One of my private, unspoken resolutions for this 2010 is to buy local and just holoholo as a way to "stop and smell the roses." Holoholo is just to go gallavanting around. Sometimes living in Hawaii is hard just because we have to work so much to survive. I don't live on a bluff overlooking the ocean (like My Hawaiian Home), in fact the only view I have is the view of the highway outside my backyard, but still, I live in Hawaii. I never forget to be thankful for that even if I don't have my view of the ocean or even my view of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. My kitchen window looks out at my neighbor's garage, but that kitchen window also lets in the tradewinds in the afternoon, so big whoops.
To start my resolution off right, meaning I'm starting before the end of January, we decided to start closest to our house by visiting the Kino'ole Farmer's Market on 1990 Kinoole Street, Hilo Hawaii. They are open from 7 am - noon on Saturdays. We had a leisurely morning then waited to drop off one of the kids at practice so we didn't get there until 11. That's too late. For the maximum experience, go early.
One thing that makes them a little different is that they always have some kind of class or activity at their farmer's market. One of my friends goes to pick up his weekly fix of Blue Kalo chips ('uala - sweet potato, kalo - taro and ulu - breadfruit chips sliced thin and fried like potato chips) At $10 it's a once in a while treat for us, but well worth the price.
One of the vendors had a tank of small, live catfish, but the other things there seem pretty typical of farmer's markets around here: apple bananas, local fruits (this time of the year it's citrus like tangerines), kale, tomatoes, lettuce, orchids, ethnic foods and herb starters. The downside to this particular market is that it's so small that the variety is not here. Perhaps the best strategy is to go early and with an open mind, and let the vendors decide what you need.
What we bought for $10
The hubby and I had a conversation about CSA, community supported agriculture, and when I found a farm that was pretty close to us, they charge $30/week/share for a box of veggies. Hubby didn't think that was a very good deal, so when we go holoholo to different farmer's markets, we'll see what we can buy for $10. I would spend $30 but I am not very good at using all my produce, so I don't want to waste money. $9.50 bought us some apple bananas ($1.25), a bag of zucchini ($2), a bag of Okinawan sweet potatoes ($2), green onions ($1.50) and a box of Hamakua springs tomatoes ($3.75). The tomatoes were our high ticket item, but it's Hamakua Springs, so we bought local, but these are high end farmers who are sought out by many of the Hawaii cuisine chefs, so these are not off grade.
Have a farmer's market near you? Tell us about it, or go out and holoholo this weekend.
With Christmas and New Year's on Fridays this year, it was really hard for me to blog since all the prep and work was centered around Friday, and then when Sunday rolled around, we just wanted to eat leftovers and not think too much. Poor excuse, but shikata ga nai (it can't be helped).
Christmas was at mom's this year, so she decided to do a Jewish Christmas (hah - the irony!) Somehow, one month later, I don't remember what we had except that there was too much food. However, the starter course, the matzo ball soup was for me, the star of the show, and we continued to eat that soup all the way through Sunday.
Sometimes with food, the best things are the simple things. I love soup and broth, and for me, the clear soups are much more interesting than the cream-laden heavy soups. I am a fan of clear chicken soup, miso soup, egg drop soup and the weight watchers 0 point soup so the matzo soup was worthy for Sunday dinner.
It's becoming a new tradition (2 years running), but right after Christmas, we pack the family and head off for some Kona condo. This year, went over the new and improved Saddle Road and packed all our boards for some paddle boarding at the Keauhou boat ramp. With 11 of us in a 2-bedroom condo for 6, we decided to hit Costco and cook, so Sunday dinner was a Costco affair with May's teri-loco burgers for cheeseburgers or with eggs, rice and gravy for loco moco, and matzo soup. We found that storing the matzo balls in ziploc and just putting them in at the last minute after the soup is hot is the best way to keep them intact. I love how they puff up like little pillows of what looks to me like cauliflower brains.
MATZO BALLS FOR JEWISH CHICKEN SOUP
2 tsp. salt
6 T. oil
1/2 c. water
1 1/4 c. matzo meal
Beat eggs thoroughly. Add salt and oil and beat again. Add water. Beat again. With spoon, slowly pour in matzo meal and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
4 quarts water
1 T. salt
Boil water and salt in large kettle. Do not use aluminum kettle or balls will turn dark. Test water by dropping a small amount of batter into it; if the batter disintegrates, it needs a bit more matzo meal. If it stays together, it is alright.
Measure 2 tablespoons of batter in a wet hand and form into balls. Drop into rapidly boiling water for 30 minutes. Put lid on kettle, but leave a slit for steam to escape. Dip out with a slotted spoon. Pour a small amount of the liquid over the matzo balls.
Do not store in aluminum. Balls can be frozen or left in the refrigerator for a day. When put in soup, allow them to simmer in the soup for 15-20 minutes. They shrink when cold but will inflate again as they are warmed and put into liquid.
Lau lau, the Hawaiian version of bento is a complete meal wrapped in taro leaves (lau), and steamed in an imu (underground oven) or on the stove. Our family makes lau lau mass production style, usually in the garage or in the living room with long tables set up and everyone having a specific job.
The youngest kids are in charge of cleaning the heart shaped taro leaves in the sink, then sorting them by size. The older kids are in charge of cutting the ti leaves, deboning them and washing them. The dads are in charge of the equipment (setting up the imu, or the large steamers, hooking up the propane, setting up stations). My husband is specifically in charge of cutting the string to wrap the lau lau. If it's too short or too long, it slows down the production line, so he had to go to graduate school to figure out the right length. The moms are in charge of choosing the ingredients in the lau, cutting up the meats and veggies, and salting everything.
Lau lau from the store usually consists of beef, chicken, salted butterfish or pork. My grandmother made enormous lau lau with a large piece of fat that melted in my mouth and flavored the rest of the lau. Almost anything can be put in the lau lau as long as there's some kind of fat. My brother had a vegetarian girlfriend, so he made vegetarian laulau with carrots and potatoes and daikon (not a good idea). Our specialty lau lau is fresh corned beef chunks with yams or purple sweet potatoes and pork belly.
The lau lau takes about 8 hours to steam, so we work in the morning, make enough for each family as well as enough to give away, then steam everything and eat the first batch for dinner. As the kids get older, it's getting harder to get the family together, but I hope the boys will carry it on with their own families someday. I hope that they will carry us in their own kitchens long after we're gone.