No Pressure photoshoot

As the release date for my latest cookbook slowly approaches, I’d like to share a few behind-the-scenes photos from the photoshoot. Note that these are just from my phone, and that the lovely Staci Valentine‘s photos are MUCH better (stunning, really). Can’t wait to share the book with you all in May!

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No Pressure photoshoot

The Road to Hana

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If you’re visiting Maui for more than a day, the Road to Hana is a must-do. It is literally a road that leads to the town of Hana, which doesn’t sound that exciting when I put it that way. What makes it essential is the road itself and all of the sights along the way—jungle, waterfalls, black sand beaches, and much more.

The road is narrow and curvy, barely fitting two-way traffic, and has roughly 54 bridges, most of them one-lane. It’s not for the faint of heart, but hardly anyone on the road is in a hurry, and if you’re a confident driver, that’s half the experience. There are guided tours for those hesitant to take the wheel, but you lose control over your itinerary. Some sights are right by the road, with beach views opening up before you and waterfalls cascading right by the road. Others are less obvious, requiring a short hike without any signs or markings.

There’s plenty of literature and resources to guide you on your drive, so I’ll just give my quick tips and share a few photos.

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  • Start early. We left our hotel on the south side of the island at dawn and reached the start of the road just as the sun was completely up. We never really hit traffic on the whole road, and didn’t encounter many people until the afternoon. You also want to leave lots of time for lazing on a beach and still being able to drive back in the daylight. Gas up first!
  • Bring lots of water, some snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, hiking sandals, a change of shoes and clothes, towels, and cash.
  • When parking, lock your car and put everything out of sight. Bring any valuables with you.
  • Use an app to help guide you via GPS. I found this so helpful since even when you don’t have a cell signal, GPS knows where you are and the guide tells you when to turn for some hard-to-find locations. Gypsy is pretty good, but there are a few options. Download it before you leave and bring a car charger. That being said, don’t simply rely on the app. They don’t mention every stop and they interject their opinion a lot, which you might not agree with! Do some research first and consider buying a map.
  • Eat the banana bread at a roadside stand, and grab a late lunch in Hana. There’s some great Thai food served out of a trailer near the beach.
  • This is more of an FYI: the Seven Sacred Pools are no longer open to swimming. It makes this stop slightly less worth it, but if you’ve already been to Haleakala Crater or plan to go (and you should), your park entry is good for three days for both ends of the park, so you might as well make a stop and see the pools. There’s also a hike to a couple of waterfalls if they are flowing. Bring bug spray!
  • Drive the backend to Pukalani. Okay, okay, take this with a grain of salt, since some sites and the Gypsy app will practically beg you not to. The reason for this is huge portions of the road past Hana used to be unpaved. If you get stuck on this road it could void your rental car contract and cost thousands of dollars for a tow truck. Now almost the entire road is newly paved—there’s just a relatively small, jungly section that’s unpaved past Haleakala National Park, but just take it slow and even a compact car can make it. You’ll pass some beaches and then the landscape becomes volcanic ranch land that crashes down into the ocean. It’s totally different and beautiful in it’s own way, and ends near a winery and lavender farm. Plus, you don’t have to drive the road to Hana both ways.
    • Extra tip: Check in with the rangers at Haleakala National Park to double check the road condition in case of flooding before venturing further south.

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The Road to Hana

Pressure Cooker Farro Risotto

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I will never cease to be amazed by pressure cooker risotto.

Risotto is a dish I’ve always loved, but rarely made at home because standing over a hot pan and constantly stirring isn’t my idea of a good time. Now I make it at least once a month since the pressure cooker takes all the pressure off (oy). It’s almost completely hands-off—you can literally walk away while the risotto cooks. It’s the best.

I’ve talked about how you can make risotto with brown rice, but did you know you can also make it with farro? The whole grain has a lightly nutty flavor and pleasantly chewy texture, and it make a surprisingly creamy risotto. It’s a great way to add some whole grains to your life.

Get the recipe here.

Pressure Cooker Farro Risotto

Link Round-Up, 9.7.17

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This summer has really been a whirlwind. But with the manuscript for cookbook #2 turned in, I’ll have more time for article-writing, zine-making, and blog-writing (I hope). Here’s a few things I’ve written around the internet lately.

I’m also featured in Sirsee: Volume 1, a lovely little publication featuring recipes, poetry, prose, and artwork, all centered around the theme of “ripe.”

Link Round-Up, 9.7.17

Kauai North Shore

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I just got back from a little vaca in Hawaii, and it was AWESOME. Everyone who’s been to Hawaii already knows that, and if you haven’t been, everyone else has already told you that. I spent part of my time on the North Shore of Kauai and I’d highly recommend it. Below are some photos and quick suggestions of stuff to do.

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Hiking — When driving west on the North Shore, past Hanalei Bay, you’ll eventually get to the end of the road. Literally. There is no road going through Napali Coast State Park, but there’s plenty to do right there at the dead end. The Kalalau trail begins there, and even if you just hike for a couple of miles, it will take you up to a couple of beautiful viewpoints of the beach behind you and the cliffs ahead. Keep going for waterfalls and adventure.

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Beaches — All of the beaches in this area are good, too: Tunnels, Ke’e, and Ha’ena. There’s nice stretches of sand and some tree shade, with typically calm, crystal clear  waters and some great snorkeling. Parking can get crowded but you should be able to find a spot in one of the lots, and there’s a dry cave across the street from Tunnels Beach.

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Kayaking — The popular spot for kayaking in Kauai is Wailua, but if you want a far less crowded and more relaxed paddle, try the Hanalei River. It’s easy going, especially in the morning, and heading one way takes you into a nature reserve, while heading the other takes you to the ocean. No need to book ahead, and a rental is good for 24 hours, so come and go as you please.

This is only a snippet of fun stuff on the North Shore, let alone the rest of Kauai. Note that your chances of rain are higher in this region, but showers tend to be short and the landscape is ultra lush. Aloha!

 

Kauai North Shore

Pressure Cooking Wheat Berries

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I’ve recently added wheat berries to my diet! Pretty exciting stuff. You can find them relatively easily in Whole Foods or another health market, and even though you can easily spend $200 in a health food store, wheat berries are pretty affordable. Here’s some stuff to know if you want to add them to your life:

Hard wheat berries, also labeled hard red wheat, are the most nutritious. They are chewier than the soft variety, but not too chewy (if you ask me). They also take the longest to cook, and often call for soaking, but it’s no big deal in a pressure cooker.

Soft wheat berries, sometimes labeled soft or pearled white wheat, are lightly processed for easier cooking and eating. They are more tender and take less time to cook.

To cook wheat berries: Add 1 cup of rinsed and drained wheat berries, 4 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and a glug of oil to an electric pressure. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes (for soft berries) or 40 minutes (for hard berries) and use a natural release. Drain.

Serve as a grain in soups, salads, or other savory dishes. Make a breakfast bowl with yogurt and fruit. It’s all goooood.

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Pressure Cooking Wheat Berries

Instant Pot Ultra Thoughts

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I recently received the newest Instant Pot model, the Ultra, thanks to the kind people at Instant Pot HQ. Note that I did not receive it in exchange for a review or any other coverage, I just thought I’d share my thoughts about the Ultra for those that are considering upgrading or are comparing versus an older model. So here we go!

Steam release — There are two major upgrades to the Ultra, and one of them is the steam release. Instead of a single steam valve that you turn to seal or release, the Ultra has a separate button. This is great for two reasons:

  1. You don’t have to touch where the steam is releasing, making it a little safer and less likely to scald
  2. It automatically resets to sealing when you open the lid. Even though I’ve used the IP a bazillion times, I still forget to close the valve sometimes on the old model. The Ultra makes this impossible by closing the vent automatically.

Note that when you press down the button for a quick release, it takes longer to release the pressure than older models. You can force it to release steam quicker by pressure down the button harder, but then you’ll have to stand there the whole time pressing the button.

Cooking Options — The Ultra has even more automated cooking settings, which is all well and good, but I rarely use any of them other than Pressure, Sauté, and Yogurt. But! With the Ultra, you can make some over-arching settings to the whole machine, as well as on a per-use basis. I’m a big fan of these options:

  1. You can turn the sound off. You may not want to turn the sound off, but with the amount of recipes I make in my IP and the amount of beeps it makes (especially the Ultra), sometimes I just want some peace and quiet. Note that it won’t beep at all, even when food is done cooking, so this is not for everyone/all the time.
  2. You can disable the Keep Warm function. I pretty much never use this function and the vast majority of the time I want it turned off, so as to not inhibit the release of pressure or scald delicate items on the bottom of the pot. Unfortunately you can’t turn off the function universally, but you can turn it off beforehand each time you cook something.

Backlit Display and Knob — The most obvious differences are the backlit display (which was already available on the Duo Plus) and a knob that you turn and press to make all selections. The knob takes a little getting used to, but for no specific reason I like it. I think with all of the options on this version of the IP, you need a knob instead of a million buttons to push.

Another Thing I’ve Noticed — In my experience thus far, pressure takes a lot longer to release with the Ultra than the older models. Just keep this in mind when budgeting time for a recipe. I honestly sometimes end up slowly releasing the pressure when I just can’t wait any longer.

All-in-all, the older models still work great, and it’s up to you if the jump in price is worth it. As someone who uses an Instant Pot all the time to test recipes, I’ve very much appreciated the revised steam release and the extra adjustables. But I also still use my old IP all the time. Long live pressure cooking, regardless of what cooker you choose!

Instant Pot Ultra Thoughts