Day 8 Natural World

  
Marungay Shoot

We recently trimmed our marungay plant because it was getting too tall for us to reach the leaves.  The leaves that we use to cook and consume provide important vitamins A, B, C and more. It is rich in iron and also increases lactation in breastfeeding women. The raw leaf is bitter with a bark like earthy flavor.  However, when pulverized in a blender, the raw flavor is masked by smoothie ingredients like almond milk, yogurt, citrus and or banana and honey.  When it is cooked, it adds a nice delicate leafy texture to my favorite Filipino soupy dish.  It’s a super superfood.  The best thing about it is how comforting it is to know that I can still have a connection with my dad through the food that he cooked and put on the table when I was a child.  

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God Makes Things New

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There is a different feeling in me this time around on New Years Eve. I am usually anxious and rushing around trying to get things done and organized before tomorrow. Or before 12am. But there is none of that…it is a feeling of peace. Is this the peace that I’ve longed for and prayed for? I have no unsettling or uncertain feelings. Is it because the bills are finally being paid off and I’m finally getting my finances organized? That’s still in the works. Is my laundry all caught up? No. The laundry is as constant as Lily’s shedding fur finding the corners and edges of the hallway. Did I go to the rubbish dump today? No. I can do that on Thursday.

My worries and priorities constantly change every year. Healing is evident as we make changes and let go of past hurts and sorrows. Forgiveness is the key to letting go. If forgiveness is not made in the heart, then all sorts of ungodly traits can take root and become overgrown, which in turn may block the view of obvious blessings from nature, from the people that are in my life, or from unexpected moments and encounters. I guess I’ve learned to accept the good and the bad with a grace that I can’t really explain. I refuse to be moved by things that attempt to take root in my heart in an unhealthy way. Let not my thoughts be entertained by self pity and wasteful drama. My overly dramatic traits have taken the back seat as I reflect on why my heart feels so calm and collected at the moment. As I write this, I am on my bed and the twins are using the back board as a jungle gym singing Lorde’s Royal. I just had to put in a slight glare as Hulali’s heels whap at the small of my lower back. Am I numb? Or am I well rested from being on Christmas vacation? No. No. Am I aging? Yes. Gracefully? Hopefully lol.

I’ve seen my children change and mature in ways that made my heart skip and sink at the same time. I’m so happy that they are growing and achieving milestones but at the same time I am sad that time has no patience for any human being.

The people I’ve known and the people I’ve just met do add flavor to my life. How can I learn new things when I’m around the same kind of people? Each person in my life has contributed to who I am today whether it was a good or a bad encounter. We can learn from each other in many different ways. And yet in some way, it can totally change my direction to my future.

My happiness thrives on the many unexpected moments that I encounter every single day. I love those moments. I love the moments that God has intricately planned for me that all I can really say is nothing but, “Thank You Lord.” Or “God, I love you.” Or “Praise God!” Or even: “Forgive me Lord.” Or “Lord help meeee!” God uses each and every moment of my life to seek Him and to use His grace in it. He doesn’t even need any words. God wants me to be in constant awe of Him.

Revelation 21:4,5
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write these down for these words are trustworthy and true.”

As each year brings new joys and sorrows, my heart shall be set on God’s promises. In everything that we encounter, God has the power to make everything new. Love every moment you have with each person. If you look for good things, you’ll find it. If you look for bad things, you’ll probably find that too. It’s a person’s choice to choose which one to magnify. Enjoy the time given to you with each person. You never know when it’s someone’s last hour and you never know when someone’s gonna change. You just don’t know.

Time with people continues to be important to me. People I know, people in my family, and people whom I meet through people I know. I guess I’m a people person. But as much as I am a people person, my alone time is just as important to me as well. Achieving balance continues to be something I want to achieve as well. I’m NOT even gonna label that as my New Years Resolution!!! But it is something I long to obtain.

Here’s to a new year. Aloha 2013. Thank you for being good to me. Thank you Lord for the memories. Welcome 2014!!!
Love and Blessings always…
Mrs. Halpern

December Memories 2013

Behind the Scenes at the Craft Fair

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Lily and Me

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Happy 27th Cassie!!!

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Winterball 2013

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Happy 83rd to My Aunty

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Taking a Break at the Playground

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Hula Ministry Christmas Party

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Mehana’s Soccer Games Rain or Shine

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Mommies and Children
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Antipasto with the Coleman’s

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My How Urban Has Grown!

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Christmas 2013

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Good Times with the Kloningers

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Cleaning Up For the New Year-Rainy Town

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Out with the old and in with the new! Welcome 2014-we have been waiting for you!

Old and New Friends

My friend Ali from Long Beach came to visit the Big Island. I met her husband (Gehan) and her husband’s cousin and wife from Atlanta Georgia and our dinner party got bigger as they reconnected with a young couple from Long Beach who now lives on the Big Island.

While I was out picking up my order from Grapes a Wine Store, they were having lunch at a nearby eatery called Hapa Mamas. The Grapes owner was hosting his weekly free wine tasting when I walked in. The twins and I ran and dodged a passing downpour as we made our way across the street to meet Ali and the gang at Wilson’s by the Bay to satisfy the twins’ and Ali’s shave ice snack cravings. Even on a rainy day, shave ice from Wilsons by the Bay hits the spot.
Reuniting and Meeting New Friends at Wilson’s By the Bay

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After the shave ice stop, we walked over to Grapes so I could introduce them to the owner. They had some tastes and Gehan’s cousin purchased a red Brunello. Then they left for their volcano sightseeing while I had the kids do their homework, shower, and I proceeded to prepare dinner for them before dinner at Cafe Pesto. I quickly made a pizza with a store bought focaccia, a pizza sauce made from a can of tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. I didn’t have any Italian spices on hand but it’s okay. The kids can live without strong flavors.
Easy Kid Pizza
Ingredients:
1 ready made store bought flat focaccia bread
Pizza sauce
I cup shredded smoked mozzarella
Pepperoni

For pizza sauce:
I can tomato paste
Salt and pepper
4 TBSP Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Combine and set aside

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place focaccia on non-greased baking pan.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over bread. Add pizza sauce over cheese. Generously sprinkle last 1/2 cup of smoked mozzarella. You may add more if desired. Top with pepperoni. Bake 10m. Take pizza out of oven and let sit 5minutes. Cut into squares, serve, and enjoy.

Here are some pictures from our dinner get together at Cafe Pesto in Hilo:
We started with an Ahi Poke Bowl (chopped and seasoned raw tuna over rice) with a side of ‘ulu (breadfruit) chips. Have it separate or top ‘ulu chip with a chunk of poke and enjoy the added crispiness to the raw fish
.

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I had the Blue Ceasar Salad with a bowl of Carrot Fennel Soup.

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20131212-093820.jpgOther entrees ordered that evening was the Wok-Fired Shrimp and Scallops, Mango Glazed Chicken, Cheese Pizza, and the Fresh Catch Salad.

Good Times, Friends Old and New, Good Food and Laughter, Sweet Local Live Music

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A Hui Hou (goodbye until we meet again)
Love and Blessings Always…
Mrs.Halpern

Thanksgiving Memories 2013

Morning Run

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To Nana’s House-Volcano

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We also met up with Greg and Gail again from Earth Matters Farm and they always bring over some homemade kale chips. They are devoured by all in a matter of minutes-SECONDS! Here is the kale chip recipe that I promised to post in my previous blog:

Gail’s Kale Chips
Ingredients:
1-1/2 to 2lbs kale (despined)
Olive Oil
A pinch of Cajun seasoning
A pinch of salt
1/4-1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast

Directions:
Depending on oven type, preheat oven to 355-365 degrees.
Dry leaves completely by air drying or dabbing gently with paper towel or a clean towel.

Place kale in a large bowl.
Drizzle a little amount of olive oil on leaves tablespoon by tablespoon and turn leaves until oil is well matted. Do not drench the leaves. Add Cajun seasoning, salt, and nutritional yeast and turn leaves.

Line baking pans with parchment paper and place leaves side by side rather than overlapping.

Bake 15 minutes or until leaves are crisp. You might need to do several test batches before getting it right.

As always I find myself full of dinner to completely enjoy the many tasteful desserts that were served. However, I look forward to breakfast the day after when I can savor each morsel without feeling forced to finish a whole piece of pie. Paired with a favorite tea or coffee, breakfast is the best time time to enjoy Thanksgiving dessert!

The Christmas season is well upon us. And as usual, I haven’t started my shopping yet or my Christmas cards. I always tell myself that I need to get started at least in July…o_O Never happens! I’ll let you know when it does haha!

As I I write this, Mehana is having the time of her life with the Hilo Sunrise Athletics running club. She ran a cross country race this morning at the Foot Locker West Regionals at Walnut, CA. She came in 51st out of 104 in her heat. There are over a thousand participants and about 14 different races. I watched a bit on the website early this morning and I take it that it was a hilly course with steep inclines and switch backs. Also, the runners start out fast paced and they don’t slow down.

The younger kids spent the night at Nana’s house last night to help her decorate her tree today. It’s almost time to go pick them up. I look into my bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano mint chocolate cookies and there’s two more layers full. Mm-hm…cookies last long when the kids are not home! 😉

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Love and Blessings Always…
By Mrs. Halpern

Date Nights

Casey and I had two date nights in November which is pretty good as we weave in and out of our busy schedules. It’s such a treat to reconnect with my husband on a different level aside from parenting and work woes. We are able to relinquish our time lost together as a husband and wife. And we really need this time to just focus on each other when the fiascos of our lives dare to take over our relationship.

We had the privilege of attending his coworker’s wedding at the newly renovated Nani Mau Gardens on 11-12-13. How’s that for a wedding date? I wondered why the bride and groom had picked a Tuesday for a wedding day but after seeing the date on the invitation, it all made sense. So it was a Tuesday evening and we left the reception, full from good food, and we headed to the Hilton to take advantage of a complimentary room provided by a local company who was offering a menu management course. It was an offer that he couldn’t turn down. So we had some time together and I got to play princess wifey!

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After his class was over, we headed to Hapuna for some ocean therapy and watched the sunset through overcast gray clouds. This is something we used to do in our early days of courtship. The gratitude to have this time again and again with Casey is increasingly overwhelming. I don’t know how we are to make it in this world without these times set aside for each other. Thank You Lord! And my gratitude goes to my mother-in-law too for being with the children while we have this time together!

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After the sunset, we made it over to Pueo’s Osteria, an Italian inspired restaurant. This was another treat considering the fact that we were in Italy for a week last fall and I must say that the food was very, very close to what I had in Italy. I must mention that this eatery also honed a lovely lady’s restroom clad with modern designs and decor and scented with lit candles atop the sink.

We started our meal with a tasty antipasto: ahi crudo, some salami, prosciutto, tasty olives, cheese. This was something that we both enjoyed eating for lunch at Eataly’s in Turin. We took the subway from Marconi to this upscale supermarket-looking establishment in Lingotto. It had everything from unique fresh meats such as whole rabbits, cured meats hanging above us, a gelato station, fresh produce, wine and beer, and a pastry bakery (just to name a few).

I ordered the gnocchi with a side of Waimea grown kale and Swiss chard. Casey had the veal Parmesan. Just like the gnocchi that I had at Ristorante Carmen, a 10 minute walk from our B&B in Turin, but now back in Hawaii, I bite into soft mini pillows of gnocchi with a generous amount of silky cheesy sauce. Mmmm—such a surreal moment to have this play over on my taste buds again. Mm-hm. I had a bite of the veal which was tender and tasty with every bite and while adding a powerful mix of flavors when combining it with my gnocchi, I was back where I was a a little over a year ago…a dream come true fulfilled and a deep yearning to be there once again.

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The only thing missing from my meal was a glass of red. But hey-someone has to be a designated driver -right?!

While I was having a cappuccino and conversing with a couple from Waimea, I noticed a pair of eyes peering at me from behind the cash register.

“Where’re you from?”, asked the waitress.

“Hilo.” I tell her.

“I know you from somewhere…”, she says.

Wondering myself as I took a good look at a past acquaintance and noticed that she too looked familiar.

“Where in Hilo?” I ask her.

“Keaukaha.” She replied.

I mentioned a couple of close friends that I have in Keaukaha.

“Yeah-I know them too but I know you from somewhere else.”

So we agreed that it must’ve been at a party in Keaukaha and figured out that it must have been almost 20 years ago. Sigh…getting old…
So as I pondered upon our reunion and was still not satisfied by our conclusion, there I was, reading the timeline of my life in my head while I sipped my cappuccino.

Wally’s Gym. Oh My Gosh! That’s it! That’s where I seen this girl! …I guess now we’re considered ladies or aunties. Aaaah! Anyways, so I ask her, “Hey did you ever work out at Wally’s Gym?” Then her eyes opened as wide as quarters and mine likewise and we celebrated our reunion. And we both agreed it was a looong time ago. The gym was in a warehouse type building next to the gas station at the intersection to Keaukaha. I used to take kickboxing lessons and followed a strict workout plan through that particular gym. I still have pictures of 4 year old Mehana in oversized boxing gloves blocking her face. It was a short 6 month regimen as I discovered that I was pregnant with Urban six months later. An admiral moment, I knew that it was well worth this late night rendezvous as I reflected on the precious time Casey and I spent together, meeting new people at the bar, and reconnecting with an old friend from carefree one childed days.

Midnight Drive

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One of the great things about the new Saddle Road, aside from being a shortcut and less car-sickening, is that the road is well lit at night. There is a short part of the way where the fog is really thick but its okay because it allows drivers like me to be a little more careful and alert.

Date #2 Wine Pairing at Hilo Bay Cafe

We took a cab to a wine pairing dinner at the new Hilo Bay Cafe location at the old Nihon Restaurant. I miss the dimly lit ambience of the former location and I’m sure that I will get used to this new establishment as well. It is very spacious in every area. The Hilo Bay View was still awesome even on an overcast day. I was star-struck to have met the people of Selbach, a popular choice of wine sold here at Big Island restaurants, such as Cafe Pesto, and sold in supermarkets island-wide. A common one that you may have heard of is the Ahi Reisling. The white Riesling continues to be a favorite of mine.
My iPhone camera and the lighting just wasn’t working so I’ll just provide you with a picture of the menu.

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As always, the pairing went well. Randy from Grapes really knows how to match it up. From my experience in wine tastings, some wines are a mouthful of fruity flavors in the beginning, some wine flavors just want to move slowly in your mouth to leave a lasting impression and others just wait to make a bold appearance long after you swallow and allow the fruity flavor fumes to permeate in your cheeks and exhale it out of your nose. It is then when you taste the most unique flavors mentioned on the wine label. Whether it’s hand picked cherries, notes of strawberries, or chocolate decadence. Wines are supposed to have the flavors mentioned on the label. So it is important to pair wines carefully. If you can’t taste the flavors, it might be what you’re pairing it with.

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Good Times with Margaret

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We didn’t want this night to end so soon so Casey, Margaret, and I made our way to the well-lit and spacious dining area. I was in the mood for sushi so that is what I got with Margaret and Casey ordering a burger with fries. I have a thing for tobiko (fish eggs). I love the bright orange color and how it pops and crunches in my mouth with every bite. It’s not too fishy for me as some might take it. When dipped in shoyu and wasabi, with a flap of pickled ginger wrapped around the outside of the rice wheel, the flavors meet to satisfy the sushi lover’s cravings. This was definitely night to remember forever!

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Halperns with The Founders and Faces of Selbach

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If you’re ever in Hilo, Ellen Silvestre is available for taxi/tour services. As our designated driver, she was fun to talk to and was able to drive Casey and I to our destination and back. An avid surfer, Ellen offers suggestions on how you can make your visit to the Big Island a worthwhile and memorable one. And that’s not all-she is also available for massages, manicures, and pedicures. Go ahead-give her a call!

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It’s Thanksgiving Eve~May your heart be set on the finer and lovelier things as we get set and prepare for a memorable meal. The time spent with loved ones are the most precious thing we have in this life. Take it-don’t leave it! Give thanks for every morsel. Give thanks with every slice of your knife. Give thanks with every sip. Give thanks for the water that we use to remain quenched and cleansed. Give thanks for the ability to do things beyond our capabilities. Give thanks for the place that we’re in at the moment-even if its not a good place-anytime is a good time to give thanks and praise to Him who is for us. Give thanks for the sun that rises and sets, for eyes that see, for hands that work, for bodies that function, for screaming children, for spilt milk, for daily challenges, for traffic jams, for long lines, for hyper puppies, quiet nights, busy kitchens, ovens that work, inquiring neighbors, piles of laundry, shoes at the doorway, working washers and dryers, clotheslines, pillows to sleep on. There are sooo many reasons to be thankful. This blog entry will not end if I should sit here and list all of the things that I am thankful for. When you look for good things to be thankful for, you will surely find it! Even in your most trying moment, just think…wow-how so that God looks upon me to have confidence in me to handle such a situation as this moment right now! Take the cup and he will provide strength. His will is on to something. We shall not be in the way of His will. Take the cup and let God take control. He always knows best and will come through for us in every possible way for everyone. Give thanks for the people that God has placed in our lives and for the ones that He has taken. Give thanks for the memories that will last a lifetime! Happy Thanksgiving Eve!
Love and Blessings Always….

Easy Snacks by Hulali 1

Here’s a start to Hulali’s creative snacks made by her own little hands and quoted precisely in her own words.

Banana Honey Toast

Ingredients:
1 toast
1 banana
Honey

Directions:
1. First cut the banana.

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2. Then you toast the bread.
3. Then you put the bananas.

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4. Then you put honey.

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While Hulali was building up her snack, Mehana was mixing up some instant pudding so she got a side of chocolate pudding to go with her toast.

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5. And you take out the crust. 🙂

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As with all things that involve young children, even easy snack preparation requires adult supervision. We need to be there to encourage them to wash their hands before and after preparing a snack.

The only step I had to help her with was opening the honey jar and scooping out a little of honey into a cup. We’ve had talks about preventing contamination to whole jars of honey, peanut butter, jam, mayonnaise, pickles, etc. It’s a little like the double dip no-no at potlucks. We try to have them use one utensil for each spread. Also, the last thing we want is a whole jar of spread being contaminated by a licked spoon. 😛

Sometimes it takes a lot of time to teach young children how to prepare their own snacks. Things are spilt, they end up over serving themselves so food is wasted, or things are not put away and the clean-up step is overlooked. However, these are all teachable moments and great opportunities to talk to my children and see also where I need to improve as a parent.

By Mrs.Halpern 2013

Quick Chicken and Kale Soup

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Home remedies shared here are recipes that have worked for my family and I. Everyone is different. Please check with your doctor first.

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This week, the twins were feverish and nauseous. Perhaps the weekend was just too much fun. 🙂 When they are feverish, they’re inactive, and they have little appetite. Here are some little things that I offer the children when they’re under the weather:

Ginger Ale
Crackers
None acidic fruit
Yogurt
Soup
Warm water or tea

Hulali had a fever on Monday, missed school on Tuesday and returned on Wednesday. Then Malino had a fever on Wednesday, missed school on Thursday and returned to school today. This must be life with twins! This must be life with siblings and germs but it’s okay because sharing is caring! 😀

Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of hot chicken soup. When taste buds malfunction, when an intestinal eruption may occur, or when dealing with stuffy head cold symptoms, chicken soup has healing properties that may help shorten the lifespan of viruses or infections or even offer an immune booster for the other family members who remain healthy.

Here is my recipe for:
Quick Chicken Soup with Kale

Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
8 pieces boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 finger ginger sliced into thin pieces
2 cans chicken broth or 1-32oz box
2 cans beef broth or 1-32oz box
or
8 cups of homemade broth
3 bunches dino kale (chopped)
1 tsp. Turmeric root or powder

Directions:
Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season thighs with olive oil, salt, and pepper (your desired amount). Let sit for 10m.

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Pour olive oil to cover bottom of pan and heat on medium high heat.

Sauté onion, garlic, and ginger for about 1 minute.

Brown chicken with onion, garlic & ginger until cooked on the outside.

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Transfer browned chicken to a large pot with chicken drippings, onion, garlic, and ginger. Turn on the fire (gas stove) to high heat and add chicken broth.

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Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium/low. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Check and stir from time to time.

In the meantime, wash and prepare kale.

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After simmering, take out each thigh, place on a cutting board and shred it using two forks. Put shredded chicken into soup and stir.

Add kale to soup, stir, and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

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Stir in turmeric root or powder, and turn off the flame.

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There can be many variations to this recipe. I had some leftover lasagna noodles so I sliced it thin as a side of starch and added it to the soup to make it into a chicken noodle soup. Chicken soup leftovers become more tasty and flavorful than its freshly cooked past. The tastes of each ingredient intermingle as they cool off in your fridge overnight. Thus, creating a one-of-kind flavor packed healing and goodness to the soul.

Variations:
Just add your favorite veggies. I made the soup a second time after Malino got sick. Instead of using kale, I switched to potatoes and carrots. These veggies (chopped) may be added in with the browned chicken and seasonings and boiled and simmered from there.
Also, a little bit of rice may be added in place of noodles. Crackers always add a nice crunch and the children love to dip it in the broth. We had Krusteaz box corn bread with the second batch of soup.

With much rest, lots of love, and some honest to goodness natural healing ingredients, and a little bit of patience to allow a foreign organism to take its course through the body, fever symptoms are likely to be weakened. Zap’em with some good old chicken soup! ….and don’t forget to GIVE THANKS! 🙂

I would love to hear your different variations to this simple recipe. What are your favorite vegetables or flavorings in your chicken soup? And what is your idea of a side that compliments chicken soup?

Happy Aloha Friday!
Love and Blessings Always…

By Mrs.Halpern 2013

Happy Labor Day Weekend 2013

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Cross Country season has begun. The first meet of the season was held at HPA. Mehana finished in 2nd in 21:51, right behind her running partner Carmen. Their team took second place overall,16 points away from HPA. Her finishing time is the fastest she ran on this course. In high altitude, hot, dry, and cold,windy, dusty weather, this course is deemed the most difficult out of all Big Island courses.

Stampede!

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Team! 2nd Place

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I Can’t Believe It’s Not Guacamole!

One Sunday afternoon, our friend Matt came by and blessed us with a dozen avocados. The avocados were firm, smooth, and dark green in color. On Thursday, I noticed that they needed encouragement in ripening so into a brown paper bag they went. They ripened quickly and I was prepared to bake on Sunday.

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My mom once made me a snack of chopped avocado drizzled with condensed milk. It was milky, creamy, and very sweet but I remember with every bite, I was trying to figure out the weak pungency of those green blocks. Probably craving and hungry for a snack, I kept eating it. But it wasn’t something that caused me to tantrum if I didn’t have it. But that was my first taste of the avocado. Continue reading