A menu worth repeating

7 01 2019

Oh, the food! Does the food make the party? In the case of last Saturday’s art show opening, yes! Kealoha and Kahikionaokalā Domingo of Nui Kealoha caterers outdid themselves with its farm-to-table menu, supplemented with basic additions of punch and cookies made by me.

Here we share the Nui Kealoha’s menu for the January 5 “Fiery Volcano Collages & Doodles” and the recipes for the cookies and punch, giving credit to their origins. Easy peasy and refreshing.

Kids loved these as well as seedless grape clusters on the side. Take precaution with grapes, a possible choking hazard, for very young children. For the punch, look for a ginger ale without high fructose corn syrups at the store.

Clockwise from lower right: classy menu, poke ʻulu, koʻele pālau tartlets, burnt ʻuala canapé.


I found the recipe for chocolate cookies on the back of the Western Family Baking Soda box.


Punchbowl recipe by my cousin Elly. From Everyone, Eat Slowly: The Chong Family Food Book (Chong Hee Books, 1999)

~ Rebekah

Virtual snow

7 12 2016

Aloha, studio fans! As you can see it’s snowing at Rebekah’s Studio! In reality it is the time of ho‘oilo, the wet and rainy season in Hawai‘i. Damp and muddy! Amid the hustle and bustle of the season and the busy highways, I remind myself to drive safely and really be aware of what is around me. It’s a crazy time of year in many ways.

At the studio we are still wrapping up a couple of publishing projects—a coffee table book for my high school class’s 50th reunion (you do the math, haha!) and a second printing of a family recipe book, originally published in 1999. Painting and music classes are finishing up for the year. The holiday calendar of events is starting to fill now, too.

Be kind to each other. I wish you all much deserved peace and serenity, inside and out, with plenty of aloha! ~ Rebekah

At Honolulu Hale (City Hall)

At Honolulu Hale (City Hall)


Ink in our blood

2 10 2012

Once a news writer, always a news writer.

Both my friend and colleague Linda Lau Anusasananan and I are retired from working 9-5 for news and magazine publishers, but we still write regularly. Both of us post blogs—more than one each, still freelance, and we both just published books in the last two months. It was a coincidence that we both wrote independently about our families for future generations.

We follow our passions. Linda is a veteran food writer from Sunset, where I met her in the early Seventies in the editorial test kitchens. She enjoyed a long career at the magazine. The license plate on her car says “FOODIE.”

I, on the other hand, started writing the daily news at the Honolulu Advertiser. I moved to Sunset where I swapped my position at the Hawaii field office for six months for one at the Menlo Park headquarters. That is where I learned to write recipes and develop my appreciation and sense of taste for food. Later I wrote news and information about the community colleges of the University of Hawaii. I don’t have vanity plates.

Linda, my foodie friend

On Sunday Linda flew from California to share her The Hakka Cookbook: Chinese Soul Food from around the World (University of California Press, 2012) with the Chinese Hakka community in Honolulu. It was the day after the official book launch at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. It’s the start of her book tour.

The Tsung Tsin Association’s Autumn Banquet was an opportunity to provide recipes and cultural information to an ethnic population that craves the food tastes of their childhood. There is no restaurant here that I know of that specializes in Hakka food, but now, someone could open one with Linda’s recipes (hint!).

As Linda wrote in her dedication, “Most of all, this is for Hakkas throughout the world, so they can honor and preserve their roots with the foods of their ancestors.”

Interestingly, both of us wrote about our “hometown villages” in China, recounting the 2005 trip Linda made to do her research. DH and I joined Linda’s family and, as I’ve mentioned before, enjoyed all the eating.

In The Chong Family in a New Millennium, authored by my cousin James H. Kim On Chong-Gossard and edited by Rebekah Luke (Chong Hee Books, 2012), I included the article “A Visit to Our Ancestral Homeland.” This little book is the sequel to Chong-Gossard’s The Chong Family History that chronicles my maternal grandparents’ story from the orphanage in Chong Lok, China, to 1992. Our 2012 book includes genealogy charts, full-color photos of nearly everyone of six generations, unique insights by the author and essays and anecdotes about family from several other cousins.

The sure-to-be-a-success recipes in The Hakka Cookbook are interwoven with stories about the recipes, the people who shared them, and Linda’s personal journey to learn about her Chinese roots. To me, I view it as the story of everyone who’s ancestors immigrated. Lucky for Hakka people, Linda’s book documents the experience for future generations. It’s a wonderful read.

As I write this, it’s dawn before everyone else is awake, even the dogs and the baby Sofia, and Linda is sitting across the table with her laptop too. We write because we believe it’s important that our children understand where we came from. The ink is in our blood, but rather than write for the government (i.e., public relations), we write what we like.

Future generations: Linda’s daughter Lisa and granddaughter Sofia are visiting from California too. Here they are at Kaaawa Beach yesterday.






Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

New book, new millennium

20 08 2012

Click to zoom into coverJust released! In time for my family reunion: The Chong Family in A New Millennium, by James H. Kim On Chong-Gossard and edited by yours truly (Chong Hee Books, 2012). This is the project that kept me busy in the studio for the past several months!

Author Chong-Gossard is my first cousin once removed and the family genealogist, the keeper of the family tree. He wrote the main text that tells the family story beginning with my maternal grandparents emigrating from China to Kohala on Hawai‘i island and how they reared 15 children. Other articles, anecdotes, essays, family photos, genealogy charts, and a memorial section round out the story to bring the reader up to the present day.

I’d like to share the book with you. To read an electronic version, head over to chongfamily.wordpress.com. The printed book is available at blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3506522.


A family reunion and another book seemed right for 2012, Jim Chong-Gossard and I agreed. We would plan both for the 20th anniversary of The Chong Family History that he authored and that launched Chong Hee Books in 1992. (Chong Hee means long-winded in Chinese. ;-))

Cousin Jim was and still is the most literate person in publishing I’ve had the pleasure to work with in my career. We simply speak the same “language,” and he can read my mind or even answer my next question before I ask it. I don’t have to blue-pencil his manuscripts much.

We started by discussing what we wanted our book to accomplish. I had some concepts and visions swirling in my mind that Jim was able to merge with his own insights, giving them focus. As author he’s quick to grasp the ideas and articulate them. We spent two long weekend evenings during Jim’s faculty leave, separated by about six weeks, working together at the studio to set up the direction of the book. We had lunch with a few other relatives to test our method.

I was looking for a story that was fresh, candid, current, spontaneous and loving. Then Jim went back to Australia to teach at the University of Melbourne, and I began to scour my cousins’ Facebook albums for images and postings that told a story.

The technology of Facebook and blurb.com have changed publishing, and The Chong Family in A New Millennium is an example of how. I wanted to try an e-book as well as the usual ink-on-paper. I did enough research to decide the book did not have to be an e-book per se; I just wanted readers to have access to it from the internet. If I could create Rebekah’s Studio using wordpress.com, then I could use the same free blog service and software — something I was already familiar with — for the new book.

I created the genealogy charts on Excel with the data Jim collected from family. No need for fancier software. To have a family tree appear as a chart on the screen and not a link that viewers would have to click on and then leave the site, I converted it to a pdf and then used scribd.com — a tip from the wonderful volunteer techie on the wordpress.com Forum (quick help when you need it).

I picked a simple theme (layout) for the electronic version because I wanted the text and photos to translate easily to print. Somewhere I had read about “blog to book” and I began to research the possibilities. I settled on the book service of blurb.com, mainly because blurb has been around for awhile, and the description of the service was comparatively easy to understand.

I read the entire site before taking a leap of faith and downloading the free software application called BookSmart, one of several to choose from. The software one picks depends on the original format that the book is in. In my case, it was a blog that BookSmart would “slurp” (new vocabulary word) into a layout template that I chose.

The advantage of going this route and not supporting my local printer was the time I saved, especially as I had a hard deadline. I wanted the books available at our family reunion. Once I thought every page was perfect, I clicked the Order button for one single copy—you can order one or more than one—and the book immediately was on the printing press and delivered in about 10 days. This is called “print on demand” for small runs. The single copy served as my proof copy that I gave to my detail-oriented friend Rosemary to read before I made final corrections and placed a larger order.

Understand that there is a learning curve. BookSmart is just an editing and publishing tool, after all, and I was fortunate to be from the old school of cut and paste with rubber cement. But what a tool! The technology is exciting! If the resolution of a photo is not correct, for example, it will suggest that you fix it. Just click on the Fix button and voilà! If it is totally unusable, it will say so as well. The application allows you to drag and drop into your layout, and you can even edit the layout (though I did not take the time to learn how to do that; the choices of existing layouts worked fine for my needs). I am very happy with the results.

Here’s the best part. Blurb.com has an online bookstore and will take care of everything, right down to depositing money into your PayPal account. Now, how cool is that?!

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

From bubble charts to lists

24 06 2012

Things aren’t so bad that I have to make bubble charts. That was last week. Now I’m down to making lists, a lot of lists. Before I know it, summer will be over, and I’ll be off to Italy to see Miss Marvelous. I always seem to have a project going. I’m just wired that way.

The two or three major items are heading up the making of the boat lei for the Pacific Cup yacht race arrivals from San Francisco that tie up at Kaneohe Yacht Club at the end of July, my family reunion in August, and publishing The Chong Family Reunion in a New Millennium (working title) to coincide with the Chong reunion.

Thankfully, I’ve learned to delegate tasks and design activities  for a fun time.

The lei-making project is under control as I’ve alerted my crew to the ETAs of the boats. I’m never really sure about the ti leaf supply and the volunteer labor pool until they show up. It’s touch and go, but very exciting and very enjoyable to welcome these boats. Every two years within a week-long period we make about 50 huge leis, 12 feet long each, and the net proceeds go to the Koolauloa Hawaiian Civic Club scholarship fund.

For some reason I thought 2012 would be a good year to have a family reunion, and started the ball rolling more than a year ago. It’s been five years since all of my mother’s side of the family got together. She was the youngest of 15 children, all born in North Kohala, Hawai‘i. We’re going back to the land of our roots, as well as having some activities on Oahu. Today I just need to hear back from a committee to confirm a venue before sending out another packet of information to my cousins.

The launching point for this year’s Chong Family Reunion was the 20th anniversary of the publishing of The Chong Family History authored by my cousin James H. Kim On Chong-Gossard. It was time for a sequel. So The Chong Family Reunion in a New Millennium is the current work in progress published by my Chong Hee Books. It has evolved into an e-publication that can be viewed on the iPads everyone is getting.

I’ve discovered the main difference of an e-pub versus print on paper, in my case, is the time savings. I’ve chosen the blog software of wordpress.com and the blog-to-book service called Book Smart offered on blurb.com.  I’ll be able to format the publication up until the last minute before “delivery,” and because it is a blog, I can make corrections, additions, and other changes any time. Then, anyone who would like a hard copy can order it.

It’s just as much work, however, as a printed publication, if not more, especially during the learning curve. I’ve experience that challenge already, and now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Meanwhile, I continue to check off items on those lists!

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

The energy of collaboration

5 03 2012

So, dear reader, the new energy I’m talking about has to do with the comings and goings of new friends and old friends at the studio—my healing space, my brick-and-mortar studio, and a unique gallery space.

In February I held a Reiki Level I training class in the Unlimited Reiki System of Natural Healing with Reiki Master Teacher Lori A. Wong, who attuned and certified three students. The island country setting is well suited for meditation. We plan to continue with Level II and Master Level training. What a day. Wow. When we channel Reiki, or universal life force energy, we heal, harmonize, and balance our minds, bodies, spirits and emotions! It was great!

I also started teaching adults how to oil paint, after the method my own teachers Vicky Kula and Gloria Foss taught me, and everyone is enjoying it. My students, just three ladies for now, attend class once a week for most of the day. (Although I promoted both offerings widely, three seems to be the magic number from the Universe. ;-))

Studio painters

With the combined lecture/demo, hands-on painting assignment, homework and critique each time—starting with the basics and then having each lesson build upon the previous learned knowledge—they understand there is a lot to learning to paint.

I, myself, am enjoying the refresher from developing lesson plans and doing the assignments. I don’t have all the answers, but the students are very clever and are full of new ideas. We laugh a lot, and I learn from them too. A bonus: They bring food and recipes for lunch, and, believe me, they can cook!

I’m happy to share what I know how to do. It’s surprising that it has taken so long for me to have enough confidence to do this. I think I just wanted to be sure I could do it well.

Pi‘ikea and Vicky relax in front of “Morning Destination: Kalaeokaoio Beach” — Photo by Rebekah Luke

Yesterday’s open house event of a renovated Kailua home that is on the market was a chance to see 15 of my paintings displayed in a residential setting.

The students came and brought lots of good energy to the property. It is a different experience to see an original oil painting up close and properly framed and hanging rather than to see a reproduction.

The colors are true. One can view paint strokes and textures. It is easier to imagine what the art piece will look like in your own home or office.

Other fans of Rebekah’s Studio came to support the collaborative project efforts of Realtor Associates Ruth Sinclair and Karyn Shaunnessy who invited me to be their guest artist.

Me and members of my fan club at the special showing, left to right: Noella, Rochelle, me, Pat, Karen, and Pi‘ikea. The lei po‘o (the beautiful yellow floral wreath of native and tropical flowers on my head) is a gift from Vicky, and the sweet white ginger lei is from Nani (who came earlier and left before the photo op). — Photo by Karyn Shaunnessy

Collaborators (from left) Ruth Sinclair, Rebekah Luke, and Karyn Shaunnessy. — Photo by James H. Kim On Chong-Gossard

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

Hana hou: ukulele and family history

23 10 2011

Excited and inspired this morning!

What with a fun day yesterday at the Waikiki Shell with DH and my friends. We went there to join hundreds of others in an attempt to break the Guinness world record for the most number of ukulele players playing the same song together in the same venue. With none other than ukulele artist extraordinaire Jake Shimabukuro leading.

And connecting with my first cousin once removed J.H. Kim On Chong-Gossard to collaborate on a sequel to The Chong Family History.

Nope, we didn’t break the record. 😦 There were a little more than 1,050 ukulele players, and Hawaii needed a little more than 1,500. The Waikiki Shell has seats for 1,958.  The current record? It’s held by Sweden! Even though we failed at the Guinness thing, the effort raised a lot of money for charity. I guess we’ll have to hana hou (do it again). http://www.gofordarecord.org informs all about the effort and the event.

We're waiting for the attempt to begin AND for people to fill up the seats behind us. These are my friends Colleen, Skyler, Pi‘ikea, cousin Nathan, and DH. It was in the heat of the day, and we waited until the last minute to take out our ukulele so the instruments wouldn't be damaged (so advised Nathan who is a luthier). Bottom line: we had fun!

Of course we were surprised that more people didn’t turn up for this, especially with the social media capability that we have now. I guess one can’t just post something on the internet. You have to tell people that you posted and how to find the information. And remember that not everyone “does” the internet.

Which brings me to my cousin. I call him Jim. Around the studio, behind his back but within earshot, we call him Teddy Bear Jim in honor of his vast collection of the stuffed toys. He calls himself K.O. for Kim On, that was his grandfather’s name, that he asked for and took legally. Jim is our family genealogist.

He’s on vacation from the University of Melbourne where he teaches, to crank out a book in time for our family reunion in August 2012, or at least do the research in a couple three of weeks time.

The first time he did this was 20 years ago, and The Chong Family History told about five generations, starting with my maternal grandparents who met at an orphanage in China. Jim would come here from America as a student on his spring and winter school breaks and interview our large family. My Chong Hee Books publishing company was born, and we held our first family reunion.

My maternal grandparents and 13 of their 15 children in Kohala. My mother, seated front row and center, was the baby of the family. Jim's grandfather is standing, far right. All of these ancestors have now passed. They comprised the first and second generations. Today, generation number six has shown up. We'll have a big reunion in 2012.

Publishing was not as computerized as it is today, so I am excited at the prospect of how more creative we can be with the sequel update, and perhaps even making it available as an ebook.

I can’t wait to see Jim in person on Tuesday. Meanwhile we are tossing ideas back and forth wirelessly. I am so proud of him. He got a new cell phone and joined Facebook—finally!

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

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