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Archive for the ‘American’ Category

Happy 4th of July everyone! While most of you will be having a BBQ with watermelon, corn on the cob, fried chicken and berry pies, we’re in the middle of winter (with even a bit of hail yesterday). So…although pumpkin pie is not traditional for Independence day, it’s very much in season now & I’ve made it to feel patriotic. Yes, it’s all from scratch (as in baked a fresh pumpkin & made pâte brisée) as canned pumpkin is a wholly American product! Trust me, I never appreciated canned pumpkin until I moved abroad.

P.S. It’s my first post from my iPhone too, hence the crappy photo…

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Honestly, I have no idea how many places in Hawaii serve up onion rings but every time I go home, I crave the ONION RING TOWER at the Yard House (chain restaurant found in nine states) on Lewers St. in Waikiki and I think that it’s the best I’ve ever had.  It comes with both regular Ranch and Chipotle Ranch dipping sauces and is piled high on this pole. The batter is very light, crisp and slightly sweet and I could probably eat the whole thing by myself but I have always shared it with someone.

If you order it, make sure you enjoy it with some of their over 100 draft beers!  Apparently they have the world’s largest selection of beers on tap!  The downside of the place is that it is very noisy and you can’t really book reservations. The weekends are very busy and the wait can be around an hour for a table.  Luckily, the restaurant is right where there are new shops to whittle the time away.

To finish, their Kona coffee ice cream sundae was as HUGE (as big as my face) and it was very, very tasty.  Hubby got the Lemon Souffle Cake and it was really disappointing so don’t waste your time on that (didn’t even taste like lemons).

Aloha!

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I haven’t even upgraded my iPod to an iTouch (I have an old iPod Mini) nor have I purchased a new laptop in many years. I have only just upgraded my mobile phone that includes a good camera, MP3 and internet capability but I can barely keep up with technology.

Twitter is, of course, the new micro-blogging site where you can tell the world every minute detail of your thoughts and doings at any given time.  I signed up for an account the other day but I’m still wondering how to incorporate it into my life.  So far, the only way that Twitter seems useful to me is if you use it on the go with your mobile phone but it’s definitely not made for stay-at-home mothers. Twitter’s usefulness in the food industry is a different story especially when restaurants update their menus and their whereabouts to all their following fans.  This is especially useful if a restaurant’s location changes nightly such as a taco truck in Los Angeles.

NPR (National Public Radio) in the U.S. did an article on Kogi, the Korean-Mexican mobile restaurant (aka Taco Truck) in L.A. In the article Tweeting Food Truck Draws L.A.’s Hungry Crowds, writer Ben Bergman talks about how Kogi’s success is owed largely from their fans following Twitter to track where Kogi will be parked on a particular night and what specials there are each evening.  Apparently, there are over 8,000 people following Kogi on Twitter and since joining Twitter over a week ago, I also became a Kogi follower even though I live nowhere NEAR L.A. and am not planning a trip there anytime soon.  I am following Kogi just in case I get to go to L.A. within the year and use my cool phone to track them down one evening.  I have to say that the combination of Mexican and Korean – two of my most favourite foods (apart from Japanese) makes me want to hop on the next plane to try their tacos.

Looks like old-fashioned food reviews in newspapers are not going to be the only influence on a food business anymore – seems like technology has caught up with networking sights such as Facebook and Twitter and to keep up with the trends and to attract future crowds, we have to keep our minds open and sharpened to the latest marketing tool.  But I have to admit, even though I’m not exactly old,  it is truly exhausting keeping up.

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We went to a once a month market that sold clothes and other knick-knacks this past weekend and at the back were the food sellers (majority selling baked goods) and this young man had a stall piled with very attractive-looking, rustic and authentic items such as croissants, pannetone and banana bread.  But much to our surprise, a whole loaf of banana bread was going for $25!  Mind you, it was a very sexy and large banana bread but I thought…”wow!”  At home, I whip up banana bread so fast that I couldn’t imagine any banana bread being worth that much money.  Now I wish that I had bought a slice of it to see how good it was…next month perhaps.

I always keep bananas in my freezer ready to defrost and make into banana bread.  It started out one year with a market stallholder selling me 10 kilos (22 pounds) of bananas for $2AUD at the end of the day!!  We put two in a snack Ziploc bag and froze them – over a year later, we’re still eating them!

My standby foolproof banana bread recipe is an adaptation from the American Sunset magazines classic cookbook first published in 1963 called “Breads”.  It takes me less than an hour and a half from the prep to the baking and it tastes divine toasted under the grill with lashings of butter.  My recent find has been ground nut meals at the Wayville Sunday market and have been topping my banana bread with ground walnut meal as well as in the batter. The extra oils and texture add an extra dimension and crunch.

This was the first time I put chocolate chips on...

This was the first time I put chocolate chips on...

Foolproof Banana Bread

2 cups flour OR 1 2/3 cup flour and 1/3 cup walnut meal

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp each baking soda & salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, melted

Chocolate chips are optional

In a bowl, stir together flour, nut meal (if using) baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and nuts until thoroughly blended.  In a separate bowl, combine bananas, milk, egg and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until well blended.  Pour batter into a greased 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch (10 x 20 cm) loaf pan.  Sprinkle top of loaf generously with walnut meal and/or chocolate chips if desired.

Bake in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 1 1/4 hrs or until bread begins to pull away from sides of pan and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes one large loaf.

 

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I personally feel that SODA and its INEXPENSIVENESS in America, is one of the many causes of the huge obesity problem in the U.S.A.  Don’t get me wrong, Australia has a big problem too but the stats don’t lie, the U.S.A. is the fattest nation on earth and it is because junk food is so cheap and accessible. According to MSN Health & Fitness who got its source from Beverage Digest, Americans spent $68.1 Billion USD on carbonated soft drinks last year which averages it as 828 8-ounce servings per capita!!!  That is crazy.  What a load of empty calories that is!

Soda is one of those things that you can get extra super duper sized in America.  At 7-eleven stores in most parts of the U.S.A., you can get buy their “Double Gulp” soda in 64 ounces (1.89 litres or 1/2 gallon)!!  Also, if you are on the market for a brand new car in the states, check out how much larger their cup holders are…big enough to at least fit a “Big Gulp”.  In Australia, our cars are big, much like in the states but cup holders are still small and the biggest sized plastic soda drink it will fit are the 500ml (16 oz) bottles.  If you go to fast food restaurants here like at McDonald’s, a “small” drink is what I remember a small was in my childhood – I think they are now called “kiddie” size in the U.S.A.  I was surprised to have gone home recently and ordered a “medium” drink and they gave me this HUGE thing that was not medium in my head.

I am not against soda – in fact I do love a frozen coke as a treat but I rarely buy soda for the house.  Part of the reason is because it does nothing good for my body and the other is because it’s so bloody expensive.  When I first moved here, I was shocked at just how much little bottles of soda cost ($3) and was able to curb my American taste for sugary drinks.  Now, I go to the supermarket and marvel at the prices of 6-packs of Coke.  As you see in my picture, a 6-pack of Diet Coke, on Special, is $7.54!!  Now how much is that with the conversion rate you ask?  Well, up until last month, the Australian vs. U.S. Dollar were nearly 1 to 1 but the Aussie $ has slipped this week so as of Sept. 3 ($1US = 0.82AU), the 6-pack costs $6.22 at a GROCERY store.  I’ve seen 36 cans of name-brand soda on sale for $10 in the U.S.A. and it gets way cheaper than that if you go to the big wholesale stores or Wal-Mart and especially if you buy generic brands.

I think I’ve made enough comparisons and I’m done w/my ranting.  I just find the cultural differences so interesting and I think that American beverage companies should raise the price of soda to help with the nationwide obesity problem and perhaps, people might start losing weight!

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