Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flying High in Kauai

Dan and I decided to celebrate our 11th anniversary with the outdoor adventure company Outfitters Kauai. We splurged on the Kipu Zip Line Safari, a full day with playtime in water, land and air. Shavonne, our guide, was a lively young lady who made our exploit safe and enjoyable.
After a paddle lesson, our group of 14 got into tandem kayaks and navigated a leisurely 2 miles up the smooth Hule’ia (pronounced hula ēya) river. Our kayaks huddled together, we paused in unity so Shavonne could “talk story” about the legendary Menehune; the Hawaiian leprechaun. The ancient Menehune Fishpond parallels the river and legend says the Menehune built it in one moonlit night about 1000 years ago. 
We hiked down a well worn sun dappled path about a half mile into the lush rain forest and were shown where Harrison Ford made his infamous run in the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark. When we came upon a water hole, Shavonne  explained that next week Johnny Depp was going to be “walking on water” and, grabbing the rope, she swung out and moved her feet like she was walking on water. We all have to give it a try!
A tractor ride dropped us off at the thrilling 800ft. zip line, an introduction in flight. With post zip line smiles we ate a hearty lunch overlooking our next coup. Fortified, we excitedly lined up for the 1800ft. tandem zip line; an exhilarating 90 second ride over the forest canopy of 100ft. tall trees. Joyfully hiking and chatting; we’re all good friends now, we arrived at Blue Pool. Shrouded in green shadows the mountain stream-fed pool provided secluded swimming and a chance to cliff jump. After cooling off, a quick hike took us to the river where a motorized catamaran waited. 
The guides work hard to make your experience secure and memorable so please remember to tip; a couple bucks per person is adequate. These exciting excursions are worth every penny, making you feel spontaneous and alive; plus, you’ll get to see places locals don't get to. We highly recommend it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

They Love it!

Of course, right? If you've ever been to Kauai you know. They were troopers last night, up for almost 24 hours at age 80 and still managed to keep their spirits up. Mom, dad and I got emotional at the airport but the tears turned into smiles as we headed into the beautiful Kauai day. Dan and I remembered our first time here, stunned by the enomous beauty, so we drove. They had worn warm clothes for the plane ride over and needed something a lot lighter to wear. We took them straight to Hilo Hattie's for some aloha shirts before heading up to Princeville to meet up with Tom. We took them home after dinner at the Hanalei Dolphin. We only recommend going for lunch, sushi and to get fresh fish from their market - dinner is way too expensive for what you get, mom had a small mahimahi filet and fries for $30.

Puamana and I drove up to Princeville so she could give them a massage. Mom and dad were sitting on the front porch going over all the "what to do in Kauai" magazines I grabbed for them at the airport. They spent their morning on the lanai gazing at the towering mountains, ocean, birds and laughing at the chickens. Puamana went right up to them and gave them a kiss on each cheek and a big, warm hug. Local style only she does it the best, with genuine affection. They fell in love with her right away, as I did when I first met her. She is saturated in genuine aloha spirit and generous with her time and beautiful easy smile. The tension of travel was erased and mom said Puamana made her feel 20 years younger! Back in Kapaa, Puamana made us lunch local style; teriaki beef, Korean chicken, steamed rice, mac salad and a tomato salad. Dan whipped up some fresh coconut water and rum drinks and we sat outside under the lychee tree to eat. 

Shopping in town they bought T-shirts, flip-flops, dresses, post cards, taro chips, Red Dirt shirt, hat and groceries before we took them back home to Princeville. We had to rush home because I needed to get my article for next weeks MidWeek Kauai in.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Today is the Day!

Mount Wai'ale'ale is making an appearance again, for the last several months it has been shrouded in clouds.

First, I would like to thank my friends who offered support inspired by my last post. A yoga friend, wanting to get to the root of the problem (as yogis like to do) emailed me a tender letter with some links. I have checked out one so far, Byron Katie's website and it looks good. Several friends suggested I be more gentle with myself, offering their objective point of view; I am too hard on myself. This, I know to be true, so the links are going to be useful.

Dan and I were busy yesterday getting the treehouse ready for my folks visit. We drove into the city to get a new stove. Simone met us at Sears so we could use her truck to get it home. We also got a new screen door. She and I drove the jeep home with the door attached to the top while Dan drove her truck with the stove in it home. Simone and I made a pit stop so by the time we got home Dan and Phil had the old stove out.  We left the guys to their work and, taking Lucy with us, ran some errands. We brought some volcano burgers back from TNT Steak Burgers and enjoyed them outside in the shade of the large trees at Phil and Simone's home, with a beer. Dan had to head back to Home Depot because the screen door didn't fit. So, as he went to the store again I cleaned the house. It took him 5 hours to replace the screen door, the second being too large by 1/8 inch, he and Phil cut it down. We have the best neighbors! They are so kind, helpful and generous! We love and appreciate you Phil and Simone!

Man that stove really makes this place look nice! I'm so happy to have a full size stove again! Yippie!

I had to put a shot of the screen door in since it took so much work!

Anyway, today is the day my folks come. They are in the air right now, the plane lands here at 2pm. They left Colorado at 3:30am Hawaii time, so I'm sure they'll be pretty worn out once they get here. I'm thinking we'll take them to Tutu's Soup Hale in Kapaa. The food is comforting, the atmosphere is comforting and the owners are comforting. Light, delicious, made from scratch meals that can be eaten outside. Today is a beautiful day so why not? Then we'll take them up to Princeville where they are staying at a friends home. They will be house swapping as our friends here are also from Colorado and will be there when my folks are here. They can meet the owner, Tom and get the low down before turning in for an early night.

I scheduled a massage for mom tomorrow morning. Puamana is coming to their place so I will bring my work there. I can work on it while she and maybe dad get a lomi lomi  (pronounced low me low me) massage. We'll meet Dan at our house so Baxter and Lucy can see their grandparents. They are going to be totally stoked to see them! Then we'll head to the Oasis for lunch and shop around. We can take them to Papaya's so they can see where Dan works and get some groceries. I want to take mom to Kojima's, she'll be happy to see all the Kauai beef for really great prices. They even have lamb chops, ox tail and tongue - all things she likes! Depending on how they feel will dictate the rest of the day. 

Lucy took over my computer the other night!

Aloha everyone!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


As I sit here in defeat inhaling another puff  I am overwhelmed at the power cigarettes have over me. In the last six years we have tried to quit at least a dozen times; our record is six months. The last few days were excellent for me physically. My nose was no longer stuffy and I could smell better. Not only flowers and scents but without the smell of old smoke clinging to me I smelt better. My mouth tasted great; clean and healthy. My lungs cleared up almost overnight and I could take a deep breath without coughing. Walking up the steps to enter the treehouse didn't leave me winded. Deep, expansive breaths soothed me. I was elated that a long awaited goal was no longer haunting me. I felt sure this was going to be it, smoke free for life. I had a lot more energy, almost felt like I was soaring. Plus, I felt wealthy because of the money we would be saving; not only on cigarettes but wine and coffee as well. I was on the road to becoming clean! Rethinking my dietary choices to include healthy options; foods that would heal my nicotine infused body, I ate with intention. For 28 years I have been a smoker. Nicotine permeates every cell of my body. 

Like I'm making up for lost time I light another and instantly I feel calmer. My mind sharpens and I feel at ease, maybe I can even be creative today. The first 2 days, with a level 1 patch, I was able to deal with the strong cravings. I took deep breaths, walked on the beach, did yoga, drank a lot of water, took naps, I even got a massage. If it was too much I'd eat a nicotine lozenge that made me nauseous and gave me the hiccups. I told myself this was going to be difficult, expect it to be uncomfortable. The cravings are transient, they would come but they would go. I'm learning how to move differently in this world. 

Dan and I are pretty good about arguing, we get along really well. When we do have arguments, they are passionate but resolved quickly. One of us apologizes; usually Dan because he is the peacekeeper and he'd rather be happy than right. No name calling, no personal attacks. This is how we are with each other on nicotine. Without, I am a psychotic, unstable bitch and Dan is mentally challenged. Our brains are dull, making it hard to form complete thoughts let alone sentences that make sense coming out of our mouths. Creativity is clunky, uninspired. I can barley type, my fingers not understanding what my brain is trying to tell it. We argue. Yelling at each other and snuggling deeper into our corners of the couch, we don't speak, won't even look at each other. Minor grievances so formidable they are not mendable.

Outside the treehouse an aura of negativity clings where the smoke used to and people feel it. I can allow for this with folks I don't know, I won't see them again. But friends, who don't smoke, who have no idea that every single minute can be a struggle with your sanity, sometimes forget.  Without realizing it, they expect you to behave the same way you always have. It's mind over matter after all, you can do it! Just do___ or when you feel ___ do ___. All experts on how it can be done, much advice is given. Drinks make the situation worse as Dan and I abstain; fighting the temptation, our minds telling us to cave in. Pure delight would be to have a smoke and a glass of wine. No! We can do this! 

More passionate arguments. More silence. More separation.

The fresh possibilities of a new day bring a recharged perspective as we head into our lives. I don't wear the patch because I am going to the farm and it will just sweat off; today is harvest. Besides, yesterday I didn't wear one because I went to the beach and then got a massage and I didn't cave.  Four lozenges got me through the day. I can kick this thing! At the end of harvest, Jillian is justifiably upset with something I did. We talk it out, work it out, it's all good. Since it was uncharacteristic of me, we blame it on not smoking. The discussion has left a pool of adrenaline at either side of my neck. I don't like to make mistakes and I feel bad. It's fine, I pop a lozenge on the way home.

Mom and dad will be here Sunday. They want to go to Honolulu to see Pearl Harbor, a life long dream of dad's. I'm excited because I've never been. Dan has researched the flight options and relayed the information to them. We can leave at 6:30am and arrive back home at 10pm. A long day for my 80 year old parents. Plus, we don't want them to drive these island roads at night so we'd take them from the airport, to our house to get our car, all the way to their place in Princeville and then back home. Easily adding 2 hours of drive time and Dan has to work in the morning. They decide maybe we can leave Saturday, late morning and return Sunday afternoon, early evening. 

Tonight I have a restaurant review at one of my favorite places in town. After harvest I come home and get cleaned up. I pop a lozenge after a light lunch and get to work preparing for the review. I research the restaurants website and write questions for the scheduled 5pm interview with the owner and chef. I casually ask Dan about the Honolulu plans and he tells me he has to work Saturday. I instantly redline. As it was he was only going to have two entire days off during my folks two week stay, now only one. I can't contain myself; psycho bitch takes over. We argue down the hill on our way to the ATM, even though we're not supposed to we want to leave tip money. He is angry and yells "I'm getting it from both ends" as he gets out of the car and slams the door saying he's not going. I sit there, tears streaming down my face. Another heartbreaking argument, I have a job to do (that I love at a place I love) and I feel like my folks trip is now compromised because his work is more important. Saturated in self pity I wonder if I can do this. Dan gets back into the car and we make our way to the restaurant. Totally pissed, I try to put on a happy face. The hostess isn't buying it and is almost rude to me. I can't blame her but I sit and stew anyway waiting for her to get around to telling the owners that I am here. 

During the interview my anger fades as I settle into our conversation, my passion. Good food. Local food. Sharing information. The interview winds up and Dan snaps more shots while Gary, Jillian and Mieko show up. The charming outside dining and fresh coconut margaritas relax us. We enjoy each other, the light trade winds and the food. Each bite is reviewed as they give me great quotes I can use in the article. An hour in and full of food, the drinks make me crave a smoke and my anger resurfaces.

On the way home we cave.

This morning I had a panic attack, overcome with emotion my wind pipe closes up on me. Crying as Dan holds me I tell him I can't do it. There is so much on the line. Our marriage, relationships, work. My body relishes in the smoke free environment as my mind furiously rebels against it. 



Kaua’i Waterfalls

Kaua’i’s world class waterfalls range from 15 to 2300 feet.
I am fortunate because there is a view of Mount Wai`ale`ale (wy-ah-lay-ah-lay) from my window. Sometimes obscured by clouds or lending a beautiful backdrop to a rainbow or two; after heavy rains I can usually see 3 silvery falls from the weeping wall. The 5,148 foot Mount Wai`ale`ale forms the rim of an ancient volcanic caldera and at 60 square miles it is the largest in the Pacific, boasting an average of 450 inches of rain a year. The weeping wall is truly a waterfall fantasy. The entire bowl is covered with waterfalls, there has to be more than 100; various lengths, widths and force dropping hundreds of feet. For a special treat google it and watch the videos, it’s nothing short of magical.
Visitors to the island can see Kauai's waterfalls by ATV, hiking, kayaking, on horse back or from the air on one of the helicopter tours. A helicopter tour is the only way to see the entire weeping wall, and would be well worth the investment. 
Some falls have become immortalized in film. Manawaiopuna waterfall, which appeared in the film Jurassic Park, can only be seen from the air as it is on privately owned land. 
Wailua falls, a dramatic 80-foot waterfall was in the opening of Fantasy Island. It is easily accessible by car and has a developed viewpoint.
Last Friday I hiked with some friends to a waterfall on private land; a very special treat. My dogs and I had fun swimming in the basin, through the falls, and into a hollow behind the falls. I do not recommend standing under the falls. A small fish or rock can come tumbling down with a lot of force; landing on your head and causing a concussion. If you decide to get a close look at the falls and maybe go for a swim, be careful! The rocks are slippery and you can easily hurt yourself. Wear aggressive tread sandals, old tennis shoes, or water socks with tread. Pack bug spray, plenty of water, sunscreen and something to snack on. Please respect the surrounding neighborhoods and don't forget to bring your camera!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Smoke Free

Sunrise in Kapaa

It's been a crazy 8 months since we landed in paradise. We arrived on chantix and slowly, one cigarette at a time, we resumed our smoking habit. Today, with the help of Quit Now Hawaii, we are wrapping up our first smoke free day.

Last Saturday we went to a luau where the King and Queen of Atooi were being honored. Atooi means the light of god and is the ancient name for the island of Kauai. Sunday, we became citizens of the Kingdom of Atooi, talked story with the king and had our first restaurant review.

I'm hoping someday soon I can write about the King and his acceptance by the United Nations and the Kings and Queens of the Polynesian Triangle. We are planning to meet with him again to record more of his interesting story. This is a rich story that will take time to unfold.

I mentioned that it was "our" first restaurant review. That's because Dan is my photographer. Still a team; I write the story, he takes the pictures. He was frustrated by our camera and it's inability to take pictures in low light. The food pictures we took weren't that great. So, he did some research - even chatted with a staff photographer from the Garden Island newspaper - and got a Nikon D90. Our next review is Wednesday and we are sure to get some excellent, mouth watering shots!

On the work front, I have been offered 2 more monthly postings for the Hawaii vacation travel blog, making 6 a month and am negotiating with Blair Estate for some writing jobs. Blair Estate Coffee is a local, organic coffee farm. It's funny because the farm less than 5 minutes from our treehouse. The owner, Les, comes into Papaya's a lot (he sells Dan fruit and corn) and he and Dan got to talkin story and one thing lead to another! His partner, Tai, is who I am talking with. We'll see, he just left for vacation so it may be a while before I know.

A week from today my folks are coming. Having been in close proximity all of my 44 years, the distance has replaced anger for affection and I look forward to seeing their happy faces.

Tonight, the owner of Papaya's wants to take the managers and their spouses to dinner at the new Indian restaurant Chutney's. We are due there in 75 minutes so I'll post some pictures real quick.

I am sending lots of love, light and prayers to my friend Deb who is in intensive care at a hospital in Denver. She is recovering, but with a punctured lung and 12 broken ribs it will be slow. 

Cherimoya cousin to Soursop, is sweet and delicious and available at Papaya's =)

Beautiful Starfruit also now available at Papaya's. =)

Beautiful artwork at Na Keiki O Ka Aina, next to Papaya's. A fantastic foundation that preserves Polynesian traditions. I will write more on it soon.

More art work available at Na Keiki

Puppy love!

Taaadaaa!! our neighbors Phil and Simone. It was Simone's birthday last night. We had a great time hanging out with her and her friends. She is one loved woman!

Carla is the grill master! She made perfect steaks with a zesty salsa, shrimp (in a special sauce), moist and creamy salmon and chicken wings. Dan made guacamole from local avos, I made her a yellow birthday cake with chocolate frosting and the traditional mac salad. There were crispy wontons, baked beans, baked potatoes and fresh pineapple. 

A shot of one of our boxes from the farm, PUMPIN with delicious goodness!

I have a byline now!!! So...I need a picture. My friend Christina took this one but it didn't make the cut. It has to have a white background and after Dan cut me out, my hair looked really weird!

Puamana dancing the hula.

This young lady is from Tahiti, man can she make that grass skirt flip. She is one of the young adults receiving support and education from Na Keiki O Ka Aina.

Phil, the Director of Na Keiki, teaches kids to make and play Tahitian drums among other things.

Dan does the hula!

Paul, another student of Na Keiki, has a traditional Polynesian tattoo on his back. He is about to perform the Fire Knife Dance.

And he's serious!

Sunset over Ni'ihau

Towering Coco Palms greet the royal leaders.

Puamana and I wait for the King.

Another shot to hit the cutting room floor.

Casablanca, mom get ready! They have the best lamb chops!!

This appetizer is awesome! House made mozzarella wrapped in Prosciutto, baked and drizzled with a port, fig and cinnamon reduction. O...M...Gawd!! So good.

Local arugula, oranges and goat cheese with toasted almonds with a lemon vinaigrette. YUM!

Spanish stew. Mussels, shrimp, scallop, slipper lobster, calamari in a rich tomato broth. Not my favorite. The tomato broth was excellent though.

Greek Pasta with orzo, feta, kalamata olives, zucchini, and roasted red peppers. Yummy but not yummy enough to order again.

This was fantastic! Ribeye rubbed with ground porcini, sugar and salt. Grilled perfectly and garnished with black lava salt. 

Good pictures of perfectly cooked meat are hard to get. But, if you like lamb chops, these are the best ever! I love lamb chops, my mom is from Spain, we have a lot of lamb chops. These are simply perfection!

Desert! Yum!

Chef Sarah and owner Elizabeth

Mike Young played music that night. He was perfect for the mod. He gave us a CD "In the Islands" and we are loving his jazzy, Hawaiian style surf music. Proceeds go to his foundation W.R.A.D Wave Riders Against Drugs.

The bar at Casablanca where locals go for pau hana (done working)

The winning shot for now. Now that we have a better camera and a title time, it's gonna have to be redone! I look a little craaazy!!

We are official and proud citizens of the Kingdom of Atooi. The back side is pretty cool too!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kauai Farmers Markets

Savvy tourists and locals alike know how to save money by buying local.
Yes, Hawaii can be expensive. Not because it can be, because it has to be. Everything has been brought here, making its way across thousands of miles of ocean and air. That isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap! 
Savvy tourists and locals alike know how to save money by buying local and the farmers market is the place to do that. Kauai has multiple farmers markets going on every day plus loads of small, family run road side stands selling everything from ahi and leis to avocados and passion fruit; plus you can learn about things like the white pineapple. Tender, juicy, white flesh that is not as acidic as the common yellow ones. The farmers usually reserve them for the locals but you can find them at the farmers markets.
If you are visiting, renting a condo or time share with a kitchen, it is a smart way to save money. Dining out can be expensive so save one meal a day for that and supplement the other two by frequenting the farmers market and making meals in your condo. 
One of my new favorite finds is Island SOL Bakery. SOL is an acronym for Seasonal, Organic and Local. This bakery has something for everyone; savory meat and cheese or veggie and cheese filled pastries. Sweet scones with creative combinations like peanut better, strawberry jam and local bananas. Cookies, coffee cakes, and their signature treats scruffins. Little coffee cakes with surprise fillings. There are regular, gluten free, dairy free and vegan choices. You can find this bakery at the KCC (Kauai Community College) and Hanalei markets.
Some markets, like the large one in Kapa’a, only sell vegetables. Sometimes there is a truck parked outside the market selling fresh eggs. Some, like the markets in Hanapepe, Lihue and Kilauea signal the start of selling with a whistle blow or the honk of a car horn. You can browse but you can’t buy until the signal, then it’s every man for himself! Some sell kim chee, slushies, hand made jewelry, jams and all manner of hand made products. It’s the perfect way to get outside, meet people, support small business and save some money!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ali’i Nuii Aleka Dayne Aipoalani

Ali’i Nuii Aleka Dayne Aipoalani with his wife (left) and Puamana

Aliʻi Nui were ruling chiefs (in Hawaiiannui means grand, great, or supreme) and must claim parentage at least of a mother of the highest rank.

Dan and I had the good fortune to meet the King of Hawaii. It all started out innocently enough. I called our friend Puamana to schedule two massages for mom during her stay here. She asked me about my new work for MidWeek Kauai. I explained what I would be doing and said "ultimately, I would like to learn about Kauai: it's people, places and history and write about it. Connecting residents and visitors while sharing what I learn with the world." So, she invited us to a celebration. The Celebration of the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi is a week long event celebrating and acknowledging the Royal Union of the Pacific Nations and the inclusion of the King of Hawaii. Atooi is the original name of Kauai.

On September 11th 2009 the King, having proved his bloodline to the state government, indigenous leaders and the United Nations, was officially recognized as the King of Hawaii. This week the King has been celebrating with 15 Kings and Queens of the Polynesian Triangle. This is a historic event because the leaders of the Polynesian Triangle unite whenever the Triangle is breaking apart, which seems to occur every 200 or 300 years. The last time it happened was in the reign of King Aipoalani's ancestor, King Kamehameha 1

Puamana, a friend of the King, introduced us and he generously spent about an hour of his time passionately and reverently explaining the details. Coming from a place of deep love and spirit he is interested in communicating the Kingdom's story, lineage and mission to the world. It seems I am to help communicate this story through my writing. 

We are invited to become citizens of his Kingdom and are meeting Puamana at 10am back in Waimea where she too, will become a citizen. At the same time, the King will be meeting with the King of Tahiti and has invited us to come. He wants to show us his ancestral lineage, listen in on the meeting, and talk to us about his plans. He has the flag that was flown during Queen Lili'uokalani's reign, the last reigning monarch before the business community backed by the US government in 1893 took over the islands. 

Ali’i Nui Dayne Aipoalani is leading the Sovereign Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi in the process of organizing, instituting, and forming Subordinate Councils, whose rules, regulations, and by-laws shall be promulgated to protect and uphold the supreme authority of the Customary Chiefs (Konohiki) and People (Native Tenants) whose sovereignty in the National lands has never been voluntarily relinquished. It is expected that you will comply with the various international instruments and laws as well as US executive orders, proclamations, and regulations that insure protection of our RESERVED rights in accordance with our true identity as the original Inhabitants under the United Nations definition in Chapter XI-Declaration on Non Self Governing Territories. 

Limited edition inaugural coin.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hawaiian Monk Seals

Another beautiful day on Kaua’i’s north shore, in Kilauea town, and I wonder if you can ever get tired of perfection. A friend is taking Dan and I down a secret path to Secrets Beach. Secrets is known to be a place where nude sunbathing abounds because of it’s isolated location. As we gingerly make our way down the sheer cliff, conveniently paved with stairs, we hit the beach and find we are alone. 
I look down a good half mile stretch of white sandy beach and rest my eyes on the lighthouse, a hopeful symbol perched on a peninsula. We walk along the shore, our feet grateful for the cool water.The pristine blue ocean is agitated by huge pounding surf and water rushes up the shore drenching us to our thighs. We run and play along the beach like children, laughing. Dan and I are in awe as we come upon a sleeping monk seal. 
Hawaiian Monk Seals are an endangered species, the second most endangered seal in the world, a total of 1200 are thought to live in the Hawaiian Archipelago chain. These seals are considered prehistoric, as they have been living in the islands for millions of years. Kaua’i is a favorite island of these seals, I have seen them napping on the beach three times in the six months that I’ve lived here. The seals beach themselves to rest, conserving their energy to hunt and reproduce.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the seals are very sensitive to human disturbance and become agitated and sometimes aggressive if disturbed. Wanting to see evidence of life or maybe connect with something wild, people have been known to make loud noises, throw things at them, and have even been known to put their children on them for a photo! A mother seal may bite people and abandon her pup if she is disturbed.
If you come across a beached Hawaiian Monk Seal, please consider all of it’s struggles: threat of extinction, lack of food, entanglement in marine debris, shark attacks, infectious diseases, habitat loss, and fishery interactions. Admire from a distance of 150 feet, and please, don’t add to their problems.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Apple Banana Tarte Tatin

Sunday, when I quit the bakery I felt a lot better. On Monday, filled with energy and renewed inspiration I wrote a letter to MidWeek Kauai asking about writing work. I addressed it to one of the writers who seems to write almost every article in there plus, she and I had done some correspondence when we were setting up Jillian's interview. She emailed me back right away and said she was a freelance reporter and was not in a position to hire but forwarded my email to the Editor in Chief based in Honolulu. She also gave me his contact information. So, I rewrote the email a little and contacted him also. 

Tuesday morning there was an email from a lady who is staying at the same place I personal cheffed at several weeks ago. She was wondering if I was available Saturday (today) to cook for her and her family for her mother's birthday. I immediately replied and asked what types of food she preferred. Learning that they were a vegetarian family (except dad eats fish) I began to prepare a menu for them to choose from. 

I love doing this sort of thing and as I happily created 4 options for each course; apps, salad, main and desert, I got a phone call from the Editor in Chief at MidWeek Kauai!!! I did my best to act like a normal person and kept my giddy excitement at bay. I had emailed him examples of my writing along with the Kauaian Fresh website. As we spoke about how I came to be in Kauai, I had mentioned cooking. He said he had seen my website and was wondering if I would consider writing the Tastes of Kauai column for the paper. It's a restaurant review and he would like me to do 2 a month, with the current writer doing the other 2. Would I??? I was jumping up and down with excitement as I calmly said, "I would love to do that." He told me to have fun with them, write about the food and the people. Tough, but I'll try! My photographer husband will be joining me on these excursions. I am excited because our first assignment, on September 12th, is at Casablanca; a nice Mediterranean restaurant in Poipu. Yum Yum! 

I have learned several lessons from the bakery incident. One is; if what I am doing doesn't fill me up, if it takes away from me, stop doing it as soon as possible. It's like being in a bad relationship. The longer you stay in it, the longer it will take you to find that someone who is perfect for you. We only have so much energy and if that energy is blocked because we are spending it on something that takes away from us, we will not be in a place to receive what is right. The second is; when one door closes, another will open or, in my case, two opened. Life is rolling out my dreams better than I could have imagined, at a pace I am comfortable with. I mean, I got to sleep in this morning; no 5am wake up, drive through the lazy, dark and deserted streets of Kauai only to enter the brightly lit chaos of the bakery. I get to have free dinners and write about them! How cool is that! The third lesson; Dream Big and let life (or god) figure out the details.

Never having made the Apple Banana Tarte Tatin, I included it as a desert option because it sounded so good. It ends up, that is the desert they chose. I decided I had better make it before I made it for a client! So the picture above is what Dan and I enjoyed the other night, it's fantastic! (Please excuse our fine plastic china.) The recipe calls for Apple Bananas, little bananas with a slight apple taste found everywhere in Kauai, but I think any banana would work well.

Apple Banana Tarte Tatin
    • 2 tablespoons of butter
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 8 apple bananas, cut in half lengthwise
    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted or pie dough trimmed to fit pan
    • ground cinnamon to taste
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Saute half of the bananas until golden brown; remove from heat and saute the rest, using the remaining butter. Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and then sprinkle evenly with sugar. Lay bananas over sugar, arranging in rows. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Lay pastry over, tucking edges under. Bake until pastry is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool slightly, then invert tart onto a platter. Cut into 4 squares, and cut each square diagonally, forming triangles. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. 

    I found this recipe in the Hawaii Farmers Market Cookbook

    I couldn't resist, here is a letter I received from my last client ~

     We absolutely loved everything you made for us that evening and we are bragging of you to all our friends here.
    Everything was absolutely fresh and delicious. The combination of flavors were complimentary and not overwhelming in any way.  We loved that the foods you prepared had a local flare and feeling to them as well. 
    You and your husband fit seamlessly into our evening.  You prepped, cooked, served and cleaned up in such an unassuming, yet elegant way.  You also didn't make fun of our singing :)
    I loved that you had some of the recipes available to me, the only criticism I can think of is I don't have that awesome hot dip recipe!  If it's not a secret recipe, can I get a copy?
    We happily and strongly recommend that others use your chef services.  They will not be disappointed!
    Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo!!

    Julie Corell
    Ladera Ranch, California

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Why Kaua’i?

    Just over a year ago my husband and I came to this beautiful island of gardens and rainbows. Captivated right away as the island cradled us in warm tropical breezes; the local community charmed our hectic lifestyle. They were warm and leisurely when offering helpful options for adventure, and even a construction worker at the post office “talked story” with us for 45 minutes! The enormity of the beauty that surrounded us verged on sensory overload. We just couldn’t keep our eyes off the titanic splendor that surrounded us from mountain to ocean, both just a head turn away.
    We spent all of a week on Kaua’i and went home to pack our bags, compelled to move to the island as soon as possible. We made a second trip to Maui just to make sure Kaua’i was the right place after deciding the Big Island was a remarkable place to retire and Oahu was for young folks who enjoy the city life. Kaua’i is small town and we like small town. 
    I am truly blessed by the colorful people with wide smiles and generous spirit. The colossal, emerald green craggy peaks shrouded in misty clouds and graced with double rainbows, briny turquoise waters lined with over 50 miles of pristine white sand beaches, trade winds playing with Coconut Palms, lush gardens and the ever present sunshine.
    I am thrilled that Kaua’i is our home, after all it just got voted by Travel and Leisure Magazine second best island in the world, behind the Galapagos. In the late 1700‘s King Kamehameha tried without success to conquer her. Pride in being “The Unconquered Island” and isolation of this remote archipelago infuse the locals with a lot character. The rugged island has steadfastly remained undeveloped; mom and pop stores are the norm as is taking time to properly say hello. If you pass someone you know, instead of rushing by, you stop. After the appropriate hug and kiss you say, “Aloha, how are you?” and listen, not just with your mind but with your heart. That’s small town aloha!