Monthly Archives: March 2012

Touch of the Irish

The late Bob Dye, author of "Humble Honest Men." Photo courtesy of the Dye family.

The late Bob Dye spent a dozen years, off-and-on, working on his novel, Humble Honest Men. Bob was intrigued by the similarities between Ireland, an island country, and Hawai‘i, an island state. To pass the time spent at the family home in sleepy Kinsale, Ireland, Bob starting writing—the end result emerging as Humble Honest Men, the story of Kapala Dolan, a Hawai‘i native who moves to Kinsale, Ireland, and soon becomes embroiled in the historical controversy surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania and her mysterious cargo.

The character Dolan’s fascination with the Irish half of his hapa haole ancestry—and the family lore that placed his maternal grandparents on the Lusitania as it sank off the coast of Kinsale—leads him to jump at the chance to consult for the town whose city fathers seek to make the Lusitania as successful a tourist attraction as Pearl Harbor’s Arizona Memorial.  The job proves to be more than a simple consultancy, as Dolan is drawn deeper into intrigue and cultural conflicts, while his sincere intentions rub some of the townspeople the wrong way.

To get you in an Irish mood before Saint Paddy’s Day, enjoy this excerpt from Humble Honest Men. And check out our newsletter for a coupon code to take 30% off your order at our online store!

Within a month of the near-death experience, Kapala closed down the family company, Kamakia Land and Investments LLC, contracting management of the assets to the Hawaiian Trust Co. The Kamakia Building on Alakea Street was sold to First Hawaiian Bank, to pay down some debt. He vowed to do something worthwhile, maybe public service, with his remaining productive years.

The first step to becoming a father was taken when he married his companion, Lani, who was 20 years younger than he. The wedding took place at Saint Anthony of Padua, Kapala’s parish church in Kailua, on the windward coast of O‘ahu. For their honeymoon, they boarded a cruise ship at Aloha Tower for San Francisco, and then took passage on an Amtrak train for New York City. There they stayed in a suite at the Palace Hotel with a view across Madison Avenue of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He and Lani attended mass there daily and vespers once during their stay. He felt good about his return to the church, and she was supportive.

The honeymoon was healing, and when it was time to return home there was no longer any fear of flying, so it was by air, the leg between San Francisco and Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines. Now freed from business, Kapala used his time to document his life, writing personal essays about being hapa haole (half white) and his search for his roots, Irish and Hawaiian. And that led him to speculate on what it might have been like if his birth mother had raised him in Ireland. And what it would have been like to grow up as a Hawaiian, if the kingdom had not been overthrown and annexed to the United States. The personal essays were not meant for public consumption. But he did give some thought to privately publishing them and giving the books to family and close friends.

The blood of his father was that of ali‘i (royalty) from the Island of Hawai‘i, and his family traced its ancestry back to Liloa, a sacred chief, as did many other men of his generation. His warrior forbears had served Kamehameha the Great in his quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands. Later, one of Kapala’s great-uncles was named Kaua‘i’s governor by King Kalākaua. But the most important warrior ancestor was Huha, who had led troops in the decisive Battle of Nu‘uanu. For his service the family received large grants of land on O‘ahu. A large parcel in Mānoa became the corpus of Kamakia Land and Investments.

His dad thought of himself as a steward of the land and was a passive businessman. If someone wanted to buy a piece of land, and offered a good price, he sold it and bought a parcel that was underpriced. Overhead was low and he did well, allowing him to spend much of the workday catching waves at the Outrigger Canoe Club. When Kapala took the reins of the company, he was more entrepreneurial. He got property rezoned to a higher use, thereby increasing its value. His close ties to politicians at all levels of government raised questions in the press, especially the morning paper, owned by missionary descendants. But his smiley response, simply stated, was that “family and friends can make a life rewarding.” The mayor was more blunt. “You reward your friends, not your enemies.” That message was not lost on engineers and architects, nor on the developers who hired them. They contributed handsome amounts to his political campaigns.

The overthrow of the monarchy had not adversely affected the Dolan family’s wealth. The toll on them was more psychological, making them feel as outsiders in their own country. Kapala wrote in one essay: “Patriotic feelings weren’t stirred when we pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, but were fervently felt when we sang  ‘Hawai‘i Pono‘i’ and saluted Hae Hawai‘i.”

Over the generations, the family was proud of that flag, sometimes excessively so, and he wrote about that, too. The 110-foot-tall flagpole in his great-uncle George’s yard on Punchbowl Hill was a good 40 feet higher than any other flagpole in Honolulu. But it was barely high enough to fly his uncle’s giant Hawaiian flag, which in its day was “the biggest flag in the world ever to be flown from a flagpole.” His uncle was 5 feet 6 inches, and the flag stretched more than 14 times his height, measuring 80 feet by 40 feet. It took 700 yards of white, red and blue bunting to construct it. Whether whipping in the wind or hanging limply, it made a statement to everyone in sight, that his forebear designed Hae Hawai‘i, the flag of the kingdom his Uncle George had served so honorably under Queen Lili‘uokalani.

Uncle George’s grand mansion sat on large grounds (long since subdivided), and was reached by a lane off Lusitana Street. There always had been confusion about the spelling of that street name. Some people of Portuguese descent, those whose forebears cleared rocks from the Punchbowl area above Emma Street to make the land there tillable, recalled the street was named for a benevolent mutual aid society, called Lusitana, and correctly pronounced it that way. But other folks in town added an “i” at the end, mispronouncing it Lusitania, an ancient and sometimes poetic name for what is today Portugal.

As a boy, Kapala pronounced it the latter way, believing the street was named in memory of the famous British passenger ship sunk by a German submarine in the early days of World War I. According to a family tradition, his Irish maternal grandparents were passengers aboard the ship on that tragic voyage and drowned. No one told him why they made the voyage, and Kapala promised himself to someday find the answer.

He began reading adult books about Lusitania at the main Honolulu library on King Street. Before entering the building he ritually and reverently touched the hole in the front wall made by a bullet fired in anger on December 7, 1941, and spoke a quick prayer of peace for the world. There were not many books about Lusitania on the shelves, but he devoured what was there. Over the years since, he had read everything he could find on the sinking and those mysterious events that surrounded the tragedy. Two questions stood out: Why, shortly before being torpedoed, did the ship turn so suddenly toward the port of Cobh and then veer away? And why did she carry valuable oil paintings, which had been safe from harm in America, into a war zone? From boyhood on, he believed the answers to those questions would help solve the riddle of why his Irish grandparents were aboard Lusitania on her final voyage. Until he knew the answer to the riddle, he knew he would never be able to fully understand his haole side.

“A family tragedy of that magnitude had to have left scars,” he told Lani, “and before those who carry them die, I want to hear the story of how they got them.”

“I don’t want to go to Ireland,” Lani said. “Too much violence and killing there. But mostly because of your mother, what she did to you.”

“I’ve forgiven and forgotten,” Kapala said. “Everything is pono (right) between us.”

“Can’t you do your research by mail, or phone even?”

“My boots have to be on the ground. Please, Lani, this is really important to me.”

“Look, you go and do your hapa haole ethnic thing. I’ll be waiting when you get back.”

“You know I can’t stand to be away from you for any length of time.” He hugged her. “But I warn you, if the chance ever comes for us to go to Ireland, I’m jumping on it.”

This excerpt from Humble Honest Men by Bob Dye is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information retrieval systems, without prior written permission from the publisher, except for brief passages quoted in reviews.

Healthy Pi Day

Key Lime–Avocado Pie by Chef Alyssa Moreau, as featured in "A Sweet Dash of Aloha." Photo by Adriana Torres Chong.

It’s Pi Day! (That’s 3.14, didn’t you know?) If you can carry pi past 10 digits, you’ve probably got a pretty healthy brain. But we want to help keep the rest of you healthy, too! So here’s a pie recipe from our recently released cookbook all about healthy desserts and snacks: A Sweet Dash of Aloha.

The ingredients may give you pause—avocado? In a pie?!—but we assure you: the tart lime flavor of this dish shines through, and you’d never know it was made with avocados at all. And you can rest easy knowing that the vivid green hue comes solely from fruit—no artificial coloring here. Some doctors believe that avocado is a “brain food,” so have a little on Pi Day, and maybe you’ll tap into some advanced mathematics skills you never knew you had!

You can also watch Chef Alyssa walk you through making this pie in this Hawaii: In Real Life video segment with Nonstop Honolulu hosts Melissa Chang and Ed Morita.

Key Lime–Avocado Pie

Recipe by Chef Alyssa Moreau

Makes 6-8 servings     

This is a great way to use up extra avocados and a unique way to serve a favorite dessert in the Islands. The avocados, preferably local and a variety with smooth texture and no strings, should be good and ripe. The key is to taste not avocado but the tart lime paired with the light sweetness of agave. The avocado and coconut oil add good fats to this dish and wonderful texture. The pie must be chilled in order to set it up, so give yourself ample time to prepare this one. You will need to zest limes, then juice them and divide juice for use in separate parts of the recipe.

All "Sweet Dash of Aloha" recipes include a Nutrition Facts chart, so you know exactly what you're eating — a key step in maintaining a healthy diet.

For the crust:

  • ¾ c.       shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ c.       unsalted macadamia nuts
  • ½ tsp.    lime zest
  • ⅛ tsp.    salt
  • 1 tsp.     lime juice
  • ½ c.       dates, chopped
  • 2 T.       shredded coconut

For the filling:

  • 1½ c.    ripe avocado
  • ⅓-½ c.  fresh lime juice
  • ⅓-½ c.  agave or honey
  • 4 T.       refined* coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp.   salt
  • Zest of ½ lime (for garnish)
  • 2-3        lime slices for decoration

To make the crust: In a food processor, combine the coconuts, nuts, zest and salt and chop coarsely. Add lime juice and dates and process until it sticks together. Sprinkle a 9-inch pie plate with the remaining coconut and pat the crust on top and up the sides of the plate. Chill while making filling.

To make filling: Combine all ingredients in a blender (start with the smaller amount of lime and agave, as some avocados are wetter than others and milder in flavor; add more if needed). Blend until smooth. Adjust flavors to taste. Pour over crust and chill 4-6 hours or overnight. Garnish with remaining zest and some lime slices, if desired.

* If you use unrefined, it will add a coconut flavor to the dessert, a nice alternative if you want it to taste more tropical. Refined coconut oil is available in health food stores.

Mango Mai Tai Madness

Maui Pineapple Co.’s “Pineapple and Mango Rum Cocktail” from “The New-Wave Mai Tai” (Photo by David Croxford)

We’re beginning to see mangoes popping up at the farmers’ markets and in the grocery stores…mango season is right around the corner! And what better use for this great local fruit (besides eating them fresh and plain, of course!) than making cocktails?

The New-Wave Mai Tai features at least a dozen recipes using mango purée or mango rum. We can already hear you mai tai purists complaining, “There’s no mango in a mai tai!” Well, yes, the classic mai tai recipe—whether you believe it the creation of Don the Beachcomber or Trader Vic—doesn’t add any fancy fruit purées or flavored rums. But The New-Wave Mai Tai is about celebrating the mai tai and pays tribute to the classic cocktail, using it as a base for over 50 creative new drinks invented by bartenders across the Islands. (And both the original Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic recipes are included.)

Here we share three mad-for-mango mai tai recipes for you, but you can get your own copy of this collection of innovative recipes at our online store. (By the way, The New-Wave Mai Tai is one of our 2-for-$25 cookbook deal selections.)

Cheers to creative cocktailing, and enjoy responsibly!

Pineapple and Mango Rum Cocktail

by the Maui Pineapple Co.

2½ small ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
4 oz. golden rum
½ c. water
4 c. fresh pineapple juice (about the amount obtained from a 4½-lb. pineapple)

Purée mangoes, rum and water in a blender. Pour two ounces of purée into each of six 12-ounce glasses. Fill glasses with ice and top off with pineapple juice. Garnish with slices of fresh mango and star fruit. Yield: Six 12-ounce drinks.

Mai Tai Madness

by Planet Hollywood Honolulu

1½ oz. Cruzan Mango Rum
4 oz. mango purée
Splash of pineapple juice
Splash of guava juice
½ oz. DeKuyper Strawberry Passion Schnapps

Mix all ingredients, except the schnapps, with ice in a blender. Pour into a 14-ounce glass and top with schnapps. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.

Mango’d Mai Tai Blues

Hukilau Sports Bar & Grill's “Mango’d Mai Tai Blues” from “The New-Wave Mai Tai” (Photo by David Croxford)

by Hukilau Sports Bar & Grill

1 oz. mango purée
1 oz. rum
½ oz. coconut rum
2 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. orange juice
8 fresh blueberries
1 oz. sour mix
½ oz. dark rum

Pour the mango purée in a 12-ounce glass. Put rum, coconut rum, juices, five blueberries and sour mix in a shaker tin with ice. Shake vigorously. Gently empty contents into glass and float dark rum on top. Garnish with an orchid and remaining three blueberries.

Telling Stories on Pele’s Turf

Christine Thomas (left) and Darien Gee at Kona Stories bookstore. Photo courtesy Christine Thomas.

Christine Thomas, editor of Don’t Look Back, and  nationally best-selling author Darien Gee (aka Mia King)—one of the anthology’s contributors—presented a series of readings and signings on the Big Island of Hawai‘i last month.

The duo made stops in Kona, Hilo and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to read excerpts from their stories and talk to the gathered audiences about the experience of re-inventing ancient Hawaiian myths. Students at Waiakea High School in Hilo debated whether myths should be left alone or if modernizing was acceptable during a special visit to the school by the two authors. Student journalist Nicolyn Charlot reported in the Ka Leo o Waiakea:*

Some students thought that the stories should be left alone, while others approved, saying that the modern interpretation is a good thing. Gee went on to say that the stories were not necessarily rewritten, but that the old characters had merely been put into different situations. “Who they are never changes,” Gee said in response to those concerned with the alterations.

A recap of events and some thoughts from anthology editor Christine Thomas:

Being able to introduce DON’T LOOK BACK to Hawai‘i Island readers was a joy and a pleasure, and to spend time talking about writing and stories with energetic and generous contributor Darien Gee (aka Mia King). The journey started out with a great message of protection as a Pue‘o flew in front of my car three times on the day of our first event at Basically Books in Hilo. I could get lost for hours in this gem of a store, and thoroughly enjoyed reading excerpts and talking story with an intimate and engaged group who were inspired by the stories so much that I think many planned to go home and get to work on their own project.

Our next event was on the Kona side at Kona Stories—a fabulous alternative to the now defunct Borders on Henry Street. The crowd was very expressive (always great to get real time feedback to your stories) and asked many interesting questions—including one that echoed at other events: will there be a sequel? That got my gears turning!

On the last day of our tour, we had the opportunity to speak to a group of students at Hilo’s Waiakea High School—9th grade English, Hawaiian language, and a mathematics class. Since one of my goals in putting together this collection was to inspire younger generations to read myths, explore Hawaiian culture in more depth, and connect to creativity and writing, I was so happy that librarian Gloria Kobayashi invited us to read from our stories and inspire kids to write and tell their own stories from their unique perspectives.

Later that evening we headed to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park for their After Dark in the Park event in the visitors center. Talking about myth in the home of THE goddess, Pele, who is so revered and respected in the collection that she appears five times, seemed so appropriate, and almost chicken-skin inducing. It was the perfect end to our tour!

Darien Gee also sent us her take on the tour, and what she loves about storytelling and meeting the readers:

Writing can be a solitary process so being able to meet readers and talk story is one of the highlights of my profession. It was wonderful to spend time with so many enthusiastic readers who not only loved the stories in Don’t Look Back but wanted to explore what storytelling and myth were really about. For me, it’s all about connection and how we’re connected with things both seen and unseen. It’s about understanding the layers beneath the story, about the story speaking to different  people in different ways. We were blessed to have such supportive booksellers and hosts, not to mention a publisher who understands that a book is more than mere words on a page, and values and supports the writers and editors who help make it happen.

We are so grateful to Darien for all her help on the tour and her willingness to get up early and drive around that big Big Island to visit bookstores with Christine! Be sure to check out her novels: Friendship Bread, Table Manners, Sweet Life and Good Things (the latter three are published under her pen name, Mia King).

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*Note: Charlot incorrectly states in her article that Don’t Look Back is Gee’s anthology; the collection was conceived and edited by Christine Thomas.


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