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Thoughts & Travels

 Saimin is on the top of July list for comfort food. It was my favorite childhood dish that my family made, that I ate in restaurants with my grandmother. Chewy noodles and salty broth with various fixings – kamaboko(fish cake…the pink and white kind), scallions, sliced spam, won bok or char siu.

This version from Da Kitchen is the best one I’ve found in Maui. Maui is better known for dry saimin where the broth is served on the side. While this version is pricey, there were a lot of extra toppings. The broth tasted more like shoyu flavor than pork/shrimp found in most saimin.

Also Da Kitchen lacks the old style feeling of saimin places left over from the plantation days in Hawaii. The saimin was okay, but Da Kitchen won’t be a must stop like Hamura’s on Kaua’i is. 

While on a job on Kaua’i, I stumbled upon Makai Sushi, a sushi counter located in a local grocery store. The owner/sushi chef was super cute and friendly. He also served delicious fresh sushi. The menu was limited to a few items done well. I had the hapa roll, meaning half. The ahi/blue crab combo could be ordered as a hand roll, a regular roll or a bowl. It was fresh and delicious as Matt made everything to order.

  
  

I thought I’d end this weekend of Easter, Passover and Buddha’s Birthday (coming up) with one of the last photos taken of the nest of apapane. Kris got this shot yesterday before we left. I wish we could have stayed to see these fledglings take off.
They changed a great deal in the three days we were in Volcano. That’s survival. Gotta be quick for some things in nature.

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It’s Easter and the Farmer’s Market in Kailua was open. Yay! Easter egg hunt going on and it was alive!
As usual, I went overboard with purchases. I’ve wanted to share
the things I’ve discovered that help to keep my purchases fresh. It makes me so sad when I have to waste any of the beautiful verge and I’ve wasted a lot of vegetables because I overbuy. Through trial and error, I’ve come up ways to keep the waste to a minimum and making vegetable last.

Let’s talk about kale. I found a humongous bunch for $3. It’s the curly kale that I love in raw salads. It’s also my favorite kind of kale to put in kalua and cabbage. I usually use turkey, regular cabbage and kale.

First thing you need is a big stainless steel town – big enough to hold a sizable amount of vegetables, but a size that will fit in the sink.
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First you strip the leaves from the thick stems and fill the stainless bowl with them. Then rinse several times. If there are any bruised, soggy or brown leaves, remove them now.
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They will make the kale go off. I feed the stems to our composting worms. I’ve tried to pickle them, but didn’t like the pickle. If anyone has a way to use them, please share!

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Strain the water off well. Drops should still remain on the leaves. A must have for storage of huge amounts of greens are two gallon storage bags and dish towels. I love flour sacks best.
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Pile the leaves up in the towel and wrap the whole thing like a burrito. Keep one leaf out to use to identify the bundle. Put the whole thing in the storage bag with the extra leaf in the bag. That leaf will tell you that it’s kale in that bag. If you have other greens in the fridge, you won’t have to open and unwrap each bag to know what they contain.
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Now this bundle is ready for you anytime you need kale. It lasts over a week in our fridge.

Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Birthday, Buddha!

Ohia blossom

Ohia blossom

In flight.

In flight.

During my morning ritual of coffee and writing, the most amazing sight greeted me. I noticed a clump of small dried branches on an ohia tree near our front door…a nest! The orange yellow beaks demanding food were barely visible. I grabbed a long lens, not to photograph them, but to get a better look.

Three three babies...mouths wide open

Three babies…mouths wide open

Feeding time.

Feeding time.

Two adult birds tending them.

Two adult birds tending them.

We live in a rainforest of native Hawaiian ohia trees and hapu’u on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Most morning red native honey creepers called apapane sing and do whatever these guys do. They sure sound happy!

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I recently had dinner at an amazing restaurant in Maui. If you go there thinking you’re going to have something familiar that you’ve had before, forget. The menu is a great read with super inventive dishes. It was exciting to see such innovation…you could tell that the creators were passionate about the dishes. In addition to the interesting menu, the staff was welcoming and attentive. I thought they thought I was somebody. Ha!

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I was alone and was seated at the tasting table even though I wasn’t doing the tasting menu. The staff was great about explaining the menu and I loved reading it. It had an energy rarely seen…local ingredients, too. I just knew I was gonna love it. I had a great view of every dish coming out of the kitchen and each was beautifully plated.

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A slab of watermelon topped with goat cheese, nuts and micro greens was a perfectly refreshing way to begin.  Visually pleasing and, oh so light!

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The reason I chose dinner here was that there was grilled octopus on the menu…I love its wonderful flavor and texture when grilled. The salad did not disappoint. The pieces of octopus were tender and super yummy. The Secret Sicily goat cheese from Surfing Goat Dairy balanced the bitterness of the frisee and kale. There were bits of grilled bread with a touch of olive oil that added another layer of texture. Throughout was a lemony deliciousness.

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The abalone risotto topped with an onsen egg was delicious. The egg opened up to mix with the rice for a wonderful sauce. The abalone is farm-raised in Kona and there was a generous serving of its chewy goodness in this dish.
Ka’ana Kitchen so good that I brought Kris back the following night…for the same dishes. I guess I’ll have to go back to try more things. Can’t wait!

The location isn’t bad either. Here are two iPhone shots from the beach at the Andaz. It’s so beautiful there.

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While I was in cooking class, Kris took a train…several trains and a bus out to Jigokudani Park to photograph the snow monkeys or Japanese macaques in the hot springs. He got some amazing photos of these creatures. They are wild and come to the hot springs in the cold months for the soothing heat of the hot springs…like us!

Here’s a link to the web gallery of his photos: http://www.eyeoftheislands.com/KrisScanlon/SnowMonkeys/index.html

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