When I was a teenager, living with my Aunt and Uncle who had 5 kids of their own, we each had a night we were responsible for fixing dinner. My night was meatloaf. My aunt had taught me how to make it with catsup and brown sugar on top. Inside was ground beef, eggs, onions and cracker crumbs. Maybe some celery but never any leftovers from the fridge. Yucky is what my mind said.
When I met and married my husband, my diet had been salads, cottage cheese and hamburger patty. He expected me to cook! What, didn’t he remember I don’t cook? LOL, well I started investing in cook books and trying new recipes. For the first 20 years of our 30 year marriage I did most of the cooking. Then we switched roles. I was the one out making a living and he was the house husband. He was a better house husband than I was a wife. He loved to cook and was very creative. No cookbooks for him! He’d look in the fridge, see what was there and create something delicious. He loved to shop, I didn’t. It was perfect. After I retired we cooked together. That was my favorite time, something I will always cherish.
After he died, I didn’t feel much like cooking, I was struggling just to eat due to the grief. When my appetite did come back, I didn’t feel like cooking, I didn’t want to cook, I rebelled against cooking. I missed my husband. Finally I started cooking again, but it was with new eyes, new foods, new ways of doing things.
Being in Hawaii, I was being exposed to all kind of new things. I started trying new recipes based on local food. Purple sweet pototo pizza crust with vegan toppings for example. I started playing with the idea of maybe someday writing a cookbook. Well that someday is getting closer. I am learning and experimenting with more local food. I have learned how to process young jackfruit and cook it up to taste every bit like pulled pork. Cutting up one of those bohemoths can be a challenge just in itself. I was taught to oil the knife, oil the pan/bowl with cooking oil, cut it up on a piece of cardboard for easy disposal afterwards.
Today I was invited to a food sharing with friends. I got to try a new recipe out of Sam Choy’s Cooking with Ulu cookbook. I had cooked the breadfruit yesterday, so today it was just a matter of dicing it to add to the quinoa salad I was making. The recipe called for a meyers lemon. If you don’t know them, they are the BEST!! So there are two Hawaiian foods easily identified. I also went out to our gardens and picked fresh mint, fresh parsley and some chives for the salad. It also calls for cherry tomatoes halved. Right now I don’t have one growing but the local cherry tomato plants here do amazing!!
The other thing I took was a purple sweet potato salad. It is made just like a regular potato salad except the potatoes are purple sweet potatoes. I was told not long after I got here that one of the local tricks for a purple sweet potato salad is to add diced crystalized ginger. It adds a nice zing.
I had been feeling like baking a dessert so I went out and harvested some fresh lilikoi off my bush and made lilikoi cake. I baked them in the mini-muffin tins so I called them Lilikoi Bites. I used a favorite recipe that uses no eggs, no butter, no sugar – I used maple syrup, gluten-free – playing with a variety of flours. They were delicious little bites. The friends I shared them with all loved them as they were not the overkill on sugar.
Food should be good. Food should be nutritious. Food is medicine, our bodies respond. Be kind to your body by having Fun with Food.