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Hawai’i Simply Natural Restaurant Fresh,
Pre-great, United State’s recession, Mamane Street, Honoka’a, far from Waikiki was bustling like it hadn’t since the Kingdom day sugar industry built the town at the turn of the 20th century. Hawai’i Simply Natural itself hadn’t blossomed in the 13 years i’d owned what is now the oldest restaurant downtown. I’d owned the business for seven years before I was able to quit working at least one night time job to support myself.
Since i’d turned 16 i’d been working more than one pay check job at a time. For those who want me to clarify, I mean, I worked jobs both for cash and jobs with paychecks. For instance, the man who rented the retail space next to Hawai’i Simply Natural, is also the man who made the stained glass sign for the first owner of my business; who’d owned it for five years and who was responsible for creating the dirty, ill kemp reputation which I spent the following years rebuilding. He was a stained glass guy and made my restaurant’s sign still hanging outside. It’s bothering me though after all these years because I want to update it. Part of me feels bad to remove his special art still hanging there because now he’s been passed away for at least one decade. I worked a cash job for him the first summer I lived above my restaurant not knowing yet that I was soon about to be the new owner of Hawai’i Simply Natural. I prepped his other art, etched glass work with the plastic tape which will protect the rest of the glass from the sand blowing a design on glass blocks, beer mugs, wine goblets. Actually, you can also see his work in the local dentist office and I know for a fact that he traded the Doctor himself to get his own teeth fixed in exchange for the art in the entryway.
My new neighbor’s wife though, was the head chef at Merriman’s restaurant in Waimea, still the most famous in the entire State. She offered me a position as an apprentice. So several afternoons a week, i’d close the shop about an hour early and drive up to Waimea in my first old car. I prepped all their food in about four hours such as: all their dinner salad plates, their nightly mashed potatoes with different flavors like rosemary-garlic or black pepper-chive, their kalua pig-check out a recipe book for that here, and take inventory. I even had chef jackets for a uniform and met Peter Merriman himself. He ended up being my father’s customer ordering custom Koa wood tables for his children’s play rooms. I learned a load of valuable information like knife skills which lasted me long into my career here at Hawai’i Simply Natural Restaurant but the most vivid lesson she taught me was to not be afraid of seasoning especially though, be aware of how sodium cools as well as heats.
Read more about the first days of my life here at Hawai’i Simply Natural Restaurant by signing up for my mailing list and be eligible to receive a FREE copy of my Memoir soon to be released.
Time passed, when the great recession proceeded to kick my financial behind, turning my life completely upside down, in order to survive I was forced to reevaluate my supplies. Over the initial eight week of the recession my fresh tomato supplier, became angry when I couldn’t afford the entire tray of her tomatoes. They were a great deal, gorgeous, plump, tasty, firm, red, hydroponically grown tomatoes and i’d been a customer at least one year by then. My mother originally struck the deal with the tomato lady and so when my mother’s schedule changed, the lady had to deal with me. She never seemed to respect or understand the fact that I own the business NOT my mother. She just wasn’t friendly no matter what I did to be nice and welcome her into the community.
I loved these tomatoes and so the first wave of the recession I began to make salsa with the extra tomatoes I now wasn’t using for sandwiches due to the dramatic drop in business. The change complimented my budget which had been purchasing one ‘flat’ of tomatoes per week. I did my best to use them up and even placed some out for sale to the trickle of customers who came through and occasionally, malilhini bought them.
The thing was that flat of tomatoes, even with fresh salsa on the side of my Breakfast Burrito and the sandwiches combined wasn’t enough to use them all. The owner of the tomatoes was new to town, recently moved in from the United States and well, you know, when she angrily told me she couldn’t understand how I didn’t need an entire flat per week, I replied, “How long have you been in Hawai’i?”
With a deep furrow between her brow, “Two years,” she replied.
“Good luck to you and your family,” I said dismissing her because I was disappointed. To me, it was like laughable that she didn’t understand yet how the economy can change here in the islands from one natural disaster blowing down your house or magma engulfing it in flames - to local industries collapsing the redistribution of jobs one year to the next but hey, she didn’t give me any respect for knowing anything seeming real high maka maka like her white skin color is better than my white skin color. Go figure that nonsense which I just wanted to transcend by showing her by example how to be nice.
Stay tuned for my memoir The Echo of Pebbles soon to be released for more about the affect of the great recession upon my little restaurant far from Waikiki, in this Kingdom Day Sugar town.
Now, without those beautiful tomatoes, I was now reduced to buying a quarter of the flat per week, from the Farmer’s Market and making my fresh salsa in the perfect size batch for a family of four. Even buying the seasoning to make this salsa every week complimented my budget because it was the same time I began making my Hawaiian Rock Salt Mix available in the shop as well as here, in the online Gift Shop and some of the spices can be used for both.
A true chef, tastes as they go, tweaking the technique and the end result to your own personal flavor because sometimes you need to make it hot, other times, mild. You know, depends on whether the kids are around or those sensitive to sodium which is why, this recipe is low in sodium. High sodium gives me migraines and restaurants keep salt on the table so people can add salt to less salted foods. Its the skill of the chef to provide the food just barely salted to illuminate the blend of flavors but not overpower it in any way. Not too salty but just right, right? Some people don’t like it chunky so, if you’re into a smooth texture then just throw the raw veggies into the Food Processor or dice it up the good old manual way.
So here it is my fresh homemade salsa Hawai’i Simply Natural style.
Remove the core of the tomatoes and place top down in a small sauce pot, half full of water until the water boils.
The skins will fall away. Remove those and compost them.
Carefully, without burning yourself, use tongs to place the boiled tomatoes into the blender. This is the blender I use and you’ll get Free Shipping if you order this one here. It handles the hot water well.
Then pour the hot water into the Hamilton Beach Blender.
Blend on medium for two minutes, or until smooth.
Pour into a stainless steel or BPA free plastic bowl find one here
Then while the tomato base is still hot pour all the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. The heat will soften the sweet peppers and sweet onions just right.
Stir, cover with saran and let cool for fifteen minutes.
Either serve warm or Chill for four hours.
It’ll last six days then compost the leftovers.
Take it to a party for taco night or potluck night or to your kid’s school function. They’ll love it but make sure you’ve taste tweaked it with your family a couple of times before showcasing it at your favorite event.
Post your comments below or email me but make sure to sign up for Let’s Talk Story -Aloha to be eligible for a free Hawai’i Simply Natural ebook recipe coming soon. Mahalo and remember you heard it here first
Aloha is a two way street.