Posted in Family, Home

“Manscaping” the Kitchen

I tease my husband Keoni that I married him for his cooking.  Joke, of course…

But seriously.

When the two of us ran a restaurant together (Kana Girl’s Hawai’ian BBQ) even men used to tell me that if I ever stepped aside, they wanted to marry him.  Joking, of course…

But seriously.

The man is a freaking magician in the kitchen.  Or should I say kahuna?

It’s customary in Hawai’ian culture for a grandparent to select one grandchild as the recipient of specialized family knowledge; Keoni’s tutu pa (grandfather) Kamuela, a musician and ho’omo’a (cook), apprenticed him at a young age and taught him to blend the things he was passionate about: cooking and song.  Our regular restaurant patrons used to ask after him specifically if they couldn’t detect his rich tenor wafting from the kitchen along with the Island aromas–“Is Keoni OK today?”  When he’s singing in the kitchen, I know that all’s well in our world.

Keoni with HIS apprentice, Elena Grace

I’m still embarrassed that I “cooked” (in my case, I use the term loosely) for him in the very early days of our friendship, before I realized his near-spiritual relationship with kitchens.  Fortunately for all involved, he gently (and joyfully) took the misused spatula from my hands and began wielding it himself.  It wasn’t a month later that my daughter Elena Grace (then age 4, and blissfully enraptured by her breakfast) told me emphatically, “Mommy, we need to KEEP him.”

When our Boise house went into foreclosure this summer, we scraped together enough rent to relocate to a double-wide trailer in the country (ha, we’re now officially “trailer trash”–and we love living here).  And once we realized we wouldn’t be able to sell the house, we decided we’d take as much of the kitchen with us as we could–the stainless-steel appliances and custom wooden cabinets and polished granite countertops–so we’ve been systematically “remodeling” our rental with our hauled-along pieces.  This weekend Keoni has been putting the finishing touches on what he refers to as his “manscaping” of the kitchen, which (if I may venture to say so) now looks pretty damn good.  (I was going to say “for a trailer,” but it actually looks pretty damn good, period.)

As for me, I can find precisely three items in our kitchen: the coffee pot, the coffee mugs, and the coffee creamer.  Keoni prefers it that way, and (having just been spoiled, yet again, with breakfast-in-bed), I confess myself content as well.  To the ladies (and gentlemen) who spoke up for spots on his marriage-waiting-list, I’ll have to disappoint you.  Mommy is KEEPING him!

cooking for my magazine co-workers at Redfish Lodge last month


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

15 thoughts on ““Manscaping” the Kitchen

  1. Lucky you! But you don’t need to rub it in :(
    The photo of Keoni and Elena looks really sweet… and delicious. And after reading your fill-in-the-blank About page, I had to pause at “research diver”. So Cool!!


    1. If I ever use the word “boring” to describe my life, someone should shoot me! ;) There have been downs as well as ups, but as Keoni says, “This is an E-ticket ride, Baby!” (Of course, being a full generation older than I am, he had to explain the reference, lol…)
      :) Kana


  2. I love the photo of the chef and his apprentice. My husband does the cooking here too. We didn’t start out that way, but one day I made a recipe called Tuna Foo Yung. Yeah, it tasted about as good as it sounds.


    1. Hahahaa! Tuna foo young.. love it! :) My husband and I love cooking together. They call me Katie HomeBaker.. I do most of the baking, but we both cook. Sometimes its limited because of my pain, but I still try because I’m in a whole different world when I’m in the kitchen. But, he is the soup, stir fry and cinnamon roll master.


  3. The picture is super sweet.. :) just made double layer ultimate fudge brownies.. hubby fell in love with the when I was selling them for charity. He swears I’m trying to fatten him up.


  4. Here there! You are all a life. I can see a life in your writing. Lucky you.

    The first snap in this write up is the cutest and the last, I am sorry I hate the kitchen but I love chocolate the most.

    All the wishes!


  5. I’ve been full-timing in an RV since 2007 and wouldn’t change for anything! I love living in small spaces.
    You are so interesting. I’m glad to read your blog and as one who tried freelancing, but gave up, I admire your tenacity!


  6. Wait…you had a Hawaiian restaurant in Idaho? I don’t know why that strikes me as funny…or did I miss something and the restaurant wasn’t in Idaho?

    Either way, my husband can cook better than me, so I totally get where you’re coming from!


    1. Yup, Hawai’ian restaurant in Idaho. (I suppose a Hawai’ian restaurant in Hawai’i wouldn’t be much of a draw, but around here it was one-of-a-kind… Some of our regulars would drive 50 miles just to eat, bless them…) I also hadn’t realized, until we opened the restaurant, how many “expat” Hawai’ians live in this area! We put up maps of the islands on one wall so people could tag where they’re from, and within six months you couldn’t even see the maps anymore. Sometimes they’d drop in even if they weren’t eating, just for a few minutes of comfortable conversation (in Pidgin, of course) with Keoni… :)


  7. Men who can cook <3

    I know this blessing, and what a blessing it is. And you're right, that's a sweet kitchen. What I'd give for a REAL stove right now…


  8. So I’m sitting here in my overcrowded graduate office – stuffed in here with 5 other people. I’ve been sitting here all morning preparing a poster for a presentation in two days and I see this post… keep in mind I’m PhD student… home cooked meals only happen when I can find time.

    What I’m trying to say is – this post makes me very very hungry!!!


  9. A BIG MAHALO for sharing some Hawai”i stories……I could just taste da’ food while I was reading this post! You made me think of all those plate lunches….*sigh.


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