Hawaiian food diary

You know, if we really want to become aware about our relationship with the planet, with the environment, and really provide food and water security for the children of the world, and ourselves, then each time we sit down and eat a meal or drink a glass of freshwater we need to ask these four questions: where did this come from? how did this get here? who or what made it? by eating and/or drinking this do I help the environment? 

If the answers are: store, truck, food processing facility and no, respectively, then something needs to change. Maybe go back a few generations to the way it used to be in regards to growing ones own food in backyard? 

If the answers are: forest behind our house, I foraged for it and brought a responsible portion of it here, nature made it or a local organic farmer co-created it and yes, then I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Real food. Minimally processed. Non-GMO. Organic. Wild. 

Digest that while I dissect these photos over the next little while and explain what we're eating from the backyard. 

Nene. No can eat. A protected Canadian goose that has adapted to the island. They sure do like to gobble mouthfuls of lettuce. Sustainably raised Nene foie gras will one day be on the menu. 

I can't hunt them since they're protected and all, so Rosa scared them off. Go eat the neighbors lettuce!

A good day in lettuce world. I'm starting to make sense of all the sayings the elder lettuce growers in town tell me. "When you got da lettuce, bring da lettuce, cuz it ain't always gonna be there." "When winter comes keep 'em high, when summer come keep 'em low." "What else are you growing, because you can't always rely on one kind."

One day, some day, I arrived at Hanai to meet Chef Adam Watten and drop off cilantro flowers, striped beets, watermelon radish, purple dragon carrots, young allspice leaf tips, ice cream beans and a frozen wild keiki pig I shot the week before. They we were preparing for a feast with Chef Michael Ruhlman... who has a good article here on his trip to Kauai.. http://ruhlman.com/2016/03/hawaii/.

Smoked overnight with guava then slow roasted overnight to give it a juicy taste.

Rosa wanted some of it on her pizza. Number 1 she says.

Gida gave her a slash of Parmesan since Rosita loves cheese.

Okay, Dada has to try now.

One of the first eaters at Hanai.

Then came the jam session.

Rocking out in the old drink cooler.

Back home. One other day. Grilling a slab of meat that my friend Tim from Oregon gifted me. He gave the cow red wine for a week before slaughtering it. Makes for a really tender bite.

100% from the Steelgrass garden salad.

More shots from around the farm.

This month we also donated a dozen avocado and dozen longan trees to Malama Kauai's School Garden Program. I've donated over 100 trees to Malama Kauai and the island kids have planted them at their schools... maybe years from now Rosa will be out at recess picking fruit from a tree she helped plant.

Phase 1 of the garlic operation. No Kauai garlic anywhere. I haven't seen it once since I first arrived in 2010. I hear stories of elephant garlic being grown, back in the day, but today, nada. I grew a few hardneck bulbs last year that were very spicy and delish, why not try growing 3,600 bulbs.. that's what were doing. So far so good. Some claim that garlic can't grow here because of the sunlight period. Garlic likes 14 hours of daylight during peak growth and Kauai gets around 12.5 hours. The story goes... the garlic gets confused here with the not long days in the summer and either rots or doesn't split into cloves, just remains one big bulb. If all I get are fat garlic greens and scapes, better than nothing.

I sanitize the garlic before going into the ground, because one other issue I hear is with the rainy season (where's the rain?) garlic will get soggy and rot. Every bit of negative growth I can remove before going into ground the better, because once it's in, it's in. If a speck of mold goes into the ground with it, it may get moldy. Don't want that.

The office.

Garlic seed.

Our current home.

Walk outside and there are wild pigs everywhere. If I have a piggy stored in the freezer then oddly enough I seem to never find or hit in the right spot other piggies when hunting. Once that piggy in the freezer is eaten, then usually a day or two after I'm given another one to fill the freezer again. The pigs I shoot usually are grubbing out, in their element and in the wide open in the darnest of all places. I spend hours at midnight under the full moon or days in the woods tracking, being eaten alive by bugs, only to give up and walk the trail back. Right when I'm ready to put the crossbow down, there he is, right where I started.

18 months later..

Tomatoes from Nannie.

Nasturtium flowers.

Strawberry papaya... the sweetest, reddish version of papaya.

Garlic teens.

Red hot mama carrots.

Earthworms mean progress.

In a half a year or a few moons later of that, we're going to have lots more cacao to harvest from kokoloa. That means lots more of the best chocolate grown and made in the United States. So few farmers grow cacao and Hawaii is the only place in USA that it can be grown. What also grows good here? Coffee.

What kind of guava is this? 

Mmm.. white guava, the sugariest of them all.

Thimble berry. I found a few wild bushes by the creek, next to where the big black monster boar baths in mud and cruises the forest as sunset. Not many berries grow well here. I've heard that black raspberries do okay, but never seen them at the farmers market or anywhere else. Berries tend to lose their sweetness and juiciness in this climate.

Red mizuna. Looks like ogo, a Hawaiian seaweed, but more colorful.

The land before time.

Billie's tomatoes in action. Going on at least 200 pear tomatoes and a few dozen of the Roma-like kind. Hamlet the piggy ate some of my food compost 6 months ago and pooped out a few seeds, those have now become lush miniature red cherry tomato plants.. giving up to 20 tomatoes a day. Hamlet is long gone in the woods of Kauai. His miracle of life remains.

Solar charging the MP3 player, which is really my radio talk box that keeps me entertained and educated some days. We live mostly off the grid and it feels good. The sun gives me energy to call the world.

A desert Rose and kalo in the background.

The office.

The dress code. Boots or slippas or bare feet.

Just the way it is.



 Ti leaf.

The flower above the shower. I shower outdoors using a solar water heater under these flowers and a whole bunch of ti leaf... it's rather healing.

Rosa's office.

The view from the back of her office.

The pencil holder bird nest.

A journey.

A marriage.

A song to celebrate this place and time.

This pic is hard to decipher, it's purple shiso microgreens surrounded by grass. 

Steelgrass Farm 2.0 (SGF 2). Root crop sector. 4 varieties of carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, potatoes and squash.. and maybe a few hundred Hawaiian chili plants.

Yeah, that's a lot of dirt. I'm stained red.

Avocado flowers.

The newly installed wind and shade break... made up of panax.

Watermelon radish. Looks and tastes nothing like a watermelon.


Baby lettuce. 4 days old. 70-80 days left before harvest and a lot can wrong before then.

This is what came of the piggy I shot a week ago. Rosa and I dug up every Okinawan sweet potato we could find in SGF 2.0 to accompany the smoked pig. At the end of each day I ask if our bellies are full of good stuff, if we are happy and if there's more to harvest tomorrow and then some. If the answers are yes, yes, yes.. then I say yes, today was good, tomorrow is another, time for bed.