I’m baaaaaack! From Hawaii AND from my blogging hiatus. I return bearing gifts of pictures and stories and tasty recipes inspired by our trip to paradise. Just so you know, I’m still in denial about being back from the islands, so the next few recipes I post will be Hawaiian or Hawaii-inspired. Deal with it.
Alright, let’s get started with some pictures and a short trip summary!
Hawaii was…fabulous. The best ever. There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much we loved Hawaii.
We started our trip in the North Shore area, in a little town called Haleiwa. It was quiet, beautiful, and delightfully isolated. There were other tourists around, but the area wasn’t touristy if you know what I mean.
If our pictures make it look like Dan and I spent all our time at the beach, it’s because we did. Jet lag had us up every morning at 5am, and we quickly developed a day time routine:
- short jog along the beach across the street from our Airbnb (so great, cannot recommend the Garcia Ohana enough);
- walk to town for coffee and/or a quick breakfast, head to “our beach” a few miles away to snorkel and sunbathe for an hour or two;
- shower, go back into town for a second breakfast/lunch (usually kalua pork in some form, or poke from the grocery store);
- nap; and
- drive off to find some other fabulous place (usually another beach) to explore.
Did I mention that we loved the North Shore?
The second half of our trip was spent in Waikiki, hanging out with family and going to a wedding. Waikiki was gorgeous (of course), but maybe a little too modern and city-ish for our tastes. It was a lot more developed than the North Shore – all skyscrapers, beachfront hotels/resorts, and high end shops. Modern comforts are nice, but we missed “our” quiet, deserted beaches.
Dan’s family felt the same way, so when we weren’t drinking mai tais at the hotel beach, we all tried to escape the city as much as possible. On one day, we did a grueling trek up and down the insanely muddy Maunawili Falls Trail (where we found teeny tiny mangoes), on another day we spent a few hours exploring beaches along the coastline trying to find a spot calm enough for snorkeling. We also drove out to see/climb Diamond Head, and sampled treats from the nearby Diamond Head farmer’s market. So so SO much fun.
As for the wedding festivities…is it redundant to say that they were amazing and we had so much fun? The pre-wedding luau/rehearsal dinner was of course fabulous – what’s not to love about hula dancers, fruity cocktails, fire dancing, and a whole roasted pig? The wedding was (naturally) one of the most insanely gorgeous events we’ve ever been to. The bride was beautiful, the ceremony was short and sweet, the drinks/food were plentiful, and the music was made for dancing. Dan and I danced our asses off.
If you’re wondering why there are no pictures of these post-North Shore fun times, it’s because I’m a dummy who forgot to pack a battery charger for my dSLR, and I wanted to conserve my battery for the wedding. Of course, I then completely forgot to bring my camera to the wedding, so…
The pictures you see in the first collage are pretty much the sum total of what I have on my camera, and all the wedding pictures above were taken with my iPhone. For a few more day-to-day photos, check out my Instagram.
If you’re absolutely dying to see pictures from the hike, etc…lucky for you, Dan’s brother Matt is not an idiot, and he took a bunch of pictures with his camera. I’ll share those with you when I get them.
Which brings us to today’s recipe: kalua pork. We ate so much of this stuff in Hawaii – it’s served in so many places, and was featured at the pre-wedding luau. Of course, there, they wrapped a whole pig in banana leaves and cooked/smoked it over a mesquite wood fire + hot rocks for hours in an underground pit. The resulting meat, revealed with great fanfare, was fall-off-the-bone tender, juicy, smoky/salty, fatty and delicious.
Because I don’t have access to an underground pit, and we couldn’t possibly eat an entire pig, my version involves a slow cooker and a single pork shoulder. Pulling shredded meat out of a Crock Pot is not nearly as fun and exciting as lifting an entire roasted pig out of an underground fire pit, but c’est la vie. What’s important is that the flavor was all there, and the meat turned out to be just as tender and juicy and delicious as the real stuff. Also, I didn’t have to dig a hole in the ground or build a fire to cook it.
When we ordered kalua pork in Hawaii, it was usually served with rice or poi, haupia, lomi lomi salmon and/or macaroni salad. Delicious, but a little heavy. I served my version with buttery roasted baby potatoes and veggies. Just a little lighter, but with no compromise on flavor or tastebud/stomach satisfaction. We’ve been eating the leftovers for lunch/dinner all week, and so far we’re not sick of it yet! That’s the sign of a great recipe.
How will YOU eat your kalua pork?
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- 3-1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder
- 1-1/2 tbsp Liquid Smoke
- ½ tbsp chopped ginger
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1-1/2 tbsp Red Hawaiian Sea Salt
- Place your pork shoulder into your slow cooker.
- Score the meat by using a sharp knife to slice a few deep cuts 1-2 inches apart.
- Pour Liquid Smoke over the meat into the deep cuts.
- Sprinkle minced garlic, ginger and the Hawaiian Sea Salt over the meat and use your hands to rub it all in, making sure to get some into the deep cuts of meat.
- Put the lid of your slow cooker on and set to "low".
- Cook your pork for about 12 hours.
- Turn your slow cooker off.
- Use two forks to shred your cooked meat.
- Stir the shredded meat in the cooking juices (which will have formed overnight during the cooking process) so that it soaks up the meaty liquid.
- Serve immediately over rice, with macaroni/potato salad and lomi lomi salmon OR whatever sides you want! (I highly recommend roasted veggies).
(Recipe slightly adapted from Nom Nom Paleo and Inspiration Kitchen)