Island Time… (Toasted Coconut Key Lime Pie)

Paradise to me has always been on a beach. There is something so relaxing about the crashing sound of the ocean, the heated sand under you, and all of your cares washed out to sea. Paradise for me is located in a place I’d like to call home, Hawaii. Island time is really different than Eastern Standard Time. When work calls you at three in the morning, you can roll over and hit ignore and nobody cares. When you try to contact people at 9 o’clock island time, and no one answers, it is kind of relaxing. At 12 in the afternoon if you feel like going surfing on your lunch break, it’s expected.May 21 through June 1 I was lucky enough to go to Hawaii with my parents, a graduation present for finally finishing college. From May 21 to the 26 I was in Oahu, and from May 26 to June 1 I was falling in love with Maui.

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Waikiki from the pier

Oahu was nice, if you like the city. High rise building and double digit floor hotels rose off the beach like concrete giants. Honolulu could compare to a small New York City, with bustling storefronts, and business men and women struggling to predict the latest trend in there respected markets. While the city remained busy, the mountains kept a watchful eye in the background, reminding the workers that an escape was only a short drive away.

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The Waikiki beach, so idolized in movies and TV shows, appears nonexistent in this Jersey girls eyes. On the East Coast beaches can stretch as far as a half mile, but here you had maybe 20 feet until the water’s edge, if you were lucky.  A rocky coral lined the beach, which did not affect the standard surfer, but kept the midlife beach goer out of the water. I did take a surf lesson with Gone Surfing, and let me tell you, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am not weak by any means. I work out almost every day, and I pride myself on my toned body, but paddling the quarter mile out or whatever it may be killed me! Luckily the Gone Surfing team helps you get out, or I would never have surfed in Waikiki.

As you traveled away from the highly commercialized, somewhat polluted city the true colors of the island finally showed through. The island is beautiful! All of the beaches on the island are open to the public, and all of them have something unique to them. I would love to travel to the North Shore in the winter and see the giant wave’s crash on the beach and everything else around them. For now the lush green beauty of the mountains and the calm pristine beaches held me over.

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The pristine beaches of Maui

Maui was something entirely different, Maui was an island of dreams. As we flew in (it’s a 15 minute plane ride from Oahu) we could see sugar cane growing all over the island, and the mountains reaching into the clouds at a height of over ten thousand feet. On the ground it smelled sweet, a mix of sugar cane and plumaira filled the air. We stayed at the Honua Kai in Lahaina and trust me I would live there if I could. Golden sand beaches stretched on, with a sunset every night just over Molokai. There was a reef maybe 6 feet off the beach with the best snorkeling I have ever seen and I have snorkeled all over the world. There was turtles, parrot fish, the entire cast of Nemo, and even an eel or two, I was in fish heaven. On land the things to do greatly outnumbered my time spent there. The road to Hana highlighted my trip. 1 road, 68 miles, roughly 620 curves and 59 one lane bridges all to view the best of Maui. Scenic overlooks, arboretums, waterfalls, and a black sand beach are just a few things that made this drive so special.

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One of the many wonders of Hana

Without a doubt the most busy tourist section of the island was Front Street in Lahaina. We went there every night, may it be for entertainment, dining, or shopping, Front Street was the place to be. The Old Lahaina Luau was a wonderful interpretation of the islands rich culture through the best way they know how, dance. It was amazing to see these dancers contort their bodies, as well as tell the history of the islands all in a way that everyone could understand. I also managed to strike up a conversation with our “waiter” about snowboarding, which I found odd in Hawaii, yet loved.

The fruit in Maui is unlike anything I have ever tasted. On the road to Hana I stopped by a roadside stand and got 7 bananas for a dollar, 7!!! They were the sweetest, freshest piece of fruit I have ever tasted. I also stopped at a different road side stand and got a home grown avocado. This thing was huge!!! Nothing like the store bought avocado in Jersey this thing was the size of my face!! The pineapple drips juices like watermelon. After breakfast each morning I found myself having to wash up because I was covered in sticky juices from the pineapple I devoured. If I lived in Hawaii, the only thing I would eat would be fruit that I picked in the morning, avocado, and fresh fish, what else could I need?

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I was not leaving without a fight

I did not want to leave. In fact my father had to peel me off of a palm tree. I miss the 78 degree weather every day. I miss watching the rain shower come off the mountains in the mornings. I miss talking about surf, and the morning fishing report with the locals. I could move there for an extended amount of time and never run out of things to do. One day I will return only to make plans to live there for a year.

 

Coconut Key Lime Pie:

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One of my favorite desserts (Kona Coffee flavored ice cream aside) was Key Lime Pie that I had at Lahaina Fish Co. I normally don’t like key lime pie, but this was the epitome of island taste. It was so fluffy I thought it was cheesecake at first, but the taste cannot be denied. It had the light texture of damp clouds, and the flavor of tropical islands, definitely one of the most memorable desserts on the island.

Ingredients:

For crust:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons of sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup toasted coconut

For the filling:

1, 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key Lime juice

Toasted coconut to taste

Directions:

To make crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl combine cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and coconut until combined.
  3. Spread with a fork in a greased 9 inch glass pie pan
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, remove and let cool.

Make filling

  1. Whisk condensed milk and yokes until combined
  2. Add juice and coconut flakes and whisk again until combined.
  3. Pour into the middle of the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Cool pie completely on a rack.
  5. Chill, covered for 8 hours.

 

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To the Future (Pink Champagne Cupcakes)

At 11,060 feet above sea level, looking over what felt like the entire world, I realized what it would take to make me happy.

Last week (February 12-19) Courtney and I left for Mammoth Lakes California to go snowboarding. Courtney, being the dread headed, nature loving, snowboarding “badass” that she is; used to live in Mammoth and frequently left me wondering what that part of the country was like. As an East Coast Jersey Girl, I don’t think I was ready.

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The Top of the World, Or Mammoth mountain.

Growing up at sea level or below, I did not know what a real mountain looked like. Sure there are ski resorts around us, but I never realized that standing 800 feet above sea level just made you a tall hill. When I first learned to snowboard I went to Bromley Mountain in Vermont, standing 3,281 feet high that was the tallest thing I ever saw, but I never went to the top (so many regrets, but I think that saved me from breaking a few bones when I was just learning).

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Mountains out of the desert, coming from the hot springs

Arriving in Mammoth On Wednesday February 12 was a life changing experience for me. Never in my life have I felt so small. These snow covered giants putrid from the dessert making you focus all of your attention on them, and what small bit of attention is left goes to the beauty of the nature around you. The dessert, so vast and so wide, makes you wonder how anyone found what wonders you see in front of you. The pine trees, whose height puts the Rockefeller Center tree to shame, towers over everything, and watches the sunrise with the mountains before everyone else each morning. When the mountain air reaches your nose you wonder why anyone would want to live in the city. The clean fresh air tickles your nose with the smell of Christmas pine and snow, bound to bring you back to those holiday candles you spent hours in the store picking out.

 

The first full day there we went snowboarding. I have to admit, this terrified me for months leading up to this trip. I am used to a hill, I trained on a hill, I practiced on a hill, and this was a mountain, literally a mountain. But soon my fear proved to be silly, the quality of the snow was unlike the icy east and I was easily able to descend the slopes with confidence and ease. Like my Vermont experience years before I never snowboarded down from the top, but I did go there. The world is in your eyesight, but lies just out of reach of your fingertips.

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Lake Convict, California

I am born and raised a Jersey Girl. I have driven down route 195 going 90 miles an hour, windows down and music blasting, to reach the beach before the New York Bennys. I have laid in a drunken collapse in the sand with salt in my hair bullshitting about being famous one day. I have promised myself that I would never leave the Jersey lifestyle of not pumping our gas, giving the finger to those who look at us weird, and the beach that has put us on the map. I have promised myself I would never leave, until now.

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Arriving at the airport and seeing the mountains for the first time

I have traveled before, I have been to small islands and major cities, I have been to different countries and different continents, however this is the first time I really felt small. There is so much out there to see. I want to travel the world. I want to work on a snow covered mountain top for a few seasons of my life and I want to be able to determine what makes each mountain range different. I want to see islands, and be able to jump off a boat when I feel like a swim with the dolphins is in order. I want to see the world, and what makes it so big. This vacation made me realize that while I am 100% happy sitting on a beach in Jersey drinking vodka out of a water bottle, there is so much more I have not seen.

All of this dreaming big does come with an anchor, my car lease. Okay, I admit, that sounds silly. I am giving myself until the end of my car lease or 33 months to save up money to make the first move of my life. I am aware that I will have to leave my cushy desk job and start over somewhere completely different, and this scares me, but there is so much the world contains that I have never seen.

So cheers to new beginnings to the rest of our lives.

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Pink Champagne

Pink Champagne Cupcakes

Based off Betty Crocker’s Recipe  

Yields about 20

A guy at work asked me what is up with the alcoholic cupcakes lately. I have no idea. I cheated again using a box mix, sorry “home-made-to-the-death”ers. This cupcake comes out super light with a mild champagne flavor. I used Yellow Tails Pink Champagne, but you can substitute it with any kind, try different flavors for an interesting combination.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

1 Box White Cake Mix

1 1/4 Cups of champagne

1/3 Cups vegetable oil

3 Egg whites

Champagne Frosting:

**Before making see note below**

1/2 Cups butter or Margarine, room temp

4 Cups powdered sugar

1/4 Cup of Champagne

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Red Food Color to look

Directions:

Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, line cupcake pan with wrappers
  2. Dump the packaged mix, champagne, Veggie oil and egg whites into a large bowl and mix until the lumps are gone.
  3. Fill cupcake wrappers 3/4 of the way with batter.
  4. Bake 17-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Frosting:

  1. Let the butter sit until soft or room temp.
  2. Mix the Butter with a stand mixer, adding the powdered sugar one cup at a time.
  3. Mix in the champagne and the vanilla. If the frosting is too thick add more champagne.
  4. Mix in the food color until it get the pink color as desired

**Note** After mixing let this frosting sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to harden. The champagne makes this have a weird texture, but once refrigerated this loses the weird consistency.

 

Questions or Comments? Please email NotSoCulinaryGraduate@hotmail.com