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Rainy days

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I can’t count the number of times we have had a beautiful sunny week, then end up with a rainy weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually love rain.  But it’s not conducive to working in the garden, especially if it’s a hard rain.  This morning, we could see that it was going to be overcast, and unsure of what the day would be, we got out there early and planted about 150 purple asparagus starts.  David did the hard work of digging the trenches; I spaced the starts out in the trenches, and covered them with the dirt.  It was perfect weather for this kind of work, and we got it done fairly quickly.  This was good because then it started to rain harder and even got a little chilly.  I didn’t get a chance to take a picture because of the rain.  The news forecast expects snow on Mauna Kea tonight!

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Yesterday, I picked some lemons and made a really simple lemon pie.  See the recipe below.  I forgot to take a picture before we dug in and started eating it, it was so pretty, that I took a picture anyway.

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Make a simple graham cracker crust and bake in the oven for 8 minutes.  I used 1 1/2 packs of the crackers and a stick of butter.  The filling is:

3 cups sweetened condensed milk, 3 egg yolks, and 2/3 cup of lemon juice (next time I’m going to use limes to make it a little tarter).  Mix that all together, pour into the baked crust and bake another 10 minutes.  Let it cool on the counter and refrigerate before eating.  You can top it with whipped cream and lemon slices, but both David and I aren’t huge fans of whipped cream, so I left that off.

It was super easy to make and set really nicely.  I definitely make it again just because it was so easy.

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Mamaki Tea

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Mamaki tea is an herbal, non caffeinated tea native to Hawaii.  We have a few shrubs on our property.  The leaves can be used either dry or fresh, and have a number of health benefits when made into a tea.  It is known to work on stomach, liver,  bladder and kidney issues.  It has also been known to help lower blood pressure.  It is a mild tasting refreshing tea that can be drank hot or cold.  I typically make a big pot, refrigerate it, and drink it cold.   We typically have used fresh leaves, but we’ve dried some as well, packaged them, and have given them as gifts.

The picture above shows the berry of the tea shrub.  These berries have a waxy like consistency and can have mild laxative effect.  They’re slightly sweet, so one has to be careful not to eat too many, unless of course, you’re looking for that laxative effect.  The black specs in the berry are the mamaki seeds.  I have started a few new plants using these seeds.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how well these plants grew.

 

 

 

Perfect Weekend

What an awesome weekend.  First, Friday was a holiday, so three day weekends are especially great.  Friday was spent taking care of all the regular stuff, laundry, mopping, etc. ,  I had a few friends stop by and pick up some “groceries” from the garden on the way home.  Then Saturday and Sunday, we spent fixing things in the garden (securing the duck homes for protecting baby ducks and fixing the roof on the shed.  Then we planted a bunch of things, a kumquat tree, some watermelons, radishes, carrots, and some pretty flowers in the garden.  We enjoyed the pool all weekend.  It was hot, and water was cold, a perfect combination for a perfect weekend.

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Our ohia tree is in bloom right now.  Rapid Ohia Death is a big concern on the Big Island. It is decimating forests on our Island.  Our tree, our only ohia tree, is currently not affected.  We’re doing our best to keep it that way.

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So many things to do … so little time

Keeping up with all the things on our little patch of land can easily be a full time job, but all I seem to have time for is the weekends.  My husband works on the farm every day when he gets home from work, which is mostly feeding the animals and watering where needed.  I get home later than he does, and after a long day I don’t have the energy to do more work.

So weekends are left for normal house chores – laundry, vacuuming and mopping, and general cleaning. So in between that, I’m usually harvesting and cooking.  This weekend we had other plans on Saturday, so all of the was left to Sunday.  It’s been a super productive day.  I made two loaves of banana bread.   Cut four of the nine pumpkins (most are for freezing, but I’m making a batch of pumpkin soup), harvested cloves (they’re just starting to get ready for picking, so there wasn’t many, but I’m so excited about that!), and made some fresh lemonade with sugarcane we grow.   We really need a sugarcane press, I tried cutting and boiling pieces of cane to make a simple sugar, the conversion ratio isn’t great, I needed a lot of sugarcane.  Luckily I like tart lemonade!  There are so many pumpkins, I can’t cut anymore, so I’m going to give some away to co-workers.

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Cloves on the dry rack.  The tree is loaded, so this is just the start.  My hands smelled like cloves after I picked these.

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The coffee trees are flowering.  When they’re all flowering it looks like it’s snowed.  This is the first year we’ve got coffee since we chopped all the trees down in an effort to control the coffee borer beetle.  We’re looking forward to drinking our own coffee again

The MOST exciting thing on the farm is new babies!  Our call ducks are laying and brooding. Today we got our first ducklings.  They’re just perfect!!  One of our chickens, however, kicked one of the momma ducks off her nest of eggs, so it appears she will be raising these ducklings.  We have heard of this happening before, the only thing that we have to watch for is when the ducklings start swimming in the pond.  Apparently this really freaks momma chickens out because obviously chicks aren’t swimmers, and I guess they don’t realize these aren’t chicks.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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The momma is sitting on the rest of the babies, we think there are three maybe four more.  It was hard to get the shot, so it’s a little blurry.

 

I also froze some bananas for our Yonana machine.  I’m not trying to market this thing, but I swear it’s one of the best inventions ever (next to the cordless vacuum cleaner!!).  You take a frozen banana and put it through the Yonana and it tastes like ice cream.  I swear it tastes just like banana ice cream.  You can add other frozen fruits to it if you want, but banana makes it creamy.  I’ve made it for a number of occasions, and people cannot believe all it has is bananas, they’re sure I’ve added cream or yogurt, or something to give it the ice creamy texture.  But it’s just the Yonana machine.  The banana has to be frozen or it’s just mushy banana.  It’s super healthy since there’s nothing added.  It’s going to be a hot dry summer this year, and I know now, we’ll be getting a lot of use out of this thing.  I got my at Amazon, but I’ve seen them at Target and Costco.  They have their own website too.  I swear, Yonana owes me a commission on the number of machines I’ve helped sell!

I love being home and getting these done.  I even had a nice dip in pool, it was HOT today.  Now I’m going to try to convince the hubby to end the day with a nice drink around the fire pit.

 

Yacon

We started growing bacon a few years back.  Native of South America, yacon has been around for thousands of years and has some really great health benefits.  It tastes a bit like jicama, but sweeter and to be honest better.

Yacon is related to the sunflower.  It has a small yellow sunflower looking flower (no seeds.  When ready, you dig up the root of the plant. Yacon oxides really quickly once you peal off the skins.  A little lemon squeeze on top helps slow that down.  It can keep for up to 8 months.  It’s better if you have a cold cellar, which we of course don’t have in Hawaii.  But we keep it in the shade and it’s usually eaten or given away way before the 8 months anyway.  It can be eaten raw or cooked in a stir fry.  You can be make a syrup out of it, although this I haven’t tried.  You can also make a tea.  It tastes a little like a water chestnut when stir fried.  It’s super easy to grow here in Hawaii, and it’s so good for you.  I would recommend it to anyone growing a little garden here.

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Jaboticaba

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We have two jaboticaba trees on our property.  One has never flourished.  The other, however, when in season bears a ton of fruit.  Okay maybe not an actual ton, but a lot.  The jaboticaba grows on the trunk of the tree.  It’s odd looking.  It almost looks like some sort of wart or growth on the tree.  I actually know people who won’t eat it because of this very reason.  It is a shame for them, however, because the fruit is delicious.  It looks a lot like a dark purple grape, but the skin is much thicker.  When eating, you can eat the skin, but most people don’t as it’s a little tough and slightly bitter.  Rather you simply pop the whole thing in your mouth,  pop it open with your teeth and suck the pulp and seeds out.  Then you spit the skin and seeds out.  It doesn’t sound too attractive but it is really good.  People make jelly, wine and liqueurs out of it.  The wine process is a bit time consuming and to be honest I’m always nervous about the fermenting process, so I haven’t tried that yet.  We picked two large baskets full of the berries.  I made some jelly and am in the process of making the liqueur.  This jar will sit for a few months before I strain it and add a simple sugar syrup to taste.

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Jaboticaba can fruit year round if taken care of well.  This is our second batch this year.  Once ripe, they don’t stay fresh long.  So it’s important to pick quickly, else they’ll simply fall on the ground and rot.  Jaboticaba is native to Brazil.  It has high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-aging properties (who doesn’t want that??).  It is also a good source of Vitamin C, B1, calcium and phosphorous.

 

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.

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.