April 2020


Earth Day Cookies

April 22: Earth Day

Long before Hawaii was the first to ban plastic bags in America, Islander had won a design contest for a non-profit organization in her home state that wanted to give away free reusable grocery store bags. We have collected other freebie bags at festivals and events and bought some fancy ones at other stores (Islander admires fellow designer’s artwork on those bags). We always use them when we go shopping as we feel it is just one little but significant way to protect the environment. The few plastic bags that we do get from the stores are returned to their designated recycling bins.  [Learn more about the effects of plastic bags on the environment from the Health Guidance website.]

If the kanaka (Hawaiian people) revere the ‘aina (land) and it is just a small island chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, imagine if everyone could have the same love towards the whole world. We know we could do more than just reuse our grocery bags and recycle items. But if everyone could start becoming more aware of protecting our environment then we are taking important steps to save our planet. With this premise, the movement for Earth Day was created.

Earth Day is celebrating its 50thyear as an international “holiday” in 2020 and we made cute cookies for the milestone occasion. They are easy to make but we added the tiny fondant heart to make a bold statement on this global goodie.

Enjoy these cookies on April 22 but celebrate everyday Earth Day!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • blue and green food coloring
  • red fondant

Directions

In a covered measuring cup, melt the butter in the microwave. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix the dry ingredient with the wet ingredients until a dough comes together. Divide the dough in 1/3 and 2/3 portions.

Color the larger dough portion with blue food coloring. Color the smaller dough portion with green food coloring. Pinch out a 1-inch ball from the blue dough. Pinch out little pieces from the green dough and randomly stick to the blue dough. Roll gently into a ball.

Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, being careful not to overbrown the cookies. Remove from the oven, cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, roll a small piece of red fondant on a clean, lightly floured surface to 1/16-inch thickness. Use a heart cutter/plunger to cut shapes. Brush the back of the mini fondant hearts with a dab of water. Position the hearts on the cookies. Serve on a tray. Store leftover cookies in a covered container.

Notes

  • We halved the recipe above just for the two of us.
  • Refrigerate the dough balls for 15 minutes before baking (optional).
  • If possible, wash the reusable grocery bags often to keep them clean and the food items safe from bacteria.
  • Learn more about the history of Earth Day from the History website. 

Garlic Garbanzo Soup

April 19: National Garlic Day

At the time of this post, the world is still battling the COVID19 pandemic. During self-isolation at home, even though we still had work projects to do, we had a little extra time to cook more and catch up on our blogging. With limited ingredients at the stores (sometimes we could not find chicken or bananas!), we had to make do with what we had in our pantry. We came across a simple soup recipe that was healthy—garlic garbanzo soup. Especially during the coronavirus crisis and flu and allergy season, this soup features immune-boosting properties from the garlic and garbanzo. Garlic also is the main flavoring in this soup; it may be strong but it softens and becomes less bitter when cooked longer. Make this tasty garlic garbanzo soup while the world tries to overcome the coronavirus. It is especially appropriate to eat it, too, during National Garlic Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Houston Chronicle)

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup garbanzo beans (chick peas), dry
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (we reduced it to 2 ½ tablespoons)
  • 20 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt (we reduced it to ¾ teaspoon)

Directions

In a bowl, place the garbanzo and cover with water. Soak for 3-4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator (they should double in size). Remove from the refrigerator, drain and rinse.

In a large pot, bring 4 cups of new water to a boil and add the garbanzo. Cover the pot and simmer until soft (anywhere from an hour to 2 hours). Add more water, a cup at a time, if the liquid has lessened. In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the garlic cloves until golden brown. Lower the heat and add the cumin seeds and chili.

Add the celery and cook for about a minute before putting into the soup pot. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and fenugreek and bring to a boil. Season with salt. Check the water levels and add more if necessary. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes until the garlic is softened. Turn off the heat and let the soup rest for another 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Ladle into soup bowls and serve hot.

Notes

  • Learn more about the health benefits of garlic from Healthline.

HI Cookery is 10!

Time flies when we are cooking up some fun! We finally accomplished our goal and “cooked our way through the calendar”. It may have taken us 10 years—longer than most bloggers—to fill in all the holidays or feast days with a recipe or two (or more on some days). We may not have been as fancy as other sites, made money from ads or pushed to become popular for more traffic, but we stayed true to our simple selves for the past decade to merely share our recipes, learn new things about cooking and technology, and document our memories.

Even though we have every blessed day represented with a recipe now, we will slowly continue to add a few more throughout the coming years and hope to build on our Theme Menus with international recipes, especially since Islander became a member of her local global cooking club.

As we post this 10th blog-o-versary message, we are in the midst of surviving the coronavirus crisis. Food items and sanitation supplies are limited at the stores and social distancing is being practiced, so we cannot gather together and share meals with our families and friends. But we pray that this, too, shall pass and we can get on with our lives like before.

Thanks again to all our subscribers and visitors who have shown their support for our blog for the last 10 years. We may not know each one of you personally but are grateful that you took the time to read our humble blog. Take care, be safe and keep on cooking!

Tapadh leat! Mahalo! Thanks!

Highlander and Islander

Byzantine Spice Cake

March/April: Palm/Passion/Pussy Willow Sunday

Although we lived in the Chicago suburbs of Elgin, Illinois, for five years, we did not really explore the other Lenten traditions in the area’s Christian churches. Then when Islander’s brother went on his sabbatical year at the Catholic Theological Union, she took the opportunity to return to the city to visit him downtown and her Ukrainian friend Olga W. in Skokie.

She stayed in a guest room across from her brother’s in the CTU dormitory where other priests, brothers and sisters were residing on the same floor. Brother Chet F. from the Congregation of the Holy Cross invited a group of us to go with him to Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Parish in Homer Glen for Palm Sunday. The beautifully painted church with traditional iconography was made even more festive with fresh palm fronds—plus pretty pussy willows.

Islander later asked Olga, who attended Russian Orthodox Church services in her youth, about the pussy willows. She explained that in some colder countries in Europe, palm leaves were not readily available but pussy willows were symbolic of spring so were used instead during Palm Sunday celebrations.

It was very interesting to learn about the pussy willow tradition at the Byzantine church. So for our blog post, we have featured a recipe for Byzantine spice cake that can be made for Palm/Passion/Pussy Willow Sunday.

Recipe

(Adapted from Genius Kitchen)

For the spice cake

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup + ½ cup yogurt (plain Greek yogurt)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace or allspice

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil and sugar. Beat in the eggs and ½ cup of yogurt.

Add the baking soda and orange juice to the mixture. In another bowl, sift together the flour and spices (ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and mace/allspice).

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir in another ½ cup of yogurt. Mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into a 9×13-inch greased baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven. Poke holes in the cake with the tines of a fork. Let cool completely.

For the topping

  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ cup honey

Directions

In a saucepan over the stovetop, mix the water, sugar and honey. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, reducing heat as to not bubble over and splatter.

Mix until slightly thickened. Cover the saucepan for another five minutes. Pour hot topping over the cake. Spread the honey glaze over the top and let it soak. Cut into squares and serve.

Notes

  • This cake was really dense and dry and probably would make a good tea bread if baked in a loaf pan.
  • Plain Greek yogurt may be substituted for sour cream.
  • We halved the syrupy topping. It is sticky-sweet, which complements the very mildly spiced cake.
  • Search our blog for other Palm/Passion Sunday and Lenten recipes.