The Naples Florida List – 2017

Adult vacation – woohoo! The first real one since our honeymoon. When I found out we were able to go, I was beyond excited. An entire weekend of sun and relaxation and friends. I mean, I was giddy.

Plus, I’ve never been to Florida! Which is a big deal because everyone here has been at least once, and many people have homes/condos there, where they escape to during colder months. I remember all my New York relatives driving down to Florida each each, wondering what it was like.

1)  We took a really early flight (woke up at 5:30am), which was harsh, but once we got going, not too bad. Plus, thanks to Delta miles, we flew first class. As soon as we got on the plane, my husband ordered a vodka soda because 1. adult weekend 2. rockstar. That’s my plain hot water next to his big boy drink.

2)  Even though I need to be medicated to fly, I love looking down at the landscape on takeoff and landing. It was neat seeing the little channels/outlets (don’t even school me on the terms, I will not remember) and it reminded me of all the books and movies set in the Florida everglades (which I’d love to explore on another trip).

3)  My girlfriend invited eight of us (including her and husband) to stay at her parents’ condo in Naples. Long story short – water damage, mold – we ended up staying in another condo in that same building, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that we stayed in Naples, in a condo along the beach. The weather was hot hot hot and I welcomed it with arms wide open.

4)  First stop: a leisurely lunch across the street. I can’t remember what I had but I was hungry and finished it and also finished off my friend’s pizza (“are you going to eat that?” classy.), so it must have been delicious.

5)  After that, we hung out on the beach for several hours. The Gulf was probably the warmest water I have been in. I hate being cold and I hate being in cold water, but I love being in warm water, so it was a nice surprise for me because I could get in and enjoy it right away!

6)  I spent some time alone, walking along the shore, looking at and collecting shells for the girls. The sand was powdery white.

Image result for italian restaurant naples florida campiello

Not my photo – grabbed off Pinterest.

7)  We went to the best Italian restaurant for dinner – Campiello – in the very quaint downtown area. They had homemade pasta, which I of course ordered and loved. I think I was one of the youngest people there which was awesome.

Apparently Naples is pretty fancy and also (and probably also because it’s fancy) there’s a large population of retired folks who have homes there. Also, it was the off-season which meant that many people were not in town. Whatever the reason, I actually felt young, which has not happened in a while.

8)  Naples sunsets are gorgeous.

9)  The next day was my friend’s birthday. The night before, we (by we I mean everyone but me because I was asleep) decorated the condo to surprise her in the morning. It was really cute.

 

9)  The guys went golfing (it was in the 90s – eek! Not sure how they survived, but they did) while the girls went to yoga, then brunch downtown and window shopped and grabbed coffee. It was so nice to be leisurely and not have any plans.

10)  Before pre-dinner cocktails, I popped in to the condo’s free library/book exchange and spent way more time there than I’d planned. I found three books that I had to have. One that I’ve been wanting to read – Dead Wake by Erik Larson about the Lusitania. Love, love, loved his book Devil in the White City. Read it if you haven’t.

Speaking of cocktails, because 1. adult weekend and 2. rockstar, my girlfriend packed a whole suitcase filled with drink supplies. I thought she was joking when she posted something on Instagram, but as it turns out, she bubble wrapped simple syrup, fresh lime juice from Farms Market, and a plethora of other things. Hysterical. But also amazing.

11) On our last full day, we rented a boat and took it I don’t even know where…to a little spot that is usually not as busy as it was (Memorial Day weekend), but we found a spot and docked.

I loved seeing the birds’ nests on the signs as we drove along. Oh and we saw dolphins!! Oh my gosh, it was…so fun to see the pair of them playing. One of the highlights for sure.

I also liked seeing a lot of plant life that was new and different to me. Some of them reminded me of Hawaii plants.

We saw a bunch of pelicans on our boat trip. I so love pelicans. They’re so prehistoric-looking. Kind of goofy up close, but when they are in flight, they look really cool

12)  Seven hours later, we pull up for dinner at a Mexian place called Mr. Tequila. A bunch of people ordered their signature drink, which is a margarita with an upside-down Corona in it. Ay carumba. I did not partake, thankfully.

13)  I was so relaxed and happy that I didn’t even take my mediation on the flight home. Big mistake. The screen showed two minutes to landing and 3000 feet (or something like that), then all of a sudden, lots of turbulence and a quick ascent into the sky and a big turn and more turbulence and I was freaking. OUT.

I know stuff like this happens all the time and of course it was the pilot being safe and not landing in a storm, but still. The only saving grace (besides the fact that we landed with our lives intact) was the phenomenal view of the storm over downtown Detroit. Photos do not capture the powerful beauty of that view. I had to muster all my inner strength to bend down and fish around for my camera and snap a pic. All the while, digging my nails into my husband’s arm.

Except for those last few minutes of the plane ride back, our trip went by in a flash. If your friend ever invites you to Florida, please say yes!

Save

The May List – 2017

May was a whirlwind.  Here’s the list.

1) We have bees at our Garden / Detroit Abloom lots courtesy of our friend Brian over at Bees in the D, and we are super geeked out about them. I have yet to learn how to care for them, but Brian is planning on hosting a workshop soon.

2) This month at Detroit Abloom, our anemones bloomed. I have soooo many favorite flowers, but they are one of my surprise favorites. Surprise because I usually go for pale colors and fluffy things like peonies. Anemones are mysterious and moody, but also bright and happy, depending on the light.

3) In my own garden, the lilac bloomed and they did not disappoint. I got a little carried away (per usual) with the loppers and trimming of the lilac tree as evidenced by the photo above, but there is still plenty of lilac tree left and it was fun to have some inside, even though they only lasted a few days.

4) I often stop to look over the fence into Shirley’s garden. I remember her taking me on a tour of it, telling me the names of all the different plants and pointing out her favorites. It makes me smile to see that her garden still looks so much nicer than mine, even in her absence. Sign of a great gardener. Her plants feel at home. Her garden helper does still comes over on occasion to fertilize or weed (and throw plants over the fence for me) which is nice to see.

5) Can we talk about potato chips for a second? I seriously am obsessed with them. In fact, right now I’m eating some Kettle brand (my favorite) pepperoncini chips (taste is okay, but I prefer plain. Or cheddar) with my sour cream-based ranch dip and I’m scared to look in the bag to see how much is left (not much). I can’t buy them or I’ll eat them but obviously I did both today. Whenever I go to a party and I spy chips (especially with french onion dip), I pretty much stay within a three feet of them at all times. What’s your party food weakness?

6) My husband and I celebrated our 9th anniversary this month. Our five year old presented me with this sweet card the morning of.

7) To celebrate, we went to dinner at a new restaurant (which there are so many of in Detroit nowadays) downtown called Parc Detroit. I’d been wanting to go for some time. It was lively and somewhat loud, but the service was good. The food wasn’t over-the-top delicious, but it was yummy enough. I got some kind of lobster pasta (if there is pasta on the menu, it’s mine. Always.) tossed in cream sauce, and the portion was large enough to allow me to enjoy some the next day for lunch.

8) The school where I work held its auction this month and whew! Glad it is over, but it was fun working on it and seeing it all come together.

I got to wear the 7.5 carat diamond earrings we were auctioning off in the live portion for a hot second. Photos do not do them justice, but trust me, they were fabulous. I mean, here I am at a reception where I know less than half the people there, listening to someone give a speech, and I am beaming. It has to be the earrings. And maybe the champagne.

9) Speaking of alcohol, my girlfriend brought her ….I don’t even know what to call it, cooler purse?…with her to the auction. Because why not. It was filled with simple syrup and juice and mini cans of Sofia by Coppola champagne and after I tried the house white, I stopped making fun of her and asked her to please make me a cocktail.

10) I read The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware this month. It’s a fun thriller, I suppose you could call it. Fun because it wasn’t gruesome or morbid or too dark and most of it took place on a luxury yacht. Not very literary, so if you’re looking for a GOOD book, this is not it, but it is a page-turner and something to zone out on. Beach read.

This photo was taken one day when my husband saw that I was frazzled with the girls and took them to his mom’s house for a couple hours. I’d been with them all morning and they were so whiny that day and uncooperative and I was so giddy to have some time alone that I made coffee and one of my favorite snacks and sat on the couch with my book.

11)  Speaking of books, after my yoga class one Friday morning (held at a church) I walk by and see that the gym is filled with tables of books. I cannot walk by a book sale without stopping and I ended up staying there for a whole hour (carrying my yoga mat the entire time. why?) and left with a set of children’s encyclopedias from the 80s ($5.00!) and about eight great (I think. I hope) paperbacks, each for a dollar or less.

12) I almost forgot about one of the best things I did this month, which was to teach my daughter’s class a Hawaiian song (Pearly Shells) and hula moves to go along with it. I was so nervous about learning the song on the ukulele and of course singing and teaching it. Which was just silly because the kids were super attentive and funny and so excited to learn something new and I left with my heart feeling so full.

I hope your May was filled with many memorable moments as well. I leave you with this gem from the Public Safety section of our newspaper. Can’t we all just get along?

Also, I went to Florida for the first time, which I will recap that in another post! Happy Happy June, y’all!

Save

Save

Save

The April List – 2017

So excited for lilacs!

Yay for Spring! Spring is my favorite season here in the Midwest. I so look forward to warmer weather and flowers and being outside.

1) There are a ton of flowering pear trees, I believe also called Bradford pear trees (?) in Grosse Pointe. They are really stinky – not sure what smells exactly, the blossoms? – but so pretty. They have a bad rap as being weak (we lost a huge portion of the one in front of our house in a storm right before we moved in), and possibly considered an invasive species? You’ll have to look this one up yourself. No time for research this week!

2) It’s so exciting watching plants come out of the barren ground. How they just rise from seemingly nothing and by summer are bursting with green, fluffy leaves and other colors. Amazing! And very uplifting. The photos above show the same plants three weeks apart, the earlier shots taken at the beginning of April.

3) I started tending the garden beds this month, weeding, sprinkling blood meal around the hostas (I still have to look up the spelling of this plant gah!) to deter bunnies from eating the young shoots, fertilizing (no pesticides!), planting vegetables (kale, peas, green onions, lettuce).

I thought of Shirley a lot as I was weeding around all the plants she’d gifted me and asked her what surprises she had in store for me this year. Not long afterwards, her daughter (professional gardener and horticultural writer/speaker), came over one evening during a visit to her Dad’s (she lives out of town).

She gave me loads of plant suggestions and tips specific to the different areas in our yard, one of them being to stop trimming my Japanese maple, which is supposed to be a weeping tree, but it hasn’t been weeping b/c I keep cutting it (but it is weeping on the inside). Oopsie.

Later that week, another of Shirley’s daughters brought over a box of hostas she’d pulled from her yard. And the following week, Shirley’s garden helper Trish (who continues to tend their garden) gave me three plants she’d divided and pulled up from Shirley’s plant beds.

If I think about it too much, I can make myself so sad when I’m out tending to my garden, as I’m used to seeing Shirley in her yard doing the same. I miss her sweet demeanor and positive attitude, and I miss learning from her. But it seems she intends to stick to her promise about continuing to live on through her loved ones and through her plants. I didn’t doubt her exactly, but it’s nice to be reminded.

Abandoned building

2014

Image result for peterboro chinese

Today

3) Three years ago I lamented about Detroit’s Chinatown, or lack thereof in THIS entry. I’m happy to report that the vacant block pictured in my post (also shown above for those of you who aren’t click-through-ers) now has some new retail spaces, one of which is a Chinese restaurant called Peterboro.

Photo from ornamentmagazine.org

We went there with some friends after a workout session at Jabs Gym (more about that in a minute). It was after 10pm and there were 14 of us who walked in looking for a table and they were able to sit us at one of their high tables. The staff was friendly and patient and the food was yummy enough to satisfy my Chinese food cravings. Some dishes were really good while others were just okay. My husband and I went back for date night recently and tried a few new dishes, plus a couple of their craft cocktails. Two thumbs up!

4) Speaking of date night, the night we went back to Peterboro, I successfully put on some false eyelashes – woohoo! I’ve worn them before for the band, but they never felt right and I think it’s because I wasn’t cutting them to size or placing them about a 1/4 inch away from the inner eye.

I’d been complaining about my thinning eyelashes to a friend and she gifted me with a couple different pairs and some eyelash glue to boot. Also thanks to some very glamorous gal on a YouTube tutorial, I was able to nail the technique. They felt comfortable and looked awesome. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they looked natural, but that wasn’t exactly the look I was going for anyway, so I consider it a success. Once I get the technique down (I did a good job, but it took a while), you may not see me around town without them!

5) Speaking of going out, my workplace’s auction is coming up in May and I was going to recycle my New Year’s Eve dress, but decided to shop for something new.

After looking and looking, I found this fabulous number by Halston Heritage. It was sooooo awesome on but…I thought slightly inappropriate for a school function, so it got returned. Too bad, so sad.

After that disappointment, I decided again on the New Years Eve dress, but decided to give it one more shot at a local boutique called Dawood. The gal there was really nice and helpful, and I tried on a bunch of cute dresses, but decided on this little black one. I don’t normally go for the bell sleeve (in fact, I hate them), but they didn’t bother me on this outfit. Not as formal or fancy as I wanted, BUT it fits. And I can wear it again. And it didn’t break the bank.

photo from jabsgym.com

6) Back to Jabs Gym. A friend of ours hosted a group class at the Eastern Market location and it was so much fun you guys. We wrapped our hands, put on boxing gloves and and did a cardio workout with boxing moves. We each had our own bag which was nice.

I’m sure part of the fun was working out with my husband (which we never do. We are solo workout-ers.) and our friends. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop thinking about it and am dying to go back.

7) Our neighborhood pheasant is back, meaning he’s come out of whatever hiding place he uses over the winter. Many mornings over the last two weeks, he has woken me up around 6:30am with his peck-peck-pecking at our front door’s brass kick plate. I did finally get a good shot of him, though, strutting away from the door, after presumably being frightened away by my shadow.

8) Spring weather is grilling weather and I’ve been grilling as much as possible. Everything tastes better on the grill, am I right?

Sanuk Womens Yoga Sling 2 Black 7 B - Medium

9) I got an email from Zappos last week, telling me how sorry they were for not crediting my account for $148 like over 6 months ago. Which is surprising because I am usually so good at making sure my returns come through. In addition to crediting my account, they gave me $100 to spend – yippee! Best email ever.

Have you ever tried this brand of shoe? Sanuk? The footbed is made from yogamat material and yes it sounds gimmicky, but the first time I saw them was a year ago on the feet of a gal in the airport bathroom and I asked her about them and she raved about their comfort. So I ordered some to try.

10) I haven’t been over to the Garden nearly as much as I’d like this year, due to work, as I think I say every month. But I will be done with work soon and am looking forward to spending more time there.

I did go recently and got to pick tulips and plant carnations. Yes, carnations! I have an aversion to them, but the Detroit Abloom ladies are loving them right now. I’m interested to watch them come up and to see if I will change my mind about them.

The tulips we have this year as so beautiful. A variety called Angelique is fluffy and light and doesn’t look like a tulip at all. When open, it reminds me a little of a peony, one of my favorite flowers.

11)  I pretty much love chili pepper anything. The cocktail I had at Peterboro had chili oil in it, and my newest discovery – Trader Joe’s Chili Chocolate Collection.

These little discs are the perfect late-night snack, because they satisfy both the sweet and the savory. And they are only 50 calories each. They are supposed to range from mild to very spicy, but I have found that sometimes the ones labeled mild are spicier than the ones labeled spicy. So it just depends on the batch, I suppose.

12) Every year birds nest somewhere in the yard. We’ve already had several baby doves hatch. One momma made her nest in our little evergreen out back. The nest was at my eye level, so it was easy to peek in on her.

I hope you are enjoying your spring, wherever you are. Have a wonderful May!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The March List – HAWAII – 2017

Woo-hoo, it’s a bonus list for the month of March! There are so many things to tell you about our Hawaii trip that I had to make a separate list for it. For this visit, we also brought my mother-in-law, a world-traveler who has never been to Hawaii. It was fun deciding what parts of the island to show her. If only we had more time…

1) Of course my all-time favorite thing about Hawaii is seeing family. My Grandma (above) is 94 and the oldest member of our Hawaii clan (can I just say how much I love that she is holding a corn dog in this photo!?).

My mom and Auntie organized a family gathering while we were there, which is not an easy feat given how many of us there are. So many reminders that day of how very blessed I am to call these good people family and friends.

2) Whenever there’s a gathering, there’s always dessert and Auntie is an expert. She made one of my all-time favorites – haupia sweet potato pie – which is a layering of macadamia nut shortbread, Japanese purple sweet potato and haupia (made with coconut milk, cornstarch and sugar). The best.

The kids helped her make brownies, which looked so pretty in the muffin wrappers. She also made halo-halo, a Filipino fruity concoction and baklava, which was so ono (delicious) per usual. As they say in Hawaii…”broke da mouth!”.

3) One of the stops we made was to Punchbowl National Cemetery, which I hadn’t been to since probably high-school, maybe college. It was beautiful, with huge Chinese banyon trees and flush gravestones. Loved seeing all the mid-century modern architectural details, which Hawaii has a lot of.

And possibly what may be the prettiest bathroom building I ever did see.

4) Speaking of, I did make a conscious effort this time to take photos of more interesting buildings. Ala Moana shopping center, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (a Waikiki icon), and downtown Honolulu.

5) The most beautiful building we saw was the interior of the Bishop Museum, another place I haven’t been to since probably middle school or high school. Walking into the building is definitely a “wow” moment. I tried to take photos of it, but could not do it justice, so here’s a pic from their official website.

It was built with lava rock and koa wood, and my husband read somewhere that the building itself is worth more than the historical artifacts the building houses. Not surprised.

6) We went to several beaches. Family-friendly ones (not too many rocks, no big waves) mostly, since the girls are still small and learning how to swim. I hadn’t been to Lanikai Beach since…..you guessed it, high school or college, but I’d recently seen a photo my girlfriend took of her son there and it looked sooo pretty.

There are no bathrooms or parking lots (street parking only, which is difficult), but we made a pit stop beforehand and got there early enough to snag an awesome parking spot. After a short walk down an alleyway, the beach appeared and it was so much prettier than the picture.

White, sandy beaches as far as the eye can see and a couple small islands a kayak ride away (we didn’t go out to them, but many people did). The water was turquoise in the sun and the weather was perfect that day – hot with just enough trade winds to cool you down but not make you cold.

7) We went to Chinatown on Sunday, our first full day in Hawaii. So great to have my Mom come along as well (she hasn’t been out of the house lately, as she helps take care of Grandma).

I love all the shops with interesting medicinal herbs and candies and roots and vegetables. My mom almost bought some sugar cane for the girls to try, but decided not to. I remember tasting sugar cane a few times when I was little. It’s sweet, but such a concentrated sweet and also slightly bitter, if I remember correctly. The more you chew it, though, the better it tastes.

We had lunch at Long Life Noodle. Pepper steak, walnut shrimp (one of my favorites that is so bad for you! Battered deep friend shrimp tossed with mayonnaise and condensed milk. I mean, super gross. And fried, candied walnuts. The combo of flavors is to die for), noodles, beef broccoli and orange chicken. I love good Chinese food so much!

8) Even if you’ve only been reading bits and pieces of my blog, you probably already know I’m a huge fan of the pot sticker, gyoza, mandu, etc. You say dumpling, I say yes. My husband and I escaped for dinner one night to a new (new to us) restaurant, again in Chinatown called Lucky Belly.

They had a tasting dumpling special, so obviously I got that. One was lobster, one was ox tail and the other was….I don’t know, probably traditional pork. Since Grosse Pointe has turned me into a cocktail drinker, I ordered a vodka gimlet, heavy on the lime. Perfect with the flavorful dumplings.

9) My eight-year-old brought her piano books with her and actually did practice a few times. It was very touching to see her play on the now very, very old and wonky sounding antique German piano that I learned how to play on.

I found a place here in Detroit that restores old pianos and I looked into the cost off bringing it over, but it would be upwards of $20,000 to repair, so sadly that will not be happening. Glad my mom still has it, though, and that it’s still somewhat usable.

10) I love going through the photo albums at my mom’s house. I came across these gems. We don’t have very many photos of all four of us together. Now that I’m thinking about it, probably less than 10, maybe less than five? I especially love the vintage Hawaiian one. My Dad’s mixed patterns. Wonder what Tim Gunn would say about that.

11) Almost forgot to mention the miso butterfish. Another one of my faves and one fish dish besides fish and chips that the girls will eat! It’s really simple to make, though I’ve never made it myself. You can’t get butterfish in Grosse Pointe that I’m aware of, but I think it should work with cod. If I ever make  it and it turns out, I’ll share the recipe!

12) On the morning of our flight home, my mom showed the girls how to pick stephanotis blossoms and leaves and red ginger flowers for lei-making. My mom helped our little one string a lei while Auntie braided the other one’s hair. It was a sweet moment that I’m glad they had before they were whisked off for a long day of travel and our busy lives back home.

Such a great trip. Can’t wait for the next one.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The March List – 2017

April is here and has brought with it some beautiful Spring weather! I put away all our snow gear, so if we get another snowstorm before the start of summer, you know who to blame. Half of March was spent with family in Hawaii, and the other half was filled with these things…


1) Our dog Sam had surgery to get rid of cancer in his jaw bone. Half of his lower jaw is now completely gone, and as a result of surgery (Can’t remember specifics. Fatty tissue something or other), his left eye has rolled back into his head. So although he now looks super crazy, he’s still our good, sweet boy and we love him.

Recovery was hard, as he had to learn how to eat and drink with half a jaw and we are still changing towels under his water dish once a day (I’m guessing this will go on for the rest of his life). But at least he’s back to dry food in a bowl, because the hand-feeding took half and hour and the wet food would fly everywhere and fall out of his mouth and then he’d step in it and oh my goodness.

2) The girls made Get Well Soon cards for Sam and we taped them to his little display board by his food and water dishes. Translation: I want you to stay alive when you’re 100.

3) Last month I told you I made simple syrup for the first time. One of my favorite drinks to make with it is tequila, simple syrup, juice of one lime and a splash of Contreau. At the end of March, I made a batch of jalapeno syrup, which is delicious in a vodka gimlet.

4) When we were eating dinner one day, my husband spotted a large bird in the backyard. It stayed mostly motionless on the same branch for many minutes. We couldn’t figure out if it was a hawk or an owl or possibly an eagle (which we’ve seen in our backyard before just once) and we couldn’t get a closer look without scaring it, but the consensus after looking in the girls’ bird book is that it was a red-tailed hawk.

5) My mom bought us a new hallway light fixture from West Elm for Christmas, and we finally put it up this month.

6) Since I started the new job in November, I haven’t been at The Garden much, so it was really nice to see everyone and help out for a couple of hours at Detroit Abloom on volunteer day. Some friends from Wayne State came out to help do a big clean-up and we also weeded and lavender beds. Good for the soul on all accounts.

7) Speaking of the job, it is winding down, which is only to say that I have about two months left. The school auction is quickly approaching and one of the things our department had to do this month was narrow down the night’s menu. We went to a restaurant in St. Clair Shores called The Waves, that apparently used to have Hawaiian Don Ho-like music every weekend. I would have loved that.

8) Our book group book for the month was The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny. It was such a great read. I loved that although it was lined with humor and mainly a light read, there were also heartfelt moments and most importantly, the prose was so well-written, so it felt like a good literary read. I highly recommend!

9) I’m now reading Tana French’s third novel in her Dublin Murder Squad series, Faithful Place, which also had really good prose, especially given the genre. Although the subject matter is dark and it is suspenseful, it’s not super creepy or too heavy/hard to handle. I also highly recommend!

10) Two days before we left for Spring Break, I went to the DAC (Detroit Athletic Club) with a couple gals in celebration of one of their birthdays. We got pedicures and massages and drank champagne. It was divine. Afterwards we met up with the guys for dinner. Their coffee service was so nice and came with a monogrammed teapot and fresh whipped cream. Yum.

Burma Superstar’s Sesame Chicken via Foodspotting

11) I have been jonesing for Asian food ever since we left Hawaii. It’s like I got my fix and now I need more. I want Eliza’s pot stickers! I want Burma Superstar’s sesame chicken! Usually when I get like this, a helping of Trader Joe’s pot stickers with some extremely spicy chili oil/vinegar/soy sauce/onion dipping sauce will do the trick, but I can’t seem to shake the craving this time.

12) When we drove to the airport on our way to Hawaii, it was snowing. So wonderful to go from that to seeing sun every day, not to mention family and friends.

So excited for this new month of Spring and all the beauty it will bring. Happy April!

Save

Save

How to Open a Coconut (Hawaiian Style)

If you’ve ever tried to open a coconut, you know it’s not an easy task. I remember when I first moved to San Francisco, I found a coconut in one of the small markets and was so excited that I bought it and took it home to eat.

After a couple tries with my chef knife and several more tries with a hammer, it did crack open, but when I finally managed to pick out all the shell from the meat, it was old, and kind of stale. Operation Open Coconut = Fail. Had this story taken place in Hawaii, the end result would have been completely different.

As it happens, our family spent the last 10 days visiting my family in Hawaii. We just got back yesterday and I am running on four hours of sleep (maybe) and the girls, who were miraculously able to sleep 10 hours straight last night, are going completely insanely bananas today of all days, please God make it stop. But I digress.

Growing up on Oahu, I had the luxury of eating fresh coconut all the time. Not only that, but I also had a Grandpa, Grandma, mom and auntie who would do all the work for me. #notspoiled

I’ve watched it go down millions of times, but it’s always good to get a refresher and during our recent trip, Auntie gathered us around and demonstrated the fine art of coconut cracking.

Before she got started, she recalled that Grandpa used to hold the coconut in one hand and whack it with a machete with the other hand, the way you take a nut out of an avocado. Oh my word. I remember his efficiency, but I don’t remember that specifically. Recommended for experienced coconut crackers only!

First, pick your coconuts. This is a key step. The best ones are somewhere between young and mature. How to know which is which? Zero idea. But who cares when you can just ask the man at Tamashiro Market to pick some out for you. Next, go outside. Could you do this in your kitchen? Sure, but why create extra work. Place the coconut on a newspaper for quick clean-up.

Grab your machete that’s been in your family for over 40 years and cut off any husk that’s sticking off the end of the coconut, allowing you to peel away the rest of the husk (which takes some effort).

After most of the husk is peeled, it’s easy to spot the line that runs around the coconut, separating it into almost even halves. This line usually intersects with the three eyes of the coconut. Interestingly, you want to cut the coconut across the main line or width-wise, rather than along the line or lengh-wise. I wasn’t paying attention at this point, because I was more interested in taking photos, so I have no idea why you do this.

If you’re like Grandpa or Grandma, you can tell which of the eyes is the weakest, in which case, you get a screwdriver and poke it and drain the coconut with very little spillage. If you’re like the rest of us, you skip that part and go straight to the whacking. Let out an “ahhh!” while you do it for effect. Plus, it just feels like the right thing to do.

As soon as the coconut splits (it should be a clean split, although not completely cut through, if you’ve done it correctly), hold it over a bowl to catch the water, which you will later freeze into ice cubes and use to add a touch of the tropics to your nightly vodka gimlet. After the water is drained, give it another good whack and voila. Two perfect halves.

Ask your mom with arthritic hands to cut the coconut up into small pieces. #sorry!! #harderthanitlooks Eat immediately. Or use in one of your favorite desserts. May I suggest a contemporary version of the traditional Filipino halo halo (which Auntie made) or haupia sweet potato pie (which Auntie also made), or use as a topping for yogurt (which I did do every day).

Finally, take a bunch of pictures of your freshly opened coconut because have you ever seen anything so magnificently white?

I love anything and everything coconut-related. Except maybe shaved ice, which tastes more like suntan lotion than coconut. But my favorite is a young-almost-mature coconut, freshly cut, preferably by a loved one, making it all the more delicious.

Save

Save

Save