Winters in Seattle are notoriously dreary. Contrary to what some believe, there’s hardly any snow, ever … and when it does snow, it’s usually a welcome reprieve from all that gray. Living in this damp, drizzly, dark bog from November to March, every single year I crave the sun like a man crawling through the desert and creaking, “Agua!” Except I’m on a plane whimpering “Suuuuunnn…,” frightening the passengers around me.
On good years like this one, I get to hop on a plane and turn my face up to the sun somewhere warmer. The golden light restores me and gets me through the rest of the Seattle sludge, carrying me until daffodils spring from the soggy ground and I resume my rollercoaster love affair with this place.
A break did me good on other fronts, too. There’s nothing like a good, solid vacation to help regain your balance. Getting away from it all helps get the wheels turning in all kinds of wonderful ways. Swaying palm trees, the wind in your hair as you zoom along a beachside highway with the convertible top down, crashing azure-blue waves, a strong fruity drink … those help too.
We went to Oahu, and it was my first trip ever to any of the Hawaiian Islands. We spent most of our time in a tiny beachfront cottage in the sleepy town of Laie, which really wasn’t much of a town at all, and that was perfect. Every morning, we’d rise and grab a mug of coffee. Then we’d walk up the light golden beach, barefoot and smiling toward the sunrise. The sky would circulate shades of indigo, periwinkle, apricot … and then finally beam brightly back at us.
We drove around the islands in our Mustang convertible (those who know my guy are nodding their heads and saying, “of course”). We saw whales breaching and turtles sunning themselves. Bright orange butterflies flitting, resting, flitting and resting everywhere, even on our drying clothes.
Crystal clear blue waters, towering emerald fluted mountains. The weather didn’t always cooperate. Some days, yes, it poured; but it was still 80 degrees out. So we put up our beach umbrella, scooted our chairs under, sipped Coronas and wiggled our toes in the raindrops.
A bit of that inclement weather was the result of a weather system that also caused those crazy 30-foot swells that the North Shore of Oahu is famous for. We watched the surfers in awe. They looked like mere fleas scooting along those giant waves.
Yes, it was as magical as it sounds. Especially the sea turtles. I’ve waited my whole life to see sea turtles.
I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t ‘fess up one thing. I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about tsunamis, and worrying about myself because I was so worried about tsunamis. I’m a scenario girl; it’s in my nature, I guess. It’s just, we could hear the waves crashing right there, and I wasn’t clear on how the warning system would really work, and the escape path wasn’t evident! I know, I know. Total dork.
But otherwise: aaaaaaaah.
We also ate some amazing food. Fresh fruit by the handful: papaya, bananas and of course, perfect pineapple. My guy got to enjoy the Hukilau Burger, made famous thanks to the infamous Man vs. Food. A big patty topped with a fried egg, grilled onions, and a healthy layer of tender teriyaki beef. No joke. In Haleiwa, we tried the beloved Matsumoto’s shave ice, but admittedly we were even more enamored with all of their cute t-shirts.
And last but not least, we had pie. Delicious, delicious pie.
Pie that’s to blame, more than likely, for the fact that the waistband of my jeans feels a lot more restricting than usual this morning.
The pie was out of this world, though.
It’s Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie, “Haupia” meaning “coconut pudding.” It’s from Ted’s Bakery, an institution on the North Shore, and I can understand why. Chocolate and coconut pudding layered together on a sturdy, tasty crust, topped by whipped cream. It’s tasty, creamy, interesting and refreshing on a hot day.
I’m going to try my darndest to duplicate the recipe, but that will take me awhile. To get us through, I whipped up a batch of Haupia, which on its own is absolutely delicious.
It’s a very thick pudding made with coconut milk, and it tastes divine. Rich and coconutty, just like the tropics. And I know the taste will always take me back to those magical sunrise walks on Hukilau Beach; especially that extra-amazing morning when a rainbow greeted us.
Haupia (Coconut Pudding)
Yield: Approx. 6 servings
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup corn starch
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
Whipped cream for topping
- In a small bowl or a glass measuring cup, whisk together 1 cup of water and the 1/2 cup corn starch. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup water, coconut milk, sugar and heavy whipping cream.
- Bring mixture in sauce pan to a boil, stirring frequently with a whisk.
- Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the corn starch mixture.
- Continue whisking the mixture over low heat for two or three minutes, until the mixture is very thick.
- Divide pudding mixture between six bowls or containers. Let cool at room temperature, then move to the refrigerator to complete cooling.
- Top with a good dollop of sweetened whipped cream and serve.
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