Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvesting Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas deserve their standing as a permaculture favorite. These plants grow fast, last for years, fix nitrogen, can be used as a "green manure" to feed other plants, can be grown as a hedge to block pigs' access, plus the peas are delicious. The pea can be used fresh, like other shelled peas or edamame soy beans, or allowed to dry on the plant to be used as a bean. Here in the windward tropics, using them fresh is much easier.

a beautiful day for harvesting pigeon peas
Our plants had two harvests this year, on in May and one in October. It takes a while to pick and shuck the peas, but it is easy, pleasant work with great reward.

pigeon peas on the plant

The pods are ready to pick when they reach full size. I like to gently squeeze the pods to see if the peas are filling out the bulges in the shell. Sometimes a pod can look ready, but the peas inside are still small.

shucking pigeon peas

I rinse the pods and leave them an hour or so to dry a bit. To shuck the peas, pry the two haves of the pod apart - it gives easily. Each pea needs to be freed from the pod.

quinoa salad with pigeon peas

I used these pigeon peas to make a simple salad with quinoa, carrot, olive, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. The peas a lightly steamed. In the past, we've used them in soup, stir fry, and on salads. Yum!

The internet is full of great pigeon pea resources and recipes. Here are a few of my faves:

basic information from
nutrition information from
pigeon pea recipes from

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Evil Princess Jungle Delight - local ingredients recipe

 Evil Princess Jungle Delight

We entered this all local ingredients recipe in the La'akea cooking contest and won the savory category. This appetizer is perfect party finger food and is very easy! The rich goat cheese and mac nut flavors are augmented by the sweet and crisp mammee apple and the fresh spice flavors of basil, thyme, and edible hibiscus are a wonderful counterpoint.


8 oz locally made goat cheese - we used Lava Rock "Natural"-flavor Puna Goat Cheese
1 cup crushed local macadamia nuts
3/4 cup diced, fresh, local mammee apple - could substitute many other fruits, like apricot or persimmon
fresh thyme leaves to taste - from our garden
fresh minced edible hibiscus leaves to taste (and for color!) - from our garden
washed & dried fresh basil leaves - from our garden
optional basil flower garnish - from our garden

crushed mac nuts, goat cheese, diced mammee apple
Ingredient notes:

The measurements above are approximate and can easily be altered depending on your taste and what you have available. The thyme and hibiscus are not critical. Next time I will probably add some nasturtium flower for a peppery flavor.


Wash and dry basil leaves. We used about 30 leaves for about 1/3 of the cheese/nut mix.
basil and hibiscus washed and drying
Prepare indredients - dice mammee apple, crush mac nuts, and mince hibiscus.

mammee apple, my new favorite fruit

Mix the goat cheese and mac nuts with the thyme, hybiscus, or other spices.

Fold in the mammee apple.

Place about a teaspoon of cheese mix on each leaf and top with a flower or other garnish.

And you are ready to feed any evil princesses wandering through your jungle!

Evil Princess Jungle Delight
Mahalo nui loa to La'akea for the inspiring contest and seed exchange event! Mahalo nui loa to Island Naturals for donating our prize!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

La'akea Seed Exchange 2013

La'akea intentional permaculture community is figuring it out and passing it on. They grow much of their own food as well as teach classes about tropical permaculture. Today they hosted a seed/cuttings exchange, local foods cooking contest, and potluck. Teaching people about and building community around locals foods was clearly the goal. Dozens of people participated on this sunny and rainy Puna day, and the energy of kids and dogs running around created an infectious excitement.

La'akea's panel of local food experts

The morning's activities included a panel of knowledgeable and informative local food experts. Led by Stuart Blackburn, the panel included:

Dija of Dragon's Eye Learning Center walked us through the steps of making yogurt and yogurt cheese from raw milk.

Jen of Paradise Nectar talked about the need to let bees defend themselves against their newest foes: hive beetles and mites. She keeps bees using natural methods, without chemicals or antibotics, with great success. She discussed types of bee products and her newfound hobby of mead-making.

Tracy of La'akea has been experimenting with local-growing grain four substitutes. Her favorite finds so far are taro, cassava, and peach palm flours. She finds that mixing these flours can produce a balance between good nutrition and usable texture.

The audience talk story that followed was full of useful information and thoughtful questions. It is clear that the Puna community is embracing the challenge of local foods.

A site tour and marimba concert rounded out the fun day. We were delighted and humbled to learn that our entry into the cooking contest took the "savory" prize for our "Evil Princess Jungle Delight" dish! (Recipe to follow.)