December 7, 2011

Dinner at Hilo Bay Cafe

Ever find yourself in Hilo, don't skip out on having a delicious dinner at Hilo Bay Cafe! And don't get put off by their location. Though they are located between office max and wal mart, once you enter, you will be pleasantly surprised by their upscale ambience. We had to convince a couple of our friends to go there for dinner, but the food makes up for all the trouble. The art on their wall was inspiring for me. They do have almost daily specials too. And what more, their food is local and organic. Yum!!!

We shared the appetizer, another daily special. 

S had the Hamakua mushroom potpie

I tried the three cheese and mushroom pastry, with spicy green pesto. Was the best dish of the evening!

And we finished with a rum-infused panna-cotta, mango & pineapple coulis and a macadamia nut shortbread cookie. 

December 6, 2011

Punalu'u Black Sands Beach in Hawaii

In contrast to the Green Sands Beach, the Black sands beach is very accessible and have facilities around! This is the perfect place to watch the Green Sea Turtles. We saw so many of them feeding by the tidal pools among the rocks. And you can also see them swimming. I was surprised to see them tossed around by the waves. Something I hadn't quite thought of before. That before the force of nature even the mighty turtles are not so mighty :) The black sands are basically from the weathered lava rocks. They are soft and very light. We also watched a local fish here and catch some of the species we didn't see while snorkeling. 

Vastness of black sands interspersed with the coconut and palm trees

Don't touch the turtles!

It is quite fantastic to see the turquoise and white waves against the black sands!

December 5, 2011

Green Sands Beach @ Hawaii

The follow-up to my post on the South Point. We have been reading about the Green Sands beach and were intrigued. Only draw back -- not allowed to drive there with a rental car. Even if it was a 4-wheel drive. So from the South Point, we drive to the parking lot for the Green Sands and were debating if we could just hike to where we can at least see the beach, as the guide book we were looking at said we have to jump down 4-feet rocks to make it to the actual beach. Guess what! The guide book was wrong and missed some important stuff. Like how there are locals who do shuttle people back and forth from the parking lot in 4-wheel pick up trucks. $20 for a couple. We paid $15 and it was worth every penny. And there is a path to get down to the enclosed beach. We even saw a few turtles there. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, don't bother with the hike. And more importantly dont try to drive there yourself and get stuck! We shared our ride with about 7 others and it was fun :)

From the view point!

Green Sands from Olivine crystals, a by-product of volcanic activity.

Surrounding cliffs, not olivine.

The paths to the beach. Definitely a bumpy ride!

December 4, 2011

Panel: 4 -- Henna Style on Wood

Here is one of the latest in the series. I love the copper + teal blue color with white henna texture. The panel measures 11x15 inches. Acrylic and finished with varnish. Needs to be hung at a slight angle to avoid reflection on the metallic color. Saw this color theme by one of our local artists during the art show in October and wanted to try it out. Mirror in the center. Will be listed for sale as soon as I can get my act together with Bees Beads & Colors! Last month was pretty busy with a lot of travel and this month is looking more crazier with work and also job applications. I got to spend part of today painting on a few gesso boards, after a delicious brunch of homemade Columbian style Arepa at a friend's. I am starting a couple of diptych's like this and also a small 5x5 four piece. Hopefully I can finish them sometime soon :) I have promised myself that I will sit and work on an Artist's statement after I complete 10 in the series and send samples to coffee shops in the city. Goal is to have an exhibit in town before I finish this position in June!

November 26, 2011

South Point in the US

On the last day, on our way back to the airport, we stopped at a few beaches. One of them, which turned out to be more of a cliff than a beach was the Southern most point in the US, simply called South Point or Ka Lae. Huge Cliffs with a lot of people fishing and the vast blue ocean in front. We were surprised by how crowded it was there with mostly local folks. The drive to this point was about 12 miles from the highway and is paved. We passed an out-dated windfarm and another new one nearby. As you drive here, you will see beautiful scrub trees bending with the  wind with squiggly branches. In the nearby towns you will find everything "southernmost" -- bakery, restaurant, etc.

We went to the South Point first, spent some time, chatted with a few out there and enquired about Green Sands Beach (on the next post).

This is one of the boat pulleys at South Point. These days I think it is just used for cliff jumping.

The water was so inviting. This is apparently the best place to catch a 150-pound yellow-fin tuna!

And there was also this little hole into which some adventurers were diving! And one of them invited us to try it too. No way :)

November 25, 2011

Carrots & Peanut Soup

It's not quite soup season in my home yet, so here is a recipe from the archives. I need this motivation to start thinking about using the butternut squash from our garden this year into a batch of delicious soup! I am a  big fan of texture in food and even my pureed soups have to be textural :)

Ingredients: Carrots - 4 diced, Potatoes - 2 - diced, onions - 1 yellow - sliced; Peanuts - 1 cup (I used raw); Peanut butter - 2 tbsp; Red Chilies - 2; Salt & Pepper - to taste. Vegetable broth
  • In a soup pot, add olive oil (I might have also added a little butter :) )
  • Once hot, add red chilies and let the flavor infuse in the oil for a few minutes.
  • Add the sliced onions and saute till translucent.
  • Add the carrots and potatoes, peanuts and let it cook for 8-10 minutes. 
  • Add water and vegetable broth. Stir in the peanut butter.
  • Bring to boil, simmer for few more minutes.
  • Season with salt & pepper.
  • Puree to desired consistency.
  • Serve hot! Mine was garnished with a spoon of yogurt and crushed peanuts.

November 21, 2011

Art Inspirations from Hawaii

One of the best things out of spending two weeks on the Big Island, Hawaii, is finding quite a few artists similar to my painting style. Big inspiration. I hope I am able to find the time to channel some of this inspiration and have some creative fulfillment. Expect to see some of their influence in my future works, especially similar to the last but one (Its acrylic on wood). I couldn't quite keep track of the names of the artists for many of these, and one whose work I have not pictures here, is Pamela Sukham. I am in love with her work! But for now, check out the paintings below and revel!


November 19, 2011

Glow of a Volcano

The last two days we have in Hawaii, we are spending at the Volcano National Park. The Halema Ľuma Ľu Crater in the Kilauea Caldera has an active vent that is spewing out gas and steam. Here are a sequence of pictures taken from the outlook at Jaggar Museum. As the evening turns to night, the vista becomes very surreal and there are no words to describe the feeling of being near (almost standing) on an active volcano!

November 7, 2011

Hawaiian Forest Birds

I am in Hawaii this week for The Wildlife Society's Annual Conference! The first thing I did after getting here is to go on a field trip to the Hakalau Wildlife Refuge. The trip was led by the Hawaii Forest & Trail. It was an wonderful trip and we got to see almost all of the native forest birds. The one bird we did not get to see is the Palila. 

We saw the Pueo, a short-eared owl endemic to Hawaii, on the way to Hakalau. The picture above on the right is the Wildlife Refuge. (Click on pics to enlarge).

The Nene, is an endemic Hawaiian goose, which is also the state bird of Hawaii. There were quite a few pairs hanging out by where we parked and were quite photogenic :) The I'iwi, Scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, is the bird that I took the most pictures of and got some really good ones too! This is one of the adaptive radiated Hawaiian honeycreepers!
There were also quite a few Japanese White-eye, an introduced species. We also saw the I'o, the Hawaiian hawk, which is also endemic. The day was quite the treat for attending a conference!

Here are other species we saw that day and since then (pics coming later!): Native Birds: 'Elepaio (flycatcher), 'Oma'o (thrush), Hawai'i Amakihi, 'Akiapola'au, Hawai'i Creeper, 'Akepa and 'Apapane. Introduced Birds:  Erckel's Francolin, Kalij Pheasant, Ring-Neck Pheasant, Wild Turkey, California Quail, Mourning Dove, Spotted Dove, Common Myna, Skylark, House Sparrow, Yelloe-fronted Canary, House Finch, Java Sparrow. Visitors / Migrants: Pacific-Golden Plover, Wandering Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone. 

November 1, 2011

One Pot Meal: Vegetable Biryani

Or how I like my food: loaded with goodness, colorful, textured & healthy!

October 31, 2011

Turkish Fried Carrots

Posting a recipe from the archives today! I think this picture below is my first ever food picture of something I cooked :) The recipe for this is adapted from The Reader's Digest Vegetables & Desserts cookbook. I have made these carrots a few times and this picture is from when I made dinner at my friend Sujju's home a few years back, when I was still a grad student.

Ingredients: Carrots- 1 pound - sliced (at an angle); flour- 1 -2 tbsp (I used a mixture of salt, pepper & dried herbs); Yogurt - 1 cup; Olive oil - 2 tbsp; Salt & Pepper - to taste; Mint - garnish.
  • In a pot of boiling water, cook the carrots till they are a little tender.
  • Drain them, and toss the carrots in seasoned flour.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and fry the carrots till golden brown.
  • Season with salt & pepper.
  • Whisk the yogurt in a separate bowl, season if needed.
  • Serve the carrots in a bowl with the yogurt spooned over them. 
  • Garnish with chopped mint!

October 30, 2011

Tomato Basil Soup

The most success we had this year with our garden is with the tomatoes. We just harvested the rest of them and pulled out the 5 plants. A few weeks back with almost nothing left in the fridge, I made a tomato soup with all the excess produce from the garden. The soup was a little tart. I was out of cream to balance the tartness, but we kind of liked it that way, with toast and yogurt as garnish.

Ingredients: Tomatoes - a mixture of heirloom varieties from the garden; Onions - 1 yellow + 1 red - sliced; Basil Leaves - 1 bunch = 1/4 cup; Red Chilies - 2; Salt & Pepper - to taste.
  • In a soup pot, add olive oil (I might have also added a little butter :) )
  • Once hot, add the basil leaves, red chilies and let the flavor infuse in the oil for a few minutes.
  • Add the sliced onions and saute till translucent.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook for 8-10 minutes. Add water if needed.
  • Season with salt & pepper.
  • Puree to desired consistency (so glad to have my hand-blender).
  • Serve hot!

October 27, 2011

Leftover Medley

The new thing we are doing these days is shop together at the farmer's market with another couple and share the produce instead of buying too much of the same thing for just us. And last week one of the slow food kid's also shared some of his market basket with me. Here is a side-dish of vegetables that came together with a little bit of broccoli, mustard greens and mushrooms. 

Ingredients: Broccoli - 1/4 pound - separated to florets; Mushrooms - 1/2 cup (I used a mixture of oyster and shiitake); Mustard Greens - 1 bunch; Coconut - to sprinkle; Pepper & Cumin - 1/2 tsp powdered.
  • In a hot pan, add a tsp of olive oil.
  • Add the mushrooms, roast them for a minute or two.
  • Add the broccoli and cook for a few more minutes.
  • Add the mustard greens, coconut.
  • Season with salt & pepper & cumin.
  • Cover and cook for another minute or so.
  • Serve hot with rice & stew.

October 25, 2011

Acrylic Henna Flower on a Wooden Panel

The third in my series :) My techniques are definitely getting better. In this piece I went between thick and thinner lines. Measures 6x15 inches. Textured acrylic similar to the first one. I might also accent this one with a few smaller glass pieces. And I know which way I want this one to hang on the wall. Will be available for sale soon...once I give it a coat of varnish and add the picture hanger on the back.

October 16, 2011

Recent Jewelry

Here are some of the jewelry I have made over the last couple of weeks. They will soon be available on Bee's Beads & Colors. That site needs a little updating since I sold a bunch of pieces at the Slow Food fundraiser, and am not sure which ones I still have. Send me an email if you are interested in any of the pieces below!

Second Panel

This has been a really great weekend, with one of my friends from Stevens Point coming down to Madison to hang out with us AND give me oil painting lessons! How amazing is that! So, for the first time in a very very long time, I got to explore oil paints, but without the hassle of oils and turpentine :) And she has left me with enough paint and medium to play around more before the next lesson. I do need to spend more time exploring to get a better oil vs. acrylic media.

Seeing her has been a big inspiration and I got back to finishing this panel I had started a while back. Its really simple, yet pretty :) I have also prepped a few more panels and hopefully I can finish at least one more piece before the weekend is over!

September 5, 2011

New Art Series

Here is the first piece I painted yesterday for my new art series. The panel is a wooden panel from Ikea  measuring 6x15 inches. The medium is acrylic, with textured henna patterns and a small mirror in the center. I made one tiny little change to this after the picture was taken. I haven't decided which way it looks better to screw the hanger on. I love how the wood grains actually show through. Today I have prepared three panels, and hoping I can finish at least one painting by tonight. I am so excited for these and look for more to come soon!

September 4, 2011

Acrylic Henna Diptych Painting

After spending hours in Ikea last week, I found box frames that I really liked for these Diptych. The paintings are acrylic henna pattern with texture, sealed with a varnish finish on 6x6 gesso boards. Bright colors, suitable for any wall color, can be hung in any direction. Finished frame size is 10x10.

I also found a multitude of different sized door/window/drawer panels for pretty cheap in the store and they are gonna be the basis for my new art series! I am excited :)

August 29, 2011

Slow Food Dinner @ UW Madison

On Valentine's Day this year - I fell in love - with Slow Food! That was the first day I volunteered to help in the kitchen with Slow Food UW Madison for their Monday Family Dinner Nights. A month after that I was their guest chef and on March 26, I lead together a wonderful team of friends in making a delicious dinner. I really haven't sat down to write about my last few months of the Spring semester in the kitchen with the wonderful kids of Slow Food UW. They do so much mind-blowing stuff, please check their website for a lot of cool information and upcoming events! Since then, they have graciously allowed me to cook with them every Monday night. I was a little bummed that they were off for the summer, but now that the semester is starting again, I was back in the kitchen tonight :)

Tonight's dinner was a simple vegetarian fare highlighting some of the fresh produce available at out local Farmer's Market. I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen grating about 2 pounds of cheese and doing a lot of sauteing. The lead chef Michelle, who is also one of the FDN interns made a delicious saute of squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, corn, onions and green beans seasoned with basil. A piece of garlic bread with generous amounts of sharp white cheddar cheese for the side. And the dessert was a rhubarb crumble. All very yummy! The kitchen ran very smoothly today and I so look forward to more dinners. My parents made it to the dinner with me tonight and were very impressed with everything they saw. I am going to be a guest chef again in October and really excited to start thinking about the menu :)

Photo Credit: R. Harris
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