffon pie at Hamura’s

  • TipTop Cafe: We’re planning to go out for breakfast at the TipTop the morning before we leave. YaYu says she has to have one more big bowl of their ox-tail soup, and Brett and I want one more of their big, fluffy macadamia and banana pancakes and a couple of big cups of their delicious coffee.

    Tip Top’s ox-tail soup

    Plate-size banana-macadamia pancakes at the Tip Top.

I also want to enjoy one more TegeTege green tea shave ice, and we’re planning on going out for a special dinner down in Poipu, at Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849, on our last weekend, but otherwise we’ll be finishing up as much as we can of we’ve got here in the condo before we hit the road.

#Kaua’i: Street Burger

The Napa Burger: Point Reyes blue cheese, cabernet onions, port reduction and spinach, served on a freshly baked roll along with hand-cut sea salt fries and homemade ketchup.

The idea of a gourmet burger has always sort of struck me as an oxymoron. By nature, a hamburger is a humble sandwich, just a ground beef patty set inside a soft roll, often served with a few condiments or maybe a slice of cheese. It doesn’t exactly fit with the idea of “gourmet.”

Street Burger however, located in Wailua on the east side of Kaua’i, takes the humble hamburger to a level that is definitely gourmet. The restaurant has become one of our favorite places to eat on the island, and our go-to restaurant when we want to enjoy a meal with friends.

Brett’s half of the bacon-barbecue burger we shared (plus all the fries).

The burgers at Street Burger are HUGE. Half of one is plenty for me these days, and Brett and I usually share (although he gets all the fries). Each burger is a virtual tower of hamburger goodness. There are 17 different burger versions to choose from, from a classic hamburger, cheeseburger or bacon-barbecue burger (my favorite!) to a Greek burger with olive tapenade, feta cheese, tzatziki, cucumber and spinach. Other creative burger examples include the Wailua, (crispy spam, jalapeño-pineapple marmelade, kabayaki glaze and spinach) or the Southern burger (fried green tomato, pimento cheese, greens and buttermilk-chive dressing) or the Italian (prosciutto, bufala mozzarella, arugula pesto, marinara and spinach). A vegan burger is available for those who don’t eat meat, and is just as glorious as their other offerings. Each burger is cooked to order on a big wood-fired grill, served with hand-cut sea salt fries and house-made ketchup, and is a masterpiece from start to finish. Street Burger also offers exciting and interesting salads and sides, including to-die-for onion rings, or one of Brett’s favorites, Texas Poutine: Texas-style chili over fries, with sharp cheddar cheese, a fried egg and fizzled onions.

Beginning with the burger, everything is as local as can be achieved here. The hamburger patties are made from Kauai-raised grass-fed beef, and the produce comes from local farmers. The rolls are made on site. The ice cream is made on Kaua’i (Lapperts) and the coffee served at the restaurant comes from Java Kai in Kapaa. Even the ketchup is made from scratch.

Sitting at the counter and watching these guys work the grill is a great place to enjoy your meal at Street Burger.

For all the amazing deliciousness of their creations, Street Burger is an affordable dining choice. The burgers range in price from $10 to $17, and for that you get a LOT of food. Even when Brett and I share an order, there are still usually leftovers to bring home.

The restaurant also offers a large selection of craft-brewed beers, and has an interesting wine list. Dining is available inside the restaurant or out on the patio, where guests can enjoy a stunning view of the Sleeping Giant. Another fun seating option is at the counter that surrounds the grill. We did that on one trip and had a fun time throughout our meal watching the burgers being made and chatting with the cooks. It’s also worth it to save some room (if you can) for one of Street Burger’s desserts. They are divine, and well worth the extra calories!

One of the most popular desserts is the Street Burger S’more: Chocolate mousse, peanut butter crunch, and toasted Swiss meringue

Street Burger is located at 4-369 Kuhio Hwy, in Wailua, just north of the old Coco Palms hotel on the mauka (mountain) side of the highway. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

 

This Week’s Menu: Let the Favorites Begin!

Turkey divan casserole is Meiling’s favorite recipe, or at least in the top three. I add noodles to the casserole when I make it.

Beginning this week, and for the next month or so the menu will revolve around the girls’ favorite meals. There will be no new recipes, no experimenting, etc. – just dishes that they enjoy and either can’t make or can’t get wherever they are.

Coming up with a menu of favorites though was more difficult than I thought it would be. The biggest problem is that I don’t want to fix certain things upfront for Meiling when WenYu will be arriving home the week after and have to repeat them. It was a bit of a juggling act trying to think of what to make early and what to save for later.

We’re picking up a pizza at Costco on Wednesday – that’s the day of the Big Shop and along with the farmers’ market trip I know it’s going to be an exhausting day and I’m not going to feel much like cooking that evening. We’ll let Meiling choose which kind of pizza she wants, and then Brett will fix it out on the grill. Brett is going to make Scotch Eggs on Sunday – Meiling hasn’t had them yet, but we’re pretty sure she’s going to love them.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Oyakodon; cucumber salad (I’m skipping the rice)
  • Wednesday: Pizza; sliced apples
  • Thursday: Turkey divan casserole; roasted mixed vegetables; French bread (I’m having sliced turkey and steamed broccoli instead of casserole)
  • Friday: Meatloaf; mashed potatoes and gravy; steamed green beans (no mashed potatoes for me)
  • Saturday: Mabo nasu; steamed rice (no rice for me)
  • Sunday: Scotch eggs; onion rings; fruit (I’m not having onion rings)
  • Monday: Spaghetti with marinara and meatballs; grilled zucchini; garlic bread (no bread for me, and I’ll have my marinara and meatballs over the zucchini instead of pasta)

Cucumbers, bok choy and green beans are the only “must buys” at the farmers’ market, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to find broccoli (if not, we’ll have to make a run to the store). I also want to get a papaya, some limes and we’ll let Meiling pick out some fruit she wants (like starfruit).

This Week’s Menu: The Calm Before the (Cooking) Storm

Italian sausage, pepper and onion sandwich – YUM!

This is the last week for a while of just Brett, YaYu and me at the dinner table. Meiling arrives home next Monday, and WenYu will be here a week or so after that. Both girls have made lists of the dishes they want me to prepare while they’re home, favorites that they miss while away at school. Both are hearty eaters too, so we are not likely to have many leftovers in the coming days for YaYu’s lunches. And of course, holiday meals will be coming up as well. I will be busy in the kitchen, but on the plus side am likely to get a lot of help from the girls, especially Meiling, who has finally taken up learning to cook.

I can’t wait! I am greatly looking forward to having both our college girls back home for a while, and to cook for them again. But in the meantime, I am going to enjoy the calm of this week and cooking for just the three of us.

The cilantro and lime chicken things we were going to have last week got bumped to this week – YaYu had an evening event last Friday so Brett and I ate leftovers, and I pushed everything back a day on the menu to cover for that.

Here’s what we’re having this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Cilantro and lime chicken thighs; grilled asparagus; cilantro rice (no rice for me)
  • Wednesday: Chicken curry with vegetables; steamed basmati rice (just curry for me)
  • Thursday: Potstickers; steamed rice; coleslaw (not sure what I’m having)
  • Friday: Grilled pork chops; roasted mixed vegetables; couscous (I’m skipping the couscous)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Scrambled eggs; grilled breakfast sausage; fruit; toast (I’m skipping the toast)
  • Monday: Grilled Italian sausage sandwiches with sautéed peppers and onions (no bread for me)

All we really need this week from the farmers’ market are cucumbers and papayas. If the farmers have broccoli we’ll get some of that too, and maybe some cauliflower.

This Week’s Menu: Lots o’ Links

Slow cooker balsamic pork roast – the leftovers make wonderful sandwiches.

It wasn’t intentional, but I realized after I made this week’s menu that other than our dinner tonight I could link to all but one of the dishes I’m fixing for dinner this week (there are recipes online for lumpia of course, but we buy ours ready-made at Costco).

Of all the benefits of being connected on the Internet, having access to so many recipes has been one of the biggest and most wonderful. For years I clipped recipes and filed them in notebooks, and then had to remember which notebook they were in and where. No longer though – these days I can do a quick Google search or go to my bookmarks and voilà! I’m ready to go!

Plus, there’s all the fun of searching for new recipes, whether that’s on your own or on Pinterest or other sites. If you have dietary restrictions, or want low-fat or low-calorie or low-anything, you can find it. If you want the most decadent recipe around you can find that too. Is your food stock getting low? There are sites where you can put in what you have on hand and be rewarded with several recipes using those ingredients.

I carry lots of recipes in my head, ones I’ve made for years and don’t need a recipe any more. But I have to admit I’d be lost without the Internet these days, and all the wonderful recipes I’ve discovered there.

Here’s what we’re having this week:

We’ll need to get broccoli, bok choy, cucumbers, ginger, bananas, papayas and hopefully more rambutan from the farmers’ market this week, but otherwise we’re in good shape for produce.

This Week’s Menu: Thanksgiving!

In this charming but completely unrealistic picture, Priscilla Mullins offers turkey to Squanto at the first Thanksgiving. I am one of over probably a million Americans directly descended from Priscilla Mullins and her husband, John Alden, the handsome Pilgrim in black behind her.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I used to love preparing a big meal for the family, with all the trimmings. These days, not so much.

During our navy years, Brett was usually deployed on Thanksgiving, and when he was away our son and I would often join friends at the enlisted dining facility on base. For just $2.65 each we could enjoy an amazing turkey dinner with all the trimmings, as well as several types of desserts (navy cooks are incredible, BTW). The only downside was there were no leftovers. After Brett retired from the navy I fixed a big Thanksgiving meal every year, usually making three types of pie. Sometimes our celebration was just our family, but other years we gathered with and shared our meal with friends.

I haven’t made a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal since we arrived here in Hawai’i. For one thing, it’s been too warm here (for me) to roast a turkey, let along makes all the sides. And, these days since it’s just Brett, YaYu and me, a whole turkey seems just too much (especially since YaYu isn’t all that crazy about turkey).

The past couple of years we’ve gone out to a local restaurant for dinner, but Brett and I decided against it this year because we’re saving for the Big Adventure. Instead, I’m putting together a “cheater” dinner, courtesy of Costco. We bought a roasted turkey breast as well as mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, and cranberry-sausage stuffing from Costco’s deli section. We tried all of these items a few years ago when we spent Thanksgiving in a cottage down at the Oregon coast, and they were very good. All I will have to do this year is slice and heat the turkey, and heat the potatoes and stuffing in the microwave. The gravy will be warmed on top of the stove, and the only thing that will go into the oven will be asparagus for roasting. Our meal won’t exactly be “home cooked,” but it will be tasty, and provide us with leftovers for a few days.

YaYu doesn’t care for pumpkin pie, and Brett and I don’t need it, so we asked YaYu what she’d like for dessert this year and she chose cookies & cream ice cream. We found cookies & cream mochi ice cream balls at the store last week (!), so will surprise her with that – two of her favorite things in one.

We’ll fill out the holiday with a family hike/run to the Pineapple Dump before we eat and the traditional viewing of The Descendants in the evening. Both WenYu and Meiling will be having Thanksgiving dinner with their boyfriends’ families, but will call us in the afternoon.

Here’s what’s on the menu for the whole week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Grilled Polish sausages; roasted mixed vegetables
  • Wednesday: Grilled fish tacos with fresh mango salsa; yellow rice (no rice or tortillas for me)
  • Thursday: Roast turkey breast; mashed potatoes with turkey gravy; cornbread stuffing; roasted asparagus; cranberry-orange relish; country bread; cookies ‘n’ cream mochi ice cream (I’m having 1/4 cup each of the potatoes and stuffing, but skipping the bread and ice cream)
  • Friday: Hot turkey sandwiches with gravy and leftover stuffing and/or mashed potatoes; roasted zucchini (no bread for my sandwich, but I’ll have 1/4 cup each potatoes and stuffing again)
  • Saturday: Turkey Waldorf salad; country bread (I’ll skip the  bread)
  • Sunday: Omelets; breakfast sausage; toast; fruit (no toast for me)
  • Monday: Mabo dofu; steamed rice; cucumber salad

We’ll be buying cucumbers, tomatoes, ginger, bok choy, papayas and rambutan from the farmers’ market this week. Citrus fruit has been showing up – maybe we’ll find tangelos!

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This Week’s Menu: Not Feelin’ It

I prep the ingredients, but YaYu always makes the fried rice for us these days

This is one of those weeks that when it comes to menu planning I just feel meh. We’re coming up on another Big Shop next week, which means supplies on hand are dwindling and it’s a bit more difficult to be inspired or creative.

Plus, YaYu’s sulking about several of last week’s dinners hasn’t helped my mood either. She now nearly refuses to eat chicken – this from a girl who adored chicken and could field strip a chicken bone like no one else when she arrived home 12 years ago. I told her that chicken would continue to show up on the menu because her dad and I both like it, and it’s an affordable protein. If she had her way these days though we’d be eating nothing but pork and noodles doused in a LOT of hot sauce, and maybe some seafood occasionally. I don’t know how she’s going to manage at college.

The new swim practice schedule is also going to take some getting used to when it comes to preparing dinner (thankfully though we don’t observe Daylight Savings here). We won’t be getting home until nearly six in the evening, which means I’ll need to start doing a lot of the prep work earlier in the day, and we’ll need to start the rice cooker before we leave for our walk and to pick up YaYu.

Here’s what we’re having for dinner this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Lumpia; steamed rice; Asian-y coleslaw (no rice for me)
  • Wednesday: Chicken tacos; yellow rice; cucumbers (I’ll have a “deconstructed” taco, i.e. no tortilla. No rice either for me).
  • Thursday: Grilled Polish sausages; grilled zucchini; pilaf (I’m skipping the pilaf)
  • Friday: Fried rice with vegetables & ham (not sure what I’ll be having)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs; bacon; toast; fruit (I’m skipping the toast)
  • Monday: Pork & pepper stir-fry; steamed rice (no rice for me)

We’ll need cucumbers, tomatoes; zucchini, and a papaya from the farmers’ market. I’m hoping to also get a green pepper or two (to supplement what we have on hand), but they’re not always available. Dragonfruit is still in season, and YaYu likes it in her lunch so we’ll probably pick up a couple of those as well.

P.S. Brett and YaYu will be taking over the cooking duties for a while – explanation coming tomorrow!

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This Week’s Menu: Creating a Menu

Pork, rice & bean burritos

I’ve probably written about this before, but I’ve lately been thinking again how differently we shop now, and how differently I menu plan these days.

I’ve been a menu planner for as long as I can remember. Even when Brett and I were just starting out, and we had just $72/month for groceries (Really! Military pay was not all that much back then), I was planning – I had to. I planned meals for our son and myself when Brett was out at sea for long periods of time. I can’t imagine not planning anymore.

Before we moved to Kaua’i, I used to menu plan for two weeks but sometimes for a month, and then shop (the “list method”). I worked to keep costs down and stick with low-cost, frugal meals and it worked out most of the time, but I still sometimes found myself back in the store throughout the week or month picking up items here or there that I forgotten we were out of or didn’t have when I planned.  Our food budget was often out of whack each month. With higher food prices here on Kaua’i, I figured out pretty quickly that sort of planning and spending wasn’t going to work at all, and I pretty quickly found myself buying “basics” every month and then planning strictly from what we had on hand. (“the pantry method”). This change has helped to lower our monthly food expense by nearly half of what it was when we arrived (although we initially way over-budgeted for food costs).

These day we buy basic food items (i.e. very little prepared or processed food) every month on our Big Shop. When I plan now I look at what we have in the fridge, freezer or pantry and think what sort of meal I could make from those items, keeping in mind food preferences and that we like variety. I check very carefully these days to make sure we already have the necessary items to make a dish so there’s no going back to the store (except for eggs). It also helps me to use items that might spoil or be wasted otherwise. The only weekly list I make these days is for the farmers’ market.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Burritos with slow-cooker Mexican pulled pork, rice and beans; sliced tomatoes; cucumbers (just pork, beans, tomatoes and cucumbers for me)
  • Wednesday: Grilled chicken & vegetable skewers; pilaf (no pilaf for me)
  • Thursday: Homemade fish cake sandwiches; coleslaw (I’m skipping the bread)
  • Friday: Mabo dofu; steamed rice; cucumber salad (no rice for me)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Scotch eggs; toast; fruit (just eggs and fruit for me)
  • Monday: Slow cooker Thai-style pork stew; steamed rice; Asian-y coleslaw (once again, skipping the rice)

We’ll be getting cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green onions, bananas, papayas and dragonfruit at the farmers’ market this week, but otherwise we’re in good shape for produce.

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This Week’s Menu: Occasionally Organic

Oyakodon. The chicken and egg dish’s name is a blend of oya (parent) and ko (child). Don is short for donburi, a Japanese dish where fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients are simmered together and served over rice. There are more varieties of donburi than can be counted.

I used to be a bit more fanatic about buying organic foods, but these days . . . not so much.

The biggest factor to buying organic here is, quite simply, the cost. Like most places, organic food costs more and along with other higher prices here sometimes the extra expense for organic just isn’t worth it, especially these days when we’re saving for something big. For example, I used to only purchase organic chicken, but now just go with regular. We don’t buy organic bread any more because we just don’t eat very much of it these days. The bread from Costco’s bakery is fine.

Still, there are several items where we stick to organic, or at least make an effort:

  • Fruit: We buy organic whenever we can, especially apples, and berries. I wish we could get organic peaches and melons during the summer, but they’re just not available here unless we want to turn over our bank account and our first-born.
  • Vegetables: We always choose organic if possible at Costco, and their frozen vegetables are nearly always organic. The farmers we buy from at the market do not raise their crops organically, but they don’t use pesticides either.
  • Eggs: Costco sells two dozen organic eggs from the mainland at an affordable price, so we’ve stuck with these even though ‘regular’ eggs are cheaper. Sometimes Costco has local eggs for sale – talk about expensive!
  • Soy milk: We don’t use regular milk any more (Brett’s allergic and YaYu is lactose intolerant), and Costco’s soy milk is organic. Easy peasy.
  • Meat: We do buy organic chicken breasts (they come frozen), but a package will last us for three to four months so the cost gets spread out a bit. When we buy other meat or meat products (like sausages and bacon) we try to purchase those with no added nitrites, additives or other preservatives. Again, we spend a little more but prefer to know we’re not getting that stuff. We could buy organic ground beef at Costco, but we like to buy grass-fed beef these days from local ranchers for about the same price.
  • Miscellaneous: We still buy organic tofu, flour, butter, soup, sugar, peanut butter, and some snacks.

Anyway, we’re not as devoted to organics these days, but we do our best as well as continuing to try to eat as clean as possible while sticking to our budget.

Here’s what we’re having for dinner this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Grilled Italian sausages; stuffed tomatoes; grilled zucchini
  • Wednesday: Oyakodon (no rice for me); edamame
  • Thursday: Slow cooker chicken with rice soup; bread (I’ll serve my portion before adding the rice)
  • Friday: Leftovers – last cross country spaghetti dinner for state finalists
  • Saturday: Grilled Polish sausages; onion rings; coleslaw (no onion rings for me)
  • Sunday: Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs; rice; cucumbers (I’m skipping the rice)
  • Monday: Grilled teriyaki chicken; zaru soba (zoodles for me); edamame

We’ll be picking up carrots, cucumbers, papaya and whatever else catches our eye this week. We still have edamame left over from a couple of weeks ago (it keeps well in the fridge). We bought some beautiful tomatoes on the vine at Costco last week, so will be using those up this week.

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This Week’s Menu: Strategic Shopping

Japanese golden curry with chicken & vegetables

Chili pork sauce with rice is back on the menu again this week because we didn’t have it last week. Why? Because when I went out the freezer to get the pork chops . . . there were no pork chops (so we had noodles with pork sauce instead). We also didn’t get to have the Shakshuka last week (fried rice got bumped to Sunday) so will have it on Sunday.

This week’s Big Shop will be strategic, not just because we are out of so much, but because the small freezer we keep out in the garage started shutting down this past weekend. We have no idea why, but something seemed to be tripping the GFCI plug – our hypothesis is that it was the higher than normal humidity we experienced last week, but until we know for sure if it’s a temporary problem with the outlet, or something going haywire with the freezer, we’re going to buy less this week and store it in the limited freezer space we have inside.

So, this week’s menu will use up as much as possible of the little we have leftover from last month’s shopping and our Big Shop won’t be so big this time. If the freezer is shot, we’ll most likely be doing Small Shops at Costco once a week instead of our usual once a month trip.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Spaghetti w/marinara and meatballs; roasted mixed vegetables
  • Wednesday: Grilled fish tacos with mango salsa; yellow rice
  • Thursday: Chili pork sauce; steamed rice; coleslaw
  • Friday: Grilled chicken wings; onion rings; wilted cucumber salad
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Shakshuka; couscous; cucumbers
  • Monday: Chicken & vegetable curry; steamed basmati rice

We’ll be shopping for zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes this week at the farmers’ market, as well as bananas and a papaya. We’ll be picking up other fresh vegetables when we’re at Costco.

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