Monday, November 30, 2015

A funny thing happened last night

Sometime during the still of the night, we  heard a car alarm.  Odd thing was, it was getting closer.  Then the car, with the alarm blaring, drove right past our house.

But that wasn't the funny thing.  

The funny thing was it drove back past our house with the alarm still blaring two hours later.  

I elbowed Larry, "stolen"?  

We cracked up.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Car Count

Number of cars driving by this morning blasting Adele's new hit:  2

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Room: A Novel -- Book Review

My daughter recommended this book to me.  She was wandering through a book store and found it on the sale rack.



I really enjoyed the book and read it in one day.  It reminded me a little of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks (which I highly recommend) in that the POV is that of an unexpected character. 

I hesitate to write anything specific about the story because I don't want to reveal too much of the plot line.

Amazon reviews stated, "In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son."

The perspective is written entirely from Jack's point of view and is very well done. The writing is engaging and the author consistently writes in character.  
If you are looking for a weekend read, I'd recommend it. 

While looking on Amazon, I found this coupon for books:

Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Looks like the coupon expires November 30.

Here's a link directly to the book on Amazon:  Room: A novel

Let me know if you read it and what you think in the comments below.  Please subscribe to receive my blog in your email.  There's a link to the right.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Amazing Deal -- Instant Pot



I use my Instant pot constantly.  Today I'm going to use it to make yogurt.  Last week we used it to make broth from the leftover turkey carcass.  It is extremely energy efficient and does not heat up your kitchen when in use.  This appliance rocks and Amazon has it for about half what I paid nearly 18 months ago.  If you are at all interested in this useful kitchen too, now is the time to buy!  There's a link at the top of the post to take you there.





Black Friday...plans?



Do you have plans for Black Friday?  Shopping plans?  

It's hard to resist Target's $100 gift card with the purchase of an iPad Air.  It's $150 for an iPad Air2.  Apple TV's are 25% off.  If you spend $75 or more on Friday at a Target store, you also get a coupon for 20%off of a future shopping trip.  Very tempting.  

I was in Hilo for Thanksgiving last year and saw the lines for Target.  They were nuts.  If I do any shopping, it will likely be online.  \

Maybe I'll do a little grocery shopping right before closing time on Friday for that 20% off coupon.  We'll see.

I love REI's idea of taking the day off and going for a hike.  Maybe we'll make it to the volcano instead.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have a great day.

Let me know you plans in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to my blog!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Turkey

We have plans to have our Thanksgiving meal out this year.  

For the last decade or two, we have not had a kitchen conducive to cooking a large meal and while we have a larger kitchen now, neither of us were in the mood to tackle a huge meal so I made reservations at the Hilo Hawaiian for their holiday buffet.  

Not being a terribly social person, I neglected to inform Safeway of our plans and as we were paying for our groceries, the clerk informed us we had earned a free turkey (I think we spent just over $100).  She asked us what size we wanted and I said SMALL.  She bagged up a 20 pound bird and handed it to us with a smile.  

Honestly, I have difficulty telling the difference between irony and spite.  

What were we going to do with this turkey?  My first thought was to donate it to a local shelter or kitchen, but there doesn't seem to be the same collection of turkeys going on here as there is on the mainland, so the frozen bird came home with us.

I sought google for guidance as neither of us have cooked a turkey in over 20 years.  I found dry brining.  Here is the link to the article I read - LA Times.
One advantage to this technique is that it can be done with a still frozen turkey.

We pulled out our large cooler and headed back to the store for oven bags.  It took two days for the bird to thaw enough for us to remove the giblets and start the dry brining process. 

Each day you massage the turkey to redistribute the brine, but you leave it in a sealed bag the whole time, so it's not terribly messy.  You do that for three days and then cook the bird as you normally would.

We measured the temperature of the bird and we realized we overcooked it a bit, but the flavor was excellent.  The breast was a tad dry but certainly good enough for sandwiches.  Our favorite Thanksgiving meal is turkey sandwiches anyway so we cut up the cooled bird and bagged it for the fridge and freezer.  

We then processed the carcass in the Instant Pot to make bone broth.  We'll make Nom Nom Paleo's Westlake Soup later.  

The sandwiches taste fantastic.  We make ours with stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Guilty pleasure:  we use stovetop stuffing (gasp!) and canned jellied cranberry sauce, but the mayo was home made!


Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Note:  Get your stovetop stuffing early around here.  It sells out!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Around Hilo Town 112215

A Mrs. Meyer's Bargain at Target this week

Mrs. Meyer's is on sale at Target this week:  buy three, get one free.  Regular price around here is a stiff $4.79 a bottle for either the dish soap or liquid hand soap.  I had that $10 gift card from last week's shopping trip (you got one too, right?) plus a $2 off any target shopping trip coupon, so I walked away with eight bottles of Mrs. Meyer's for a cool $16 (and change).  I love a bargain!

I am particular about scent and only like the lavender scent in Mrs. Meyer's products, but I noticed the holiday scents were out so I gave 'cranberry' and 'Iowa pine' a sniff.  I liked them both.  Larry didn't care for the Iowa pine, so just the cranberry came home with us.  It will be a nice change, for a change.  Give them a sniff and see what you think.

Let me know about your Target deals in the comments below.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Tour of Our Yard--November 2015

Youtube Channel Recommendation

I really enjoy the videos that Kyde and Eric produce.  They live in Tokyo and film all sorts of travel.  I find them beyond charming.  If you are looking for something to watch, give them a try!


Below is a 'day in the life' video they recently uploaded:


Thursday, November 19, 2015

I Have Fallen in Love

I Have Fallen in Love



As I write this, I am distracted, staring out the window at my neighbor's yard.  A light, misty rain is falling and I am in love with Hilo and it's environs.  I can't ever recall being in love with a place.  Maybe Yosemite, but for me living there would be sheer hell due to the crowds. Hilo has me in it's clutches and I hope it never lets go.  That is the feeling of being in love. 

I love the lushness of the yards, the chinese red trim of my neighbor's windows, the birdsong which sounds so foreign to my California ears: doves, java sparrows, mynah birds.  I wonder if they will every register on my subconscious as being native sounds or will they always sound just a little bit foreign?  

Not all moments stand out like this.  There are plenty of times when dogs are barking, weed whackers are buzzing, or neighbors are fighting, but I can let all of that go for moments like this.

Last night our neighbor came over to gift us with some coconut manju from Maui.  We couldn't ask for kinder people to live across from us.  We haven't met all of the neighbors yet, but the ones we have are super.  Larry met the lady that lives next door downstairs.  She said to call her Grandma June.  Larry really  does look younger than he is.  I'm pretty sure Grandma June isn't 100.  

The other day I got caught snooping out of our window in the early morning. I was looking outside just as our neighbor looked up.  She waved and I ducked.  When I told Larry about it he said, "don't open the windows unless you are ready to talk to the neighbors".  It's true.  Just as folks in NYC live their lives out loud on the subways, the neighbors here live their lives for everyone to see.  And hear.  With single walled homes and windows open all the time, I have heard a neighbor sneeze and another neighbor call out, "God bless you".  There is a guy several houses down the street who coughs up a lung every morning.

You have to be ready for it, embrace it, and love it or you are going to be one nuha malahini (unhappy new arrival).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Outside 111715

Ibotta -- Have you heard about it?

Ibotta -- Have you heard about it?




I read about and signed up for Ibotta a few months back based on an article on The Simple Dollar .  I thought I would mention it today since I just put a cool $12 in my pocket just for buying items I use every day.  Skeptical?  I was.  I am not anymore.  It takes a bit of work, but if you want to earn a few bucks, it's easy.

Download the Ibotta app from your mobile app store.  I use the one for my iPhone and it works great.  Here's a referral code that will earn you a dollar right from the get go:

Ibotta Referral Code:  uiptghp

Here's a link, if you prefer:  https://ibotta.com/r/uiptghp

Browse the items you are interested in purchasing (I use it for groceries mostly), then select a store.  Many are listed:  Safeway, Target, Whole Foods, Amazon, even REI.  To unlock the savings, just answer a question or watch a short video.  Every time you unlock a savings, it will be added to your shopping list.  Go shopping.  Save your receipt.  Open the Ibotta app and scan the items you purchased that are on your Ibotta list.  Take a photo of your receipt using the tool in the app.  Wait for your receipt to be approved (less than 24 hours) and you've earned money!

Many offers are for generic foods, like bananas or onions, so if you haven't been successful using regular paper coupons (for all of those processed foods you don't eat), try Ibotta.  

Of course, you save more on items like liquor and name brands.  
Recently there was a $7.00 rebate for Bailey's Irish Cream.  Buy it on sale, say at Safeway, maybe even use a coupon.  You will still get seven bucks cash back in additional savings! So check it out and see if it works for you.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Do you stream Netflix? You might want to bookmark this site



I came across this site earlier this week:

Some of the absolute best shit on Netflix right now

Now I know where to go when I am at a loss as to what to watch.  Personally, I hate how Netflix shows me only what it thinks I might be interested in.  I'd like to see it all, thanks.

Enjoy

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sling TV -- It's good...until it's not

Sling TV -- It's good...until it's not


Recently I took Sling TV up on an offer of two weeks of free service.  We don't have cable, just a mohu leaf antenna (love it!) so the idea of receiving a number of cable channels for $19.99 a month (plus tax) was attractive.  Unfortunately I have been unimpressed so far.  When we actually receive streaming in HD, it is great.  I know many people subscribe just to access ESPN.  However, most of the time we can only watch in extremely low resolution and the viewing is painful.

Oceanic Cable is my internet service provider and over the last three months service has been quite reliable with only one outage during severe weather.  
We have a Roku and routinely watch Netflix, Amazon, Ustream, and PBSs without issue and generally in HD (when applicable).  The Sling TV, channel, however often is nearly impossible to watch due to low resolution.  Television show credits are impossible to see due to pixelation.  I have tested my download and upload speeds and the numbers are usually on the north side of 35mbps, plenty of speed, according to Sling TV.  They have been showing my speeds (within the Sling TV app on the Roku) as only 0.3 mbps. I know many factors can be involved, but I find it hard to believe it is an issue with my provider since I have no issue running a number of devices simultaneously and streaming.  

One other issue to be aware of with Sling TV is that there are very few channels that allow you to rewind or play programs that are not currently running real time on television.  If you want to watch The Walking Dead on AMC, you need to clear your schedule and watch it at the same time as broadcast tv.  This is something I am no longer used to doing after years of streaming my television shows.

So while your mileage may vary, I do not think I will be signing up for this service after the 14 day introductory period.  If you have a Roku device, you may wish to give it a try.  You can sign up for two weeks free directly through the Sling TV channel on the Roku.  

If you do give it a try, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Headspace

Headspace






A friend of mine recommended the Headspace app to me about a month ago.  Actually, that's not quite true -- she actually suggested I try the app about three months ago, I finally paid attention a month ago.  I am glad I did.  I have been using the meditation app for 31 days and am noticing some key differences in my daily life.

About Headspace

If you head over to Headspace.com, you can read all about the company.  They've been around in one form or another since 2010 and the mobile app has been around since 2012.  Andy Puddicombe is the voice of Headspace.  You can read his wiki here.


My Impressions

I am new to meditation.  I had tried it a few times, but generally was uncommitted and unfocused in my goals.  I would try it for a day and then quit.  

Earlier this year, I read Dan Harris' book How to be 10% Happier.  Reading his book helped me understand what my meditation goals could be and that being 10% happier would be a big enough reason to give it a try.

My first breakthrough moment with meditation was while I was waiting in an examination room for a dermatology appointment.  As you know, waiting for doctors can be a long prospect.  Fresh from reading Mr. Harris' (may I call you Dan?) book, I figured I would meditate until I couldn't stand it anymore or the doctor came in.  I think it was about a 20 minute wait and for the first time, I was able to just focus on the breath for most of that time.  When I opened my eyes, I was more relaxed than I can ever recall without medication or strenuous exercise.  That feeling stayed with me for a couple of hours.  The best I could do with exercise was an endorphin rush of about 90 minutes.

Still, it was more than six months before I really gave it a go.

Fast forward to 30 days ago.  I downloaded the app and gave it a try.  I felt immediate results (though minor), which gave me the boost I needed to stay committed.  Now 30 days in, I find I can stay focused better and my sleep has improved.  I still have good days and bad days (I consider myself hormonally challenged) but even the bad days can be mitigated when I take a few moments to focus on my breath and stay in the moment.  I plan on sticking with it and I heartily recommend it.

The first ten days are free and the first block of ten exercises are only ten minutes long each.  Listening to Andy's voice puts me at ease.  He has only scared the crap out of me twice that I can recall (on both occasions I was very relaxed and my mind had wandered off).  


How to get Headspace


Head over to Headspace.com and sign up.  Or just head over to your mobile phone's app store and download it for free.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Kabocha Squash (or Pumpkin)

Kabocha Squash



Recently we purchased kabocha squash at the store.  It is a versatile squash that can be used in place of many types of squash and also as pumpkin.  I read somewhere it is the sweetest squash available.

I saved about a dozen seeds and Larry planted them in the back yard.  Some he put in pots and others went directly in the ground.  Today we checked and 100% of the seeds have sprouted.  Holy smokes!  Here are some photos.  I suspect in about 120 days we are going to be overrun with squash.  I can't wait.

Here are some photos of the seedlings. :






Friday, November 13, 2015

Making Sauerkraut

Making Sauerkraut




There are many reasons to incorporate sauerkraut into your diet.  However, most store bought 'krauts have been heat treated and many of the benefits are lost.  There are exceptions, but they can be expensive and, in some areas, difficult to find.  Where we are in Hawaii, costs are about $13 for a pint   jar (16 oz) of sauerkraut.  I can appreciate the work that went in to making the sauerkraut, but when local cabbage goes on sale here for $0.89 a pound, I am ready to make my own.  I love the taste of sauerkraut and, frankly, I have been known to eat up to a pint in one sitting so paying $13 a jar, just won't do when you can make it yourself.


Health benefits?


Here are a few:

  • An excellent source of Vitamin C.  Fermentation increases the bioavailability of vitamins in cabbage making it more nutritious than plain old cabbage.
  • Dietary Fiber.  Yep, we could all use more of that.
  • Probiotics!  Lots of live lactobacilli and other gut healthy microbes.
  • Possible breast cancer fighter.  A study in Poland found higher rates of breast cancer in women who emigrated to the US compared to those that stayed in Poland.  Women in Poland tend to eat 30 pounds of sauerkraut annually compared to 10 pounds per year consumed by Polish women in the US.  Is there a connection?  Maybe.

So, give it a try and see if you like this sour, crunchy food.  If you like pickles and other fermented foods, you just might and it's damn good for you.

This morning we put up a fresh batch for fermentation.  It looks us less than 30 minutes of actual work time,  but allow yourself an hour or so until you get used to the process.  Once it is in the crock, it can take anywhere from two to six weeks to ferment.  Keep sampling it until you like the flavor.  On the mainland, it took anywhere from four to six weeks.  In Hawaii, the last batch took about two weeks and we had to keep it in a cooler with a little ice just to keep the temperature of the cabbage in the 70's.  The weather's cooler now, so we are hoping just a cool, dark corner will be sufficient this time around.  In my old kitchen, I just put it on the counter.  You want access to it to check on it daily.

Supplies:


  • A large, sharp knife.  This is similar to the one I use.
  • Cutting board
  • 2 gallon ceramic crock.  You can also use mason jars, but the crock is easier to use.
  • Ceramic weights to fit your crock.  If you don't have them, you can use a plate and a weight, like a large can of food
  • Coarse salt.  I use hawaiian salt, but kosher salt would be fine as well.
  • Cloth cover for your crock or a kitchen towel with a fine weave.  I got my cover from Kirby and Kraut.
  • Patience.  Waiting for the kraut to do it's thing can take awhile.
Get yourself some cabbage

We used three medium to large cabbage heads.  Try to get organic, if you can.  Quarter them and cut out the cores.  Be sure to remove the outside layer of leaves and cut out any areas of the cabbage that are less than perfect.  Then slice the cabbage quarters a scant 1/4" thick.  Try to be as consistent as possible.  You aren't a machine, however, so don't sweat this too much.  Just try not to have any big pieces that won't ferment at the same rate as the rest of your cabbage. 

Here's an example:


I put about 3/4 of a head of sliced cabbage into a very large bowl and add a rounded tablespoon of coarse sea salt.


See that big piece in the middle of the bowl?  Yeah, I took it out.  Even size matters.  When you mix the salt in, feel free to toss any big pieces into your compost bin.  Once mixed well, put it into your crock and continue processing the remainder of the cabbage in the same fashion.


Press down on the cabbage firmly with your fists to get as tight a mat of cabbage as possible.  Let it sit on your counter for 30 to 60 minutes.  You want the cabbage to wilt and start to give off liquid.  The goal is to have enough liquid to cover all of the cabbage.  If you don't have enough.  You can add filtered water to cover.  If you have to add a lot of water (like a quart), be sure to add a rounded teaspoon of coarse salt to the water -- you don't want to dilute the amount of salt you have in the cabbage.

Waiting for cabbage to wilt.  The crock is under the blue cover.  The other bowl in the photo is the compost bowl.

After waiting about an hour, the cabbage will have shrunk quite a bit and start to give off liquid.  Press it down further with your fists.





Here's an up close photo of the cabbage


I let it sit another 30 minutes and added about 8 ounces of water, just to make sure everything was covered.  I added the weights and now it's ready to be covered and set aside. 


 I will check it daily and, should anything start to grow on the surface (has only happened once for me), I will scoop it out.  

Here's a photo of the finished product (from my last batch).  I use the ball jar lids.  They work great.


If you don't have a crock, you can mix all of your cabbage and salt in a very large bowl (or make smaller batches) and let it sit there.  Press it down until there is liquid along with the cabbage in the bowl.  Press as much cabbage as you can fit into a mason jar (pint, quart, half gallon, whatever you have).  Leave about two inches of headspace.  Add some of the liquid to the top of the jar to submerge the cabbage.  You can use a zip lock type bag with some water sealed into it as a weight to keep the cabbage submerged.  Cover with a cloth and rubber band.  You don't want to seal the jar as gasses form during the fermenting process and your jar could crack.  You can buy specialty lids that will allow gasses to escape without anything getting into the jar like these, but try it the old fashioned way first and see if this is something you want to repeat.

Let me know if you try it and how you like it!














Thursday, November 12, 2015

Adventures in Water Kefir, Part Two

Adventures in Water Kefir, Part Two

The water kefir grains I purchased from Cultures for Heath are really coming along nicely.  This past week, I have had very tasty, more than slightly bubbly flavored water kefir -- about a quart every other day.  The overall number of grains has increased and I think I am ready to step up to brewing half of a gallon at a time rather than a quart.

 Brewing -- the grains rest at the bottom

Water kefir is different from brewing kombucha in that your turn-around time is 36-48 hours rather than a week, so smallish batches seem to be the way to go.  I did purchase a kombucha 'mother' from Cultures for Heath and it is currently sitting in a jar (in a dark cupboard) with brewed liquid for 30 days.  Once it's activated, I will be able to brew a gallon or more at a time (which appears to take about a week.  I have more studying to do).

So, back to water kefir...I think brewing 1/2 a gallon every two days will be enough for the two of us on a regular basis.  On hot days, we would definitely like to drink more, but at some point, it would get rather problematic to brew more than that amount in a small kitchen because it takes up space and requires daily tasks (unlike kombucha).

That being said, the flavor is delicious and it is dead easy to make.
A glass of water kefir after second fermentation with papaya juice

Orange Hibiscus

Happy Thursday!

Beekman 1802 at Target - a soft launch?

Beekman 1802 -- A soft launch?

I just got back from our local Target store.  During my shopping trip, I wanted to see the new Beekman 1802 products as I have ordered directly from the company for several years.  Here is what I found:


I suppose they worked with what they had.  All of the marinara sauce, except for the two rows on the far left were on clearance marked down to $6.99 (from $9.99).  Even at just shy of $7, that's a lot to pay for marinara.  So, basically two small shelves and not even on an end cap (it was sort of a side cap, if that even exists).  Hopefully they displays are better at your local Target.  Otherwise, keep walking, nothing much to see here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

More Time-Lapse

M

Beekman 1802 Products at Target






Target announced this week they will be selling Beekman 1802 products at select stores. A list of the store can be found here. Petaluma is one of the stores. So is Hilo. I plan to stop by this week to see the offerings. I have purchased products from Beekman, particularly as stocking stuffers and small gifts, for the past several years. What will be offered in the stores will not be what is on Beekman 1802's site (love their balsamic vinegar).

From the announcement:
There will be an additional 500 stores added to this list in January 2016. All Beekman 1802 Farm Pantry products contribute up to 25% of their profits to the Beekman 1802 Mortgage Lifter Project that aids innovative small American Farms. Additionally, each item is made with ingredients sourced from small American Farms, certified organic, and/or GMO free.

Give them a try and let me know what you think.  I'll do the same.



Monday, November 9, 2015

Hawaii Electric Light plant giveaway

Arbor Day Plant Giveaway



We visited the Hawaii Electric Light office in Hilo on Saturday and picked up a couple of plants. Nearly all plants we have brought onto the property have been edible plants or plants that serve a specific purpose. The white hibiscus is one of our first ornamentals. The white hibiscus, specifically Hibiscus arnottianus or kokiʻo keʻokeʻo ("kokiʻo means white like the shine of silver") is one of the only species of hibiscus with fragrance. I have never smelled one and will have to be patient. The plant has about three leaves and is tiny! Apparently these plants were propagated from cuttings from the specimen at UH Hilo. Maybe a year from now I can let you know what it smells like!

Ouside the house - Weather time-lapse



I love time-lapse videos.  I shot this 20 second video from the lanai over

about an hours time this morning.

Target: 10% off iPads and iPods with Cartwheel



Have you tried the Cartwheel app yet?  It's Target's exclusive app which can save you even more money on your shooping trips to Target. Initially I found it a litle fiddly to use as generally my hands are alreay full with my purse, shopping cart, and list, so carrying my phone in hand does add to the chaos.  Sometimes though, the discount is worth it.

In the past, I have saved and extra 5 to 10% on Method and Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products as well as household goods.  There are lots and lots of items that I don't use or never buy, but it is still worth it if you spend a few minutes going through the coupons prior to your weekly or monthly visit to Target.

Just download to your phone via the app store and start looking for savings.

Right now you can save 10% on iPads and iPods through November 21st. If you use your RedCard, you can save another 5%.  Great savings, probably not surpassed by anything offered on Black Friday*.  Yep.  There's somebody on my naughty or nice list that might be getting a gifty.


*This is true for my zip code.  Is it different for yours?  Let me know!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Geckin'

At the farmers market the other day...Hope you have a wonderful Sunday


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Arbor Day purchases

We had a great time yesterday in Kurtistown at Plant It Hawaii's semi annual sale.


Lots of exotic fruit plants for sale.  Our yard is currently gravel with a small lawn in back.  The house was a rental for years and the yard has that "rental bullet proof yard look".  At least there is no agapanthus to deal with.  We also have no snails, semi-snails, fire ants, or mosquitoes.  Gravel in the front yard was also perfect when it came time to have our container delivered.


So we basically have a clean slate (well, a slate covered in gravel) on which to work.  So we rolled up our sleeves and went shopping.  Along one side of the house we will have a hedge of surinam cherries.  They are great for eating and even better for jam making.

In the back, we will have three varieties of lilikoi (passionfruit), fig, jaboticaba (also good for jam), honey tangerine (dwarf), tahitian lime (dwarf), and apple banana (also dwarf).  In the front yard we are planting an ulu (breadfruit).  Most everything came in gallon-sized grow bags and are ready to go in the ground.  We need to find some bamboo to create a trellis for the lilikoi and some rocks to protect the ulu.

We also planted tall, clumping bamboo in the back to create a natural fence.  We bought a couple of varieties and they will look beautiful in a few years.

As our street is narrow, cars approaching from opposite directions have been used to pulling into our front yard to let another car pass.  That poor breadfruit tree doesn't stand a chance unless we add some large rocks to define the area and protect the tree.

As we continue to develop the yard, I will post updates.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Happy Arbor Day!

HAPPY ARBOR DAY!

We are going to hit some of the plant giveaways today around town.  I'll report back!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Adventures in Water Kefir

Much of my focus lately has been on ways of saving money.  One of our biggest budget expenses is food, so obviously that is a good place to start.
I have noticed a significant improvement to my gut health drinking Kevita daily.  Often on the mainland, we could find Kevita for around two bucks a bottle on sale.  In Hawaii, we routinely pay $3.69 per bottle when we can find it at all.  Don't get me wrong; I love the stuff.  My budget, however, does not.

The best I can figure, Kevita is a water kefir made with coconut water.  Until we are set up to process our own coconuts, I am sticking to plain water kefir.  I purchased the grains on Amazon.  The supplier is Cultures for Health.  You must rehydrate the grains prior to production.  Clear instructions are included in the package. Here's a copy:


 It takes a few days.  Be patient.  Once they are fully rehydrated, you can begin production.  The instructions do caution that it can take a few go-rounds before the water kefir really starts tasting as it should.  I have been working with this particular batch for about two weeks now and I think I'm on to something good.

I use quart jars and produce a quart of water kefir every other day.  Based on ambient temperatures in my kitchen, I let the grains work their goodness for about 36 hours in the first ferment and another 36 in the second.  My husband would like a sweeter final product that still has carbonization, so I am still working out how much fresh juice I am using for the second ferment.  More on that in a minute.

Day 1
I prepare a simple syrup with a 1/4 cup of sugar and about a cup of boiling water.  I use filtered water from our Berkey.  The instructions specifically state not to use water with chlorine in it, so boil your water first, if you're using tap water.  Once the sugar has melted, I fill up the quart jar to about 1 1/2 inches from the top with cool filtered water.  Make sure the water is cooler than 85 degrees fahrenheit.  Then I add the grains.  Where did I get the grains?  I filtered them from the last batch.  Be sure to use a non metal strainer.  I got mine here.

Here's what the grains look like after sitting overnight.  The sugar I used, Alter Eco Organic Cane Sugar, is what is coloring the water.  Initially I used good old C&H Cane Sugar, but the minerals in unbleached organic cane sugar is supposed to keep the kefir grains happy.  The grains are all sitting in the bottom of the jar.

Be sure to cover the jar with either a paper coffee filter or fabric (like a thin dish towel) and a rubber band to keep out critters.

After 36 hours, I filter out the grains and put them in a new batch of liquid (1/4 cup sugar to 1 scant quart of water as above). 

Here is the water kefir in the second ferment with lilikoi (passionfruit) juice.  It will be ready to drink in another day.
Questions?  Let me know and I'll try to answer them.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Where we live, part one

Where we live, part one



Our street is about three blocks long, maybe four.  I can see from one end of it to the other.
If you held one end of a jumprope and your girlfriend held the other and let it dip just so, that is the shape of our street; it has a bit of a dip in the middle.  A few houses down, near the bottom of the dip, some feral chickens reside.  Two sets of mother hens with chicks right now.  Also a few roosters.  Just close enough to give me a warm feeling when I hear them and far enough away that I don't dream of a meal of chicken and rice.  Our road is narrow.  There's enough room for about 1 1/2 cars.  Folks like to cut through on our street, but they have to negotiate that passage with the other cars that pass through and that keeps the overall traffic way down.  When it is clear, we can see the slopes of Mauna Kea, but the summit is always obscured by the coconut palms across the street.  I wanted a home with a view and I love it; it's just not the view I imagined.  When the sun shines, everything appears in bright, crisp focus.  when it rains, everything seems a bit fuzzy.  Larry just brought me my breakfast: a huge plate of fruit.  That sounds decadent, doesn't it?  A delivery of breakfast.  Larry is in charge of fruit in our household and that is just fine with me.  He leads us through the stalls at the farmers market and I trudge along behind him carrying our purchases to keep his hands free.  This morning it is papaya, banana, and pineapple.  Papaya and bananas are by far the cheapest fruits.  Pineapple is next, as long as you are not seeking Maui white pineapples, then mangoes at the top of the fruit chain.  Lately, the mangoes have been too pricey and either unripe or overripe.  Mango season ended last month.  There are lots of other interesting fruits, but I will leave that for another day.