Somehow coming back from the Kaua’i vacation just didn’t turn on my cooking button and creative juices.  I’ve been plodding away at cooking without anything grabbing my imagination.  But that will change soon.  Strawberries are out in the local markets, and I just bought a 6 pint box from my local veggie stand.  This weekend the organic stand may have some of their delicious berries for sale and we’ll be elbow deep in strawberries.

I just love those red berries and they are great for snacking and munching – low in calories, high in fiber.  It is time for strawberry-rhubarb pie, fruit crumbles, and jam.  But most important, fresh spring fruit snacking.  Mix cut-up berries in your yogurt with a little flaxseed and oat bran and you have a wonderful dessert/breakfast that will hold through to lunch time.

As for the cheating heart bit, you’ve probably noticed that pizza prices are now starting to head toward the $30 level.  Sorry, but that is too expensive for dough, cheese and tomato sauce.  We have found an economic alternative.  Buy pre-made dough and put in your own toppings.

I am truly uncoordinated when shaping the pizza dough.  Trader Joe’s makes a good dough but my pizzas are always weird looking when I have to form my own pie.  So now, I go do Safeway and buy their large Safeway Select fresh pizza.  Those pizzas are usually found on the end isle, are about 42 ounces, come with sauce and several types of topping which suck.  I get their 5 cheese pie and use my own toppings.  Sunday, we were in the mood for a Greek Pizza and it was excellent. Eat this with  steam spring asparagus and a green salad (don’t forget your SaladSuccess shaker to make the dressing).

Greek Pizza Topping

6 ounces baked and cut up (I use scissors) bacon or pancetta

20 Kalamata olives halved and pitted

Feta Cheese

½ can artichokes – I get them from Trader Joe’s

Pesto

1 Italian sausage – get it from the Butcher’s section of the grocery store – take off the skin

1 cup grated fresh Mozzarella cheese – don’t use that rubbery crap but try to find a softer cheese.  Trader Joe makes an excellent Mozzerella cheese.

DIRECTIONS

Spread ingredients evenly over pie.  Bake for 23  minutes in an oven set at 425 degrees.

Well, as all good things must come to an end, so did our vacation.  My thanks go to Costco for providing such an easy trip, Kiahuna Plantation who allowed us to use their hospitality room and take showers before our evening flight, Celeste for her great windsurfing lessons (yes, even fat old ladies like me can do it) and Larry’s Ukuleles in Koloa for giving Christie free lessons.  My curses go to the roosters who started to crow at 6 am outside the condo, United Airlines for the world’s tightest seats, and the Honolulu airport which really needs a major re-design.

About Food:  The Hawaiian Islands are not known for a fine cuisine.  After all these folks were happy with poi, which is like eating glue.  But we did find a good restaurant called Kaua’i Pasta in Lihue.  Prices were comparable to those on the mainland, service was excellent, and I couldn’t ask for a nicer meal. However most “nice” restaurants are either over-priced in which you pay for the view and not the cuisine.  Also, many places don’t want to stay open late and close between 4 and 5 pm.  So make sure that you get a condo with a kitchen and do a little cooking.  On the plus side, the fruits are wonderful and so are the farmers’ markets.  Try a couple of these, buy the papayas and pineapples (especially Sugar Baby pineapple) and feast on fruit.  We were too early for mangos, since that is a summer fruit in Hawaii.  If you are trying to save money, Safeway, Foodland and (don’t laugh) Kmart has great fruit.  In fact Kmart in Lihue is wonderful and I usually hate Kmart.  But everything is upscale from the usual Kmart fare and they have a fresh food department.  I didn’t have the time to check out the Walmart and Costco in Lihue, but I am sure that many of their food products should be good, too.

About Fun:  Where does one start describing activities on an island known for playtime?  Go snorkeling at the Poipu beaches on the south side of the island.  Buy your kid a ukulele and have her take it in the car to serenade you for hours.  Go to Anini Beach on the north side of the island and have Celeste Harvel give you a lesson.  She’s been windsurfing for 17 years and knows how to get you going in a matter of minutes.  Plus Anini Beach is TO DIE FOR.  Calm and protected from high surf, it’s a private oasis of clear turquoise water.  And don’t think you’re too old or too fat to be able to windsurf, it takes minimum brain function, coordination and strength to learn.  Her 3 hour class was the best $100 I’ve spent in a long time.

Celeste (green suite) and me at Anini Beach

For great boat charters on the Na Pali coast (think Jurassic Park), go to North Shore Charters and get Gary as your captain – he’s the best.  The link at Yelp says it all – “Bouncing up and down the surges of the ocean, chasing dolphins, exploring sea caves…memories that I will have for a lifetime! Don’t waste your time or money on the big boats out of the west side – experience Na Pali up-close and personal with North Shore Charters!”.  By the way, don’t lug over your snorkeling gear to Kaua’i, it wastes precious luggage space and you can rent for $5 a day or go buy gear at Kmart.  Save your space for that wonderful Kona coffee which you can find at the local Foodland and Safeway markets on sale.

Biking is great fun on the island.  We decided to try a Waimea Canyon downhill adventure thru Outfitters Kauai. Joey and Howard were great guides, and Joey will even take you on a hiking/camping trip thru the Na Pali coast and be your guide/chef.  Outfitters has other adventure tours such as kayaking, ziplining thru forest canopies, and whale watching. They are a little pricey but loads of fun.

Family Pic at the Waimea Canyon

Words to the Wise:  Make sure that you have rash guards and board shorts, especially for the kids.  There are lots of rocks and coral in the water, so if there is boogie board or surfing activities, you’ll get cut up.  Plus rash guards are always a good idea when being out at the beach.  Kmart sells them for $10.  Also beach shoes and booties will help save your feet in the water.  Always remember to lather on the sunscreen (I use 45 – 50 SPF Wide Spectrum) no matter how overcast the day.  I’m a skin cancer survivor so I also ALWAYS wear hats and long sleeve shirts.  Watch out for the riptides – not all beaches are safe.  And most importantly, buy The Ultimate Kaua’i Guidebook – Kaua’i Revealed by Andrew Doughty.  It is almost as good having a native guide on your trip.  The restaurant section is unbiased and on target.

View from the Condo

So other than great memories and pictures, what did I bring back from our trip?.  Freshwater pearl necklaces and earrings from the vendors at the Spouting Hole (save yourself some time to go see the horn and do some inexpensive trinket shopping), tea towels from the botanical gardens, pink and white Hawaiian sea salt from Foodland, a 5 lb bag of Maui Gold Cane Sugar and bags of Kona coffee – a newly found addiction.  Wish I had more time and money (oh for those Hawaiian quilts), but I’ll be back, I promise you. Aloha.

It’s unanimous.  Kaua’i is ruled by roosters who announce the day starting at 5 am.  I don’t understand why food is so expensive on this island since it is ruled by chickens that are beyond range-fee.  They are everywhere: side of public highways, parks and resorts.  Watching them makes me hungry.

After a 23 year hiatus, Warren, I and the kids are on the lovely island of Kaua’i at the Kiahuna Outrigger Plantation.  In a moment of rain weather weakness, we decided to get out of Dodge (Santa Cruz) and head off to the tropics during spring break.  Kaua’i is as breathtaking as we once remembered and the resort is excellent.   We booked the vacation thru Costco (cheap bitch) and so far we are delighted with the accommodations.  If you are interested, we are staying in condo #100 which is a 2 bedroom/2 bath unit with a small and delightful view of the ocean from our living room balcony.  The unit has been recently upgraded and looks better than my house.  Beware, though, if you are an air-conditioner addict, this is not the place.  Many units use the tropical breezes to cool off the rooms.

The wild rooster of Kaua'i

Now about the important stuff.  Since it is now 8:30 am, and we got to the condo last night, I’ve had no time to check out local food, except the Safeway and Foodland.  Foodland does carry organics and local produce but I am shocked at the prices, except for Japanese cucumbers and papaya.  So for breakfast, papaya with lime and Hawaii’s excellent coffee is a treat.

Since we had no time to make dinner last night when we arrived, I grabbed a rotisserie chicken at Foodland.  Usually these are fatty and overdone with sauce, but this was succulent.  The sauce was Huli-Huli and it is brain-dead to make.  Use it to marinate or barbeque on chicken, fish, beef or pork.

Huli Huli Sauce – prepare this in the morning

1 cup of soy sauce

3 heaping tablespoon of  brown sugar

1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Mix well soy, 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, ginger.  Pour mixture over meat ready to marinate in a glass or ceramic container (I use my lasagna pyrex dish).  Put remaining brown sugar on top of meat and refrigerate. Turn over meat occasionally.  After 3 – 8 hours of marinating, roast, bake or barbeque meat.

Aloha. Pictures to be up as soon as I can find editing software.