Sunday Morning 12/20/2020: Christmas Week Has Arrived

Tuesday’s sunset was spectacular, but the rest of the week was meh.

Almost hard for me to believe, but it’s the Sunday morning before Christmas! Aloha kakahiaka and Mele Kalikimaka!

First things first: There were 45 entries to the Kaua’i coffee break giveaway, and the winner, chosen randomly by namepicker.net is . . . M’Shell! Congratulations! I will be sending an email to her later today to get her mailing address, and will have her coffee and cookies off to her no later than Tuesday. Thank you again for all the entries and the great recommendations for local foods from your home area or places you’ve traveled.

I’m having a bit of hard time accepting that Christmas is just five days away. Everything is ready here for the holiday – the presents wrapped, the food bought, the decorations up – and yet I found myself feeling somewhat stunned this past Friday when I realized Christmas Day was just a week away, and not days and days away like I thought it was. I think some of the cognitive dissonance I’m experiencing this year comes from Meiling and WenYu not arriving this week, but also because the past couple of months have been busy, crazy, and disjointed, from the election and its ongoing aftermath to YaYu arriving to everything else going on. Also, after being in gloomy/rainy Portland for our last two Christmases, to now look out most every day at palm trees and blue skies, it just hasn’t seemed like it’s time for Christmas. Oh well – our little twig tree is decorated, our wooden Santas are out, and the refrigerator is full of food for the holidays. Christmas will be here whether it feels like it or not.

I started collecting wooden Santas in 1990, with two from the Philippines (they’re in the back in the picture on the left). At one point I had over 40 different Santas, but when we moved to Hawaii I culled the collection and kept my favorites. Some were gifts, some came from craft fairs, and others were unexpected finds.

I admit to being very curious about what I’ll getting for Christmas this year (I’ve seen packages but have no idea what’s in them). I don’t think anything can top the Hamilton tickets we received from Meiling last year (and then didn’t get to see thanks to COVID), but I loaded up my wishlist with practical items this year so we’ll see. I honestly don’t need anything, but asked for things that I can use on our walking tour in 2022 as it’s never too early to start assembling those items (walking poles, merino wool socks, etc.) and for a couple of small kitchen items. The most difficult person to shop for this year was YaYu, but I think we ended up doing OK, and that she’ll enjoy her gifts. We shopped for Meiling from her Christmas list, but used another prompt from WenYu to put together her gifts – we think (hope) she will be surprised (and happy). We’re looking forward to learning how the grandkids plan to spend the yen we sent them, and we’ll do something special for our son and daughter-in-law the next time we see them! I can say nothing about Brett’s gifts as he reads the blog but I think he’ll enjoy (and be surprised by) his gifts.

Kaua’i is very quiet these days with the quarantine reinstated; there have been almost no visitors coming to the island for the past several weeks and our number of COVID cases has stabilized. From what I’m reading and hearing there have been mixed feelings – residents realize we need visitors to keep the economy running, but at the same time have been enjoying the peace and quiet of not having to deal with tourists everywhere. I hope a compromise can be found once the pandemic is finally under control. There were frankly too many visitors when we left in 2018 and the island’s infrastructure was struggling to support everyone, both tourists and residents. I don’t think anyone wants to see a return to those days (although I am sure there are some who would love it). Hawaii is always going to be a tourist destination, and there’s no getting around that, but I’m hoping another industry can be developed here even though we face unique problems because of the islands’ location. 

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I got an early start this week on next year’s mysteries and am now reading Wilkie Collin’s The Woman in White, published in 1859. Said to be the first detective/mystery novel written, it’s one I’ve never read, so I thought it would be a good start to the year.
  • Listening to: It’s very windy this morning, and cool (cold) too. Winter has arrived in Hawaii! And, the wind is loud too as it blows through the trees. It rained like crazy last night, and the wind howled, but this morning I can see blue skies along with the clouds, so fingers are crossed for another good day because weather like this is wonderful for walking.
  • Watching: We continue to binge on three episodes od Schitt’s Creek each evening, and then watch an episode of Black Spot each night. It continues to be creepy and mysterious and I have no idea what’s going on or how things might turn out. YaYu and I are also still watching Britain’s Best Home Cook, but our favorite was eliminated last night so we’ve got to pick another favorite (and don’t particularly care for any of the others left).
    Lots of green this week (the bananas ripened quickly though) for just $19!
  • Cooking/baking: I baked a Bacardi Rum cake last Friday instead of the lemon cake I had planned as the coming holidays seemed to call for something a bit more festive. We decided on a mango-lilikoi pie though from Kalaheo’s The Right Slice for our Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner desserts. Scallops were determined to be too pricey, so we’ll be having shrimp risotto on Christmas Eve instead, along with whatever vegetable looks good at the farmers’ market this coming week, and a sliver of mango pie for dessert. For our Christmas meal we’ll grill a flank steak and have that along with homemade stuffing, a vegetable, and some more pie, and Christmas morning brunch will be freshly-baked scones, smoked salmon, fresh blueberries and raspberries, POG mimosas, and some of our special holiday coffee or hot chocolate. I’m looking forward to all of it – simple, but delicious. Other meals this week will be curried chickpeas and rice for our dinner tonight; and chili pork burritos; grilled Italian sausage along with spaghetti and marinara; and egg roll in a bowl for Monday through Wednesday dinners. There was lots of great produce at the farmers’ market as well this past week, so we’ll be enjoying that along with our meals. Next Saturday we’ll have our mini pizzas and use some of the leftover steak on those.
    Mango-lilikoi pie!
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We’ve had mostly had nice weather this week, at least in the afternoons, and walked every day, but the weather still ran the gamut from bright sunshine to high humidity to crazy winds to rain, rain, rain. Most days Brett and I were able to walk for over an hour. I lost three pounds this past month, and continue to get smaller – YaYu says I am converting fat to muscle now (I still have plenty of blubber to lose though). Everything is ready to go for our holiday celebration this week – YaYu and I stopped by The Right Slice on Friday and ordered our pie which we’ll pick it up early Thursday afternoon. I finished Lesson 5 of Japanese and started Lesson 6, but it appears to be a word-for-word repeat of Lesson 5! I’m going to continue with it though as it’s a good review, but I’m moving through it very quickly. I’m going to start looking this week for some sort of online kanji lessons so I hopefully don’t forget all I’ve learned before we go to Japan again.

Our walking route at Kukiolono these days takes us approximately 65 minutes (@4.5 mph). We start with a loop around the Pavilion, then cross the parking lot and head up the hill to the club house, enjoying the views of Kalaheo and out to Port Arthur and Niihau along the way. Then it’s down the hill and into the upper woods. At the bottom we cross the entry road and head into the lower woods for a loop and a half, and finish with another loop around the Pavilion. Our goal by the end of this year is to walk this route twice at least four days a week.

  • Looking forward to next week: Although I’ll be greatly missing the rest of our family, I’m looking forward to Christmas morning with Brett and YaYu, and our whole family’s Zoom get-together on Christmas afternoon – we’ll be connected from Japan to Hawaii to New York City! Otherwise we’ll be enjoying a relaxing week with nothing on our schedule other than going for a walk each afternoon, the farmers’ market on Wednesday, and picking up our pie and berries.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu finished all her work for the term and got everything submitted on time. Brett saw the Dr. for his annual heart check and all is good and the way it should be. The first two tomatoes on our plant ripened, almost a miracle because the poor plant has been attacked by some crazy bug or spider but keeps hanging in there. Our avocado tree continues to grow and thrive however.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: This was not a frugal week, nor was it a crazy one either, but there was more spending than usual to get us ready. The only time we intend to step into a store for the next two weeks will be to pick up berries for Christmas morning and our pie (although it has been paid for). YaYu and I visited Ishihara Market in Waimea for the first time last Friday to see what kind of noodles they carried and check out their poke (very, very impressive), and we found some good deals in their sale cart including large packages of mung bean vermicelli (each enough for Chinese 3-color salad) for just 89¢ each, and a 5-pound bag of Lundberg Farms Arborio rice for just $2.97 (usual price is over $9 on Kaua’i). Between the cannister of arborio we bought for our Christmas Eve dinner and this bag we’ll be able to enjoy risotto for several months next year! We put $4.37 in the change/$1 jar, and I earned 1,857 Swagbucks this past week giving me enough for my first $500 Delta gift card!
  • Grateful for: In spite of our family not being able to gather for the holidays this year, both Brett and I are grateful for our family’s good health and good fortune. Our son and family are doing well in Japan, with both grandkids in good schools, and our grandson old enough to ride his bike to school and home each day. Both Meiling and WenYu are employed, and both are with partners that support and love them. YaYu is doing well in school, and has a wide circle of friends. We’re all looking forward to connecting on Christmas Day, and dreaming of a reunion next year here on Kauai.
  • Bonus question: What are some of the little luxuries you allow yourself these days? I can think of just two that I would qualify as luxuries: quality small-batch gin for Brett and my gin and tonics, and some wonderful imported goats’ milk soap for showering/bathing. Brett and I have enjoyed gin and tonics for many years, and really don’t drink much of anything else other than a little (inexpensive) wine now and again, but we always bought cheap, generic gin. We introduced ourselves to quality gin when we were in England last year, and that changed everything. What a difference! These days we stick to the small batch stuff, some domestic, but most of it from the UK (one of our favorites comes from Japan though). This stuff is not cheap, but it is delicious and lasts us for a few months. We were thrilled to find several new varieties to try next up at the Kileaua Market. The goats’ milk soap was first discovered at Costco when we were in Japan in 2019, of all places, and we decided to buy a box (which we split with our DIL). The soap is creamy and luxurious, and we toted our bars of it around with us for the rest of our travels. We happily discovered that we could purchase the soap on Amazon, for a really good price (much less than it had been in Japan) so we have stocked up again and are good to go for a long while.

I saw milk at the store this past week that had expiration dates in 2021,  my first sign of hope that this crazy, awful, ridiculous year is almost done! Good things have happened for us this year, but on the whole it’s been a trial, not just for our family but for the country and the world as well. I’m hoping we can get through this next month without anything crazy happening, but 2020 still has a few more days to go and as I think we all know now, anything can (and might) happen. It’s been that kind of year and I will be happy to see the end of it..

Wishing all of you and yours that celebrate Christmas a very happy and peaceful holiday, and a good week coming up for all!

Home Cooking: Three Easy Cakes for the Holidays

photo credit: thehungrybluebird.com

Ninety-eight percent of the time I am a scratch baker when it comes to cakes. Hummingbird cake, Texas sheet cake, red velvet cake, carrot cake and others I make from scratch. The other two percent of the time I am quite happy to break out a boxed cake mix and use it as a base. I typically always keep a box of yellow cake mix and either devil’s food or chocolate fudge cake mix on hand, but will pick up other flavors now and then if they are on sale.

All three of the following cake recipes start with a box of cake mix, two also require a box of instant pudding, and all are baked in a Bundt pan. They’re all very moist cakes, and are great for family celebrations, holiday parties, and for gifts, and of course throughout the year whenever you want to make a delicious cake that doesn’t take a lot of effort.

My family’s favorite chocolate cake, bar none, is the Triple Chocolate Cake. This dark, fudge-y cake has become our favorite celebration cake, but I don’t need a special occasion or holiday to bake one. The original recipe called for a German chocolate cake mix, but I made a happy discovery one day when I substituted devil’s food instead. The result was an unbelievably rich, moist cake full of chocolate flavor. The cake is traditionally dusted with powdered sugar, but a nice, dark chocolate glaze drizzled over the top (and some pretty holiday sprinkles) can make for a very nice dessert as well. Some of Meiling’s friends are receiving this cake as a gift this year!

The orange cake is great when I want an easy cake in a hurry (lemon juice can be substituted for orange juice for a lemon variation). The orange flavor is prominent, and yet delicate at the same time. I first made the Bacardi Rum cake many, many years ago when Bacardi published the recipe in an ad, then lost it for several years (along with all my other cookbooks) when we moved back to the States from Japan in 1992, but rediscovered it online with the advent of the Internet. I don’t particularly care for rum, but I do love rum cake. It’s definitely the most very special occasion cake of the three.

photo credit: premeditatedleftovers.com
 

EASY TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • 1 package German chocolate (or devil’s food) cake mix
  • 1 3.8 oz. package of instant chocolate pudding
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 ounce package of chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips. Beat for 5 minutes on medium speed, then fold in chips by hand. Pour batter into a well-greased bundt pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in bundt pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto serving plate. Dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar before serving.

photo credit: chewoutloud.com
 

FRESH ORANGE CAKE

  • 1 yellow cake mix with pudding
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°. Blend together the ingredients for 1 minute on low speed, scrape down the bowl and mix for an additional 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into well-greased bundt pan, and bake for 45 – 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto cake plate. Cake glaze can be made from 1 cup sifted powdered sugar blended with 3 TBSP orange juice and 1 tsp fresh grated orange peel. Pour glaze over cooled cake and let set a few minutes before slicing.

photo credit: thespruceeats.com
 

BACARDI RUM CAKE

    Cake:

  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 package plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 3.8 oz package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs

    Glaze:

  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Bacardi dark rum

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a bundt pan and sprinkle chopped nuts in the bottom of the pan. Blend the remaining cake ingredients on low for 1 minutes; scrape the bowl and mix another 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto cake plate or platter.

To make glaze, melt the butter over low heat; add water and sugar. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook until thickened, about 4 – 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Spoon glaze over warm cake, but cool completely before serving.

Ten Goals for 2021

I am so ready for 2020 to be over and done with! It’s been a crazy, unpredictable, frustrating, and somewhat ridiculous ride at times, and I am looking forward to starting over in 2021.

Over the past month, Brett and I have been talking over our combined goals for the new year, and I’ve also been thinking of a few personal ones I’d like to accomplish, and we’ve come up with the ten goals listed below:

Joint goals for Brett and Me:

  1. Continue to stay healthy! Besides avoiding COVID-19, Brett and I both want to lose an additional 10 pounds. We will continue with our current eating plan and exercise for the year and see where that takes us. We plan to segue to cross-training before the middle of the year, and will be purchasing a recumbent exercise bicycle to add to our walking. Our end-of-the-year goal is to be able to walk two to four hours at a time at least four days per week.
  2. Save enough to cover YaYu’s 2021-2022 college expenses. Thankfully we have 12 months to accomplish this, but her final year has the potential to be an expensive surprise, even with financial aid, as the college knows they have a “captive audience” and may lower previous levels of aid (this happened to us with our son).
  3. Save $8000 for future travels, including an additional $1000 in Delta gift cards from Swagbucks. This is a big goal, but we think it’s one we can accomplish. Savings throughout the year will come from the $1 bill/change jar; WenYu’s and Meiling’s reimbursements for their phone plan; a monthly saving allotment (which has been increased for 2021); all refunds, reimbursements, and rewards; and every other bit of odds and ends we can throw into the account.
  4. Save $600 for Christmas 2021. We plan to keep it simple again next year, even if we’re all together again. Brett and I have already decided that any gifts we give each other will be to support our 2022 walking tour in Japan.
  5. Send at least one stored item to each of the girls. We plan to send WenYu a lamp we’ve been storing for her, and also her light box (for drawing), but have no idea yet what to send to Meiling (she wants my KitchenAid mixer, but for what it would cost to send from her we could buy her a new one). Postage is going to be expensive no matter what we choose to send, but we are determined to start whittling down the stuff we are keeping for them. YaYu’s things will stay here for the time being, until she finishes school.
  6. Go to the beach at least 26 times. That’s an average of every other week but we think it’s a goal we can accomplish. 

My Personal Goals:

  1. Read 52 books. This past year was a bust as I didn’t read for nearly three months after we came back to Kaua’i – my mind just couldn’t focus. I have decided that 2021 will be a “year of mystery” with my reading focusing on mysteries, thrillers (which will include the John LeCarré books – will get as many read/reread as possible), and police procedurals from around the world. I already have over ten books on hold at the library!
  2. Add 20 minutes of upper body strength training with weights to my daily exercise. I need to improve my upper body strength for our 2022 tour. YaYu has agreed to help me find a program I can follow online.
  3. Continue to study Japanese, and add French as well. I’m going to finish up the Memrise Japanese offerings at the beginning of the year, then plan to move on to working with the Japanese for Busy People text to get a firmer grip on the grammar. I’m not sure how much I can improve, but the point for me now is to keep going with it. I found a free beginning online French course offered through MIT, and want to start that. It will be challenging, especially since I will have to submit lessons and will actually be awarded a grade for the course once I sign up, so once I start I will be committed. I thoroughly enjoyed learning French before we left on our Big Adventure and have been wanting to learn more.
  4. Start writing a book. I have an idea of where I want to go with this, so will begin next month with an outline, and also start researching publishers. I plan to set aside an one hour each day for book writing. 

We have one other surprise goal, but have no idea right now whether that will turn out to be more of a fantasy or something we can get done. We’ll know more as the year goes along, but for now will keep it under wraps.

When I look over my personal goals it’s clear that I’m going to have to organize my time better next year in order to get to all these things I want to do. I’m ending this year with a sort of fuzzy schedule for the things I’m doing now, and will work with that and add things and find times that work best for me so I don’t feel overly pressured. From the looks of things though my day will be quite full, and I’ll need to motivate myself to keep moving. My daily activity cards will help me stay motivated and on task, but I know it’s going to take a little time to settle in and find my groove.

2021: We’re ready! Bring it on!

Sunday Morning 12/13/2020: A Beautiful Week in the Neighborhood

Not a lot of pretty sunsets this week as the sky to the west was almost always cloud free. The days are growing longer though, and sunsets will hopefully be lingering a bit longer rather than disappearing in moments like they have been.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Friday’s weather was perfection, so we decided to head up north for a hike.

It’s been an absolutely lovely week in our part of Kaua’i. The weather has been beautiful, and Brett and I have gotten out as much as possible, including snap decision to do a six-mile hike on the Stone Dam trail on Friday. We took the “Enchanted Forest” loop versus the shorter route this time, which added nearly two miles to the hike, but it was easy and beautiful, and we finished in one hour and fifty-five minutes. There had apparently been some heavy rain the night before and that morning as the trail was quite muddy in places, but we were mostly always able to find some solid ground to get around or through the mud. We’ve decided to do the hike once a month next year as part of our long-distance walk training. The drive up to the north side of the island is kind of long, but the hike is definitely worth it. We stopped in Kilauea on the way back to drop off some books at the Kileaua Bakery’s little lending library, and also to check out the new Kilauea Market. Wow! Their gin collection was amazing, and included several lovely varieties from the UK – we’ve decided that we’ll stop by each time we’re up there and add to our collection.

Even encountering mud along the way, we had a great hike on Friday. The scenery was pretty nice too.

YaYu has finished her 3:00 a.m. wake ups, and has been very busy writing papers and preparing for her final exams. Those should be submitted and over by mid-week, and then she can finally relax for a while. She received her bill for the spring term this past week, and between what we’ve put away and her own savings (she saves portion of her work-study income each month) we can cover the bill, so that’s a relief. In the meantime she relaxes by cooking whenever she can, although it feels at times as though she is eating us out of house and home. As expected, our grocery spending has once again ballooned. We’re thrilled though that she is here with us, and as Christmas approaches Brett and I grow sadder about the other girls not being here this year. We have our fingers crossed for a big reunion in 2021!

One of YaYu’s creations this past week: noodles in fiery pork sauce. She made the noodles from scratch.

The week before this last one I realized all of my prescriptions were running low and I had not heard a thing from the prescription-by-mail service we’re required to use even though I’m supposed to be on automatic refills. I called and manually reordered the prescriptions, and then this past week realized I had once again heard nothing from the service about my order. Usually I get an email within a day or so letting me know that the prescriptions have been refilled and are on their way, and a tracking notification. But this time, nothing. So, I called again and was told by the automated service that “your prescriptions are in process” and would be ready to ship in about two weeks time, meaning my medication would run out before the new order arrived. I immediately requested to speak to a representative who checked things over, went and talked to someone, and then said there had been a “glitch.” Oh great. There has been a “glitch” with my account for nearly a year – I’m unable to register with the service online for a reason no one can figure out; earlier this year they sent my prescriptions to the Airbnb we stayed at last Christmas; and now this. I spoke with someone from the company’s IT, and she could not figure out what was going on other than it appeared at some point someone who had no idea what they were doing messed things up with my account and then tried to “fix” it and screwed things up even more! Anyway, the IT rep did some work and got this current order straightened out, but told me “glitches” may continue to show up now and again until things are fully straightened out. I received an email the next day that my prescriptions are now on their way and will arrive this week. I remind myself that we are very fortunate to have such an affordable prescription plan, that things usually go right, but this last incident was the kind of postmodern screw-up that can absolutely ruin a day.

Kauai Coffee and Kauai Kookies – the perfect coffee break.

Another reminder that the Kauai Coffee giveaway is open until midnight next Friday, and that you can enter once a day to increase your chances of winner. Thank you again for all the lovely replies and notes about local foods from your area or places that you’ve visited.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I have almost finished reading Caste. It’s been a difficult book to read and I’ve had to steel myself sometimes to open it up because of the emotions it brings forward. Once I start though, it’s difficult to put down. It will stay with me forever.
  • Listening to: It’s another quiet Sunday morning, and beautiful day here. YaYu is already working outside, Brett is putting away last night’s dishes in the kitchen, there’s a couple roosters making noise in a nearby yard, but otherwise all is calm and still. The breeze was stronger just a little while ago, but it’s mostly died off now. I sometimes can’t get over how much more quiet it is here than it was back in Kapaa, where it was always noisy (the chickens and dogs especially).
  • Watching: Our Schitt’s Creek binge continues and I love it more with each episode. We gave up on Darkwind and are now watching Black Spot, a creep show from France. YaYu loves to watch cooking and food shows, and and she and I finished a season of the Ultimate Food Truck Race this past week, and are now watching Britain’s Best Home Cooks, with Mary Berry, and we all watched the Great British Bake Off’s holiday specials on Friday – very fun.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re going to have burritos again this evening using the Mexican cowboy beans along with some grilled chicken, seasoned rice, finely shredded cabbage, and salsa. Other dinners this week will be shrimp pad Thai; mabo nasu with rice; grilled teriyaki chicken and zaru soba; grilled fish tacos; and meatloaf and mashed potatoes. We’ve been having pizzas on Friday evenings using mini naan breads as the crusts and I’ve decided to make chicken tikka masala pizzas – yum! The small pizzas have been filling without adding loads of calories. We’ll finish our chocolate ganache cake tomorrow and on Tuesday I’m planning to make a lemon cake which we’ll have with a homemade blueberry syrup.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I got in a lot of good walks this week, almost all an hour or more in duration, but we took Thursday off because neither of us felt very good (overly tired). I finished the last of my Christmas shopping and just need to get things wrapped. I found and purchased a twig tree from Amazon that we will use for our Christmas tree. It should arrive this week. It’s very simple, and I’m anxious to see what it look like, but it’s big enough that we can hang a few ornaments on it. YaYu and I got started yesterday on sorting through and organizing everything in our Christmas box – it’s going to be a big project for a few days.
    I covered this zinc-lined wooden tea box during our first tour in Japan, in 1982 (I used to teach the class at the rec center), and it has held our Christmas things ever since, with no damage during all our moves. The last set of movers taped it shut without wrapping it first, destroying the outer paper covering. They wrote on the outside as well further marring it.
  • Looking forward to next week: If the good weather continues (it probably won’t, sadly) we will definitely head to the beach this week. We’re also doing a slightly big food shop on Tuesday, and get everything we need to be ready for Christmas except for our Christmas Eve scallops and Christmas morning berries – we’ll get those the following week. With few visitors on the island once again, the stores aren’t crowded like they were a couple of weeks ago.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We were very pleased with this week’s Stone Dam hike. The distance is close to several of the days and distance we will walk on our Nakasendō walk, so if we can do this now we are confident we will be able to do the entire walk. There are no standout happenings as everything about the entire week was good!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Not a particularly frugal week because of the Christmas shopping, but we put $3.83 into the change/$1 bill jar, leftover from when YaYu’s and my shopping trip. YaYu kept me in check and didn’t let me get anything not on my list. I earned 1920 Swagbucks this past week and am inching ever closer to that Delta gift card. We unfortunately had to throw out an entire bunch of cilantro the day after we bought it because it froze in the refrigerator in spite of our efforts to keep it safe, but otherwise there was no wasted food. I baked pumpkin – chocolate chip bars to use up some leftover pumpkin puree, and otherwise all leftovers were eaten.
  • Grateful for: We continue to remain thankful for the wonderful walking venue that Kukuiolono Park provides. There’s loads of ways we can switch up different routes to keep things interesting, and this past week Brett tried out a new wooded path that immediately became a must-do part of our daily walks. We’re also thankful that the walks include hills with some decent climbs and downhills, and of course there’s always the beautiful scenery and views.
  • Bonus question: Is there a book you can think of that’s been the equivalent of a blockbuster movie? The most recent book I can think of that fits this category was the final few books in the Harry Potter series. They literally flew off the shelves; there were parties so people could buy a copy at midnight the day the book came out; and they were greatly anticipated and talked about endlessly. Prior to that the only two books I can think of that were immediate blockbusters were Stephen King’s The Shining, and Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. Both were eagerly anticipated, and I remember buying them as soon as they came out, and staying up all night to finish each one because they were both so scary I was afraid to put them down. I reread both of them last year and they both remain great reads (and are still scary even though I know what’s going to happen).

Even though it’s almost “winter” here, there are always beautiful things blooming and growing on the island. We spotted the pretty gold and red berries pictured above at Kukuiolono this past week, and the gorgeous pink ginger up at the Stone Dam. The lavender blossoms are from the gold berry plant, an interesting combination. Our yard is looking very lush and green these days, and we continued to feel beyond lucky to have such a beautiful place to look out on.

That’s a wrap for this week – it was an absolutely lovely one. I hope it was a good week for everyone reading as well. Rain has been forecast for later this coming week, although I never believe the weather report until I see it as things can change so rapidly. For now, here’s to another week of good weather, good things happening, good food and good books, getting things accomplished, great walks and more!

Home Cooking: Olive Oil Orange Cake

(photo credit: splendidtable.org)

I love when I find a new recipes that use ingredients I have on hand, or at least mostly on hand. This yummy cake is one of those recipes. Oranges are something we usually have on hand, especially this time of year, but they now can be found in supermarkets year round. We’re seeing local oranges and other citrus now at our local farmers’ market, and by the end of this month we’ll have our own fresh, sweet oranges coming from the tree in our yard. Everything else needed to make this cake is a pantry staple.

The recipe comes from Melissa D’Arabian, from her show Ten Dollar Dinners (she was the 2009 winner of Food Network Star). I used to try and catch the show as much as possible as her recipes and menus were usually right up my alley, and the show was often on when I was watching our neighbor’s dog across the street back in Portland.

I had never thought of using olive oil in a cake but this one was a delicious success with our family and continues to be a favorite. It’s very moist, lightly flavored with orange, and the olive oil gives it body and a distinctive (and delicious) flavor. The only things I’ve changed are to substitute whole wheat pastry flour for part of the all-purpose flour, and increase the amount of orange juice called for from three tablespoons to four, and the zest from one tablespoon to two because often the oranges I use produce that much juice and zest! Online reviews for the cake have mentioned however that without a little extra juice, the cake might be a little dry. I usually also end up baking the cake a little longer than called for (about five minutes more, I think) as the middle is sometimes not set at the called-for time. I have never used the confectioner’s sugar at the end, but think it looks pretty.

OLIVE OIL ORANGE  CAKE

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup unbleached, and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • juice and zest of 1 orange (3-4 TBSP juice; 1-2 TBSP zest)
  • confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ round or a 9″x 9″ square baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together olive oil, eggs, vanilla, and orange juice. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and gradually mix in the olive oil mixture, adding the zest toward the end; do not over mix. Pour into greased pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center is set and the cake is a deep golden color. Let the cake sit for 15 minutes, then dust with confectioner’s sugar if desired.

A Year Without Travel

We have no plans to go anywhere in 2021. Nothing, nada, zip. It will be our first year without travel since I don’t when. 

While it makes me sad to think about that, I’m someone who likes to make lemonade from lemons, so while it may be a year without travel, it will be a year for saving, making plans for the future, and getting ourselves in the best shape possible for traveling in 2022 and beyond.

Here’s how we’re going to spend the coming year:

#1: A Year for Saving

  • Next year will be our year of pretty much buying nothing, and saving as much as we possibly can. We’ve set a big goal for ourselves in this regard: adding an additional $8,000 to our 2020 travel savings total by the end of the year. We are going to increase our monthly automatic allotment to the travel account beginning January 1, and then throw everything else we can into the account whenever possible. We spent this last year getting ourselves resettled on Kaua’i, but that’s been accomplished and we now can turn our focus to future travels. We have only two purchases planned for next year: a good recumbent bicycle for cross training, and a new pair of walking shoes for me. I think I can get to the middle of the year before needing the shoes, and they will be a transitional pair until I get trail shoes in 2022 to wear on our big walk in Japan. We’re also planning to do something special for YaYu’s 21st birthday since she’ll be here with us, but have not made any plans for that yet. Not sure exactly when we’ll be getting the bike, but we have one picked out and when we’re ready to segue into training mode we’ll order it. Otherwise, we plan to buy nothing new next year except for food, toiletries, and household supplies, and renewing our passports.

#2: A Year for Planning

  • Although our travel plans for 2022 are pretty well set at this point (YaYu’s graduation in May, then Japan in September & October, ending with an 11-day walk on the Nakasendō from Kyoto to Tokyo), we are beginning to flesh out travel plans for 2023 through 2025. In 2023, besides a one-month visit to Japan in the spring, we’d like to return to England for three months, stay in the Cotswolds again, and concentrate on walks in the area including a full-length Cotswolds Way walking tour. Ideas for the two years after that (2024 and 2025): a spring visit to Japan, and then one year we’d either like to take a three-month late-summer, early fall trip again to Europe, with one-month stays in Denmark, the Netherlands, and London (which we didn’t get to see much of last time), or go back to Strasbourg for two months, but for the purpose of studying French, and then follow up that stay with a one-month visit to another city in France where we can use what we’ve learned. We fell in love with France during our 40 days there in 2018, particularly with Strasbourg, and thought this would be an interesting way to not only go back but engage more with the country and people there. We’d also like to do another rail journey in Australia, but that’s way out there for now. These BIG plans for the next few years are just ideas at this point, but we already know it will take lots of planning and saving to make any and all of them happen, and we will definitely have the time this year to start putting things into place to turn dreams into goals and then make them happen. In 2025 Brett will be 75, I will be 73, and at that point we’ll reassess how much and what kind of traveling we want to continue to do at that point.

#3: A Year for Training & Staying Healthy

  • It goes without saying that good health is our primary goal in 2021, but beyond that Brett and I will continue to get in shape to successfully complete the long walking tour in Japan we’ve planned for the fall of 2022. We’re off to a good start, but still have a ways to go. This past year we’ve been walking for exercise; that is, we’ve been walking at a fast clip with a primary goal of losing weight. Next year the goal will change over to walking for endurance. Walking tours move at a slower pace than we walk now, but the length of walking time is much greater so we’ll be focusing on walking for longer times, and to that end we will put ourselves on a training schedule to get into top shape. I’ll have more up about that later, but it will involve cross training and strength training as walking. We will continue with our annual doctor’s visits and testing, maintain our current way of eating, and practice other healthy behaviors to ensure we finish 2021 where we want to be.

So, although we won’t be traveling next year, we will have plenty on our plates, and much to do to get ourselves ready for the future. We’re very motivated to make 2021 a great year for both us, all while continuing to enjoy our laid-back life on Kaua’i. We have much to be grateful for, but there’s nothing like a few goals to keep us motivated and looking forward, and we’re ready to get going!

Sunday Morning 12/6/2020: Blue Skies Again

Many evenings the sky was empty of clouds and the sun went down quickly, but there were three nice sunsets though, on Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

It’s Sunday morning in Hawaii! Aloha kakahiaka!

There were mostly blue skies this week! Friday was pretty windy, and there was some rain, but mostly it was wonderful.

This past week has been a very lovely week – we’ve woken up to sunshine in the mornings, the humidity has been low, there was less wind (until Friday when it was blowing like crazy again), and only a little rain now and then. It’s been downright delightful. It has mostly remained cool too, to the point that we sometimes got cold in the evenings, and have been able to keep the ceiling fans turned off. The weather has been ideal for walking though, although we did miss one day when we were crazy busy with errands, and then saw dark clouds rolling in right when we should have been heading over to the park. I have no idea if all the visitors to Kaua’i have been going to the beach or not because it’s been a bit too cool for my taste, but I guess if you spent a lot to get over here you’d probably go to the beach no matter what. There are still a LOT of tourists here, although this week Kaua’i went back to a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all visitors, residents, and those coming from other islands. The amount of visitors changed from over 600 one day to just seven on the day the quarantine went back into effect, so we’re hoping this will allow the island to get the virus under control here again.

COVID-19 cases have continued to climb however. I don’t know if anyone heard or read about the local couple that flew home to Kaua’i this past week from San Francisco even though they knew they had both tested positive for the virus! They were arrested upon arrival and charged with reckless endangerment, fined $1000 each, and as soon as they have recovered will face a judge. I imagine the legal implications for them and the airline (United) because of this may be huge; that is, even though they were told not to get on their flight to Kaua’i and were put in the quarantine area at the San Francisco airport, they left and boarded their flight anyway, endangering everyone on the flight. If anyone on that plane comes down with the virus they possibly have grounds to sue, both the couple and/or the airline. Likewise, anyone who came into contact with them before boarding or upon arrival here has possible grounds. Brett and I think the couple possibly flew to San Francisco for Thanksgiving, maybe infecting everyone they came into contact with there, and then home to Kaua’i. They were traveling with a four-year-old as well, but we read the child has been placed with other family members for the time being (not sure whether voluntarily or by court order). Stuff like this not only makes me furious, but frankly makes me more scared to go out at all, including to our weekly trips to the farmers’ market, although we purposely spend as little time there as we can. Same for going to Costco, Walmart, or Big Save, and forget any other place else these days. Unfortunately, if we want to eat we have to go shopping as there are no delivery services on the island, and if they were they would be too expensive. The return to quarantining on Kaua’i will have a positive effect on the spread of the virus here, but I also feel badly that so many who just were able to go back to work will once again be unemployed for a while. I am beginning to wonder though if our country will ever get a handle on this virus.

Whipping up another one of her amazing creations!

YaYu learned on Wednesday that her fourth and final COVID-19 test was negative, so she at last feels comfortable going out with us, and we can finally give each other hugs. She’s managed all her early wake-ups this week and gotten all her classwork done, but keeps saying she is very ready for the term to be over. She’s running up at the park again, and has been a big help for me in the kitchen. She surprised up with some delicious ham buns (yeast rolls filled with chopped ham) when Brett and I were out doing our shopping, and also prepared the farmers’ market pasta the other night, but she mostly spends her time on school work, or outside on the deck with the neighborhood cat, Ally, who couldn’t be happier that YaYu has returned. She is torn about returning to school at the end of January or staying here and taking all classes remotely. She says she wants to have a better sense of what’s happening with the virus before making a decision about whether to return or not, and will let us know in early January.

Ally is very much in her happy place now that YaYu is home again.

Finally, don’t forget to enter the Kauai Coffee giveaway! You can enter once a day to increase your chances of winning – just leave a short comment, hopefully one about local foods you enjoy or have discovered on your own travels. I am enjoying all the comments, and taking notes about things to remember for future travels.

Kauai Coffee and Kauai Kookies giveaway – don’t forget you can enter once every day.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: It has been a difficult week for reading. I had hoped to finish Caste this past week, but had more than a few nights where I started reading and fell right asleep. The book isn’t boring by any stretch but we’ve been walking more this week and when I climbed into bed I have been ready to sleep! It’s difficult to read during the day with three of us in the apartment.
  • Listening to: It’s very quiet this morning, although things are starting to happen: Brett is making coffee (our holiday blend) and YaYu is waking up. It’s very, very quiet outside – not even a leaf on a tree is stirring. The sky is blue, there are almost no clouds, so it’s going to be a lovely (and probably hot) day. Bring it on!
  • Watching: We are watching an episode or two of Schitt’s Creek every evening, and Brett is still watching Deadwind. We enjoy Scandanavian mysteries and police procedurals, but this one has lost me.
  • Cooking/baking: It’s Sunday, and that means it’s beans for dinner. Tonight we’re having Cuban bowls: rice topped with Cuban black beans, roasted sweet potato, fried banana (in place of the plantains we can’t get here), and a little salsa. Other dishes on this week’s menu will be Mississipi pot roast; French dip sandwiches using pot roast leftovers; roasted fish with lemon and rosemary; Guadalajara quesadillas; and chicken adobo with bok choy. Tonight we’ll finish up the Blue Bunny banana split ice cream we bought last week (on sale again at Big Save), and then YaYu and I will make the chocolate cake with ganache tomorrow and have that for our dessert the rest of the week.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: 1) We somehow ended up with a lot of errands to run this past week, or at least it seemed that way – it seemed like we had to go somewhere and do something every day. Brett took care of the car’s oil change and did some recycling, and we did our food shopping on Monday (Costco/Walmart), Tuesday (Big Save), and Wednesday (farmers’ market). We drove down to the Big Save in Eleele for the first time – wow! It’s quite large and much more organized than the one in Koloa where we usually shop, so looks like we will be heading to Eleele from now on. It’s not quite as close to us as Koloa, but the store makes the slightly longer time it takes to get there worth it. 2) We got YaYu’s Christmas stocking gifts finished up, and just have a couple more things to get for her. 3) Every walk Brett and I did this week was over four miles and took an hour because we’ve started to think more about how long we walk versus how far as we know we have to be comfortable walking two to four hours per day when we do the Japan walk in 2022. We’re going to stay with where we are for now, and then add start adding some more time near the end of January – slow and steady should do it. 4) I finished up another five weeks of activity cards, and have another five-week set ready to go!
  • Looking forward to this week: I am going to head out on my own to do some Christmas shopping for a couple of things for Brett, and one thing for YaYu, and then I am done. And, If this good weather holds (and it warms up a little), we may get to the beach!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) WE USED THE FIRE PIT AND MADE SMORES!!! Brett decided to light it off last Tuesday evening following hamburgers for dinner, but although he got it going it didn’t last very long as the evening was more damp than we imagined. Still it was fun, the s’more were delicious, and the potential for future enjoyment is there. 2) Brett and I had a shorter than usual but fun time at the Kauai Coffee Company, and were able to taste five different coffees (and purchased a bag of their Chocolate Mistletoe (actually mint) blend. We’re not fans of flavored coffees, but this one is delicious). 3) Brett also got a much-needed new t-shirt there as he was down to only three shirts for daily wear. 4) The county is finally fixing the road we have to use to get up to the main highway – YEAH! The road has been in terrible condition ever since we’ve been here, with massive potholes, etc., and made worse recently as it was used by trucks as a detour while another road was being repaired. The road has not only been very bumpy and uncomfortable to drive on, but unsafe as well as cars swerve to miss the potholes and other rough spots in the road. It looks like sidewalks and curbs will also be installed along the way, which will be very welcome. Anyway, although things will be a mess for a long while, the work is much appreciated and welcome. 5) I’ve lost three more pounds!

Kauai Coffee used to offer over 20 varieties to self-sample out on the coffee patio; these days there are just five and they’re served to you, but we still had a good time. The view out over the coffee groves is still pretty wonderful though.

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We did our food shopping this past week, got everything on our list, stayed under budget, and put $5.62 into the change/$1 bill jar. 2) I earned 2,664 Swagbucks this past week, which includes the 633 bonus SB I earned last month. Swagbucks have been difficult to earn this past week though – there was little I could do over the holiday weekend, and I don’t think I’ve ever been kicked out of so many surveys as I was this past week. I just keep plugging away though as I have less than 5,000 SB to go to earn a $500 Delta Airlines gift card. 3) Otherwise we did all the usual frugal things around here – everything has been used up and nothing has been wasted other than a brand new head of lettuce that got pushed to the back of the fridge (grrrrr) and froze solid.Grateful for: Both Brett’s and my Social Security will receive small increase next year, and Brett’s military retirement will also go up a little, and we’re thankful that between the three it will be enough to cover our rent going up in April (the small increase is built into our lease) and the small amount we now have to pay each month for YaYu’s health insurance through the military (Brett’s and mine thankfully remains no cost for the time being).
  • Bonus question: Do you collect or keep magnets, photos, or other things on your refrigerator? We used to keep on lot more on our fridge, and I had a huge magnet collection that I had assembled from all over, but I sorted through those before we moved over to Kaua’i, and these days I just keep my favorites or ones the girls or Brett have given me. They don’t hold up much these days either as the fridge is in a location where stuff can get brushed up against and knocked off easily, and we also don’t have that many reminders to put up anyway, or photos – everything is digital now. I picked up several magnets from our times in China and Japan, and I love my “bitchy woman” ones that the kids and Brett have given me. The others are gifts from the girls, friends, or from their colleges, etc. They don’t get used much, but I still find them fun to look at and remember when and where they come from.

 

My favorite ad from when we were in England last year – it never gets old. Christmas season there started the day after Halloween (because there’s no Thanksgiving holiday to get through first).

I’ve been feeling very detached from the approach of Christmas this year. Compared to last year Portland, we’ve only seen a few decorations about here, and even with getting our presents wrapped and sent and Brett getting out our Christmas mugs (we got them for our first Christmas in Portland, in 1992), I’m just not getting any sort of Christmas feels this year.  YaYu and I have been discussing our menus for Christmas Eve (scallops) and Christmas morning (scones, smoked salmon, fresh berries, and mimosas) and our Christmas dinner (grilled steak and a couple of sides; a pie from The Right Slice for dessert). Maybe that’s a good thing? We still haven’t decided whether we’re going to get anything to use for a tree, or whether we’ll just put out the presents on Christmas morning and call it good. YaYu and I are going to get out our big Christmas box one of these days and sort through all the ornaments and divide them up to get those packaged and sent to everyone for next year – hopefully that will help me get into the spirit a little more. Maybe though it’s just being back on Kaua’i with the sun shining and the shorts wearing that’s affecting me this year, or that the family won’t be gathering for the first time. Or, maybe I just need to get a panettone.

It’s been a very good week overall, and this coming week looks to be just as nice. We’ve got a few errands to run and some shopping to do, but otherwise we’ll be hanging out at home other than a trip to the farmers’ market and our daily walk up at the park. I’ve been working on goals for the coming year and feel like I may be overloading myself, so am going to do some thinking about that as well. Anyway, I hope this past week was a good one for all, and that everyone is looking forward to the one coming up. It’s wonderful to know there are only 26 more days left to go in this crazy year.

 

Home Cooking: Goat Cheese, Artichoke, and Smoked Ham Strata

photo credit: Better Homes & Garden

Whenever I want to serve a special breakfast/brunch dish that can be enjoyed at any time during the morning, either cold or reheated, a strata fits the bill perfectly. A strata is convenient because it can be prepared the night before and be refrigerated overnight, so that all that has to be done in the morning is heat the oven and pop the pan in to bake. Because a strata is basically a savory bread pudding, the variations are endless, and they’re a great way to use up leftover bread, meats, vegetables, or those last bits of cheese that are hanging around, and they’re perfect for main dishes other times of the day as well.

This recipe, from Cooking Light magazine, is a long-time family favorite of ours. It blends tangy goat cheese into the milk and egg mixture, and the middle is filled with diced ham, artichoke hearts and parmesan cheese. It works perfectly as a main dish any time of day.

Although you don’t have to use lower fat ingredients, I typically keep it lean by using egg substitute and skim milk, and making sure all the fat is trimmed from the ham. And, even though it only calls for a small amount, I also usually skip the nutmeg as it’s a flavor I don’t care for in savory dish (there’s a long story there). I’m not exactly sure about a substitute for the fontina cheese as I always just bought a piece when I make this, but a mild cheese like Jarlsberg would work, I think. Finally, the original recipe asks for sourdough bread, but French bread works just as well. Day-old or leftover bread works better than fresh no matter what bread is chosen.

GOAT CHEESE, ARTICHOKE AND SMOKED HAM STRATA

  • 3 1/4 cups low-fat or skim milk, divided
  • 1 8-oz. carton egg substitute or 4 large eggs
  • 1 4-oz. package goat cheese
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 slices sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces coarsely-chopped smoked ham
  • 2 14-oz. cans of artichoke hearts, well-drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese

In either a food processor or blender, combine 1 cup milk, egg substitute or eggs and goat cheese and process until smooth. Add the goat cheese mixture to the remaining 2 1/4 cups milk in a large bowl, then add pepper, thyme, nutmeg and garlic and whisk to combine. Add the bread cubes and stir gently to combine. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Place half of the bread mixture (the cheese/mil mixture will not be completely soaked in) in a 9″ x 13″ pan coated with cooking spray. Arrange the chopped ham, artichoke hearts and Parmesan cheese over the bread mixture, then cover with the remaining bread mixture. Pour any leftover cheese/milk mixture evenly around the pan. Sprinkle the top with the fontina cheese.

The strata can either be baked (uncovered) at this time, or put into the refrigerator to sit overnight for baking in the morning. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until the edges are bubbly. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Holiday Giveaway: A Kaua’i Coffee Break

Kauai Coffee and Kauai Kookies – the perfect coffee break!

Just in time for the holidays – a little surprise!

Kaua’i produces some fantastic locally-produced products, from jams and sauces to coffee and baked goods among others. I’ve been wanting to do a holiday giveaway, and when Brett and I stopped by the Kauai Coffee store this past week for a tasting, I thought a sample of some of their coffee along with some locally produced cookies would be just the ticket!

The Estate Reserve coffee sampler contains two dark roast blends (Koloa Estate and Mundo Novo) and three medium roast blends (Peaberry, Typica, and Yellow Catuai). Each bag contains 2 ounces of ground coffee.

Located on the south shore of Kaua’i, the 3,100-acre Kauai Coffee estate is not only the largest coffee producer in Hawaii, but in the United States. Taking advantage of the rich volcanic soil, the cooling tradewinds, and Kauai’s abundant mountain water, the Kauai Coffee Company uses sustainable, environmentally-sound practices to not only grow five different varieties of coffee beans, but to roast and package it as well. They offer over 20 coffee types and blends, including flavored coffees and special holiday blends.

The winner will receive two varieties of cookies: Macadamia Shortbread and Chocolate Chip. Macadamia. Each box contains 15 cookies

Kauai Kookies have been produced on the island since 1965. Although their classic cookies are their most well-known product they also produce other cookie varieties as well as sauces and dressings using local ingredients.

This giveaway includes one Kauai Coffee Estate Reserve coffee sampler and two boxes of Kauai Kookies. To enter, please comment on this post only, with one entry per day per person allowed. Leave at least one comment telling me about your favorite local food find (can be from anywhere). Another one-time extra entry can be earned if you’re already a follower of The Occasional Nomads, or if you become a follower of the blog – leave a comment and let me know. One more one-time entry can be earned if you mention the giveaway in your own blog; again, let me know in a comment.

The giveaway will be open through midnight HST Friday, December 18, with the winner chosen by a random name selector and announced on Sunday, December 20. I will contact the winner to get your address and mail your package out a couple of days later – you should get it in time for Christmas. I can only accept entries from the U.S. as postage from here is prohibitive!