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Relaxing and recharging

Keeping up with a small farm while having full time jobs can be difficult.  And truth be told my husband does much of the work on the farm.  I take care of all the home stuff.  Every weekend we’re working on one thing or another.  Sometimes it important to just slow down and enjoy what we’ve worked really hard for.  Today was one of those days.   It was warm and sunny, the ocean was calm and beautiful to look at, and I’m in the middle of a good book.  Of course, we had already worked on the repair of the greenhouse (getting ready for more tomatoes), re-did the area where we store our surfboards (it’s so much more efficient not to mention neat), and did car maintenance, so it wasn’t a totally non productive weekend.  But taking time to recharge and take care of yourself (sitting by the pool and reading a good book) is productive.  It’s important too.  img_0656

The donkeys enjoying their weekend too.

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Malabar Chestnuts

We have two large malabar chestnut tree that produce for us currently.   This species of tree originated in South and Central America and does very well in the Hawaiian climate.  The chestnuts themselves come in a large pod.  When ripe, they drop from the tree and crack open.  Some people bag the pods so they don’t fall on the ground, but the pod is so sturdy and the nuts don’t appear damaged in the fall, it seems a waste of effort.  I will say if we don’t get to them fast enough, wild pigs have been known to find their way inside the farm to eat them.  Inside the pod itself you’ll find a number of chestnuts.  Botanically speaking the Malabar chestnut is not related to any of the other chestnut trees.  But their nut is delicious to eat.  My husband thinks their better than macadamia nuts!  While the nut can be eaten raw, they taste really good roasted in a little olive oil and sea salt.

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Pod

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Because we like them so much, we have started growing more of the plants.  I really like the way the tree looks too.  It’s shaped a little different than your regular tree.  I hear they can grow quite tall, but there are a number of varieties, and so far our’s isn’t huge.  They also produce a beautiful flower as well.

It’s raining mulberries, hallelujah

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We have loads of mulberries right.  I learned recently that mulberries are part of the fig and breadfruit family.  Mulberries are super easy to grow here.  When in season, we can pick all day long.  The berries should be picked when they’re dark purple, not red.  Mulberries are a good source of vitamin C and have more C than oranges.  As a fruit, they  provide high levels of protein and iron.  Mulberries have many health benefits from building bone density, preventing cancer, aiding digesting, and reducing stress,  Not only can the berries be eaten, but the leaves can be used to make tea.  I haven’t made tea yet from the leaves, but I use the berries to make jam and often put them in scones.

We picked a bunch of berries today.  We’ve been freezing them, so when I have a large batch I can make some jam.

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It’s been dry and sunny for the last week.  David was able to drain and repaint the pool.  We filled it up yesterday.  It looks so nice.  Much improved from the last photo I shared.

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With the dry weather, I’ve had an opportunity to explore the farm and see what’s growing and sprouting.  We have so many flowers on our mango and avocado trees.  There are flowers on the jaboticaba and cherry trees, and new flowers on our allspice tree.  And for the first time, we have some flowers budding on our clove tree.  I’m so excited about that.  Cloves take a long time to produce the flower, they say 10 years.  Ours has been growing for longer than that.  We also have our flower on our giant lilikoi.  It’s beautiful.  I’ll write more about the giant lilikoi once we get actually have one.  But here’s the flower.

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Turmeric and Ginger


We started planting turmeric or olena as it is known in Hawaiian a few years ago.  Turmeric is known for its antioxidant and anti inflammatory  properties.   There has been a lot of research into this pretty impressive spice and its benefits – preventing cancer, treating arthritis, controlling diabetes, reducing cholesterol, healing wounds, lowering risk of brain disease and heart disease, can help with depression, and slows aging.  There are tons of articles on the turmeric and its benefits.  You can use it fresh, it can be used in almost anything from stir fry to smoothies.  Because we have so much we dry ours and then grind it.  We processed about five gallons of fresh turmeric.  From that we got a little over a gallon of dry turmeric.  First you clean it, then boil it, then dry it it, and when dry, grind it into a powder.  We dry ours in a dehydrator.  You can sun dry it as well, but it’s been so rainy lately this wasn’t practical.

I’ve been making golden milk at night to help with some lower back and leg pain.  It’s a recipe I found on line.  Instead of stevia, however, I put honey in it.  I’ve made golden milk before, but really like this recipe.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/golden-milk-for-insomnia-5803a4ea07c738d85fd9d618

I keep a jar on my stove top and sprinkle in much of what I cook from eggs, to soups, and in my rice (it makes it a pretty dark yellow).  I even put some in my coffee grinds before I make a pot of coffee.  You can put it what you like to suit your taste.

We’ve also been growing ginger. We dried and processed some for the first time this week. It’s a lot easier than working with turmeric. There’s no boiling necessary. You simply wash it, peel off the outer layer, and dry it. It also dries a lot quicker than turmeric. The dried ginger smells heavenly. 

 

 

 

New Year! Uwe ka lani ola ka honua (when the heavens cry, the earth lives)

We never quite make it awake to personally welcome the New Year in, and this year was no exception.  It ended up raining almost the whole night, with some really heavy episodes.  We awoke to this …

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The ground is overly saturated, but more importantly the pool which is normally a turqoisey blue color is brownish green.  That has happened only one other time before when a river of mud flowed into the pool.  This must have happened last night when we were sleeping.  It’s a bit of a mess, but we were planning on draining the pool and repainting the bottom once the weather dried out a little.  Looks like we will be draining the pool sooner rather than later.

Although it’s really overcast, and starting to fog in a bit, it’s kind of nice and cozy in the house.  My daughter is home and we’ve done a little “spring” cleaning getting ready for the new year.

Because of all the extra rain, we have “ponds” forming all over the place.  If you look closely, you can see ducks wading around the pond below the starfruit tree.  The thing is, we don’t actually have a pond below the starfruit tree.

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Jingle found a nice warm place to snuggle during the rain.  He prefers the outside even if its wet and cold.

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Because it’s been raining for days, I haven’t gone into the garden much.  For the last few months, we’ve been picking beans.  Cowpeas to be exact.  David grew a number of varieties.  The black ones have done particularly well.  It’s best when drying the beans, to let the them dry on the vine.  Because of all the rain, that’s been hard, and unfortunately some of the beans have simply molded.  I cook a lot with dry beans, so it’s really been nice to grow our own.  I’ll be trying some new recipes with these and will let you know how that goes.  The beans on the right, are blackeyed peas, the most well known variety of cowpea.  They didn’t do as well as the other varieties, and had quite a bit of mold, but I managed to save some.

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Christmas!

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This is one of my favorite times of year.  Now that my children are grown, it’s one of the few times we are all together.  For Christmas Eve, we had oysters and asparagus for dinner, and then played some games.  We all share a competitive trait, so game nights are really fun.  Last night did not disappoint.  Santa bought the family “Speak Out” for Christmas.  It’s a silly game where you put this mouthpiece in your mouth that prevents your mouth from closing, and then your partner has to guess what you’re trying to say.   I haven’t laughed that hard I think ever.

Tonight, we decided to forego the traditional turkey dinner, and have a modified Hawaiian one.  On the menu:

Corned beef luau, squid and salmon luau, lomi salmon, poi, and for dessert, avocado/lime pie.

The luau leaves were picked last night.  For those who don’t know, luau leaves are the leaves of the taro plant.  You have to cook them really long because they contain oxalic acid.  If you don’t cook them well, your mouth because really itchy and uncomfortable.  No worries here, we slow cooked them for 10 hours.

This morning, my husband and daughter picked some taro to make poi out of the corms.  After picking the taro, you chop off the leaves, and keep the stem for replanting.

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The corms are on the right, they will be used to make the poi.  The stems on the left will be replanted.  Not only did we replant these, but we also planted some uwahiapele taro.  This taro has a really pretty leaf. IMG_0542.JPG

We have a number of lo’i where we grow the taro.  We have both wetland taro and dry land taro.  Some are better for poi, while others are known for their leaves.

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We have had quite a bit of rain the last few weeks.  It was nice to get a little reprieve today, and a pretty rainbow to boot.

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Crayfish

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We have a number of ponds on our property. One is fed by the overflow of our catchment. The others are fed by our connection to the Hamakua ditch system. Because of this we have somehow gotten some crayfish in our pond. They have multiplied, not greatly but if you sit awhile by the edge of the pond, they’ll slowly venture out so you can see them. Last week, we set some traps and caught a nice bunch. Because we have mud ponds, we flushed them in fresh water over a couple of days. We then boiled them with some crab boil seasoning and ate them. Crayfish aren’t large, so you have to eat a number of them. They were great especially dipped in some garlic butter. What a nice unexpected treat from our farm.

Starfruit

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To say our tree is loaded would be an understatement. The pictures don’t do it justice. The boughs of the tree are so heavy I think they may break. So what do you do with so much starfruit?  Give it away, sell it, eat it, juice it , and make jelly. Starfruit juice is mild so I juiced it with some turmeric, ginger, and carrots for a nice healthy concoction. For jelly I added some mineola oranges, guava, pineapple, and lemons for a nice tropical blend jelly.

Starburst also know as carambola may have originated from Sri Lanka.  It can be found all over now in Asia and the Pacific islands. It’s rich in potassium and vitamin c. It can cause problems for people with kidney issues because it has oxalic acid. Like grapefruit it can interfere with some medications for high blood pressure. You have to eat a lot, but it is good information to know.

Some of our starfruit are HUGE, like the size of a head. For those unfamiliar, when you slice it to eat , it forms perfect little stars, hence the name starfruit.

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Keanakolu

I took Thursday off and we headed up Mauna Kea and spent the night at the cabins at Keanakolu. It can be cold and rainy up there but when we got there it was absolutely beautiful. There are some old apple and pear orchards that were planted in the late 1800’s up there. We were a little past Season but we did manage to get some pears and apples. They were little on the tart side. So I took all of them and made a batch apple pear butter.  It came out quite well if I may say so myself. I used the following recipe.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/apple_butter/
In the recipe it talks about a chinois sieve which is this cone shaped strainer with a similarity shaped pestle. I have two but never knew what it was called or what it’s intended use was. I always use it when I separate lilikoi juice from its seeds. I was so excited that not only did I have this sieve but now I know what it is for!!

Here are some pictures of the fruit and butter.

Tea time

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We’ve had rain for almost three weeks now. Not solid but every weekend and most other days. The ground is over saturated and the grass got really long because we couldn’t mow. But yesterday it clearned up and my husband mowed. And today, Saturday we have this …


Today we picked a few buckets hibiscus to make tea. I took a picture because people always think it’s the flower that is used but it’s a particular type of hibiscus and it’s the calyx; it’s hard and waxy. We break it apart and dry it, and then package it.


Today we are celebrating our son’s birthday. I made him lilikoi avocado pie. The recipe is easy , two medium avocados, pulp of 8 lilikoi yes include seeds, and a can of sweetened condensed milk. Mix together and pour into a homemade graham cracker crust that’s been baked. Put in refrigerator and chill. The crust has to be homemade or it doesn’t turn out. I don’t know why but trust me, and my many bad attempts with pre made store bought, it’s gotta be homemade.