Wiki Word: Keiki (and Our Favorite Keiki Hawaiian Book)

Wiki Word: Kei’ki (kay * kee)

Keiki means Kids! Children! The little rascals!

I have a little girl who just turned 3. She is my heart. I always knew I wanted keiki, but I didn’t know how deep love could be until she came into my life. Since I am (not so) mildly obsessed with Hawai’i, I wanted to make sure that we had a healthy library of Hawaiian books on hand. One of my favorite authors is Dr. Carolan. Dr. Carolan writes the stories and his wife creates the illustrations. Joanna Carolan owns two beautiful galleries (The Banana Patch Studio) that feature her work, as well as other local artists’ work, on the island of Kauai. The larger of the two galleries is located in Hanapepe.

We have been reading “Goodnight Hawaiian Moon” to our daughter since she was only a few months old. We all know it by heart now. Want to teach your keiki how to count to ten in Hawaiian? The Carolan duo also have a book out called “Ten Days In Hawaii”  – my daughter loves to “match” the animals from Goodnight Hawaiian Moon and Ten Days In Hawaii, because a few of the illustrations have similarities.

“It’s time for bed in our little grass shack. The sky outside is turning black. The tiki torches are burning bright and the Hawaiian moon is full tonight…..”

Until next time…Aloha kākou

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The Aloha Spirit in Kaui Hemmings’ Words

One of my favorite books and movies is “The Descendants.”

This essay written by the author of “The Descendants” is a great mini escape to the beautiful Hawaiian islands and gives a valuable perspective into why Hawaii is so wonderful. Truly encapsulates the phrase “aloha spirit” and reaffirms why I want to one day make this place my home.

Take a moment to read what she has to say…

http://www.sunset.com/travel/hawaii-mexico/aloha-secrets-00418000080534/

Wiki Word: Mahalo (and a digression into agricultural inspections)

Ma’ha’lo (Ma as in ‘Mama’, Ha as in ‘Haha’, Lo as in ‘how LOW can you go’)

It’s not pronounced “My hālo” like Jack McBrayer from “Thirty Rock” says in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”

Mahalo means Thank you. A term of gratitude.

 This one is relatively well known if you’ve ever traveled to Hawaii. They say it to you before you even get there while on the flight over. Love flights to Hawaii – they really help get you in the aloha “mood” with POG (Passion Orange Guava) juice and the leis, videos themed with Hawaiian scenery…Some flights even give your kids Hawaiian themed activity pamphlets (Alaska Airlines). Gotta love filling out the agricultural forms and inspections, too… 😛

Since we’re on the topic of flights to/from Hawaii – just a reminder that you can’t take any vegetation (except the pre-approved fruits and veggies and plants) on your flights to/from the islands. However, if you take peeled, seeded and cut up fruit, you’ll be okay. I overheard one of the agricultural security people telling the people in front of us that helpful tip. So if you buy a lovely pineapple or mango, just cut it up and put it in a container and you’re safe from having it confiscated! In case you wanted more information on the agriculture inspection process, here’s a link.

 Mahalo for reading this blog!

 Until next time…Aloha kākou

Island Beverages: The Lava Flow

SONY DSCI know most people associate the Mai Tai with Hawaiian / tropical vacations, but I associate Lava Flows with Hawaiian vacations. I really like Lava Flows anytime, but they taste so much better when I drink them in Hawaii. This drink is essentially a coconutty, strawberry rum slushy. Dangerous – because it’s so fruity and non-alcoholic tasting – the alcohol just sneaks up on you without a lot of warning.

Here’s a recipe I found online. Not all of the ingredients are easy to come by on the mainland – I’m not sure where you find coconut cream. So I made a few modifications to the original recipe. The original recipe calls for 1 small banana. I choose to omit this ingredient because I find that banana tends to overpower pretty much any fruit smoothie or drink.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. Malibu® coconut rum
  • 2 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 small banana (optional)
  • 2 oz. 100% pineapple juice or crushed pineapple
  • 2 oz. coconut milk

Preparation:

Blend the 2 rums and the strawberries in a blender to form a smooth paste. Pour this mixture into a tall glass. Rinse the blender. Blend the banana (optional), the coconut cream, and the pineapple juice in blender with crushed ice until smooth. Pour this mixture into the glass with the rums very slowly and watch as the strawberry mixture oozes its way to the top along the sides of the glass creating the flowing lava effect.

Now it’s time to close your eyes, imagine the sound of the waves crashing against the Hawaiian beach of your choosing and the wind rustling through the palm trees. Preferably do this outside with the sun shining on you. Take a sip and enjoy the moment. *sigh*

Until next time…Aloha kākou

Island Snacks & Treats – Kakimochi, Shredded Ika and Li Hing Mui

Snacks and treats are in vast abundance when you visit Hawai’i. The choices are endless! We mail home at least one box of snacks when we are on the islands and basically eat our way through the entire trip.

One of my favorites is the Enjoy line of snacks. This is a great option for omiyage (Japanese custom of bringing gifts to those you visit or to bring back home to friends and family from places you visit) because it is unique to Hawai’i, relatively lightweight (doesn’t add too much to your checked luggage weight limits) and reasonably inexpensive. These snacks are also easy to find at any ABC Store, Walmart, Costco, Don Quixote, Foodland, etc. on any of the islands.

 They carry a huge variety ranging across the full spectrum of exotic (li hing pickled plums and ika (dried shredded cuttlefish) to slightly exotic (I was going to say traditional, but realized that if you didn’t grow up eating a lot of this stuff, it’s probably not traditional…for example,  kakimochi (rice crackers) and wasabi peas.

Here are a few of my favorites:

miniyakko Mini Yakko and Mini Nori Maki: These are my favorites of their snacks. Tiny crunchy pillows of kakimochi (rice cracker) goodness. Perfectly bite sized (makes a great toddler snack, btw). For those not familiar with these delightful crunchy treats they are baked treats made from rice and coated in a soy sauce based glaze. The Mini Nori Maki is shaped like a tootsie roll and wrapped in nori (dried seaweed). I would eat the regular nori maki by the bag as a kid. What makes the Enjoy version of these snacks particularly unique is that they are MINIATURE versions of the regular kakimochi.  This essentially means you get more flavor and more crunch and more yummy goodness per piece! (Just so you know, I attempted to be more scientific / mathematical with my explanation, but I got too excited at the prospect of how yummy this stuff is and opted to just be excited without trying to pretend I know what I’m talking about regarding math and science.)

 Shredded Ika:ika My daughter, my cats and I all love the shredded ika (dried cuttlefish). I’m pretty sure they sell a variety of this specifically for cats in the pet stores. I will be the first to admit that it SMELLS like seafood (open the bag and the cats come running). I grew up eating this and I love it. My husband, on the other hand, does not. I would venture to say that this is an acquired taste. But stepping back to the basics for a moment – basically, a cuttlefish is a sea creature in the same family as octopus and squid.  This is a chewy, salty, slightly sweet seafood flavored treat. Think calamari, but very chewy with a stronger flavor profile.

 Li Hing Snacks: They also carry a variety of items that are coated in li hing mui powder. What is li hing? It’s a dried salted plum. Just thinking about the flavor of li hing is making my mouth water. It’s a salty, sour, yet sweet flavor . I can’t really put it into words – it’s not just a flavor, but a sensation. It is definitely a unique flavor profile. They put this stuff on EVERYTHING. Candies, dried fruits, nuts… Quite popular  amongst the locals (and wannabe locals such as myself). It is a fruit – there’s nothing to be scared of (it isn’t something weird like dried cuttlefish after all) –  so try it!

Li Hing Mui Gummi Bears

Photo courtesy of http://alikonacoffee.tumblr.com 

My mom told me about a crackseed shop located in the Ala Moana Shopping Center, but sadly, we couldn’t find it. Yes. I said CRACKSEED. My mind went to not so snacky thoughts the first time she said it, but we won’t go there… Crackseed is a term used to describe all of the crackers, nuts and snack food items such as those written about above. It might as well be its own food group if you ask me. These are supposedly quite common in Asian countries (particularly Japan and Taiwan). During my research for this post, I came across the Crackseed Center website. They DO exist! This has been added to the must visit list for my next trip. Perusing the site has made me hungry for crack. seed…. Snacks….arare… li hing gummies….

 Until next time…Aloha kākou

Wiki Word: Aloha

Pronunciation: Ah (ah! What a great idea!) lo (how low can you go) ha (haha! You are so funny)

I thought this would be one of the easiest words to write about, but it has turned out that it is quite challenging to put in to words just what Aloha means. Aloha is more than just a hello or a goodbye. It’s a feeling or a state of mind. The aloha spirit.

Sure you can use it in the common way and say Aloha as a greeting, but it’s a soul-warming phrase that words cannot sufficiently describe.

And with that, I end my inaugural post.

Aloha kākou

Koloa, Kauai