My Five Favorite Hawaiian Foods

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Today I’ll be working on the page proofs for House of the Hanging Jade which, as you may know, is set on the Big Island of Hawaii. Re-reading the manuscript has got me thinking about Hawaii all over again, as if I need an excuse to do that.

But it’s also Thanksgiving week, and on Thursday (which, coincidentally, is exactly five months before the release of House of the Hanging Jade), we here in the United States will be enjoying one of the most traditional meals of the year. So is it any wonder that I have food on my mind? (Again, not that I need a reason to think about food, but it is a good excuse.)

Specifically, I’ve got Hawaiian food on my mind. That’s why today’s post is all about Hawaiian foods and the ones I love best.

1. Poke. For those of you who don’t know what poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) is, it’s cubes of fresh raw fish, often ahi, usually with a marinade or dressing. My personal favorite is spicy ahi poke, which is made with ahi, regular or Japanese mayonnaise, soy sauce, Sriracha, sesame oil, green onion, and masago (roe of the capelin fish). Before I tried poke the first time, I never could have guessed it would end up to be one of my favorite foods, but I fell in love with it.

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2. Lilikoi, or passion fruit. There are two main varieties: red and yellow. Though most people recommend the red because it’s sweeter, I prefer the yellow. It’s tangy with a zing that no other fruit can replicate. When you open a lilikoi, there is a pulpy mass of seeds inside. That’s the delicious part (don’t eat the white layer inside the skin, which is bitter). My favorite way to eat lilikoi is straight out of the fruit, stirred into yogurt, or pureed and added to any drink.

3. Pineapple. The island of Maui is home to the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, the only working pineapple plantation in the United States, where visitors can take a tour and see first-hand what goes into growing and harvesting the sweetest, most delicious pineapples you’ll ever taste. Click here to see a video of how to cut a pineapple. The juice just runs out of the pineapple and it’s got an amazing sweetness that has nothing in common with the pineapple you find in the grocery store.

4. Loco moco. This is a local specialty that you have to taste to believe. It’s a conglomeration of white rice topped with one or two hamburger patties, a fried egg, and brown gravy. The first time my eldest daughter ate one I told her it looked disgusting, that I wouldn’t try it if she paid me. Long story short, it’s now our traditional New Year’s Day meal,  served with a side of macaroni salad.

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5.   Shave Ice. Some people compare shave ice with snow cones, the ubiquitous treat of state fairs all over the US, but the comparison is misguided. Shave ice has nothing to do with those scoops of tiny ice balls that are thinly coated with colored sugar water. Shave ice is more like a mound of loosely-packed light and fluffy snow, completely permeated with a delicious fruity syrup. The best shave ice is mixed with vanilla ice cream and includes real coconut. See the holes in the shave ice below? Those are from a straw, which is poked repeatedly through the shave ice to ensure the flavor reaches every part of the dessert.

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Are you hungry yet?

Finally, since Thanksgiving is just a few days away, I wanted to tell you all that I’m thankful for YOU! I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving and safe travels if you’re going to be on the road this holiday weekend.

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Until next week,

Amy

 

Meet Densie Webb!

You'll Be Thinking of Me
This week I welcome Densie Webb, author of You’ll Be Thinking of Me. Nice to have you here on Reade and Write, Densie!
Tell me about your new book.
My novel, You’ll Be Thinking of Me, is the story of a young woman who has a chance encounter with a celebrity, takes an innocent video of the two of them and when it gets posted online, she becomes the target of celebrity stalker, who thinks the young woman is interfering with her relationship with the celebrity. There’s a healthy dose of both suspense and romance and, I’ve been told, a very surprising ending.
Who is the audience for the book?
I’ve had women ranging in age from 19 to 60 read it and say they enjoyed it. I’ve even had a few male readers. But women are the primary audience.
Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?
Everything takes place in New Jersey, Manhattan and Brooklyn. I lived in all 3 places and have a good friend who lives in the town where one of the main characters is from. I didn’t really have to do much research on the setting, since I lived it.
What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
Everything! I rewrote the beginning and the ending countless times. The time line with seasons changing was tough to keep track of after a certain point. I don’t like using outlines, but I did eventually have to lay out the months, so there wasn’t ice on the steps in August!
If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?
I think every author thinks about that. For the main male character, Mick Sullivan, I would say someone like Robert Pattinson (Edward from “Twilight”), Kit Harrington (Jon Snow on “Game of Thrones”) or Max Irons (son of Jeremy). They all have that tortured pout down pat. For the female lead, I’ve thought about Dakota Johnson (“50 Shades of Grey)”, she has a very girl next door look about her; maybe Jenifer awrence, she can be dressed up or down; and Analeigh Tipton (“Stupid, Crazy Love,” “The Two Night Stand,” and “Warm Bodies”). These are all comedies, but she’s great in drama too and very girl next door.
Have you written any other books?
This is my debut novel, but I’m working on two others. One is a contemporary paranormal romance, which may or may not have a sequel, and the other is women’s fiction—a family drama.
Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?
I have an awesome critique partner. We meet once or twice a week. We get each other’s writing and it just works. I’ve belonged to several critique groups, but I’ve found that the one-on-one is working best.
Do you write every day?
No. I wish I did. I write and edit non-fiction for a living and sometimes by the end of the day, I’ve got nothing left. But I try to squeeze in a few words whenever I can and the brain is willing to cooperate.
When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?
I hate answering this question. There are so many wonderful authors out there. But if forced to answer, I’d say Liane Moriorty, Jo Jo Moyes, Emily Giffin, Mary Kubica. I love women’s fiction, and I like it to have some romance and heartache or, I guess I should say I like books that contain some relationship back and forth, which all of these books do in some form or another. I prefer a Happy For Now or a heartbreak ending over a Happily Ever After ending. But a tortuous road to Happily Ever After works too.
Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?
I don’t get to travel outside the U.S. much, so I haven’t given it much thought. But if
someone were to hand me a ticket to anywhere, I guess I’d like to visit Croatia or maybe
Prague (in the summertime, of course).
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never give up and be prepared for criticism and rejection. It comes with the territory.
What is your favorite movie and why?
That’s just as hard as picking a favorite book. I love movies. I’m a sucker for “The Notebook;” I cry my eyes out every time. “When Harry Met Sally” is just a feel-good movie that I never tire of watching. “Jumper” is a sci-fi movie about moving through space at will. I’ve watched it countless times. “500 Days of Summer” is romantic comedy with a dash of sadness. I’m sure I’m missing some.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Start writing sooner!!
Describe yourself in three words.
Laid back, accepting, flexible.
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?
I think that about covers it.
Where can readers connect with you?
My website: www.densiewebb.com
Where can readers find your books? 
Densie Webb_2013

My Five Favorite Things About November

Now that it’s the first week in November (how is that possible?!), I’ve been thinking about all the things I love about autumn. It’s my favorite season, so it’s not hard to come up with a long list of favorites. I’ll spare you the entire list, but I would like to share just five things with you that I think make fall the best time of year.

First, the foliage. The trees are turning all shades of red, orange, brown, purple, and yellow, and they’re beautiful. I snapped this photo the other day while I was walking my dog. I call it “Still turning.”

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Second, I don’t know about where you live, but where I live the weather is at its best in the fall. The humidity is mostly gone, the temperatures are moderate (tomorrow it’s supposed to be in the low 70s), and the days are sunny. We get some rain, but I like rainy days. It’s my favorite time of year to walk on the beach for a couple reasons: it’s quiet and it’s not crowded. The water is still actually pretty warm.

Third, apple cider. When I was little we lived near a cider mill and I used to love to go there and pour our own cider from spigots into the jugs we brought from home. The mill had little paper cups for sampling the cider. That cider mill is still there, still in operation, though they don’t let patrons pour their own cider from spigots. I don’t know if they still have samples, either. Cider is my preferred fall beverage; I like it hot, I like it cold, I like it mulled. I like it in breads and baked goods, I like it in salad dressings. There is nothing I don’t like about cider.

Fourth, the end of daylight savings. I often tell people my favorite day of the year is the day we set our clocks back an hour because I get an extra hour of sleep. But it’s not just the extra sleep. I actually like the earlier sunset because it signals a kind of shift in focus. The beginning-of-the-year school events are over, the holiday events haven’t started yet, and we get more evenings at home. Plus, I like to turn on the fall fairy lights I have in my living room, and they can go on by five o’clock.

Fifth, fall is when I do most of my holiday shopping, and I love holiday shopping. I have moments of frustration, but mostly it’s something I thoroughly enjoy. I like the thrill of the hunt, coming up with the perfect idea, and even the wrapping. And while internet shopping makes everything easier, I like to shop at local small businesses. Especially the independent bookstores!

Fall is the season of harvest, the season that reminds us to give thanks for what we have, and the season that heralds nature’s bedtime. And it’s my favorite time of year.

What do you like about fall? What’s your favorite season?

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. I’m starting a newsletter! It will have book news, occasional contests, recipes, and more! If you’d like to sign up, click here.

P.P.S. As I’ve written this post, I’ve had three phone calls from election candidates who are looking for my vote tomorrow. That reminds me of two more things I appreciate about fall: our right and responsibility to vote in the U.S., and the end of relentless campaign calls! Don’t forget to vote today.