Culinary Adventures

I've discovered that food in Hawaii is a bit different than it is in the midwest. Hawaiian food has a lot of asian influence, and shopping in the grocery store I sometimes don't have the faintest idea what I would do with some of the things that I find there. But I have started to get adventurous. I kept seeing the frozen whole squid in the seafood section, so finally one day I got one, unsure what I was going to do with it. I like calamari, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Turns out, there is a lot of cleaning that goes on with getting one of these things ready to cook, but after finding a handy YouTube video on how to prepare a squid (you gotta love the internet!), it wasn't too hard at all. But by the time I got done deheading, gutting, skinning and removing the little beak thingy from this squid, I wasn't even sure I wanted to eat him anymore. But I got over it and it was quite tasty. I made a shoga-yaki dish with him which is mostly soy sauce and ginger. Quite tasty!

Then of course there is Spam. In the tourism books, I had read about the love affair folks here have with Spam (the heavily salted luncheon meat cube, not junk e-mail) but I didn't really understand the scope of it until I got here. There have got to be at least 10 varieties of Spam that you can buy at the grocery store. Most of the fast food restaurants have their own local menu which includes spam (for example at McDonalds you can get a rice and spam platter for breakfast). So when in Rome... I have actually been buying and cooking spam on occasion. It is actually pretty good stuff if you get the lower sodium variety (I think there is two days worth of salt in the regular). Then one day at the zoo I discovered Spam musubi when we had lunch there. It was a little brick of rice with fried spam seasoned with soy sauce neatly tied up with a piece of nori. It was really tasty, so I decided I had to try to make these at home. They turned out pretty good and make a great picnic food - we took them to the beach the other day.

I find that we eat a lot more rice here, which is ok with me, I happen to like rice. I think we all like the 'sticky' shorter grain rice that you find in the stores here instead of the long grain rice that is common back home.

Next on my list - sushi. I love sushi rolls, now I just need to learn to make them....

Busy days

Seems like we've been out and about quite a lot lately. Last week I took the kids to the zoo, which was a lot of fun once I found my way down there and then found a parking place (no small task since the zoo is right by Waikiki beach). The zoo was nice, much smaller than the St. Louis zoo but a good size for small kids.

Last weekend, we found that reality hits you in paradise too. Wanting to finally do something about the leak that was intermittently coming across the garage floor, we started to look into the cause. It came from the corner under the water heater, so we had assumed it was just a leaky relief valve on the tank. Well, it was coming from the WALL not the tank, so that meant digging into the wall to see what was up. So Dan was busy cutting holes from the other side of the wall in my pantry wall on Saturday to track it down. A couple holes later, we found the leak and think we've got it under control.

On Sunday, we went to Ko'Olina beach and I went snorkeling for the first time. It was great! There was a nice area on the other side of the lagoon that had a coral bed 2-3 feet under the surface, so I could just float and watch the fish swim right under me, going about their business like I wasn't even there. That beach isn't even well known for doing much snorkeling, I had just planned on practicing with the flippers and mask, so actually getting to see some fish was a bonus. We also put the arm floaties on Cole for the first time (usually I just end up carrying him around in the water) and he just took to swimming like a pro. He really doesn't have much fear of water in the first place (except for waves - he does NOT like waves) and so once he realized that he could float he just started swimming around like a little fish. Adam was always a little afraid of the water at that age and so he never really liked the arm floaties that much, but Cole just loves it.

Monday I took the boys to a pumpkin patch. The farm workers had a little presentation on growing vegetables and then a hayride. After that, you got to walk out into the fields and pick your pumpkins. The boys had a good time, although it was a little strange to go out on a hayride and not bundle up in a turtleneck and sweater for the trip. I guess we'll have to wait until right before Halloween to carve the pumpkin, I don't think it will last long once we carve it unless I put it in the fridge!
Since I had my first taste of snorkeling and loved it, of course I wanted to go out again. So Tuesday evening, we packed a picnic and headed back to Ko'Olina, this time with the waterproof digital camera. I tested it out at home first and lo and behold, it actually takes pictures underwater (I've had it for two years and never put it underwater before). So I decided to take it to see if I could get any pictures of the fish underwater. We went to a different lagoon that evening, unfortunately that lagoon did not have any good coral up close to the surface so I couldn't get any good pictures with the camera, but I had a good time practicing snorkeling again and also got to try out some shots with the camera (see Cole below)
We stayed for sunset after our swim and it was beautiful. I think that was the first time I saw the sun set in the ocean since we've been here. From our place, you see the sun set behind the mountains (also quite beautiful some days).


They'll be comin' round the mountain

Adam kept asking to hike up a mountain since we moved here, so on Saturday we hiked up Diamond Head, which according to the map is a 0.8mile hike up with a 560 ft elevation gain. I was pleasantly surprised that Adam hiked up the whole way by himself. A couple of women behind us asked 'how old is he?', they were impressed that he was doing so well too. Cole got a ride on Dan's shoulders most of the way, although he did walk some of it himself.

I can see why this is a popular tourist attraction, you get some pretty spectacular views from up there. Diamond head sits right at the southeast corner of the island, an you can see all of downtown plus up the east shoreline of the island.
We walked up these, down was much quicker...
And of course at the end there was a shaved ice stand. Mmmm... Notice the holes in the tables to set your shaved ice in. Love it! (especially after Adam dumped his shaved ice on me last weekend)

Firetruck Fun

We went to the Waikele firehouse near us with a mom's club on Friday. Cole had a great time checking out the firemen and firetruck. The kids even got to spray the foam stuff in the grass, it looked like Christmas in Hawaii. Adam didn't want any part of any of it, he hung on my leg most of the time, having a bad mood day I guess. He did perk up when the kids started running through the foam and he joined in for a while. Then he decided to run around and join them for a while before returning to his former grouchy mood. Some days you just can't win.