first rambutan, I decided I could use the shell to serve small portions of my coconut mousse later in the day. The possibilities were endless and I really enjoyed discovering the exotic gems of the island. On Pahoa Highway there are several trucks selling Ahi tuna and sometimes other fish such as Ono/Wahoo, which is so Ono! I made my own tuna salad using a leftover piece of grilled ahi and sometimes seared a piece coated in sesame or mac nuts in coconut oil I bought at the Pahoa Farmers’ Market. The coconut oil makes a great skin butter at room temperature. The man who renders it also said it works well as a hair conditioner, but I did not take it that far. Tuna melts with avocado, onion sprouts, tomatoes and cheese became a favorite lunch. I made taro chips by slicing them very thinly and frying, then topping with finely chopped chives and red sea salt. Sometimes I made an aioli to dip them in. I kept a pitcher of ginger tea in the refrigerator along with fresh juices for refreshment. Most evenings at the cocktail hour I would concoct my “Puna Punch,” a variation on the Mai Tai. We would have pupus and sit on the lanai till the Coqui frogs started to sing. This event heralded dinner, which usually consisted of grilled local fish, chicken or beef (the local grass-fed beef was especially awesome), a salad with Hamakua Springs greens, grilled pineapple or mangos topped with raw sugar as they grilled. I baked yams or stir fried rice. Chayote were stuffed with onion, chiles, garlic breadcrumbs and local Portuguese sausages and baked. I stir fried fern heads and added a bit of local miso glaze for extra flavor. For dessert (if there was room) we had more sumptuous fresh fruit and an occasional coconut or guava mousse. Miso soup was made daily (sometimes for breakfast), adding mushrooms, fern heads, chives and tofu made in Hilo. One day I was thinking about our dinner and needed some chicken stock. Back at home I have an entire freezer dedicated to stocks, so I would not think of buying canned stock. It only took me a moment to decide to use the chicken bones from the previous evening’s meal to whip up a quick batch of stock. I actually made myself laugh when I thought about it, “Here I am on vacation making chicken stock!” I also made my own mayonnaise without a second thought. We made a visit to Barbara Fahs’ Hi`iaka’s Healing Herb Garden (www.hiiakas.com), where she led us around educating us about the variety of local plants which one could enjoy for sustenance as well as healing. It is easy to imagine what our life will be like when we are living in Hawai`i full time: much like our vacation was, living sustainability while enjoying the many flavors of locally grown, harvested and produced foods. It really is paradise isn’t it? Aloha au i, Hawai`i! For a list of Farmers’ Markets, see the directory on page 46.