The Best Dang Brown Rice!

Taking care of a 2 year old and feeding my wife has got me back in the groove for cooking up a storm.  Today, while I cooked ruby trout (which Isabel loved)

I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone: I cooked some tasty brown rice to use as a side dish for the rest of the week.

Hawaii is swimming with swordfish.

Every where you look, swordfish here in Hawaii is like the salmon of the Northwest, but better. It’s quite inexpensive and abundant. Back home in Austin, I couldn’t resist and make a dish. (more…)

Texas fires right in our own backyard.

Steiner Ranch Fire in the distance, about 9 miles away.

Coming back to Austin from our trip to Hawaii, I was getting concerned by all the mentions of fires in the Central Texas area.  In particular the Steiner Ranch fire (where my brother use to live and is about 9 miles away)  There is also the the fire at Pedernales Bend, about 30 miles away.

Hearing all these places on the radio, I was wondering what spots did I maybe miss hearing on the air.  That made me do a little searching on the internet and looking for texas fire tracking sites.  Here are two sites that I thought were very useful.

Texas Forest Service – They have alot of maps and links.  The coolest info is the Google Earth view that allows you zoom on and since GE can get live refreshes of data without leaving the map, it was even cooler.

Perdenales Fire in the distance, about 30 miles away.

WunderMap Interactive Radar – The fire view shows the spots, with less graphics and shows the smoke plume/drift.  Very nice for folks who are sensitive to air quality.  This is updated as well.

I’m hanging out at Texenza Coffee on 360 and took these photos from my windows phone.

Hilo Coffee Mill and a visit to the Seaside Restaurant

After our crazy morning with Isabel falling we still managed to have some fun.  This goes to show how beautiful and resilient those little ones are.

Hilo Coffee Mill

We went to visit a local coffee plantation called Hilo Coffee Mill.  Great little place.  Folks were real nice.  It started to drizzle rain a bit when we showed up.  We got onto the last tour of where they roast and package the beans.

Here are a couple of facts:

  • They have about a 1,000 trees on their property.
  • Some of the trees are known to be as old as 150 years.
  • If you take care of your trees, pruning, feeding, watering (not an issue in Hilo), then your trees will reward you for generations.
  • One tree will produce about a 1lb of coffee (no wonder coffee on the Big Island is so expensive)
  • They had pick their cherries only when red.  No mechanization involved.
  • Cherries on the trees ripen at different rates.  You can have a twig of cherries and half can be ruby red, the others still green.  This makes a difference in your coffee.
  • They press the cherries through a special machine that pushes the pit out (the coffee bean) and they save the pulp.
  • The flesh of the cherry as more caffeine than the bean!  The workers usually chew on the cherries while working so they can keep going strong.  Very funny to hear that.
Afterwards we enjoyed an expensive cup of joe and went outside, watching Isabel run around after the chickens that roamed the grounds.

Rough day, but we made the best of it.

We got up early this morning, with the usual routine except we headed to the ocean this morning right outside our house.  Went for a warm morning dip.  I did some snorkeling and Tammy chatted with a fellow Mom wading in the water.

Afterwards, we went back to our condo and I wanted to take a shower.  Isabel needed a wash too so I grabbed her into the shower and from this point on changed our whole day.  Isabel slipped on the tub and knocked her mouth on the side.  She cried and we looked at her teeth chipped and 2 of them were intruded, but luckily they were followed sideways vs pushing onto her permanent teeth.  The ped dentist told us to give them a chance to come down again.  If so, then we’re lucky.  If not, then Isabel will look to have her two teeth pulled.

This morning involved calling around to find a dentist that takes Blue Cross.  We realized that we could have just gone to any dentist and have them classify the visit as an emergency, then instead of dental coverage, where only a certain amount of payment is covered, the visit is covered by your medical, 100%!

Amazing how happy Isabel recovered from it.  A little tired from all the crying, but happy and smiling.

What’s for dinner tonight in Hilo? Chops, Tomatoes, and Taro!

I’ve been day dreaming the moment of having my first home cooked meal in Hilo ever since Tammy and I committed on traveling to Hawaii back last year.  And here we are…  Farm Fresh Pork Chops, with a Taro Root Mash and Tomato Cucumber Salad.  The Chops recipes is embarrassingly simple.  The Taro and Tomato recipes were all made up on the spot.

I decided to write the recipes as I did the work in the kitchen.  Enjoy!

First Dish – Taro Mash… Yum!

Tammy and I ate some taro mash as a bedding to our tenderloin that was served at the Aha ‘Aina, A Royal Celebration show.  It was delicious.  From that I was really curious… taro is a root and like all roots it can be boiled and flavored with just about anything.  I wanted to make a mash like we ate.


But what you are really wondering is how to prep Taro.  I did a little research online, and all of them say to cut the stem off, scrub the outside (if you just pulled the root out of the ground, or you bought it looking hairy) and then use a vegtable peeler.  But be careful about any skin sensitivity to the slimy taro during peeling.  I simply peeled it under running water, cradled in a paper towel.

Then you will want to lay the taro root sideways and make one inch slices.  You come out with it looking like what is on the left.  Then you will want to dice it into bite size pieces, on the right.


Make sure you don’t fill your pot too full.  Just enough to cover the cut pieces.  Also, you will want to adjust the temperature from high (when it first starts boiling) to about medium.  Otherwise, the water and starches will cause the pot to boil over.  You’ll be spending lots of time cleaning up the slimy water.  I boiled it for 40 mins.


  1. Dice up 1 maui onion along with 4-5 garlic cloves.
  2. Pre-heat your pan with some sizzling agent (I chose the rendered juices from my baked chops).

Time to do the mash…  First things first, I will be using some of the rendered juices from the baked chops I made to sub for the butter or oil I’d use.  Also, these chops have a nice thick skin of fat on them that I chopped off and will be dicing and sauteing.  I can’t let anything go to waste.  So, if you make some pork chops, or have a stick of butter nearby, simply put it in a pan and turn it on medium.  If you use butter, I always like to add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil with it.  This will prevent the butter from browning and smoking.

While this is sizzling, filling your kitchen with some home cooking aromas, start mashing the potatoes that you will need to drain in a colander and let it cool.  Take your pot and put it on low to keep it warm, then put back the taro root in the pot.  Let it sit for 15-20 mins to dry out.  Beware of your mashing skills.  Too eager to mash and you will prevent the starches from swelling.  This will cause them to get gooey vs creamy.  Cool them enough and the starch will not be able to dissolve in any water, preventing the gooey.

Back to your sizzling pan, add in the onion.  Let it caramelize a bit.  Add the garlic, but do not brown it.  Browning garlic in this case will just rid of that tang.  You’ll want to just at the minced garlic and then a mins later sauteed party of goodness to the Taro root you had started mashing.

Salt and pepper to taste.  You are done, stop reading this and go plate up those chops and taro mash.

Da Salty Lady’s Hawaiian Pork Chops

I couldn’t resist… I was originally going to do panko crusted pork chops with taro mash and a tomato cumcumber salad, but I saw this bag of fry/bake mix called Da Salty Lady’s.

It looked good enough for me to get it and use it for my island fresh pork chops I’ll be baking tonight.   (more…)

Simple Tomato and Cucumber Salad

We got these Japanese cucumbers from the Hilo Farmers Market today.  They are about a 12-14 inches long and kind of have a sweet juicy taste.  Not sweet sweet, but definitely not watery bland taste.  So, I decided to make a tomato and cucumber salad. (more…)

Hilo Market – Produce Paradise.

Today was our first trip down to the Hilo Market.  I have to say, this market blows away anything I’ve seen stateside.  I picked up a huge 4-5 lbs taro root.  I also managed to pick up a bunch of other produce:  1 Taro Root, 1 Breadfruit, 4 Maui Onions,  2 Meyers Limes,  1 Watermelon, 5 Papaya, 8 Japanese Purple Sweet potatoes, 5 Tomatoes, 2 Cucumbers, 2 Avacados, lots of garlic, and a bunch of Longan Fruit.

All of this produce was very inexpensive when compared to getting it back in Austin, TX or even in Seattle, WA.