Friday, November 30, 2007

Flood Warnings Issued for San Diego

The rain is a good thing because we need it. But rain is a double edge sword after all the SoCal wildfires. The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for all but the desert portions of San Diego County. It's been raining pretty steadily all morning throughout SoCal. According to, Palomar Observatory recorded 1.14 inches of rain by 9 a.m., the Oceanside airport had 0.82 of an inch, and Lindbergh Field had 0.36 of an inch.

Flooding has already been reported on portions of Interstate 805, Interstate 5 and Interstate 15. DRIVE CAREFULLY AND AT A SAFE SPEED! And for Pete's sake (and everyone else's) TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS when it's raining and visibility is decreased! I can't tell you how many dark cars wizzed by me on my way to work today that didn't have their lights on. These morons were driving at least 10 miles over the posted speed limit, in heavy down pours at times, in dark cars. It's no wonder there's been more than 60 crashes reported to the California Highway Patrol, including vehicles running off the roads and spin-outs, since

San Diego County officials said they planned to place Reverse 911 calls to residents in areas at risk of flooding and mudslides. If you are in an area that is susceptible to flooding or have had recent fire damage, you might not want to wait for the Reverse 911 call. According to Channel 8 News, residents can get help to prevent mudslides by going to one of five locations in the county.

1. Valley Center County Road Station, 28565 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center
2. Ramona Road County Station, 116 5th Street, Ramona
3. Dulzura Fire Department, 17304 Highway 94, Dulzura
4. Fallbrook Ingold Baseball Fields, 2551 Oliver Hill Rd, Fallbrook
5. Rancho Bernardo Local Assistance Center, 18448 W. Bernardo Drive, Rancho Bernardo

You can also find more information from San Diego County's Fire Recovery webpage:

Stay safe and have a wonderful weekend! Remember it's Aloha Friday!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blue Fridays

Todd Heisler's (The Rocky Mountain News) series of pictures titled "Jim Comes Home" has won second place in the Pictures of the Year International (POYi). A few of his pictures are being used as part of a word-by-mouth campaign for Blue Fridays. Here are a few of the pictures and the story behind them. Here is the direct link to Heisler's 8-picture series titled "Jim Comes Home."

When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport, Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac. During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport, Major Steve Beck described the scene as one of the most powerful in the process: 'See the people in the windows? They'll sit right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home,' he said. 'They're going to remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should.'

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. 'I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she said. 'I think that's what he would have wanted.' Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of JIM.


Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing blue every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority.' We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing. Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends,simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar, will wear something blue.

By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of blue much like a home coming football game in the bleachers. If everyone of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in BLUE and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is ....'We need your support and your prayers.' Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something blue every Friday.


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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Great Hockey Weekend!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I've been under the weather but I think I'm finally on the mend. Hate cold season. But it's been an awesome hockey weekend! Sabres have won their last 4 games, and Thibault had his first shutout as a Sabres last night. Awesome!

It was a good win against Ottawa because they had just lost to them in their last game together. What's even better is that the Sabres swept Montreal. If you watched the game, you knew the (stupid) Canadiens were getting tired of being spanked by the Sabres. They were more focused on hitting Sabres players than actually playing the game. All the better that they were shutout, hehe.

It's nice to see Ryan Miller finally getting into his game, the more focused he is, the more so are the other players. It's been really exciting to see the newer players scoring. But some of the veterans have been a bit, quite a bit, disappointing. Afinogenov is the biggest so far (at a whopping -8 pts). I'm not going to get into how many game-losing pucks he's given way. Ruff has said he isn't ready to bench him yet, and Afinogenov has actually shown some improvement in the last 2 games. But I still cringe when watching him pass the puck in crucial moments. Come on Max, buckle down and tighten up.

Now what is up with Kotalik (-3 pts)? He was on my list to trade at the end of last year. Is he trying to prove me right?? Hey, Ales, most people try to prove me wrong, like Spacek.

The other disappointment has been Tallinder (-1 pts). It's like as if he wasn't even on the ice when his line is up. Maybe he's just still "mentally" recovering from his injury or perhaps he really doesn't feel 100%, which is causing his under-performance. Snap out of it.

But even with some very sub-par performances by these guys, others have really stepped up. MacArthur, who was brought up due to Connolly's injury, has been awesome. Vanek is starting to look like he did last year, Stafford and Gaustad, Campbell, Roy, Ryan, even Pratt, are looking mighty on the ice.

The real disappointment of the season, as it was last year, of course, are the refs. In every game, not just the ones Sabres play in, there always some bonehead ref not making penalty calls. I'm not talking about the gray zone (put it in the zone, eh!) types. I'm talking about blatant, in your face, only-a-blind-man-could-have-missed-that kind of penalty. But Rob Ray said it best, they're arrogant and think that the fans are out there to see them, not the team. HAHA!

Next game is tomorrow against the Capitals, and then the Blues on Wednesday. And the week after next, they'll be heading west to sunny SoCal to play the Ducks and Kings! Can't wait!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Portuguese Sausage Fried Rice Taste Test

A couple of weeks back, I was reading The Great Portuguese Sausage Shootout by Pomai of The Tasty Island. Ever since our trip to Kauai, the Mister and I have been on a fried rice with Portuguese sausage kick. So of course after reading the Shootout, I was inspired to try my own little taste test.

The only place I know to get Hawaiian Portuguese sausage in San Diego is Orient Bowl Market on Convoy, in the same corner as Jasmine's. The street address is 4625 Convoy St., San Diego, CA 92111. The last time I was there, I notice they were carrying several brands: Rego's Purity Hot and Mild, Gouvea's (Linguica), Frank's Foods Hot and Mild, Redondo's Hot and Mild. There might have been more since there were some empty space on the shelves. (Postscript: Marukai San Diego also carries a variety of Portuguese sausages.)

Since I know I'm not a big fan of Redondo's, I decided to leave that brand out of my taste test. I was hoping to get several brands' hot variety since that's what we like in our fried rice. But there were only 2 other brands available in Hot other than Redondo's, Purity and Frank's. Since a comparison of just 2 brands seemed a bit lopsided, I decided to get 2 other brands I've never tried in the mild: Frank's and Gouvea's.

I started with my basic fried rice: white rice, carrots, peas, eggs. I like this basic recipe as a side dish. But as a stand alone meal, I like to have meat(s) in it. For loco style, I like to add lop cheong (Chinese sausage) and Portuguese sausage, usually Rego's Purity Hot. Chinese bbq pork is also good but I don't usually have that lying around and often too lazy to drive down to Convoy to get it.

This is the fried rice I made for the taste test. Enough for leftovers! =)

I cut 6 slices on the bias of each sausage. Cooked them up separately in a clean pan (to avoid cross contamination of flavor, of course). Then served them up!

On the plate starting from the left:

A - Frank's Hot
B - Purity Hot
C - Frank's Mild
D - Gouvea's

The Mister was a true blind test since he did not know which was which. We made our way from left to right and noted our findings. Now remember, we were judging taste as part of a fried rice dish. So it was all about how it complimented the fried rice. And the ruling was...

Ranked from Best to Least:

#1 Purity Hot - spiciest, full flavor, greasiest, firm texture, nice caramelizing
#2 Gouvea's - good grease, nice flavor, good marbling
#3 Frank's Hot - not very hot or spicy, decent flavor, least greasiest, firm texture
#4 Frank's Mild - smokiest, tasted like Little Smokies, least spiciest, very distinct paprika, good marbling

It wasn't surprising that Purity Hot ranked #1. Maybe you can say we were a bit biased since we're so used to the taste. But even Frank's Mild at #4 was still a very good sausage and I would take any of the runner-ups if Purity Hot was not available. The reason why I really like Purity Hot for fried rice is because of its grease. It was the greasiest out of all 4 and you would think normally, that wouldn't be good. But, I like the grease that's left in the pan and with adding just a wee bit more canola oil, I can fry up the rice with it. Not only does it cut down on the total amount of oil I use in the dish, the sausage grease really adds a nice spicy flavor to the overall fried rice. Love it!

A few other things I noticed about some of the other sausages, Frank's Mild reminded me of Lil' Smokies, although not as greasy. It also was the slowest to caramelize, most likely due to the less grease it produced, which was interesting because it had really good marbling. Gouvea's had the softest texture, most likely because it's linguica style. Frank's Hot might be really good grilled and served on a roll with sauteed onions and mustard (or ketchup in my case).

So that was my little taste test. When I first told the Mister that I wanted to do the taste test, he kind of did his eye roll. He's found the food blogging part of my hobby interesting and sometimes a little embarrassing, especially when I stop him from digging into his meal to take a picture of it, in a crowded restaurant. But as with everything else I do, he's getting used to it and has found some personal benefits from it, hehe. He actually enjoyed this little taste test. As a matter of fact, he's been my guinea pig for a new blueberry crumb pie recipe, and soon-to-be for my most recent obsession with finding and making the perfect lobster tail pastry with cream center.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. This is a short week at work for me, woop woop!!! Can't wait for Thanksgiving because this year, I get a break from cooking the turkey. The MIL is taking care of that!! All I have to worry about is the candied yams!

Have a terrific (short) week. Now go and eat well!!!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

Actually, yesterday was Veterans Day. Today is the official holiday in observance of Veterans Day. Have you hugged and thanked your veteran yet?

There's a misconception that Veterans Day is the day in which we honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. Actually, that day is Memorial Day. Veterans Day honors all American veterans, both living and dead, and especially to thank the living veterans for all the sacrafices they made to keep our country free.

History of Veterans Day (reference:

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of thosewho died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Have a great week, everyone. Eat well.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chopstix - Japanese Noodles, etc.

Chopstix is one of my comfort food places and I used to frequent here a lot, especially when I used to work for a Japanese company. The food seems to go in-out of consistency every now and then, mainly because of the various cooks they've had. But overall, it's still very dependable even over the years. The menu hasn't changed too much, either, and it still offers a very good variety or noodle and rice dishes.

Chopstix is one of those few places where I actually have several menu items that I rotate. In cooler weathers, I lean towards the ramen dishes and tend to order curry rice dishes or yakisoba in the warmer months. My usuals are won-ton men, mabo ramen (can be a bit overly sweet and I need to be in the mood for it), tempura, soba noodles, katsu curry over rice, yakisoba, and always a side of crunchy roll. For noodle dishes, I add lots of chili sauce because I like the kick.

You can read Kirk's review here of the chasyu-men, mix tempura, and chicken katsu curry rice. The katsu curry rice is just like the chicken version but with pork. I've always ordered the pork katsu so I can't compare the two.

The Mister and I had lunch here last week. I won't include the Mister's chasyu-men because Kirk's review pretty much sums up my opinion of it. The Mister, however, enjoys it most of the time.

We started off with an order of Crunchy Roll. It was pretty good today. Always enjoy the bits of tempura batter on it.

Since it was a cooler day in San Diego with a threat of rain in the air, I was in the mood for soup noodles. I usually order the won-ton men when I'm in the mood for comfort food. The wontons were as usual, precooked and then added to the broth. I think they are shrimp-pork wontons. The broth on that day was very good. Not overly oily. As far as the other items, it's the same as all the ramen dishes: egg noodles, half a hard-boiled egg, bean sprouts, a slice of kamaboku, and green onions.

I don't remember exactly when they added the Specials placard (sorry, the picture is a little blurry) and never had taken advantage of it since I only come for lunch. But it's not a bad price if you want some beer or sake and a little appetizer to go along with it.

I've read a couple of reviews that criticized Chopstix but for me, I think they serve a very decent bowl of Japanese noodles and katsu curry over rice. I've tried other Japanese noodle houses and those broths didn't quite measure up with Chopstix.

They are open for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. Doors open for lunch at 11:00 am. Note that sometimes parking during the week can be a real challenge during lunchtime.

4633 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 569-9171

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Friday, November 9, 2007

New Food Blog Links

Aloha Friday! Every year around this time, my brain switches into a more heighten state in regards to food. I know, you're asking, "But CAB, how is that possible? Wouldn't your head, like, explode or something?" Apparently not but I do get even more food obsessed. My inner chef and baker are both fighting to come out around the holidays. I spend more time searching food related sites and I download more recipes during this time than the rest of the year.

And with that, I have added a few new food blog links to my list on the left. I've also separated out the food blogs from all the other sites. So what's my criteria for adding a link? If it it's a food blog and there's food that I enjoy, I'll read it for a while and if I go back often, I add the link. If the food blog makes my stomach growl, it's a shoo in. If it's funny, and I visit often, then it gets added.

The one I added today is KauKau Time! Blame Reggie for posting his aunt's Thit Heo Nuong - Vietnamese Pork Chops. Dang, I'm really hungry now. The other one I added today is The Tasty Island. This is a recent find as a by-product of my hunt for a good Saimen recipe. I love all sorts of noodle dishes, soup, stir-fried, pasta, deep fried, on and on... So it's not a surprise that I had to add this to my list.

I really have to get on the ball about posting pictures of my meals lately. Just last week, I roasted up a beautiful standing rib roast that was almost perfect. It wasn't perfect because I miscalculated the prep time and wasn't able to do the slow cooking technique that I usually use. But it was still delicious and tender, which made for great leftovers. I'm planning on doing another rib roast for New Year's so I will make a mental note to take pictures for that one.

Okay, enough talk about food without pictures. I'm just counting down the time for lunch. Have a terrific weekend! Now go and eat well.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Latest Spending Spree

I noticed this year that the stores' Christmas decorations came out a week after Labor Day. One of these years, it's going to start right after 4th of July. Just wait and see. So with the holiday spirit in mind and an itch to do some shopping (the itch appears between hunger pangs, hehe), here are some things I recently purchased. A couple of these things have not yet arrived since I ordered them online. Actually, I do about 80% of my shopping online.

Bosch Universal Plus Mixer - My new super-duper mixer!

For several years now, I have been pining for a top of the line KitchenAid mixer. The Mister had kind of hinted that he wanted to get me one for Christmas this year so I started my research. (I'm a bit OC about researching products before buying.) Well, I was so surprised when I read all the latest reviews on just how bad KitchenAid mixers have gotten. Not your grandmother's KitchenAid is right! All you have to do is read some of the 1 and 2 reviews on Amazon on any given model to know that the bad reviews weren't just flukes. So why do some of the biggest names on Food Network use KitchenAid mixers? Probably because they get them for free.

So now what? I had a few names to research and after reading reviews and articles, I landed on the Bosch Universal Mixer. It was the comparison video from that sealed the deal for me. Even KitchenAid's top of the line Professional 600 Series (which was what I was eyeballing) at 575 watts couldn't beat the 700 watts of the Bosch Universal Mixer and its mixing mechanism. Also, Bosch had just released its latest mixer, the Universal Plus, which means the older model was coming down in price! But the newer Plus model with a whopping 800 watts and some really good new features, spending an extra $60 was worth it for me. With this mixer, there will be no cookie dough or batter that I can't tackle!

BTW, if you're in the market for a new mixer or know someone who is, take a look at Costco's latest sales. They have the Bosch Compact mixer for $60 less than any online store I found out there. That's including tax and shipping. It's a great all-around package with a 450 watt motor. Email me if you have questions on it.

Technivorm Thermo KB741 Coffee Maker - A coffee aficionado's dream!

If you drink Folgers or Taster's Choice, this won't mean a thing to you. I would even dare to say if you buy Starbucks coffee, this won't mean a thing to you, either. Why? Because Starbucks coffee taste like crap no matter how good of a coffee maker you have. There are so many reasons why Starbucks coffee sucks. These are some of the more important ones: beans' quality is highly suspected, burn the crap out of the beans to hide the quality (or lack thereof), grinds are old, use tap water for brewing, and who knows when was the last time they cleaned out the maker?? And people pay money for this. (I do have to admit that I enjoy their mocha frappuccinos.) For those who order those fancy schmancy type coffees (double double carmelato low fat high foam extra whipped), it doesn't matter what the coffee taste like cuz you can't taste it!

But if you're like me, can't stand Starbucks coffee, buy only the best beans (Kona Peaberry in our case) that you grind yourself (and hopefully with a burr grinder), you'll understand and appreciate this purchase.

The reason why we finally broke down and shelled out the money for a Technivorm is because our low-end, dual heating element coffee maker broke on Monday. Aficionados will understand the importance of the heating elements and the need for the perfect water temperature. Not thrilled with the prospect of shelling out $90 for a crappy coffee maker with a thermos that makes so-so coffee, will most likely crap out in a few years, it wasn't too hard for me to convince the Mister to just let me buy this baby. Boyd Coffee Company is an official Technivorm distributor so you can check out all the specs there. I won't bore you with all that.

Why did I get the thermos version? Because I didn't want to deal with a hot plate. There's 1 primary reason why you don't want your pot of coffee sitting on the hot plate: the hot plate will burn the coffee. Now with a model that has a thermos and no hot plate, I won't have to worry about it and my coffee stays hot!

Scene It?® Lights, Camera, Action for Xbox 360 - Do you know, I mean really know your movies?

We enjoy playing the original dvd board game but the new version for Xbox 360 is way cooler! This was just released this week and I picked it up my copy during lunch today. The reason why it's cooler than the regular version is because it comes with 4 wireless remotes. The Mister and I broke it in when I got home and the play is different from the original. Rather than each person going around a board taking turns, this version is more like the NTN Buzztime games you see at bars and restaurants. The quicker you answer, the more points you score. In some cases, you lose points for guessing the wrong answer. If you consider yourself a movie buff or just like watching movies, then check this game out, even if you don't have an Xbox 360. For the board game, there are various themes available too. I think there's even a sports version.

I still have the Janome 350E embroidery machine on my wish list, along with a sewing table but those will have to wait for another Christmas. Hmm, I'll have to start planning my cookie baking list, and how about some Parmesan herb rolls to go with that brined turkey? Yummmm! Go and eat well. I'm off to dinner.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Safe Thoughts and Godspeed for Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group

More than 5,500 sailors and Marines deployed today from San Diego for a 6-9 month tour as part of the Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group. As a Navy wife, it's always hard for me to read these stories or watch videos of the families saying their goodbyes. And with the holidays just around the corner, it's that much harder.

I don't like doing political rants because that's not my style. I'll leave the politics to the Mister. Instead, I would like to focus on the support of the troops and their families. It doesn't matter what your believes are on war or the military. We are the biggest and most powerful nation in the world and there are lots of reasons why we are. And by being so, needing a strong military is just as important as cities needing the police officers and firefighters. Supporting the troops and their families does not mean you're a warmonger. They are not the ones calling for war, they are the ones who are willing to protect what this great country stands for, our way of life, our freedom. And I thank God for them. But let's not focus on the politics in this post, okay? Oh, and to set the record straight, these have been my views before I became a Navy wife.

We hear some about supporting the troops but I don't think we hear enough about the families and the sacrifices they make. If you don't have anyone in your family that is (was) in the military or know someone close that is (was), then you don't know the extent of the sacrifices military families make. I have been very lucky that I have not had to make much sacrifices as many of these families. So at the very least, I'd like to help increase awareness for those who do.

Military families are different. It's not like having a dad that travels all the time for business. Dad doesn't consciously put his body in harm's way for our Country every time he goes on a business trip. And after a few days or so, he returns home. It's not like having both parents work all day and only getting to see them for dinner. Our troops are deployed for 6-8 months at a time. And if called for, their deployment can be extended. That means families don't see each other for months on end, sometimes even up to year at a time. Active service men and women and their families sacrifice much.

So here is a list of things that we can do to help support the troops and their families that goes beyond buying a yellow ribbon magnet or sticker that you slap on your car. You can click on the names of the organizations to get to their webpages.

Support the Troops

Operation USO Care Package: With the holidays just around the corner, this program will provide some much needed holiday spirit to our troops overseas. Please note that sponsors will need to sponsor a specific member due to the heightened security measures. A nonprofit organization group started by the Horns family which all started when they were sending care packages to their son, Sergeant Brian Horn, when he was in Iraq. Again, please ready the sections on How, What and Where to Send.

DOD Community Relations ( Check here to learn about our military and our military families who contribute to our communities.The site also features stories of how our communities, non-profit organizations, individuals and corporations support our military, and provides information about those organizations that provide such critical support.

Support the Families

Armed Forces YMCA: ASYMCA works with the DoD to provide support for military service members and their families with specific focus on the junior-enlisted men and women and their families. Just think, many of our service members are no more than 18 years of age. Donations help fund programs such as childcare, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, computer training classes, health and wellness services, and holiday meals, among many others.

Military Family Support: Numerous links to sites providing support to military families. I'm sure you can find one (or more) to support here.

Since there are many young families that struggle to make ends meet, helping with the upcoming Christmas holiday for the kids may be a good one. If you're interested, Toys for the Troops Kids is one organization that focuses on the kids.

NetPets Military Pets Foster Project: Helping to connect service members and temporary foster care homes for their pets. Pets are part of the family too, let's not forget them.

If you've read through this entire post, thank you. If you've clicked on at least one link, that's a start. If you're thinking about being a sponsor or donating to one of these organizations, I send cyber hugs to you and encourage you to take the next step. If you've actually become a sponsor or took action to support our troops and families, I send you aloha kisses and I'm sure your name is permanently on Santa Claus' nice list. And know that your karma just increased by a couple of positive points.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

October 2007 Hawaii Trip Part 1 - Food Review

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Since there's quite a bit to blog about from the most recent trip to Hawaii, I thought I'd do it in 2 parts. For the first part, I'm going to focus on the food.

Gyotaku in Pearl City, Oahu

We didn't make it out to the city (Waikiki) to Chiba-ken because we were just too tired on our last night in Oahu. We were staying on Ford Island so decided to get sushi close by. Gyotaku is a very popular place with the locals and with some of the great reviews we've read, we decided to try it. You can check out Gyotaku's menu here. Gyotaku was the only place we ate at on Oahu that I took pictures.

This is a picture of food we ordered. Starting from top center going clockwiser: mix sashimi plate, miso soup, mixed nigiri plate, chawanmushi, caterpillar roll.

Overall, the sashimi was just okay, the maguro (tuna) was best on that plate. The Mister said the salmon was pretty good. I ended up eating most of the fish off the nigiri because we were getting really full. The tako (octopus) and ebi (shrimp) nigiri were both chewy and not that good. The spicy tuna roll was okay.

The caterpillar roll was unexciting. The avocado was underriped with no flavor, which we ended picking off anyway. The miso soup was not too bad, tofu was tender and large pieces of seaweed.

I think the most interesting part of the meal was the chawanmushi. Chawanmushi is a steamed egg custard dish and can be made several different ways. It's similar to a type of steamed egg dish that my mom used to make. This chawanmushi was pretty good. The custard had a good brothy flavor, and although you can't tell by the picture, there were shitake mushrooms, shrimp (chewy), and a few other items in there. I saved this for last but probably should have had it first since I was way too full to finish it.

The gal that served us was very nice and I think she thought we were local. She chatted with us about the UH football game earlier that day (which we didn't watch). I noticed that other servers were also very chatty with their customers. Very family friendly. Overall, I don't think I would go to Gyotaku again for sushi but would certainly try out some of their other dishes, like the kamameshi or misoyaki butterfish. In hind sight, I should have ordered the misoyaki butterfish.

Keoki's Paradise in Poipu Bay, Kauai

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt at Poipu Bay on Kauai. I'll write more about the resort in Part 2 but just as a teaser, it's the best Grand Hyatt IMHO that we've stayed at so far, much better than the Grand Hyatt Maui.

One of the first restaurants we had lunch at was Keoki's Paradise. This is part of the T.S. Restaurant chain (also owns Duke's Kimo's, Hula Grill, Leilani's on the Beach on the islands).

The Mister had the Omao Baby Greens salad and a fish taco. I don't recall what the fresh fish of the day was. The Mister said the taco was good but the salad was just okay.

I had the fish and chips, which was really good. The chips were lightly seasoned and very yummy. The batter on the fish was probably the biggest surprise. When the server placed in down, I was a bit tentative because I saw green things in the batter. But it was just herbs (couldn't tell you what kind) and it really made the fish very tasty. The tartar sauce was light and added a good flavor to the fish. It wasn't overly tart or sour. Overall, it was a good simple lunch.

Puka Dog in Poipu Bay, Kauai

Another place that we ate lunch at was Puka Dog. It's it the same mall as Keoki's. I first came across a Puka Dog on the September Oahu trip. I was intrigued by the different relishes and the various mustards. You can check out all of them here. With a shaka confirmation from our zipline guides (more in Part 2 about ziplining), we decided to give it a try.

Sorry the picture is terrible but I was tired, starving, and ready for a nap. Basically, it's a gigantic dog in a blanket. So the Mister and I both had the Polish Sausage. I had mine with mild original sauce, pineapple relish, and lilikoi (passion fruit) mustard. It was so yummy and the perfect to end a morning zipping through the trees. The bun was soft and yummy, although it was almost too much bun for me. The Mister had his with chili pepper, mango relish, and lilikoi mustard. He ate the whole thing. We also got the fresh squeezed lemonade, which was really good. Not too tart and not too sweet, just the way I like it. Although the price of a dog was a little higher than most dog stands, the size of the dog and the extra special types of relish and mustards sure made it worth it! I certainly would go back again.

Wrangler's Steakhouse in Waimea, Kauai

This was the second best meal we had on Kauai. We stopped in for lunch after sightseeing at Waimea Canyon.

Our lunches came with soup and salad bar. The salad had just the basic salad items but the winner here was the mushroom soup. The broth was very hearty, great mushroom and onion flavors. I probably could have eaten this with a good crusty loaf of sour dough bread.

Earlier in the week, I read an article in the local newspaper about the old plantation workers and the kau kau tins they used to carry their lunches. Some say this was the origin of what we know as the plate lunch. One of the specialties of Wrangler's is the kau kau tin so I had to try some tradition. This picture is the kau kau tin lunch special. Three stainless steal tins stacked up neatly, holding yummy food treasures. I couldn't wait to dig in.

The bottom tin contained the steamed rice. Also in that tin was homemade kimchee and a red preserved plum. The preserved plum was very salty. The kimchee was light in flavor and not very hot. But a good addition to the meat dish.

The second tin contained the tempura and tempura sauce. The lightness of the tempura batter was delicious. There were 2 pieces of butterflied shrimp, eggplant, and zucchini. All were very good!

The last compartment contained the teriyaki beef. Sorry the picture is a bit blurry but it tasted really good. Not overly sweet, just the right amount of flavor and went well with the kimchee. I think the cost was around $9-10. It was plenty of food since I didn't finish all of the beef.

There was fish special and a chop steak special that day. The Mister decided on the chop steak special. It had a local style flare to it and the Mister loved it! He said the steak was very tender and the gravy was just delicious. I tried a bit of it and it was very good. Lots of mushrooms and onions, which we both loved. The cost for this meal, including 2 sodas came just slightly over $20.

A little side story to go along with this meal. In the article I read, Wrangler's sell kau kau tins as souvenir items in their little gift shop within the restaurant. I was contemplating on getting one, thinking it would be kind of cool to bring a plate lunch to work. The article said the tins sold for $20 for the set but the price has increased to $30. I decided to get one anyway for nostalgia purposes and I got the last one, the display.

When I was paying for it, the nice gal behind the counter said that she just sold 2 the day before. Someone had called to reserve 2 because a friend of his wanted them. He asked her what they were for and she explained about the lunch. Before we were done, she asked if we were local (it's got to be my board shorts and slippas). I told her that we were from San Diego and it was the first time to Kauai but we've been to other islands. She asked, "We're more laid back, yeah?" I agreed and told her we love the island. It was a great way to end our last day in Kauai.

Other places that we dined at on Kauai (no pictures) were mostly at the resort. We were just too lazy to drive around. Our best meals (we ate there 3 times) were at Stevenson's Library and the Poipu Bay Golf Club Restaurant. Stevenson's Library offer sushi on certain evenings and we always sat at one corner of the koa wood bar. It was one of the best sashimi we've ever had. Their taco sunomono martini was delicious and the unagi roll was awesome. We couldn't get enough of it. The bartenders were great and it certainly was convenient since we didn't have to drive anywhere. We paid the price, of course, but we really enjoyed it.

Another place we ate at the resort was the highly acclaimed Tide Pools. The food was awesome but our server was a boob. He got the Mister's drink order wrong and then tried to play it off like the Mister ordered it wrong. Instead of a Bombay Sapphire straight up, the waiter brought back a dirtied martini (yuck). The waiter made some snide remark as to that's exactly how he likes his drink so I told him he can drink it. No, I wasn't being a brat about it and said it as a matter of factly in response to his remark. And we got the cold snobby attitude for the rest of the service. If the food wasn't so good, I would have spoken to the manager and/or walked out. I certainly expect high class service when they are charging high class prices. I don't think my expectations were unreasonable. Good thing was, this was the only negative experience of our entire trip.

We had complimentary breakfast with our stay at the Grand H, which was good because the breakfast buffet was very expensive. They changed it up everyday, but much to my chagrin because I love to have steamed rice, scrambled eggs, and Portuguese sausage, and they didn't always offer the sausage. It wasn't until our last day that we tried breakfast at the Poipu Bay Golf Club Restaurant. Too bad we didn't realize it earlier in our stay because we loved it. All the servers were so friendly, chatted with us like we were long time friends. The menu was ala carte and they served a local style breakfast called the Kaima'aina. Needless to say, the Mister and I both ordered it. It was a wonderful blend of very good fried rice, egg, and gravy. The fried rice was almost perfect, carrots, peas, green onions, Portuguese sausage, and laap cheong (Chinese sausage). If they would have added some char sui (BBQ pork), it would have been perfect! We both had over-easy eggs, which were fried just right. I think the Mister and I can have this local dish just about any day of the week. My stomach is grumbling now just thinking about it. I was sad to find out that they didn't open for breakfast until 7 am, so we weren't able to go for one last Kaima'aina the morning we flew out.

So these are the food highlights of the trip. Part 2 coming up soon, hopefully by this weekend.

Have a great week. Now go and eat well.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Tostino's and Jenos Frozen Pizza Recall

Doesn't it seem like there's a new story about some drunken celebrity getting arrested for DUI or some new food or toy recall every week or so? Today's new food recall was issued by General Mills. You can read General Mill's press release here. The press release also lists the specific SKU numbers affected by the recall and procedures on how to get replacement products. Almost 5 million of Tostino's and Jeno's frozen pizzas with pepperoni toppings are being recalled due to a possibility of E. coli contamination.

Thank goodness I don't have any in my freezer. Actually, when I do buy Tostino's they don't last more than a few days in the freezer. Yes, I admit that I love Tostino's 3 meat pizzas. It's one of those sin foods that I indulge on every now and then. I have a lot of sin foods. But then I'm a food junkie, so what can I say?

We actually got to go home a little early yesterday from work due to a power outage in a small section of Sorrento Valley. I heard it was a power line that was down. So after standing in the parking lot (something about safety reasons yada yada) for about 90 minutes, our CEO decided to let people go home. Too bad it wasn't today but hey, I'm not complaining cuz it's Aloha Friday, no work 'til Monday!

Have a terrific weekend, now go and eat well, and eat safe.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy All Hallow's Day (All Saints' Day)

I was in such a rush yesterday that I forgot to give credit for the pumpkin patterns. I'm an avid pumpkin carver and over the years, I've collected a decent size patterns and carving tools. I personally like the patterns from Zombie Pumpkins and have carved several in the past. I have lots of patterns from Pumpkin Masters and have even digitized my own patterns in the past. What I really like about Zombie Pumpkins' patterns is that they are detailed but not exceptionally hard to carve. There are many simple ones, like Oogie Boogie.

So here's a quick plug for Zombie Pumpkins (although a day late and dollar short, sorry). But it doesn't mean you can't start planning for next year! Also check out the store. The Patch Master added a few new things this year, like the Pumpkin Gutter Drill Attachment (very cool). That will be on my shopping list for next year along with the Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool Set.

Hope everyone had a great Halloween! Oh yeah, I finally pulled out the camera last night and have downloaded all the Kauai trip pictures. I will put aside some time this weekend to get that all posted. Did I mention that we loved Kauai? More than any other islands? Really. So more to come!

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