Manna from heaven

3 10 2020


Manna from heaven, or, I should say, Maʻafala from heaven! We picked breadfruit today just as it stopped raining avocados in the garden. It is the Samoan variety cultivated on the Island of Kauaʻi, and it grew from a potted plant into this magnificent tree. They are smaller than the Hawaiian ulu.

Maʻafala tree is bearing fruit

I am guessing the bountiful year is the effect of the climate change on our planet. Happily we have shared for weeks now beautiful avocados with neighbors and friends, made lots of guacamole, and froze batches of the same. Mashed or cut-up avocado freezes well and doesn’t discolor if you combine it with lemon or lime juice. 

Morning count on the porch railing. One day nine had fallen to the ground from the night before.

Mahalo e Ke Akua for the abundance.

~ Rebekah

Mid-summer abundance

22 07 2018

The large yellow/orange globe is a papaya from my garden. The birds planted the tree!

Taking time to marvel at the variety of fruit that I see in my kitchen—gifts from friends, strangers, a bird, and from the market. I am inspired to assemble a still life. Ever grateful for the abundance. Mahalo e Ke Akua.

The feeling of a red-letter day

4 02 2013

When I have a red-letter day, like Saturday was, I try to try to savor and remember the feeling. It’s sweet incentive for living and loving life to the fullest. Then I may be open to welcome the next time. Because the feeling is amazing.

To that end, I’ve decided to turn over another leaf by resisting the urge first thing in the morning to reach for an electronic device to see what happened overnight while I was sleeping. I will wait until after I practice tai chi—currently the saber set, breakfast without the TV news or the sound of a ball game, and a walk with the dogs on the beach. I will eat healthy foods, exercise, and meditate.

Saturday began with three neighborhood girls and one boy arriving at the studio at 8 a.m. for their first art class with Aunty Rebekah. I am offering the same basics to youth as to my adult Bucket List painting students: ball, cube, cylinder, and cone. The kids were great and kept me on my toes. It was nice to have 10-year-old-boy energy in the studio.

His mother wondered if perhaps he wouldn’t like the class if he was the only boy. For the exercise of drawing a ball, Jefferson filled a balloon with water and inflated it. Of course, the balloon eventually popped, but we agreed beforehand he would have to clean it up. I think he likes the girls.

A couple of the kids hadn’t eaten breakfast, so I’m glad I had two oranges in the set. When I cut them into slices to show ellipses, their eyes grew wide with appetite, and we all had a refreshing snack. The dogs Alice Brown and Pua were in heaven during recess with all the attention. Later, to get the kids to finish their drawings, I brought out some cones—sugar cones that DH thoughtfully bought when he saw me searching for a cone shape for the lesson—and a carton of ice cream.

“What is this?” I asked. They shouted, “Cone!” “And what is this?” I followed, scooping out vanilla. “Ball!”  Mission accomplished. 😉

Then I went to play at the annual Punahou Carnival. It’s the famous fund-raising event of my alma mater where I perform with the Punahou Alumni Glee Club, sometimes provide paintings for the Art Gallery, and work in a booth with my classmates. Punahou School is super organized and makes money for the student financial aid program—how my parents could afford Punahou for me—by getting the junior class, their parents, and the alumni to donate goods and volunteer their labor.

I adore the camaraderie of the glee club, not to mention the chance to sing and dance. We rehearse weekly, and our director is skillful at getting our choir to peak for our performances. We sounded good and had an enjoyable time with the music.

The Class of ’67 . . . what can I say, except that we are tight. For example, Christine flew in from Arizona just to help serve laulaus for 3 hours. Every year we rendezvous at the Carnival to see each other briefly, hear our classmate Henry Kapono Kaaihue entertain in the cafeteria, and then go our separate ways again. It’s so nice to see everyone.

That would have been plenty, but the surprising joy of the day was the sale of my paintings by the Art Gallery! It was exciting! I painted the scene of the Ko‘olau Mountains from the spot where I go often with my painting group. It began on a spectacular clear day with hardly any clouds to hide the top ridge. The panorama was breathtaking, and I decided to turn it into a diptych of two horizontal paintings side by side.

“Lanihuli Diptych” is my most recent art work. I didn’t plan on taking anything to the Carnival because I’d not been successful in sales any previous years there. But my glee sister Tamson Fox, a full-time fine artist, reminded me in January the event was coming up. I’m so grateful to her for changing my mind.

Still giddy with delight and with my new earnings burning a hole in my pocket, I headed to the Diamond Head end of the midway and bought myself a present—a bling-y Pāʻani top with a night-blooming cereus flower.

DH and I hung out to catch my cousin Sunway’s performance with her band before it was time to go home. We negotiated with the “O” men in the produce tent over the script price for the avocados. They let us keep enough to buy one malasada doughnut each for the ride home. Yummy sugary goodness. Never mind the resolution to eat healthy. I’m celebrating!

It was the perfect ending to my amazing red-letter day.

Me and my glee sisters perform at the Carnival. (Photo by Joyce Pavlis)

Me and my glee sisters perform at the Carnival. (Photo by Joyce Pavlis)

Members of the Class of 1967 in a publicity shot with classmate and music recording artist Henry Kapono Kaaihue.

Members of the Class of 1967 in a publicity shot with classmate and music recording artist Henry Kapono Kaaihue. Which one looks like the star? (Photo courtesy of Carlyn Tani, Punahou Bulletin)

Lanihuli Diptypch, left panel

Lanihuli Diptych, left panel, sold!

Lanihuli Diptych, right panel

Lanihuli Diptych, right panel, sold!

Copyright 2013 Rebekah Luke

Rebekah’s Kaʻaʻawa Mountain Apple Pie

3 07 2011

My mountain apple pies

Okay, okay, here’s the recipe. Jeez. I must say, it’s too good to not share. When there was a mountain apple tree outside the studio — Hawaiians call the fruit ʻōhiʻa ʻai (Eugenia malaccensis) — I made these pies every summer, one after another, so many that I froze them to eat later.

One year I was too late, and I could only watch the bulbul birds eat the entire crop in 20 minutes. “Hey fellas, come on over: breakfast!” Another year afterwards, the fruit was just not edible anymore. I think the tree was just old, so we cut it down.

This past Friday, I went to Candy’s house to catch a ride to our art show reception at 1132 Bishop Street in Honolulu. But first she pressed me into service to help pick the mountain apples from her tree for the refreshment table.

Oh, my gosh, I have never seen more beautiful mountain apples!  Candy and her husband had found from a garden shop a solution that repelled the pesky fruit flies that love to sting the fruit (causing the fruit to become wormy. Yecch!)

Clearly, Candy and Ken have a harvest they cannot possibly eat by themselves alone, and I was overjoyed when they offered me the surplus. Thinking about our family potluck gathering the next day, I thought, I’ll make pie!

This recipe has already been published in Everyone, Eat Slowly: The Chong Family Food Book (Kaaawa: Chong Hee Books, 1999). I adapted it from a formula a chef at the Kahala Hilton gave me many years ago when I worked for Sunset. For my recipe, the Betty Crocker brand mix is a must. Yesterday I used 15 very large mountain apples for one 9″ pie. I substituted 3 tablespoons fresh calamansi juice for the lemon juice, and I brushed the top with half-and-half cream for a golden brown finish.

Gorgeous mountain apples, freshly picked and washed. The foreground shows the apples pitted, trimmed, and cut into chunks with a paring knife.


In Kaʻaʻawa the season for ʻōhiʻa-ʻai (mountain apples) is in June, usually, and it last for about two weeks. The challenge is to harvest them before the birds do. And then, what do you do with them? There are only so many fresh mountain apples one can eat. Now you can try them in a pie! The flavor is a cross between apple and rhubarb.

Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix
5 cups sliced fresh mountain apples
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, cut up in pieces
Juice of 1 lemon, or equivalent in lime juice
3 tablespoons tapioca OR 1/4 cup flour

Prepare Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix for a double-crusted pie.

Combine the mountain apples, salt, cinnamon, sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Cook until the mountain apples are half done, about 10 minutes in the microwave on full power. Remove from heat.

Gradually stir in tapioca or flour. Cool mixture. (Place the mixture in its container in the freezer to cool down fast; be careful not to freeze). Pour into unbaked pie shell. Cut a vent in the top crust and place over pie. Seal the top crust to the bottom crust.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool before slicing. The filling sets as it cools.

Rebekah Luke

Ready to bake. I decided to make a pretty lattice top like the picture on the box of the Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix.

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

Calamansi marmalade

8 02 2011

Calamansi tree with ripe fruit

Calamansi tree
flowering and bearing both.
Let’s make marmalade!

My father’s former caregivers grow a calamansi tree outside their back porch in Kahuku, Oahu, and they use the juice of this fruit in their Filipino cooking to season meats, fish, and noodles.

I was so happy to learn about it, I planted a tree of our own several years ago in the garden where it gets full sun and good drainage. Growing food is so satisfying!

The botanical name is Citrofortunella microcarpa, sort of a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin orange, and it is native to the Philippines, according to my reading. The average diameter is slightly bigger than a quarter dollar. The flesh is tart, and the skin is sweet and thin.

Calamansi is believed to be a hybrid of a kumquat and a mandarin orange.

You can use it in cocktails in place of lime or lemon, and as the acid in a vinaigrette dressing. Yet, there are only so many cocktails one can drink and only so many salads one can dress.

When our tree starts bearing and the fruit begins to ripen, I make calamansi marmalade in the microwave, one small batch at a time.

I like marmalade with a lot of bitter peel, and I can’t always find it in the market. Calamansi preserves has the right amount of that flavor for me. It’s wonderful on toasted English muffins or on pancakes.

Here is my easy recipe, basically one part fruit to one part sugar. How sad that sugar is bad for our health. Calamansi marmalade is so delicious!

1 cup sugar + 1 cup calamansi


Have ready a clean glass jelly jar and lid. Either run them through the dishwasher or under hottest tap water and allow to drip dry. Wash and scrub 1 cup of whole ripe calamansi fruit with orange skin. Cut each fruit into fourths and remove seeds with the tip of the knife. Combine with 1 cup granulated sugar in a 4-quart glass measuring cup or similar microwave-safe container. Cover loosely with plastic wrap to catch splatters, leaving a vent so it won’t boil over into a mess. Place container in a larger dish to collect any syrup that does boil over. Cook in the microwave on full power for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring half way through to blend, until the calamansi appears cooked and shriveled, and until the mixture thickens but is still liquid. The mixture will be very hot. Using hot pads, carefully pour into the jelly jar. Put on the lid securely and refrigerate. As the marmalade cools, it will further thicken and gel into jelly and cause the lid to seal tightly. Keep stored in the refrigerator. Makes 1 cup.

Beautiful homemade marmalade!

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

August means avocado

18 08 2010

Luscious avocados

Hi Everybody,

Our 2010 avocado season is one of the better. These luscious gems are overhanging the healing space near the studio right now.

It’s an awesome sight to me. I can just reach up and pluck them to eat, in about 7-10 days. They will be so yummy. This year there are twice as many than years past.

Who knows why, but I’m not complaining. Is the big old rusting anchor next to the tree finally providing enough iron? Or ditto the VW bug left there by DH 20 odd years ago? Did my cleaning out the heliconia patch allow it to breathe more? Or did the March winds blow off fewer flowers? Perhaps the tree liked the fertilizer left by the chickens and the peacocks.

My neighbors have beaucoup limes on their tree, so likely we will trade and make guacamole. But most of the time I prefer eating avocados with a spoon plain, in their own natural bowl, all the way to skin, with just a little salt and pepper.

Prayerfully in gratitude we await

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

Click below for related posts, then click on your back button to return to this page

Avos and cocos October 11, 2009

Gratitude for my abundant garden September 8, 2009

Avos and cocos

11 10 2009
Morning light bathes tree
of avos sunny yellow
against blue-gray sky.
Like miniature
candied eggs hanging from tree
our avocados.
Through second-story
window kukui and avo
part for coco trees.
Fuzzy lollipops
wave in the gusty trade winds
two coconut palms.
As long as the tree
avocado grows and grows
birds will have a home.

Avocado Pear

Avocado Pear

I offer a haiku and a painting to honor and thank the avocado tree.

This year it produced 15-20 fruit, judging by the number of sprouting seeds on the kitchen counter. That’s a bumper crop. Usually we  gather just six, but each weighs three pounds. They’re super good, and I try to reserve a couple for the previous homeowner, Linda, who was a good steward of the aina (land) and planted the tree.

The season is over, and we’re enjoying the last of the fresh guacamole.

If you would like a little avocado tree from ours to plant in your garden, and you live in Hawaii, let me know.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

“Avos and Cocos” is from my book From My Window Seat: Views and Song. —RL

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