Loco Moco


I made this particular recipe as sort of a joke. I’ve recently lost 40 pounds, and I don’t want to put it back on. So I like to try making some favorite foods, cutting points (Weight Watchers style) in as many places as humanly possible.

One of the local favorites around here in Hawai`i is a “Loco Moco,” which sounds pretty gross until you taste it. It’s typically two scoop white rice (not scoops “plural”, mind you, but scoop “singular”), topped with either Spam, hamburger, or Portuguese sausage. Plop a fried egg or two on top of that, and then cover the whole shebang with brown gravy and chopped green onions, including the green part.

See, I told it you sounds gross, but when you taste it, you will think of nothing but the old cliché – “I’ve died and gone to heaven.” Of course, as you can imagine, it’s not exactly a dieter’s special!

So just for fun, I decided to try something else. Here is my version of a “Mini Skinny Moco.”


Mini Skinny Moco

½ cup cooked brown rice
1 small veggie sausage patty, cooked in microwave
1 egg, over medium (or however you like it)
1/8 cup canned brown gravy (or homemade)
Chopped chives (or green onions)

Follow the procedure for a regular Loco Moco (see the second paragraph above) starting with the scoop of brown rice, then the cooked veggie sausage patty.



After that, add the egg cooked to your preference, and a little brown gravy over that. Sprinkle chopped chives or green onions on top and enjoy.



If you are a Weight Watcher, this way of fixing a local favorite cuts the points down from about 17-18 points (or more) down to 6.5 points. And that doesn’t even count the macaroni salad that’s usually served with it in most fast food joints here in the islands.

This version is much smaller, has more fiber, and uses ingredients that are leaner, but tastes just as good – maybe even better, knowing that you are not gaining 10+ pounds by eating it! The egg I used for preparing this dish had been freshly gathered, by the way!

This is true Hawai`ian comfort food! Eat it slowly and enjoy the flavors. Trust me, you won’t be able to eat just one!

A hui hou!

El Pachuco


When I lived in Tucson, I had a friend who was dating a Mexican girl. He went to her family’s home for Thanksgiving dinner where they had a turkey and all the trimmings that we’ve come to expect in the USA. In the middle of the table, however, was an enormous bowl of refried beans upstaging the turkey. As American as they thought they were, they still had to have their refried beans.

So instead of writing about a more traditional Thanksgiving meal, I thought it would be fun to I talk about one of my favorite places to eat at any time, including Thanksgiving.

If you are a visitor driving around the island, please stop at Evie’s El Pachuco for some wonderful Mexican food. You’ll find it on the corner of Tiki Lane and Highway 11. Watch for it on your left as you drive through Ocean View going from the Kona side to Hilo. They are open from 11 in the morning to 6 in the evening, Wednesday through Sunday. Tamales are available on the weekends only.


Here is a copy of her menu so you’ll know what to expect. There are also weekly specials that are not on the menu. She promised to make a mole soon.


Evie was just delivering two plates of chicken enchiladas with rice and beans to two customers when I walked in. I restrained myself from grabbing one of the plates.


Back in the kitchen, her husband, Jimi, let me take pictures of the food in the hot serving pans – chicken, pork, rice, beans. He was making an extra batch of beans because they were about to run out. He’s the strong arm around the place.


A little background on Evie and Jimi Gonzales: Jimi was originally a welder shipfitter/pipefitter building commercial fishing boats. Evie was a bookkeeper. In the 70s, Jimi bought an acre in Hawai`i Ocean View Estates (HOVE) with $50 down. They continued to work in California while they paid it off. Then during vacations, he began to build.

Like many HOVE residents, Evie and Jimi eventually moved to Hawai`i to get away from the air pollution in California and to provide a better environment in which to raise their young son (now a DJ on Oahu).

At first their new home was a simple shell with no walls, but it did have an outdoor shower and outdoor toilet. Using the talents of his trade, Jimi built an outdoor cooking area similar to a barbecue pit where Evie made their meals over a fire – including even baking cakes!

About 7 years ago, Evie brought her mother back from Arizona to live with them. She also brought back a thirty-pound block of masa, planning to use it a little bit at a time. When she got it to Hawai`i, it was frozen solid. She had to do something with all that masa, so she made a big bunch of tamales, sat on the side of the road on the back of her van to sell them. Within a couple hours, she had sold them all, and decided that might be a good way to make a little money.

The kind of masa Evie needed wasn’t available here so she started buying small bags of maseca to keep the tamales rolling. She found a distributor and now buys maseca for tamales made of white corn in fifty-pound bags.

I first met Evie when she catered for a Leadership Conference I attended a few years ago. It was some of the best food I’d tasted since I left Tucson – and I knew Ocean View had a gem. But I didn’t know where to get more of her food.

Then I discovered her again one day on my way to our Ace Hardware here in what many residents call “The View.” She was parked alongside the road, selling tamales and more out of her van. For several years, I would buy Evie’s tamales on my way to pick up those items a homeowner can’t live without.

Then she moved down to the parking area of Ka’u Outpost on the highway, just down the road from my house. Almost every day when I drove home from teaching, I saw her sitting patiently on the back of her van. If I had stopped to pick up something every time she was there, I wouldn’t have been able to get in the front door of my house! But I did stop as often as I dared.


They have now found an indoor home in one section of the Ka’u Outpost, with little tables where you can eat or wait for take-out. If you’re lucky, she may have some freshly baked brownies or other baked treats to tempt you, as well.


I started this post to help spread the word about this special little Mexican restaurant, but didn’t realize I’d get drawn into such an intriguing history lesson. When I asked “What does Pachuco mean?” I was taken to an entirely new adventure. Evie said “It’s the description of a certain kind of person,” and began to tell this story.

In the 30s and 40s, young Mexican-Americans formed their own subculture and were called “Pachucos,” or “Chukes.” I had no idea they were the original zoot suiters. For great pictures and an interesting commentary on this era, check out this article. Also, I recommend that you turn up your speakers and go to this site to get a flavor of the zoot suiter. I’m old enough to remember guys wearing the zoot suit! There was no zoot suit for Jimi today!


Jimi came from Chavez Ravine, which is now the site of the Dodgers Stadium. Originally, this area of Los Angeles was the home of Mexican-American families tending their small farms. In the early 50s, L.A. declared eminent domain over the land and the home owners were offered a paltry sum of money for their properties.

The next ten years were violent ones as the owners resisted being ousted to make way for the Stadium. The unfortunate and sad story can be found here. There is a reunion of the Pachucos from Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles every July.

The story of Chavez Ravine and the Pachucos come together because Jimi’s father and Evie’s father were both Pachucos. The logo for El Pachuco, our very own authentic Mexican restaurant, shows a “Day of the Dead” (“Día de los Muertos”) character in a Pachuco stance, wearing an aloha shirt and khaki shorts. I love it!


To read a recent account of the situation at Chavez Ravine, read this article.

A side story: Jimi was cooking in the kitchen as I sat at one of the little tables talking with Evie. I had placed my purse on the floor near a door in the kitchen, but Jimi came running in to say I should get my purse up off the floor immediately! He said that if you set your purse on the floor, all the money will run out of it and you’ll always be broke. This site gives a more complete answer to that saying. It’s a sign of respect for your hard-earned money not to put your purse on a dirty floor. I don’t think my purse would ever get dirty on the floor of Evie’s and Jimi’s kitchen!


A hui hou!

Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Pie


In the days and weeks preceding Thanksgiving, every website that features food of any kind has a pumpkin pie recipe on it. The pictures are irresistible, of course. I can put on twenty pounds just looking at the pictures and thinking about how good it would taste!

Like so many of the recipes I post on here, this is my own version of one from an old issue of Better Homes & Gardens. When I say “old”, I mean it came from the fifties when I was first married. The photo above shows what is left of the original page, complete with old cellophane tape!



Lucy’s Pumpkin Pie

1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
¾ cup sugar (these days I use Splenda instead of sugar)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
3 slightly beaten eggs
1 cup evaporated milk (not condensed milk)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices. Add eggs and evaporated milk; blend. Pour into 9-inch pastry-lined pie pan. Bake in hot oven (450 F.) for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 325 F. for about 45 minutes, or until the mixture doesn’t adhere to a knife stuck in the middle.

I’ve tried other recipes, but none have come close to this tried-and-true version. Most are not spicy enough for me, so even with this recipe, I add a bit more of the spices than it calls for. The original recipe calls for light cream or top milk, but I love the unique flavor the evaporated milk gives it.

Be sure to use the no-roll pie crust that I featured with my Cherry Crumb Pie and my Cran-Apple Crumb Pie. Please check out one or both of those posts to get the recipe and directions.

For pumpkin pie, I cover the fluted edge of the crust with strips of foil because this pie cooks longer than either of the fruit pies mentioned above. I take the strips off for about the last 10-15 minutes of cooking to let it brown.

Top with whipped cream, or some sort of whipped topping, and sprinkled with a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. A big dollop of vanilla bean ice cream on top is hard to beat! Good for more than just Thanksgiving!



Note: Just to show that everything can be modified, let me tell you about what happened while I was making this particular pie. First, I didn’t have any ground ginger, mostly because about all I ever use is fresh ginger. So I grated up some fresh ginger instead of using the powdered. Then the can of evaporated milk I had on the shelf was bad when I opened it. Instead of evaporated milk, I used ½ cup unflavored liquid coffee creamer and ½ cup Almond Breeze (vanilla, unsweetened). In other words, improvise, improvise, improvise! That’s the way we always did it in the fifties (and I still do)!

My hens were happy to donate their eggs for this Thanksgiving treat!

A hui hou!

Black & White Night in Hilo

On November 6, 2009, Hilo held its 9th Annual Black & White celebration. My natural tendency is to avoid events like this. I much prefer to stay home and write or work in my garden. A colleague at the college convinced me that I needed to get out more. Being the “loner” I am, I begrudgingly agreed.

I’m so glad I went! Not only did it give me some good blogging material, but I actually had a good time!

She made reservations at Uncle Billy’s Hotel for us to stay over that night, rather than drive back to our homes several hours away. The hotel receptionist graciously agreed to use my camera to take these photos of the four gals. The background is the patio area of Uncle Billy’s Hotel.


While this picture was being made, 87 year-old Uncle Billy himself wandered by. When I first moved to the Big Island thirteen years ago, I often saw him on his bicycle cruising the main drag of Kona. You might enjoy reading this article about the award he received a couple years ago and learn a little more about Uncle Billy (William J. Kimi Jr).

On our way to start the evening with supper, we came across a panda person running down the street, a black and white dog, and a barker dressed in her black and white. Everyone was dressed in black and white – some fancy costuming and some rather plain, but fitting into the black and white theme.


We met a fifth friend at Puka Puka Kitchen, a little hole in the wall with outstanding food! I can hardly wait to go back. Each of us chose something different.


My plate was a falafel pita and like a pig, I could have eaten two plates of it! What a pleasure!


I tried to get a picture of the menu, but the flash kept getting in the way.


But I did manage to get a good shot out the door toward the street and ocean.


While we were there, I asked someone to take a picture of the newly formed “Black Hat Society” ladies. Need I tell you we attracted quite a lot of attention? (giggling) I’m the one on your left, in case you couldn’t tell.


All the stores were open, and most offered some sort of pupu (snack). We wandered in and out, enjoying the merchandise and art work. Here the fifth addition to our foursome is examining these beautiful hand-woven baskets.


Here are just a few of the paintings on display (and for sale).


There were dresses . . .


. . . shorts and more made from rice bags. . .


. . . and hand-painted shopping bags. . .


. . . and novelty items like coasters made to resemble “slippahs” . . .


. . . and lei scarves hand-painted by Maya . . .


. . . and turtle sculptures.


You could buy any kind of produce . . .


. . . and plenty of other homemade goodies that were for sale.


My favorite of all the attractions was the number of street musicians everywhere.


Believe it or not, this introvert intends to go back again next year! Maybe I’ll see you there? In the meantime, if you’d like to see all these pictures individually, plus others that didn’t make it to the post, check out this slideshow.


To see it in full size, click here .

A hui hou!

Basic Panini


After all my children were grown and on their own, I “retired” from cooking. I had been feeding four children, one husband, and all their friends for many years, so I told everyone I didn’t want to ever cook again.

Oh, I ate! I certainly didn’t starve, and probably put on too much weight! But my career took me to breakfast meetings, luncheon meetings, dinner meetings, meetings over coffee and pie, and more. Anything I ate at home would be leftovers or something easy that could be assembled quickly without cooking. From July 1983 to about February 2005, that’s the way I my eating routine was established.

I’ve always loved reading through cookbooks, drooling over the photography and descriptions of the most scrumptious foods! Anyone who has visited my home is aware of the many shelves of cookbooks I have – yet I wasn’t cooking!

Almost five years ago, I started thinking about cooking again. So I started looking through my old cookbooks. Once I got back to cooking a few things here and there, I felt like a beginner cook. I burned stuff, undercooked others, added too much or too little of some ingredient, and simply was not up to my old standards.

Then I realized that in the past I’d been cooking for “family!” Food for “family” is a lot different than cooking something gourmet style – elegant and sophisticated. It’s been fun trying out new recipes, and sharing with friends.

One of the things I wanted to try again was waffles. I found a lovely little waffle iron at Macy’s for $20 (Bella Cucina). Along with the regular waffle plates, it came with several choices that could be used for grilling sandwiches.

An all-time favorite of almost everyone is a grilled cheese. It’s impossible to ruin a good grilled cheese! My little waffle maker creates wonderful Panini (a fancy grilled cheese) without having to buy one of the bigger and more expensive machines. The recipe below is just a basic Panini, and you can change or add or eliminate anything I’ve listed.



My choice of ingredients:

Whole wheat or rye bread
Deli meat

You could use any bread you wish, but I prefer a hearty whole grain bread of some sort (maybe even homemade?).

Pesto can either be store bought or homemade.

I use Promise to help my friends with cholesterol concerns, but any margarine or butter would work. I also like the flavor and texture of Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread.

I used pastrami in these pictures, but you can use any kind of deli meat. Deli roast beef is particularly tasty.

You might want to match the cheese to the meat, or use whatever you have on hand. This time I used an Irish Dubliner Cheddar, and sometimes I use a combination of several cheeses.


I don’t really need to tell you how to put one together for grilling, do I? Just keep the buttered side of the bread next to the grill plates. Layer pesto, cheese, meat and anything else you add on the inside of the sandwich. Follow the directions on your waffle/sandwich maker.

You can make your Panini as thick or as thin as you wish. The cheese does tend to melt and run out the edges, so I try to stay inside the crusty edge enough to prevent that and still get lots of cheese.

Here it is just before I inhaled my supper!


Doesn’t that look good enough to eat? Go fix one for yourself right now!

A hui hou!

Tomato Catsup


The name I gave my great-grandmother Laura Margrave was “Gran Mutt,” a peculiar title for anyone, but she took great pride in being called by that name. As the wife of a Methodist preacher, and mother of many children, she gathered loads of recipes from church folks. I could write an entire book on the days I spent visiting Gran Mutt. I’ll come back to some of those stories in future posts.

Gran Mutt would end up with bushels of tomatoes out of her luxurious garden of fruits and vegetables. So far, I only get enough little tomatoes to add to my own salad. Like many cooks from the early 20th century, most of her food was homemade, rather than buying from the store like we do today.

Here is Gran Mutt’s version of tomato catsup, which has absolutely no resemblance to the stuff we buy in a bottle at the store. I can remember how wonderful the house smelled when she made it – and probably everyone down the street could smell it, too!

Tomato Catsup


Boil together for 1 ½ hours one-half bushel of ripe tomatoes, 3 pints vinegar, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 2 tablespoons ground cloves, 4 tablespoons allspice, 1 teacup salt, 2 pounds brown sugar, 2 tablespoons celery seed.

Seal in bottles.

From the drug store, buy salicylic acid, and put about a pin-head sized drop in the top of each bottle or jar of catsup so it won’t spoil. She said it was an old German custom.

Lucy’s Note: Her recipe doesn’t say whether she peeled the tomatoes, but I’m quite sure she did. Also, she doesn’t specify the kind of vinegar, but I don’t remember seeing anything but apple cider vinegar in all the kitchens of my family. I love her use of “teacup” rather than another measure, and wonder if people even remember what a “teacup” is. In Gran Mutt’s day, the “teacup” was about as accurate a measure as anything else!

Some of you may have more tomatoes than you can give away, so you might try making this for yourself. If I ever pick that many tomatoes from my vines, I may try her recipe.

A hui hou!

Blackberry Cobbler


Last week I gave you an old favorite – split pea soup. When a friend came to visit from Maui this week, I made the soup to eat with homemade cornbread. For dessert, I made this blackberry cobbler from the fresh berries I’d found at Costco. You can use whatever kind of berries you have available.

Like the pea soup, this is rather a “make up as you go” kind of recipe, but I think most cooks will be able to follow what I did. My friend and I both like to avoid sugar, so this was made with Splenda. I also used the “heart healthy” Bisquick for topping.

I don’t think I need to tell you how good it was!! A little ice cream or non-dairy creamer over the top makes a special treat.



Blackberry Cobbler


Approximately 2 pounds of fresh blackberries
¾ cup Splenda
2 tablespoons cornstarch, stirred into ¼ cup water
Plus 1 cup water

Mix all this together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it boil for about 1 minute.

Pour berries and juice into 10” X 6” X 2” (mine was a little wider, but whatever you have that comes close to that size will do.

Mix 2 cups Bisquick mixed with enough water or skim milk to make a soft dough. I used unsweetened Almond Breeze Vanilla “milk.”

Drop by spoonfuls on top of HOT fruit. This is the trick – the fruit must be HOT.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until biscuit topping is brown.

I took one of these photos when I was about half-way through putting on the topping so you could see the beautiful berries. The other photo is fresh from the oven, too hot to eat.

A hui hou!

Molasses Cookies


There’s nothing better in the middle of the night than a cold glass of milk (non-fat, of course) with a homemade cookie. One of my favorites is a soft molasses cookie. Please don’t count the calories on this one. It’s bound to be healthy with all that molasses. There really isn’t much more I can add to that, so here’s the recipe.

Molasses Cookies

Sift together: 3 cups flour (I use half whole wheat and half unbleached)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch salt

Cream ½ cup shortening with ½ cup sugar until light.

Add 1 well-beaten egg, then 1 cup molasses, and beat thoroughly.

Add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with 1 tablespoon vinegar and ½ cup boiling water.

Mix well and drop the soft dough by spoonfuls 2 inches apart on well-greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until firm to the touch, at 375 F.

If you can wait, it’s probably better to let them cool down a bit before you dig into them.

A hui hou!

No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread


This is another of those sailing recipes. I would mix up this batter, put it in a warm spot in my galley, then let it bake as I was sailing along the coast of Catalina Island. Maybe other boaters couldn’t smell it, but it didn’t matter, because everyone on my boat could smell it!

Kneading bread is good for your hands, and your soul, but sometimes you need to just pull something together in a hurry. This recipe satisfies the need for a delicious whole wheat homemade bread.



No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

4 teaspoons dry yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons honey
5 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons molasses
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1/3 cup wheat germ
1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
½ tablespoon butter

Sprinkle the yeast over the 2/3 cup lukewarm water. Add 2 teaspoons honey. Leave it to “work” while you prepare the dough.

Place the whole wheat flour in a 250 degree F. oven for about 20 minutes to warm up.

Combine the molasses with another 2/3 cup lukewarm water.

Combine the yeast mixture with the molasses mixture. Stir this into the warmed flour, then add the salt, wheat germ, and the 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water. Mix well, but don’t knead. The dough will be sticky.

Butter 9 ¼” X 5 ¼“ loaf pan. Be sure to grease the corners of the pan well. Turn the dough into the pan and smooth the dough with a spatula that has been rinsed under cold water to prevent sticking.

Leaveto rise to the top of the pan in a warm, draft-free place.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 30-40 minutes or until crust is brown and sides of loaf are firm and crusty.

Set pan on rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on the rack before slicing – if you can wait that long!

Slather with butter while warm. Good sliced and toasted later if there is any left.

A hui hou!

Chicken, Chilies, and Corn Casserole


If I could eat one specific cuisine three times a day, it would be Mexican. Over the years, I’ve learned to make quite a few traditional Mexican dishes. I’m not even sure where some of them came from now. I’ve made them in my own way, of course, so they have a touch of “Lucy” in them.

I first made this dish back in 1964, soon after I moved back to California from Alaska. It quickly became a family favorite at a time when my children could have been picky, but they weren’t.

Serve this with plenty of hot tortillas, a spicy salsa, and a cool sherbet to end the meal. This also goes well with small boiled or steamed red potatoes. Make it as spicy as you wish. I tend to like mine rather hot.

Chicken, Chilies, and Corn Casserole

You can either cut up a fryer, or use a bag of chicken parts. I usually made it with all breast meat. Shake it up in a bag of seasoned flour and brown in hot canola oil. Put the chicken into a large baking dish and put to one side.

In the same skillet, melt about three tablespoons of butter or margarine. Add the leftover flour, 1 ½ cups milk, and a can of fat free chicken broth. Mix it well and bring to a boil.

Add a 12-ounce can of corn kernels (or an equal amount of fresh corn cut off the cob) along with a large can of chopped and peeled green chilies. Mix this together and pour over the chicken.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees F. until chicken is well cooked. Sometimes I simply let it simmer on top of the stove. Need I say it’s an easy meal to fix?

Hasta luego!

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