Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Archive for March, 2008

Aloha Cafe

Posted by todblog on March 23, 2008

March 23, 2008

Driving for six hours across Oregon makes you think about possible stops along the way to refuel, stretch, take a bathroom break, get something to eat, shop, etc. It is even more appealing to check out a place that you normally don’t have access to all the time. Those would be the Costco, Columbia Outlet, Sportsmans Warehouse, etc. trips.

Well on the way back from the John Day baseball tourney, we opted to take a stretch break in Bend and check out a new place to eat. We saw it on our way to the tourney and made a note to ourselves that it should be a stop on the way home. It was the Aloha Cafe.

I walked up to the window and looked inside to see a small place with some people eating around neatly arranged tables and chairs. I read the menu on the window and felt comfortable that we would not walk away hungry. I turned away to relay the news to everyone waiting in the truck and a blond boy with a puka shell choker came out and asked if I wanted a menu. I told him I would be right back with my family.

We all walked in and gathered around the counter to place our orders. The Hawaiian Sun juices in the self-help refrigerator caught Jacob’s eyes and we quickly finished ordering some kalua pig, barbecue beef, teriyaki chicken, yakisoba noodles, cole slaw, macaroni salad, and rice. The guy in the kitchen looked at me and I looked at him. Our glance at each other solidified and I said, “Eh, you look familiar to me..” and he said the same thing to me followed by, “What island you from?” My mind was racing trying to run through my mental database of faces and places when it came to me.

“Merv?” and his eyes lit up and his head cocked back with startled amazement. I was right about his identity and now he knew there was a connection but, who was I?

“Brah, Waimea fire station, Johnny-Boy Whitman, Charlie Whittle, I’m Tod Lum” it let him off the hook and he finally made the connection. Boy this computer of mine still get em. Merv came around the counter and we gave each other a big hug. It feels very special to make a connection with someone from the islands in Oregon. Makes the world shrink just a little bit more.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that Merv Abe is doing well in Bend, Oregon and has two restaurants (the other is in Sun River) and having a place like that draws island folks in. He has quite a few connection stories like ours. Like us, he has kept his place on the big island and plans to return one day when his retirement adventure is pau. Until then, he’s cooking it up in Central Oregon and the Aloha Cafe will be a place for us to stop by whenever we’re passing through.

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Game On !!!

Posted by todblog on March 11, 2008

March 11, 2008

We are blessed to have a freezer with an abundance of game meat (bear, deer, elk, and antelope). The cuts of meat are vacuum packaged in a plastic bag and labeled for long term storage in the freezer. They keep well and last for a few years in this condition. Going to the store to buy meat just doesn’t make sense when we have steaks, roasts, stew, and burger meat stored in the freezer at home. Sure there are times when we forget to take a package out to thaw for a meal and end up getting something quick from the store. However, that should be the exception. Meals at our house are varied and we utilize these delicious gifts by making stews, chili, spaghetti meat sauces, sausage, jerky, thin-sliced teriyaki steaks, cutlets, chicken fried steak, hamburgers, stroganoff, grilled steaks, and a bunch of other ways. Often there are leftovers from dinner and they get packed away for lunch at work or for Jacob’s school lunch. Teenagers can be so observant of the differences between themselves and there is a long self-imposed list of things to do/be like in order to conform with the “norm”. Cell phones, clothes, and hair are just a few examples (I’ll not talk about the desire to dress like a skateboarder and have the “mop head hair-look” with a flat-billed ball cap tilted upwards and/or to the side). Well it seems Jacob’s friends have zeroed-in on his lunches that dad packs for him. It started a long time ago when he brought SPAM musubi for lunch. Ever since, they’ve always wondered what weird food he would bring next. Now they notice he seems to eat a lot of venison or other game meats for lunch. It’s been the subject of lunchtime jokes. I was worried about his need to”fit-in” and wanting to halt all game meat meals from making their way to school so, I made up a quick comparison between domestic and game meat for his information…

A Comparison Between Domestic Meat Versus Game Meat

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That’s just the comparison of the physical meat itself. However, there is the whole issue of where it came from and what it cost in carbon units (food miles) to get to your table. Buying meat from the grocery store doesn’t mean it came from your community. Likely it was delivered by trucks that got it from a distribution center that got it from somewhere else as far away as New Zealand (lamb) which means ship or air freight. More carbon spent to get that protein on your plate. To eat something produced locally is the best way to cut down on carbon units. The new green word for that is localvore.

Conclusion: Game meat is far superior to domestic meat in it’s health benefits and is a source of great pride when brought home from the field to the table by ones own hand. In other words, anybody can go to the store and buy a slab of meat someone else fed chemicals to, slaughtered, placed on a styrofoam tray and wrapped in cellophane for you but, it takes a special person to endure the elements and outwit a wild animal in it’s own environment to bring it home to feed your family. In addition, you know a great deal more about the handling of that meat as opposed to the meat you get from a store. That’s something to take great pride in. Still, in many places today, villages select skilled hunters to go out and bring back game for the families. It is a huge responsibility and it comes with great status- to be a hunter. People rely upon hunters for their very existence. Unfortunately in developed parts of the world, people have mentally distanced themselves from the food web and they forget where they’ve come from and how they got there.

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Maybe it’s the way Jacob eats that gets his friends attention…this time it’s a juicy antelope cheese burger!

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Bear Manapua

Posted by todblog on March 6, 2008

When the Chinese came to Hawaii, they introduced locals to their char siu bao which is a bun filled with sweet barbecued pork. It was an instant hit with locals and was given the name manapua a shortened name derived from meaʻono-puaʻa, meaning “pork cake”. It is frequently seen in steamer baskets being wheeled around in Chinese dim sum restaurants. They are a real treat.

I got a hold of a recipe from my dear friends the Changs (also Hawaii islanders) and decided to substitute the pork with bear using the following recipe:

Bear Manapua

The marinade to use is Char Siu (Chinese Sweet Barbecue Sauce) which is sold in powdered mixes in the Asian section of the store (Safeway usually has it unless you’re in a small Eastern Oregon town like Enterprise!). Follow the directions on the package (which means baking the meat until cooked). Afterwards, cut up the meat into small pieces (dice).

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Bear char siu finished baking in the oven- ready to dice for the filling.

Filling:
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound bear char siu, diced

Directions:
Combine water, cornstarch, sugar and salt in saucepan.
Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Simmer 1 minutes.
Add bear char siu.

Bread:
1 package active dry yeast
1 ¾ cups lukewarm water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 teaspoon salt
5 ½ cups flour
12 each 3” square oiled brown paper

Directions:
1) Soften yeast in lukewarm water.
2) Add sugar, oil, and salt. Stir until dissolved.
3) Add flour, a cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Work dough with hands, if necessary.
4) Knead for 5 minutes on floured board.
5) Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn dough over (greased side up).
6) Cover and let rise in a warm place free of drafts; about 1 ½ hours or until doubled. Punch down.
7) Cut dough into 12 pieces. Shape into balls and flatten to 3” circles. Place ¼ cup filling in center and bring edges of dough together, pinch to seal.
8) Place sealed side down on oiled paper. Cover; allow to rise 45 minutes or until doubled.
9) Place on rack in steamer. Drape a clean, dry dishcloth over steamer and secure with cover, bringing ends of cloth to top of lid.
10) Steam over medium heat for 25 minutes.
Note: The manapua are HUGE!!!

Important Tip: make late at night so you can stash some away for yourself to eat later.

 

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The finished product- bear manapua right out of the steamer!

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