Saturday, May 21, 2011

Farmers and Their Markets

Ackee (Ah Kee) will kill you if you eat it before it's ripe!

I have great news! A column I have been trying to sell finally sold. Kauai is a hotbed for people who eat healthy and care about things grown locally, organically and sustainably. It’s one thing that crosses all races; everybody is keenly interested in these things. It think it’s because we are isolated, and if the barge that provides 90 percent of our products doesn’t show up, we’re kinda screwed. We have a vested interest in being sustainable; in taking care of the small amount of land that we have to grow food on. 
Bitter Melon, a Southeast Asian favorite that is really bitter according to Dan

These are things I have been interested in for at least ten years. I care about how food gets to my table. In Colorado, I would go out of my way to buy meat from a local butcher who had a small ranch 30 minutes away. I joined a community supported agriculture (CSA) program because I wanted to know who my farmer was, I wanted to support his organic farm, I wanted produce that was fresh and in season and not stale from having travelled over 3000 miles. No tomatoes in December!
Purple Haze carrots

Levi and his girlfriend Kristen sell beautiful produce to Dan including Purple Haze and regular carrots.

Once I got to Kauai, I learned that things don’t grow year-round here. Duh! I also found it difficult to find who the local farmers were, they don’t advertise. The farmers markets here last about two hours and in that short time, you have to act quick. Don’t waste precious seconds debating over a pineapple or you’ll lose it to someone else! The farmers here are the same as in Colorado, some of them don’t always sell produce from their farm. Some farmers bought Maui Gold pineapples from Costco, took off the tags, and sold them as their own. The only trace of fraudulence is a tiny hole in the leaf where the tag once was. 
Durian tastes like blue cheese when it's ripe. It doesn't taste bad but when you're used to fruit being sweet, it's kind of weird.

I was really frustrated. Besides the farmers market, the only way I could get good produce was at the health food store and that was expensive. I did a search and found the only organic farm on Kauai that had a CSA. When I signed up I also signed up for their 12 week “Seed to Table” course at Kauapea Farms where I learned what it takes to fill those boxes every week. 
Jackfruit can weigh up to 25 pounds! It's supposed to taste like a cross between a banana and pineapple but I haven't tried it. Yet!
My weekly column is the fruition of this search and I hope to provide readers with information and generate business for farmers, grocery stores and restaurants. It is called Farmers and Their Markets and will debut in MidWeek Kauai the week of May 31. The column will feature a different farm, what they grow, where you can get it (including farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants), how to select and store and health benefits. It will spotlight a particular seasonal item and include a recipe. The first is avocados which grow like crazy here. Did you know that they have anti-inflammatory benefits that help prevent cancer, heart disease and arthritis? They also lower bad cholesterol levels. As the produce manager for Papaya’s, Dan works with local farmers everyday, and he is my source. I couldn’t do this column without him and his contacts. 
Mabolo originated in Africa and has the texture of a peach but the flavor is more savory according to Dan. 
I sent two samples to the MidWeek editor in February and waited a month before he said, “Maybe next quarter.” I tried to sell it to another local publication and they said they would love to have it but couldn’t afford to pay me. I finally sold it to our main newspaper but had to withdraw because they are competition for the main publication I write for. I sent it one more time to MidWeek, as a reminder that a new quarter had begun, and they called me Thursday saying to have one ready for Monday!
Pomelos weigh about 3 pounds and are like a sweet, mild grapefruit.

Ulu (oo loo) or breadfruit. This is a young one, they end up weighing about 2 pounds and can feed a family of four. Typically, they are roasted or baked and are similar to potatoes except sweet and a little slimy. 

There are over 300 varieties of Mangos in the world, on Kauai there are about 75.

This is a dragon fruit flower, it's about the size of a football. These are one of my favorite fruit. They are sweet, mild and really juicy. The little seeds pop when you eat them.

This is a dragon fruit when it's ripe. You cut it in half (one half fits in the palm of my hand) and eat the white part with a spoon. The pink part acts like a bowl! Yummy and fun!

All photos by Daniel Lane

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It’s better to burn out that to fade away

Dan and I have really been enjoying ourselves. We went four wheeling up on the west side and had fun getting the jeep all muddy.  We saw some stunning views of the Na Pali coast. We went to the 2011 Kauai’s Best of awards ceremony, put on by MidWeek Kauai. I got to meet my co-workers, some for the first time. I got to interview an organic chocolatier here and take a farm tour for an article I’m working on. We’ve had dinners at friends late into the night and photo adventures in search of Dan’s shot of the day. Everyday begins with a beautiful sunrise and birds singing their praises.
Everyday also brings a new gift. For example, I never knew my husband was so funny! You’d think after 16 years I would. I’m really excited about his blog because he’s having fun doing it and because it cracks me up. Maybe it’s cause I love him so much, but I like it.
Recently, I’m reminded of when I was an editor at Starz. A lot of my co-workers, who’d been there forEVEH like me, were cranky. I wouldn’t say I was cranky, I wasn’t complaining all the time, but I certainly wasn’t inspired. I enjoyed working with the producers and creating something from nothing. I really enjoyed it when the producer and I clicked and we worked together to create something fun to watch. Anyway, I knew my heart wasn’t in it. And there was this nagging feeling that I was taking up someone else’s space.
I think about Gail, she was all fired up; passionate, committed, excited about the job. She was having fun at her job and in her life. I was like that in the beginning too. I felt like she deserved to get the day shift, I wanted to give her my slot. I didn’t have the courage to do it. I stayed longer than I should have. 
Now, I am inspired again. Even though the money and security are radically different, the passion I have for life is too. I’m excited, alive, invigorated. I see successful writers that have been on this island for 15 to 30 years, and they are cranky. I mean rude and bitchy! Dad says it’s the human condition. I think it’s why Neil Young says, “It’s better to burn out that to fade away.” If you lose your spark, you fade away. You take up space that someone else can thrive in. I’m glad we took the risk and reignited our spark. I’m glad someone who cares a lot more about editing promos gets to do it during the week so she can have her weekends. We are both the better for it.
Dan got most of these shots when we went four wheeling the other day. Except the papayas, that's from our yard. The red and purple flowers are from a restaurant review we did yesterday. I'm so proud of my husband!

This is a picture of a flower on a tree that's sort of like a pine tree. It looks like a caterpillar. Amazing life here. Seeing how nature spontaneously thrives to be its best, just because it's alive, inspires me to do the same. Nature is my religion. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Mom

Sometimes I find myself so intrenched in old behaviors and thought patterns, that it’s a eureka moment when I look at it differently. It reminds me of one of my favorite Grateful Dead lyrics, “Once in while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” 
I was thinking about my mother. I was thinking about how this is the second Mother’s Day in my entire life that I have not celebrated this day with her. I wondered at the numbness. We had the typical tumultuous mother daughter relationship. There were flashes of brilliance; times when the bright light of love illuminated our hearts and sparked connection.
Mostly, we argued. Mostly when I was a teenager. It scarred us and left a chasm. Since I moved, we have been able to connect more. She gets why I left. She’s proud of me. She’s happy for me. She deeply misses me. She loves me anyway. 
I wanted to write her but I wasn’t sure what to say. I decided to focus on what was right about my mother. What I really liked about her. So I sat and wrote down all the things I liked. It was slow at first, but all the sudden there were flashbacks coming so fast I could barely get them down.
Tears streaming down my face as I wrote, I realized what a great mom I have. I could see how she loved me, how she showed me her love. How she cared for and protected me. 
All the years came colliding in my head, dropping salty tears on my keyboard. A young girl in a smart hand-made dress and pig tails. My mother working hard at keeping the house immaculate. Home-made meals on the family table every morning, noon and night. The house always smelled clean. Fresh flowers from her garden sat on counter tops, a delight to the senses.
Years of home-made chocolate cake, cherry pie, Spanish macaroni and cheese; anything I wanted, all my favorites just for the asking. Homemade chicken stock fortified with an egg when I was sick. Crushed ice chips at 2 a.m. when my cough kept us all awake. A loving kiss on my forehead while neatly tucking blankets around me. Numerous trips to the emergency room, overnight hospital stays.
Soon, I had an eight page hand written letter and a very wet face. I felt so many things; regret, love, appreciation, gratitude, joy, love. It was cathartic. I had a new appreciation for my mother and I missed her very much. 
It’s amazing what a shift in perspective can do. A gift. Nothing has changed except how I see my mother. By focusing on what is right, it opened up a whole new world for the two of us. And I got to let her know that she is truly loved and appreciated. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

All Da Kine Stuff

Day two of no smoking, cold turkey. I have learned that smoking is not a habit, it is a drug addiction. It takes three days for the nicotine to leave your system and for the last two, Dan and I have been going through withdrawals. I gotta say, typing is even difficult!
Without my usual cache of nicotine, my brain is having to learn new ways of doing things. I have been watching videos on the Why Quit website and have learned...well...many things. I feel like a born again nonsmoker. I won’t bore you with the details. Anyway, It’s tricky to think clearly right now.
A couple of week’s ago we were invited to dinner. We did an article for our favorite burger joint and I guess it helped them out a lot so they wanted to say thanks. We hit it off anyway and hopefully it’s the beginning of a great new friendship. 
View from their deck

Their cozy house has a fantastic view of Kialea Beach here on the East side. We enjoyed a huge dinner on the deck with the ocean waves crashing our conversation every now and then. Kyler loved the attention he got from Dan and I and Tetchie and Tom appreciated the break!
Dan, Tetchie, Me and Tom (Tom is reaching out to Kyler who is in his high seat)

I have been trying to get a week ahead on the restaurant columns so I ended up booking two in one day! We had yummy lunch at a local plate lunch place. The restaurant elevates the ubiquitous Hawaiian lunch, consisting of meat like teriyaki beef, mac salad and two scoops of rice, to gourmet level with a staff of executive chefs! 

Plate lunch with beef stew, teriyaki beef, chicken katsu (fried chicken cutlets), noodles, rice and mac salad or...

House made whole wheat naan, house made roast beef (roasted with rosemary, garlic and thyme), local tomatoes and greens, caramelized onions and horseradish aioli.

For the Mother’s Day brunch article we tried dinner at a nice restaurant in the Marriott on Kalapaki Bay. Mom, I wish I knew about this brunch when you were here! King crab legs and all da kine stuff! Plus, for seven bucks you get free flowing champagne! Next time you come!
For dinner we had 3 kine o fish, short ribs, two sushi rolls, two desserts and 4 drinks! Oh my! The manager wanted to hang out and talk story wid da drinks! HO! We had left overs for days!

Coconut Basil drink and elderflower saki tini

This dessert has coconut and chocolate pudding inside...yup, delicious!

Dan celebrated one year at Papaya’s five days before his birthday and was able to get his first paid day off since leaving Starz! Don’t underestimate those paid days off guys! Anyway, we were going to check out the new putt putt golf course but it’s closed on Mondays! Since his birthday was on a Monday we ended up on a search for the perfect shot for Dan’s new, and I think, funny blog.
We got to go to Kauai’s only chocolate maker this week. Wow! Gourmet chocolate made right here, add that to Kauai’s only mead maker and you got yourself a party! And I have my first two non restaurant articles. 
Can ya tell I’m a little off?
Aloha Nui Loa

Our nephew became a Marine on April 21. His mom is so proud, and so are we!
We love you Miah!