Friday, February 26, 2010

Treehouse Eats

In contemplating how other people would use the treehouse, I imagined most guests would choose to eat out most meals, and perhaps have breakfast in. Now that a few people have stayed there, it turns out to be different than anticipated.

First, let me say that there are restaurants right in Volcano that do great dinners. And those who stay more than three nights are generally ranging all over at least the east side of the island. Nevertheless, eating in and up in the trees seems to be fairly frequent. Toward that end, here are some uses of local produce and more that work fine in the treehouse food prep area, which is quite petite.

The flowers on the right are nasturtiums. These are from the side of the road near the golf course in Volcano. They are quite edible, and add a tang like arugula to salads and sandwiches. I also use them to prepare potatoes in the skillet. And they are pretty on the plate, as a garnish. Skillet potatoes, made with all local ingredients, use local potatoes - red or purple or yellow or white, maui onions, shallots, mushrooms, nasturtiums, spinach, sliced yellow squash. The olive oil comes from far away. The salt is local. Potatoes are cooked first in the microwave, as if baked. Then chopped. Saute over medium heat with chopped everything else. This meal is done when the potatoes have golden crispiness to them, and everything else is unrecognizable. This is very tasty. If you like, you can add some of Farmer Market Ron's kalua pork for protein.

Small segue to the Farmer's Market - this happens every Sunday morning very early. Suggested buys: Lisa's Kau coffee, the vegetarian lasagne, local spinach and other greens, including gardener Grant's arugula and basil. Tangerines, papayas, mangoes, lilikoi, pineapple. Locally ranched grass fed beef. Fish if the fish guy is there - an iffy thing. Ron's Hawaiian foods are all scrumptious. His haupia in the tiny container is a perfect serving for one - and for a dollar, how can you go wrong? Sometimes there is lilikoi haupia, and that is amazing. The bread from the guys who make the breakfast sandwiches is the very best. The pastries ... mmmmm. The fresh fruit and vegetables here are pretty much as good as it gets, anywhere. They are so good you don't need fancy preparation - just saute or grill, or just slice and eat.

Soup: Here on the mountain, soup is a great thing to come home to. You can make it before, and get it out and warm it up when you come in. The vegetables from the Farmer's Market include delicious roots for a great soup base. The herb guy sells fresh bundles for a dollar. His parsley is like a bouquet. Saute diced parsley and mushrooms with maui onions and shallots for your base. Add water, and diced root veggies. When those are soft, add the greens. Salt and serve. For something more robust, add some barley. You may be able to find flat toasted barley in the health food store. Or your favorite beans. If you eat meat, chicken is a good addition. We have variations on the soup theme year round here. Very very good after a day at the volcano.

Fish: Local fish is extremely good. There is a store in Hilo that sells just fish - Suisun. If it is daunting to look at the scales, eyes and tail, try one of our markets: KTA in Hilo, or in Keau'u, Foodland. Ahi and tombo tuna are frequently found at great prices, and taste great sliced with shoyu, some sliced ginger, wasabi, mae ploy, and sambal oelek. No cooking needed - this local treat is called poke. It's the Hawaiian version of sashimi. You can find seaweed too that can be chopped and tossed with this. It's great served with sliced avocado and papaya, and a pile of rice. For fish you saute, nothing is better than opakapaka. This is a pink snapper, and as tasty and delectable as lobster. Other local fishes that are easily prepared in the little saute pan in the treehouse are ono and mahi mahi.

These suggestions are just for starts - the food on this island is delightfully delicious, without much seasoning at all. Your mouth will be happy. Coming up one of these days: island pastas! yummy yum yum.

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