Good Old Greens


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Yes, I grew up on collards and mustard greens. My father was a Mississippi boy, and I attended college in Jackson, Mississippi. My brother, Hilton, wrote about our Cuzn Don’s “mess of greens” in his blog back in May, 2008. I think we all grew up knowing exactly how to cook them to get the best flavor. Check out Hilton’s post to see the best way to cook them.

Like Hilton, my favorite greens are a combination of mustard greens and collards. I grow both wherever I can find a spot. I would probably use up every square inch of raised bed for these wonderful greens. Of course, when I grow beets, I’m never sure if I’m growing them for the roots or for the greens. Beet greens run a close second to mustards and collards!

As you can see, the birds like my mustards, too. I don’t have any grass for them to eat, so they enjoy my greens. I made a deal with the birds, however. I told them that I’d let them have 10% of them if they would leave me 90%. So far, they’ve held true to their word, or chirp.

In this photo, the collards are in the back, mustards in front. The mustards grow faster than the collards, so it may be hard to make out the collards.

I think it’s time to cook up a mess of greens and plant more.

Lilikoi Cheesecake at the Keei Cafe

lilikoi cheesecake
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Within a 5 minute drive of the college where I teach is the Keei (kay-ay) Café where I often go for lunch. It gives me a chance to get off campus, relax, and eat great food. It is located on Highway 11, between mile marker 112-113 in Kainaliu.

I have read reviews bemoaning a somewhat cavalier attitude toward the dinner crowd, but if a diner remembers that “this is Hawai`i” and not Los Angeles or New York, it is possible to forgive and simply enjoy the ambience.

I mostly go for lunch when it is not crowded. I am offered a delicious choice served by a friendly wait staff, and I get to listen to a gentleman playing classical guitar in the corner, while I sip my lilikoi tea.

Among the dishes they serve are a salad with fresh local greens, which can be topped with fresh fish (my favorite is spearfish), grilled eggplant sandwich, clam chowder, fish tacos, and so much more.

There is a wonderful array of desserts possible, and even if you are watching your weight, you can always share with a friend in order to finish your meal with something sweet. One of my favorites is the lilikoi cheesecake pictured above.

Yesterday, I posted about my lilikoi plants. I suspect my lilikoi butter could be poured over a plain cheesecake recipe (is cheesecake ever just “plain”?) for a decadent treat. I haven’t tried that yet, but I suspect it will be soon.

Lilikoi Revisited

lilikoi seedlings
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One of my earliest posts for this blog talked about my lilikoi so you might want to go back and read to refresh your memory about lilikoi. Lilikoi is the Hawai`ian name for Passion Fruit. I took a picture of these tiny lilikoi/passion fruit seedlings back in April of 2007. A few weeks later, I gave two pots to my friend Debi who lives in Kailua-Kona. We planted them at the same time. Here is a shot of mine next to the shed taken several months ago.

first view of my lilikoi plants
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And another one taken last week.

second view of lilikoi against shed
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This Christmas day, I took this shot of Debi’s lilikoi plants!

debi's lilikoi plants
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She has been having trouble giving away the fruits, while I’m still struggling to get mine to grow. This is a vivid and laughable illustration of the difference between (a) a plot where the lava has decomposed to the point where it is soil and (b) a plot where the lava is still in the process of decomposing, even though I dump soil around the plants regularly.

Debi’s yard is on the leeward side of the island where tourists come in droves. Visitors to the island don’t get to see my kind of lava yard, and would be surprised at how “third worldly” it can be in our 50th state!

Even though I cannot pick my own lilikoi yet, I received a big box of them in exchange for eggs from a friend here in Ka’u District. I made 12 jars of lilikoi butter from the fruits. In case you ever are fortunate enough to find lilikoi, you might want to make some.

Lilikoi Butter
4 eggs
4 cups sugar
1 pound unsalted butter
1 ¾ cup lilikoi juice
Beat up the eggs in the juice so you don’t get hardened egg in your butter. Bring to a boil, take down to a slow rolling simmer for about ½ hour. It will thicken. (I made a double batch to get 12 jars.)

This is good over ice cream or on toasted English muffin, or you can just spoon it out of the jar! My masseuse said, “It’s so good you just want to put some behind your ears!”

A Great Combo!

When there is a “pot luck” of any sort, I have a favorite dish to carry to someone’s home, especially during the holiday season. My friend, Debi, had several of us over for Christmas brunch and I took my Cran-Apple Pie. Cranberries and apples just seem to go together and say “Christmas!” Here it is just before putting it in the oven.

cran-apple crumb pie before baking
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My crust recipe is one I found in a magazine back in the 50s (early marriage) and I have not rolled out a pie crust since then. Everyone wants to know how it’s made because it is so tender and flaky. I debated sharing it online, but I hate for it to get lost.

No-roll Pie Crust
Place 1 ½ cup flour, 1 ½ teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt directly into an ungreased 9” pie pan. Pour out ½ cup canola oil, then add 2 tablespoons cold milk and mix with a fork until milky. Pour into flour mix in the pan and stir it all together. Press the mix into the pan until it resembles a regular pie crust. Leave enough up on the sides to squeeze into a rim. It’s light and flaky – doesn’t leave a mess and never requires rolling out!

Lucy’s Cran-Apple Crumb Pie
1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour
4 cups peeled, sliced and chopped apples ( I use Fuji, but any apple will do)
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
Preheat oven to 425 F. Gently mix berries, apples, sugar, and flour until fruit is coated. Dump into pie crust and top with crumb topping.

Crumb Topping
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter (I use half butter and half yogurt spread).
Mix together until crumbly, and put over top of pie.
Bake about 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it starts to bubble and brown.

Here it is right out of the oven. Needless to say, I had only an empty dish to bring back home! Along the way, I picked up some vanilla-caramel swirl ice cream to put on top.

fresh out of the oven
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Makes me hungry just to write about it!