Goodnight from Lahaina

We don’t have WiFi in our hotel in Lahaina, HI so I’m writing this post on my iPhone. Dan and I had a busy day today. We got up really early to go snorkeling at Molokini Crater and tonight we went to the Old Lahaina Luau. Tomorrow is our last full day in Hawaii and then we’ll fly home on Sunday. I don’t have the patience to write much more on my iPhone tonight, but Dan and I have had a great vacation so far. While I always love going home after a long trip, I’m not looking forward to leaving Maui. Aloha until tomorrow!

Eaten so far on Maui

Friday, 11/11/11
Tomato bisque with basil cream at Spago
Pan fried chicken with goat cheese and mushrooms at Spago

Saturday, 11/12/11
BBQ chicken and fixin’s on the Lana’i snorkeling boat
Pumpkin ravioli and garlic fries at Monkeypod Kitchen
Butternut squash pizza at Monkeypod Kitchen
Banana cream pie at Monkeypod Kitchen

Sunday, 11/13/11
Macadamia nut cookies and maui onion chips on the way to Haleakala
Liliko’i colada (non-alcoholic) at Mama’s Fish House
Maui onion soup at Mama’s Fish House
Slow cooked beef rib at Mama’s Fish House
“Polynesian Black Pearl” chocolate and liliko’i dessert at Mama’s Fish House

Monday, 11/14/11
Kahuna hot dog at the Grand Wailea Volcano Bar (poolside)
Coconut smoothie at the Grand Wailea swim-up Grotto Bar
Kula Lau’ai salad at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a
Rack of lamb at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a

Tuesday, 11/15/11
Garlic and onion macadamia nuts
Homemade banana bread from Aunty Sandy’s on the Road to Hana
Kalua pig sandwich at Nahiku Marketplace on the Road to Hana
Tomato soup and saffron risotto at the Travaasa Resort
Christopher Elbow chocolates (finished the box!)

Wednesday,11/16/11
Macadamic nut cookies for breakfast
Vegeterian quiche from Cafe Romantica (a food truck in Hana)
Vegetable lasagna at Cafe Romantica (good enough to eat there twice)
Fresh pineapple from the Ono Farms roadside stand

Soup

I’ve never considered myself a big fan of soup. My mom used to serve canned tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches when I was a kid, but I just didn’t like the taste. Grilled cheese sandwiches are awesome, but dipping them in Campbell’s ruined them for me! Don’t get me wrong, I like tomato soup – just not the canned, condensed stuff. So what were my favorite meals when I was in San Francisco last weekend? Two delicious bowls of soup! On Saturday my parents and I spent the majority of the day shopping around Union Square because the weather was lousy and we ate lunch at the mall food court. Now, this isn’t your typical food court with Sbarro’s and McDonald’s – it’s so much better than that. All three of us got bowls of soup from a fantastic gourmet soup and salad restaurant. My organic tomato bisque was amazing, especially when absorbed by a wheat roll. Delicious. Then on Sunday we ate lunch at the California Academy of Sciences Museum which has a surprisingly sophisticated cafeteria for its patrons. I ordered a bowl of butternut squash soup (see photo above) that was out of this world. Holy cow. And then there were the cookies. See them in the top right hand corner of the photo? So good. Not to digress too much from the topic of this post, but my favorites were the oatmeal date cookie and molasses ginger cookie. Both the soup and the cookies inspired me to try some more daring recipes this fall. First up when Dan and I get home from Hawaii, butternut squash soup. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

P.S. I wrote the majority of this post before leaving for Hawaii, but since Dan and I have been on Maui I’ve had two more fantastic bowls of soup. I’ll post pictures of them later this week. Aloha!

Hawaii so far

Friday, 11/11/11
Arrived at the Kahului airport on Maui
Went to Broke Da Mouth Cookies for a snack
Drove to the ‘Iao Valley State Park to see the ‘Iao Needle
Visited the historic Bailey House
Checked in to the Days Inn Maui Oceanfront in Kihei
Ate dinner at Spago in the Four Seasons Resort

Saturday, 11/12/11
Drove to Lahaina at 6:30 AM
Left on a snorkeling cruise to the nearby island of Lana’i
Saw humpback whales and dolphins on the boat to Lana’i
Snorkeled in Sharkfin Cove
Took a bus tour of Lana’i City (the only one on the island)
Took the boat back to Maui
Checked in to the Grand Wailea Resort (and got a room upgrade!)
Ate dinner at Monkeypod Kitchen (one of Peter Merriman’s restaurants) in Wailea

Sunday, 11/13/11
Drove to Haleakala National Park
Ate some Broke Da Mouth cookies and Maui onion potato chips for lunch
Climbed to the summit of Haleakala (just from the parking lot)
Hiked about 5 miles of the Sliding Sands Trail around the Haleakala Crater
Barely made it back to the car (the ascent was brutal!)
Went to Kmart in Kahului
Ate dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Pai’a

Monday, 11/14/11
Stayed at the Grand Wailea Resort all day
Swam in the awesome pools connected by water slides
Rode in the water elevator
Snorkeled off the beach where we saw fish, eels, sea urchins, and crabs
Got a couple of drinks at the swim-up bar (mine was a non-alcoholic coconut smoothie)
Bought a small carved tiki from a local artist
Ate dinner at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a at the Grand Wailea

In-flight ramblings on the way to Maui

Here’s another stream-of-consciousness post that I wrote while enroute from Los Angeles to Maui on Friday.

Veteran’s Day, lucky 11/11/11 day, and the first day of our 2011 Hawaiian vacation. When I booked our flights back in March, right after I came back from my last business trip (yes, it was that long ago), November 11th seemed so far away. But the time flew by and now we’re sitting here on our flight to Kahului, Maui. Well, Dan is practically lying down, asleep with his head almost on my shoulder. I didn’t bring my neck pillow with me so I wouldn’t be able to get comfortable if I tried to sleep. This leaves more time for writing anyway. The last three days have been incredibly busy. I worked ten hours each day and then spent the rest of my free time getting ready to go on vacation. I credited myself with starting to pack on Wednesday night because I got my suitcase out of the closet and threw a couple of bras inside, but I effectively did all of my packing yesterday after work. I know I brought too much stuff with me on this trip. I intended to have some extra space in my suitcase for souvenirs, but Dan needed me to pack one of his jackets so that idea kind of went out the window. My only solace is that my backpack is about 50% full of edibles (the box of Christopher Elbow chocolates that I bought in San Francisco and a bunch of energy bars for meals on the go) that we definitely won’t be taking home with us. I should have plenty of room in my backpack after we polish off those chocolates this week. I’m afraid we don’t have as much money to spend on mementos this year, but I’m still hoping to find a few new things in Hawaii. I’d love to get some Christmas presents for my family, but I don’t think the ones I bought last year were a big hit. The older I get the more I’m convinced that edible gifts are best. Fudge from a Hawaiian middle-of-nowhere shop was definitely well received last year and the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts were popular with my co-workers. As soon as I get home I’ll have to start making some experimental batches of Christmas cookies. I saw the oblong red Tupperware containers that I usually buy to send out my holiday care packages on sale at Target yesterday, but I refrained from getting any yet. There will be plenty of time for that when we get back. I did buy a bag of candy cane Hershey’s Kisses, though, and I have big plans to turn them into some kind of blossom cookie later this month. Wait, how did I start writing about food? Oh, I remember – the chocolates and energy bars in my backpack. As far as I’m concerned it’s OK to return from a trip with your bags overfilled, but leaving on a trip that way is not usually a good idea. I swear my belongings get heavier and bulkier the longer I’m away from home. That’s why I can never fit the same amount of stuff in my suitcase for the trip home as I did when I departed. But how can I come home from Hawaii with nothing new? I know that sounds materialistic, but since I’m not earning nearly as many frequent flyer miles this year I doubt we’ll be going back to Hawaii any time soon. That’s kind of a depressing thought as we’re on our way there right now, but I know Dan and I are going to enjoy every minute of this trip so I’m not worried about when we’ll be able to come back. I am a little worried about the turbulence on our flight right now, though. I’m typing with my left hand and holding on to my can of Diet Coke with my right hand to keep it from slipping off my tray table. Or spilling on my laptop, which would really suck. I intend to use this computer a lot on our trip for publishing webpage posts, offloading photos from our camera, and writing whenever I get a chance. Airline flights always seem to go by quicker when I’m writing. Our in-flight movie is “Life in a Day” which is a compilation of YouTube videos taken on one particular day all around the world. It’s pretty incredible. Seeing people from all walks of life doing mundane things or extraordinary things makes the world seem both big and small at the same time. I wonder what I was doing on July 24, 2010? It was a Saturday so probably nothing special, but who knows? Look out, I’m about to start talking about food again. We aren’t even halfway to Maui yet and I’m already looking forward to our dinner at Spago tonight. It will be a great way to start our vacation. Last night’s dinner was a couple of frozen pizzas because I needed every free minute to pack my suitcase (except that hour we sat down to eat and watch “Project Runway: Behind the Seams”). That pretty much explains why I only found two dirty dishes on the counter from the entire week when I was cleaning up yesterday. I haven’t had time to cook anything in a while. And since I’ve made restaurant reservations for Thanksgiving dinner that pretty much absolves me from having to cook anything for the rest of November. However, I do want to do some culinary experimentation over the Thanksgiving break. There was a fairly simple looking turkey breast recipe in the Paula Deen magazine I bought before my trip to San Francisco that I’d like to try. And if I make it after Thanksgiving and it turns out to be a complete failure I don’t have to worry about ruining the iconic American meal. I’m definitely running out of things to say right now. I think it’s time for me to turn off my computer and retreat to my iPhone to watch “Harry Potter.” My next update will be from Maui!

(Belated) Foodie Friday – Oatmeal cookies revisited for Halloween

Dan and I checked out of the Days Inn Maui Oceanfront and checked in to the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea Resort today, but not until after spending the day on a snorkeling trip to the island of Lana’i. It was really beautiful, but we’re trying to get to bed early tonight so I don’t have time to write a more detailed explanation, So for today enjoy this belated Foodie Friday post that is more than a week overdue!

Caramel apple cookies. These were the surprise hit of our Halloween party! I wanted to make a seasonal cookie (hence the apples) but also unique so I got the idea to make something I’d never heard of before – caramel apple cookies. Turns out there are actually a lot of caramel apple cookie recipes floating around the internet, but I decided to start with one that I made as wedding favors back in 2007. It was just a basic oatmeal cookie recipe with chopped dried apples, but I took a chance and added some Kraft Caramel Bits for that extra dimension I was looking for. Well, they didn’t look pretty when they came out of the oven (the caramel bits near the edges melted and oozed a bit), but they tasted great. I couldn’t believe how many of our Halloween party guests told me they were the best dessert we served. I figured the red velvet brownies with homemade cream cheese frosting would be the biggest hit (they were definitely my favorites), but the caramel apple cookies took the top prize instead. Maybe the trick to making them less messy is to add the caramel bits to the middle of the unbaked cookies just before they go into the oven. I bought an extra bag of dried apples so I’ll have to give that a try later this fall. Until then I would still recommend this caramel apple cookie recipe – just don’t expect them to be pretty!

INGREDIENTS:
1 c butter, softened
1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used a little more)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 c oats (I used quick cooking oats)
1 c chopped dried apples
1 bag (11 oz) Kraft caramel bits

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a medium bow combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in oats, dried apples, and caramel bits. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 deg for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for a couple of minutes (they need to firm up a little) before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Based on Taste of Home’s Chewy Apple Oatmeal Cookies.

Pre-flight and in-flight ramblings 11/7/11

I wrote this stream-of-consciousness post while enroute back to Los Angeles from San Francisco last Monday, and then I edited it within an inch of its life on our flight to Maui today. Right now I’m sitting in the lobby of the Days Inn Maui Oceanfront in Kehei because it’s the only place they have internet access. Hopefully our room at the Grand Wailea the next three nights will have internet in the room so I can write something actually related to our vacation! But for now enjoy this random collection of thoughts that I wrote after spending last weekend in San Francisco.

At the airport again. This time I’m flying back to Los Angeles, but just for three days because Dan and I are leaving for to Hawaii on Friday. So little time to get ready! And I’m missing a big event at work while we’re on vacation so I have to devote the next three days to updating some important presentations and then teaching one of my co-workers how to present them. Being away for something that I’m so involved with makes me feel very helpless. I never thought of myself as a major control freak, but when it comes to me areas of expertise I guess I am.

Looking back on my trip to San Francisco, yesterday we went to Golden Gate Park to visit the California Academy of Sciences Museum at the deYoung Art Museum. Those two places are really amazing. I especially liked the rain forest area at the Sciences Museum. It’s an enormous enclosed sphere with a tropical rainforest climate and lots of different plants and animals. There are even birds and butterflies flying around. It was really amazing. And the museum has a fantastic cafeteria, but I’ll write more about that later. Today my parents and I went to the Walt Disney Family Museum in The Presidio. Now that’s a great museum. They have a huge collection of Disney family memorabilia and it’s such a beautiful setting. Dan would love it so I’ll have to go back with him next time. We put off a trip to Disneyland so far this fall because the tickets are so expensive, but I’m hoping we can go before the end of the year.

I’m on my short flight to Los Angeles now and I’m watching “Family Guy” on the in-flight satellite TV. I was kinda hoping that “House” was on, but I think my flight is about an hour early for that. I keep thinking of things I need to do this week before going to Hawaii. Like downloading Inheritance on my Kindle tomorrow when the book comes out. I’ll definitely need something to read on our flight to Hawaii on Friday and I don’t want to take any bulky books with me. And even though buying electronic books is getting a bit expensive, traveling with my Kindle is ideal because it holds so many books while being very small. My goal is to pack as little as possible for our upcoming trip so that I have room in my suitcase for souvenirs. And having a lighter suitcase works out better for everyone anyway. Somehow I forgot to take a camera with me to San Francisco this weekend. I need to pay a little more attention when making my packing list for Hawaii. Not that I think Dan and I will both forget our two cameras, but I’m bound to forget something if I’m not careful. Bringing just a carry on to San Francisco was definitely the way to go. There was no way I was going to pay a $25 checked bag fee when the flight itself was only $49. What a rip off. The biggest limitation the carry-on-only plan wasn’t having enough space for my clothes, but fitting an adequate amount of toiletries into a quart-sized bag. I did pretty well for my flight to San Francisco, but I acquired a couple of travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner at the Hilton Union Square that strained the capacity of my Ziploc on the flight home. Having new bottles to take to the gym is going to be great, though. One of the things I miss most about frequent travel is gathering all those little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and mouthwash. Well, that and frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and rental car credits. First world problems, I know, but all of my business traveled earned Dan and me free tickets to Hawaii and three free nights at the Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria. That’s saving us a lot of money. The only way I’m earning frequent flyer miles now is through my United credit card which is better than nothing, I guess. I should have enough miles for another free ticket soon. I only bought a couple of things in San Francisco that I’m taking home with me. The first was a box of Christopher Elbow chocolates to share with Dan. So delicious. The second is a bottle of my favorite Clarins sunscreen, and the third is a little glass albino alligator Christmas ornament. I saw the live albino alligator at the California Academy of Sciences Museum yesterday and I was incredibly tempted to buy an adorable stuffed version in the gift shop after I saw a little girl with one. Instead I settled for the Christmas ornament which isn’t as cute, but infinitely more practical for an adult like me. (And Dan and I already have quite an array of stuffed animals despite the fact that we don’t have any children.) I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy at the Walt Disney Family Museum today which is probably a good thing because my little carry-on bag is already packed to the gills and I need to save money for Hawaii. Money is definitely tight these days. I’m glad Dan and I are having a minimal Christmas. Buying gifts for him is easy – I just need to figure out what to get for the rest of my family. I’m going to be spending a few days in Tallahassee in early December and I’m really looking forward to it. Since my parents will be hosting my grandparents, my great aunt, and my aunt and uncle for Christmas my goal is to help them get ready for all of the company while I’m in town. We’ll put up a tree (either using the old artificial one or buying a real one), decorate the house, buy presents, cook and freeze meals, and anything else they need. Maybe I’ll even be able to help them sell some of their DVDs that they don’t want any more. I made quite a bit of money selling old DVDs on eBay earlier this year. Maybe I can help my parents do the same. Plus I have a bunch of Precious Moments that are potentially sellable (if I can find the boxes), although I’m not sure I really want to sell them! I’m pretty attached to those little figurines, but what’s a girl supposed to do with them after she grows up? Decorating my future daughter’s room with them comes to mind, but you can bet by the time I actually have a daughter old enough to make her own decisions that she will want something totally different. My mom was never a big fan of my Precious Moments collection, but she bought the figurines for me anyway because she knew I liked them. And I know I’ll do that same thing for my daughter. My flight is landing now so I have to turn off my laptop. I’m sure this post will be heavily edited before I publish it!