Under the Influence

A lot of what I have been experiencing lately are what I like to call “wake the f**k up” moments.  You see, the problem with me is that I am hard headed and for some reason it takes me smacking my hand with a hammer to realize “damn, this is gonna hurt”…however, I have been lucky enough that despite being a professionally trained idiot, I manage to surround myself with really smart people who I can turn to for advice or just get some new ideas. 

But being as hard headed as I am, I don’t always open myself up to their guidance, I just kind of float about in my usual way…then I float into a damn tree and I’m like, “Oh, crap this is really high up….how am I going to climb down?  Also, I don’t like the way that squirrel is eyeballing me…and where did he get that butterfly knife?”  This is where I have been learning to wake the f**k up.  It’s like, if I had been listening to the smart people on the ground yelling at me “Hey dumbass, you are going toward a tree!” then I would have been able to avoid getting cut by a squirrel…however I feel like you can teach an old dog new tricks so this 40-something year old mutt has to learn new approaches to life and it’s been really rewarding.

That raises a good question, if you could be any type of dog, what kind would you be?  Like would you want to be a tough dog, a cute dog?  A dog that can run fast and bite the mailman or that one kid who always teases you?  Me?  I know exactly what kind of dog I’d be…I’d be a talking dog!  Then I can go join a gang of groovy teenagers as we roam the country in a sweet hippy dippy van solving mysteries at spooooookedy theme parks and creepidy wax museums…I could eat 5 foot sandwiches in one bite and go nuts over some dog biscuits…man…I need to stop drinking so much before I sit down to write this thing…ok so where was I?

Let’s rewind…dogs…knife squirrels, hammer time…oh, yeah…letting others have an influence in my life.  So, one thing I aim to do is take a different tack with this blog thing and aside from trying to get my kids involved, I started asking my wife to help me come up with some of the ideas for the food I cook.  That way, of all the funky things I make, she is sure to eat at least one of them.  But aside from helping us not waste food, she also is really good at thinking of stuff to cook and she herself is a good cook as well.  I have jacked her chili recipe, her pasta salad recipe, her HI mac salad recipe…all of those I have made and been like “Yeah, I know, I’m pretty good huh?”  then she looks at me like “Mmmhmmm…mine is better” then I shut up.  So, in keeping with my new plan I asked her to come up with a soup and true to form, she delivered.  She made the soup and it was badass.  I’m really lucky that someone as creative and smart as she is found me and thinks I’m entertaining enough to keep around.  You wanna see what she made?  Me too!  Let’s find out!

Rock out with your Bok out

  • 1 large bok choy
  • Chicken Stock to taste (a brand like Better than Bullion is my choice)
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1 small can Water Chestnuts
  • 1tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ cup diced ginger
  • Olive oil

Take a large stock pot and heat it medium high then after it’s heated up, pour in a little olive oil, about 1tsp.  Toss in the garlic and stir it for a minute or two then add the ground pork and cook until done.  Now add water until it fills the pot three quarters of the way full and put the heat on high.  Take the bok choy and cut the bottom off, like about 3 inches of it.  Place that bok stump in the water and add the chicken stock until it has the flavor you want.  You want a proper chicken to choy ratio so maybe just add a couple tablespoons then if it’s not salty enough for you, just add in some salt.  Take the rest of the bok choy and cut it into little pieces and set aside.  At some point the water will start to boil, when it does that, reduce the heat to medium high and let it cook for 20 minutes.  This will allow the choy stump to add flavor to the broth.  After 20 minutes, add in the ginger, Water Chestnuts and the cut up choy then gently stir it in.  let it cook for another 15 minutes and you are done! 

What do you think blue duck?

  • 1 whole duck quartered
  • 2 banana leaves
  • Liquid smoke
  • Rock salt
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1.5 cups hoisin
  • Hawaiian sweet rolls or lotus buns
  • ½ onion sliced thin
  • Olive oil

Ok, so…we are going to make Kalua Duck!  Hells yes!  I found this recipe in a Hawaiian cook book that I was given by my wife when she got back from Maui and I thought, genius!  I love duck and I love the Kalua cooking method, this is gonna be good.  Making it is fairly easy but describing it takes time so sorry for the mini book you are about to read.  It also gets a little harsh if you aren’t used to cutting up whole animals with a face. 

First you need to process the duck.  I bought mine at the Asian store since you can’t just walk into Fred Meyer and get it from the Duck section.  I also don’t own a rifle so I couldn’t go out and shoot one.  However, if my hunting skills are anything like my fishing skills the only thing I’d shoot would be my big toe.  So take the duck and chop off the head at the shoulders and cut off the feet at the knee.  Then go call the Triads and tell them Duck Wing Lee is taken care of.  After that you just cut it up like you would a chicken.  Piece out the thighs, the wings and the breast.  When you have it pieced out, cut off the skin from all the meat, place it on a bowl and put it in the fridge.  I’ll tell you why in a minute. 

Now, take a deep pan or a Dutch oven and line it with one of the banana leaves.  Put in the thighs, wings and breasts and pour in enough water to coat the meat.  Add in ¼ of the bottle of liquid smoke and sprinkle on about 1.5tsp of rock salt.  Cover with the banana leaf and fold the other banana leaf on top of that.  If the pot has a lid, place it on.  If not, cover with 2 layers of foil and place it in the oven at 425.  Cook it for 1 hour. 

While the duck is cooking, take the white wine, place it in a small sauce pot and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium high and add in the hoisin sauce.  Stirring often, cook it another 10 minutes.  It should reduce a little bit.  Remove from heat and set aside. 

After the duck has cooked for an hour, pull it out and shred it with a fork in the pot you cooked it in.  If you want to add more liquid smoke or salt, you can at this point.  While the duck cools down, we’re making Chicharon de Pato!!  Take a frying pan and pour in a little olive oil, about 1 tbsp.  Get the pan on medium high heat and place the duck skins in the pan.  Sprinkle on a little salt and fry each side for about 8 minutes or until brown and slightly crispy.  Set the skins on some paper towels but keep the oil in the frying pan.  Now get the onions and for about 5 minutes on medium high heat, sauté them in the same pan you cooked the skins in.  Remove from the oil and place on some paper towels.  Now go back to the duck skins and chop them into little bits.   Now go gets you a Hawaiian roll or a Lotus bun and in this order put in the duck, sautéed onions, duck chicharon, and a little of the sauce over the whole thing. 

I have to say, the soup with its subtle bok choy flavor and ginger bite went really well with the sweet and smoky duck.  The crispy chicharon was also a great complement to the softer meat and bun.  This whole meal was a pleasant surprise and we even cooked it that way.  We popped over to my sister-in-law’s house and we were like “Surprise!  Here’s dinner!”  So, hey why not find out together as a family how cool it is to try something new.  If you decide to try this at home, take your time and have fun with it.  All right y’all, until next time, stay cool.

None of this would be possible without being surrounded by an amazing cast of family and friends. So this slideshow is dedicated to our cousin Patrick who put in the time to research new hiking spots on the island. Likeke Falls, located near the Valley of the Temples it is a great hike and not too long for families with kids. It is a bit muddy so wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Oh and don’t worry about the abandoned cars that look like they were boosted and left on the side of the road. Our car wasn’t stolen so that is a major plus too!

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