Saturday, July 26, 2014

Deconstructed Sushi

Deconstructed Sushi
My family loves sushi. I was craving sushi one day and came up with the idea of deconstructed sushi. I thought it would be easy and a way for everyone to eat what they want. I figured it would be a bit of work but would be worth it.

So here is what we did.  About 2-3 hours in advance, I made a Kansas City version of poke (the poke we ate in Hawaii was amazing stuff- I think we ate it at least twice a day). 

Right before eating, I started the sushi rice (I had already made the vinegar mixture) and started chopping the veggies. Then you put it all together. 

Midwestern Poke

A Couple of Pieces of Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna  
1/4 Cup (60ml) of Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup of Green Onions, Chopped
2 Tsp of Sesame Oil
1 Tsp Chili Garlic Sauce
Sesame Seeds (Optional)

Pat the tuna dry with a paper towel and then slice into cubed bite sized pieces. Place in a nonreactive bowl and add remaining ingredients (except sesame seeds). Mix together, cover, and place in refrigerator for about 2-3 hours (you can also serve it immediately but I like it better if the flavors have a chance to meld). Add the sesame seeds right before serving.
Sushi Rice

2 Cups of Short or Medium Grain Rice (No long grain rice!)
2 1/2 Cups of Water
1/3 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsps of Sugar
1 Tsp of Salt

Rinse the rice until is runs clear; this step is really important- you need to rinse it several times (I do this in a small mesh colander). I make my rice in a rice cooker- so cook the rice according to your rice cooker instructions. Meanwhile combine rice wine vinegar, salt and sugar in a small saucepan on low heat. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside and let cool.  Remove the rice from the rice cooker and spread out in a large (nonreactive bowl) and combine with the vinegar mixture. Be careful not to smash the rice. If you have a fan, use a fan while you combine the rice with the vinegar. This will give the rice a shiny look.  Use the rice right away.

Stirring the sushi rice
Other Ingredients

Fake Crab (I can't help it I love this stuff any left overs will be used to make Japanese Crab Salad)
Cucumbers, Sliced into Match Sticks
Carrot, Sliced into Match Sticks
Avocado, Diced
Sesame Seeds
Nori Strips
Lettuce (In Case you want to make a lettuce wrap)
Thinly Sliced Green Onions
Bell Pepper (I used Purple Bell Peppers)
Sriricha Sauce

Make your own "sushi" plate platter

The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes, it was so good I actually made it twice in one week. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Flying to South Dakota

Mount Rushmore
Our daughter went off to EAA's Air Academy  (which is an incredible camp for kids interested in aviation) and we decided to fly somewhere for our summer get-away. One of the biggest drawbacks to general aviation is that it is weather dependent. Most of the time you can't make 100% firm plans because you don't know what the weather is going to do.  In my opinion, this is more than offset by the fact you are not flying commercial.

We both really wanted to visit South Dakota. Neither of us had been and it was about a five hour flight. After reviewing the weather, we set off for South Dakota. I am a planner by nature, and until we left we did not know where we would be landing or spending the night.... It is a little uncomfortable (at least for me - Steven didn't mind it at all) but what can you do?  At 4,500 feet it is difficult to get a good enough signal to search for lodging so I had to wait until our fuel stop.  From 4,500 feet the scenery was beautiful.  I loved watching the changes in the landscape as we flew from Missouri, to Nebraska, to South Dakota. Absolutely beautiful country.

We stopped in Kearney, Nebraska for fuel.  The airport had a courtesy car (it was an old police cruiser - a Caprice Classic - think Blues Brothers) and we borrowed it go into town for food. We ate at Thunderhead Brewing. We had a nice pizza and I had a very nice Scottish Ale.  Most importantly, during the layover we were able to find a place to stay in South Dakota -- the Dakota Dream B&B had a last minute cancellation and had a room for two nights. This spontaneous thing was working for us. So we flew into Custer, South Dakota.

We had some weather we had to fly around and had to make an additional stop for gas (the airport was actually out, but the manager kindly sold us some "reserve" avgas they had in a plastic gas jug). So it took about six hours to get to Custer, South Dakota and I was ready to get out and stretch my legs.  According to Steven, it was interesting landing for the first time at altitude and on a runway that (unbeknownst to us) was going decidedly downhill. I was amazed that the two windsocks on the runway were flying in different directions. It probably wasn't Steven's prettiest landing ever but it was a successful one. At the airport there was a very nice gyrocopter - a tiny flying machine that looks like the love child of a Huey and a snowmobile. (It is pictured below with The Dog in the background). We oohed and aahd over it -- it really was quite amazing.

The gyrocopter

After drooling over the gyrocopter, we found our way to the Dakota Dream.  The owners, Ernie and Kathy Mowery, are lovely people and they have a lovely B&B. They greeted us with chocolate chip cookies, mmmmmmmm cookies. They shared their homemade apple pie schnapps (I think it was schnapps) made from Everclear. Yummy! If Kathy sees this maybe she will share the recipe in the comments (hint hint). I really like staying at B&Bs and Dakota Dream was a wonderful place to stay.  It was a bit unnerving at first to look out the window in the bathroom and see deer watching you shower (they feed the deer and there are several milling around the back yard at all hours).

We spent the next couple of days hiking and eating. Custer State Park has amazing trails. We climbed to the top of Harney Peak the first day, tackled Little Devil's Tower the second day and ended the trip with Sunday Gulch. Three very different trails. My favorite was Sunday Gulch which included climbing up an active waterfall. We also had a great time at the Rapid City Summer Nights Festival listening to Trailer Choir.  I laughed all the way through the song "Rockin the Beer Gut."

My recommendations for food and beverage are..... drum roll...... Alpine Inn in Hill City - they have some amazing German food for lunch;
The Reuben
Independent Ale House in Rapid City amazing service, great pizza, and wonderful beer (you have to like a place that has 40 rotating taps and does not have Bud or Bud Light on tap); Sage Creek Grille in Custer the hot artichoke dip with Parmesan was yummy;
Hot Artichoke Dip with Parmesan
and Botticelli Ristorante in Rapid City for Italian.

We did two touristy things: a to visit Mount Rushmore and a trip out to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum near Ellsworth AFB (of course).  They were both very nice.

I hope that we will be back... I guess it all depends on the weather.....

Pineapple Cucumber Salsa

Pineapple Cucumber Salsa
I love this stuff. I serve it with chips.  It is also incredible with grilled fish or chicken.  If you like it hot use two jalapeños or a hotter pepper. The last time I made this we were especially rich in cucumbers so I used several. Looking at these pictures, my cucumber should have been diced (the cumber looks more chopped than diced). I have also been known to use more cilantro. Actually, I have been making this so long I just approximate the amounts.

Pineapple Cucumber Salsa

1 Fresh Pineapple, Diced
1 Cucumber, Peeled, Seeded, and Diced
¼ Cup (60 ml) of Lime Juice
¼ Cup (40 g) of Red or Sweet Onion, Diced
2 Tbsps of Cilantro, Chopped
1 Jalapeño Pepper, Minced
1 Clove of Garlic, Minced
1 Tsp of Sugar
1 Tsp of Lime Zest
¼ Tsp of Salt

Place the pineapple, cucumber, lime juice, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl (I was transporting this to a pot luck dinner so I placed all of the ingredients into a large plastic bag and then poured it into a bowl when I got there). 
I used a plastic bag for easy and spill-free transport
In a smaller bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Combine with the pineapple and cucumber combination.  I like to refrigerate the salsa for a couple of hours for the tastes to mingle before serving.

The bottom line: will I make it again? Yes. Love it.