Monday, October 30, 2017

Food and Drink - Hawaiian Style

I love trying new foods. I watch a lot of cooking shows and always make mental notes of things to be on the lookout for in my travels or even at the market.

I just got back from a wonderful 5-day trip to Hawaii where I tried several new foods and drinks:

Food

  • Portuguese sausage - I really liked this, even though I generally don't eat much meat. I had it a few mornings with eggs and found the mildly spicy flavor a nice change from the usual sausage.
  • Korean Bibimbap - a rice bowl with a lot of veggies topped with a fried egg and served with different sauces. The veggies were all familiar to me except for the sea asparagus. This was a nice light dinner my first night at my hotel, the Moana Surfrider.
  • Sea Asparagus - although in the Bibimbap, this also came as a side salad at dinner one evening with my fish. They had blanched it and added it to thin sliced onion and halved cherry tomatoes tossed with a very light dressing. It was fresh and tasty.
  • Watermelon radishes - I see these a lot on cooking shows, so when faced with them on a salad bar, just had to go for it. They were a lot less intense than a regular radish and wonderful on my salad.
  • Onaga - which is a Hawaiian red snapper. This was one of my favorite meals on the island, which I had at The House Without A Key restaurant, named for the Charlie Chan mystery of the same name. It was steamed with bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in a very light sesame sauce. It came with white rice, which I used to soak up the sauce. Excellent food and restaurant. 
  • Moonfish - my other very memorable meal, had at Duke's Waikiki. This was sauteed with a macadamia crust and served with the sea asparagus salad mentioned above and a lovely bastmati wheatberry rice.
  • Mango ranch dressing - This came on one of the best salads I've tasted anywhere. I had it at my hotel in the Beach Bar. It was a chopped salad with beautiful big grilled shrimp. There was nothing unusual about the salad veggie-wise, but it was exceptionally fresh and served with mango ranch dressing. I'm not a big ranch dressing fan, but I'm so glad I didn't ask them to hold the dressing this time. Mango ranch dressing is much lighter and tastier than regular ranch and brought the salad together.  I could eat that salad every day!

I'm sure there are some of you thinking: Wait, you didn't try Spam? No, I didn't, for two reasons: 1) We ate a lot of Spam growing up, so it wasn't new to me; 2) I hate Spam!

Coconut Mojito!
Drinks

I'm not much of a drinker in my daily life, but I do LOVE my vacation tropical drinks, my favorite being a mai tai, and I had several during this vacation at different locations. My favorite of those I tried was that made at my hotel. It was heavy on the rum and not too sweet. But I tried a couple of other drinks during the week too:

  • Spiked sangria - this was at my hotel.  Normally I enjoy a nicely done sangria, but this was on the sour side from the hard alcohol in it.
  • Cucumber ginger cooler - this was an interesting concoction of cucumber vodka, sake and ginger ale. At first it was really yummy and refreshing, but about halfway through it wore out its welcome and became kind of odd tasting with an unpleasant finish. It might have been the sake that caused this. Hard to tell.
  • Coconut mojito - OMG, this is now my favorite tropical drink, although I wonder if I could get one outside of Duke's. I enjoyed it so much at dinner, that instead of dessert, I ordered another. It was refreshing and tasty and the mint wasn't overpowering.
  • Duke's Signature Mimosa - enjoyed on my last day in Hawaii at breakfast, this was a super tasty twist to the normal mimosa.  In fact, I liked it much better than the usual champagne and orange juice because it was more refreshing and less sweet. It was champagne with lilikoi (passion fruit) juice. 

Dessert Tree
Desserts

I didn't indulge much in desserts since I was sucking down calorie-laden sweet tropical drinks, but I did try the signature coconut cake at The House Without A Key and it rocked.  My first day at my hotel, I couldn't make up my mind on a desert with lunch, but knew I wanted one. The Veranda restaurant is known for their afternoon teas, and one of the desserts on their regular menu was a tree of miniature desserts, which is part of the tea service. It seemed silly and indulgent to order it since I was dining alone, but did anyway. It consisted of eight different dessert bites and each was amazing. My favorite was the mango mousse on top of a sponge cake square. I ate a couple at lunch and they boxed up the others for me to take back to my room. So except for the coconut cake, these took care of my sweet tooth.

So now I'm back home and on the wagon, both drink and food-wise. Back to eating mostly vegan, and watching the calories. But I sure had fun tossing all that aside in Hawaii!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Minimize Me!

It's time to officially start downsizing my apartment to fit into an RV. All my book contracts are behind me. I'm on the verge of buying the van. It's time.

I leave for vacation in 2 days, but except for packing my duds and a little writing, I have this weekend free. So why not start the downsizing of my stuff by tossing out things I know belong in the trash. Getting rid of a lot of that will leave behind the items I need to donate and sell.

I began last night by getting a good size box and tossing stuff into it that I know needs to go and would be of no use to anyone. As each item went into the box, I wondered why I'd even hung on to it at all. This morning I took the box down to the dumpster and emptied it, bringing it back upstairs to repeat the process.

Over the last few months I've also started downsizing my clothing.  I have this large walk-in closet jam-packed with clothes, of which I probably only wear 20-25%. If something hasn't been worn in the past year or two, it's going to Goodwill or some other charity. I mean, I have almost a dozen pairs of pants that I haven't been able to get into for almost twenty years.  Seriously! That's carrying wishful thinking to ridiculous! Let's not even discuss the clothing I bought thinking it was perfect for me when it was anything but. After a few wearings, they too ended up in the back of the closet.  And then there's the forgotten items. A few weeks ago I wore something to work I had forgotten I owned. Someone asked me if it was new. Ha! No, I just found it in the closet smooshed between the stuff I can't wear.

I also have two chest of drawers to clean out. My trick for these is to pull out a drawer and drag it into the living room.  While watching TV, I sort the drawer contents into keep, donate, and toss piles. Do I really need forty scarves? Forty-two to be exact! I got that whittled down to ten and might even re-think those. And bras! So many bought only to be so uncomfortable they were never worn more than a couple of times. I must have a dozen of those too, along with three dozen pairs of socks I never wear.  I have two drawers of tee shirts. That drawer is next on my hit list, along with the drawers in my bathroom vanity.

And books... let's talk about books. Over the years I had already pared down the number of my physical books because of space limitations, and now only read e-books or listen to audio books. In the van, there will be no room for books, except for the inventory of my books that I'll keep on hand to sell at events. And a couple of cookbooks. I don't like using cookbooks on my Kindle. The rest of my books will be donated to my local library, with a few special ones going to my great nephew and nieces.

Once I get back from vacation, I'll be on hardcore downsize mode. The kitchen will be next, and that's going to be the biggest job. I might just put all my nice things I once used for entertaining in boxes and tell people it's theirs if they just come get it. My goal is to be almost completely finished with this project by Christmas. I want to get to the point where all that's left is basic furniture and the things I'll need in retirement, not a stitch or stick more.

A friend recently asked me if getting rid of my things saddens me. Honestly, except for a couple of items, no. I'm actually starting to feel a sense of freedom and lightness as the process continues.

It's shedding the past to face my future.