Cat Chat: Making truffles

By November 1, 2011 Food, Videos

What’s better than chocolate-covered macadamia nuts?

To me, not much.

Then I heard that Hawaiian Host was unveiling a new, limited edition confection starting today.

The Macadamia Truffles is a labor of love — five years in the making — and truly a masterful creation by Joyce Gepitulan, product innovation technician. (What a job, right?) She figured out a way to blend creamy macadamia butter grounded from roasted macadamia nuts with dark chocolate — then insert that into the company’s famous milk chocolate.

We had to see this for ourselves.

So we got a special tour — the factory isn’t open to the public — of the 65,000-square-foot Hawaiian Host facility in Iwilei with Gepitulan and company president Keith Sakamoto.

We learned some interesting things along the way, too, like Hawaiian Host candies are shipped to 24 countries including India, that the company uses macadamia nuts grown on more than 300 independent farms in Hawaii (mostly on the Big Island), and that founder Mamoru Takitani started this business selling chocolate out of his station wagon.

Boy, has this company come a long way!

Here’s our behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and how it makes these tasty truffles:

Macadamia Truffles, $5.99 per box, available through Christmas at your favorite retailer

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Today’s happy shot

By October 31, 2011 Happy Shots

I love it when my coworkers get into Halloween!


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Scare me!

By October 31, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

I may not like haunted houses, but I can tell you ghost stories to keep you up at night.

Stories about my first trip to Molokai when I was a kid and I swore there were people — or spirits — swarming around me. Stories about seeing Pele dancing in the spewing lava on a geology trip to the Big Island. Stories about dead cats clawing at my legs, voices in my ears, shadows in my windows, scratch marks that I can’t explain and a dress hanging in my doorway.

Who needs haunted houses!

For most of my life, I’ve come to understand, I’ve been plagued by spirits. I would see people no one could see, smell things no one else could smell. It’s hard to explain.

One of my visitors was turned into a character in Lois Ann Yamanaka’s book, “Behold the Many: A Novel.” (She thanks me in the acknowledgements for letting her borrow him for this story.)

I don’t like to talk about this, this, whatever it is, a gift, an affliction. I’d rather keep the doors shut so nothing gets in. People who know understand what I mean.

But the more I share these stories, the more I realize how many people have their own personal stories. About dead grandparents visiting them. About unexplainable messages left on dollar bills or in books. About hearing things — usually crying babies or laughing women — in public restrooms around Hawaii.

These stories send shivers up my own spine, too.

So in the spirit — no pun intended — of Halloween, I thought it would be cool to share our stories.

I want to know what’s your scariest personal ghost story. Where were you? What happened? And what do you make of it now?

Scare me!

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Weekend Dish: Oatcakes redux

By October 30, 2011 Food, Weekend Dish

Remember that 10-pound box of Quaker Oats I bought months ago?

Well, I still have it.

And those rolled oats aren’t moving any faster after Derek left for Madison.

So I’ve been experimenting with them, primarily making oatcakes, those hockey puck-sized healthy snacks often sold in coffee shops and health food stores. (See my first attempt at oatcakes here.)

And I think I’ve found a winner recipe.

Here’s the step-by-step, with the recipe below:


Picture 1 of 20

This was the first time I made this recipe — so this time I swapped enriched flour with whole wheat and sugar with Splenda. Both work well.

Fruity oatcakes
slightly modified


3 cups rolled oats
2 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white (or equivalent)
1/2 to 1 cup dried fruit (I used apricots, raisins, golden raisins, cranberries)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-1/2-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper or lightly spray with cooking spray (such as Pam).

Grind rolls oats in food processor or blender. (I added about 1/2 cup of almonds.) Mix with flour and baking powder.

Chop dried fruit into small pieces. You can use apricots, raisins, dates, dried apples, dried cranberries or anything else you like.

In a separate bowl, cream together yogurt, sugar, honey and vanilla. In another bowl, lightly beat egg white until it gets bubbly but not stiff. Fold egg white into the wet ingredients. Add dried fruit.

Combine wet and dry ingredients. The dough gets stiff and can be hard to mix. Form into 12 patties (or any size you want).

Bake about 15 minutes. Cool, then store in refrigerator.

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Today’s happy shot

By October 30, 2011 Food, Happy Shots

I’m not an oatcake aficionado — trust me — but I found a few great recipes that make them tasty even to me!


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