Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

At the Aloun Farms Pumpkin Patch 2006

Happy Halloween! Wherever you are & whatever you dress up as & however much candy you're gonna ingest today - we wish you & your little ones much laughter & light as you trick or treat!

My little guys and I had so many plans to be so many things this Halloween. I had decided - Halloween 2011 would be the Halloween that I showed it who's boss!

Ahh, but life sidetracked me as it so often does.

Before I knew it - Halloween was here! and my wonderful ideas for do-it-yourself custom made costumes ( we were going to be a set of wheels, a Mobster family, baked goods, Disney characters) and handcrafted treats (pumpkin spice cupcakes with caramel fillings, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie) & a yard decked out in the spookiest ever decorations copied from Martha Stewart gave way to ...

Me pointing to our spilling over the doorjamb with clothes and telling the kids to "do it yourself. Make your own costume or go as yourself."

Bags of cheap factory made candy snagged at Foodland for treats & an over grown yard full of scary weeds that really need to see the whacking end of the weedwacker.

This year we didn't make it to any haunted houses but did manage to make it to a Trunk n Treat, a Happy Halloween party & on schedule is the Halloween Reading is Fun parade at the children's school this morning & a Halloween Dance Block Party this evening. Should be fun!

(update: we didn't make to the Halloween parade at school. Instead Tafi & I spent our morning at the dr's office)

And now it's raining. A lot. Thank you God for the rain that fills the watersheds & wells. Even if it did rain on Katzu's (Halloween) parade!

At the very least, I have a Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spice protein shake to sweeten my pot today!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake:
1 cup skim milk
1 cup of water
1 scoop Chocolate Peanut butter protein powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 dash of cinnamon

I heat up the milk& water in the microwave until its warm enough for me but not steaming hot. I stir in the protein powder & the spices while its hot & then sip it while I'm playing on twitter/facebook.

Careful with how hot your milk/water mixture is because if its too hot - then it'll "cook" your protein powder when you stir it in. You'll know its "cooked" by the thick congealed mass at the top that will not no matter how hard your stir/blend/shake it in to the milk mixture - it will not mix! Best to toss it down the drain & start again. But if your hardcore, you could try to drink it anyway.

Nutritional Breakdown:
1 cup skim milk  80 calories   9 grms protein
1 scp protein powder 140 calories  26 grms protein

(the spices have trace amounts of whatever it is that's in them.)

That there is my trick & treat of the day! (well, that is unless your the man on my list, then yes darling I have a different trick & treat for you later!*winks*)

With love & Happy Halloween-ing!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friends: Dumped, Deleted &(re) Discovered

Art work compliments of Manoa Elementary
One of the things I love about being this old is that I have friends who have been my friend for nearly 30 years. I've known them more than half of my life & they still like me!

(It's freakin' AWESOME to be able to say I have friends who've shared my life for more than half of it!)

I wish I could gift the kind of friends I have to my children and to everyone I know. They are the bestest, bravest, hardest, most-est friends anyone could ask for. They are fiercely loyal & honest with me. They are funny & smart. They are beautiful & bright. They are also the kind of people that if you cross them or hurt their loved ones, they will hunt you down & kill you & dispose of your body where not even the fishes will find you.

(well? what kind of friends did you think I'd have? Timid little things waiting for Prince Charming to save them? HA!)

They don't have a problem keeping their mouths shut & they don't have a problem seeing past my pride when its called for. One of the perks of having friends this long & this well is the safety in knowing you don't have to get all dolled up for them to still be your friend.

They'll take you any way they can get you: showered or not, teeth brushed or not, house cleaned or not. Screaming children & bad haircuts will not make them blink. Calling them at the dead of midnight so they can talk you out of going to your Ex's and getting arrested for a public peace disturbance - also not a problem. But if you're insistent, they will also offer to post your bail when the cops come to haul your bawling ass to jail.

And none of that will even make a blip on their radar. It doesn't matter to the friends who count.

Friendships take work. Relationships take work. Work takes time & heart.

Even as our lives & our situations take us far from each other, we work at staying friends.

That's not to say that I haven't had fights with my friends. I've had fights with all of them at some point in time. We couldn't remain friends without fighting with each other.

Some times our fights are silent & eerily telepathic (think: I'm staring at you bitch. You know what I'm talking about.) to loud & weepy (think:You never listen to me! Don't ever speak to me again. Why aren't you talking to me?). Some of our fights lead to hear no evil see no evil speak no evil which translates into I don't see you, I don't hear you & I don't speak to you. ever.

(Those are the bitches.)

Then I have friends who say to me, I am your friend no matter what. Let's talk about this. You matter to me enough to work this out. I am not walking out on you. I am not going to let this fester. Our friendship is too important to just shrug it off.

(Those are the Bring It Bitches.)

The thing that always trips me up is no matter how old I get or what I learn or who I've become, some aspect of friendship remains the same as when I was in 3rd grade back in Pavaiai Elementary School.

Someone I had considered a friend, did not want to be my friend.

I was devastated. Had I done something wrong? Said something wrong? Worn something wrong?
How could my friend whom I shared deep thoughts & feelings with suddenly & abruptly cut me out of her life with scalpel like precision?

There is no discussion. No compromise. No maybe we can work it out. Just a quick & dirty "we are not friends anymore.ever."

Who even does that at my age?

But the wonderful part of growing up is learning to know when something is worth eating humble for and ask for & grant forgiveness. It doesn't matter who's right or who's wrong, as Mother Hubbard has told me often ~ I can be right or I can be happy. Forgive. Forget & get over it. Life is too short to not be living it!

(sometimes Mother knows exactly what to say to make me move!)

When the friend who cut me (so heartlessly) out of her life reappeared a few weeks later, she asked me to forgive her for her weakness in needing to take a step back & out of the picture to get her self on center. It wasn't that our friendship was the issue as much as it was a culmination of many little things hitting all at once.

I told her, "that's okay. Sometimes friends just have to understand its not always ALL about US and that sometimes its just about YOU."

I asked her to forgive me for calling her a heartless effying bitch.

She laughed with me and said,"Of course! That's just what friends do."

And with that, we picked up where we left off... as friends.

With love & delicious friendships~

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Mother Hubbard

Mother Hubbard @ Castle Beach
Mothers have been on my mind lately. My mother. Your mother. The mother of the Ex. The woman who mothers all the children that ever cross her path. The mother that I am today.

My mother & I have an 'interesting' relationship. We've been friends for all of my life. My earliest memories of her don't consist of us doing Mommy & Daughter things like making up our hair or buying clothes or pajama parties or even baking together in a warm kitchen somewhere ~ things that I've been told most mother daughter pairs do.

Instead my earliest memory is being 4 & she was sewing a pair of red holoku'u dresses for my sister & I. She dressed us in them with puka shell leis & snapped our pictures outside of our apartment in Torrence, California.

A rare pic of Mother Hubbard & me
Mother/Daughter. There are perks to this: we've had fascinating conversations on politics, religion, marriages, men, foods, movies, books. She was the first to hear my tales of debauchery (fancy word for naughty behaviors) & the last to see me cry. She was the one who went to College Algebra with me so that I could - after 4 failed attempts at it- pass it with a C+.

We've also missed out on landmark mother/daughter things: prom dresses, growing pains & arguments.

Some of the way our relationship has evolved is my doing: I've been an adult all of my life. I think I was born 40 years old. So now that I am 40 it doesn't feel any different from when I was not 40.

Part of it is her doing: She didn't know how to relate to a daughter. Her own upbringing did not include models for her to copy in developing a relationship with a daughter - which as I've come to understand is hugely different from the relationship one has with one's sons.

(I am a mother to three sons:18 years old, 11 years old & 8 years old)

I've been searching for years for the parts of me that are my mother, to some how understand how she & I are related. Looking for pieces of myself, in the woman my mother is.We could have a different kind of relationship but we fall into the dynamics that we do. Sometimes we get stuck on the comfortable instead of getting uncomfortable with the unknown & progressing past what we were to something more glorious - the what we are.

Sim & Grammy Hubbard@ Castle Beach

I watch my mother & ask myself ~ How can she be my mother? She's so NICE. I have a whole list of people (ok mostly men) who will tell you whatever else I am, I am NOT NICE. She plays piano. She can sing & dance & so forth. I can not. She's math inclined. I am so math declined I'm almost dyslexic at it.

We see & behave so very differently to everything.

We were sitting in church the other day & some person was sermonizing about something I really thought was stupid & I was going to go say something to that woman, when she dug her nails into my arm & said,"Just sit still." As if! I'm 40 years old! If I want to call some ignorant woman out at church, I can if I want too! Needless to say, I sat still anyway.

Mother Hubbard makes me crazy. She asks me a zillion times in a zillion different ways about the same thing sometimes. She once corrected me on how to wash dishes in front of my eldest son, who started laughing. He was all like... Wow! Mama I think you're the only person in the whole world who can talk to my mother like that and still live.

Mother just laughed and told him,"Well, where do you think she got that from?"

Where mother is a flow not fight person, I'm a Bring It Bitch and we'll just see which one of us is the last bitch standing. My mother is reticent about resolving issues, I already have the solutions and am working on how to make you see the solution is the most affordable, efficient & time saving one available. Mother doesn't bother to say I told you so because she already knows that you know she told you so. I savor the I told you so's for the ones who didn't listen the hardest. (See? You knew I had that in me!)
She doesn't get involved in other peoples business because she believes it really isn't any of her business. (hmm... that's something we do share) She loves puttering around in her garden ( Another commonality). She loves chocolate but is allergic to it (Oh! So that's where I get that from too! Double the benadryl cocktail please).

Mother Hubbard as I fondly call her - is a Mother of quiet talents. She's a firm believer in do what you're gonna do & then do it right. She doesn't want attention or credit or fanfare for her accomplishments. She just wants it done. She is dedicated, almost neurotic about her tasks being completed & seeing something through to the end.

(That is a quality that I've been attempting to master the past five years.)

Another quality she possess that I've been digging deep in me to emulate is her ability to study & work consistently. All of my life, I've gotten away with getting pretty decent grades & good jobs skating by on my talents. I didn't work on it. I didn't diligently plug away at it. My talents had a feast & famine cycle: some years it was good - really good & some years it was bad - really bad. Its been her gift to me to learn to do a little bit every day so that I savor the good times & make them last & have the persistence to outlast the bad times.

I'm starting to get the hang of it. Kinda.

She doesn't believe in confrontation, instead she prefers that you go figure it out yourself. Scream if you're in too deep but you'd better be ready to swim like your life depends on it because it does. Mother Hubbard does not do search & rescues. She does recoveries. I am not like that: If you are in trouble & I see it, I'm going to help you help yourself. I'm going to stick with you until your safe.

She doesn't like restaurants, she doesn't like fancy schmancy parties. She doesn't like hanging out with the croanies, preferring instead to spend her time with her family, more specifically - her grandchildren. She gives everything she is & has for her grandchildren.

I often tell my kids, the kind of gramma that she is now isn't the kind of mother she was then. They have the absolute best of her always. I am most grateful every day for the blessing of being able to raise my children in a home where their grandmother is. I want to some day be able to live with my children & grandchildren together. (At the rate the economy is going, that may not be too unrealistic!)

Mother Hubbard also doesn't believe in telling people who or what they are. She lets you find that out for yourself. If you are especially stupid or stubborn - that could take you a very long time. It took me a long time.

(Hello! Even Moses had to wander the wilderness for 40 years!)

I can't exactly say that we're similar in that respect either. I know who my children are, I'm just trying to make sure the journey to themselves isn't kidnapped or held hostage by worldliness & temptations.

Mother & I share a love of books. We love books. This is testified by the mountains of books we have crammed into small spaces. We also share a decided lack of love for bookshelves as testified to the fact that we've got thousands of books between the 2 of us and NO BOOKSHELVES anywhere.

Mother & I also dislike exercising in groups - which I didn't learn we shared about until this summer. I always knew she walked alone but didn't ever know the reason why until I asked her about it. She said,"I walk to exercise not hang out & listen to so and so go on and on about stuff. I have work to do, so I do it."

Which surprised me! Because that's exactly how I feel about working out. I have work to do here @ the gym - talk to me later or something but for now, get out of my way.

As I become older, its become easier to see how I am Mother's daughter & to see how if she wasn't the woman she has always been, there is no way I could be the woman I am now.

Thank you Mother Hubbard, for everything. I love you.

With love & delicious Mothering~

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Besties & Banana Crumb Muffins

Muffins fresh from the oven
I wish you were here today!

The sun is out, the trades are blowing, I've got my laundry hanging in neat rows on the clothes lines & banana crumb muffins baking up nicely in the oven.

It smells really good here. Like warm cinnamon-y spicy banana goodness.

All I'm missing is you for company!

I wish you were here to talk story with me at my table, tell me how you are, tell me what's been on your mind & laugh with me about all the little things that make us nuts.

(you can pick which nut you want to be: koko-nut, pee-nut, pisstach-ohwhatthehell nut, bangurheadonthewall- nut. I'll be nut nut you know ~ because 2 nuts are better than 1! Ha!)

I was chatting with Bestie Lee the other day & complaining that I had a mega mess of banana's all about to become over ripe messes. The little guys & I had eaten as many as we could (that would be one each once a day) and now what was I going to do with the rest of them?

I had to use them that day or to the trash they would go the next day. I hate to waste food! Absolutely hate it!

Lee happily forwarded me her recipe for Banana Crumb Muffins. As you can tell, I don't know how to follow instructions well since the crumb part of these muffins became caramelized.

These would be closer to Banana Caramel Nutty Muffins. Sort of. Let me explain...

Sometimes the whimsical baking fairies get a hold of me & whisper in my ear.

"Go ahead, add more butter... everything is better with butter! There's no butter in hell, Miss so have some butter today!" They got the best of me that day!

But that's not exactly true when wanting to achieve a crumb crust & not a caramelized gooey sliding muffin top. Less is more in this case.The original recipe Lee sent me was good for 10 muffins & used 3 banana's. I had a whole bunch of banana's (from our farm no less!).

Had I followed the instructions carefully I would've had wonderful moist crumb-y banana muffins.

Bestie's Banana Crumb Muffins

What I got was deliciously unexpected! Moist succulent banana-y muffins. Some had a caramel gooey-ness, some had walnuts, some had extra banana clumps in them from not getting mashed to pulp. But no crumb-y goodness.

(Still delicious though according to the little beasties begging for samples at the back door. That's a quarter from each of you village kids! Banana's don't just grow on trees!*laughing*)

Sometimes we don't always get what we expected/wanted/demanded. Sometimes what we get isn't better just different.  Our lives take us down paths we never expected to find ourselves wandering on. We meet & encounter people/places/things we never thought twice of before & now wonder how we ever managed without them. Are we better for the experiences? Not always. But we sure are different.
Katz @ the Farm pretending to be a farmer

Different isn't always a bad thing. Its just different.

Lee has several recipes that I'm wheedling out of her. She can bake up good eats like a pro. Some days I think I ought to move home & open up a bakery with her.

(How would one translate YUMMY into Samoan? Yummy sounds like an awesome name for a bakery to me!)

And then she can teach me how to Zumba properly. In a designated safe zone where I won't take out a whole row of people in one fell swoop!

Today, though I'm following the recipe to a tee ( or a Lee in this case) so that I can savor what banana crumb muffins out to taste like!

Banana Crumb Muffins (via

Banana Crumb Muffins
recipe image
Submitted By: Lisa Kreft
Photo By: Jessica
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 35 Minutes
Servings: 10

"A basic banana muffin is made extraordinary with a cinnamon-and-brown-sugar streusel topping."
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
2.In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
3.In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

With love & delicious Banana Crumb Muffins in the oven ~

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

God of Me

"With all of our doing. With all of our leading. With all of our teaching, the most important thing we can do for those whom we lead is to cultivate in their hearts a living, vital, vibrant testimony and knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the Author of our salvation, He who atoned for the sins of the world and opened the way of salvation and eternal life. 

I would hope that in all we do we would somehow constantly nourish the testimony of our people concerning the Savior. 

I am satisfied--I know it's so--that whenever a man has a true witness in his heart of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ, all else will come together as it should... That is the root from which all virtue springs among those who call themselves Latter-day Saints."  Gordon B. Hinckley

And one day a handful of years ago, the light just came on! I realized that I didn't know me better than God did. God knows me better than anyone in the entire of everything. He knows me. He knows my needs. He knows the struggles I need to go through to become the person I need to be. He knows me. That brings me such peace. and light. and warmth.

God of everything - He knows me. He knows my name. He knows everything about me: my joys, my sorrows, my talents, my struggles. He loves me. I trust Him in all things, knowing - not hoping- that every thing will be all right.

Now that isn't to say that there aren't situations that try my patience or fire up the faith mobile. There are those situations all the time every time. But after the initial panic subsides, I tell myself in prayer - God loves me. God has me. God is boss over all things. This is just one thing. This too shall pass. There is a purpose for this. God will see me through this. When I'm done with this - I'll understand why. 

Faith precedes the miracle. I have enough faith for the moment, I've had enough miracles follow my faith.

I don't ask anymore that God take away my pain or suffering or to lessen the burdens of learning. I only ask Him to please please please make me equal to the task and strong enough to last the lesson. I ask Him to give me people who strengthen my faith & testimony in the Savior's love for me & He does this. I demand that He keep His promises to me & He does that as well.

And I hear Him. And I see Him. And I feel Him.

More than words on a page, I feel the truth. It sings to me. It lights for me. Sometimes, it even laughs with me. Truth isn't always harsh. Sometimes, the truth is damn funny!

I'm thankful for the fights I've fought, the choices I've made and the tears that I've cried a long the way to this beautifulness. It's made me humble and strong and faithful. Its given me wisdom that can't be learned in a college. Its given me compassion & gentleness & courage to continue every day with love & hope in my heart.

My roots go deep. To hold me down with the storms start blowing. To hold the hands of those whom I love deeply when the billows toss & turn them. And to hold my little ones firm until their own roots take hold and deep.

Until we all get Home again. Safely & together.

With love & delicious deep rooting~

Monday, October 24, 2011

Give & Make a Difference

Steamed Kahuku Sweet Corn

Give said the little stream, Give Oh Give, Give Oh Give! Give said the little stream as it hurried down the hill. I'm small I know but where ever I go the grass grows greener still.

That was one of the first LDS Primary songs I learned as a child. I loved singing it. That was when I believed that "giving" meant giving my allowance or toys or extras away to those "less fortunate" souls.

What a shock it was to discover as an adult, that giving means more than giving your money or your things. Giving for reals, honestly, means giving from your heart with sincerity & love. Not because you should give but because its the right thing to give.

(and please for the love of God - don't give so that you can be condescending to the poor unfortunate souls)

Sometimes giving the things that matter most is hard to do. There are some people we have to give our time too, give our space too, give our love too without pre-qualifying the recipient as worthy or deserving of our giving. We just have to give & hope & pray that we've done the best we can do & that THAT was enough.

More than things, this holiday season ~ people need to know that they matter to you. They need to know you care. They need to know that if they were gone, you would miss them deeply. How will people know you love them at all if you don't give them your time & good tidings? Do something like say Hello! write them a note, call them, pop over & visit them, serve them in small ways & big?

It's very lovely to say Oh, well its the thought that counts which I suppose has some merit to it as does the road to hell is paved with good intentions... I thought about them & did nothing. Don't wait until your Hello, How are you doing? & your cupcakes/clothes/messages are perfect. Our time is perfect to do it right now & give some one something that lasts - a little piece of ourselves.

You never know how much you MAKE A DIFFERENCE to someone. You who are reading this - yes YOU - make a difference to me because I know you're supporting my efforts to blog by reading my work. I see the stats crawl up one by one & I thank you & bless you for your time.

Doing counts. Do it. You'll never regret sincere & honest generosity.

(RS sisters, I'm lookin' at ya! Be expecting my notes on your doors & surprise visits to your residences this week)

What does all that have to do with the fresh steamed Kahuku Sweet Corn in the picture? It has to do with the generous hearts & hands of the Hawaii Food Bank & Hope Chapel who last month served over 200 hungry people & families by giving them vegetables, bread & canned items. There were people there from all religious affiliations as servers & waiting to be served.There were elderly, women, men, children, teenagers standing in line baskets & boxes waiting to be filled.

It has to do with the hundreds of people who showed up to Make a difference @ the Kahuku Hospital this past Saturday. It has to do with families showing their love & support as a 93 year old Matriarch was laid to rest in Laie Cemetery next to her Eternal Companion. It has to do with taking a flying leap of faith in letting someone far far away that you've never met before, that he isn't forgotten - that the Lord not just remembers him but knows him by name & loves him dearly.

To borrow again from another hymn that has touched my life many times:

Because I have been given much, I too must give.
Because of thy great bounty, Lord each day I live.
I shall divide my gifts from thee with every brother that I see,
who has the need of help from me.
Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care…
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share-
my glowing fire, my loaf of bread-my roof’s safe shelter over head,
that he too may be comforted.
Because I have been blessed by thy great love dear Lord,
I’ll share thy love again according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need. I’ll show that love by word and deed,
thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed. 

I give because I have been given much. And I have been given so very much!

I have my health such as it is, my mind such as that is, my children are healthy, we have a shelter, we have transportation, we have clothes on our backs & shoes on our feet. We have food on our table & water to drink. We have people we love & who love us in return. We have laughter. We have tears. We have friends & family.
How can I thank my Heavenly Father for all that He gives me if I hoard the blessings? I'd be a very ungrateful selfish soul if I did.

We have all the delicious things this life can offer us in the things that matter the most.

We are blessed & always give Thanks to the Lord first for giving to us . He also blesses us with hard times, anorexic bank accounts, difficult people & scary times so that our faith grows in accordance. Some times I think He trusts me too much & over blesses me with those things but I am also thankful for them.

Those are the situations that turbo charge my growing in faith in ways that casually coasting can't do.

With love & delicious giving~

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bella & the (samoan) Balls

The only (Samoan) Balls that pass my lips & go straight to my hips: Panikeke

(Ha! Gotcha there for a second didn't I? You thought I was talking about a different kinda balls, huh? Perhaps, cake balls? )

Samoan panikeke: preferably tennis ball sized, perfectly round, perfectly crisped browned crust & pillow-y soft bread-y goodness on the inside. It's the kind of comfort food that Samoan's every where know.

Split one open & spread it with New Zealand Anchor Butter & a smear of strawberry jam... Ahhh! Simple & Delicious.

Mom's Place, served (what I think were) the best ones I'd ever had. 3 big tennis ball sized panikeke's to an order with all the butter & jam your arteries could stand! Yummy. Yummy. Yummy. (again apologies to my various numerous grandmothers & aunts & uncles who are now mad at me for saying that)

(Mom's which used to be at the Pago Pago International Airport when I was a child, later on moved to a little place in Fatu-ma-Futi  & then to the space below Samoa News in Fagatogo, where I really got acquainted with their menu. Currently, they're in Tafuna. If you're in American Samoa, please pay them a visit & tell them I said Hello!)

Brunch for Tafilele
Samoan Panikeke's are not something we made at home when I was growing up. For some reason, my mother struggled with getting the little dough balls to cook right enough to impress my father. After several failed attempts, she told him to just go buy it at the market & slapped several dollar bills in his hand. They were both happier for it after.

Since I moved away from home (Samoa) many years ago, the only chance I've had to get really good panikeke's like the kind I ate back home have been at funerals. I confess there have been a few of them that I attended just on the hope that so & so was making those darling spheres of fun to go with the KokoSamoa  cocoa rice in a large Styrofoam cup to go.

However, as many funerals as Samoans seem to have, I wasn't getting enough panikeke's to get my groove on & the soggy oily mess that some of the Polynesian food stores were selling grossed me out.

I decided that was it! I would finally try to make it on my own.

(Desperation is the mother of all good eats these days!)

After many tries & fails (dough too thick, dough too thin, what is this rock hard mess?) I hit on the right mix of everything. Even better, when I bought an Island Favorites Cookbook circa 1971 there was a recipe for Samoan panikeke almost similar to what I had! I was on the right track at last.

Now I don't think that these babies are as good as the ones I've inhaled ingested at Mom's over the years but if - like me - you're a long ways away from home... they hit the spot.

(Just remember butter & jam!)

Slammin' Samoan Panikeke's:
3 cups of flour
3 tsp baking powder
1cup white granulated sugar
2- 3 cups of cold water

Mix the dry ingredients together first. Then add the water in slowly. I like getting the mix to the consistency of thick glue - where it doesn't drip off the end of a spoon but kind of drops in a lump.

Meanwhile, get a pot out & pour some oil in it. (I like vegetable oil. Some times I use shortening which gives me a deeper crisper crustiness. But I like to save my Crisco for biscuits & frosting's, where liquid fat just doesn't do it.) No matter the size of your pot, you're gonna want to have at least 4-5 inches deep of oil to fry your panikeke's in.

Once your oil is heated up, drop a big tablespoon sized dollop of batter into the hot oil. Test just one first. If it floats - the oil is hot enough & you can keep adding in more spoonfuls of batter to the oil. Just don't crowd them all in. Leave lots of space for the oil to roll around the panikeke's so they get that nice crispy shell we all like chomping on.

I've seen some cooks use chop sticks to turn their panikeke's over. I'm not that talented. I use a pair of long aluminum tongs. You use whatever works for you.

When they're brown enough, pull them out & set to cool a little bit on a couple of paper towels to soak up the oil.

Tell the anxious eaters that due to the recession the days of 10 for a $1 are gone. They can may be get 2 for .25 cents. My hungry hungry hipos trade me hugs & kisses for panikeke's on an easy Sunday morning. *smiles* It's a good trade!

With love & delicious crispy (samoan panikeke) balls~

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Panipopo: Sticky Coconut Love in a Bun


Panipopo. The If you did it right - Sticky Coconut Bun

I am forever spoiled by the Teo's who lived behind my house in Mesepa. When I was 9, their little bush store was my haven for treats. They gave me my first taste of panipopo & no other one has been quite able to match it. (sorry Grammy Lama - not even yours were THAT good)

For fifty cents, I could indulge my craving for something sticky & sweet & yummy.

Because I've gotten good & tired of people selling what I basically taste as BREAD in coconut cream sauce I decided to try my own hand at. I borrowed & adapted a Universal Sweet Roll mix from the Clueless Baker cookbook (it's my favorite baking cookbook! Am trying to decide if I should steal it from the library!) & made up a simple coconut cream sauce.

First the rolls. I don't mind admitting that I was intimidated by the whole yeast in flour process. I don't particularly like working with yeasty doughs. Mostly because I want instant gratification when I bake instead of waiting around for dough to rise and because from what I can tell yeast is a temperamental bastard. Too hot, too cold, too much sweet, too little sweet & the damn things die on you!

Let me just share with you that RapidRise yeast is your friend. Use it often. You'll thank yourself for it.

But because I like to do things that I've never done before (Hello! My Ex can tell you all about that!*laughing*) I actually took the time to proof yeast. Which let me tell you is quite an experience.

(Regular Active Yeast goes into warm water & sugar- but not too hot water. Helpful hint from a fellow foodie blogger - water should feel warm to the inside of your wrist - like how I would test if a bottle of milk for a baby is warm enough. Then you stir it & let is sit for 10 minutes. If it doubles - its still good. If its flat - its dead. Bury it.)

Sweet Roll Recipe:
5 cups of flour ( All purpose is good)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 envelopes of RapidRise yeast
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk (I used skim milk) OR 3/4 cup of milk + 1/4 coconut cream
1/2 cup of butter (or margarine)
2 eggs

put 2 cups of flour in a large mixing bowl
add in the 1/2 cup of sugar
add in the 2 packets of yeast
add in the 1 tsp of salt
use your hands to mix this up together.

in a microwave safe bowl combine the milk & butter. this is IMPORTANT: only microwave it long enough to make it uncomfortably warm but not too hot. the butter might not melt completely into the milk and that's ok.

Once the milk & butter mixture is heated up, you're going to start pouring it into the flour mixture being careful to alternate the milk&butter mixture. Add the eggs in now alternating with the remaining 3 cups of flour. Stir it as your adding in the wet & dry ingredients.

This mixture will be sticky & gooey. This is what you want it to be. Keep stirring until its too doughy to stir it anymore. Add more flour if you need too. What you want it to look like is doughy not gloopy.

Generously flour a space for you to turn the doughy goodness out on too so you can knead it.

Knead the dough about 10 minutes or until it stops feeling sticky. Add more flour in small dustings as needed.

Get another large bowl & oil it good with vegetable oil. Take the dough and put it into this new oiled bowl. Dip your fingers into some oil and grease the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap ( I used a plastic grocery bag and just slipped it over the top) and set it in a nice warm draft free place so it can double up in size.

It should take anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes for the dough to double in size. When it does this, go ahead & punch it right down in the middle & then turn it back out on the floured surface so you can knead it a few times before shaping it.

While the dough is rising - its time to make the sauce.

Coconut Cream Sauce:
5 cups of coconut cream (from a bottle, from a can, from the tree - whatever)
3 tsp cornstarch
1/8 cup  water
1/2 cup granulated sugar

I don't like my sauce to be too sweet, if you want yours sweeter add more sugar. If you want it thicker put more cornstarch in it.

(* Just in case - please make a slurry out of the 1/8 cup of water & the cornstarch. Mix that together & then add that to the heated coconut cream Do not just toss the cornstarch in to the cream!)

Cook this over a low heat until it begins to thicken. It should be syrupy not solid like a rock or runny like water. Think thick maple syrup kind.

Cool it down & then ladle it into a pan.

Go ahead & put in as much sauce as you think will be good.

I put about 1 1/2 inches of it at the bottom my 9X13 inch pans.

For the buns - I pulled out pieces of dough that were about a large dinner spoon size & then rolled them around in my hands until they were circular enough.

Helpful hint: I was able to get 20 dough balls into a 13x9 pan. Leave about a two finger width space between each ball so that it has room to expand. This lets the bun be lighter & fluffier when you bake it.

I placed the little round dough balls in the pans with coconut sauce on the bottom & then let them rise in the pan until the doubled back up in size. After they were as high as I wanted them to be, I put them into a preheated oven @ 325 degrees to bake for 20 minutes or until their tops are browned.

After I pulled the pans from the oven, I spooned another 1/2 cup of sauce over the tops.

You can serve it hot straight from the oven or cooled down.

Doesn't matter because fans will gobble this up quickly! My little beasties barely waited for the pans to come out of the oven. Lucky I made several pans which they also gifted to the missionaries passing by, the neighbors & to themselves again. Since no one died & the Elders attempted to thank me in Samoan ( I got a good laugh at that because Hello! we all know I don't speak Samoan) the next day - I'm going to assume, I got the panipopo's just right.

With love & Sticky Coconut Cream Buns~