Troubleshooting with Preparing Taro

Its my new mission in life: I will learn how to prepare taro for eating!

Every part of the taro plant is edible and, in fact, its so nutritious and digestible that even people with acute food allergies can safely eat poi (pounded taro). Taro is cultivated in over 60 countries around the world but the Hawaiians love their kalo with an unrivaled passion. Different parts of the plant are called either the child or the parent, a linguistic representation of how important taro is to their culture.

The grocery store sells both taro corms and taro leaves in the produce department. Ive long desired to prepare and eat my own taro - taro with coconut milk, kulolo (taro pudding), mashed taro and sweet potato, delicious chunks of taro in my stews, etc. With the availability of taro here in Hawaii, my dreams are well within my grasp.

The problem with preparing taro is that there is something called calcium oxylate in every part of the raw taro plant. If the taro is cooked properly, these crystals dissolve and no problem - if not, they irritate the mouth and you feel like your airway is collapsing with every bite. For some reason, even though I follow directions to the letter (and often cook the taro down for hours beyond the alloted time) I still cant get those damn crystals to break down! Mr A is starting to think that Im trying to off him quietly!

Ive noticed that frequently changing the cooking water seems to help speed the process, but beyond that, Im stumped.

There is a way to cook taro properly and I am going to figure out what the trick is. Obviously, recipe books are not going to help me here. I need to go straight to the source. I need to ask my Samoan friends how they cook their taro so I can figure out what Im doing wrong.


Starbucks Macha Latte - close but not quite.

While living in Tokyo I discovered the Green Tea Latte.

The name itself is somewhat deceiving because its made with macha, which is the kind of tea used in tea ceremony and its a far cry - in both taste and texture - from what we would typically consider brewed "green tea". The taste is sort of a love it or hate it kind of taste, a tad bitter and somewhat grainy when made the traditional way.

I love the taste of macha and would stop by my local Japanese Starbucks for the Macha Frappuchino at least once every few weeks. My only complaint is that they dont serve venti sized drinks in Japan. Upon returning to the states I was bummed to give up my favorite coffee alternative drink but it seemed a fair trade for being able to buy tampons again.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the Green Tea Frappe while visiting my cousin/Starbucks barista in Minnesota. I eagerly ordered one and was totally repulsed by the strange flavor. My cousin told me that they add a pump of melon syrup (I would assume to offset the bitterness) - HOW REVOLTING! Next time, while in Seattle, I ordered it without the syrup but it still didnt taste the same.

While window shopping through the Queens Market in Waikoloa the other day I popped into Starbucks and gave the Green Tea another try. The barista seemed really confused when I asked if they put syrup in it, so that was a good sign. This is by far the closest US Starbucks has come to recreating the delightful yumminess of the Japanese Macha Latte. Its not spot-on, but it wasnt overly sweet or overly milky (which are usually the two biggest problems when translating something that appeals to the Japanese palate).

I would assume this is because I live in Hawaii and its a) closer to Japan and b) hosts many Japanese nationals. Now if McDonalds can get their teriyaki burgers up to par I may not have to budget all that money for my "Return to Tokyo" trip.


Giving New Life to Old Things

I love love love making new stuff from old stuff. Its why I have such a hard time getting rid of stuff (I wouldnt use the word "pack rat"...but Mr A would). I always see some kind of potential in my old junk.

Heres a pair of leather soled baby shoes I made from an old purse (everyone kept calling it the Granny Bag so I figured its life as an accessory was over), a jacket that didnt fit, and tshirt scraps from a shirt I had already chopped up in another repurposing.

I am especially proud of these shoes for two reasons. First, they cost upwards of 30 bucks if you buy them from the store and mine were as close as you can get to free. Saves me from banging my head against a wall if Ikaika grows out of them in three weeks. Second, I didnt use a sewing pattern (not for lack of trying - I couldnt get the PDF files to open). Of course, there are things I will tweak when I do it again and the second boot came out much nicer than the first, but over all I would say it was a successful eyeball construction. Im planning to make one more pair for the trip to the midwest - there is a wool skirt in the bowels of my closet crying out to become infant footwear!

This activity/sensory blanket is somewhat cheating because I bought some of the fabrics, but they were either on sale or in the remnant bin. I think this will be more fun for baby #2 since its ideal for "tummy time". There are ribbons and strings, different textured fabrics, a pillow and a bag with jingle bells inside, some blue jean style buttons, and crinkly flaps (made from a chip bag that I washed out and then sewed between two pieces of cotton). Ikaika seems to still prefer playing with the real deal (ie. garbage).

This cube is super cute and I stuffed it with stuffing from some pillows I got at a garage sale (Mr A would sooner die than lay his head on pillows of unknown origin). I made a rattle out of an old macadamia nut can filled with 2 tablespoons of dried beans and put that in with the stuffing.

My husband said to me today as he found me huddled over my sewing machine for the fourth straight hour, "geez, when you put your mind to something you are really focused. can you imagine if you were like that everyday?!"

Dangerous, darling. Dangerous.


These kumu hula (hawaiian dance instructors) are dancing to a song that Mr As class sang at Waimea's May Day Festival. The song is about the beautiful plants in the ocean.

Kamehameha Day came and went without either pomp or circumstance. I was vastly disappointed.

In Thailand, people LOVE their monarchy. We have little yellow bracelets that say how much we love the king and every road has a larger than life photo of King & Queen. The Kings birthday was one of the largest events in a country known for fantastically huge events.

King Kamehameha was a chief from Kohala who set out and conquered/united all the islands. He began the whole "Hawaiian monarchy" thing. June 11 is his birthday and, as such, is Kamehameha Day in Hawaii.

Being that I live on the island he is from, I was expecting the Hilo Kamehameha Festival to be off the hook. I was thinking huge parade, statue covered head to toe in leis, hula halaus going nuts - fighting floor time to pay their respects. I got nothing even close to that.

I knew something was up when we got to Hilo and no one at the grocery store even knew where the festival was. One lady wasnt even sure if it was the right day or not. We drove around and finally found it, tucked away off the main road in a corner of the city that Im sure no one goes to unintentionally. The Hilo Kamehameha statue (a knock-off of the original statue in Kohala) on had like 5 leis on it! Boo!

Although there were some activities, it just didnt have that certain spark I have come to expect from a festival that celebrates monarchy. Luckily Im not Hawaiian so I avoid the ethnic guilt Im sure Mr A experienced from such a crappy turnout.

Sigh... Even though I was disappointed, I was still glad we went because I think its important to participate in/support these kinds of events. Maybe someday Kamehameha Day will be restored to its original glory with people flocking to Coconut Island to show the love for their king!


Jon & Kate: Another Divorce Post

As most of you probably already know, neither my parents nor my grandparents were/are divorced so Im not exactly reporting from the lion's den. I think the mystery of divorce is what makes it so frightening for me. I know its possible to make a marriage work - Ive seen it done and understand that neither love nor luck is the deciding factor - but some part of me always wonders if Im strong enough to make mine work "no matter what".

Being married to a man who is divorced only exacerbates these insecurities. And even though I support his decision, I dont think Ill ever truly accept his reasons for doing it.

Im mad about watching their whole "thing" change over the course of the show. It bothers me because I wonder if that could be me in ten years. I think that I identified with a lot of the values they talked about on the show and wonder if I could change so much in just a few years. Could I wake up one day in five years and find that I have totally abandoned all my ideals?

My mom once told me that talking about your values is easy, living your values is harder than hard. Her advice was to keep your mouth shut and just work on being the best person (wife, mother, daughter, sister) you can be!


Keeping Up with Kris Jenner

While channel surfing the other night I came across an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians...

I know. im sorry.

...and Kris Jenner said something I thought was extraordinarily refreshing. She was visiting her ex husbands grave, bringing flowers and whatnot, and she was talking about him and them and why she was there, etc. In the course of this, she described her divorce as being "a very selfish decision" and admitted that she regrets it.

I dont think I have ever met someone in my entire life that was willing to admit their decision to get a divorce was "selfish". And, quite frankly, I totally agree with her. I dont even need to know the particulars of her situation because the fact she got a divorce alone tells me shes putting her needs first.

I really appreciated Kris Jenners honesty when it came right down to accepting responsibility for her choices.
Being unwilling to put forth the gads of effort it takes to fix a shitty relationship -or just suffer through it- is totally understandable and (in theory) ducking out of your vows isnt any "more selfish" than ducking out of a dinner reservation. Im not judging divorcees, Im just saying we should call a spade, a spade.

Thanks Kris Jenner for keepin' it real.


Eat, Drink, Be Merry on the Beach

So many days at the beach. So many days outside.
How I survive:
bananas, papayas, and other baby-ready foods
(more importantly than sunscreen, IMO) rash guard and a floppy hat
My Baby Float aka the best $3 I have ever spent
snorkel and fins
Water, water, and the occasional cocktail

Babies can eat some sand. Its like eating dirt. Its easier to just let them figure it out than it is to chase after them, desperately trying to keep sandy fingers out of an eager mouth.

This picture is for my older sister Beth, who appreciates the Peter Jackson-like gore of pureed beets.


Battle TOFU

Iron Chef blogging challenge with my friend in the mainland began with Battle Tofu. These results are so late because I havent had a single second of spare time in the last few days. I will post the recipes later but here are the dishes and the results (as judged by Mr A)

First off was tofu patties - something I have made before and I know my husband loves but I made them different this time and the results werent an improvement. If it aint broke - dont fix it.

Taste: 7.5 (ouch!)
Presentation: 10
Originality: 8

1 block tofu
1 can tuna (I used salmon, it wasnt as delicious)
4 large eggs
1/2 C mushrooms, finely chopped (I used canned ones)
1/4 C finely chopped onion or 1/2 tsp onion powder (chopped onion is better)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (1 clove garlic through a press tastes fresher)
oil for frying

squeeze as much water as possible from the tofu. Break it up and mix with all ingredients expect the oil. Drop ladle full (about 2 tablespoons) into the oil. Fry until both sides are golden brown. Drain on some paper towels.

Tofu pie. We ate it for dessert then had it again for breakfast the next morning. Clearly, I was pressed for time!

Taste: 8
Presentation: 2
Originality: 10

2 C boiling water
2 boxes Jello
1 block soft tofu
About a cup or more of fresh or frozen fruit
2 ready made crusts (I made my own with wheat germ, butter and flour - not as delicious as possible)
1 tub cool whip

Add water to jello and let congeal. Blend jello and tofu in a blender. Add fruit. Pour into pie shells. Set in fridge, top with cool whip.

I used cherry jello and blueberries. Mr A said it was like Pepto Bismol. I would suggest using strawberry with strawberries or lime with crushed pineapple.


10 Things I Should be Doing Daily

A short list of things I want to get into the habit of doing every single day

1) drink a lot of water
2) drink 2 cups of tea (green, noni, mamaki, etc)
3) write substantial content for 30 min
4) stomach/ab routine (one would think this would be the easiest to commit to since Mr A does it religiously)
5) 30 min walk/go outside
6) make the bed
7) write in my gratitude journal
8) review hawaiian vocabulary
9) say a blessing before dinner
10) post on my blog!


A Nice Quote About Not Emasculating My Son for Being A Baby

rainberryblue posted this great quote by Peggy O'Mara - editor of Mothering Magazine.

"It is the nature of the child to be dependent, and it is the nature of dependence to be outgrown. Begrudging dependency because it is not independence is like begrudging winter because it is not yet spring. Dependency blossoms into independence in its own time."
— Peggy O’Mara

As Ikaika is getting older, his needs are becoming more pronounced. His desire to be left alone is acute at times. If he is intent on looking in the recycling bin, no matter how many times I try to pull him away or distract him, he just keeps going back. He rarely wants to lie down with me (fighting sleep is his most heartfelt battle) like he did when he was very small. Even though I love and appreciate his energy and personality, constantly digging paper out of his mouth can get tiring.

On the contrary, when he wants to be held nothing short of my undivided attention will suffice. He crawls around on the floor under me, screaming, and climbs up my leg like a Koala bear. It gets very frustrating because I cant do the dishes or take a shower without Ikaika throwing himself on the floor in front of the shower, sobbing. If its possible, I will carry him around in the Ergo while I do chores or whatever, but that only works if Im doing a standing activity.

If I pick him up and carry him when hes feeling dependent his needs are met and he will usually be quiet, but its disruptive to the other people in the house, namely me. I also worry that if I meet his needs this reinforces a behavior Im not particularly fond of. If I leave him to sob on the floor, his needs arent being met but maybe I am teaching him to soothe himself. Am I willing to deal with an hour and a half of sobbing, screaming baby for the hope that someday in the near(er) future he wont sob and scream anymore? Which camp do I pitch my tent in? How do I balance his needs with my own?

I think the point of this quote is that because its in the childs nature to outgrow their dependence, it wouldnt hurt to meet their needs in the meantime. And that perhaps its not fair to tell him to "stop being such a baby!"


Mr Peepers

Yesterday, after snorkeling/fishing at the beach (where I saw fish the size of dogs and an eel larger than my wing span), we stopped by KTA to pick up some groceries. Ikaika needed something to occupy him in the cart so Mr A gave him a papaya to hold.

That was fine until he started biting into it. Im not sure if a papaya rind is edible but I never eat it so Im fairly certain the baby shouldnt either. We switched the papaya with a pear. Ikaika became so engrossed with this pear we couldnt even wrestle it away from him for the sake of checking out!! He was so in love with the pear that when we got home he sat in his chair and ATE THE ENTIRE THING!

He was able to do so because, much like myself and all my sisters, he has inherited two enormous front teeth! And that gap...all I can say is wow!

The whole scene reminded me of the SNL skit with Mr Peepers.


Fashion Challenge: The Final Chapter

A bit late but heres Sundays contribution to the fashion challenge


Fashion Challenge Weekend

Thank God its the weekend so I can start relaxing my style a little!

Seriously, folks, the challenge goes on for another two days. Heres the beautiful co-challenger.

Today required TWO outfits because I spent my day in two totally different climates. Morning was spent as the beach:

Interestingly, this dress used to belong to my co-challenger.
Afternoon was spent at home in Waimea, a different kind of paradise:


Fashion Challenge Friday

Meet the other challenger here


Hou'oli La Hanau to ME!

First of all, heres what Im wearing today. Check out the competition here.

Its my 27th birthday today!

I spent all morning doing NOTHING - literally didnt get out of bed until noon and didnt shower until well after 3pm. For the evening festivities, my darling Mr A took me to Tako Taco, a mexican taqueria in the heart of Hawaii.

The food was alright at best and Thursday night open mic was not exactly exploding with fresh talent.

The real highlight was the margaritas! I got a liliko'i (passion fruit) blended with li hing mui (plum powder) on the rim. It was seriously THE BEST MARGARITA I HAVE EVER HAD. Period.

After we hooked him up with a spoon and a straw, Ikaika was set for an hour and a half and we had a very pleasant dinner. In retrospect, I should have brought some food he could eat, too.

I had a truly wonderful birthday and I really appreciate all the well wishes! Being 26 was such a blast but Im excited to move forward. My goals for this year are to get more serious about focusing my creativity into some kind of an outlet, enjoy almost every moment with my kid (possibly work on a sequel), try to understand my husband better by understanding this crazy place he calls home, and visit at least one cool place in each district of this island!

Get Up! Stand Up!

(The point of this is that he is standing/balancing on his two feet by himself. Yesterday he stood up from a squatting position. This is exciting stuff!)

A video from the doctors office the other day. He loved playing with all the cool toys but its so gross...GERMS!!! I cant even imagine how many other sickly monsters were putting their grubby little mitts and mouths on these blocks and here my son is, taste testing them like its no big thing. Im definitely not a germaphobe (I let him crawl around on dirty gym floors and I think I sterilized bottles for about a week) but this did skeeve me out a little.


Fashion Challenge: Day 3

My friend and I are doing a fashion challenge this week (although its not very challenging considering I just take a picture of whatever Im wearing)

I started the day like this (trying to include my "shoes"):

But then Hawaii became hot so I ended up more like this:

Face Off

This is an ikaika helmet.

They are actually miniatures of the helmet worn by a warrior society known as the Makini (makini is a type of weapon but can also be translated as "many deaths"...yikes!). These warriors had the job of protecting the high chief and, as such, these small helmets are said to protect against evil spirits.

University of Hawaii Football uses the ikaika helmet as one of their logos.

We have two in our family. One is pictured here and it hangs from the rear view mirror of The Green Hornet and the other, a gift to Mr A from his daughter when she went to Kaua'i, is much larger so it normally hangs in the living room.

In the last week, the baby has finally taken notice of our little talisman. I assumed that a helmet would appeal to the boy aesthetic (how sexist!) but sadly, this has not been the case. While sitting in the front seat (dont call CPS - the car was parked) he kept eyeballing the helmet very cautiously. When the eyes swung around and "looked" at him - an eruption of tears!
Weve tried to make the makini more approachable - we gave him a high-pitched voice, pet him with our hands, etc. Ikaika has gone so far as to touch the ikaika helmet but he still approaches it with a kind of quiet reverence.

I appreciate the fact that the helmet is so scary. How can it be expected to ward off evil spirits if it cant even ward off a 7 month old baby?!


Week One: Fashion Challenge

My friend and I are doing a blog challenge this week.

Here is how it was explained to me:

"just wear what you would normally wear. You don't have to think about it too much because I think I would just become overwhelmed and never make it to work on time in the morning.

And, let's do it continuous for 1 week. That way you can't chea
t and just take a picture on the day that you had lots of time to pick your outfit and you look good.

The reason i want to do this is to figure out why i have so much trouble picking clothes to wear and clothes to buy. I think I can't tell what I look good in. Also, I have so many clothes that I don't wear at all. And I have a crap load of jewelry I don't wear either. It's a waste!

So, I was hoping that if I can see what I'm wearing that maybe I'll be able to get out of this fashion block. It's like I'm totally uninspired and clueless when it comes to my own fashion."

Me too! So we are doing this all week. Yesterday my stupid USB cord was nowhere to be found so today I am double posting to make up for it.

Although, I feel like this challenge is unfair for several reasons:

1) my friend has an actual job and she needs to look presentable whereas I dont.

2) Hawaii seems to have its own unique sense of what is considered "fashionable".
Looking too trendy would make you stand out - in a bad way. I dont really want to make a Green Acres reference here but it seems fitting.

3) I dont usually get all spiffed up because the better I look, the better the chances are that Ickey will throw up on me. Theres only so much feedback you can give on shorts and a tshirt!

(My camera has been giving me stress. The data card erased all the photos for some unknown reason. The worst part is that Mr A had gone to Sijo Emperados funeral with his daughter this weekend and all the pictures he took are now gone! What a bummer! So I was going to post all these great photos from the weekend but now it seems we have only our memories.)