Posts Tagged ‘First’

PostHeaderIcon My First Bananas

Summer of 2006, young collection

Summer of 2006, young collection.

If there was a first food-producing tropical plant that I’d recommend for beginners, I think it would be the ubiquitous banana. It is a very tolerant plant, grows in a variety of soil conditions excepting perhaps boggy, is the very image of tropical with it’s large, lush, richly green leaves, and with patience and care they produce super yummies that the whole family can enjoy. No, really – 150 lbs from a Williams Hybrid is gonna require the whole family and perhaps the neighbors and their friends to eat… Realistically, most nanners don’t produce that much, especially grown in temperate regions (with winter protection), but it’s immensely satisfying bringing in something that grew from your garden and bananas are no exception.

My first experience in growing bananas here is from a keiki I harvested from a large patch my Father in Law was growing. That patch has since been removed so I’m happy I got it when I did. There’s no name for it yet, this mystery variety, and it hasn’t flowered yet, since winter has claimed its first stem, but I’ve since moved it into the greenhouse planted in a container and I look forward to the bananas it will produce. For me, currently, it’s the joy of growing these things that has me most captivated. The bananas will come in time. The rest of my bananas have yet to flower as of this writing, tho I’ve been growing banana plants for some time now. However, with them in containers and now in a greenhouse, it’s just a matter of time before they’ll be pushing out their flag-leaves and finally, their flowers. Several are close to that now.

Mysore keiki on yearling plant.

Mysore keiki on yearling plant.

Like most of my explosively expanding collection, it really didn’t take off until we got a little bit of property a few years ago that I had free reign on. Our last house had very poor lighting and few windows and a very small yard. I had stuff growing, but I ended up with most of my tropicals growing in a large display window at my computer shop. Then we got another property – not vast acreage, but big enough to stretch out and let my tropical interests take over. And bananas are certainly a big part of those interests.

November of 2006 and ready for winter

November of 2007 and ready for winter.

Banana plants to me are practically synonymous with tropical. They’re lush, succulent, always green, and grow rapidly. Their huge leaves are uniquely… banana. Even without fruit, they are a pleasure to grow. Just a few trees and a bit of imagination and you have yourself a little island setting. My Father in Law never got fruit from his bananas – he’d let them die back every winter and come back in the Spring. But by mid-summer, they’d be huge already and a large clump of banana plants is a sight to behold. I found it irresistible and the first chance I got I took a shovel over there and cut out a keiki (an offshoot) from the clump – a young sword. And thus began my journey into banana-world.

Very happy bananas in wet Spring of 2007

Very happy bananas in wet Spring of 2007.

I had it potted for a year, living in my greenhouse. After a bit, I decided to put it in the ground. The clump lived in the ground for a time, dying back every winter and returning in the Spring, until I got my first pit-greenhouse built. It survived with very little care – just kept it watered over the dry season and that was it. When I got the pit-greenhouse built – with it’s 12.5′ ceiling that was tall enough for the bananas to mature, I determined that I was going to see this banana fruit. I dug it up as soon as a new Spring shoot showed and put it in a container. That was a little over a year ago. Naturally, potted bananas will grow slower than inground bananas – so patience is required when expecting fruit. Perhaps I’ll see fruit from it this year, or next.

Mysore keiki all grown up in 2007.

Mysore keiki all grown up in 2007.

But that didn’t end my banana collecting adventure tho. From trading/sharing/purchasing, I ended up with 13 varieties, minus a couple of losses that has me down to 11. I had a bunch of TC bananas that didn’t make it over the winter – just a touch too cool for them even in the greenhouse – but it’s a good thing for I’d be out of room here pretty quickly if they all survived. Still, I have a few that will get very large that I’ll need to move outside the greenhouse. For the time being, that’s enough for me. Some will go topside as I experiment with winter protection techniques – like my Saba and Brazilian. The more tender bananas and dwarfs will remain in the greenhouse in large containers for more reliable fruiting.

A little fun with the Gimp on one of my Mysore images.

A little fun with the Gimp on one of my Mysore images.

It’s stunning to see them in full growth during the growing season. Winters see them moping, with their lower leaves drying up and growing very little if at all. Some slowed down enough that I topped them to prevent rot – cutting down until I saw a nice green core with no central dark spot (an indicator that the latest leaf was rotting back). Next winter will see a much warmer greenhouse with the catfish tank and active solar-heating and the bananas will all be in much larger containers, so it should be a better overwintering experience.

Providing their stems survive, all of these bananas will fruit. If the stems die back to the ground, then it starts the clock all over with the new shoots that emerge. So far, I’m a little over a year in with most of these bananas, over two for a couple – so I expect to be seeing flowers popping up here really soon. I’ll be sure to cover their development as they grow and produce bananas. For someone who is so good at killing plants, I’ve found bananas to be an exceptional plant to grow and very well adapted to container gardening. So long as you provide it with heat, all the light you can give it, and moisture (without water-logging, of course), you’ll have the makings of a happy nanner, and perhaps even bananas. The plant only produces so many leaves before the flower emerges, so it’s just a matter of time.

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PostHeaderIcon Debating Culture — first thoughts

On Thursday April 21, the special added Dialogue on “Debating Culture” will take place at UH Mānoa’s Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies. Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho will perform selections from their GRAMMY Award winning and nominated CDs, then join in on a panel discussion.

For many people who have commented publicly about not having heard our music, this performance is an opportunity to address this. (although, thinking out loud a bit, our CDs are on sale in the iTunes Store, where anyone can listen to 90-second clips now.)

Tia, Daniel & I wrote in Midweek two months ago that “our successes . . . have been bittersweet since we have become the target of attacks.” Undoubtedly there will be folks who will come to UH on Thursday to restate any number of objections to us and our music.

My purpose in organizing this event, however, goes far beyond Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho and the now-defunct GRAMMY Award category of “Best Hawaiian Music Album.” Hence the title of this specific event:  ”Debating Culture.”

Here, as I see it, are the questions that matter:

1. What is Hawaiian music?

Wrapped up in this question are: Who gets to make Hawaiian music? Where is Hawaiian music made? When is Hawaiian music made? Where is there space for the creativity that artists conjure? (This was the focus of Dialogue #3, “Creating Culture.” There was complete consensus among that eveningʻs panelists–Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani, Napua Makua, Snowbird Bento, and Dr. Taupouri Tanagō, about the centrality of artists being creative visionaries, and acknowledgment that there is a chilling atmosphere in which creative artists are currently working.)

2. What is good Hawaiian music?

By adding in the dimension of value, stipulating an evaluation, a value, this question invites dialogue and debate over how quality is defined. This is the gound on which people take positions, and those positions become the focus of dialogue and debate.

3. Who gets to say so?

These three fundamental questions inform everything from the GRAMMY category itself to the overwhelming response to the outcome over the turbulent seven-year life of the category.

It is possible to take one step further back to ask the unspoken:  Why do these questions matter so much that so many people are moved to express their manaʻo so passionately and publicly?

I will continue thinking out loud after I get past todayʻs teaching obligation.

© 2011 Amy Ku‘uleialoha Stillman. All rights reserved.

Hawaiian Music for Listening Pleasure

PostHeaderIcon First Byte: Jollibee in Waipahu

With a large part of the demographic in this old plantation town on Oahu’s west side being made-up of folks originally from the Philippines, it’s no wonder Waipahu has been appropriately labeled “Little Manila”.  Waipahu is certainly an ideal town for a national chain restaurant originating from the .P.I. “motherland” to set-up shop, with Max’s of Manila in recent years also first setting foot here. While not from P.I., another Filipino chain originating from California who also set-up shop here in Waipahu is Valerio’s Bakery, famous for their Pan De Sal rolls.

Now, adding to that list of Filipino chains in “Wai’pa-HOOO!” is Jollibee, who recently opened for business in the same shopping center where anchor tenant Pacific Market is located.

Jollibee is the equivalent to the collective mind in the Philippines as McDonald’s is in the U.S.. While like McDonald’s, who have expanded their menu far beyond just burgers and fries, Jollibee is also well known for their “Chicken Joy” fried chicken and sweet “Filipino style” Spaghetti, amongst other new menu favorites to suit the current trend.

Here’s Jollibee’s whimsical mascot standing near the doorway in front of the restaurant…

Also in front, “Crispy Bangus,”, along with some of their breakfast dishes are promoted on this poster stand…

Upon entering Jollibee Waipa-HOO! on this peak Aloha Friday noon lunch hour visit this past week, I soon learned this place still has plenty of novelty, hype and popularity with the Waipahu locals, as was evidenced by the LONG LINE of folks waiting to order…

Thankfully Jollibee lives up to the “fast” in fast food, and the line moved very quickly, where from standing in back of the line to arrival at the front counter took what seemed like no longer than five minutes. Helping that efficiency, there’s a worker who checks off an order ticket for each person in line and hands it to you…

I don’t recall seeing him calling in my order to the kitchen through his headset. Instead, all his function seemed was to speed the ordering process by checking off a menu ticket that he then hands to you, which you in turn hand to the cashier. Regardless of this effort in efficiency, I still had to wait on the side at the counter for a few minutes for my order to be completed as they hurriedly rushed more customers at checkout.

You a fan of Jollibee’s famous sweet Filipino style Spaghetti? Then make it a party platter!..

Where there’s burgers, there must be dogs..

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I swear their “Signature Dressing” is essentially Banana Ketchup.

Here’s the takeout menu from the Waipahu location…

I wanted to dine there, yet every table was taken…

In the photo above, if you look towards the front service counter, there’s a “party room” in the right corner (just past the soda fountains) where you can hold private parties, including “Jollibee” themed party favors and even an appearance by the Jollibee mascot, similar to Chuck E. Cheese. I’m SO there for that on my next BD! lol

Since all the tables were taken inside, and there were no tables outside in the shopping plaza, I decided to take my Jollibee grindz back to the office.

On this “First Byte” visit, I decided to try Jollibee’s Spaghetti & Chicken Joy Combo’, along with a Cheeseburger on the side, which pretty much covers their most popular signature menu items…

Packaging looks fun and well-presented. Let’s check out the Spaghetti and Chicken Joy combo…

As you see, the “Chicken Joy” on the left includes a side of gravy that you pour on it, dip it, or not use at all, up to you.

Being a fast food fried chicken, naturally us folks who grew up in the U.S. are going to compare it with absolute top-of-mind, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), along with Popeye’s or Church’s or other regional favorite, depending which chain you like best in your neck of the woods. Upon taking a first bite, I immediately notice the batter is nice and crispy, even after my 30 minute drive back to the office. The meat inside was also quite juicy and tender, albeit not really packing much as far as seasoning (salt) within the fibers.

The batter also didn’t have much in the seasoning department, tasting like there wasn’t much going on besides flour mixed with some salt ‘n pepper, and that’s about it. At least that’s all I could detect. Overall, “dry” without the gravy, it was just a basic fried chicken done right, no more, no less. Note this was the “Classic” Chicken Joy, not the “Spicy” version.

Now let’s REALLY add some “joy” to this fried chicken by pourin’ some gravy on it…

Aaahhhh…oooohhhh…aaaaahhhh. Now THAT looks more like it! Upon a bite of “Chicken Joy” all smothered in gravy, I found the gravy’s texture fairly gelatinous, thanks to what seemed more like a cornstarch thickener than roux (flour and butter) or a flour slurry. Flavor-wise, the gravy tasted pretty much like your typical “McPackaged” poultry or even turkey gravy, where I’d say the “McPackaged” stuff is actually better, as far as depth and overall savoriness. Go figure.

Like the chicken’s batter, the gravy’s seasoning tasted like there wasn’t much going on besides salt n’ pepper basics, with perhaps just a small hint of sage or bay leaf, if any. I suppose the rather basic-tasting gravy did indeed bring some added “joy” to the fried chicken, which was good in and of itself, yet not by much, and I probably wouldn’t have missed it had they, say, forgot to pack the gravy in the box.

With that, I give Jollibee’s Classic recipe Chicken Joy 3 SPAM Musubi and the accompanying gravy 1, where in this sector of the fast food industry, Colonel Sanders’ “original recipe” is still is the benchmark by which all others are judged.

Now let’s try Jollibee’s sweet Filipino style Spaghetti…

That yellow “slick” is the grated cheese, which has already melted over the course of my 30 minute drive. OK, let’s mix it up and do this…

And? Well, um. Well, um. All I can say is, if you’re a purist when it comes to authentic Italian cuisine, stay CLEAR AWAY from this dish, because Jollibee’s Spaghetti has clearly abandoned all rules in that regard.

Honestly, the first thing that came to my mind upon tasting it was Chef Boyardee, at least for the sauce. The chunks of  what looks like hot dogs in it  actuality tasted more like a sausage of some sort, and was actually quite delicious, with an almost “chunky” texture in its filling, having me wish there was more sausage pieces mixed in with the sauce.

Just like I assume their “Signature Sauce” is Banana Ketchup-based, I also think this Spaghetti “sauce” (God it’s painful to say that) is also Banana-Ketchup-based. There’s just this “fruity” twang about it (“twang” is my new favorite word for “twist”) that’s hard to pinpoint.

I must say, the Spaghetti noodles were cooked perfectly al dente, so thumbs-up there.

Overall, Jollibee’s Spaghetti is something probably most appreciated by those who grew up eating this sweet style. If not, you’ll either hate it, or scratch your head and wonder “What the heck did I just eat?”. I’m in the last camp, still scratching my head in retrospect. I’ll have to go refresh my memory and get a can of Chef Boyardee SpaghettiOs, then I’ll get back to you on that thought. lol

So as it stands, as for a SPAM Musubi rating on Jollibee’s Spaghetti, all I can say at this time is “No comment”. lol

Finally, let’s sample Jollibee’s Cheeseburger…

Note, like McDonald’s basic burger, Jollibee’s “standard” Cheeseburger’s bun are plain, whereas their premium models get a sesame bun.

Let’s get the cutaway view…

I certainly appreciate the crispy, fresh Iceberg lettuce topping is kept in whole pieces and not shredded, as I’m not a fan of shredded Iceberg Lettuce on burgers (like they do at Micky D’s).

Let’s really take it apart (done after I took several bites)…

Notice they also toast the inside of the bun, so thumbs-up for that. Notice there’s their “Signature Sauce”slathered lightly on the inside part of the top bun, which I tasted by itself (without the burger) and am almost POSITIVE now (almost) this is essentially banana ketchup.

So how is it? Eh, OK. Eh. Meh.

The highly processed burger patty (common’ now, this is corporate fast food, what do you expect?) seems to be made up of plenty of filler, and was obviously cooked on a flat top griddle (fried), and not an open flame grill, which you know how I feel about that.

It also tasted like someone on the line missed putting salt and pepper on it, as, well, there wasn’t much taste to the patty at all. As if I was eating a Cheese, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich, where the predominant flavor component came from the the slightly acidic sweetness of the sauce, while the burger patty itself was an underseasoned, overprocessed afterthought. Ouch.

Summing it up, I give Jollibee’s Cheeseburger 1 SPAM Musubi on this “First Byte” visit, with 1 barely making the grade, thanks to the freshness of the bun and veggies, as well as the “interesting twang” from their Signature sauce.

I’ve been told their “Big Yum” Premium Burger is “the one” to get, but if that 1/3 pound burger patty is essentially a larger version of the one here, I’ll pass.

A Jollibee regular standing in line in front of me highly recommended I try their Halo-Halo and Peach Mango Pie, so if (if) I return, that’s what I’m gettin’. Not sure about anything else. The hot dog looks kinda’ interesting with the grated cheese and signature (banana ketchup) sauce.

A coworker who grew up in P.I. noted the food served at this new Jollibee is pretty much authentic and the same as the one he remembers from back home. And it’s exactly that demographic who will enjoy this place most. Surely young children will enjoy Jollibee for its whimsical appeal, along with a menu to match.

Chicken & Burgers
94-300 Farrington Highway (in the Waipahu Shopping Plaza)
Waipahu, Hawaii  96797

Tel. 671-7448

The Tasty Island rating:

(1) Average.

P.S. Adjacent to the new Jollibee (and neigbhoring Golden Coin) is Pacific Market , the anchor tenant of Waipahu Shopping Plaza, where I swear, EVERYONE MUST experience this market at least once. EVERYONE. This place is AMAZING! It truly is like taking a tour with Anthony Bourdain through the open markets  throughout the entirety of asia, all wrapped up in one convenient store right here on Oahu.

You think Whole Foods has interesting and unusual stuff? Well, wait until you check Pacific Market out! There’s so many fascinating imported food products from all over asia. While the focus are products from the Philippines, there’s also many items from the likes of Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, China and Korea. I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of imported asian food products that, if you can’t find in Honolulu Chinatown, you’ll find it here. In fact, I recently checked downtown Chinatown for Fried Dace, and couldn’t find any. And guess what? Pacific Market had it!

The prices here also seem very reasonable, no doubt due to the exchange rate with the countries they come from.

I’ve seen never a larger selection of Patis, not to mention Longanisa, both packaged and freshly-made. There’s also all these interesting canned fruits imported from Thailand that I’ve never heard of, nor would I have a CLUE how to use in a dish. I’d love to learn, though!

I’ll admit, when it comes to browsing in the store, I have this fetish for sauces, and spend plenty of time in the grocery aisles just reading the labels of exotic imported and new, locally produced bottled sauces. Well, here at Pacific Market, it would probably take me an entire DAY just to go over the HUGE SELECTION of imported asian sauces alone.

As far as retail, I also haven’t seen as much variety and quantity of rice than I have in this store, including 50 lb. and 100 lb. bulk sizes. Whoah!

Then there’s the meat and fish department, which is the part that may make you want to put on a respirator mask, as it SMELLS STRONG in there, being there’s chest after chest after chest of fresh-caught whole fish on ice on display throughout the area. Like Chinatown, you can buy pretty much EVERY PART of the pig here, and I must warn, if you’re squeamish about looking at animal “guts” on display in food cases, you best stay clear of the meat department at Pacific Market. They even had goat (Kalding). Didn’t see any live frogs though, which Chinatown does have.

Finally, the produce department has lots of unusual, exotic greens and fruits you definitely won’t be able find at your neighborhood Foodland or Safeway, including Malungay and Saluyot leaves, just to name a few. They also sell cartons of cooked and uncooked balut duck eggs, which were going at for 6.

The front checkout area also has this interesting novelty shop, as well as a takeout deli.

If you ever are entertaining visitors (tourists) and driving them around the island, make it a point to stop by Waipahu and take them on a “tour” of Pacific Market. It truly is one of the most fascinating shopping experiences to be discovered here!

Finally, while we’re talking about fast food chains, the very first McDonald’s to open in Hawaii was in Aina Haina in 1968, where they’ve recently knocked that original structure down and built a modern McDonald’s right next to it.

Here’s the original McDonald’s Aina Haina (first McDonald’s in Hawaii) back in its glory days (photo taken 2007) …

Here it is in the process of being demolished (photo taken last month)….

Out with the old, and in with the new (located about 50 yards to the right of the old McDonald’s Aina Haina shown above)…

The original McDonald’s building in Aina Haina Shopping Center has since been razed (demolished).

RIP Aina Haina McDonald’s circa 1968 building.

The Tasty Island

PostHeaderIcon First Swarm of the Year

I got a call this weekend, earlier than expected. A friend had a yard full of flying bees and there was a mass of bees landing on one of his little Crepe Myrtle trees. My first swarm this year. I admit – I was a bit unprepared. But it didn’t take long to fix that and go get them bees. Now I’m rushing to prepare for more swarms. These are the easy bees. After sweating thru multi-hour cut-outs, I was really eager to capture a swarm. Read about it here:

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PostHeaderIcon Bees: First Hive Inspection

Years of reading and asking newbie questions and absorbing have cumulated in this experience – my first humble beehive. It’s a hive that anyone can build. It’s a hive that can be in anyone’s back-yard or apartment balcony – out in the open or surreptitiously hidden as we indulge in our hobby and honeybee conservation. This latest article describes my first visit to my beehive after a week of it getting established in its new home. It was a very fruitful and painless visit for both bee and myself. And it represents the first of a great many such visits as I expand my collection of hives. Read about it here:

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PostHeaderIcon My first dream about a website. Congratulations.

This morning my alarm sounded at 5:10am. Before it so rudely interrupted my beauty sleep, this is what I was dreaming about. . . .

I was standing on a Muni platform at Embarcadero station in that spot under the stairway in front of the operator potty. I was in my own little world not really paying attention. I looked up and saw a fare checker standing there. I apologized for not noticing her
Dancing Hula in the Sunset District

PostHeaderIcon Bees: First Honeybee Cutout – Epilogue

Every story has an end. This cutout is no exception. The previous blog layed out the act of getting the bees out of the wall. This blog closes up the story and opens the way to future articles on managing the hive itself. I cover the trip home with the hive in the back of a pickup truck, and my inability to avoid running out to look at the bees. Will the excitement wear off? Probably not – I still run out to look at the new leaf on one of my banana trees or taro plants.

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