Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Luau

The Story: There are times when a dinner is more than a dinner. These times leave me feeling that the dishes and prep time are more than worth it. Friendships and made, needs are met and kids feel like they've had a celebration. Tonight was such a night.

I have the unfortunate habit of discovering friends right before they leave. Tonight was a repeat of that experience. A dear friend and I planned our luau. She suggested we invite a young family in the neighborhood who were moving in a week.
We went to a local pool, had wet and screaming fun with water balloons and found that we had much in common. I then am left to wonder why I didn't seek out their fun company earlier. I could have enjoyed months of good times and done some good. This is a lesson for me to reach out to those who don't immediately come to mind.

The Decor:
Grass Skirts on tables from the dollar store
leis for all from the dollar store
My large collection of seashells strewn about the tables
Tiki torches (a favorite entertaining staple)
A plant stuffed artfully with leis for color
A seashell shaped dish floating lilies from the garden

The Recipes:
My friend Karma went to college in Hawaii where she met and married Ben, a fun loving sweet Samoan. These are their recipes they use for Luaus.

Kalua Pork

Pork Roast
Liquid Smoke

Place Pork Roast in Slow Cooker or Slow oven. Cover pork with water. For every 2 cups of water, add 2 T. Liquid Smoke and 1 t. salt. Slow cook for 8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high. shred with 2 forks and serve over rice.

Panipopo (Samoan Coconut Buns)

20 Rhodes rolls, thawed and raised
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 T. flour
1 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rolls in a pan. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil for 1 minute. Pour sauce over buns and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Pina Colado Punch

Bacardi frozen concentrate
3 litres lemon lime soda
tons of ice
floating fruit

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Solstice


June 21 is the longest day of the year and the most ancient and widespread holiday or celebration still in practice today. Anciently it was the most auspicious day for weddings. The term "honeymoon" comes from the moon phase at this time. It was believed to be the best time to harvest honey. Often solstice celebration food was made with honey. It was thought to bring fertility to the land and to the people. Herbs and flowers played a large roll in solstice celebrations. Many cultures wore flower wreaths in their hair or danced around flowered poles. Most cultures celebrated the evening around a huge bonfire, meant to give energy to the waning sun perhaps. Young men and women would leap over the flames, the higher the leap the better the crops. Late at night herbs were collected for the next year's medicines and use. On this night they were more potent than any other night. Young people placed certain herbs and flowers under their pillows to dream of their future spouse.

This year 35,000 gathered at Stonehenge, many across the globe participated in hike naked day, and others gathered to drink themselves into a stupor. In tribute to the sun and it's creator, we also celebrated Shakespeare's magical shortest night with a family dinner.

After a discussion of solstice, the power of the sun and our dependence on it we experimented to see if we could harness it's power. Inspired by Chef Tess, we created a miniature solar ovens out of pizza boxes, click here and here.
Our Smore's tasted better to the girls because they cooked them in their OWN ovens.

Bonfire or fire torches
Netting over our table
Double plates, white on bottom, flowers in the middle and glass plates on top
Edible Flower ice cubes (we used miniature roses and the water tasted magical)

"Hunt" for candy bar qualities we would look for in a future spouse.
Flower garlands for hair
Picked herbs and flowers to place under their pillows to dream about future spouse.

Honey Almond Balls
Honey Fruit Salad
Honey Dijon Crusted Salmon and Chicken
Honey Dill glazed carrots
Homemade Ice Cream

Honey Dijon Crusted Salmon and Chicken
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 T Dijon type mustard (the more flavorful the mustard, the better the dish)
1 1/2 T. honey
1/4 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
4 t chopped fresh parsley
4 fillets salmon or chicken (we used both, I prefer salmon, Briz prefers chicken)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, stir together butter, mustard, and honey. In another bowl, mix bread crumbs, pecans, salt and pepper, and parsley.
  3. Brush each salmon fillet lightly with honey mustard mixture, and sprinkle the tops of the fillets with crumb mixture.
  4. Bake 12-15 minutes until it flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Garnish each with a wedge of lemon.
Fruit Salad with Honey Dressing from Paula Deen
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 t fresh lemon juice, plus the juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 t poppy seeds
1/4 t salt
1/4 t prepared mustard
1 apple, cored and diced
1 banana, sliced
1 avacado, peeled and sliced
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
red or green leaf lettuce

For the dressing, combine honey, orange juice, oil, 1/2 t lemon juice, poppy seeds, salt, and mustard in a jar with a tight lid; cover and shake well. Toss the apple, banana, and avocado with juice from 1 lemon to prevent the fruit from turning brown. combine all the fruit and nuts in a glass bowl. Add the dressing and stir gently. Serve on a bed of greens.

Honey Dill Glazed Carrots
1 lb baby carrots
2 T fresh dill
2 t orange juice
1 T honey
1/2 t lemon zest
1/4 t ground mustard
1/4 t salt
1/8 t ground black pepper

Steam carrots until tender-crisp, 8-10 minutes
In a small bowl, combine dill, orange juice, olive oil, lemon zest, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk until blended.
In a larger bowl, combine the carrots and dill mixture and toss to mix well.

Honey Almond Date Balls: quick, easy, and healthy snacks for energy!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adaptation Dinner (Walk in Another's Shoes)

The Story:

Today as we returned home from the pool, one of our favorite high school seniors was lying in our grass with a neighbor girl, Tessa. Tessa has many handicaps, and I am not certain exactly what they are but she has difficulty communicating,and will often use some sign language. "Why doesn't she talk?" my girls asked. "Why will she only walk with Steph?" I knew this was a discussion that merited more than a quick answer, though I gave them that.

At dinnertime, I sat the family in the family room. I talked about how we were each born with different physical and mental characteristics. Those of us with contacts raised their hands, those with anxiety raised their hands. Those with blue, brown, or green eyes raised their hands. Now, we are going to play a game. Let's pretend we were born with different traits. Let's each pick a quality that we will have to live with tonight. Each picked a slip of paper.

  • Ladybug experienced my sister Ivy, whose elbow was fused in a horrific fall from a cliff. (tube wrapped up her right arm so it could not bend)
  • Little Mother was blind (dark sock with a safety pin)
  • I was deaf (earplugs)
  • Sunshine walked in Tessa's shoes or someone who spoke a different language. All she could say for the evening was "moo goo".
  • Russ tried to experience the basketball girl's life and could only move around on his behind.

Our meal was different. I screamed as people who can't hear usually do. Little Mother felt fearful of falling, so she scooted around the floor, and kept asking others to help her with her food. Ladybug switched to her left hand, and found it wasn't quite as handy. Sunshine took a long time to learn to communicate what she wanted. After dinner, we talked about our feelings. Ladybug was frustrated. Little Mother felt frightened. Sunshine was frustrated. Briz sat on his heiny and didn't want to move anywhere because it was convenient. I felt isolated from my family since I couldn't hear them.

We then went into the study where I pulled up stories of people with handicaps who had adapted with great success. We spoke of Helen Keller, Arthur Ashe, The basketball girl, and a young man with autism who was cheered on in basketball by his school. The girls were fascinated and wanted more and more.

Briz and I then explained that all these people didn't give up, and found ways to adapt and thrive despite things in their life that weren't "perfect". All of us felt a bit more understanding of those we knew, and some we didn't.

Recipe of the Day: This is such an simple main dish salad with fresh flavors for summer. We Love it!
Rylstone Chicken Salad

2 BBQ chicken breasts, sliced (You can use leftover, I LOVE Grill Mates Mesquite Marinate for 30 min.)1-2 chopped shallots or 1/2 red onion, finely sliced. (I saute the onions as it is better for my stomach)
1 mango, sliced
1 avacado, sliced
1 cucumber, sliced
grapes, halved
Mixed greens


Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 tablespoon warmed honey

  1. On a bed of mixed greens, arrange chicken, avacodo, mango, onion, cucumber and grapes.
  2. Place all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake till well mixed. Pour over salad 30 minutes before serving time.
  3. Keep in the fridge.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shopping Mystery Dinner

The Story:
After a week of surgery, a baptism, guests, and the mess that follows hostessing, we haven't much energy or imagination for fancy dinners. Yet, my crew still needs something out of the ordinary to break our monotony. I called them into the kitchen, gave them each $4.00, and drove to the store. Each picked out their own contribution to dinner. I wondered if we would dine on Trix and ice cream tonight. But if so, that was O.K. I wanted to stretch my little ones independence and give them the ultimate in choices.

We met at the front and purchased the goods. I admit, I went a bit over on my purchase... $4.87 for shrimp, but everyone else was under, so I feel o.k. about it.

At home, each person made their own dish to offer the family. Each item told a lot about the person who picked it. Meat loving Briz picked Maple Sausage and cooked it for us plain it patties. I always want to feel treated, so I made bacon wrapped shrimp with cocktail sauce. Ladybug is always concerned about health and brought home a cantaloupe.

Little Mother picked ice cream sandwiches, and our ever drinking Sunshine picked a frozen concentrate to mix with a carbonated beverage. Smiles of pride accompanied each meal donor as they offered the family their portion of the feast.

"This is a really good dinner." Ladybug commented, "but I guess it shows that everyone likes different things."

The Recipe:

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
jumbo uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound uncooked bacon, cut into thirds
Wrap bacon around each shrimp, closing with a toothpick.

Broil for 3-4 minutes then turn. Broil for 3-4 more minutes. Serve with your favorite cocktail sauce. (Mine is Bookbinders). Simply Heaven!