Showing posts with label locally grown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label locally grown. Show all posts

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Gorgeous Maui Water Lily Farm

Haiku is always full of surprises: hippies, secret pot farms, kombucha cafes, hidden hobbit houses. There’s a water lily farm off of Hana Highway, about 15 miles from Kahului called the Maui Water Lily Farm. While there is a noticeable sign on the highway, most people in a hurry will miss it.  And it’s worth taking some time to savor. Sometimes they are open, sometimes they are not. The sign at the driveway will let you know.

Address: 83 N. Holokai Road, Haiku, HI 96708
Phone: (808) 572-7878

Ever have someone make a fresh flower bouquet on demand? I felt like a fairy princess as Nico waded knee-deep through the water lilyponds to cut five fresh water lily blossoms. He carefully placed them into a plastic specialty bag and gently tied them. He cautioned me that they would only last for a couple of days, maybe 3 at most, and that they go to bed at night.

One of the water lily ponds at the Maui Water Lily Farm.
Buddha overlooking the water lily pond.
What’s special about water lilies?
  • They are actually fragrant, a soft and not overwhelming scent.
  • They close their petals at night and open up in the morning.
  • The flowers are phototropic: they move towards the light, bending and stretching.
  • Even when the flowers stop blooming, they close up as buds and still look beautiful.

These water lilies kept moving towards the light!

Haiku Water Lily Farm has two main ponds, filled with water lily plants. When I stopped by, in late May, there was another unexpected surprise: the water hyacinths were blooming. There were masses of these beautiful lilac blooms along the sides of the pond. Nico said they bloom for a couple of weeks every spring.

Water hyacinths in bloom.
P.S. Two events happening this weekend:

Mo'okiha O Pi'ilani Launch 2014, July 11th, today at noon, Lahaina – This Maui canoe has been restored to perfection and is being returned to Maui waters.

Summer Bash for Education, July 12th, Saturday, 6-8 pm, Kihei. Donate school supplies, win door prizes, watch live entertainment including the Burn n Love Elvis impersonator.


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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Surinam Cherry Relish

During the height of Surinam cherry season, some artist friends brought over a delectable fruit relish that they like to spoon over fish. They referred to it as "Michael's Amazing Surinam Cherry Fruit Bowl."  It’s incomparable to anything I’ve had. Sweet and tart and juicy, not cooked like a chutney, and with complex layers of flavor. Even DH, who is not generally crazy about sweet things, ate several helpings. It's kind of like a salsa, but fruity!

Surinam cherries and other fruits over salmon

I was fooled by this dish and thought it had some tomatoes, because of the juicy red pieces, but they were actually sour-sweet Surinam cherries. I actually thought this was a variation of a fruity tomato salsa. Surinam cherries are still fruiting now, though the ones I have access to are not producing as abundantly as a couple of months ago.

These are lighter colored surinam cherries.
They are very ripe and a bit tart. 

Surinam cherries are not like regular cherries. They taste different as well, more wilder somehow, like a wild berry.  They are about the same size as a regular cherry, with a medium pit inside. They are delightfully grooved and can have a tart taste. Usually, the deeper the red, the sweeter the fruit. Lighter colored Surinam cherries can make you pucker up! Here's a collage of surinam cherries in various stages of growth, including flowering.

When they are going off, I mean, producing a lot, you can end up with a lot of these little beauties. These big bushes seem to love Hawaii’s mild climate and I have seen them growing in lower Kula, along the side of the mountain, and also in Haiku, about 800 feet above sea level. They can be made into preserves and juiced, and used in a lot of ways, but this is the first time I’ve had them over fish.  This is also a great way to use up lighter colored Surinam cherries.

This adaptable recipe is from Michael and Karen O’Reilly, who express their art in many ways, including in the kitchen. I wrote about a visit to the O'Reilly art studio during the Maui Open Studios.

Very challenging to take photos of food! I hope I've done this dish justice!

Michael's Amazing Surinam Cherry Fruit Bowl (aka Surinam Cherry Relish)
A cup of Surinam cherries, diced
A cup of mangos diced
A cup of pineapple diced
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/8 to 1/4 cup of red pepper, diced finely
1/8 to 1/4 cup of green pepper, diced finely
1/8 to 1/4 cup of onion, diced finely.  (Maui sweet onion is a good bet.)
1/8 to 1/4 cup of celery, chopped thinly, across the stalk
Salt to taste

The smaller you chop the ingredients, the more flavors you’ll taste in one spoonful.  I would try to keep my pieces no bigger than half an inch, and would cut the celery, pepper, and onion more finely than that.

Mix all ingredients together and as Michael says, “I just make it to taste - kinda wing it or make it up as you go along...” It’s a very flexible recipe, and you can adapt the amounts to your liking. Michael says it is great over salmon, but you can certainly try it with other kinds of fish to kick up the flavor.  I also enjoyed spooning it out of the jar by itself.  It’ll last for a couple of days in the fridge.

This recipe is also vegan, raw, and gluten-free. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Maui Deer Gone Amok: Trouble in Paradise

This is the first in a series called Trouble in Paradise.

In recent years, the deer population has exploded on Maui. Deer on Maui? Really? I’ve heard deer stories on the mainland, about deer who wander into garden beds and eat all the tulips and rose bushes and vegetables, deer who eat all the young forest saplings leaving nothing but ferns everywhere. Bad, bad deer, who often can’t be hunted in residential communities.

Yes, Axis deer on Maui (hanging out near the beach at Makena!)

Maui doesn’t have a lot of tulips or rose bushes, but we do have a lot of deer wandering into farms and eating valuable crops or munching gardens at hotels and around houses. By the way, Maui farms tend to be small, 2-20 acres, smaller than most small mainland farms which are often 50+ acres. Also many hotels and resorts, part of the local food movement, have gardens. Our deer roam the island fairly easily, especially from high-up Kula and upcountry down to the beach area of Makena. I don’t know if there are deer in Lahaina or Ka’anapali, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Maui’s deer are an introduced species, not native to the Hawaiian Islands. Our Axis deer are generally smaller than mainland deer, with spots, and cute in a Bambi kind of way. They are sub-tropical deer, gone amok in paradise.

At the most recent Maui Farmers Union Potluck, Michael Tavares of the Maui Axis Deer Hunting Cooperative spoke about the burgeoning deer population on the island. Here is some food for thought:

The Axis deer population is estimated to be 60,000 deer, of which 90% are estimated to be does, and 90% of those female does are believed to be pregnant!  Michael estimates that this summer, the deer population could reach 100,000.

When there is drought, like we had in April, the deer get so hungry that they wander more into local farms and gardens, causing even more damage than they normally do. Summer time, especially in Kula and upcountry, can be very dry with extended drought conditions and water rationing.

The MADHC formed as aresponse to the deer population explosion. For the last three months they have conducted a pilot project to do controlled hunts of deer on private property, with a USDA inspector, kill the deer quickly, transport and refrigerate them, and butcher them in a food safe manner at a USDA approved slaughterhouse.

Maui Axis Deer Harvesting Co-op banner and a participating hunter at the Farmers Union meeting.
So far 280 deer have been killed and the pilot project has been a success. The county/state has approved the program, and local venison will become available to buy at Pukalani Superette in a few weeks. Actually, Maui venison was expected to be in stores last spring, a year ago, but there were some snags in the process.

Nothing is wasted: the meat is given to hunters and their families, also to approved low-income residents. The entrails are given to farmers to compost. If you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you’ll recall that animal parts can be composted safely and create rich, healthy compost. The hides are given to deer tanners.

Michael and other members of the MAHDC sat at a table during the meeting to answer questions and talk with local farmers and land owners. They have also been presenting at the Kula Community Association and other places.

For those concerned about animal welfare and animal rights and who might question deer hunting, consider the alternatives. For example, tagging and spaying/neutering deer would be outrageously expensive. Deer also eat other things besides local Maui produce, like indigenous native plants. Some land on Maui is protected with big fences, but open areas are grazed by deer, goats and trampled by feral pigs. Some areas can be protected, but how many private landowners are going to fence their entire acreage?

How can you help?

MADHC would love to have more access to hunt deer on private lands. Deer do not recognize land boundaries, so a herd of deer can keep moving. If you are a private landowner, please contact MADHC. If you’re a hunter, you can ask to join the MADHC. Keep in mind, MADHC has controlled kills, insurance, and a procedure in place. The deer are killed as cleanly and quickly as possible.

Contact info for MADHC.
I'm doing it this way so he won't get  on spam email lists.

Have there ever been this many deer on Maui?
According to Michael, no. It’s never been this bad.

Why are there so many deer now?
Michael cited multiple reasons, in his own words:

 1. Lack of public/private hunting lands. 15 years ago, there was a lot more land available to Maui's hunters. Hunting actually held a more positive stereotype. So more land owners were willing to allow people to hunt on their lands. And I won’t say the problem was managed but there were a lot less deer.

2. Lack of habitat.... Maui has been expanding at an alarming rate. We have new hotels being built, multiple subdivisions, a lot of ag land that is being converted to business use. When this happens the wildlife that lives in these areas is pushed into new areas.

3. Also Maui provides the ultimate safe haven for a deer there are no natural predators, they have a warm tropical eco system that provides ample amounts of food and water put these two things together and you have the perfect climate for these animals to breed.

How do you get these population statistics of 60,000? How is this being measured?
“The calculation of the deer population to this point has been mere speculation. There has been no "official" count yet. I base my numbers on the amount of animals I see. For example I was hunting last weekend on a farm on Omapio Road. Within the first 5 minutes of my hunt I ran into a herd of 100 deer. Another 45 minutes I ran in to a different herd of 50-60 and just at dusk at the far end of the property I watched a herd of 200-250 run over a hill and go into HC & S land. Now this is on a 50 acre property. That is a small property. When I was able to hunt in Makena I would routinely run into a different herd of 100-150 deer every hour. There were days that I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Also there are proven facts that 1 acre of land can sustain 6 to 7 deer.”

Are there any deer ticks here? Deer are often associated with Lyme disease.

“There are no known parasites on Maui's deer. There has been the rare occasion where we find purple spots on the liver but that has been 1 in every couple hundred we shoot. I’m not sure of the cause.”

Since the USDA is involved with the controlled hunts and meat processing, the venison available on Maui will be USDA certified and food-safe.

I couldn’t help also asking Michael, “280 deer in 3 months! That’s a lot of deer. Where do you put all that deer?” He responded with a grin, “I have a really BIG cooler. You’d be surprised.” I can imagine. 

This is the first part of a series, called Trouble in Paradise. Stay tuned for more. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ocean Vodka - What's In a Name?

Ocean Vodka. Say the name slowly, pausing after each word. Then ask yourself, why that name in particular? Ocean – the organic farm and distillery operations are not located near the ocean, but upcountry, along the slopes of Haleakala Crater. So why ocean? The next word: vodka – that’s what they make, but this is vodka produced from an untraditional source: sugar cane, not potatoes. It is even described as delicious, unlike traditional vodka. Then go back to the first word, ocean. It makes sense once you find out that desalinated deep sea water is used in the making of this special vodka. Not just any ocean water, but the super pure, mineral rich deep sea water off the Big Island of Hawaii. Water that is so pure that Hawaii biologists use this same deep sea water to raise seahorses, which are sensitive to pollution and cannot thrive in contaminated waters.

If you’d like to read more, I invite you to read the rest of my guest post about the Grand Opening of Ocean Vodka on A Maui Blog. This is a teaser post.

In the meantime, here are some pictures to enjoy:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Late Night Geckos and Noni Flowers

Late night gecko poised on a flowering noni fruit.

Geckos eating noni flowers late at night is one of the eeriest - and oddly beautiful - sights I've ever seen. They stalk the flowers and slowly lick, sip, and slither around the budding flowers and fruits. Plus noni fruits are just plain eerie and spooky to begin with. They are a highly beneficial fruit, but it's hard to give noni away to anyone because the taste is so sour and cheesy. And the fruit looks like it comes from an alien planet - it's bumpy and oddly shaped. But the Hawaiians prized the noni plant enough to bring it with them by canoe to Hawaii, since every part of the plant has medicinal value. 

This week's photo blog hop is on Eerie Beauty, hosted by Maui Shop Girl.

Also, this is Day 1 of Nablopomo, National Blog Posting Month. NaBloPoMo November 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Feeding a Crowd with GF Local Beef Bulgogi

This is a follow up to the Perils of Pauline Potluck post with tips on potluck planning. And, this post has recently been cross-posted to Gluten Free Maui's website. 

What worked: The food turned out fine.

I had gone to a local packing house the day before and picked up 9 lbs of local beef. Most of it was frozen beef chuck, but it turned out great by using green papaya to tenderize the beef.

Secret tip: Green papaya has enzymes
which tenderize meat. 

Then I marinated it in a Korean bulgogi sauce which I got from By the way, the “gogi” beef at the Eat Gogi food truck on Maui is also Korean beef bulgogi. I’m sure they use a proprietary recipe, but the main ingredients are similar to what I used.

Needed enough beef to feed what I thought might be oh, 30+ people. Ha ha ha. In my dreams. I adjusted the proportions to make 9 times the quantity in the recipe, and I wanted it to be gluten free for some gluten free friends.  Good thing I actually read the ingredients in the soy sauce label. I forgot that soy sauce is made from wheat which has gluten. Oh no!  I didn’t have enough Braggs Liquid Aminos to substitute, so I went to Haiku Grocery and looked for Braggs or tamari (wheat free soy sauce) which were pricey, but I did get a bottle of tamari. I also didn’t have enough sesame oil, and it was eye-openingly expensive, so I decided to fudge – a lot. It still wasn’t enough tamari to make what I needed so I ended up changing the recipe quite a bit.

Grilled beef bulgogi
The big fear was that the meat wouldn’t taste right. At the potluck, Suzanne’s husband did the grilling and I tried to not think about the beef. When the meat was served, I closed my eyes and took a bite. It was fine, no it was very good, no it was really ono (delicious). Everyone ate a lot of meat, and seconds or thirds, and asked how to make it. Here it is!  

This recipe is practically idiot proof. You can take the ratios and make them quite different, do a lot of substitutions, and it will still taste really good. And you can also use this on tofu, to make a vegetarian bulgogi. Remember, you can also just go to the original allrecipes version too, and make a much smaller amount (and you can certainly tweak it around).

Modified Gluten Free Korean Bulgogi for a big barbeque
9 lbs of beef
½ cup or more green papaya shredded, to tenderize the meat
½ cup Braggs + ¾ cup tamari
18 cloves of mashed garlic
1-2 cups of green onion, processed in food processor
8 Tablespoons sesame oil.
¼ cup of tahini, since I didn’t have enough sesame oil
6 tablespoons sugar – I didn’t want to use sugar, but didn’t have any agave syrup or alternative healthy sweetener. I also used quite a bit less sugar than what the original recipe called for. I did end up adding 1 tablespoon of honey since I had it and wasn’t sure it’d be sweet enough.
5 Tablespoons sesame seeds – if I had used the original recipe, I would have ended up with 18 tablespoons
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of pepper

Place beef in a shallow dish. Coat beef with shredded green papaya and let sit for at least an hour before adding the other ingredients. I ended up needing to use a large crock pot liner, it was the only thing big enough.

Mix other ingredients together and slather beef with mixture. Let sit overnight in the fridge.

I'd actually prefer this recipe to be posted on GFree Maui's site, but haven't talked with her about it, and she can't vouch for the taste. 

Shredded green papaya over local beef. 
The rest of the event was fine too and very impromptu. We ate about half of the beef I had marinated, so I had a freezer full of Korean bulgogi beef  - down to 1 pound now. Nothing started when I thought it would, in a typically Maui fashion. I had called the event a Memory Lane potluck with a focus on photo sharing, but the focus started out with food. 

Honey girls after tasting three kinds of honey. 
We even had an impromptu honey tasting - one honey from Mark and Leah Damon's farm up the road, tupelo honey from the South, and a creamed local honey. Then we finally got around to sharing (and guessing) photos from our childhood and of our parents. This actually turned out to be quite funny, especially when we figured out that one person forgot to bring any photos!  Nothing ended when I thought it would, in a typical Maui fashion. It would have taken forever if more than 9 people had showed up.  Informally, we’re planning a collage making potluck next month, and will see how well that works!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Local Beef can be Affordable

There are several places on Maui to buy local beef. It is sometimes more expensive than beef imported from the mainland, but it can be less expensive.

Some advantages to buying local beef, i.e., from cows raised on Maui.

Maui Cattle Co. Beef at Pukalani Superette. 

  • Local beef is healthier.
  • The animals have had a better life than animals raised in CAFOs (aka commercial feed lots) and have had access to pasture and grass and sometimes ocean views!
  • The environmental costs of raising and transporting beef locally are also less. 
  • A summary of reasons to eat grass fed beef can be found here
I was told when I asked about hormones in the beef, that Hawaii state law prohibits local beef to be produced using any growth hormones.  Also, if you’ve watched the documentary Food Inc, there’s a scene in which the narrator says that a single commercially produced hamburger can contain portions of meat from hundreds of cows mixed together, and some of the cows have tumors in the meat or other diseases. Yuck.

Where to buy local beef: 
PukalaniSuperetteMana FoodsWhole Foods MarketHanzawa's Grocery in Haiku, and Rodeo General Store in Makawao. Sometimes Longs Drugs carries local beef in their frozen section. Haiku Grocery may carry some local beef under the Maui Cattle Co. label, but the store-packaged hamburger is no longer local as of this year.  I’ve never seen local beef at any of the chain supermarkets. Local hamburger or ground beef is sometimes as low as $2.99/lb (this is less expensive than most supermarkets on Maui) but usually it’s more. Other cuts can be up to $8 or $9/lb but you can buy cuts like beef chuck and then tenderize the heck out of it using shredded green papaya. And it will taste great!  If you need to find certain cuts of local beef like beef chuck or livers or kidneys OR buy in larger quantities, definitely ask Pukalani Superette, because they can let you know what days certain things arrive to their store and they are wonderfully helpful. 

Update 1/24/13: Originally, this post mentioned a specific local institution to buy Maui beef directly, without a middleman, but shortly after I posted it, the business requested that I remove their name and not mention them. They said they just didn't want the publicity. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Food Security Bill 1947 and Small Farmers

Proposed bill, SB 1947, could stop small scale farming in Hawaii by making it too expensive for farmers to farm. 

Maui Farmer's Union presented an update on this bill, at their meeting March 27th, 2012. Watch the video, and if you can't access the video, then read the rough (not totally verbatim) transcript below:

Bill Greenleaf: Small scale farmers can’t afford the cost it takes to do that. They can’t afford to keep manini (Hawaiian for time-consuming, detailed) records of the day to day touching of each plant. They keep pushing that 1947 is voluntary. If you talk w/ anyone that’s the main point they make. Just so you know getting a driver’s license is voluntary too. Who’s got a driver’s license here? 

And as far as farming goes, the connection is they’ve already stopped farmers on Oahu who were selling for a long time at KC (?) Market who don’t have food safety. Now they’ve had to back up and say that people in the process can do it, but they stopped them from selling at those markets and it’s not going to be too far down the road before insurance companies say they can’t give you insurance unless you have food safety. It’s like apple pie and mom’s {glass of } milk – everyone wants food safety. Well this isn’t about food safety at all. The companies behind it are the lobbyists for all the large agricultural companies. FACE did the investigative work and they found out who’s pushing it and it’s not about food safety, it’s about stopping the local agricultural movement.

Vince Mina: In that spirit, if you want to get food safety certified, great. If I want to sell to Costco and get food safety certified, great. Then I just go get whoever’s doing this on the mainland to come inspect my farm. The people who don’t need that or don’t want that don’t (shouldn’t) have to. That’s what we want to see in a nutshell. Farm Bureau is for this food safety bill that they’re pushing through. And it’s being pushed through big time. These legislators are so smug. I’ve got my {….} with these guys. You can see them standing there real smug with “punch me” written all over their face.

Melissa’s a board member of MFUU. 

Melissa: I just want to say the cost in being food safety certified for a small farmer is approximately $30,000 – to hire someone and do the paperwork. That’s the requirement.

Vince/Bill: It’s pretty gnarly stuff.

Here’s the point. When you get info from us about this bill, Food Safety, share your mana’o. read about it, get educated.

Bill referring to Penny in the audience: What Penny’s saying, there’s a Tester Hague (sp?) amendment to the food safety modernization act (federal level). Well, read the sentence below. It says that we’re still required to operate under all state and local laws. So when they make a law (the state), we gotta operate on it.

(Penny is hard to hear) – She is talking about the state dept of health for food rules and safety and says they are actually really good, and we need to look at this.

Bill responding: Well they put it under Dept of Ag and there’s all kinds of crazy language in there -  we will be responsible for extra costs, all travel costs of inspectors. They bill out at a pretty heft rate, $80-90/hour for people from the mainland, and you have to put them up, pay for a hotel, their food, it’s a normal cost of business for agriculture for anyone who sells to Costco or Safeway. That’s how I learned about this. I went to a Farm Bureau presentation that had groups describe what their process was, how effective it wasx. It was a great presentation that Farm Bureau put on. I got a degree in accounting. It’s really simple. We can’t afford it. We don’t need it and that’s the main thing. I had Louisa from Dept of Ag go around our farm and it’s wonderful.  Almost everything we’re doing is in alignment. I just need to compost all the manure, everything in my chicken yard, I need to run it through a screen, put in my compost piles and then take it out. And I need a place for people to dry their hands after they wash. And that’s basically it. And that would have cost my $8,000 and another $15 or 20k worth of recordkeeping under SB 1947.

Farmer in audience: Bill, is there a way to collectively get together w/ Louisa Castro and the CES up here and develop a guideline for small diversified farms for food safety?

Bill: That’s plan B. We wrote a bill, SB 2027 (?), that says exactly that. Farmer’s Union is considering that as a prototype. We’d like to make a bill that would address our level.

And here’s the kicker. If you want an automated, mandated food inspection, they give you a month to make an appointment, you get a whole month to prepare for that. Now if you’re really food safety certified, why can’t you have surprise audits? Then what’s the big deal? Why can’t they make a surprise visit? And if you aren’t (food safe), then they can make a correction. We need to get real. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Redneck Upcountry Christmas Tree

A Norfolk pine Christmas tree replete with beer bottles and thingamabobs. 
Yes, I know Christmas is over. I also have just managed to get back to the Hali'imale Community Garden yesterday, after weeks of rain in Ha'iku. On the way to the garden, I saw this Norfolk pine outside of Dingking, and burst out laughing.  It's decorated in the redneck style, with mysterious car or electronic parts, and plenty of beer bottles. It even has a Home Depot bucket. Classic. 

By the way, Norfolk pines do grow on Maui and the other Hawaiian islands.  They can be decorated as Christmas trees or grown in pots as living Christmas trees and then planted outside. I did have a Norfolk pine Christmas tree one December, about 10 years ago on Kauai.  All the regular imported Christmas trees were sold out by the second week of December. So we got a local Christmas tree. Norfolk pines just aren't my first choice.  They look pretty growing outside but look like Charlie Brown Christmas trees once they're brought inside and decorated. On the plus side, they are environmentally friendly, inexpensive, and you can even grow them yourself.  

Next year, maybe DH and I will splurge for a Maui grown Christmas tree.  It would be far more sustainable and environmentally conscious.  Kula Botanical Gardens has a Christmas tree sale every December, with locally grown Monterey pines. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is Kiawe Edible?

Ant exploring the sweet kiawe pod. 

Ouch! Kiawe, which we pronounce kee-ah-vay, is one of those trees that almost everyone knows about, even many tourists, because it hurts so much. It's the reason why Hawaiians started wearing shoes and long clothing, because the missionaries brought it over here as a tree of salvation. Or at least that's the story I learned here. Kiawe has many thorns, cleverly arranged so that when a branch falls down, at least one thorn will point upward.  DH claims that kiawe was the inspiration for military tank traps - the spikes rotate along the branch. 

Kiawe thorn forest

But is kiawe edible? Kiawe is apparently a variety of mesquite, and Wikipedia's entry on kiawe just confirmed that. My first inkling that mesquite is edible was from Gary Paul Nabhan's eloquent book, Coming Home to Eat, in which he discusses finding, harvesting, and eating edible wild foods in Arizona as well as his take on local food traditions.  Nabhan praises the flavor of mesquite flour in tortillas. Kiawe wood is also excellent for grilling, but the wood is not edible. 

Inner kiawe pod encased in sticky sweetness. 

There have been a lot of kiawe pods on the ground lately, for at least the last month or two. It must be the season for kiawe reproduction. I kidnapped a couple of kiawe pods that rattled when I shook them. I brought them home and shortly after, noticed the ants milling all over the kiawe pods. They were crawling inside and out, having a great time. While ants eat many unsavory things, like dead rat parts that the cat turns up her nose at, they often eat things that I love - like fruit, oil, and sweet things.  So I broke open a pod and my fingers touched a sticky pale residue, like gummy honey.  This sticky residue covered an inner pod. I sniffed at it, and it did have a sweet smell, so I gingerly touched it with my tongue. It was sweet. Like honey but lighter tasting. (Note: By the way, just because I may try weird random things to see if they are edible does not mean that other people should do so. Eating unknown things can be hazardous to your health!) 

Fully exposed inner kiawe pod.

With some effort, I cut into the inner pod with a knife, and found hard, glossy, little brownish seeds. I can't imagine collecting enough seeds to mill them into flour. Maybe if one has many menehune (folkloric Hawaiian brownies/elves) to do this tedious work. I'm wondering, did the native Americans of the Southwest mill the entire kiawe pods, or just the little seeds inside?  Biting the seeds isn't recommended. Too hard on the teeth. 

Kiawe seeds inside the inner pod. I rinsed them off. 

I also experimented with toasting the other kiawe pods, and they were still difficult to open, and still sweetly gummy. 

Roasted kiawe pod, anyone?

Kiawe is an intriguing food, but until I figure out an easy way to harvest seeds or make kiawe flour, kiawe does not lend itself to my cooking experiments. At least the pods are not thorny. I bet it's gluten free too. If you have experience with kiawe as an edible food, please let me know!

Update 11/8/12: Just found out about making mesquite or kiawe flour, so this may be my next cooking experiment. There are tons of kiawe pods in S. Kihei right now, so I'll try to collect some next time I'm down there.