Sunday, February 24, 2013

Green Pie at the Grow Hawaiian Festival

This weekend we enjoyed the Grow Hawaiian Festival held at the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Gardens. In addition to enjoying the garden itself, packed full of native and canoe plants, the festival hosted lei making, poi pounding, plant identification booths, a seed exchange, and of course a recipe contest.

Lei making at the Grow Hawaiian Fest
The idea was to come up with a dish that included as many locally grown foods as possible. If you have hung around this blog for any length of time, you know that I'm WAY into growing, eating, and cooking with locally harvested goodies. The recipe exchange and contest was hosted by Feed Hawaii, an organization that supports food security.

Me with recipe contest prizes (fruit!)
Because there were only a few of us that entered the contest, we were all winners! The real prize was sharing our recipes and spreading the word that eating local matters. Particularly in Hawaii, where most people depend on shipped-in foods, and prices are extremely high because of it, we need to make an effort to buy local when we can.

And guess what? You don't need to have a garden and you don't need to shop at a farmer's market to achieve this goal. Everything in the recipe below was purchased at my local grocery store. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll see that there many locally grown and made items on offer at the store including produce, milk, cheese, tea, coffee, nuts, oil, and meats. Do the islands a favor and add a locally grown product to your grocery list, it's an easy way to preserve this land we love. End rant. See recipe below.

Big Island Green Pie

Big Island Green Pie
Serves 8 as an appetizer

·      2 pounds Big Island greens (I used a mix of spinach, kale, and taro leaves. You could also use chard or collards.)
·      2 island grown green onions
·      ½ cup island grown flat leaf parsley
·      5 oz Big Island goat cheese
·      2 farm fresh eggs
·      Salt & pepper to taste
·      1 package phyllo dough (not a local product)
·      1/3 cup olive oil (not a local product)

Preheat oven to 350. Steam veggies until just wilted, strain and squeeze to remove excess liquid. If using taro leaves, choose young ones and be sure to steam for at least 15 minutes to avoid itchy mouth when eating. Chop.

In a medium bowl add chopped greens, chopped green onion, chopped parsley, cheese, and slightly beaten eggs. Add salt & pepper to taste and stir to combine.

Oil an 8x8 inch baking dish. Cut 12 pieces of phyllo dough to fit dish, taking care to cover the dough as you’re working so it doesn’t dry out. Place one piece of phyllo down in the dish, and brush with oil. Repeat this until you have 6 layers.

Spread greens mixture evenly over layers. Layer 6 more phyllo sheets over the greens, taking care to oil each one.

Bake for 30-50 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Grilled Sweet and Sour Coleslaw with Fennel

I'm not teasing you. I'm not. I'M NOT. It's just that backyard barbecues are a normal thing around these parts, even in February. So if you are reading this from a colder part of the world, just think of the following recipe as something to put on your list for when warmer weather rolls back around.

To make this salad, you'll need to fire up the grill and hire a grill master.

You'll need a helper in the kitchen, too as you whip up the dressing.

A cold glass of lemonade topped with a fennel frond keeps the grill master cool and refreshed.

And an ocean view around sunset time won't hurt either.

Happy Sustainable Sunday! All components of this lovely meal were locally sourced: sausage from When Pigs Fly Island Charcuterie, cabbage from KTA, fennel from Keauhou Farmer's Market, lemons from the backyard, and sugar from Maui. Recipe for coleslaw is below.

Grilled Sweet and Sour Coleslaw with Fennel
serves 2-4 (This recipe can be easily doubled)

1/4 red cabbage
2 fennel bulbs with fronds attached
1 green onion
1 TBL olive oil
salt & pepper

For dressing:
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 TBL sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cut fennel bulbs in half length wise, remove and discard stems but keep and set aside fronds. Cabbage quarter should be in a wedge-like shape, see photo above. Brush all sides of veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place veggies on a hot grill for 3-4 minutes per side (just the 2 cut sides of the cabbage is fine) or until grill marks are present.

While the veggies are grilling, gather dressing ingredients and place in a small sauce pan over medium low heat for 4-5 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.

Chop green onion and about 1/2 cup of the fennel fronds and place in a salad bowl. Once they have cooled some, chop grilled veggies and add to bowl. Toss with dressing and served with some grilled sausages. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Waipio Valley's Edible Treasures

When we first moved to Hawaii in 2006 I wanted to go everywhere and see everything. We've traversed razor sharp lava rock roads, hiked barely visible trails, and splashed across slippery streams in search of some sort of hidden Hawaiian rainbow waterfall treasure. The thing about hidden Hawaiian rainbow waterfall treasures is that they'll be found when they're good and ready. You can go ahead and drive every back road and visit every beach but you'll never satiate your need to find the MOST special the MOST secret the MOST real Hawaiian experience of all time.

What draws us to Hawaii is the very thing that eludes us. Because the most special, secret, real Hawaiian experience of all time cannot be had by all. There is a sacredness here, and it is our responsibility, no matter who we are and where we come from, to honor that.

I spent the past weekend in a place called Waipio Valley on the island of Hawaii with a group of fellow teachers. For the past two years, I have been participating in a program called Kahua that has been specially designed for new teachers to help us implement culturally relevant teaching practices in our classrooms. Part of Kahua has been visiting and learning about significant places on the island. I had been looking forward to the Waipio trip for over a year as it is a very special place that few get the chance to experience.

We stayed on a taro (or kalo) farm tucked back from the beach, surrounded on all sides by fresh water streams and protected by the steep walls of the valley. Reaching the valley requires a very steep hike straight down the valley wall or a nervous car ride in a 4x4. 


The best part of the trip was gathering food for our dinner. Ho'i'o (in Japanese it is known as warabi, English is fern shoots) grows wild in massive boggy clumps that extend 8 feet or more upwards. Once you know how to spot a shoot, they are easy to gather. The shoots, when blanched, are similar in texture to asparagus and taste something like cucumber. If you can get your hands on some, try this Fern Shoot Salad

Next we collected tender, baby kalo leaves that also grow wild along the steam beds. These leaves must be boiled or steamed thoroughly to cook out the "itchiness" that you will get in your throat if you eat it raw or undercooked. When cooking, treat the leaves as you would collard greens.  We cooked ours with some beef and it was so delish. 

Although we didn't get a chance to eat any, the valley is covered in apple snails, an extremely invasive variety that is slowly destroying kalo crops. 

Gathering ong choy

Last, we harvested ong choy (or Chinese watercress) and stir-fried it with some pork. These treats were served with farm-grown poi, and steamed purple sweet potatoes. Who could ask for more? This was one the most special meals of my life by far. 

Returning home I felt re-inspired to gussy up my garden and re-committed to eating as many locally grown products as possible. The message I want to bring back to you after being so lucky as to enjoy this sacred place is that although I understand the need to seek out the best Hawaiian experience of all time, there are places that are better left alone. Tread lightly. 


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