Archives for September 2012

DIY:: Mandarin Tea Lights

A trip to Costco last night had me shaking my head and muttering “bah humbug”. There are already rows and rows of tacky gift baskets, lawn reindeer and holiday lights. Lots and lots and lots of lights. Retailers are trying to separate me from my money “get in the spirit of the season” and I’m not buying it. I will not even think about Christmas when I have not yet savored Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, Dios de los Muertos or Good Ole’ American Thanksgiving. I want fall to tiptoe in with all of its color, aroma and flavor.

I need to be seduced into the season with mood lighting. Instead of buying a new candle, I love this festive DIY. One of my hippie-dippy-granola friends showed me how to do this years ago but I was only reminded of it after seeing this on YouTube and something similar on Pinterest. All you need is a mandarin orange or clementine, vegetable oil, cloves and a sharp knife.

Slice the mandarin around the skin’s equator. Gently remove the fruit ( you may need to use a spoon to separate it from the skin). Try to keep the center pith attached to one half of the mandarin, this will be your wick.

Add 2 tablespoon vegetable oil to the mandarin half with the pith wick. I used some olive oil that was already past its prime. No need to use anything fancy.

If you break the pith because you’re a brute like me, don’t worry. Open the fruit and pull out a piece of the center pith. Dip the pith in the oil and finesse the pith to stand up in the oil, you may have to bend it . Cut a vent in the top half of the mandarin. Cut the vent large enough so that the flame does not burn the top. Stud the mandarin with cloves to increase the yumminess of the fragrance as the tea light burns.

My tea lights burned for about an hour and a half with a 1 inch wick and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If your wick is difficult to light, you may need to dip the tip in a little more oil. Or you can try letting the skin/pith air dry for several hours before adding the oil for a quicker light. Place the mandarin tea light on a heat safe plate. Do not leave tea lights unattended while burning.

My Week in Photos- Enjoy the View

 My brother and his wife came to visit last week, so I spent a little less time in the kitchen and more time playing with them.

My favorite view in the whole world. Mokulua Islands, Lanikai Hawaii


Spent a lot of time with my brother and SIL during their visit, so just threw together some quick lunches like this falafel salad.

I don’t post a lot of pics of my greens but I eat a TON!These are fresh from my garden. Usually in green smoothies, salads or quick stir fry.

Making this basic bento inspired me to do a bento series. Planning to do a gluten-free box, soy-free box and a raw box.

Took my brother and Lara to try Frost City

Winston’s computer came back from the repair shop

Japanese eggplant from my Aunty’s garden prepared with a miso glaze, so Ono! Click photo for recipe

First attempt at Kimchi fried rice balls, inspired by The Great Food Truck race. Planning on filming a video recipe soon

Kaimana Beach. Wish you were here

Japanese Eggplant w/Miso Sauce:: Nasu Dengaku

My neighbor had a bumper crop of Japanese eggplant and we’ve been lucky to get a big bucket of organic purple goodness. I started to run out of ideas after preparing it Italian style, making ratatouille, and babaganoush. Then I remembered having it prepared with a miso sauce the last time I dined Izakaya style. The sweet creaminess of the miso sauce pairs exceptionally well with the smokey notes of  grilled or roasted eggplant.

The basic sauce is just miso, sugar and mirin but I also start with a dashi base to give the sauce more flavor. Prepare a quick kombu dashi like I use in my Shiitake+ Seaweed soup and add in a few shiitake mushrooms if you have some. Unlike a vegetable stock, dashi only requires 3 ingredients (water, kombu and maybe mushrooms)and 5 minutes of cook time. I used a white miso, but you can also experiment with half red miso/half white or yellow. Adding The Vegg – Vegan Egg Yolk is optional, but it adds an extra layer of rich flavor that I enjoy.

I served it up with some jasmine rice (mixed with the shiitakes from the dashi), steamed Wailua asparagus topped with Hamakua tomatoes and Parmela Parmesan Style Aged Nut Cheese . My mother isn’t a fan of a lot of the vegan cheeses but she really enjoys the taste of Parmela and finds it satisfies her parmesan cravings more than nutritional yeast alone.

 Eggplant season isn’t over yet! What is your favorite way to eat this purple beauty?

Japanese Eggplant with Miso Sauce::Nasu Dengaku

by Veggietorials

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: broil grill roast side sauce entree dairy free gluten-free vegan vegetarian eggplant Japanese

Ingredients (2 servings)

For the kombu dashi

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 two inch strip kombu
  • 2 dried shiitakes(optional)

For the miso sauce

  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon nama shoyu
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons the Vegg (optional but it gives it a creamier flavor)
  • green onions and roasted sesame seeds for garnish


For the Kombu dashi

Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the kombu and mushrooms.

For the Eggplant

Cut blossom end from the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Score the eggplant flesh. Place the eggplant cut side down in a nonstick pan(no oil) on medium heat and tent with foil. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the eggplant skin is easily pierced with a skewer.

Combine 3/4 cup kombu dashi,miso,nama shoyu,sugar,mirin,Vegg and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil until mixture begins to thicken, then remove from heat.

Place cooked eggplant flesh side up on a lined baking sheet. Spoon just enough miso sauce to cover the eggplant. Place under broiler just until miso sauce begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Watch this step closely, as the sauce can burn quickly.

Remove from broiler. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions

* You can also grill the eggplant or bake in the oven.

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Basic Vegan Bento

The art of putting together a perfect bento box fascinates me. Planning the colors, textures and tastes is what makes each box unique.

In my head, I pretend I’m on a cooking competition show and can only use what I already have in the kitchen. The bag of Gardein crispy tenders that was living in my freezer got baked while I worked on the vegetable sides. My neighbor had given me some homegrown Japanese eggplant and I still had tomatoes left from the farmer’s market. No meal is complete without something green and I like a cold salad element, so green pea salad filled the last compartment next to the jasmine rice.

Basic Vegan Bento

by Veggietorials

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: uncook Lunch vegan vegetarian dairy free peas eggplant

Ingredients (1 serving)

For Easy Eggplant

  • 1 Japanese eggplant
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh basil for garnish

For Green Pea Salad

  • 2 tablespoons vegan mayo
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Penzey’s FoxPoint seasoning (or sub 1 tsp chives)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mirin (Japanese sweet rice cooking wine)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Wayfare Pig Out bits
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sweet & spicy pecans
  • 1 teaspoon sweet onions, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup green peas


For the Easy Eggplant

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch pieces. Lay all of the pieces flat and sprinkle salt on both sides. Heat olive oil in a medium sized pan on med-high heat. Add eggplant to the pan and cook on each side for about a minute and half. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and mix well.Cook an additional 2 minutes or until eggplant is to your desired doneness.

For the Green Pea Salad

Prepare the peas by blanching,draining and rinsing with cold water to preserve color. Mix vegan mayo, mustard,agave or maple syrup, mirin,onions and FoxPoint or chives in a small bowl.Taste and adjust seasonings. Add peas,pecans and Pig Out bits. Serve in a lettuce cup.

* I added Gardein “chicken” tenders with a homemade guava BBQ sauce and some jasmine rice with furikake(seaweed seasoning). Unfortunately, I can’t share the BBQ sauce recipe ‘cuz it was a little of this and a little of that and I failed to write it down. But it was oishii!

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This recipe comes with a bonus! I really love the Pig Out bits and I want you to have a chance to try them too. They are vegan, soy-free,gluten-free bits of bacon flavored crunch. I have coupons for a free Wayfare product of your choice. They expire October 1, 2012 (yikes!)so this giveaway will be quick.

To WIN a free coupon:

1)Leave me a comment on this blog post letting me know what you’d put in your perfect bento

2)I will pick three winners to receive one coupon for a free Wayfare product

3)Giveaway ends Wednesday Sept. 19, 2012 and I will contact the winners via email. You must respond with your mailing address pronto! so I can send you the coupon before they expire

My Week In Photos- App Addict

Aloha Friends! I admit it, I am photo App fixated this week. My old standby for iPhone pics is always Camera+ if I want to give a quick edit. I’ve been playing with Fotorus and PicFx and well,this is what happened…

Lilikoi bloom waiting for the bees to work their magic


Fresh guava

Le salad spinner. Not just for lettuce! I use it to wash almost all of my produce

Thinking of doing a video review now that the Conscious Box is offering an all vegan option. So much goodness

MAde a lot of smoothies to beat the heat

Fruit salad with a “P” Pineapple, papaya and pear with a fig blueberry reduction

I made vegan calamari salad for no reason other than the fact that I really wanted to eat homemade thousand island dressing.

The magic of taking the scenic route home: Artist painting Rabbit Island at Makapuu


Kalbi Style Baked Tofu + Pajeon {Scallion Pancake}

So this is how my crazy train of thought arrived at this recipe: I read an article about a photographer that was recreating death row prisoners “last meals”.Which then prompted me to think about what  I would want as my final meal. And the no-brainer answer is Kalbi. My K-peeps understand that Kalbi (Korean BBQ) is a taste that’s hard to give up. For me, it’s more about the marinade and less about the meat. Heck, everything will taste better after a swim in this marinade. It’s the perfect balance of savory-salty-sweet. I used the Hey Shuga organic cane syrup and really liked the flavor. Sometimes I blend in some grated Korean pear, but a lot of times I don’t have it and the marinade tastes just as amazing without it.

  • Perfect for portobellas before you pan fry or throw them on the grill
  • Use a reduced sodium soy sauce for the Kalbi marinade and try it on seitan
  • Marinate tempeh overnight and pan fry

The baked tofu will have a deep flavor and chewy texture. I like to slice the baked tofu thin for banh mi style sandwiches. For salads and stir fries, I prefer the tofu cubed up. And for a quick dinner, I enjoy a Kalbi tofu “steak” with pajeon, kimchi, rice and a salad.

Pajeon (Scallion Pancake) is a savory side dish that looks fancy shmancy but is quite easy to make. I use scallions, green onions, chives or other seasonal veggies from my garden. Dip pajeon into kochoojang sauce for a little heat and a spicy kick. This Pajeon recipe was adapted from Maangchi, the internet demi god of Korean cooking. I was surprised that her original recipe was actually vegan♡. When I tried it without the Vegg and baking soda, my pancake was a globby mess even though I used a non-stick pan. The results were perfect once I added baking soda and The Vegg – Vegan Egg Yolk gave it the flavor of the pajeon my grandma used to make. *Tip* I prepare the Vegg this way: I mix 2 tablespoons of dry Vegg mix with 1 cup water in a blender or food processor. Measure out 2 tablespoons of the Vegg (once it has been mixed with the water) for the pajeon batter. The Vegg must be mixed with water first.

Kalbi Style Baked Tofu + Pajeon {Scallion Pancake}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Enjoy this sweet & savory baked tofu sliced on sandwiches, cubed up in stir fries and salads or with pajeon, kimchi and rice.
Serves: 4 servings
  • For the Baked Tofu
  • 1 block firm or extra firm organic tofu,pressed
  • ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons organic liquid cane sugar syrup or agave nectar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger,minced
  • 3 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • optional-half Korean pear, grated. When using the pear, place all marinade ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  • For the scallion pancake
  • 15 thin green onions, cut into 5 inch pieces
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon miso
  • 2 tablespoons The Vegg,premixed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  1. For the Tofu
  2. Drain tofu.
  3. Remove excess water with a tofu press or wrap the block of tofu between two kitchen towels and place heavy books on top for about 20 minutes.
  4. Slice the tofu block in half so that each piece is about 1 inch thick.
  5. This process will allow the marinade to be easily absorbed.
  6. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl.
  7. Adjust seasoning and add black pepper to taste.
  8. Place the tofu in a rimmed dish and pour the marinade on top.
  9. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 2 hours, overnight is best.
  10. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
  11. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  12. Place tofu in the middle of the sheet and bake for one hour total.
  13. Flip the tofu over after 30 minutes to cook and brown evenly.
  14. Remove from oven and cool slightly before slicing.
  15. For the scallion pancake
  16. Mix together all the pancake ingredients (except the oil and green onions) to create the batter.
  17. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil over high heat and place half of the scallions in even layer in a nonstick pan.
  18. Pour just enough batter over the scallions to cover them.
  19. Cook for about 2½ minutes, until the edges start to form bubbles.
  20. Flip the pancake, reduce heat to medium high and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  21. Repeat to make another pancake.
  22. Serve with gochujang sauce if you like it spicy.
  23. Please watch the video to master the technique.