It is safe to say that many folks in the U.S. will long remember the winter of 2013-14. Whether those will be fond memories, or not, I guess depends on the individual! My wife and I managed to get away for a couple of weeks to Hawaii, where we enjoyed tropical weather. Getting there was interesting, since getting anywhere was difficult in early January.
We escaped snow and near record temperatures and made it to the airport okay. The plane made it to the Evansville airport just fine, and the airport itself was operational with no delays, as was the Atlanta airport where we were headed. But we were stuck for several hours while they tried in vain to start up the de-icer truck. Isn’t that a wonderful irony, getting stuck on a plane because a truck won’t start? The truck’s diesel engine was not cooperating in the 0°F weather, which our area is unaccustomed to. We finally made it to Atlanta, but getting on to Hawaii took an extra day since we had missed our connection. We joined thousands who were stranded with weather issues, and were thankful when we got to the Big Island of Hawaii only a day late. Many others spent several days trying to make it to their destinations.
Once there, we enjoyed stays in Hilo, Waimea and Kona. As usual, we made several visits to the local farmer’s markets. The one in Hilo is large and well-known by locals and travelers alike. There were two Saturday markets in Waimea that we visited, along with a thrift store. My wife loves to shop at thrift stores. She loves them so much that she even volunteers at one here at home! She found me a lovely ‘vintage’ Aloha shirt at the one in Waimea, which for $5 was a bargain I couldn’t refuse. I wound up wearing it for much of the trip.
We enjoyed eating fresh fruits and veggies every day while we were gone. From papayas, pineapples and apple bananas to juicy-sweet jicama, tatsoi and snow peas, the farmer’s markets kept us supplied while we were there. I also had to buy some local honey to support the beekeepers – after much sampling of course! And I couldn’t pass up the local macadamia nuts, or the great Kona coffee. A little passionfruit butter was nice on toast, and some hot pepper/passionfruit jam wound up coming home with us too. We also enjoyed picking up ready-to-eat things like spring rolls and some freshly made green papaya salad at the farmer’s markets.
I found some great potato salad at a Hilo natural food store, made with local purple sweet potatoes. Potato salad made with sweet potatoes? It was great! That had me scurrying to find the purple sweet potatoes themselves. The Okinawa varieties with white skin and dry purple flesh are a Hawaiian favorite, and we found them in the local grocery stores. I baked some one night for dinner, and they had a great flavor and texture. I need to try growing these this year, if I can find a source for slips.
Back home, we arrived to more snow and cold temperatures. We had turned off the water to our house before leaving, and drained the pipes as best we could. However, one problem pipe must have frozen up anyway, because when we turned the water back on it burst. Nothing like having hot water spewing all over the place for a welcome home party! Fortunately a plumber was able to get us fixed up in no time, and now the problem pipe is running inside the house instead of up the outside wall. Our home is full of examples where DIYers who lived here before us should really have consulted an expert first – like a plumber in this case.
The cold weather has left us without any fresh veggies at the moment. But we have plenty of homegrown goodness in the freezer, cellar and pantry. I used some frozen asparagus and dried peppers and tomatoes to make a frittata. With a little homemade paprika dusted on top, it made for a tasty and colorful meal.
I believe it will be a while before we do have fresh harvests here. There are lots of creative things to do with fruits and vegetables from storage, and I will try and feature a few of our ideas in the days to come.