Sunday, June 27, 2010

Please Send Your Love

The other day one of Dan's regular produce suppliers, Lisa from One Song Farms, invited us to come and check out her farm. One Song provides organic produce to local grocers and has a small CSA. She, along with her partner Sun don't consider themselves farmers but concerned citizens! They freely share their extensive knowledge with budding gardeners via tours and a workshop the first Saturday of every month tailored to the needs of the attendees. Sun came to Kauai 20 years ago and was told organic farming was impossible here. The sugarcane and pineapple plantations having depleted the soil making farmers have to start below ground zero and recreate healthy soil. Sun has proved them wrong again and again.

Saturday morning greeted us with heavy rains that had begun late in the night; it's the beginning of hurricane season. We threw our raincoats into the jeep and hurried off for the 20 minute drive to Moloa'a. By the time we got there the sun was out and Lisa was in the garden. Walking into Lisa's garden was like walking into a safe, beautiful haven. Everything is neat; the walking paths have no weeds, the plants are meticulously mulched, no decay anywhere in the garden, there are no pesky bugs and the plants are thriving and healthy. It just makes you take a deep breath and let it out long, slow and easy. Ahhhhh.

We spend three hours there, learning about garden techniques (I guess like anything, there are a lot of different ways to get the same result), exotic plants, medicinal plants and of course edible plants. In the end we decide to go to the workshop this Saturday and I tell her I want a "food forrest". Jillian has one on front of her kitchen, about 1500 SF of edible plants growing wild like. It's not laid out like her gardens, the plants live like they would on the forrest floor, together. I can't have one that big but during this tour I had a clarifying moment. I just got mad that I had to buy produce when I could easily (ish) grown enough for Dan and I. I want to be able to go into my yard and see what's ready and cook it up for dinner, like I did in Colorado - only better.

Further north in Hanalei, we stopped at the other Papayas to give Chris, the produce manager there, some CSA flyers. I gave him some of my personal chef ones as well. As we walked through the parking lot in the rain we bumped into Jamie and his Jack Russell Pikie. Pikie was cradled in Jamie's arms after having run off. He invited us to his pre birthday party next Saturday at his house. We planned on going to his upcoming event, he is a DJ and will be mixing for his birthday at a local bar Saturday night.

Inside Papayas I meet Chris for the first time. I have heard a lot about him since Dan replaced him at the Kapa'a store. He is happy, easy, friendly and quick to laugh. While he and Dan talk shop (what kind of cooler is that, where'd you get those habaneros?...) I meet the owner of this Papayas, a slim mature lady who has really great energy. She is out going and having a great time, no matter what she does. From running Papayas to meeting new people, it is clear to me that she is having fun doing it. I see two of our friends walk in together, although they don't know each other. One is Natalie, our coconut girl. The other is Christina Southwick. She and her husband Tom have been here for 16 days. We were supposed to meet them at Hands Across The Sand, in Hanalei Bay but took to long at the farm. The event is to protest the oil spill put on by Surfrider Kauai. From New Zealand to Kauai everyone joins hands and the same time. Tom, 62 and retired from Starz, laughs as he recalls that his hands were covered in chocolate syrup because some folks doused themselves in it to represent oil. He isn't sure how many people were there, a lot he says noting that he and Christina were 66 and 67.

It's Bouchons for lunch and this slowly reveals itself to be a mistake. Sixty minutes later we are served mediocre food. Me fish tacos and Dan fish and chips. The nice waiter gives us a bowl of their clam chowder, apologizing for the delay. The chowder is the only thing worth coming back for!

We get a quick nap in before we go to look at a new place to rent. Our place is too small, too dingy. My folks are coming out in October and I'd like for them to stay with us. As it is, they couldn't even eat dinner with us. At the moment we are not sure if we can swing it. It's about $200.00 more a month than we are currently earning and that would make us financially vulnerable. Dan and I are making a renewed, concerted effort to bring in more money and in about 2 months, I believe we could afford this place and save some money. We have so many possibilities (to supplement our current jobs) that I'm afraid listing them would be tedious for the reader! I spoke with dad this morning about the details of their trip. When I told him about the place he said he wants to give us the money he would otherwise spend on hotel and car rental, making the place affordable for us. Technically, we can afford it but we don't want to dip into our savings. We want to create a financial situation where we are earning more than we are spending, what a concept huh? When he presents this generous offer, I am stunned into silence, overcome with emotion. Pride pokes us as Dan continues the search, finding a lot of places that are affordable and take pets! Hopefully soon, we can get a bigger place with a deck!!

Lovely Faith, Jillian's daughter

with a gianormous leek

Dinner; homemade whole wheat naan with sauteed scallions, thyme, mushrooms and goat cheese.

baby geko

One Song Farms

Lisa shows Dan the Chinese long beans

Spinach is very hard to grow here, especially in the summer. Lisa is trying it with a cooling screen. The soil can reach 112 degrees 2 inches below the soil during the hot summer sun, the screen reduces the temperature by about 35%. It looks like it's working and Dan is really excited, his customers are asking for it.

On the far left between the trees and bordering the garden are asparagus plants. Yippie!!!

Lisa caught talking about the Chinese long beans she holds in her hands.

Amaranth going to seed for seed saving.

Butterfly ginger smells like heaven! Similar in smell to jasmine or gardenia. I would love to have some of this by my bedroom window...someday!

Lisa and Sun don't use plastic cell trays preferring soil blocks. They are more time consuming; you mix the soil with water, the mold cuts 6 at a time, and Sun (previously in construction) makes wood trays to contain them.

They sprout and go straight into the ground. These are baby beets. List is proud of her beets, getting up to 4 pounds each while maintaining a sweet, tender characteristic.

All we can remember about these beautiful seeds is that they are poisonous, the ripe fruit is not.

This rosemary was up to my waist, garlic chives thrive in front.


Dan's favorite lettuce, Canasta.

Dan and his love of all tiny creatures.

I wish I got a shot of the tree. A huge, sprawling shade tree called an ice cream tree. Eating the fruit is similar to eating ice cream, in a less surgery way.

This is a two year old Jackfruit tree. Doesn't Dan look good! =)

The greenhouse is open on both sides allowing for air flow.

In Hawaii the Noni is reputed to have legendary healing properties.

Our possible new place. These pictures were taken with Dan's iPhone so they're not that great. The living room view shows the forrest canopy and the ocean. Imagine being able to see the sun set over the ocean every night! Tile is through out the house except for the bedroom where there is carpet.

Nani, the owner, is standing in front of the sliding door that goes to the wrap around lanai. Dining room table included.

Angels sing to me when I look at this kitchen! Tiled counter tops and solid wood cabinets provide plenty of storage space. I could finally unpack all my kitchen stuff! A large double sink with a high faucet. A microwave, and a full size fridge WITH and ice maker, oh the memories. 

The view from the lanai. The phone was not able to capture the ocean, where it's all whited out.

The roomy bathroom has two shower heads!

We would even have a parking spot under the generous carport. Send us love and prayers so we can get this place!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some Dogs Have All The Luck

It's 5:47am when Baxter, Lucy and I hit the "trail". The birds are chirping while the sun takes a good hour to rise.
Makai side looks bright and promising

Mauka looks like it's going to rain.

Here is a random shot. We made a stir fry with all the veggies from our CSA box. Bok Choy, carrots, broccoli, napa cabbage, purple beans (like green beans), garlic, ginger and turmeric. We put steamed rice in a book choy leaf, added the stir fry and topped it with micro greens and shredded diakon radish. Yummy!

Baxter has decided that eating from his bowl is too difficult for him. The other week I noticed he wasn't eating and decided to spoon feed him. I think the chunks of food get stuck to the bottom and he'd rather not deal with it. This is new, he has eaten this type of food since we've been here. Now, he won't eat unless I spoon feed him! It's ok cuz I love him and it makes him feel good...

He's actually pretty good at it.

I know, I know...let the sarcasm begin!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cooking Up A Storm!

Another beautiful Saturday morning, another opening for a chance to post. A couple of months ago Dan bought me a cookbook on Ulu or breadfruit as it's also called. He finally got some in the store (it's in season now) and brought one home. I chose the recipe in which you cube it, pour coconut milk and water over and bake it for an hour. While the Ulu is tucked away in the oven, I think about this past week and all that's happened. Wow! What an amazing week!

Dan is putting in more hours at the store. About 7 years ago Papaya's joined with another couple and opened a store on the North Shore. Two years ago they had a falling out. They went into arbitration to settle on who was going to get the name, the obvious choice being the original owner (whose husband has since left her). She won! So, they are planning a whole new revamp in October and the store in Hanalei will have to change it's name. This means Dan is designing new signs for the store, the "re Grand Opening", as well as redesigning the company logo. He is explaining his new procedures to employees in meetings, expanding the produce department, fixing broken produce coolers, creating a huge network of farmers, and moving our east side CSA pick up there. Right now our CSA members pick at Hoku Whole Foods. He is also my valued and appreciated partner at Kauaian Fresh.

Last week we had our first 2 gigs as personal chefs/caterers. I am trying to increase our CSA membership, especially on the east side. Saturday, I teamed up with Dan, the owner of Da Kine Wine. He featured organic and biodynamic wine and I (as Kauaian Fresh) made appetizers for the Kauai Farmers Coop. It went really well, people chowed on the food, took flyers for the farm as well as for Kauaian Fresh. The only interest I have since received is an email from someone who would love to join the CSA but is on food stamps. She expressed her frustration at not being able to use her food stamps on our product. Jillian has been working for the past year to make that happen but has been boggled down in red tape. Maybe there is an opportunity here. Maybe we can do a trade. She can be a consumer advocate, champion the cause to the government folks, maybe get the wheels moving and we can give her 3 months worth of produce. At any rate, the 12 hour day that Dan and I had did not seem to be fruitful except to meet some people from our community, which was fantastic!

Late Monday afternoon, after I finished my work from home for Jillian and Dan came home from Papayas, we made the hour drive to the west side to prepare for the Aqua Engineers Employee party at the Harbor House. As we bustled in the hot kitchen, Roxanna (who is our neighbor Phil and Simone's friend and who hired us), Greg and his wife, Clyde, and the founder of the company Ian sat under the stars, caressed by the sounds of the ocean, drank beer and filled the cool night air with laughter. When we finished we went out to say goodbye and get the keys for the next morning. They asked us to stay and have a beer with them. Being that they were all local boys and girl (except for Roxanna) I was a little nervous. Greg is gregarious, I'm guessing he's the salesman, his laugh comes easy as he entertains us with his stories. Greg has my brother's name, a sister with my name and a son named Dan. Ian, super nice in a quite kind of way, is also quick to laugh. The quite ones are Greg's wife and Clyde. I imagine they are thinking "who are these haloies, so new to our island and what are they going to take from us and/or our island". The ice breaks as Roxanna draws us into the conversation by way of our old work and the 2008 Country Music Awards. After they learn about us, I ask about them, each in turn. Ian has a rags to riches story with a stint in Viet Nam. Clyde, a minimalist with words, quietly says he was born and raised here. Greg and his wife met on Oahu where she was born and raised, they moved here 20 years ago. We have a long drive and big day ahead of us so we leave feeling inspired by their acceptance.

Tuesday morning we wake up, get dressed and are out the door in less than an hour. We stop to pick up some last minute things and breakfast. The drive doesn't seem as long today, maybe because the jeep is filled with music, the freshness of a new morning and beautiful flowers lining the highway. We are the first to arrive and get right to work. By noon everything is ready. The party starts at 2 so we grab a quick bite to eat at a local taco joint. Back at the Harbor House, Clyde, Roxanna and Greg's wife decorate and we pitch in to help. Clyde and I bond over balloons. At 2, everyone settles in for the meeting. As Dan and I sit inconspicuously in the back, I can't help but be reminded of the many corporate employee meetings we sat in. The difference is the big blue ocean behind us and the fact that this is an employee owned company. As soon as the meeting is over everyone lines up for some food. It brought joy to my heart as I, finished with cleaning and walking back to the kitchen, saw everyone sitting at the tables laughing and connecting with each other over our food. We were invited to stay, have something to eat and relax. Being that it had been a busy week and we needed a drink (no booze there) we declined. As we said our goodbyes people asked for flyers and we got invited back to do it again next year. I wanted to celebrate! Financially, it wasn't a total success. We didn't lose money but we didn't make a whole lot. We over delivered and I'm ok with that. In tearms of customer satisfaction is was a success! Here is the email I received:

Aloha Marta and Dan,

A big Mahalo to both of you from all of us here at Aqua!  The food was awesome; we had compliments from everyone and we all ate until we couldn’t eat anymore. And we still had food leftover!  The food at any of our events usually contributes to 90% of the success of our parties because we all love to eat; it’s what we do best. Thanks to both of you, our event yesterday was a huge hit.  Leaving brochures behind was a great idea; I think they all got picked up by our employees.

Thank you also for your generosity with lending a hand (or four) with the other party odds and ends.  We couldn’t have pulled off the setup without your help.  

We’ll be sure to call on you again in the future and definitely recommend you to others.  Good luck to both of you with your new business and keep on cooking!

Mahalo again,

Valerie A. Matias
Human Resources Manager
3560 Koloa Road
Kalaheo, HI  96741
Ph:  808.240.2208
Fx:  808.332.7596

We drove to the Oasis, my favorite watering hole. I called Simone and asked her and Phil to meet us there, it's because of her we got the job and I wanted to buy them a round of drinks. The dogs were great, they had let them out, but could not join us. The Oasis is right on the beach. Outside, under the awning we down a mojito, order some shrimp cakes and some corn cakes and a mai tai. We feel good, tired but happy for a job well done. Between snatches of conversation reviewing the day, Dan casually says "why does that man look so familiar?" I turn around and am totally shocked. I exclaim "Oh My God!" It's Mitch and Char. My friend and maid of honor Mary's parents. I spent a lot of time at their house, when Mary lived there about 20 years ago. Char was my realtor when I bought my first property, then when Dan and I bought our house in Golden and again when we bought our home in Parker. She and Mitch moved to California 9 years ago to be close to their kids (Mary had moved to Malibu, became a successful therapist, horse trainer, author, athlete, wife and mother of triplets) and we hadn't seen them since. We caught up and made plans to get together with them Saturday (today) for lunch. They are also coming up to the farm on Tuesday, the day before they head back home.

Wednesday was harvest day. I was exhausted and because I couldn't do my normal farm work from home on Tuesday, I was rushed. We got 2 new client orders to fill (a restaurant and Hoku Whole Foods) as well as Papayas and our 35 member CSA. It was also the day my first publication ran in the newspaper! To read it click here. I didn't get credit, it was presented in the form of a press release, but still! We have gotten 4 new members from it. I invited them to the farm on Tuesday so I could give them a tour and get them signed up.

I was lucky and spent Thursday and Friday resting while Dan worked. Mmm, I can smell the Ulu, it must be done!
Da Kine Wine. Taro toasts with basil pesto and goat cheese, spring rolls and fresh veggies. Dan arranged the beautiful veggie/spring roll trays. He also wrapped the spring rolls, he's great at that kind of detail work, thank God! All gone by the end!

The view at the Aqua Engineers party

These are the Kung Fu Tomatoes (named when Jon Freeman took a bite and exclaimed "Wow! These are like Kung Fu in your mouth!") that Dan made. Cherry tomatoes filled with cilantro pesto.

There wasn't enough kalua pork so I made some in the crock pot.

Greg's wife (brown) and Roxanna (pink) set up for the meeting

The meeting

On the menu; Kalua Pork, Ahi Sesame Poke, Boiled Shrimp with Lemon Garlic Mayonnaise, Hawaiian Macaroni and Potato Salad, Kung Fu Tomatoes, Edemame Poke, Green Salad, Steamed Rice and Fresh Pineapple.

My article in The Garden Isle newspaper!

Baked Ulu ready to eat! It is very starchy, kind of sweet. Taste and texture like bread, hence it's name. Extremely filling! I can see this with countless combinations. The next one will be roasted with garlic and rosemary. 


Friday, June 11, 2010

Finding Our Flow

I'm sitting here in our treehouse, watching the sun slowly come up. Dan and I are having our morning cup of coffee and enjoying the cool morning air. It's mid June and it's getting really hot, especially up here in the treehouse. As I sit here I can't help but reflect, we've only been here 4 1/2 months! We have come so far in such a short amount of time!

Dan's co-worker Jessica said making it past 3 months is a landmark. Who knew? When we left Colorado I fantasized about checking out every inch of mountain and ocean that I could. That was the first thing on my agenda. After a month I found I really needed work, at the very least someplace regular to go to. The school fit that bill and so much more. Dan and I both got jobs from taking the class. We've made friends and it seems they're going to be meaningful friendships. We've become local. The other day I went to Papaya's to drop off the farm's produce for Dan. He was somewhere in the store so I stopped to talk with Puamana. She is a lovely, young native. Sweet, mellow, open. She said "your from here yea"? Everything ends in "yea"? I am flattered, a native thinks I am one too!

Phil and Simone, our fantastic neighbors, come over when we are gone all day to let the dogs out. Playing fetch with Baxter and setting up Lucy like she was a queen. Normally when I come home, they start barking like crazy. I had taken Baxter to the farm with me because between our anniversary, the Taste of Hawaii and working all day Monday he'd been pent up for too long. Lucy was home alone, she can't be trusted because she doesn't listen and follows her nose with no concern for where she is going or who is calling her. I pull into our "garage" and Simone calls out. She and Phil are sitting under their covered patio, sipping some beer and trying to cool off. They had Lucy set up in her own chair, complete with a big, fluffy pillow! She was so content she didn't even notice I came home until I spoke. Anyway, we're fitting right in, employed in such a way that we can pay our monthly bills, making good friends and not working full time.

I couldn't have dreamed this when I was dreaming about coming here. My dreams were open, general. I knew I wanted to make meaningful connections with people, be creative, work for myself, enjoy paradise, make good money, be in nature, be relaxed and happy. In 4 months that is happening on a larger scale than I could have imagined!

Dan is a trusted and valued member at Papaya's. They are enjoying him so much, his hours are increasing as are his responsibilities. He is averaging 25-30 hours a week. That says a lot in Hawaii where most people work part time, under 20 hours, so the business doesn't have the heavy cost of $350.00 per person for health insurance. If you work over 20 hours a week state law says they have to provide health insurance. He is helping open the store, making signs for inside and outside of the store (including creating the art work), ordering produce for the cafe, being consulted in major decisions, fixing things, and he is going to help install a new point of sale computer system, flush it out and teach it to everyone else. In addition to managing 2 people, getting more local produce in the store and trying to keep the coolers filled. It seems word is getting out, Papaya's has more local produce and better prices, he is selling out of produce like crazy!

Jillian really trusts me and pretty much gives me free reign to manage her CSA as I see fit. As a result I am designing flyers and posters, writing newspaper articles (one for the Garden Isle and one for Kauai People), I am going to write an article for one of my favorite publications Edible Hawaiian Islands. In an effort to increase members for the summer season I teamed up with Da Kine Wine. Tomorrow we are doing a free organic wine tasting. I, as Kauaian Fresh will make the food and as the CSA manager will try to get some new members. The menu is crudités of beans, cabbage, baby carrots, broccoli, celery, kohlrabi, baby turnips and radish. Crostini with basil, macadamia nut pesto topped with goat cheese.

Spring Rolls with carrots, micro greens, napa cabbage, scallions, cilantro, mint, thai basil and butter lettuce. All made with produce from the farm! It's so cool to have 4, 4000SF gardens as my palette. 

As the representative for the CSA I deal directly with the members (underwater ocean videographers, business owners, radio talent among them) and am meeting people, developing relationships. I am working directly with chefs of high end  restaurants (ones that I thought of waitressing at!) to provide specialty produce. Tuesday, is my catering gig for 50 people. A lot going on right now, once next Thursday rolls around things will mellow out until Jillian leaves for vacation in July.

So, we are finding our flow. Soon, my fantasies of checking out every inch of this beautiful island will come to fruition. Maybe in August, once Jillian gets back, summer season will be well on it's way, Dan's hours at Papaya's will even out and become more predictable. Those will be some posts you won't want to miss, everywhere I look astonishing, vast beauty surrounds me. In the mean time, in an effort to not bore you with our day to day stuff, I probably won't be posting as often. I considered stopping the blog but since you have been so supportive and following our dreams with us, I thought at the very least I could post some of that beauty for you! I do have some pictures from the Taste of Hawaii, not as cool but fun.

Before we head in to sample 50 different food vendors and 15 beverage vendors Gary, Jillian, me and Stew pose while Dan snaps a shot.

Hundreds of people came

and danced to live music

Jillian and Gary had a lot of fun, as usual.

It was hot so everyone gravitated to the shade.

ponds sprinkled throughout the property

beautiful views

smoking section

food, yummy food!

After. Jeez I'm buzzed! That's Natalia on the right, my friend and massage therapist.

Now that's a better shot. I'm not sunburned though. I just turn really red when I am hot!! Jillian 34, me 44, Natalia 21, ah to be the oldest in a group and be dealing with hot flashes! Oh well, could be worse!

Dan had brought home a bunch of lemons, oranges and limes so I made 2 quarts of sangria for after the taste and before the after party!