Saturday, October 30, 2010

The gaggle of teens has gone skating....and a discussion about taro.

They cooked an enormous pile of bacon and portuguese sausage and rice, cleaned up after themselves and left. The one girl who came along had never seen a horse (except on tv).  I took her out (with boots, because all she had was these cute, but impractical bright orange skate shoes), and had her visit Ohia and Scarlett, the sheep, and the chicks.  Her comment was, "This house is awesome; all I have is two miniature dogs."  I think at least a couple of my kids would trade her house and two mini-dogs in town for our farm...funny how that works out.

It is raining pretty steadily, but I was able to go out and pull the last beans.  Out of the four daikon I planted, only one is really growing - a little pounded by the recent rain and it looks like dogs.  I am definitely going to have kennel these dogs.  My thought was to kennel them (after I buy a big kennel, which may take a few months of saving) during the day so I can let the chickens and sheep out in the pasture, and then let them out at night. I think that might save my garden a bit, too.

There is more gardening to be done, but I do have to do some teaching type work today. Maybe I  will don poncho and boots and dig up the heirloom taro so I can soak the huli for replanting when I am done with that bit.

Taro is a cool plant.  You can eat all of it, but usually you save the ha (stem part) as a huli to replant.  You cut off the corm (bulbous root), leaving about a half inch of the top, and then cut the ha right above the new leaf bud and eat the leaves.  You have to cook all of it very well because of the high oxalic acid content.  You can cook the lau (leaf) almost like spinach and the corm can be cut into chips and fried, or pressure cooked and eaten as poi or with coconut milk.  Lau lau is the leaf and pork/chicken and fish wrapped in a ti leaf and steamed - one of my favorite things to eat in the world.  Sometimes I get lazy and make a crockpot version - lau on the bottom, chicken thighs and some Okinawan sweet potato on top.  Not quite the same, but still good.  Taro is good for you, too.  It does take a long time to grow - 9 months for many varieties, so it is very expensive in the stores.  The 1992 Hurricane Iniki wiped out a lot of taro patches (lo'i for wetland, mala for dryland) so for a long time you couldn't even really find poi in the stores.

There are lots of varieties of taro.  I read that there used to be several hundred varieties, but we are down to about 60 or 70 now.  I have three varieties growing in my yard now, all dryland - one big one that gets to 10 lb corms which I was told was aweoaweo, but I am not sure, a few bun long (Chinese taro) plants, and a yellow heirloom one that I never got the name for.  I would love some red taro, too from down South Point on the Big Island.  I am fond of my taro - I can see why Hawaiian mythology claims that taro is an ancestor - they grow for so long, they feel like company.

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