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eG Foodblog: SuzySushi - A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs


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Suzy, what a treat, all those green trees and sunshine, the adorable penguins, smiling people in short sleeves and summerdresses, your gorgeous cookies, sweet Tuffy and your beautiful family! Thank you for sharing your non-traditionaal Christmas with us, I'm very much looking forward to the rest of this week. It's cold and grey here in Amsterdam and your pictures bring me some much-neede cheer!

Thank you, Klary! Coming from you, the compliments are a real honor. I consider you and Lucy the queens of bloggers!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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As some of you know, both my husband and our daughter have Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes. Although my husband has been managing it for more than 25 years, it was still a shock when Wendy was diagnosed a little over a year ago, and it's made a vast difference in our lifestyles. Everything revolves around the demands of her insulin schedule:  what time she wakes up in the morning; what, how much, and what time she eats; what time she goes to bed. She does fingersticks to test her blood sugar five or more times a day, and needs an insulin injection before each meal or snack, as well as at bedtime.

My husband pretty much eats what he wants, and adjusts his insulin to cover his carbohydrate intake, but Wendy is on a more restrictive diet because she can't afford the carbohydrates of "empty calories."  For example, a typical snack for her should contain no more than 15 grams of carbohydrates, which means just one regular cookie.

I try to keep mostly healthy foods in the house, and I've been able to cut back on carbs in some recipes by switching from sugar to Splenda. Still, holidays are hard because of the preponderance of goodies and the temptation to cheat.

Thank you so much for this blog! Being a "new" Type II Diabetic, it's going to be so interesting to see how you handle the requirements of a child and adult both. I'm still learning how to count the carbs and keeping to a regular time/diet plan, even at work.

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Dinner is over; the guests have long gone home, but the warm memories remain. This is what Christmas dinners are supposed to be.

While I caught a short nap this morning (I got very little sleep last night -- that's how excited I am to be blogging on eGullet!), Wendy and Daniel finished decorating the gingerbread house. They substituted small sugar-free candies for the ones that came with the kit, and used very little of the sugar-laden royal icing, but here’s what else they cooked up:

A gingerbread. . . mouse?!? :shock:

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And another view. . . It's a gummi pet rat made by Jelly Belly.

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When our friends arrived, they were minus their older daughter -- I didn't catch whether she was working today, or out with friends. So we were eight for dinner: our family, our friends Mike and Ginny, their younger daughter Nikki, and Ginny's mom Soledad. Soledad is returning to the Philippines tomorrow after a six-month stay here.

The white wine ended up functioning as an aperitif while dinner finished cooking. Here's a toast to everyone at eGullet!

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Nikki is trying some appetizers -- golden grape tomatoes and pimiento-stuffed green olives

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Here I am in the kitchen cooking the side dish while the roast beef rests under a foil tent.

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Tomatoes, sauteed with capers and bread crumbs.

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The finished dish: Green beans with grape tomatoes and capers.

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The roast beef turned out tender and flavorful. Would you believe I did forget to serve the horseradish? :hmmm:

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The Yorkshire pudding. I hadn't noticed the heart shapes till I saw the photos! They were unintentional -- that's just the way it puffed during baking.

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Our groaning board. The high countertop is made of koa wood, something our house's previous owner put in.

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The buffet spread from another angle. If it weren't for the kitchen sink in the background, the feast would look positively Dickensian.

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Mike carving the roast beef into smaller pieces. We were afraid the paper plates would cut through if we used steak knives.

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Nikki and Wendy on the sofa, waiting for dinner.

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Mike said I could quote him as saying "Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!," then plaintively asked, "Could I live here?"

Daniel gave the meal a "thumbs up."

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Ginny and her mom are taking seconds. There were very few leftovers.

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Tuffy is jumping for joy at getting a tidbit of roast beef.

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A sugar-free apple pie for dessert from that new bakery I mentioned, Sweet Nothings. The owner has diabetes.

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Mike and Ginny also brought a sugar-free chocolate cream pie from the same bakery, but my photos came out blurry.

The girls demolished the gingerbread house for dessert.

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After dinner, we exchanged gifts. This is ours to Ginny, a "cocoa pot" (actually a pottery teapot, but Nestle filled it with instant cocoa mixes).

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When I saw it in the store, I was charmed by the incongruity of a snow family in Hawaii, and by the sweet verse that reads:

Friends are like a cup of cocoa.

They keep you

Warm on a cold

Winter’s day.

That's how I feel about the warmth and coziness of our friendships.

Mike and Ginny gave me one of those One-Step Pasta Makers that "cooks" pasta in a pitcher of boiling water. This photo makes me feel I'm in a television infomercial. :laugh:

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Since we'd forgotten to put on our Santa hats when we gave out the gifts, we took turns posing in them for photos.

Nikki and Wendy pose by the tree

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We adults got a little silly. It wasn't the single glass of wine we each had -- I swear! I put my Christmas tree headband on Tuffy. It was a little too big for him, so I had to hold it up.

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Even Soledad -- who's usually ladylike and sedate -- got into the spirit of the season by dancing with the dog.

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SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Merry Christmas! It looks like you had a lovely time at home with your family. It's important to be with our friends and family at this time of year.

I haven't seen a piece of beef that big in a loooong time, and boy, did it look good!

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Good morning!

Leftover pie for breakfast, along with iced green tea. :raz:

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Today's a good time to show you around my kitchen and do the requisite refrigerator and freezer shots.

This isn't the smallest kitchen I've ever had (that would be the one in the studio apartment I used to own in NYC), but space is pretty tight and the countertops are poorly laid out. There's only one spot large enough to hold the microwave oven, for example, and the counter to the left of the range is so narrow that it's almost useless. The kitchen obviously was designed by someone who doesn't cook -- but we don't have the money for a complete renovation.

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The sack with the chile motif hanging from the pantry door handle is to store plastic bags. BTW, a neat trick I learned from my stepson in California: use black kitchen towels. They don't show stains. :laugh:

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A few weeks ago, there was an eGullet thread about the food art decorating our kitchen walls. This is mine. The painting was the cover art for a trade magazine I used to write for (the cover story was about Brazil). The porcelain plate at the top left is a gift from a company that dealt in exotic reptile skins during my days as a shoe designer (hey, I've had a checkered career). It features a spoof recipe for "Cobra a l'Indienne."

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My spice rack, mostly organized alphabetically. Everything from ajwan seeds to zaatar. On the counter is a glass cutting board with a sushi motif. I wish I could find it in a larger size.

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Most of my magnets are food-related. I try to pick one up as a souvenir everywhere we travel.

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The refrigerator is more packed than usual today, but more organized than it was just before the party.

It's always stocked with a combination of mundane and exotic ingredients: butter, margarine, cream cheese, eggs, yogurt, milk, orange juice, a pitcher of Crystal Light, diet sodas, sugar-free chocolate syrup, sugar-free mock maple syrup, sugar-free jams and jellies, peanut butter, salad dressings, the usual condiments, Bisquick, panko (Japanese bread crumbs), canisters of kasha and polenta, capers, the horseradish I forgot to serve yesterday, furukake (a Japanese topping to sprinkle over rice -- this one contains nori flakes, sesame seeds, and salt) several kinds of Japanese pickles, miso, chutney, reduced-sodium soy sauce, fish sauce, ponzu sauce, soba sauce concentrate, oyster sauce, hot sauce, tamarind concentrate, pomegranate molasses, tahini, and four kinds of mustard.

At the moment, the cheese drawer holds a slab of Gruyere, a piece of Mimolette that Daniel brought as a gift, some Kraft extra-sharp cheddar, a coil of Lebanese string cheese from Karoun Dairy, a tub of crumbled Amish blue, the Chavrie goat cheese, and a large package of the cheese sticks Wendy eats for breakfast.

We usually keep fresh fruits and veggies like New Zealand apples, locally grown lettuce, carrots, a chunk of fresh ginger, garlic, and fresh cilantro, as well as dried fruits like raisins and dried mango on hand. Right now we also have two kinds of grape tomatoes, lots of clementines, and the package of purple chiso from the farmers' market.

Left over from the party are a jar of olives, whipped cream, and half the apple pie.

The bottom drawer on the left is where Michael keeps his extra insulin and other medications that need refrigeration.

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The freezer door. Frozen vegetables, frozen berries, coffee, a big bag of chocolate chips for cookie-baking, extra butter, and shredded Parmesan cheese.

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The interior of the freezer. A jumble of breads -- raisin, rosemary olive oil, German black bread, bagels, hamburger buns, Indian paratha. Raw meats, poultry, and fish -- steak, hamburgers, chicken breasts, salmon, shrimp, the pastele sausage from the farmer's market. Fast foods -- taquitos for Wendy and her friends, locally made wontons, half a Japanese oden fishcake set, unagi kabayaki (teriyaki eel). And a few leftovers -- cornmeal-crusted catfish, and meatloaf.

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This is the pantry. It's narrow but deep, so it holds more than is obvious at first glance. The top shelf is for baking ingredients along with glucose tablets to treat low blood sugar reactions.

Next down are grains: rice -- only two varieties at the moment (short grain sushi rice and jasmine rice), orzo, couscous, rice noodles, rice paper wrappers, several types of soba. . . Am I missing anything? Grains that spoil easily, like kasha and polenta, are in the fridge.

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The bottom part of the pantry. Pastas, canned goods, oils and vinegars, dog food, packages of Japanese dry groceries like nori and katsuobushi (the dried bonito flakes used to make dashi or sprinkled over foods as a topping).

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Part of my cookbook collection.

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I have two six-foot-tall bookcases filled with cookbooks in the bedroom, partly because of lack of space elsewhere in the house, and partly because cookbooks are my favorite bedtime reading. I find them very relaxing to read, I can absorb them in small bites (sic), and they always have happy endings!

I need to get going now for the day's adventures. More later!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Thank you for sharing your personal life with us, SuzySushi. It's much more like the New Year's holidays rather than the Christmas in Japan.

One item in your freezer caught my eye: Spumoni ice cream!

Could you explain what it is? Is it popular in Hawaii?

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Thank you for sharing your personal life with us, SuzySushi.  It's much more like the New Year's holidays rather than the Christmas in Japan.

One item in your freezer caught my eye:  Spumoni ice cream!

Could you explain what it is?  Is it popular in Hawaii?

I know! Christmas in Japan is KFC and Christmas cake! :laugh: That's not done here, despite the Japanese influence.

Spumoni ice cream is an Italian-style combination of three side-by-side flavors: chocolate, rum (with pieces of chopped candied fruit), and pistachio. I'm told that the colors are meant to resemble the colors of the Italian flag -- red, white, and green -- with the chocolate standing in for bright red.

Pistachio ice cream topped with chocolate syrup was my favorite (rare) treat as a child; the flavors of this come close. It's a seasonal thing, a private-label product from Safeway (a mainland-based supermarket chain). They put it out during the Christmas season, again maybe because of its festive colors.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Fish sauce and a wide variety of Asian cookbooks - sounds like my kind of place! I noticed a few Indian cookbooks - do you cook Indian food often, and do you have any trouble getting ingredients for Indian food?

Thanks, Bruce!

I cook Indian food sometimes -- so many cuisines, so little time. :laugh:

Up until two years ago, it was exceedingly difficult to find ingredients for Indian food in Hawaii, except for the few products carried in health food stores. Then a small Indian market -- appropriately called The Indian Market -- opened in Honolulu, so we're in luck now.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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My spice rack, mostly organized alphabetically. Everything from ajwan seeds to zaatar. On the counter is a glass cutting board with a sushi motif. I wish I could find it in a larger size.

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Really? Wow! Neat!

I buy spices in bulk (plastic bags) and reuse some of these small spice jars to hold them. I just tear off the old labels. I look them up by shape, color, smell and taste. Drive my wife nuts. :laugh: But hey... who owns the kitchen?

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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My spice rack, mostly organized alphabetically. Everything from ajwan seeds to zaatar. On the counter is a glass cutting board with a sushi motif. I wish I could find it in a larger size.

gallery_28660_4041_143845.jpg

Really? Wow! Neat!

I buy spices in bulk (plastic bags) and reuse some of these small spice jars to hold them. I just tear off the old labels. I look them up by shape, color, smell and taste. Drive my wife nuts. :laugh: But hey... who owns the kitchen?

Oh, I recognize them by sight, color, smell, and taste too. But my husband doesn't. Once he grabbed an unlabeled bottle of cumin thinking it was cinnamon. . . :blink:

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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It seems like it's taking forever to upload all the photos I took today, but wanted to recap at least part of our food-packed day.

Michael and I both belong to Mensa, the international high-IQ society. Today we went to their weekly luncheon, held every Tuesday at Stuart Anderson's Cattle Company, a chain steakhouse at Ward Warehouse in Honolulu. During the school year, Michael usually attends the luncheon by himself because someone needs to be home when Wendy comes home from school. Besides which, steakhouses aren't really my thing -- I show up occasionally for the socializing, but wouldn't want to dine there every week.

With its Western motif and dark wood interior, Cattle Company could be anywhere on the mainland.

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Or could it? Not with an ocean view like this!

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Today the "lunch bunch" drew seven people, us included. Michael and I shared an appetizer platter as our meal: stuffed potato skins, shrimp cocktail, and Buffalo chicken strips (we requested more potato skins instead of the fried zucchini).

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Children aren't invited to the luncheon, so we dropped Wendy off at Daniel's store on the way over. As I mentioned, he's a tattoo artist and body piercer and he owns a shop in Chinatown. She ate dim sum for lunch -- her favorite har gau and char shu bau (which I would've preferred for my own lunch!) -- then Daniel took her shopping and she bought this cheongsam with her Christmas money. She looks so sophisticated -- 10 going on 23.

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The decor of Daniel's store is reminiscent of 1930s Shanghai. This is the waiting room.

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Michael loves Chinese wedding cakes, so we made a quick stop at Shung Chong Yuein, a traditional Chinese bakery on Maunakea Street, in the heart of Chinatown.

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The store looks very old-fashioned, which adds to its appeal.

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In the window are candied fruits and vegetables -- mango, ginger, lotus root, squash, water chestnuts, yams -- along with peanut and macadamia nut candies.

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We bought several kinds of cakes and sweets (clockwise from the top): a large Chinese wedding cake filled with candied fruit (?), a banana-flavored mochi roll, a fruitcake, a mochi cake filled with what I believe is two types of sweet bean pastes -- black beans and white beans, and finally a piece of macadamia nut candy.

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It's after 1:00 a.m. and I'm fading fast -- to be continued tomorrow.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I envy you for having access to a shop with artisanal Chinese candied fruits and such. Do you get them much? I love candied lotus root and lotus seed. I also love candied yellow haw, which I got when I was in Beijing, and pingguofu - candied apples, which I used to get in Malaysia, imported from China in the 70s, but can't find anymore. That same department store used to have delicious candied pears and cherries, too. I can't find those, either.

I love the cheongsam, too.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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oh oh oh oh oh! That's my favorite candy & pastries shop in Chinatown! When we go to Honolulu, we always have to stop there to pick up stuff. There used to be a faboo char siu and roast duck place, which the name escpaes me right now, but someone told me they closed down. :(

Don't you love the fish market? Where do you like to get your dim sum from? I love Legends, but if I want to go cheaper, there's Sea Fortune. Or is it called Golden Palace? I can never remember which is the current name for it.

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Good Wednesday morning!

Fragrant papaya for breakfast. Before moving to Hawaii, I used to wonder what all the fuss about papayas and mangos was about, because the ones we got in New York were stringy, underripe, and flavorless. :shock:

Now I know! :biggrin: (Mangos aren't in season now, or I'd show you those, too.)

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To answer a few questions. . .

Pan: we sometimes buy Chinese candied fruit, but not that often. My husband and daughter really shouldn't be eating it because it's so full of sugar. . . and you can't eat just one! I've never seen candied apples or candied haw, although some shops here carry the rolls of haw flakes, which I love. I should take you guys to a crack seed store!

Mochihead: yes, that bakery is the only place to go! -- except at the Moon Festival, when a couple of restaurants (Legend and Hee Hing, to name two) sell mooncakes.

I'm not sure which char siu and roast duck place you're talking about -- we usually get ours at Duck Lee at Market City in Kapahulu. Closer to home, there's also a good place, whose name escapes me, in the food court of the Pearl Highlands shopping center, by Sam's Club. The latter also sells whole roast pigs, in case you're interested!

I don't know if I'll get a chance to do dim sum during this blog -- again, so many meals, so little time! -- but our favorite places are Legend (and their accompanying Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant just across the hall) and Panda Cuisine on Keeaumoku. We used to love Eastern Garden, and the staff knew us well there, but they're out of business now. The owners have opened a fancier new restaurant on Alakea Street, where you order the dim sum off the menu instead of choosing from carts. I haven't tried it yet. Wendy judges the quality of dim sum places by whether they make fresh mango pudding (or use an artificial mix)! :laugh: :laugh:

She's a real dim sum connossieur. She used to be known as "the haole [caucasian] har gau girl" -- when she was two years old, she took a liking to har gau -- delicate shrimp dumplings in translucent wheat starch wrappers -- and flagged down a waitress to reorder them! :laugh::laugh:

[Edited for typo]

Edited by SuzySushi (log)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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And now back to our regularly scheduled blog. Yesterday afternoon was a good time to shop at Marukai, a Japanese warehouse club whose name translates to "circle club." Besides a chain of stores in Japan, Marukai has four stores in California, and two in Honolulu. Membership costs just $10 a year. Marukai also owns a chain of three 99¢ stores on Oahu where membership is not required -- they offer a great assortment of Japanese housewares.

Marukai warehouse club. The main store is in an industrial area.

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Marukai carries a huge selection of Japanese groceries and fresh seafood, meat, and produce. The seafood includes sashimi-grade products flown in from Japan. There are premium meats like American Wagyu beef and Canadian Berkshire pork; and air-flown Japanese produce such as myoga (a ginger-like root with a more delicate taste). There's also a Japanese housewares department, Japanese dry goods, and a sizeable selection of Filipino and Korean products. The interior has a bazaar-like atmosphere, especially when it's decked out for New Year's.

Here's the housewares department

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Japanese New Year's is a big holiday in Hawaii. Many of the Japanese-Americans living here are second, third, or even fourth generation, but a lot of families follow traditions that have fallen by the wayside in modern Japan. Even mainstream supermarkets carry the makings for kadomatsu, traditional arrangements of pine sprigs and bamboo stalks that are displayed near the entrance to the house; and kagami mochi, decorations made of two stacked glutinous rice cakes.

Traditionally, kagami mochi are topped with a whole mandarin orange. Ours, which we picked up a few weeks ago at another Japanese supermarket, is topped with a plastic maneki neko, a stylized "beckoning cat" figurine that symbolizes good fortune.

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Here is the kagami mochi display in the other market. Don Quijote is the name of a Japanese supermarket chain. They recently bought out the Hawaii supermarkets that had been owned by Daiei – another Japanese supermarket chain that is now in financial trouble. In the upper right, you can see Don Quijote's mascot -- oddly, a penguin instead of a horse or donkey -- named Don-Pen.

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In recent years, as fewer people want to spend days cooking all the traditional Japanese specialty foods for New Year's, the Japanese markets here have begun offering prepared osechi ryori sets. Presented in elegant tiered lacquer boxes called jubako, these sets are extremely pricey. Shirokiya, a Japanese department store in Ala Moana Center (Honolulu's largest shopping center) advertised "Deluxe Sets" with three tiers serving three to five people for $195, and two-tier "Couple's Sets" for $135! They're available by special-order only, limited to the first 200 orders. You can see an ad for Shirokiya's osechi ryori here.

That's just sliiiiiiiiiiiightly out of our price range ( :raz: ). Besides which I already own a jubako, and we don't like some of the foods (such as kazunoko -- herring roe -- which to my palate tastes too salty and bitter) even if you are supposed to eat them for good luck! So I picked up a few prepared foods we like at Marukai and we'll put together our own osechi along with other foods that I'll cook:

Takenoko kombu -- bamboo shoots and kelp seaweed

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Ajitsuke kinpira renkon -- seasoned lotus root. In China and Japan, lotus root symbolizes the Buddhist wheel of life. It looks pretty and tastes good, too.

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Onigara yaki -- skewers of small shrimp grilled in their shells. I've never had these and am curious to taste them. Shrimp and lobsters represent long life because their backs are bent, alluding to an old person.

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Sansai vegetables -- a mixture of wild mountain vegetables such as fiddlehead ferns, sweet potato vines, nameko mushrooms, young bamboo shoots, and other vegetables. This isn't traditional for New Year's, but we like it. We usually eat it over rice.

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Cha soba -- buckwheat noodles flavored with green tea. These are for New Year’s Eve.

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The osechi ryori display. The lady in the apron and white kerchief is busy packing small plastic containers.

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More osechi ryori. Doesn't this look like a bazaar?

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Still more of the osechi ryori display. Here, you can see the kadomatsu (pine and bamboo decorations) -- as well as kagami mochi (stacked mochi cakes, topped with a fake mandarin orange) flanking the sign.

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Sake display. These are large bottles being featured for New Year's celebrations. The white kanji character on the blue banner in the center says "sake."

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Marukai's fish department. The ladies in the white kerchiefs work there. There's an old fishing boat hanging from the wall as a display. Sorry, I can't read all the red characters on the banner -- I recognize "fish" and "large" -- maybe someone who knows kanji can translate the whole phrase?

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Poke display. Poke (pronounced POH-key) is a local Hawaiian seafood salad, usually made raw seafood cut in cubes or slices and mixed with seasonings such as scallions, chopped limu (a branchy, crunchy seaweed), crushed kukui nuts, soy sauce, sesame oil, chiles, or other condiments. Some types are made with cooked seafood (such as octopus) or even cubed tofu. It's very popular in Hawaii and every supermarket fish counter has a large display.

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Going front to back, left to right, this picture shows Korean style hokkigai (red clams with chile seasoning), mussels, wasabi tako (wasabi-seasoned octopus), "ocean salad" (a green seaweed salad), taegu (Korean seasoned shredded codfish); hidako sumiso tako (baby octopus in a vinegar-miso dressing), hidako limu tako (baby octopus with crunchy seaweed), onion tako (octopus with chopped onions); tofu poke, and shrimp poke. The most popular types of poke use ahi, but they're not in this photo. Marukai offers about three times the poke selection shown in this picture.

One of the favorite New Year's foods in Hawaii is sashimi, especially a red fish like ahi (the Hawaiian word for maguro, yellowfin tuna). Demand for ahi during the days before New Year's drives the price of this fish sky-high. The finest grade of bluefin tuna is priced at $40.99 a pound, with the next lower grade at $29.99!

The local newspapers begin featuring "ahi alerts" several days before the end of the year. This

was the lead story in yesterday’s newspaper! (Told ya it's like a small town here. :laugh: )

Trays of sashimi assortments and oysters on the half-shell.

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Tai snapper from New Zealand. All the fish are facing the same direction, in proper Japanese manner.

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Japanese cucumbers (these tiny ones are flown in from Japan; the ones we grow here are larger), shiso leaves, and tiny chiles

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Fresh quail eggs and fresh wasabi. They're in the refrigerated case of the fish department near the sashimi.

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Close-up of the fresh wasabi, air-flown from Japan

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Beef sliced for sukiyaki and for shabu-shabu. Every supermarket here carries Asian-style cuts of meat.

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A large selection of fresh mushrooms

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Imported fresh matsutake mushrooms ($117.15 a pound!!!) and sudachi (small citrus fruits – their juice is used for seasoning foods)

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Myoga, a ginger-like root

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Gobo (burdock root). This batch measures almost a yard long!

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Fresh taro

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SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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We also stopped by Costco yesterday (most of y'all know what Costco looks like, right?), ostensibly to pick up some fresh asparagus for today, but they were all sold out. New Year's shopping was already in full swing and the store looked like it was stripped!

Thanks to Hawaii's strong Asian-American influence (according to the 2000 Census, Asians -- many of them third- or fourth-generation -- represent the largest proportion of State residents, about 42%), New Year's is a tremendous holiday here, and it's typically celebrated with family parties and reunions, not going out nightclubbing.

New Year's is also a tremendous time for fireworks. The popularity of New Year's fireworks here began as a traditional Chinese custom to ward off evil spirits -- but the tradition caught on with other ethnic groups as well. In Hawaii, more firecrackers are set off at New Year's than on the Fourth of July! For several years, the City & County of Honolulu -- which means all of Oahu -- restricted fireworks for health and safety reasons, and you needed a $25 permit to buy a maximum of 5,000.

This year the restrictions have been lifted, and people are really going to town. It's going to be a noisy, smoke-filled New Year's, with a haze of smoke hanging over the island, and the streets littered for days with red firecracker wrappers.

At Costco yesterday, they were already sold out of the largest fireworks assortments -- a $300 (discount price) stack in a box five feet tall!!! -- and the smaller $148 assortments were going fast! :shock:

Here's a photo I snuck of the display, under the watchful eye of a regional manager.

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Luckily for us (I hope!) every condo association here in the valley bans fireworks on their property because the houses are too close to the woods.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Thanks Suzi for a Herculean effort. Those of us that have blogged know how much work it is and doing it over Christmas makes it even more impressive. I regret never having visited Hawaii. Perhaps someday we will. You have such a lovely family

Do you ever get any of the Kona coffee that they charge so much for here on the mainland and make such a big deal about? Each year I get offers to buy small amounts for high price. I always pass. Do you ever drink it?

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Tonight we're invited to a party at a friend's house. This afternoon, I'll prepare an apple crisp, spiced with candied ginger and sweetened with Splenda, for dessert.

Before the party, I wanted to tell you a little about the Hawaiian concept of family, called ohana. Ohana means "family" (as you may know if you saw the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch), but it's more than that. It means extended family, encompassing not only people who are actual relatives, but "calabash cousins" who are so close emotionally that they figuratively drank out of the same calabash (gourd bowl) as you did as children.

These friends we're seeing tonight -- along with Mike and Ginny's family, who will also be at tonight's party -- are our ohana, in the absence of any of us having other actual relatives living here. We three families get together for just about every major holiday celebration -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day -- for either a meal at one of our homes, or a beach or park picnic.

Another Hawaiian family concept is hanai, which means "adopted." In old Hawaii, there was a tradition of informal adoption, whereby children were given away to be loved and reared by someone other than their natural parents, often to their grandparents or a childless relative. In practice, hanai today is a verbal shortcut to define the warmth of any fostering relationship. For instance, one of Wendy's friends (who sadly has moved off-island) used to spend so much time at our house that she became our hanai daughter. (I'm an earth mother anyway!) Hanai can be used to refer to the foster parent, the child, or the process.

Edited by SuzySushi (log)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Thanks Suzi for a Herculean effort. Those of us that have blogged know how much work it is and doing it over Christmas makes it even more impressive. I regret never having visited Hawaii.  Perhaps someday we will.  You have such a lovely family

Do you ever get any of the Kona coffee that they charge so much for here on the mainland and make such a big deal about?  Each year I get offers to buy small amounts for high price.  I always pass. Do you ever drink it?

Thanks, Mike! I didn't really know how much I was taking on! :raz: It's not the chronicling in words that's hard -- it's posting the photos.

Nope, sorry to say I do not drink Kona coffee. I find it too mild (as well as too expensive.) I like to buy and support local products, but that's not one of them. The coffee I drink is roasted in Hawaii, but grown elsewhere.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Thanks for blogging SuzySushi. It has been so fun to see your family celebrate together, and to see how you have incorporated dietary restrictions into a life that still revolves around good eating.

We stayed near Kapolei a few months ago and loved it. Our biggest frustration was wanting to buy all the wonderful produce and seafood in the Chinatown markets, but not having a kitchen to cook in. Still we managed to eat well, to enjoy pineapple and fresh cold coconut almost every day. Now I want to go back and visit Marukai, as well as more Chinese and Japanese restaurants.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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Aargh! Don Quijote! I miss them when they were Daiei. I went into sensory overload with all of the vines, flowers, penguins, and other decorations all over the store!

Hee hee... haole har gao girl. :D

Is it true that they're also closing the 99 Ranch Market?

Wow! You eat haw flakes! Yay! But, but, but... no kazunoko? Ah, well. More for me to eat! :D

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THANKS FOR ALL THE PHOTOS, SuzuSushi! Fascinating!

Although some characters are too blurry to read, I can tell that at leat two of the sake on display are from Niigata:

Kubota 久保田

and

Kikusui 菊水

Sake display. These are large bottles being featured for New Year's celebrations. The white kanji character on the blue banner in the center says "sake."

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Marukai's fish department. The ladies in the white kerchiefs work there. There's an old fishing boat hanging from the wall as a display. Sorry, I can't read all the red characters on the banner -- I recognize "fish" and "large" -- maybe someone who knows kanji can translate the whole phrase?

First, the hiragana: いきいき (ikiiki), roughly "fresh, fresh"

Second, the kanji: 鮮魚大特売 (sengyo dai tokubai)

鮮魚 Fresh fish

大 Big, great

特売 Special sale

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Aargh!  Don Quijote!  I miss them when they were Daiei.  I went into sensory  overload with all of the vines, flowers, penguins, and other decorations all over the store!

Hee hee... haole har gao girl. :D

Is it true that they're also closing the 99 Ranch Market?

Wow! You eat haw flakes!  Yay!  But, but, but... no kazunoko?  Ah, well. More for me to eat! :D

Oh no!!!! :shock: Closing Ranch 99??? I hadn't heard anything, but now will keep my ear to the ground. That'll be a real shame if it goes.

Yup. Haw flakes are addictive. :raz: But you can have my share of kazunoko. Strangely enough, the only kazunoko I liked was the stuff they used to serve at Genki Sushi, but they discontinued it because it wasn't popular enough.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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