Thursday, October 22, 2009


I finally got around to using up some of the 96 guavas I gathered a few days ago and made my first Guava Cheesecake. It's very very light but very very guava-y and very very good. Now I need to use up the other 70 guava (and counting) and the 45 star fruit and make jam or even just some pulp and juice to freeze for later use.

Fresh Guava Pulp
15-20 fresh guava, peeled. enough to make 1 1/2 cups of pulp.
Place in a saucepan and cook until softened. Place in a food mill to remove the seeds and fibrous bits. I usually run through twice. You can prepare this the day before if desired. Chill until ready to use.

Shortbread Crust
1 cup butter (softened)
2 cups sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)

Press into a 9" spring form pan, going either all the way up the sides or half way as I did. Poke with a fork to avoid bubbling and to allow steam to escape. Pre-bake 350 for 10-12 minutes. You will see in the picture below I let mine go a little too long. If you over pre-bake, the crust could end up burnt if the center of the cake is too thick and cooking slow.

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 cup fresh guava pulp, cooled to room temperature or chilled.
(you may be able to use guava paste or guava juice as well, but I find there is no substitute for fresh guava. If using a juice try to use a concentrate. Start with 1/4 cup. Otherwise it may be too runny could require more egg.)

Cream the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, pulp, citrus juice and cream. Add eggs one at a time.

Pour filling into slightly cool crust. Bake 350 for 40 - 60 minutes depending on thickness of cake.
Let cake cool then refrigerate. Drizzle with glaze (see below) and serve.

Guava Glaze
1/2 cup remaining guava puree
(Or you could use 3/4 cup any other fruit juice, like pineapple, mango, orange, or even coconut milk. The combo of flavors are endless.)
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Make this after the cake has cooled. Blend together in a saucepan and simmer until bubbly and thickened. Allow to cool and place in an icing bag and squeeze over cool cake. You could also just pour this glaze over the top of the entire cake then refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A few days ago, our electrician brought us two branches full of Longan Fruit. Having never tried it before we were excited yet wary to try this new fruit with the nickname "dragon eye" because it looks like an eyeball when the shell is removed. Here you see it along with some other goodies from our yard like papaya, lime, liliko'i and star fruit.

You need to remove the shell much like a lychee. To crack them open you simply squeeze them between your finger and thumb until the thin brown shell cracks. Then peel off and pop in your mouth for a somewhat light melony flavor. It is very similar in texture to lychee, but I like the longan better. It is best to store them in the fridge as they spoil quickly if left out. Keeping them cold also makes the cracking of the shell easier.

If you have never experienced longan and happen to see it in a specialty store, pick some up. But I warn you... they go fast. Once you start, it's hard to stop eating them.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


A few weeks ago, we dropped of our Hawaii Volcanoes National Park poster by artist Charley Harper to be framed and we finally picked it up yesterday. We were completely exhausted yesterday and barely had the energy to run into town, but when the lady behind the counter unwrapped it we both came back to life.

The poster measures 29" x 39" and was printed in 1986.We chose a simple 1 3/4" square black frame with non-glare glass. It set us back a bit more than we wanted, but to finally see it removed from the tube it lived in for the last 4 years was worth it.

As usual, Charley managed to capture all the amazing beauty of Hawaii's native plants and animals as only Charley can with. First off, he placed them in the composition as they would be found at their proper elevation. Then he uses "minimal realism" as he calls it to capture the "details" with the fewest details possible. Lines, circles, triangles, squares etc. Charley often said he never counted the feathers , only the wings. Below are some details of some of our favorite native species... although we have never seen an 'I'iwi, 'Akiapola'au and the Palilia. Still hoping to one of these days.

Mamane flower, the 'I'iwi bird and
Pueo or Hawaiian Owl.

'Ohiʻa lehua flowers and Palila bird.


For his birthday on tuesday, Conn wanted a starfruit pie. Our Starfruit tree is finally turning out this year's crop with giant fruits that look more like they were pushed out by a giant Play-Doh Fun Factory than the normal-sized fruits from passed years. I used to make pies a lot back when I had spare time so I took on the challenge with gusto. Back then, I'd make a double crust from memory but I found myself reaching for the Joy of Cooking to try one of their classics.

Pie Dough Cockaigne (9-inch Double Cruster slightly modified form original)

Sift together: 2 c. all-purpose flour, 1 t. salt, and 3 t. of sugar

Measure and combine: 1/4 c. butter (i used salted butter) and 3 T. shortening

Cut half the shortening mixture into the flour mixture until it has the grain of cornmeal, thencut in the remaining half until the it is pea-sized. Sprinkle dough with 5 T. of water. Using a spatula, just blend the water into the dough, if it looks too dry add a some more water in small amaounts until the dough holds together. Then knead it in your hands for a about 30 secs, forming it into a ball. Divide in half, wrap each portion in plastic wrap and refridgerate until you are ready to roll it out!

This was slightly different than the crusts I used to make, I never had shortening on hand, so I'd always use more butter. And we usually only have the salted kine butter.

For the filling, take around 10 medium starfruit (or 8 big ones) and remove pits and inner membrane and chop them up (that's why the cut up bits in the pic look like little arrows.)

Ok, so now this is where the recipe we found online went wonky and we realized it was for 2 pies! But we still only got one pie filling out of it. Anyway, the recipe said to cook the fruit with 2 cups of sugar and 2/3 cup of water. But if I were to try this again, I'd use only 1 cup of sugar and absolutely no water. It turned out way too wet. (see the pic below where we spooned out some of the liquid into a little bowl.

To add some depth of flavor, we added about 2 T. of fresh grated ginger and some fresh grated nutmeg.

So when the mixture boils, you add a few tablespoons of quick-cooking tapioca. Now we assumed that would thicken it up, but it didn't work for us. So try it if you like tapioca, it might work for you. If not, sprinkle some flour into the mixture to thicken it up, just before you fill the pie which is what we did. Bake at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes, until the pie edges turn golden.

And for his birthday breakfast he got a bacon and taro english muffin sandwich.

Then, as if the pie wasn't enough sugar, we were minding our own business in costco, keeping to our list when this little beauty sweet-talked it's way into our cart. It's a mango sponge cake with whip icing. Um, it tastes more like apricot to me, but it was tasty regardless. Kind of light except for the whip icing. Needless to say, it's size has deemed it a diet mainstay over the passed few days of little time and lots of physical labor.

Friday, October 16, 2009


This past week we managed to get the upstairs and downstairs floors installed. After an extensive and exhaustive search for the perfect wood floor we chose a CRUSHED MULBERRY HARDWOOD FLOOR for 2 main reasons: (not this particular floor in this link, but we had no idea it was so sustainable and had many uses. you have to read this link.)

1. We loved the way it looks
2. The durability factor.

We brought sample after sample after sample home and put them to the test by dropping spoons, scissors, cans, keys among other things and did a scratch test with the legs of the chairs. The strand mulberry sample won hands down as the most durable. Yes, there we slight impressions left from the objects here and there, but they were hardly noticeable because of the pattern, which resembles cork. It's also a solid wood rather than a veneer which adds to the hardness.
We chose the Caramel color over the Natural because there is less contrast between the light and dark areas.

First time using a wood floor nail gun and the compressor. The flooring is so hard that when using the finishing nail gun, more bent than actually went into the floor.

Make sure to open several if not all the boxes at a time. Then pull from different boxes so you end up with a more random placement of color. Some boxes had a greenish hue while others were more orange.

The finished floor. Now all we need is the baseboards.

So John installed the Crushed Mulberry - his first hardwood floor install, while I stained the concrete downstairs - my first time staining concrete.

For the concrete I used a product from INCRETE SYSTEMS called Stone Essence. (note: I cannot find this actual product on their website unless you click here where you will find a .pdf with tech specs)

STONE ESSENCE is a unique eco-friendly alternative to acid stained concrete. (it does say in the .pdf to use an acid etcher though...but the concrete supply store said NO WAY). It is a concentrated water-based coloring system composed of UV stable, transparent iron oxide pigments and can be sealed with either solvent or waterborne sealers. We used their water based sealer called Ultrapel because it was the only one with a matte finish.

We decided on stained concrete for 2 reasons:
1. The concrete dried in an odd bi-colored pattern that was not what we had hoped for. We had planned on leaving it the natural gray color.
2. It was a lot less than buying wood flooring or tile. In all, it cost right around $300.00 for the stains and sealer. And we have plenty left over that we are going to apply to the exterior concrete lanai, and sidewalks.

I used 3 colors to achieve a mottled or weathered look without nasty smelling fumes.
1. Timber (medium brown)
2. Bronze (an orangey terracotta color)
3. Lime Green (more like and olive green than lime)

It took 3 days to achieve the results had hoped for. Day one was applying the Timber and Bronze with a hand held garden sprayer. I applied the Timber with the sprayer then soaked a rag with the Bronze and made larger puddles on top allowing them to run and pool together. I then tossed on some regular old coarse salt... the kind you get for the salt mill on the dinner table. Regular rock salt for melting snow and ice would work too. The salt leaves small spots with irregular edges, giving it a more natural stone look. I just thought to do that on my own. Let that dry overnight then lightly sponge up and damp spots and sweep salt up. Do not sweep until all the damp spots are dry, otherwise you will get streaks. Some of the salt will leave small puddles as it dissolves and others will not. Repeat. This time fine tuning and evening out some spots that were too contrasty. For this final stage, I put the Lime Green in which really brought it to life. We wanted this only as a small accent color just to give a little depth. Scatter salt on again and clean up the next day. Allow to dry one full day then apply the Ultrapel with a foam roller. Allow 2-4 hours to dry then repeat.

The concrete floor before staining. Notice the 2-tone effect that we had not planned on.

This is the first day right after the first application of the Timber and Bronze. ... hmmm. Is this really going to work? Looks like a mess.

Success. The main room floor after 1 coat on the left and 2 coats on the right. The 2-tone pattern did not totally vanish, but it's a marked improvement.

The bathroom floor before + after.

Detail of the 3 colors and salt mixing on day 2.

The salt working it's magic.

The salt cleanup. Make sure some puddles have large clumps and that the salt is not scattered in a uniform pattern.

A selection of detail shots.


Once we got the batteries and solar panels all hooked up, we could finally get to putting all the electrical outlets, switches and lights in place. The day they were installed just happened to be the full moon and we loved how the lights we chose mimicked the bright glowing ball of light in the night sky. The 3 round lights upstairs and the one downstairs we got at RESTORE/HABITAT FOR HUMANITY at a whopping .50 cents each. The others were a tad more, BUT we did get them at slashed prices. Everyone that sees the round globes automatically says how 70's they look, which is rather funny to us. We love aspects of the 70's but we find that the round white globes are just simple and classic.

In all we installed 8 exterior lights and 21 interior lights. Mind you, those are just the ones that are hard wired and we have several table lamps that will be unpacked for the first time since moving here 2 1/2 years ago. It will be so nice to have them shine once again.

Here are a few shots of the lights and the full moon.

So nice to finally see it coming to life. It's like it now has a heart.

Stair lights done. Now if we could only tackle and finish that railing.
Check out that moon to the right.

That tiny dot to the right of the reflection is the full moon. Pictures just don't do it justice.

This detail is a bit better.

The amazing full moon rising over the pacific. It's times like these we wish we could collect energy from the moon.

Stay tuned for more updates soon. We are almost done with the floor and hope to have that done by Sunday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


About a week ago, this little guy/gal was found hunkered down under our propane tank. We had just had really bad rains with no trade winds so we thought it might have gotten disoriented with the weather. We at first thought he was sick or injured and whenever I got close he sort of made a low growl sound. He only wanted to hang out under the propane tank and on top of the water tanks. Propane tank ok. Water tanks, not ok. It's a sanitary issue with the droppings it leaves behind. So we have to shoo him/her away which sort of kills us being the bird lovers that we are.
We have not caught or held it, as we did not want to either frighten it or have it get too attached.

We found out that it is a homing pigeon and obviously belongs to someone. It has two tags on it's legs and we were able to retrieve the numbers after coaxing it close with some bird seed. NOW IT WILL NEVER LEAVE. Not that we mind, but it does belong to someone and we'd like to think that if we lost a pet of some kind, it would be returned to us. We have taken to calling it - HOMIE. We don't like shooing it away, but it's a bit of a sanitary issue and our water catchment. We don't really have a problem with bird droppings on our roofs and tanks at the moment and we'd like to keep it that way. We have left some food in low places away from the roof in hopes it will hang out elsewhere. Not really working. Homie is after all a roosting bird, and obvioulsy the higher the better.

So now it just loves to perch high on our roof. Why here? Where is it's real home? Did it get lost? Did it fly away from home? How did it find us? Is it on Holiday? Did it hear through the Coconut Wireless that our house is the place to hang if you are a bird? Whatever the reason, we enjoy it's company.

We thought that after regaining it's energy after a few days it might find it's way home. When not perched on the roof(s), it spends most of the day walking around the house and the lanai or following us around. It willow follow us into the grass and let us sit with it while eating... of course you know we love that. Late in the afternoon it perches on the roof, looks around and takes off for the night. Maybe Homie is not lost, but just likes hanging out here with us Bird Boys during the day and returns to his real home at night.

I have finally looked online in order to return Homie to it's owner and was quite impressed with the American Racing Pigeon website and the LOST BIRD section. Seems we did all the right things in the way that we have cared for it this past week. I have sent a few e-mails in hopes that Homie be reunited with his/her owner. We'll keep you posted.

This was this morning.

Homie likes to have a bite to eat, then perch on the nearest rock, or chunk of concrete.

And for those of you that remember how Kekoka would show up at the door looking for food, Well it's seems that he has been talking to Homie on how to get handouts as well. Here he'she is on the lanai looking in at John trying it's best to get noticed, and yesterday morning while I was having breakfast at the kitchen window, Homie paraded around just outside wanting breakfast as well. I mean really. Too cute.