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Ondine Brooks Kuraoka


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Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

(The New Laurel’s Kitchen)

Why am I making soup in the middle of summer, you ask? Well, remarkably, it hasn’t been that hot for some reason, but mainly, I needed a quick way to use the cauliflower and broccoli we had.

This was the perfect antidote to a post-birthday-party weekend. Leo’s skeleton pirate birthday party at the beach included a feast of Subway sandwiches, pasta salad, rice salad, potato chips and Cheetos. It left me craving heaping servings of veggies. So anyway, I threw in broccoli as well, and it turned out great. It’s mild, but I added curry powder to mine (no one else wanted to though), which gave it added oomph.

And the creamy-ness came from potatoes, not cream.

Pasta Casserole


Back to all things cheesy, I couldn’t resist trying this pasta casserole recipe when delivering meals to our new mom-of-twins friend (she’s by no means a new mom- she has two young children as well :O). I would have made the homemade macaroni & cheese recipe that I’ve made before (don’t be shocked- I have been known to follow the occasional recipe every once and again), from the well-worn recipe clip taped inside our Great Meals on a Tight Budget (Family Circle Cookbook), which is the best mac&cheese ever - and sadly we don’t know who created that recipe- but it was a hot day and I just didn’t have it in me to go whole hog. So, though it’s the first time we’ve ever bought a can of Cheddar Cheese Soup, the Pasta Casserole recipe called for it and I just decided What the heck? Why not try it, it’s not like we ladle Cheddar Cheese Soup over our salads every day- it can’t be that bad to throw it into a recipe once in a howling moon.

Instead of tomato juice, I used a can of tomatoes. I used our swanky new Toastmaster stick blender to smooth the tomatoes into the sauce. (I should say the stick blender is new to us- from Jen’s garage sale; we love this thing!) End result: tasty! The tomates and the soup give it a bit of an odd pink color before it’s baked, but after baking it’s beautifully golden with those irresistible crisp noodle tops. I do prefer the homemade mac & cheese, but in a pinch this is good.

The reason I was in a bit of a hurry to make room in our refrigerator is that we’re picking up our first box of produce from Garden of Eden Organics’ Community Supported Agriculture this Thursday. We’re excited!

Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka


John, Roy & Leo picked up our first Community Supported Agriculture box (Garden of Eden Organics) last Thursday (2 days ago). Included were huge peaches, a lot of blueberries, dates (SO YUMMY!), a bunch of purple carrots, a Persian cucumber, a generous batch of gourmet lettuce mix, 2 huge onions, green beans, cilantro, tomatillos, jalapeno-type peppers and 2 soft-ball size Reed avocados. And all organic!Hmm… now that I read the list, it does sound like a good quantity for about $40, but I must admit that when I first saw the box it seemed just a bit meager. I guess because we’re used to buying on-sale produce at Windmill Farms, and we get a LOT more there for $40. But, sigh, we haven’t generally been buying organic and it’s often not local either. And we want to do what we can to support the local farms, goodness knows it makes sense to do so.

I also need to add that for many families, the quantity in the box is probably plentiful. We just happen to be produce fiends. Actually, we’re kind of like produce vampires; we maul our way through vast quantities of produce every week. And if we don’t get enough of a produce fix we get kind of weak and pale and depleted-feeling. When Grammy comes to visit she is (I’m not exaggerating this time) taken ABACK- STUNNED- by how much produce we eat. So I venture to say we’re on the abnormal side as far as how big our CSA box would have to be to truly feel sated.

Anyway, we’ll see how the boxes go for the next month and then we might make a comparison shop at the local farmer’s market- take $40 and see what we can buy at the organic suppliers there. But what we’ve eaten has been delicious, and we are pleased that so much fruit is included, unlike some other CSAs.

Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

As Willie Wonka once said, "So little to do and so much time… Reverse that!"

Well, let’s see…

Tortilla Casserole ( by Jocelyn Craft)

Delicious! One of my favorite things- the aroma of onions, tomatoes and garlic cooking in olive oil. I could bathe in it. Don’t worry, I won’t- but I could.

I used store-bought meatloaf instead of plain ground beef, which added a lot of flavor (sodium too, I’m sure, but I used low-sodium beans and no-salt- added canned tomatoes). This would be a good one to make extra and freeze, but we ate all of ours. I did make extra for Stefani who recently gave birth to twins.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato (Family Circle Aug. 2008)

We LOVE grilled cheese sandwiches here- my car even has a bumper sticker, "Visualize grilled cheese"… Anyway, this recipe is amazing because it takes the coziness of grilled cheese to a mouthwatering nirvana. All you do is add fresh tomatoes and a bunch of basil leaves to the pile of grated cheese and then instead of butter, I brushed the top of the bread with olive oil. You smush it all down with the spatula and let it sizzle, and then try to resist picking it up and letting the molten cheese burn your mouth- you have to wait (oh no!) a few minutes to let it cool a bit.


Posted By Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

Yup, it’s true, I’ve been baking. We seem to have a pattern of cool mornings, somewhat humid afternoons and cool evenings. So we can’t complain, considering there have been some Julys when I’d wished I’d pre-ordered the cool head bands for all of us to get us through the summer. I don’t mean cool as in "Whoa, Dude- you are too cool!" I mean cool as in put it in the freezer first and then wear it, kind of like what the guys in Iraq have to wear. But anyway, we just haven’t needed it this summer. Shhh… I don’t want to jinx it!

Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

I dusted off my copy of Rosie's Bakery All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book by Judy Rosenberg and made a batch of the Peanut Butter Cookie dough, but decided I’d take the lazy way out and just mush it onto the deep cookie sheet I have (lined with parchment), making bars out of it. Come to find out that it’s more effort than I thought to massage cookie dough all the way to the far corners of a cookie sheet. I don’t have a rolling pin. But I just tried to meditate my way through it and it eventually happened; this was my activity while watching an episode of "The Love Boat" on Fancast with John. Wow, those were the days… I hear that jingle and I’m instantly transported to the late 70s. How old was I then? About 9 or 10. The Love Boat was the height of glamour to me then, and it’s so wonderfully cheesy to watch it now.

The best part of the bars were the corner pieces- they were more cookie-like, and crunchier. But these were good because they weren’t overly sweet. I used natural peanut butter, no sugar added.

Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chip Bars (also from Rosie’s)

Why so much peanut butter? Because we’re trying to use up the last of the school-time peanut butter. We bought a lot when it was on sale at Windmill Farms and the use-by date is approaching.

I’m partial to these bars, if given a choice between the two. The chocolate gives it that extra oomph. And instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up a big bar of bittersweet chocolate.

I wanted to make a peach pie out of some of the peaches my mom and Bill gave us from their tree. But John begged me not to; he said they are just so good to simply eat them. They don’t last long here! And my mom just brought over some nectarines; they were gone within minutes. Other treats this summer have been my parents’ homegrown grapes and tomatoes. Our neighborly greenthumbs; it’s truly glorious what B & B (Barbara & Bill) are able to grow. All kinds of guavas, bigger-than-softball cherimoyas, plums, blood oranges, kumquats, apples, persimmons, squash, I could go on :) but anyway…- Oh, and my mom is determined to grow a successful avocado; she has a few young ones settling in now, looking good.