How Safe Is Your Food?

A Dash of Cinema

world health day

The theme for World Health Day 2015 is food safety. As someone who loves food, I consider the safety of our food and where it comes from an important issue. The World Health Organization claims that “over 200 diseases are caused by unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, chemical substances.” Pretty scary. From books such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Salt, Sugar, Fat to the many documentaries that are being produced, there’s no shortage of resources to educate ourselves. Take some time this World Health Day to learn more about where your food comes from and the issues surrounding our health, the food industry, and what we’re putting into our bodies. Here are 10 documentaries to get started…

1. Food Chains – A group of workers work to overcome corporate greed and end abuse in America’s fields, revealing what actually feeds our country.

2. Forks Over Knives – This documentary…

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Nights at the Round(ish) Table…

Image                                The usual get together spot at my house…the kitchen table.                              It’s always been a place where important conversations take place, where people gather to celebrate, mourn, contemplate, or just be.  If your kitchen table could talk,  we would hear the most intriguing stories of your life.  When I think back to the best memories of my life, it almost always involved being at the kitchen table. There were discussions about life, love, death, challenge, and of course, FOOD!


 Playing board games with my cute family…

My parent’s kitchen table was THE hot spot when I was growing up in Hawaii.  It was hardly ever unoccupied, and if it was, that probably meant no one was home.  It was very non-descript.  It was not your traditional dining table set that you would buy at the mall furniture store.  It was white on top, around 6.5 feet long, 3 feet wide, and had wooden cupboards underneath to store things.  The chairs that went with it were given to us by my Grandpa Manabe, and as they broke one by one, they were replaced with random folding chairs or stools.  As plain as it was, it was actually the coolest table I’ve sat at.  My dad built this table, probably with my mom in mind since the kitchen was her domain.  It’s seen a lot of traffic…and experienced a lot of love.

As you enter my dad’s house, you have to walk through the laundry room, which takes you straight to the entry way for the kitchen.  The table is on the left, right as you enter.  I remember when I started dating and my boyfriends would hate walking through there because my dad and his gaggle of friends were always at the table, drinking and most certainly judging.

3 of my best buddies in my dad's kitchen...

3 of my best buddies in my dad’s kitchen…

My most important kitchen table memory was from the early 90’s when my dad sat all 3 of his daughters down to tell us that we had another sister who lived in Oregon.  It was at that very table in the photo above and I still remember where I sat.  It was a very heavy day, filled with lots of questions.  You could tell my dad was not looking forward to the conversation, but at the same time you could feel the sense of urgency.  I remember feeling grief for my mom, anger at my dad, and a need to meet my other sister!  I was excited, sad, happy, confused, and angry all at the same time.  Then I found out my new sister (she was 12 at the time) had the same name as me (she was named after her grandmother)!  How strange (we always joked about her being the “junior”)!  I will never forget that day and am thankful everyday that she is in my life!


The other kitchen table memories are kind of general, in a sense.  This table  was a place where my family gathered.  At every family party, the occupants at this table changed by the minute, sometimes by the hour.  You could always count on it being full. In this photo, which was taken 4 years ago, I remember exactly what we were all reminiscing about!  We were talking about our annual family camping trips and all the fun stuff (and sometimes careless stuff) we used to do!  Everyone looked forward to these camping trips.  They weren’t technically “camping” trips either!  Our family used to own a beach house on the North side of the island.  Camping trips were planned for a week or sometimes two every summer.  It was so well organized by the adults that all the cousins would have SO MUCH FUN!  They actually planned “kitchen patrol” shifts, or we called it “KP Duty”.  I think I was the only cousin that enjoyed it…haha!   So much fun memories.

Getting everything ready for sushi making, family style!


Once a year, this table becomes a production line for sushi, mochi and just general prepping of foods.  New Year’s was an important event in our family and everyone had a role in the production of food.  Prepping began days before the event, and leftovers seemed to hang out well over a week after the festivities!  There was never a time when this table was completely empty.

Everyone, including my son has learned to make many things on this table and I’m sure he will continue to do so.  Lessons on LIFE AND LOVE…all from one table.

Farmer’s Cheese (A great cheese for beginners!!)

farmer's cheese


Whenever my sister and I get together, we cook.  I’m not talking your everyday meals, either.  We love choosing recipes that require a lot of work (I remember tackling Julia Child’s beef bourguignon recipe with her that literally took us ALL DAY to make) or just recipes we have not tried before (the bucket list recipes).  Last year, we decided on Farmer’s Cheese!  It was such an easy recipe!  Anyone can make this, even if you are a novice in the kitchen!  This is also great for kids to try!  This recipe yielded about 3 cups of cheese, and we made 3 different flavors!  Have fun with it and be creative!


Whole Milk            1 gallon

Pinch of salt

Juice of 1 lemon (you don’t have to use it all, just enough for the milk to curdle!)


  1. In a large pot, bring milk and salt to a boil.  Make sure you stir constantly to avoid scorching.
  2. As soon as the milk comes to a boil, turn off heat.
  3. Add lemon juice and stir.  Milk should instantly curdle!
  4. Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour milk into it.  What is left is the cheese!
  5. Wrap the cheesecloth around the cheese and squeeze until most of the water (whey) is gone.
  6. Store in refrigerator.


You can eat it plain or you can flavor the cheese as you wish!  Here are the flavors we tried!

  • Basil with roasted garlic, salt and drizzle of olive oil on top
  • Green onion with black pepper
  • Honey