And I Can Cook, Too

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

March 18, 2006

And Just for Sarah's Mom...

Kahlua Duck

1 Whole Duck
3 tbsp. Salt (preferably Hawaiian, Smoked, or Kosher)
1 tbsp. Pepper
2 tbsp. Liquid Smoke
5 Bay Leaves
2 12 oz bottles, Lager

Pre-heat oven to 275. Rinse the duck and pat dry. Place the duck in a heavy roasting pan. Pour the liquid smoke over the duck and rub in. Sprinkle one the salt and pepper. Add the beer and bay leaves. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Roast for 3-4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. Allow to rest until just cool enough to touch. Using your fingers or a fork, shred the meat, including small amounts of skin for texture and flavor. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mar. 16, 2006

Fortune, Cookie?
Last night my husband took me out on a date to our favorite little Chinese place, Pah Ke’s. Over tea, Chow Funn, Choy Sum in Oyster Sauce, Sizzling Scallops with Fried Spinach, and Minced Pork with Hoisin in Lettuce Cups, we talked about our separation and whether we thought it was temporary. We talked about our marriage counseling and if we thought it was helping. We talked about moving to the mainland and wondered if it was a good decision. I’d like to say that mostly we talked about the Minced Pork with Hoisin in Lettuce Cups, but that would be a lie.

Minced Pork with Hoisin in Lettuce Cups

2 tbsp. peanut oil
½ lb. Lean Pork, minced
¼ c. Water Chestnuts, minced
1 tbsp. Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Ginger, minced
2 tbsp. Green Onion, green and white parts, minced
1 tbsp. Soy Sauce
2 tsp. Sesame Oil
2-3 tbsp. Hoisin, divided
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 head Butter Lettuce, rinsed and leaves separated

In a heavy bottom skillet or wok, heat the peanut oil. Add the pork and sauté over medium heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the pork from the pan, draining all but one tablespoon of fat in the pan. Add the water chestnuts, and green onion, and sauté for two minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute more. Add the soy sauce, and allow to reduce until the pan is almost dry. Add the hoisin, one tablespoon at a time, and allow to reduce till the pan is almost dry. Taste after each addition, and add more hoisin according to taste. Add the sesame oil and stir to coat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the pork spooned into small, rounded lettuce leaves. Try to avoid serious conversation.
March 15, 2006

Just Add Butter

The very same day that the last of the wedding guests departed for home, Kim’s cousin Greg and his friend Rob flew in from London. A few days of touring the island and buying every foodstuff in sight left Kim’s fridge was so full of leftovers that she was determined to make a meal of them. After promptly breaking her vow and buying several gorgeous t-bones, she quickly resumed her resolve. “Right,” she said. “There’re plenty of vegetables we can mix together, and a box of instant mashed potatoes in the cupboard.” “Instant mashed potatoes?” I inquired. Well, more mocked than inquired. “Ohh, they’re actually very good” she chided, and informed me that as the experienced cook in the room, the potatoes would be my job. I gathered my mise en place, (“everything in it’s place”), and waited for Kim to turn the steaks. “You know,” she said, “those only take about ten seconds.” “I’m the professional here,” I retorted, “I’ll decide how to prepare.” As Kim announced that she was turning the T-bones, I sprang into action. After turning the kettle to high, I paced the kitchen waiting for water to boil. After 4 tedious minutes the kettle began to scream. Delighted, I poured the steaming water into a measuring cup, careful to pour exactly to direction. After whisking in the water, I added the designated amount of milk, and several tablespoons of softened butter. After whipping furiously for a minute or two, I could not help but notice that the potatoes closely resembled bathtub caulking. Grim, but determined, I added more hot water, only to hear Kim say, “You know, if you follow the directions those come out perfect.” Grumbling under my breath about knowing how to make damn potatoes thank you very much, I decided to rely on the age old wisdom passed down from generations of chefs gone by: add more butter and it will be fine. After tossing in just a splash more milk, I added another stick of butter to the mess. As it melted I gently folded the potatoes in. More milk followed yet more butter. More milk, more butter, more milk, more butter, until at last I had something resembling something edible. A few dozen tablespoons of salt later, and the potatoes were done.

Friday, March 24, 2006

March 14, 2006

Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted to the Fullest Extent of the Law

The morning after the fated catamaran sale, Kim and I returned to the hotel from hell to retrieve the home furnishings purchased from Ross Dress for Less. With the exception of a few candles, which had been burned, and a serving tray that developed a large chip, the plan was to put everything back into its original packaging and return it to the store. Kim went to do the returning today, and discovered that you don’t always get what you pay for. Sometimes you get more. The total bill for her original purchase came to $398.00. Upon the return, it was discovered that four large vases and a lovely painting of a martini set were no-where to be found on her receipt. According to the sales girl, this was because Kim never actually bought them. “So I must have stolen them then.” Kim said to the disinterested girl, who responded with a “Yeah, I guess.” The sales girl went on to tell Kim that she couldn’t take back the items, even if she gave Kim no money for them, because there was no proof they’d come from the store in the first place. They were Kim’s to keep. She then refunded Kim the total due from her returns: $370.00. Home Kim came with her near total refund, four new vases, and a painting so stunning it drove her to drink. God Bless America.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March 11, 2006

The day following the wedding was the bridal parties’ final day in Hawaii. We’d planned for the perfect farewell: a beautiful sunset catamaran cruise off Waikiki Beach, followed by a walk up to the Makapu’u Lighthouse to enjoy a picnic in the moonlight. After a lovely day of lounging by the pool, we were off to the beach. Upon boarding we were given the announcement of free drinks for the duration of the cruise. Kim issued the requisite challenge to drink the cost of admission. Once we were past the safety of the reef, however, it was clear that no one stood a chance. Choppy seas required that everyone, bartender included, needed to keep one hand on the boat at all times. Needless to say, drink service was slowed significantly. About 45 minutes into the sail, the first of the big waves hit, drenching everyone sitting in the front of the boat, and seriously dampening those in the second row. As those in the back pointed and laughed, the second wave hit, thoroughly dousing not only the middle of the boat, but giving those in the back something to worry about. After a few more minutes and a few more waves, Vicki took a sip of her drink, and declared it salted down. Soon others in the boat were making the same discovery. As quickly as she could, the bartender made her way around the boat with fresh drinks and dry towels. Almost as quickly, the next set of waves came in. Try as they might, passengers could not keep the salt water from infiltrating their drinks. The nasty cycle of re-fill and re-drench repeated itself until we were back inside the reef and close to shore. Once off the boat, I used the combined misery of being drenched to the skin and the cold that was smited upon me by Pele as an out for the Makapu’u Lighthouse walk. I needed dry clothes, I needed a Kleenex, and I needed a drink. Too bad it wasn’t yet April, clothes and Kleenex would have to do.

Salty Dog
5 oz grapefruit juice

1 1/2 oz gin

1/4 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a highball class over ice. Serve.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

May 11, 2006
By Popular Demand

Dijon Truffled Macaroni and Cheese
16 oz. Penne (use whole wheat pretend and kid yourself it’s health food!)
1 gal. Chicken Broth
½ stick Butter
¾ c. Sweet Onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. Garlic, minced
8 oz. Mushrooms, sliced (use wild mushrooms for even more flavor)
1 pt. Heavy Cream, divided
1 lb. Parmaseano Regiano, grated
1-2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1-2 tbsp, White Truffle Oil
Salt and Pepper
Whole Black Truffle (optional)

Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the penne, and boil till just scant of al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the liquid, and set pasta aside. Reduce heat to medium. In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and onions, and sauté until onion starts to soften. Add the garlic, sauté one more minute. Add the cream and allow it to heat through. Return the pasta to the pot. Sprinkle in the cheese, 1/3rd at a time, allowing to melt between each addition. If the sauce is too dry, add some reserved cooking liquid. Add 1 tbsp. each of the Dijon and truffle oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Taste, and adjust the mustard, oil, salt, and pepper if necessary. If you have a truffle, shave or finely mince it over the top of the pasta.

Monday, March 20, 2006

March 10, 2006

I Do, Love You, With All My Heart

March 10, 2006
Peg and Ed have been dating for 14 years. Ed has asked Peg to marry him every single one of them. The first 13 times, she declined. What changed her mind, I may never know, but at last the day their family and friends had all been waiting for was here. Wedding Day! Over a quick cup of coffee, I reviewed the menu:

Crab Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp over Wild Rice with Asparagus,
Kahlua Duck on Okinawan Sweet Potato Smash with Edemame, and
Citrus-Chipotle Marinated Chicken on Truffle Dijon Macaroni and Cheese and Haricot Vert

But before cooking, I was off to the clubhouse. Walter and I had chosen flowers from Watanabe’s Florists the day before; we needed to get decorating. While Danielle and Krystal assembled nasturtiums, coffee beans, orchids, and baby’s breath, I arranged branches of cherry blossoms, calla lilies, red ginger, bird’s of paradise, and my personal favorite, “curly green sticks”. The clubhouse looked like a tropical paradise. Jessie and Stephanie, my trusted servers, arrived and immediately began polishing glassware and setting up steam tables. While they were working their elfin magic, I raced through a shower, through on a dress, intercepted the minister and met the bridal party at Kim’s. The minister went over the ceremony, everyone donned leis, and it was time.

The conch shell blew, signaling the start of the ceremony. As he entered, the minister chanted a Hawaiian greeting:

Onaona l ka hala me ku lehua
He hale lehua no la na ka nee
O ka’u no ia, e ano’l nel
E ll’a nel, he’l a ka hiki mal
E hiki mal no ‘ae, a hiki pu no me ke aloha
Aloha e, Aloha e, Aloha e.

Ed walked into place. Jan began the Hawaiian Wedding Song, and Danielle, Krystal, Gill with the kids, and Kim walked town the aisle. At last in came Peg, an absolutely stunning vision in a simple white dress and Haku lei, (a lei for the head), and carrying a bouquet of orchids. The ceremony was beautiful. The pastor was the perfect combination of serious and humorous. He focused on leaving your troubles at the door and always coming home with gladness and love. There was no lacking of tears in the room. I fought off mine by visualizing burnt chicken. The rings were exchanged, the bride was kissed, and the final chant for the abundance of aloha was spoken.

Peg and Ed went from being Peg and Ed to Mr. and Mrs. Peg and Ed. Kim went from having two “sort of step sisters, but not really,” to having two step sisters. And I went from calm and happy wedding guest to frantic caterer.

The champagne reception with violin duet gave me one hour to get the food on the table. Ovens pre-heated in two different houses. Crab stuffed Jumbo Shrimp went into one; Citrus-Chipotle Marinated Chicken Thighs were popped into the other. I’d kahlua’d and shredded three ducks the day before, all that was required there was a quick re-heating. Ditto the wild rice for the shrimp and the pasta for the chicken. Waiting on the stove was a pot with chopped Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. I turned the heat on high as I poured a quart of heavy cream into a second stockpot. As the potatoes simmered away, I added the cold penne from the day before to the heated cream. Soon the pasta was warmed through. As Jessie handled the wild rice and kahlua duck, I added shaved parmaseano regiano, Dijon mustard, and white truffle oil into the penne. With ½ hour to go before dinner service, Jessie and I kicked into high gear. Jessie drained the Okinawan potatoes while I put asparagus, haricot vert, and edemame on to steam. I added pure maple syrup, roasted garlic, cream, butter, and salt to the potatoes and Jessie whipped them into smooth smashed shape. Walter wandered in and we promptly put him to work. While he carted potatoes, rice, and penne to the clubhouse, Jessie ran to rescue the stuffed shrimp from the neighboring oven. While she was gone, I transferred chicken from baking pans to chafing dishes. Walter returned to be promptly handed more hot dishes and ordered to turn right around again. The shrimp safely delivered, Jessie arrived and we carried the last of the meal to the clubhouse, where the wedding guests were still delightedly sipping champagne and snapping photos of the bride and groom. After a quick plating demo for Stephanie and Jess, I announced that dinner was served, and we were seated.

Amidst much toasting (including to the chef!) we ate, and laughed, and thoroughly enjoyed the magic of the day.

Dinner done, dishes cleared, and champagne switched to pinot noir, Kim put on the dance tape Red had mixed for this occasion. After Peg and Ed danced to “Falling in Love with You”, the boogie music began, and the dance floor filled.

As I watched Walter and Leslie re-create their famous “drivin’ the bus, open the door, and hand out the change” pantomime to disco, Kenny repeatedly drop Kim on the floor as he continued to insist he could flip her and she continued to believe him, and Gunnar and Kim’s 3 year old niece steal the show as the cutest couple in the room, I realized I was exhausted. Knowing perfectly well that the party would rage on until the wee hours, I stole away at 8:30 for a much needed nights rest.

E ia au,
(This is the moment)
ke kali nei.
(I’ve waited for)

Aia la ia hea
(I can hear my heart beating)

Ku’u Aloha
(Soon bells will be ringing)

E ia au,
(This is the moment)

Ke huli nei
(Of sweet aloha)

Aloa’a o ee kaipo
(I will love you longer than forever)

Maha kai ini aka puuwai
(Promise me that you will leave me never)

Na’u oe’elei na’u oe’elei
(I do love you with all my heart.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

March 8, 2006

Belly Up
The wedding was only two days away and it was time to put a little more focus on the bride and groom. We made a dinner reservation at Casablanca, a wonderful Moroccan restaurant on the windward side of Oahu. We were seated at a long, low table, with bulbous chairs on one side and big fluffy cushions on the other. The server came around with a pitcher of warm water to pour for a ceremonial hand washing, and towels to dry off. Soon we were presented with gigantic platters heaping with lovely salads: tabbulah, babba ganush, hummus, roasted eggplants, and minted carrots with orange flower water, to name a few. Big basket of bread were passed, and we dug in. We scooped and dipped, and when the lentil soup course came around, used our crusts to sop us ever last drop. After the soup, we were presented with B’stilla: minced chicken, almonds and eggs, wrapped in phyllo dough, seasoned with cinnamon and topped with powdered sugar. It was as delicious as it was tricky to eat with our fingers. As we discussed the virtues of a sweet chicken pie, the belly dancer arrived.

Focusing immediately on Ed, the dancer began her seduction. Around and around she danced, taunting him with not only her lovely purple veil, but also her belly. Though he tried his best to resist, he was soon won over, and joined her on the dance floor. You have not lived until you’ve seen the combination of trained, seasoned belly dancing and the white mans over-bite with touchdown celebration demonstration.
Peg, the bride, was next on the dance floor for her bridal belly dance lesson. She swayed and shimmied, and otherwise let Ed know what is future would hold. Following her lesson, all the women folk were invited up to dance. Citing the cold struck down on me for taking a pig over the Pali, I declined, opting instead to continue eating while everyone else was otherwise occupied. Kim, Danielle, Krystal, Peg, Ann, and Marcelle jiggled and wiggled, while the men cheered them on and I ate their B’stilla. The fun nor the B’stilla could not last forever, however, and soon the dance was over. It was time for our entrees.

Spice rubbed rack of lamb, stewed game hens with prunes, and braised lamb shank were among the succulent dishes brought to the table. Though we had all claimed to be full after the B’stilla, we found room to finish every bite. Following our entrees, desert was served. Chebbakia is a thin, deep fried funnel cake drizzled with honey and topped with sesame seeds. There was enough for everyone to satisfy their sweet tooth without over indulging. With the chebbakia we were served Casablanca’s house blend tea. A combination of mint tea, simple syrup, and orange flower water, it was the perfect ending to our meal. As we sipped our tea, we were cleansed with another hand washing, this time with fragrant orange blossom water, which was then sprinkled on our head. Fully sated and smelling divine, we waddled out the door, wondering aloud how many calories belly dancing could burn.

5 Saffron Threads
1 1/2 lb. Chicken Breast, boneless, skinless
Salt and Pepper
1 ½ tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Jalapeños, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Cumin, ground
1/2 tsp. Ginger, ground
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 c. Sherry
1 c. Chicken Broth
1 c. water
3 Eggs
2 tbsp. Italian Parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 c. Almonds, toasted
Cooking Spray
1 oz. package thawed Phyllo Sheets
Powdered Sugar to cover

Pre-heat oven to 375In a dry skillet toast the saffron over low heat for 1 minute. Remove the saffron from the pan and crumble it.
Salt and pepper the chicken thighs. Add the olive oil to the pan and cook the chicken thighs over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes each side. Remove the thighs from the pan. Once cool enough to handle, chop the chicken into a small dice and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, ginger, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the pan, and stir for a minute or two, or until fragrant. Return the chicken to the pan. Add sherry and deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Add chicken broth and water and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the chicken and keep warm.
Reduce the remaining cooking liquid in to 1/2 cup and remove from heat. In a separate saucepan, whisk the eggs. Temper the eggs by adding ¼ c. of the cooking liquid, a drizzle at a time, whisking constantly. Add the remaining cooking liquid and cook over low heat until the eggs begin to solidify. Add the parsley, cilantro, and chicken. Remove from heat and let cool. Cover with powdered sugar to taste.
Crush almonds in a food processor.
Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Open the phyllo. While you work with one sheet of phyllo at a time, keep the rest of the phyllo covered with a sheet of wax paper topped with a damp towel. Place the first sheet on a cutting board and spray with cooking spray. Fold in half and spray again. Repeat with 1/2 the remaining phyllo sheets, placing each new sheet crosswise on the previous one to form a star pattern. When done, lift all the folded sheets into the cake pan, and press the excess up the sides of the pan. Coat the sheets with the ground almonds and top with the chicken mixture. Spray the last ½ of the phyllo sheets in the same manner as before, but fold all the sheets into quarters, again laying each sheet atop the previous one in a crosswise pattern to form a star. Place on top of the chicken mixture, and fold the excess from the bottom sheets over the top to seal.
Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Cover with powdered sugar.
March 5, 2006
Waking up the morning after the luau was like crawling out from under a steamroller. If I’d had even a drop to drink, I’d never have made it to the 9am Dolphin Excursion Cruise. Upon arrival at Waianae Boat Harbor, I found the rest of the group nursing various stages of hangover. The first hour on the 20-person zodiac confirmed that we weren’t going to see much more whale than the flukes, and we veered off to find some dolphins. A few moments later we were surrounded. Dozens upon dozens of spinners were soon playing and spinning all around the boat. Eventually they abandoned us, and it was time to find the perfect snorkel spot.

We anchored off Makaha Beach, and from the boat watched the Big Kahuna Surf Contest, “The Biggest Surf Contest in the World.” Each competing surfer weighed in at over 300 lbs! As the snorkelers dove in, they announced that the water was bitter freezer cold, which was all I needed to hear to stay on the boat. The captain’s matey circled the snorkelers on a surfboard to keep them out of trouble. I enjoyed the view from the zodiac. As I watched, the surfers started swimming in for what I presumed to be a break in the contest.

At that point, the captain’s phone rang. “Oh, yah?” he said into the phone, “Ohh, d’as why dey pull ‘em all out? Maybe he jus’ come by for one Budweiser.” He hung up the phone and called to his matey, “Bring ‘em in, and stay behind em.” “Is there a problem, captain?” I inquired. “Nah,” he said, “jus’ time to come in.”

The following mornings paper revealed that a 12-foot tiger shark had been spotted lurking Makaha Beach the day before, keeping a low profile between the surfers and the snorkelers. Tiger sharks, for those who don’t know, are fierce predators that will eat just about anything. One Budweiser, my a**.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

March 4, 2006

Some Pig!
At 10 am, Kenny, Kim, and I marched out our doors and straight to the pig. It was Luau day! 75 people were expected at 6pm, all anticipating roast pig. In addition to the pig, I was making traditional luau fare: lomi-lomi salmon, poi, chicken long rice, and scallop luau. We were going to have a feast. First priority, however, was the pig.

After draining the last of the ice water and strongly advising Kim to clean her tub, Kenny and I wrapped the pig in a large beach towel and lugged it back down the stairs. There awaited the above ground imu. The directions were simple, season the pig, place him in the vice-like rack cut side up, and put the cover on the imu. Charcoal would go on a grid on top of the cover, and the convection heat would cook the pig. After a brief “how much salt is too much” conversation with Kenny, (there is no such thing), we seasoned the pig with pepper, liquid smoke, and a Hawaiian Kiawe-Wood Smoked Salt Blend. We were ready to start the fire.

Sixteen pounds of charcoal got the fire started. The directions called for an additional 16 pounds every hour for the next two hours. The directions also called for a 100 lb pig, split. We had a split of pig that weighed 100 lbs. In other words, our pig was as thick as a 200 lb pig. In addition to the facts, I also had the long held belief that directions were meant to be ignored. Instead of 16 lbs of charcoal every hour, I added 20 lbs of charcoal every time I felt like it. While the pig was cooking, I got busy on the side dishes.

After 4 hours, Walter wandered over and offered to help check the pig. We carefully lifting the hot coals, and in went the thermometer. The temperature confirmed that the pig needed more time. An hour later, we checked again. It was time to turn the pig and roast the crackling. We turned, we re-coaled, and we waited.

As the guests streamed in, pig excitement grew. None of us had attempted cooking 100 lbs of pig before! At 6:00, the crackling had crackled to perfection, and the pig, at last, was done. As it rested, Kim led a steady stream of admirers by to “ooh”, “ahh”, and snap photos. Finally, it was time to carve.

I carved off the leg while Walter tackled the ribs. As we carved, guests couldn’t resist sneaking up behind us and stealing little pieces of pig. No amount of waving our dangerously sharp Shun knives could stop them. As a diversionary tactic, Walter cleverly re-focused his attention to the fabulously crispy crackling. Soon, a platter was piled high. The men were separated from the boys as Kim made the offerings. They either knew what, and how incredible, crackling was, or they didn’t, and didn’t want to. No time was spent trying to sway the nay-sayers. All the more for us men.

Late into the evening the luau raged on. People munched on pig, slurped chicken long rice, and scooped poi and lomi-lomi salmon with their fingers. The wine, of course, flowed. And with it, inhibitions.

Mark the Mad Frenchman insulted Lysa so badly she slapped the bowl of his wineglass clean off, leaving him with just the stem, and madder still. Not to be outdone, Kim quickly tossed her glass on the floor, creating a second spill and more excitement in the exact same location. Lysa countered by throwing her wine at Vicki’s white pants, forcing Vicki to make the attractive fashion statement of wearing one pant leg down and one rolled above her knee. Just as people were suggested re-lighting the coals, charring the carcass, and tossing it in the bay, I decided my work here was done.

It was a very fun party. And it sure was some pig.
The Wrath of Pele
March 3, 2006

Like many cultures, Hawaii has its share of superstitions, and Hawaiians take their lore seriously. It is hard for a week to go by when you don’t hear some reference to the Hawaiian Gods, or Ghosts, and how they have affected any given person or event. Occasionally we non-locals find the lore seeping into our own existences. The stories are old and varied. In addition to Night Marchers who kill you by making eye contact, the Fire Goddess Pele Dressed As An Old Woman, who will curse you if you don’t stop to help her, and Every Lava Rock Has a Soul, which will cause you bad luck if you remove it from the island, there is the curse of Taking Pork Over The Pali. (cliff). Every local I have ever met can tell a true story about their uncle’s sister-in-law’s next-door neighbor’s third son’s girlfriend who forgetfully drove over the Pali with her leftover ham sandwich from lunch only to have her car stall right as she was entering the tunnel at the peak of the Pali. Once said girlfriend remembers the sandwich, she throws it out the window, and miraculously her car starts right up again.

Now, there are Hawaiian superstitions I would never dream of messing with. I would never, for example, insult or mock Pele, and I would avoid anyone who did. I would never in a million years take a piece of lava rock from the volcanoes, and have advised others the same. In driving a 100 lb dead, split, fully-headed pig over the Pali, however, I may have pushed my luck. I didn’t have any car problems, but shortly after I crossed it, the Pali was closed due to monstrous waterfalls that suddenly decided to pour across it. And I almost immediately became ill with a nasty cold that has yet to leave me. Lastly, the head of the pig mysteriously appeared in a cooler on my lanai, where is stayed, fermenting in the hot sun, for over a week…Coincidence? Or Not???

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

March 3, 2006

Harmony with Ham and Hotel
Once again, clever Jen has come through in a pinch. Turns out she knows a guy who knows a guy who’s got, not one, but six pig guys!

Standing in the rain at the Maunakea Marketplace, I was carefully scrutinized by Norma, of Norma’s Oahu Meats and Fowl. Finally, she spoke. “Jus’ you?” she asked. My confirmation sent her into a rant in Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and Korean. At least that’s what it sounded like to me.

Several mournful looks, the pitiful cry of “no-one told me”, and a check for $250 convinced her to ask her old Uncle Benny if he would help me carry the pig. Not a day under 80, Uncle looked more like he would need my help than the other way around. Into the freezer we went, and after a few moments of hunting, out we came with 100 lbs of un-boxed, unwrapped, very dead pig. Split down the middle with the head still attached, rigor had long since passed and as a result the pig was, well, very bendy.

The rain increased as Uncle and I lugged the uncooperative pig to my car. Not the usual soft, gentle, warm Hawaiian rain that is easily ignored. This was the hard, violent, cold Hawaiian rain that meant flooding and general bad news all around. At my car, Uncle expressed (in the same combination of languages as his niece) surprise that I would come to pick up a pig without a container to put it in. I expressed (in a combination of English, body language, babble, and ridiculous giggles), that I was equally surprised to pick up a pig that had no form of packaging. Fortunately, I had a couple of garbage bags to spread over the back of my car. Unfortunately, I did not have enough to actually cover the pig.

The rain now torrential, I made my way over the Koolau Mountains home. With traffic moving at 15 miles per hour and the radio announcing increasing road closures, I was ever conscious that in the event of a fender bender, I had a great big dead pig in the back of my car to explain.

One and ½ hours later I arrived home. Pulling into the parking lot, I spied Tammy and Kenny watching 2-year-old Gunner splash in the puddles. “Come check out my big dead pig!” I shouted. As Tammy and Kenny admired my prize, Gunner pointed, smiled, and voiced what we all were thinking, “Mmmmm.” That is one wise 2 year old.

Noticing the pigs flexibility, Kenny wondered how I planned to get the it into it’s home for the night: Kim’s bathtub. I had planned on the “everyone grab a leg and lug” method, but a quick inspection of the pig proved that the legs were far too slippery for that plan to work. Sensing a chance to prove manhood (and admitting that he had not yet showered), Kenny hoisted the pig around his shoulders, carried it up the stairs, and dumped it in the tub. We, the womenfolk, were duly impressed. After injecting the pig with brine and covering it with 80 pounds of ice, the pig was done for the night.
Meanwhile, back in the parking lot, Sarah was unloading home furnishings from Kim’s open Jeep into my pig-free car. Seems we had a cheap hotel room emergency.

Kim’s mom, her finance, and several of their friends were flying in that night for a week of celebration culminating in Kim’s moms wedding. Kim had checked the friends into a hotel not too far from home. When she went to pick up keys and leave welcome baskets, she discovered that the room better resemble a crime scene that a Hawaiian paradise. The solution? Race to Ross Dress For Less, buy a bunch of cheap home furnishings, and re-decorate the room.

We walked into a room so dismal, we wouldn’t have let the pig sleep there. Stained linens and blankets covered the beds, the floor featured ripped carpet and dirt, and the walls were decorated with nails, but not pictures. Quickly, we got to work.

Sarah re-made beds and covered couches with new linens,
I positioned vases filled with flowers and sweetly scented candles, and Kim hung newly purchased pictures on the walls. An hour later, the room had transitioned from “CSI” to Danno’s suite in “5-O”.

As Kim and Sarah poured wine, I sighed with contentment. Another day, another job well done.

Friday, March 03, 2006

March 2, 2006
“Just ask for Tomai’s”

On the advice our local friend Naoki, Kim, Sarah, and I continued our search for a pig. We drove north to the town of Kahalu‘u, and, following Naoki’s directions, searched for the “the pig farm behind the high school.” We could find neither. Finding only an elementary school, and ignoring Sarah’s suggestion that we stop at the local fire department, (“they’ll know where all the pigs are!”), we instead plunged further into Kahalu‘u hoping to magically stumble across a bunch of pigs. After realizing that it was more likely we would magically stumble across a crystal-meth lab, we decided to ask to ask for directions. We were encouraged by the following conversation with a young woman we saw in her driveway:

Me: Excuse me, can you tell me where the high school is?

Women: High School? Ohh, we don’t have a high school.

Me: Oh. Do you happen to know where we can find a pig farm?

Woman: Pig farm? Ohh, noo, I don’t know where there is a pig farm. What are you looking for?

Me: A friend told us that we could find a luau pig at the pig farm behind the high school.

Woman: Ohh. Noo. I don’t know where that is.

Kim: He said there was a place called Tomai’s.

Woman: Oh? Tomai’s? Oh yeahyeah, that’s a pig farm behind the elementary school! I didn’t know you meant Tomai’s! Go down that road, and turn left at the fire department!

Through Sarah’s “I told you so’s”, we were off.

Arriving at Tomai’s, however, we were met with disappointment. Mr. Tomai was out of 100 lb pigs.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Just Say No
Mar. 1, 2006

After a suggestion by our marriage counselor, my husband and I decided not to drink alcohol for the month of March. This could be a bit tricky, given that my husband is spending a week in Las Vegas, and I am participating in no fewer than 8 parties being thrown in celebration of Kim’s mom’s wedding. Not to mention St. Patrick’s Day, on which my husband, myself, and everyone else in America is Irish. But, having committed to doing whatever the therapist advised, we are both in.

Boy am I bummed.

Shirley Temple
8 oz. 7-Up or Ginger Ale
1 oz. Grenadine syrup
1 sl. Orange
1 Red maraschino cherry

Mix soda and grenadine syrup. Serve in tall glass with straw, garnished with orange and maraschino. Sip. Curse your therapist.
Feb. 28, 2006

I am discouraged by the following conversation, which took place at the Waimanalo Feed Store:

Kim: I’m having a luau. Do you know where I can buy a 100 lb pig?

First Sales Guy: Pig, eh? Used to be, you could drive around here and see signs.

Second Sales Guy: Yeah.

First Sales Guy: Not so much, now.

Second Sales Guy: No.

First Sales Guy: What was that guy - Frank, yeah? He had pigs.

Second Sales Guy: Yeah.

First Sales Guy: Haven't seen him around so much.

Second Sales Guy: No.

First Sales Guy: Think he's dead.

Second Sales Guy: Oh. Really?

First Sales Guy: Yeah.

First Sales Guy: There's that place, that has those pigs.

Second Sales Guy: Yeah, but.

First Sales Guy: Yeah, but they're those pot-bellied pigs. Y'know, pets.

Second Sales Guy: Yeah.

First Sales Guy: Still good eatin', though.

Second Sales Guy: Yeah.

First Sales Guy: But they won't sell'em.

Second Sales Guy: No.