The one change that didn’t work: I started baking sourdough – and discovered my obsessive side | Baking | The Guardian

I did manage some decent sourdough

Unlike the author of this article, I did eventually produce decent looking sourdough, with best results using Foodgeek’s easy oat sourdough loaf and very little discard or wasted starter. But getting the timing right is hard, and I also bought a lot of “magic gear” that didn’t make it easier, but did make the process more pleasing.

“I was getting up at 6am to meet the demands of a yeast culture I could never bend to my will. It was a relief to finally give up trying”
— Read on

Stroganoff 2021: No Leftovers

Back in 2009, I blogged this recipe:

Stonyfield Yogurt – Beef Stroganoff
1 lb beef loin, sliced into 1 inch strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, thin sliced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
(I always throw in 2 or 3 tablespoons of Worcesterchire sauce with the mustard and yogurt)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced beef loin, onion and mushrooms, sauté until meat begins to brown. Add flour to the mixture, and continue to cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add tarragon, paprika, wine and beef broth, reduce the heat to medium, and allow to simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dijon mustard and yogurt. Serve over egg noodles.

Yields: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories 340; Calories from Fat 150; Total Fat 17g; Cholesterol 70mg; Total Carbohydrates 13g; Protein 29g, Fiber 2g

Since then, it’s been a standby that we make about every 2 weeks or so during the colder weather. I’ve had mixed results – it’s pretty good, but over the years I’ve been scribbling notes about adjusting some of the proportions and adding things.

Tonight, I threw caution to the wind, REALLY changed some proportions, and it’s the best batch we’ve ever made. The only improvement would be if the meat were both tender and nicely seared; I think there was too much oil to get a good sear and it ended up braising rather than browning. Here’s how I currently want to make it from now on:

1 lb sirloin or thin sandwich steak, sliced into 1 inch strips
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided into 2 1/2 tablespoon portions
1 sweet onion, thin sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 or 4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup plain lowfat Greek yogurt (Kroger brand, Chobani, similar

Egg noodles – follow package directions to cook 2 to 4 portions (we prefer the No Yolk Whole Wheat kind).

Season sliced beef well with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, set aside. Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, to about 400F. Add sliced beef and sear until brown crust forms on some sides. Don’t move beef around too much. Once seared, remove to clean bowl, add the other 1/2 tablespoon of oil and saute’ the onion and mushrooms until the onions are translucent and mushrooms begin to release juices. Add flour to the mixture, and continue to cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Meanwhile combine tarragon, smoked paprika, wine, tomato paste, and beef broth in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, and pour mixture over the onions and mushrooms, stirring well to combine the flour coating. Reduce the heat to medium, and allow to simmer 10 minutes. Start the egg noodles cooking. When they’re almost done, drain and add to the strogonoff pan – using a Dutch oven makes this less messy. Remove from heat and stir in Dijon mustard and yogurt to taste.

The goal is to get that good brown “fond” from searing the beef in a relatively dry, hot skillet, and then the onions act as their own deglazing and pick up a nice color. If that doesn’t happen, it still tastes great, and the extra Worcestershire and tomato paste still give a good, rich color to the sauce.

Serves 4. or if you’re us, 2. There were no leftovers tonight.

Murphyola’s and Veda’s Rum Balls

This is one of several recipe cards Mom wrote up to pass along the secret of her famous Rum Balls, which she developed with her best friend, Veda West. .The story of how this recipe was created involved a big church fundraiser, endless taste-testing, taking doors off hinges, and getting plastered. Also the way I heard it, Mom and Veda had to explain to the church pastor why they were so shickered making Christmas cookies in the church kitchen.

My niece Raeanne has the Christmas card they sent back and forth multiple times in later years, with a story about a cheerful bunny making a batch of liquored-up fruit cake, with disastrous (and hilarious) results. This made them laugh like stink each year; Christmas had well and truly begun when the card had been sent back and forth.



Recipe: Rum Balls Serves : Many
Favorite recipe of: Murphyola and Veda

Use 1/2 recipe for less than a mob!

2-1 pound box Vanilla Wafers, crushed evenly
4 cups powdered sugar
5 cups chopped pecans
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup light Karo syrup
1 1/4 cup rum

Be sure wafers are crushed well, no lumps, and nuts are finely chopped.
Sift powdered sugar and cocoa together. Blend rum and Karo. Add sugar and cocoa to (vanilla wafer) crumbs, then add in the rum and Karo, thorough blending of all.

Can be packed into Tupperware airtight (containers) – to ‘mellow’ – til ready to make into balls 1″ (press and roll firmly). Rolls in powdered sugar – must be kept air tight or they dry out — make out only what is needed – makes a mess. Would use 1/2 recipe.

That’s pretty much the verbatim transcription. Mom seemed to use a dash or emdash for any kind of punctuation. The card is in a little plastic envelope and is a bit messy, with guck on it from being handled with gooey hands. The older versions of this recipe are with my sister Timmy – she says she has several cards, but still had to adjust the recipe a bit for a reasonably-sized batch. My niece Holly Martin, who’s one of the family foodies, commented on Facebook that this didn’t seem to have enough rum! Well, well see, but I seem to recall these things being pretty powerful, so don’t give them to anyone that should not have alcohol, as they are not cooked in any way.

I remember being delegated to crush vanilla wafers in a paper bag with a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer, as Mom never did get around to buying a full-size food processor, although she had a tiny one that was good for chopping maybe a half-cup of nuts at a time. I also remember chopping pecans and repeatedly being told “no, they’re not fine enough, keep chopping!”

David remembers helping Mom to roll out a batch on his first visit to Salt Lake to meet the family, which was in about 1996? Before we were married.

I’ll be attempting to make rum balls this year – I have a smallish food processor so I’ll be making either a quarter batch or a half batch. I bought Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, I have Captain Morgans’s Spiced Rum, and a 12 oz. box of Vanilla wafers, so will probably add in some crushed butter cookies to make up the difference.

Will have to run out to the store for the additional cookies though, cause I ated the first box this week for teatime snacks.

Carrot Cake Recipe : Alton Brown : Srsly Good Eats

Carrot Cake : Alton Brown

So this was the recipe that I started with to take to Mitch and Gloria’s on New Year’s Day. I originally thought I’d bake it as a bundt cake, but didn’t have a pan. However, I did have a springform pan, and I jazzed it up with some chopped pecans and a little orange juice/butter/rum sauce that I reduced down by half. I didn’t really have a recipe for the sauce, just started with about half and half rum and orange juice, with a couple of tablespoons (or more) of butter, with just a little orange zest. I reduced the sauce as long as I could stand it (it tasted really, really good but I didn’t want it to go too long and get bitter).

The cake was a dream to put together, because it all got done in the big food processor. First the carrots got grated in it and set aside, then the wet and dry stuff got mixed and then combined in a big bowl. It called for a 9 inch cake pan and the springform was a little more than 10 inches across, so it was shorter in the pan when it was baked, but it came out of the pan like a dream. I loaded it up with about a quarter of the sauce and wrapped it up in plastic for transport the next day (I put it together New Year’s Eve).

It has yogurt in it instead of sour cream, so it had a nice tartness and a rich mouthfeel. I had dressed it up with the chopped pecans around the top edge and down the sides, and then when we were ready for it, served it with a dab of the sauce down the side. Mmmm, yummy.

Shoveled and Raked and Sore and Tired, and Cooked and Ate The Whole Thing

So yes, we went back out into bright sunshine with no wind to speak of, and David removed more snow from the bottom of the drive while I messed around digging out the walk to the front door. He put the snow “rake” together and I pulled some of the snow off the porch roof, then David raked while I dug out more of the front sidewalk to the corner. And after that, David went in and I used the big light aluminum shovel to dig toward my neighbor, who was digging out the sidewalk from his side. The snow is so light and friable that this was a breeze – not without effort, but lifting it was no problem. I met up with the neighbor and we called it done, like at Promontory Point. Huzzah, etc.!

And then I went inside and collapsed with another cup of strong tea.

After that, we messed around with a new recipe that turned out really good – adapted for what we had on hand and also for non-dairy needs. And hey, Noona Toodle Casserole was created!

I started with this Dairy-Free Tuna Noodle Casserole


o 6 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked
o 1 (170 g) cans tuna ( flaked is easiest)
o 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
o 2 tablespoons vegan margarine ( I recommend Earth’s Best)
o 2 tablespoons unbleached flour ( you can use white)
o 2 cups chicken bouillon
o 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

which got turned into:

  • 5 or 6 cups of whatever pasta we had on hand (in this case, penne rigate)
  • 3 flat packages of albacore tuna (it was way more than 170g, but two was about 150g
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen edamame (no way we were going out to the store)
  • 2 T butter (We’re okay with butter, no problem)
  • 2 T flour (ordinary all-purpose)
  • 2 c chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
  • about a cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 5 or 6 slices of soy-based mozzarella “cheese”

The original recipe didn’t have the bread crumbs or “cheese,” and ended up with “stir it all together and enjoy.” Well, we wanted a casserole, not a giant mixing bowl of hot noona toodle.

So we went with:


  1. Set cooked noodles aside, do not rinse.
  2. Melt dairy-free margarine in pot over medium heat.
  3. Add flour to melted margarine, mix until no lumps remain.
  4. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth and mix until well blended into flour/margarine mixture.
  5. Slowly add the remaining chicken broth, mixing well.
  6. Add flaked tuna to the pot.
  7. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
  8. Once boiling, add frozen peas.
  9. Simmer until desired thickness is achieved (it was thick-ish, but a little too soupy)
  10. Combine sauce with cooked noodles in pot you cooked the pasta in.
  11. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs, or until excess liquid absorbed and a good consistency
  12. Place half the mixture in a large casserole
  13. Layer soy-mozzarella slices, then add the rest of the tuna-noodle mixture
  14. sprinkle reserved bread crumbs (about 1/4 cup, or enough to cover) on top
  15. Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour, or until bread crumbs on top are browned.

We used about a 2 quart casserole – the 1 1/2 quart ones didn’t look big enough. David had planned to take some to work with him, so did I.

But we ate the whoooooooooole thing, and it was really gooooooood. Mmmmm. Noona toodle.

The next time, I would totally go with edamame over peas; we might crush or crack them in half with a heavy ladle or a meat tenderizer in a deep bowl, though. They still had plenty of snap and a good mouthfeel after boiling and baking, weren’t mushy, and retained great color and flavor.

And that’s it. Long day. Very sore and tired. But we had a great meal to make up for all the energy we expended running up and down fetching and vacuuming and scooping and shoveling. And we probably won’t have water coming through the ceiling tonight.

Loose PG Tips Floats Ships

Yeah, I can be fairly serious about tea. Not cha-no-yu serious, or High Tea at the Empress serious, but serious enough to taste the difference between Twining’s Irish Breakfast (loose tea, comes in a green tin smelling gloriously smokey) and Twining’s Irish Breakfast (tea bags, tastes like it was strained through old gym socks).

Problem was, I can’t always remember where I’ve found the Twining’s in the Tin. Recently, I ran out, and had to resort to some tea bags. Something’s gone wrong with Twining’s bagged tea, as far as I’m concerned; it used to be that there was not a very big difference in flavor. But they recently changed their packaging, and it just doesn’t have the same… oomph. The tin box tea is fine: strong enough to grow hair in places where you’ll have to use a tweezer to avoid social embarassment. The bag tea is, not to put too fine a point on it, pants.

Yes, I read a few British blogs, why do you ask?

Anyway, I couldn’t find the Irish Breakfast blend in a tin box on a recent run around the nearest groceries, but I did score a big cardboard carton of PG Tips Loose Tea, which is a VERY GOOD all-around black tea. It’s got the gunpowder-fine grainy tea, it smells great, and tastes like something Arthur Dent longed for. It was in the British foods section of my local Meijer. It really floats my boat, tea-wise. Wish it didn’t come in the cardboard box, but as I use it maybe it’ll fit in my old Twining’s tin. Heh.

Now, if only I could lay my hands on some Yorkshire Gold, preferably loose, I would be really, really chuffed.

One other thing – I’m fairly old-school about teamaking. If I make a mug, with loose tea, I use a little metal tea strainer thing that gives the leaves (really, they’re more like grains) room to expand. The water has to be cold and freshly drawn, and then when it boils in the kettle I try to make sure that the mug with the strainer of tea is right by the stove so that the boiling water goes right over the leaves and into the mug.

If I decide to make a pot of tea – it has to be properly warmed, the tea goes right in the pot (1 teaspoon per cup, one for the pot) and then the boiling water gets poured over the top and stirred. Then the strainer comes into play when pouring out. I don’t usually add more hot water and tea to the pot, but know that there is an art to stretching out the tea in the pot.

Yes, it’s strong. Stronger than an arm-wrestler’s bicep. If it wasn’t a sloppy mugful of liquid it would beat you about the head and neck until you were fully conscious. I like it with a fair bit of milk, which takes the edge of and also makes clutching the mug and warming my face over it that much more soothing and part of the enjoyment of tea.

PG tips is available as loose tea, tea bags, and in vending formats. A “Special Blend” tea, which is the same as the tea blended for the brand’s 75th anniversary, is available in tea bag form only.

The tea used in PG tips is imported in bulk as single estate teas from around the world and blended in precise proportions set by the tea tasters to make blend 777, which can contain between 12 and 35 single estate teas at any one time (depending on season, etc.) at the Trafford Park factory in Manchester.

via PG Tips – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Weekend of Awesome

Let’s see… it’s Wednesday, so I’ve finally recovered from the barrage of total neatorama that occured last weekend. My husband David’s birthday luau, and some HTML and CSS geekery, and then on Sunday evening, we actually MADE IT TO WOOTSTOCK V2.2 IN CHICAGO!!!!!!!11!! (my bangs, they go to 11).

If you’ve spent any time reading here, you know we’re really big fans of going to Hawaii, and we’ve been to a bunch of luaus and other Hawaiian-type dinner shows over the years. We’ve even gone with friends, and done goofy things with them just because we were in Hawaii.

But Friday’s dinner at a local strip-mall based eatery called the Tiki Terrace was one of the best times we’ve had in years – at least, without having to spend 6 hours stuffed into Economy Minus and suffer jet leg. While we were waiting for the dinner-and-a-show thing to start, we were discussing some of our adventures from long ago, when we totally BURIED STEVE and would have left him there if we could have.  Because we’d still be there if we had.

If Only Steve Had Stayed Buried

That’s our friend Earle on the left, and David’s best friend Steve in the middle,  who organized the evening at Tiki Terrace. Earle’s wife Sandy couldn’t be there on Friday or we almost would have had the old band together (we went with 5 friends in 2004).

Earle also enjoys Hawaiian culture and so I was pretty sure he was enjoying the ambiance at the Tiki Terrace.

Anyway, it was hella fun, because there was a special guest at the show. I started to get excited, thinking it was one of the performers we might have seen on our visits to the islands, but it turned out to be vastly better than that. After all, this is a place that features ginormous Easter Island statues and superior tiki decor, all in a long narrow dining room stuck in a suburban strip mall. My sister-in-law Gloria and I discussed the origins of Tiki culture, which we decided were probably rooted in the collective conciousness of thousands of WWII GIs coming home with island crap and deciding to start a bar, while we waited for the special guest to come out.

Aloha from Tiki Elvis

Tiki Elvis wonders if you are lonely tonight

Yes! It’s Tiki Elvis! He sings for you! Admit it, you were expecting maybe Iz? Or Don Ho?

Sure, it’s kitschy — very kitschy, but also cozy and friendly and fun. They’re open 7 days a week, but the hula show is only on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s like a one-night vacation, and we’re probably going to go back when the mood strikes us (reservations are probably essential for show nights).

Serious Hula, Bro

They also have some very good hula dancers, plus the obligatory host who sings a little, jokes a little, and dances a little — and the bartender will come out and sing something if everybody claps hard enough (he’s very good,  but any resemblance to Tiki Elvis is strictly coininkidental).

The surprising thing is that everybody in the front of house is pretty young – even the host, who sported tailbone-length hair and some serious tattoos when he came out to do a New Zealand men’s haka with the other male dancer. They were both very impressive, and actually I got a little irritated at the tableful of tween girls who were shrieking and giggling at the shirtless tattooed guys wearing nothing but muscles and tightly knotted pareus.

Guess I could hardly blame them, it was clearly their first adult-type birthday outing (they were wearing lots of that Libby Lu girly-girly makeup stuff).

The service is friendly, the crowd is clearly there to have a good time (there was one very large party celebrating a big birthday) and the menu is pretty reasonable (it’s all prix-fixe luau food, but appetizers and desserts are extra).

The only problem we had was that we finished dinner a little too close to the beginning of the show, and our dessert orders couldn’t come out until long after the show had finished, so we did wait what seemed like a really long time for our tropical desserts. Our waitress was cute and pretty attentive, but she did kind of disappear when we were wondering if she’d forgotten about the sweets.

David was adamant about not going up on stage for any hula shenanigans so we all maintained radio silence when the time came for the obligatory “let’s get all the birthday people up here and make them do the hula” portion of the evening. Honestly, the guys they DID get up there did a fine job of goofing around, and the stage was kind of small anyway.

So once it was over, we all headed for home, wearing our luau finery, and it looks like we’ll have to make a group trip of it this February for Steve’s 50th… oh, dear.

But that’s not all the awesome! There’s even moar!

Helpless Flailing Eventually Results In New Church Website Going Live

Okay, not that awesome actually, but it’s been kind of an issue for some weeks/months/years that the design we went with after the merger was not what we had discussed when I stepped back from being a webmistress and just maintained the church blog (more or less).

Actually, it got to be kind of depressing how I could not seem to get a link to the blog from the church main page, because the previous webmaster had hosted it through Yahoo and kept losing the link every time he updated some news item on the front page. I had given up asking him to put a real, premanent link on there… but he was very busy with seminary so it wasn’t a very big priority.

Anyway, he’s on track towards ordination as a deacon now and had to hand off the web duties, and there was no one else at church with ANY kind of ability to do a web page, so I was asked to take it on. I agreed, as long as we could completely re-do the site, and host it, and convert it over to a WordPress installation much as I had done with the old Holy Innocents site. For one thing, I wanted to be able to do most of the rejiggering, with David’s help, and not have to do it with Front Page, which I had not been crazy about before.

And so here it is although it’s really just a fancy mockup of what I hope to do with it – the main page will probably get a major makeover as I re-learn the stuff I want to do with images in GIMP and catch up on what CSS can do – for now it’s arranged with simple tables (please don’t view source, eek). I did at least manage to produce the background images and banner image (the photo strip isn’t my work, it’s one element I brought over from the previous layout).

There were technical problems and delays getting the domain registration transfered from the previous hosting service, and frankly it took much too long because of it being too complicated… but the middle of last week, it was finalized at last, and I had been fooling with a highly customizable blog template, creating pages to put the content in, and messing with what became the static front page.

Saturday night it was almost ready to “cut over,” and I was messing around on Facebook uploading some photos I’d found on my hard drive when I got an IM from the former webmaster, chiding me about the lateness of the hour and reminding me I had church in the morning. So that turned out to be fun and I’m glad for him that he’s finally on his way toward ordination, after kind of being stuck in the process while at St Nick’s. What with one thing and another, we didn’t actually cut everything over from old to new until last night, but it was essentially done Saturday except for minor styling changes.

So yeah, talked to people at church, got the final “Oh, Ginny, I’d like you to” aesthetic tweaks from Father Steve, and then it was time to go home and prepare for what became THE MOST AWESOME AWESOMENESS that occured on Sunday night, ever, in the history of the world.


W00tstock Chicago poster

Poster by Len Peralta/@jawboneradio (CC Some Rights Reserved)

David had his iPhone and his brand new Canon EOS 7D, the one with the really good video (used in a recent commercial). I had my iPhone and an excessive amount of screaming w00tiness.

Both are in evidence in the following:


I can be heard laughing in the background saying “eBay!” at one point. But mostly it’s Mr Savage’s party piece (with rather impressive hardware).

There was just SO MUCH w00ty goodness, so many funny people and cartoonists and musicians and people doing readings from books and talking about losing their Rocky Horror virginity… great overview here, in  fact, as my memory is just one happy shouty jumble.

I took a few pictures with the iPhone and tweeted a HELL of a lot:


Sign in the parking garage we eventually found right around the back of the Park West venue. Duh. $20 well spent.


Paul and Storm singing “We’re the Opening Band.”


Ceiling Cat was the default desktop on the media screens when they weren’t playing cartoons, Moments with Wil, or showing pictures of destitute Stormtroopers panhandling. Some of the comedy came from minor glitches with volume or opening the wrong file. Everything got a big laugh, because everything was funny. It was the kind of instant geek nationhood that springs up at a good convention.

Wootstock Tweets

mai tweets, let me show you them

Here’s a great picture of Peter Sagal that David took – in character as a henchman who dreams of being the hero for once.

WWDTM's Peter Sagal, as The Henchman

Thanks to @jernst, there’s audio, and it’s all shareable and whatnot.  You must listen! It’s too big to upload here.

There’s all kinds of photos on Flickr and Twitter, and there’s stuff from Minneapolis, the next night in the tour, all over everywhere.

Monday at work was…. painful as we didn’t get home until about 130am. The show is billed as “3 Hours of Geeks and Music” but actually it’s closer to 4 or 5 (depending on how much digressing is going on, and how long it takes to get through the last song).

Give you an idea; during the show, a recurring them was “but I digress.” So David registered a domain, Don’t know what he’ll do with it – maybe collect lists of cover bands and tribute bands (hard to explain why that would be funny, watch some of the videos).

Yeah. I can’t wait until the next version comes out.

In A Cooking Mood

David and I are getting in a mood to cook something a little different – in addition to David’s homemade chicken soup, we’re going to try kreplach (filled dumplings), which are tasty little packets of savory goodness when added to soups.

Source: Good Yom Tov – Helen Stern Saute onion in smaltz. Place chicken in food processor. Add onions, schmaltz and grivens to chicken. Add salt & pepper to taste. Chop well. Place 1 teaspoon of meat filling in center of each won ton skin and fold into triangles. Pinch sides together. It helps to moisten the edges so they will form a better seal. Let stand on floured surface for 15 minutes to prevent sticking or opening during cooking. Drop into boiling salted water or soup. Cook about 15 minutes. Also good deep-fried. Posted to JEWISH-FOOD digest by Sheryl Donner on Nov 05, 1998, converted by MM_Buster v2.0l.

Good Things Come At Threes

New restaurant in Kihei, open only three weeks, with three young owners. Great food, great prices, nice ambiance makes a change from all the slightly funky places in the same block. Wheelchair access ramp, indoor seating with air-conditioning, outdoor deck under a shady tree doubles the seating area. No liquor yet, but planning to open a new club/lounge section by April. WIN!

Three’s Bar & Grill, a new Hawaiian Fusion restaurant, occupies the space of the former Bada Bing restaurant in Kihei’s Kalama Village. They serve up a fusion of Hawaiian, Southern, and Eastern cuisine with steak and seafood specialities.

We set out yesterday with a vague plan, as we so often have, to mooch around looking for something interesting to do and then find some lunch. We succeeded greatly, as we went to a couple of shopping places – the funky dirt-parking lot hippie market and then the slightly more upscale funky paved-parking lot collection of shacks and stalls called the Kalama Village. Knowing that there were some restaurants there right off the small lot on the main drag of South Kihei Road, we pulled in to a shady spot and walked into Threes, a new restaurant to us. We’d eaten at the previous eatery at that location, Bada Bing, which was not that memorable a place, frankly. I think we’d had a fish sandwich or a burger served in a basket on their large outdoor deck some years ago (I think on our epic “Mothership” trip when we stayed in the Pau Hana Penthouse with several friends).

So our expectations were not that high, because we’d had mediocre, overpriced food there before – we just wanted some lunch before checking out the shopping opportunities next door.

However, what a pleasant surprise – Threes sports a nicely updated, simple Southwestern decor that still works with the photos and paintings by local artists that decorate the walls. It’s run by three young guys who also have a catering business; we saw at least two of them while ordering our meal, and overheard several conversations from patrons booking catered events, or from people who sounded like advertising reps for local food publications. Good signs for a new restaurant – the catering business now has a “face time” place, and the restaurant business has the catering line as a backup for slower times. They’ve only been open as a restaurant for 3 weeks, and don’t yet have a liquor license, although bringing your own is actively encouraged until they do. The waitstaff seemed smoothly trained and at the right “hover” level for a nicer restaurant (the other restaurants along that block tend toward the “funky beach shack” level of service). There was a slight tendency on the part of some of the staff (one of the co-owners?) to be a bit over-eager, but the vibe was very welcoming, if a bit “OMG, people are here!”

We ordered the “ocean” salads, as we’ve gotten Caesar at nearly every other restaurant (including a delicious tableside production at the Waterfront). There was no seafood on it, only a bit of seaweed garnish; we wouldn’t have expected it to have goat cheese on it, however, so David had to send his back to be de-dairified. However, the dressings were good (either liliuokoi or mango vinaigrette) and the greens tender and yummy, as Maui greens tend to be.

I ordered a “build your own” burger with Cheddar cheese, “Coconut Porter BBQ” sauce, and avocado; other choices included mango chutney and Swiss. It was supposed to be medium rare but arrived a bit more rare-ish than that, but not so much that I needed to send it back. It had great flavor (meat is from Maui Cattle Company) but at 8 ounces, it was quite a big, thick patty which tended to slide out of the bun a bit. Messy, but good fun. I remarked to the waiter that it was probably a “two napkin” burger; he laughed and said he was going to start bringing two with it in the future. David had an ahi fish sandwich that he also enjoyed. I’d almost gone for that, but I’d had that ginormous one at Tommy Bahamas the day before, which was so long that I ate for 5 minutes before reaching the bun. So I was happy with my messy burger, and also happy that I hadn’t also had to cook it like they do at certain “build your own burger” beach shacks at Waikiki Beach.

The prices for lunch, by the way, were very reasonable. So reasonable that I don’t know how long they’ll continue to offer them before being forced to raise them up to more typical Maui prices. We paid about twice as much in Wailea the day before for similar fare. The rest of the menu looked pretty appetizing, too – and like other restaurants, they’re going the “fusion” route in order to offer something a little different from the “ono Island Style” choices that so many other restaurants have on Maui.

I asked our waiter whether they’d been busy on Whale Day, as Kalama Park is just across the street and probably a thousand people were over there enjoying the parade and music that day. He said they’d been slammed, and that he was lucky to not be scheduled to work that day. I can see a good future for this restaurant if they continue to offer great food at great prices, and also they offer a nice upscale place to hang out as an alternative to the “funky shack” spots out on the street along South Kihei Road.

Three thumbs up for Threes! Even more if you have more than 2 people at your table!