Homemade Avocado Oil

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He did it!  For weeks my husband has been researching how to make avocado oil, and which oil press we would need to accomplish this goal.  We had a ton of avocados ready for the task.  After much research, we ended up purchasing the Welles Juice Press.

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The Welles Juice Press.  Bags of dried avocado are put on the little shelf in the middle.  You then hand crank the press until the oil is released.  The oil comes out of the shelf right above the handle.  The handle is off to the side, so you put a bowl under to catch the oil.

 

Making avocado oil is an unusual process.  To begin with, we scooped out the avocado flesh of all of the above avocados (the blue tub above), as well as two additional bags of avocados. We scooped them into food grade buckets.  We filled 3 five gallon buckets full of avocado meat.  Then this was blended into a very creamy texture, no lumps, it wasn’t guacamole.  After it was thoroughly blended, this was spread on sheets of parchment, wax paper, and aluminum foil in our dry racks. They were spread kind of like icing on a cake, not too thick.  We didn’t know which paper would be the best for this, hence the three different types.  We learned that parchment is the best.  The wax paper didn’t hold the avocado well, it leaked through.  The aluminum foil was okay, but it took longer to dry.

Then the avocado mixture was dried.  We put it in our dry house, it only took a couple of days.  Yes, it got dark looking and a little unappetizing if I may say so, BUT you could actually see the oil leaching out at this point.  The dried avocado was then broken up and placed into little cloth bags.  The bags where place in the juice press and slowly compressed until the oil was released.  The oil collected then went through another funnel with cheese cloth to further filter it.

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bags used to put dried avocado in

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A different angle so you can see the process better.   I will say the bag doesn’t hold a ton of dried avocado, so it takes awhile to do.  You do, however, get a lot of oil out of a little bit of avocado.

Avocado oil is really healthy.  It is one of the few oils that is made with the flesh and not the seed of the fruit.  It has an extremely high smoke point making it exceptionally good for frying.  I have to say it’s very tasty as well, so it’s great on salads.  Last night I made a caprese salad and poured on the oil with a little balsalmic vinegar, it was excellent.

Not only is it great for cooking but its good cosmetically.  I just bought bunch of soap making equipment, and am going to try to make some avocado oil soap.  It supposedly makes really creamy and lathery soap.  Crossing fingers, soap making is a little tricky, but I think I can do it.

There were lots of videos on-line on how to make the oil, so that’s where we learned.  This one lady hand squeezed the dried avocado through cheese cloth.  That works, but I’m not sure I want to consume someone else hand squeezed oil.  I’m sure the woman who did that had really nice hands though.  That oil is great for the skin.

What’s great about making your own oil is that you know where it comes from.  I was listening to NPR the other day and they had a segment on olive oil.  Most olive oils we purchase in the store are made commercially and olives are collected from many different places.  You lose the taste of the olive when it’s done this way, and there is no control of how the olives are grown or processed.  It’s nice to know that we have fresh, organic oil made from our very own avocados.  That is what living a sustainable lifestyle is all about.  We’re still quite a ways away from being completely sustainable, but we’re learning little by little, and that’s exciting.

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‘Olena

I wrote about ‘olena or turmeric almost exactly a year ago.  We had just harvested some along with ginger and were processing it.  And now a year later, here we are doing it again.  So I’d say late January is the season for digging it up.  You can tell when it’s time to dig up the root because the leaves of the plant start to brown and die.  The ‘olena this year is particularly orange.

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I did a little more research on this wonderful little root.  Like breadfruit, it is a canoe plant, one of about two dozen or so plants brought to Hawaii by early Polynesians voyaging across the ocean in canoes.   Surprisingly is it rarely found in the Islands today. I think this is starting to change, however, because I see it frequently in our local farmer’s market.  It’s also fairly easy to grow and can be found at elevations as high as 3000 feet.  Our farm is at around 700 feet above sea level.  It tends to prefer shade, but we have ours growing in almost full sun.  It is also able to tolerate heat well.

 

‘Olena means yellow in Hawaiian.  It was traditionally used as a dye to color tapa cloth.  In our home, we grow it primarily to use as a seasoning and for use in smoothies and in golden milk.  The root is used medicinally, and it will be included as part of my medicinal garden.  It has been used to treat consumption, tuberculosis, bronchitis, colds, earaches, sinus congestion, joint paint, arthritis, infections, and asthma.  It is known to enhance the immune system, and is known well for its anti-inflammatory properties.  I drink golden milk at night when my muscles are achy or I’ve worked out particularly hard.  It also helps me sleep better.  There are many recipes on-line for golden milk.  You can use almost any kind of milk; I typically use soy or coconut milk.  It also includes black pepper and honey, some people add cinnamon. To get the maximum benefit from turmeric it is important to pair it with black pepper.  Black pepper improves turmeric’s bioavailability or in short, how your body absorbs this  food nutritionally.  Use about 1/2 a teaspoon of ground pepper for every 1/4 cup of turmeric.  I keep a jar of it by my stove premixed.  We toss it into stir fry, rice, eggs, and soups.  Be creative, the more you use, the stronger the taste.

Hawaiians used it ceremonially as a purifier.  It is believed to contain much mana, or divine power.  Crushed ‘olena pieces were combined with salt water and were sprinkled around homes or around people who were sick in an effort to remove negative influences.  The sprinkling of this preparation was done along with prayers or chants.

My sister-in-law and I prepped about 3/4 of the basket above for boiling.  Once boiled, we will cool it, cut it in small pieces, and dry it.  When dry, it will be ground into a powder.  We will get about a gallon of dry turmeric out of the basket you see above.  It’s quite the process, not difficult, but time consuming.  In powder form, the turmeric keeps well in a glass jar.  We still have some left from last year, although we’re almost out of it.  Just time, for this new batch.

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black raspberry scones with brown sugar glazed water apple

Today was a bit of a lazy day.   I made scones this morning before we headed out to our local farmer’s market.  Each week they have an informational session.  It could be about planting landscape gardens, how to make fermented foods, or how rain is absorbed in different landcover.  Today the lesson was about making reusable bags out of old feed bags.  This was a no-sew bag using duct tape.  See my bag below!!

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I feel completely accomplished!

Rainy day weekends

We had a lot to do in the garden this weekend.  I wanted to get started on my herb/medicinal garden, but the weather had other plans for us.  I did get all the laundry, vacuuming, mopping, and other household chores done.  I even managed to wash a few windows … just a few, I HATE doing windows.  I also spent the day replacing almost 3 years of blog pictures that suddenly went missing.  I’m not sure why or how, but most of my pictures simply disappeared and in its place was a small white box with a question mark.  So for those of you new to my blog or those who are looking through old posts, I’m getting there.  It’s been extremely time consuming, but I’m 3/4 of the way done.

So what’s happening around the farm.  EGGS, lots of eggs.

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The chickens have been quite busy.  During a reprieve in the rain, I collected almost 3 dozen eggs today (I was shy one egg).  We just started to get some blue ones again.  I’m not sure if this is from one of the new chickens or one of the old chickens coming off her winter break.   They’re long and skinny.  Our polish chickens who weren’t supposed to be good layers are GREAT layers.  They started laying during the coldest part of our Hawai’i winter when most of the chickens were taking a break.

We also have a lot of black raspberries right now.  They’re so sweet and fat.

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Our nectarine tree has about a dozen fruit on it.  Nectarines don’t typically grow at our elevation or climate.  It needs something cooler.  But we bought a low chill variety, and we had some pretty cold nights during this winter, so I think that’s why we are seeing this many fruit.  Granted 12 fruit on one tree isn’t a lot, but it’s the most we’ve ever had.

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We also had one, yep one, plum.  I touched it and it fell off the tree.  It was super small, but I still split it with my husband.  It was actually pretty good.

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Our white mountain apple has a lot of flowers on it.  We’ll get a nice yield this year.

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Our jaboticaba is flowering as well.  I ate the one berry on the tree (see left top of picture); for some reason there was no seed in it.

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And finally, our little Bailey is growing quickly.  She now weight 19.7 pounds.  The vet thinks she’ll be around 60 pounds.  It’s a little bigger than we thought she’d get.  She’s a little sweetheart around us, but she knows how to hold her ground if she gets picked on by the other dogs.  One of her ears has gone up, like a heeler dog usually does, but the other ear … well not so much.  She’s looking a little lopsided, but still adorable.

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Pineapple, coffee, missile warning, medicinals herbs … missile warning???!

What a crazy weekend this turned out to be.  For those not from here, the national news minimally covered the missile scare in Hawaii.  So to quickly summarize, on Saturday at 8:07 a.m. we (we being people in Hawaii who have cells phones) received a warning text to our phones stating that there was an incoming missile, take shelter, this was not a test. The warnings subsequently came on the radio and on the television.  Hawaii has been preparing for such an event for months.  We get updates at work, and there is information in our newspapers regarding how we should prepare in the event this occurs.  Our sirens have been changed to include a new sound to indicate a missile strike. We’ve also been informed it would take 12 -15 minutes for a missile to strike us once launched.  To be clear it is a nuclear missile from North Korea that we are preparing for.  When that message came blaring across our phones, there was no reason to doubt it.  29 minutes later I got a text saying that there was no missile, it was a false alarm.  Talk about scary?! I really cannot verbalize adequately those 29 minutes, but it was bad. I had a lot of things planned for this past weekend, but the rest of Saturday was spent decompressing, and accessing my life.  Seriously, it was a life contemplating experience. I’m still a little shaken, and the family members I was able to reach during that period were left shaken as well.

IMG_0776.JPGHomework!

So Saturday afternoon after I felt a little better, I decided it was time to get to work on my medicinal herb garden. My daughter and I had recently visited the used book store in Kona and I bought some books on the topic.  I also have a few books on Hawaii medicinal herbs.  I went on-line to Baker Creek Seeds, a really good source of organic products, and purchased a number of seeds to start this garden. I took my hubby out, and showed him the spot I wanted to utilize for this purpose.  He’s all in.  I’m going to need some help with fencing, but hopefully I can do most of the planting myself.

IMG_0775.JPGThis is the spot (the before)

It’s right next to the piece of property my husband is preparing for more pineapple.  I’ll start the seeds in containers first.  I’m going to carefully document what I’m growing and what they are utilized for.  I haven’t quite decided how to organize the garden.  I’ll probably have a native section of just Hawaiian medicinals, but I’m thinking about organizing them in sections according to health, i.e., skin issues, stomach issues, etc.  We’ll see; I need to do a little research and get some inspiration in order to make this a really special spot.  I also need to research the Hawaii medicinals better, and find a resource for those plants.  I’m very excited about this area.

In addition to the medicinals, we’re starting a whole new section dedicated to just white pineapple.

IMG_0773.jpgThe new pineapple patch

If you’ve never had white pineapple, you’re missing a special treat.  You know how sometimes when you eat pineapple, it kind of burns your tongue a bit. The reason is does this is because it contains bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein.  I know this sounds bad, but it actually dissolves protein, so it’s literally eating at your tongue.  Your tongue produces new cells so quickly, that feeling goes away very fast once you stop eating the pineapple. White pineapple doesn’t do this.  I tried to find out why, and couldn’t locate any information.  But my guess is that it contains less bromelain.  Also known as sugar loaf, these pineapples are just the sweetest. It’s the only kind of pineapple we grow on our property.  In addition to just eating them fresh or putting them in smoothies, we also dry them and make a liqueur with the fruit.  My husband prepared the land today, and soon we’ll be planting the slips.  It takes about 1 1/2 years for us to get pineapples off the slips. Slips come out of the bottom of the pineapple after it’s done growing. Some people grow pineapple straight from the tops.  There is debate about what makes a better pineapple.  The tops take longer to grow, about 2 years.  We’ve found that tops produce smaller inferior tasting pineapples.  Others will argue the opposite.  But on our property, the best pineapple come from the slips. We have a few patches of pineapples already and get a nice yield, but we love them so much we wanted more.  It’s also one of the crops we sell.

Today, I picked the last of this yield of coffee. We do have some new flowers and beans on some of the trees, so we’re not completely done. It’ll be awhile before those are ready to pick, so for about a month or so, we have a reprieve from picking coffee!!! Yeah!!

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Otis swimming with ducks

It’s been a warm few days, so we’ve enjoyed the pool. We have no idea why, but recently the ducks have been coming up to swim. UGH!! They’ve got 5 ponds they can swim in down in the garden, and they come up to use ours??? Otis was NO help at all. On one level we’re glad he’s not chasing/killing ducks, but swimming with them? Otis, help us out buddy.

Holidays are over, guests are gone, and our daughter is back in school on the mainland. Things are quieter, but still busy, just a different kind of busy. Farm busy.

Kabocha Squash

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Kabocha squash, which also known as Kabocha pumpkin or Japanese pumpkin, is a common squash seen here in Hawaii.  It’s also confused a lot with kombucha which is a totally different thing.

Kabocha is shaped like a pumpkin and has the consistency and taste of butternut squash, although it’s a bit sweeter. It is super easy to grow which makes it ideal for the Hawaii gardener. You just need a little space so it can spread.

IMG_1227.JPGOur kabocha patch under a mango tree
Although technically considered a fall/winter squash, we grow it year round. This squash is very resistant to bugs, and is a high producer. One of the best things about this kind of squash is its versatility.  I’ve put it in stews and curries, made pumpkin soup (which everyone loves, not to brag), and roasted it. When we have a lot of them, we either give them away or cut them up and freeze them. They hold really well in the freezer and make great soup afterwards.

My winning soup recipe is easy. Ready? Cut and skin pumpkin, put in water, boil to start, then simmer till it falls apart and has a creamy texture, add salt and pepper to taste. Yep that’s it.  It’s so yummy. The natural sweetness of this squash is so tasty you really need to do little to it.
The hardest thing about kabocha is cutting it.  These are tough little squash, so get a big sharp knife.  Cut it in half, scoop out the inside, and cut appropriately.  For roasting, you can leave the skins on. I cut them in slices, put it in a bag of olive oil and garlic salt, shake it up, and roast them.  You can put them on the grill or roast them in the oven, either way it’s great.  I roast them until they’re nice and brown and you can easily push a fork through it.
I encourage people to experiment with them.  They cream really easily; you can make pie, or cut them up raw and use like carrots in cake. You can also put them in a batter and fry them for a nice tempura. I suggest smaller strips when doing this.
The kabocha is very meaty inside and one pumpkin will yield a lot. Not only is this squash delicious and versatile, but it’s also good for you.  It is high in the anti-oxidant beta carotene and Vitamin A. The skin when consumed is a good source of fiber as well.

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It’s a New Year!!

I am so looking forward to this New Year.  It’s not like I can’t recommit to goals previously set and start anew at any point in the year, but there is something about the first of the year that helps motivate me.  This past year, I’ve grown in my appreciation for all we do on our little homestead, and I’m inspired to do even more in the upcoming year.

A friend of mine recently repainted their home, redid their porch and railings, and planted new plants around their entrance.  Their home looks so beautiful and cozy.  So that is one of my goals, to spruce up the place a bit and fix things we’ve been neglecting for a while.  I see a lot of painting in my future.

I also want to start a section of medicinal plants and herbs in the garden.  Hawaii has some wonderful natives I can put in there.  We already have some things we’re growing that are medicinal, but I want to add a lot more and create a special area dedicated to just this.

And of course, there’s the “get in shape” and “eat right” goal I set every 2 months.  So again, I will start.  If I got a penny for every time I “started” a new workout plan, I’d be rich!

So now to what’s happening around the farm …

We have lots of animals on our little farm – a couple of donkeys, sheep, ducks, chickens, a goose, cats, dogs and fish.  Unfortunately, we have had issues in the past with our other dogs chasing/hurting chickens.  At one time, we had wild dogs killing our sheep.  You get attached to all the animals you have, so it’s sad when you lose one whatever the circumstance, but especially sad when it’s one of your own that has caused the loss.  This brings us to our newest addition – Bailey.  She’s Australian Sheppard, catahoula, and heeler (and maybe other things).   In an effort to insure she gets along with the others animals without hurting them, we’ve been feeding her down in the farm with our chickens and ducks.  She’s a sweetheart, and has been doing quite well.

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Can you find the puppy in the picture?

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We have one particularly tame duck that literally eats out of her bowl which means the duck is eating puppy food.  It’s a work in progress, but we’re happy they get along.

Yesterday, my husband and daughter painted our new sheep shed.  We even added a little art work to the shed, just to make it a little fun.  It was the perfect day for painting, hot and dry.

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We also picked some rambutan.  Last year we got one rambutan, yep just one.  This year we got (drum roll) 6!! Rambutan are such a beautiful fruit.  They look and taste a lot like a lychee.  The name is derived from the Indonesian word “rambut” which means hair, and its name suits it well.  It looks kind of pokey, but it’s actually more soft, kind of like a soft brush. It’s native to Southeast Asia, and grows well in our tropical climate.  Our tree is still quite young, hence the low production.  Optimum production typically occurs around the age of 8 – 10 years old.  We still have a few more years until it gets that old, so I’m excited for what is to come.  Thailand is the largest producer of rambutan.  You have to let the fruit ripen on the tree, if you pick it early it will never get ripe.  You know it’s ripe when it turns the red color you see below.  It’s all green before that.  A serving size of rambutan has about 40% of your daily intake of Vitamin C and 28% of your daily intake of iron.  It also has high levels of manganese.

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I got two new orchids for my grotto, one pink and one a very pale purple.  Also for Christmas I received two really cute pieces of garden art  – one a large white wooden chicken and the other a stone garden gnome.  I have yet to pick a spot for them, but will take a picture of them when I find their perfect home.

I had family here for Christmas vacation, and was able to take a week off of work.  Tomorrow back to the grindstone and the regular routine, plus a few new goals for this year.  Here’s to a very peaceful 2018.

 

The Miracle Berry

So I managed to get most of my “to do’s” done before Christmas.  The tree didn’t get up until the 23rd, but hey it was before Christmas so it counts!  We picked a bunch of coffee, scooped lilikoi, picked mulberries, and even made jam.  I have family in town which is always nice.  What I most love about company, whatever time of year, is that it forces us to get out of the farm routine (or other household chores), and get out and explore the island or just go to the beach for the day.  We also love sharing our little farm, and showing everyone what we grow and produce.  This brings me to my next blog topic … the miracle berry.

Most of the things we grow on our farm are for  our consumption or for selling.  We do have some flowers which I love to pick and display.  And then we have the miracle berry.  What is exactly is this little fruit??

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It’s a red berry that grows on a small shrub. When the flesh part of the fruit is sucked on (we don’t really eat it, we just break the berry up in our mouth and kind of suck on it for a few minutes and then spit it out), a molecule in the berry binds to your tongue’s taste buds which causes sour foods to taste sweet.  You can suck on a lemon and it tastes super sweet.  The molecule is called glycoprotein and it contains miraculin, a carbohydrate chain within the molecule, hence the name “miracle” berry.  It’s pretty amazing,  and it never ceases to thrill those who try it.  The effect lasts about 30 minutes or so.  Anything sweet is intensified.  I once had spaghetti for dinner soon after I tried a miracle berry, and it ruined it.  The sauce was so sweet, I couldn’t eat it.

I often wonder about this plant, and why nature created something like that.  I think it was tried as a sugar substitute, but for some reason it didn’t quite work.  Maybe back in the day when people sailed the world and scurvy was an issue, it made lemons and limes more palatable. The shelf life of a miracle berry is only a few days after it’s picked, so I don’t know that they would’ve brought it on a ship.  What I do know is that it is a neat little addition to our farm that we enjoy sharing it with guests, and they in turn enjoy trying it.

 

Why you should be growing longevity spinach in your garden

We grow five different kinds of spinach on our property – a Brazilian spinach, also called Sisoo (it grows almost like a ground cover and has really curly leaves),  two different varieties of Okinawan spinach – one that has purple leaves, and one that has light green leaves that is often referred to as longevity spinach, Malabar spinach (it’s almost succulent like in its appearance) and Tongan Spinach (its leaves are large, the size of your head!).

  Longevity spinach purple Okinawan spinach Sisoo spinachTongan spinachMalibar spinach

Spinach has a lot of benefits no matter which one you decide to grow.  They all have different tastes and textures, so before you decide to plant a whole bunch of one kind, it’s best to try samples and see which one you prefer.  It’s also important to do a little research to see what types of spinach can grow in your area and climate.  We’re fortunate because most of the tropical spinaches can be grown year round with little problem.

Of all the spinach we grow, I personally like the longevity spinach the best.  Its scientific name is gynura procumbens.  It is  also called “cholesterol spinach.” As the name implies, it’s really good for you.  It’s been called a “super food” – a term we’re hearing a lot lately.  But this actually may be just that.  A native to southeast Asia, it is claimed to help treat a number of different ailments – high cholesterol (bet you could’ve figured that one out yourself), high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatism, insect bites or other wounds, menstrual issues, seizures, and cancer.  It’s even been known to remove age spots!!

You can eat this raw or cooked.  It can be put in smoothies, soups, salads, and even steeped for tea.  Be creative.  I put it in my veggie lasagna and with eggs in a frittata.  We use it in stir fry a lot and my husband likes it in his siamin.  I will say I do prefer it cooked as opposed to raw, but that’s just a personal preference.  

You may be one of those people who feel like they have a black thumb when it comes to gardening, but this is one of the hardiest plants we grow.  It also seems to be fairly pest resistant which is always a problem in our Hawaii climate.  Some people even grow it indoors in kitchen window boxes.  It’s known to do better in semi shade, however, ours is in pretty much full sun and it’s growing really well. 

So if you’re looking to expand your dietary repertoire a bit, eat healthy, and add something to your own home garden, this is the plant to do just that.

Rain, rain go away … just long enough for us to pick coffee

Do you ever feel like you have too much to do, and no time to do it.  I know that happens to everyone all the time, but I’m in the midst of it, and am feeling overwhelmed.  Mostly, I’m feeling this way because of things out of my control.

 Rainy day … again

We’ve had weeks of rain.  Rain is critical to a farm, and given a choice between too much rain or too little, we’d choose too much.  That being said, we need a little reprieve.  We have a ton of coffee to pick, and can’t get outside long enough to pick it.  We’ve decided today, rain or not, we’re gearing up and picking what needs to be picked.  Yesterday, we got to about 14 trees.  We have 60 or so, so we still have a lot to do.  From the 14 trees yesterday, I’d say we picked about 20 gallons.  The trees are loaded, and we’re literally harvesting all the beans on some branches.  Our dry racks are full of coffee as well.

It’s not just the coffee, we have lot other things on the farm that need attention. Asparagus needs picking; I’m hoping it hasn’t gone to fern yet.  We have a lot of lilikoi on the ground that need picking up.  Guavas are falling off the tree (I just see guava jelly rotting on the ground).  Allspice needs to be picked and dried … the list could go on and on and on …

We need to build another sheep/donkey house on the property to keep the animals nice and dry during these rains.  We do have areas for them, but they’re all being used or inaccessible at this time.

The grotto, which I spend three weekends cleaning out, needs to be weeded. I need to add more orchids and flowers, and some cute outdoor decorations I have.

My son is moving out, so we’re going to be converting his room back to our workout room/storage area and converting the current workout room back to our guest bedroom.  It needs to be thoroughly cleaned and painted.

I haven’t finished Christmas shopping; I have NO decorations up at all.  I need to mail the majority of the gifts to the mainland, so I must have them wrapped and packaged soon.

I’m going on a business trip for 5 days.  I’m back on Friday night – just in time for the weekend! AND, I’d like to get this all done before family starts arriving in a little over 2 weeks.

I know I know, some are thinking, it’s not going to happen.  But it will happen.  It has to happen.  So why I am sitting here blogging, I clearly I have a ton of things to do, and am running out of time.  Because this is my life, this is what happens when you commit to living (or trying to live) a sustainable life on a small farm.  There are always things that need to be done, and things out of your control always make it harder to get those things done.   Because both my husband and I have full-time jobs, all these things have to get done after work and on the weekends.

So yes, the next few weeks will be very busy.  This is okay because I’m taking time off during the holidays to enjoy the fruits of our labor this year and spend time with my family.   I love having our little homestead, and while it’s hard at times, I wouldn’t change a thing (okay maybe a few tiny things).

Finally, during these heavy rains, we had an ‘io, a Hawaiian Hawk, take cover in our Royal Poinciana tree.  He stayed there the better part of the day.  I was a little apprehensive to get close to him, but my husband assured me he had no intention of attacking me, so I was able to get this nice shot.  He was beautiful.   There is a family that lives nearby, and we often see them flying above the house.  This is the first time, we’ve had one visit.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  We’ve been celebrating on Friday for the last few years instead of the typical Thursday.  Living on an island, especially an outer island like we do, means that family may not be close by.  This is no exception for us.  While we’re fortunate our son still lives on Island, the rest of our family is on Oahu or the mainland.  So for the last few years, we’ve invited those like us, those whose families are far away, and celebrate the holiday together.  We’ve slowly created our own tradition which is something special.

We didn’t do the typical turkey dinner, rather we cooked a Hawaiian version – kalua pork, corned beef luau (a mix of my husband’s Hawaiian heritage and my Irish), ulu (breadfruit)/cauliflower mash, fruit salad, Kona crab, nabeta, asparagus/green bean casserole, squash crumble, pumpkin soup, and lomi salmon.  I almost forgot we broke open the pineapple liqueur I had made.  For dessert, we had kulolo and a lime/avocado pie.  It was so delicious.  I neglected to take pictures, but have lots of snapshot in my mind and more importantly my heart, so I won’t forget.  A lot of the stuff came straight from the garden.  It feels good to be sustainable and share what we grow.

On Saturday we went to Aikane Nursery in North Kohala.  What a nice group of folks up there.  We got some unusual tropical fruits we’re excited about trying.

This is Pandan.  The leaves are used for seasoning in cooking.  When fully grown it looks very similar to a lauhala tree.

Pedalai – the fruit of this plant looks like a gigantic rambutan.  It’s bright orange with fuzzy hair on the outside.  Its white fleshy interior is supposed to be superior tasting.  We can’t wait to try this!!

We also picked up a new kind of dragon fruit, cardamon, a jelly palm (you can make jelly off of the fruit!!), a dwarf coconut, and a few other things.  We’re going to make signs so we don’t forget what everything is.  Right now, in the garden we have a plant fruiting that we have no idea what it is.  Once it looks ripe, we’ll cut it open and hopefully with a little detective work, we can figure it out.  We need to do a way better job of identifying our new plants, especially the unusual ones.

Our grotto is coming along nicely.  My son’s girlfriend, Mele, gave me a beautiful orchid to add to the garden.  It is a scented orchid too!  We got a few ornamental plants and a few more anthuriums.

We’re still in coffee picking season, but it’s been raining since we last picked on Sunday, so we haven’t had enough sun or dry time to get out there and pick since.  We definitely have to pick next week; rain or not, it needs to picked.  Right now we have all our racks filled in our dry house with coffee.  It’s been a little colder out, so it’s taking a little longer to dry.  The house is well insulated though, so we don’t have an issue of moldy beans this year.