Archive for January, 2012

2012 Breathe Concert

January 30th, 2012

The American Lung Association in Hawaii holds its annual Breathe Concert on Friday, February 10, 2012 at the Historic Hawaii Theatre. For over 80 years, American Lung Association in Hawaii has served the people of our state.  Hawaii is still ranked #2 in the nation for youth asthma and over 175,000 people in Hawaii live with some form of lung disease.  Join us in the Fight for Air and support the Breathe Concert.

This year’s Breathe Concert promises surprises and top talent such as four-time Na Hoku Hanohano Awards winner Mark Yamanaka.  While you enjoy traditional Hawaiian music and dance, you know that your support is helping our tobacco control, lung health and clean air initiatives for the people of Hawaii.  Others include Kupaoa, Mailani, Danny Couch, and Al Waterson along with Ballet Hawaii will provide a spectacular evening of song and dance under the artistic direction of Cathy Foy.

Hawaii Director Lorraine Leslie said, "Cathy Foy has once again created a fantastic line-up and we are so fortunate to have her join us in the Fight for Air." Over 175,000 children and adults in Hawaii have lung disease- that’s more than the combined populations of Maui and Kauai. Hawaii is ranked second nationally for youth asthma and lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of women and men in our state.

American Lung Association in Hawaii, the oldest voluntary health organization in the state, was founded in 1929 on Kauai.  It is a 501c(3) non-profit organization. Statewide programs include advocacy and education for tobacco prevention and cessation, asthma control, air quality and lung disease. As a member of the Western region Leadership Council, I'll be present at the concert.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert are $135, $55 and $35 at the Hawaii Theatre Center boxoffice, 1130 Bethel Street; by phone (528-0506), and online at  The $135 tickets include an invitation to the pre-and post concert party at The Venue with entertainment, heavy pupus, good spirits and a meet  and greet with the performers.

Support the American Lung Association and join us for a memorable concert that will take your breath away!

The Lava Boys & Shark Girls

January 27th, 2012

My friend, Rep. Tom Brower (D-23), came to visit me at an event recently. He's such a sweet person.


I had mentioned I just bought opae ula for myself as pets, and he thoughtfully came bearing more shrimp for me as a gift. With more brackish water! He thinks of everything!

photo 1

I was surprised and delighted. (Doesn't take much.) "Why, Tom? I already have nine!"

"I used to raise fish. In case they die, you have more. Or you can put a second set on your desk," he explained.

The Wills & The Bills are all alone in a large home, so I thought it would be fabulous to add another 10 friends to the mix. Lots of room for another eight ounces of water + opae.

I decided to gift it to Olivia. "Honey, I have a regalito for you!" I called upon arrival.

She was quite excited. (Takes even less.)

"Why don't you name your shrimp, too?" I suggested.

photo 2

"I'm going to call them Lava Boys & Shark Girls!" she cried. (Sidebar: hottie Taylor Lautner acts in this Disney film. He's way too young for me, but if I had to call it, I'd be Team Jacob.)

Then we ceremoniously poured the shrimp in to meet their new roommates.

Having 19 shrimp in the vase really adds to the fun. They swim in circles, scavenge for stuff on the bottom and steal each other's spirulina globs, and it's all entertaining to look at.

Thanks, Tom! You're the best!

The Wills & The Bills

January 25th, 2012

Have you seen Happy Feet 2? There are two characters, Will and Bill, both krill. I like them more knowing that the dreamy Brad Pitt and Matt Damon voiced them.


So when I added nine new pets to add to my menagerie- tiny red shrimp called opae ula, farmed on Hawaii Island- I named them all The Wills & The Bills. I don't know who is who. It's OK. It's not like they come when called.

I've been seeing these shrimp for years and wanted them, but never bought them because it seemed like more clutter in my house. Finally, I ran out of self-discipline and bought a starter kit.

I bought a small cup (nine for $7) and a bottle of brackish water. At home, I dug up a large glass vase and had fun designing my own little undersea world.


The shrimp have been promoted for years as no-fuss, self-contained ecosystems. The sun fosters algae growth in the tank, which feed the shrimp- or so the marketing pitch goes. I used to see them in some stores in totally sealed glass spheres- maybe so the water wouldn't evaporate, or maybe so you couldn't mess it up even if you tried.

I did some web research and read that some think it's torturous to keep them that way. Here's what one website advises: "The truth is that these shrimp are slowly *starving to death*, *suffocating* and being *poisoned* in those containers, due to lack of food and oxygen, and the accumulation of shrimp waste." Another website suggests feeding the opae some spirulina or decomposing termites to supplement the not totally nutritious algae diet.

If it's true, it makes me sad. Based on this, I ran out and bought The Wills & The Bills powdered spirulina at the health food store. This now makes them the most expensive pets because this bottle cost as much as a large bag of dog food. I fed them the tiniest amount and they seem to like it.


The Wills & The Bills now live on my kitchen counter where we all enjoy their company at meals! (Not for meals.)

...Who knows anything about opea ula? What do you think of them as pets? What do you think of the instructions to never feed them?

Chef Joanne Chang of Flour bakery

January 23rd, 2012

Boston pastry chef Joanne Chang is a fantastic baker. Most diehard foodies know that. Chang is certainly on her way to becoming a household name; a rising star in the pantheon of celebrity chefs.

But what I think she's better at is selling a dream. My dream is to be a great baker. I had the fortune of watching her do a pastry demonstration for a ballroom of 120 people last weekend at my hotel. She was amazing.

Her culinary knowledge was vast, her stage presence was magnetic, and her public speaking skills were friendly and comfortable. She made it feel like it was just she and I at her kitchen at home. This had the effect of sucking me in to her presentation, and as I sat there, I felt like I, too, could make brioche!

My regular readers know I spent seven months taking cake decorating classes (thanks for coming on that journey with me.) That doesn't mean I'm a good baker. I'm a decent home cook, but baking- the preciseness of it evades me.

Diane and Joanne Chang

Diane and Joanne Chang

Yet, here I was watching her knead dough and explain how yeast "farts and burps" to magically expand things and make it all yummier, and I felt inspired! Maybe I could quit my job and bake my way through her Flour cookbook while my kid is at school! Maybe it is as easy as she promises! Joanne Chang, you make me want to be a housewife again!

During her time here, my job required that I (happily) interact with her. I asked for tips on how I might improve  my skills. "Get your mise en place together before you start. Mise en place is 'everything in its place' in French. You look at the recipe and read it through, measure the ingredients, put them in little cups, and if you do that, then it really is step by step."

Chang continued, "Also, if you read the recipe from start to finish, that’s a big step up that you have over a lot of people. You look at the recipe and look at the ingredients and say, I’m going to do this. And then midway through they realize they don’t have half the ingredients." Claus would attest that I am often one of those half-prepared cooks. I know it all sounds so basic but yes, I'm lame like that.

Chang has a new cookbook that just made it to the printer last Friday. Flour Too will be available in early 2013. She describes how it came to be: "The book is the continuation of this book (Flour) which is all the savory things we do at the bakery. We do sandwiches, soups, salads, dinner specials, a lot of party desserts, things for special events. I thought this book contained everything. As soon as it came out people started emailing asking, Where this and that recipe? We originally had a savory portion in this book but it got too long so when it came to cutting I said we’ll cut the savory part because it’s a baking book. We don’t need the savory part. It was good because it led to the second book."

The more I learn about this James Beard Award nominee, the more I find her career path to be a study in contradictions. First, there's the radial change from a very left-brained mathematics field, to the very right-brained creative world of food.

An honors graduate of Harvard University, Chang majored in Applied Mathematics and Economics and took a job straight out of college as a management consultant. "Two years in, I thought to myself, I don’t want to be doing this when I grow up. I decided to take a year off and go into cooking, which I loved at home. It wasn’t meant to be long term."

Luckily for pastry lovers, it was. "Once I got into a professional kitchen I was hooked, I loved it. I blinked and it was five years later and I was still cooking and I hadn’t planned it. I moved from job to job based on how much I was able to learn at my current job. There’s a fair amount of moving around that’s expected when you’re young."

Then, she says, "I thought, I don’t know who I want to work for anymore and I don’t know if I want to keep working for somebody. So maybe I’ll think about opening a bakery. If I’m learning, having fun, I’ll stick with it. That’s what kept me going." Her Boston-based bakery expanded to three locations. She also manages a restaurant, Myers+Chang, with her husband Christopher Myers.

Secondly, there's her very Asian upbringing, which did not expose her to many overly-sweet American treats when she was young. "A lot of people say our pastries are not super sweet, which comes from my background of not eating dessert growing up. I didn’t have opportunities to eat it because we had oranges at the end of dinner. My palate isn’t attuned to super sweet things," reflects Chang, a second-generation Taiwanese whose parents emigrated to Texas for graduate school and met each other in America.

"I grew up eating Chinese food until I was 18," she says. She's not even crazy about cheese. “That’s a very funny taste. It’s not something I grew up with."

So back to the demo. Chang explained in simple but not condescending language how to make her famous sticky buns, a gooey, caramel-pecan-honey piece of pure goodness. These buns won Bobby Flay's Throwdown in 2007, as seen on Food Network. Then it was served as the first course of the brunch, so we could all see why.

I change my mind. I think my new dream is to have regular access to Chang's creations.

Chang's visit was made possible due to Kapiolani Community College in cooperation with the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation, funded by the Lyle S. Guslander Distinguished Visitors Program.

To see raw footage of 2 interviews with Joanne Chang, click here:

[youtube bG4qu5dzySk]

[youtube x96EJd1F9lI&]

Photography and editing by Sisto Domingo

Cleaning the room

January 20th, 2012

One mellow Sunday afternoon, while Olivia was playing at the neighbor's house, Claus and I decided to take a nap. All of the house was locked up except the front door, so Olivia could come home at will.

We did not want to be interrupted, and the neighborhood kids, when running around in a pack, have a habit of walking into the house and into whatever room they want, particularly if they're looking to ask me a question. I locked the bedroom door.

No sooner did we drift off to sleep than did I hear someone trying to turn the knob. I'm sure Olivia was confounded because we never lock the door. After unsuccessfully ignoring it, I had to answer to, "Hey, open up!"

"Yes?" I called from the bed.

"Let me in," came Olivia's voice. I heard small friends with her.

"Why?" I asked.

"I have to ask you a question," she answered.

"Ask from there."

"Can we visit (the other neighbor) Vicki's house?" she queried.

"Sure," I said. The footsteps ran off.

I couldn't go back to sleep so I got out of bed shortly thereafter and went over to Vicki's, too. That is where I found Olivia and Kira, eating snacks and looking at the TV.

The first question lobbed at me: "Why did you lock the door?"

I'm not sure why, but I lied. "Beeeeecause... I was cleaning the room."

"Why were you cleaning the room with the door locked?" my kid continued.

"Why do you have to know everything?" I parried.

"I can help you clean!" she offered.

"Oh, yeah. I've heard that one before." I really have, you know. A four year old's idea of "cleaning" is sitting and examining their toy in great detail before putting it away- in other words, playing with it. So yeah, no thanks.

This little episode has given us a new definition of "cleaning the room." Whenever Claus wants to get out of a Sunday chore he tells me he needs to "clean the room" so he can't do whatever else it is I'm asking. And then I catch him taking a nap in bed. I guess I can only blame myself for this one.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments