Hibiscus is a genus of fl owering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. When in full bloom the hibiscus flower is large in size, containing several hundred species that are native to warm-temperate and tropical regions. The flower includes both annual and perennial plants, as well as woody shrubs and bushes.
The tea made of hibiscus fl owers is served both hot and cold and is well known for its color, tanginess and flavor. In Hawai‘i, tea can be prepared by first steeping the petals in hot water and then adding lemon or lime juice (which turns the beverage from dark brown/red to a bright red).
Dried hibiscus is edible, and is often a delicacy. You can now fi nd hibiscus fl owers dried, candied and made into a syrup. You can also find the flowers used as a decoration to food, tablescapes and worn as an adornment.
Written by Fern Gavelek Photography by Anna Pacheco
When you ask Scott Hiraishi what’s his favorite ingredient, he quickly replies, “anything sustainable from Hawai‘i Island.”
And why does he cook? “To make people happy and create a memorable experience,” he grins.
The executive chef at The Feeding Leaf, a Kona catering and event company, has a passion for food sustainability and fostering chef-farmer relationships. With over two decades of culinary experience, Hiraishi has been wowing Hawai‘i diners at numerous restaurants and community culinary fundraisers. Shy and humble when talking about himself, the 40-yearold beams with pride when discussing the Big Isle’s hard-working food providers.
“I admire my lettuce farmer, Zac,” shares Chef Scott. “His son is ill but he’s still farming every day, still producing beautiful food.”
To help Zac with medical expenses, Scott came up with a month of special lunch and dinner menus showcasing the farmer’s lettuce. Proceeds were donated to the effort.
“People like Zac are not just business relationships, but friendships,” continues Hiraishi.
The simple need to bring a prepared dish to baseball potlucks is what got a young Scott Hiraishi in the kitchen. He concocted desserts and local favorites like mochi to share with teammates. Ironically, Chef “doesn’t do desserts” anymore, explaining that baking is a more difficult, refined process. “Cooking is way easier and you can be more flexible.”
After graduating from O‘ahu’s Pearl City High School, Scott decided he would try a career in culinary arts. The teen enrolled in Hawai‘i Community College-West Hawai‘i and got a job at Sam Choy’s restaurant located in the then-Kona Bowl.
“Everything just fell into place; I was very fortunate,” recalls Scott, who worked alongside his mentor for 13 years. “Sam taught me to do it the right way; the way it’s supposed to be done—rather than taking shortcuts.”
Other culinary stints were at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and The Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. When Sam Choy opened his Kai Lanai restaurant in Keauhou, Scott served as Chef De Cuisine for three years before helping form The Feeding Leaf last summer. The company took off with its aprons on, creating the coffee-themed Roast & Roots event and participating in the Hawai‘i Food and Wine Festival, where Chef Scott offered a Kona Coffee Rubbed Beef Carpaccio using 100 percent locally sourced ingredients. More recently, he prepared an entr.e of Molokai Venison with a canoe crop hash for the Kona Edible Event—a fundraiser for the “I Am Ha–loa” kalo documentary.
At The Feeding Leaf, Chef Scott creates meals for activity outfitters like Hawai‘i Forest and Trail and KONASTYLE Sailing Adventures. In an effort to educate visitors about island food sustainability, the menu incorporates local canoe crops—kalo (taro), ‘ulu (breadfruit), ‘uala (sweet potato) banana and coconuts— plus macadamia nuts, produce and value-added products like Original Hawaiian Chocolate, Punalu‘u Sweet Bread and Atebara Chips.
“Serving locally sourced food on our catamaran is an awesome tool,” notes Kalani Nakoa of KONASTYLE. “We tie the ingredients into our stories about Hawai‘i…I can point to where their banana came from as we bounce among ahupua‘a.”
Succinctly summing up his preference for using locally sourced ingredients, Chef says, “My passion with food focuses on being as sustainable as I can. I go out to farms to find out what’s new and fresh and I use it. I support the local economy.”
Meet Hawai‘i’s newest generation of farmers: Levi, Lilia, Kailea, Kealohi and Makoa! These 4-year-old’s love to grow and eat food from their preschool garden. Makoa’s favorite vegetables are all of them: “I LOVE carrots, lettuce, broccoli…” while Lilia has her preferences. “I LOVE broccoli too! But only when it’s wet!” “Steamed?” we ask. “No, just wet with some water,” she replies.
Their teacher, Ms. Sue, speaks cheerfully, “When children harvest greens, they carry them to the cafeteria. The chef washes them and makes a salad. The preschoolers munch it up quickly, licking lips and asking for seconds!”
These children are building a love for nature and life-long healthy habits by practicing them daily. It’s part of Farm to Keiki, a program created by Tiana Kamen, a young Kaua‘i woman. “Almost a third of children in Hawai‘i are obese or overweight before kindergarten,” she says. By empowering teachers and parents to feed their children healthier foods, we can grow a healthier generation.” Kamen provides training, curriculum and a simple Farm to Keiki recipe as follows:
1. Keiki grow food in gardens. Preschoolers learn to enjoy fruits and vegetables by growing them! While they may only have small tastes, these experiences can turn into a life-long love for eating healthy foods and home gardening.
2. The garden becomes part of the classroom. Academics come to life in the garden! Math is most fun when you’re allowed to eat what you’re learning to count.
3. Children eat fresh, local and organic fruits and vegetables daily. Preschooler’s minds, bodies and food preferences are rapidly developing. They need to be well nourished to learn and grow properly. Island School is one of many preschools statewide that participate in Farm to Keiki. Interested in starting Farm to Keiki or supporting the program? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.farmtokeiki.org.
Photography by Alexis van DijkOnce you’ve tasted this homemade coconut milk, you’ll never go back to canned. Traditional recipes call for plain water, while this method combines the juice of young, sweet coconuts with the rich mature coco, for unique alchemy we can’t get enough of. Use it for the "wow factor” in soups, gravies, ice cream, and more.To learn more about the different ages and uses of coconuts check out www.coconutinformation.com.
Author: Ryan Burden
Machete, Cleaver, Or A Smooth Stone
Coconut Tool Or Butter Knife
Nut Milk Bag Or Cheesecloth
1Mature “Brown” Coconut(Husked)
1-2Sweet “Spoonmeat” Coconuts
Open husked, brown coconut by tapping firmly around the “equator” (think of the three eyes as the North Pole). You can use the back of a machete, cleaver, or even a smooth stone. Catch the juice in a large bowl, set aside.
Remove the meat using a coconut tool or butter knife, being careful to not force it too hard. Tip: Place halved coco in a warm, sunny spot for 1-2 hours; the meat will pop out much easier.
Fill the blender halfway with coconut meat, cut into 2” chunks. Add saved coco water and top with the juice of young, sweet coconuts.
Blend on high speed for 30 seconds.
Strain out fiber by pouring it into a nut milk bag and squeeze out “milk.”
Serve or jar and refrigerate (keeps up to three days if cold and un-opened). The cream will rise after a few minutes, which you can utilize as a substitute to heavy cream in any favorite recipe.
Last Fall, I had the privilege to be sent to Italy by Slow Food Maui as a delegate to Slow Food International’s Terra Madre and Salone De Gusto conference. The lessons and connections made there were innumerable and the infl uence of this event seems to grow with each passing day.
The driving focus this past year at Terra Madre was family farming. Throughout the week the importance of the family farm to a thriving community was communicated in a variety of ways. Smaller sustainable farms feed the specifi c and diverse needs of a particular community and land, and also serves to nourish and perpetuate a unique culture and sense of place. This is something that we see more of in countries where cuisine is very specifi c to the land and environment people live in. In the U.S. where so many different cultures converge, it’s much different and we rarely see cuisine that is purely regional and tied to the land.
I carried this idea with me as we ventured into our GROW issue this Spring and became acutely aware of the unique circumstance we have here on the islands of Hawai‘i. Not only does our remote and separate location provide us with very specifi c food sustainability needs, it also creates a very real potential for us to grow exactly what we need and want to eat.
This issue takes us through a new but ancient way of growing greens in Hydroponics and Aquaponics, the creation of a new generation of farmers in our Meet Your Farmer department as well as our interview with Jack Johnson about the work he does with children and farming in his foundation, Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation. We’ve also included our 2nd Annual Farm Guide. It’s a gorgeous insert designed to be pulled out and taken with you as you tour farms in your area.
You’ll also notice a very intentioned focus on the crops that are natural to our land. Scott Hiraishi created four amazing recipes for us using canoe crops in our Cooking Fresh department. And for our features, we couldn’t resist highlighting the growing Cacao industry we are developing here in Hawai‘i and sharing a very special look into W.S. Merwin’s new partnership with Hawai‘i Island Land Trust to create a conservancy of his gorgeous palm tree collection in Ha‘iku. There are also a handful of delicious drink recipes using locally sourced coconut and a variety of fruits.
This issue is both about the diversity of the foods we have on this land as it is about connecting all of us consumers, to the farms and its farmers. We are a community tied by land and sea in a very special way. I invite you all to join us on Saturday May 23rd for Edible Hawaiian Islands Statewide Farm Day.
We’re heading out to meet our growers and you’re invited! Join the fun by visiting a farm, taking a farm tour with your family or shopping at a farmers market. Share your experience on social media using the hashtag #EHIFarmDay15. We’ll be tracking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for great photos and stories.
Let’s come together and celebrate food and those who grow it for us!
Elena Rego Editor
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