American Orange Yams and Okinawa Purple Sweet potato with Macadamia Nut Pie and an aloha farewell to Maui

by Irvin on October 17, 2011 · 18 comments

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My parents, sister and her husband had left the Maui after spending six days with us. Afterwards, AJ and I were on what we called “our bonus days” – the extra few days past July, into August, that we had scheduled to roundout our stay in Maui. We had told everyone (and ourselves) that we were going to Hawaii for the month of July, but because of a cheaper flight we actually were flying out on August 3rd. My mom was sad to leave (and I was sad to see her go as well) but before she left, she handed me a number of leftover goods, items that she had bought but didn’t have a chance to eat. “Be sure to use these up!” she instructed me, in her typical Chinese mom ways, loathing to waste food. She handed me half a head of red cabbage, three old carrots, two shiny apples, an orange yam and a few other odds and ends (I’ll totally admit that I didn’t use up the half box of quinoa flakes she left me – hopefully the cleaning lady or the next tenant will enjoy them). Looking at my bounty of produce, I realized I had the fixing in our fridge for a sweet potato pie, that is, a Hawaiian style sweet potato pie, featuring American Orange Yams and Okinawa Purple Sweet potato with Macadamia Nut.

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American Sweet Potato Okinawa Purple Potato Pie with Macadamia Nut Topping.

My parents had never been to Hawaii. They had talked about coming out to the islands, after reading my post last year on our vacation to Kauai and Oahu. She was particularly impressed with the aerial shots I had taken (or AJ had taken) whilst on our helicopter tour. “I can’t believe you did that! I would be so scared.” She proclaimed to me, both in admiration and concern that I would risk my life in such a daredevil way. I assured her that the helicopter ride was perfectly safe (though I might have neglected to tell her that we did the helicopter ride without the doors – shhhh…don’t tell).

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The shot of the Kauai landscape from our helicopter tour. One of the best hours of my life.

When we initially told my parents that we were looking for someone to stay at our place when we went away for our paradise vacation, they immediately asked if they could stay at our apartment. AJ and I were thrilled that they would want to come out to San Francisco (they’ve been talking about retiring out here for ages) and loved the idea of them staying in our place, people I love and trust as opposed to complete strangers. I was rather sad though, that they would be in my adopted hometown and AJ and I wouldn’t be able to see them. What a shame, I thought to myself, that they would fly out to the west coast, but I wouldn’t be there to spend time with them. Luckily, while in San Francisco, they decided that a quick trip to Hawaii would be worth their while.

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Dad and Mom on our road to Hana.

Once they decision was made, it wasn’t hard to convince my sister and brother-in-law to join up with us even if it meant flying out from Baltimore across the country. My brother and his wife in Sacramento were more problematic, and in the end, they decided not to come out, as traveling with an 18 month old toddler would probably negate any relaxation that they might get from going to a tropical vacation. Perhaps next time we can all do a family reunion out in Hawaii, reliving my Brady Bunch Hawaii episode fantasy (don’t pick up that tiki doll!).

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The Family posing at the Iao Valley over in West Maui.

The family trip was a short whirled winded trip full of exciting adventures. A visit to the Iao valley in West Maui, a hike on the top of Mt. Haleakala to see the sunrise and cinder cone, a roadtrip around the island to Hana, a few trips to the beach, a surprise trip to the ER in an ambulance to the only hospital in Maui and a Hawaiian luau completely with fire dancing. My family left exhausted but happy to have seen Maui (with everyone all in one piece). My dad seemed especially pleased that AJ, my brother-in-law Peter and I all drove the family around, showing them the sites. “You guys could be tour guides!” He said to AJ and I more than once, happy to not have to drive, and thrilled to see the exotic sites of the island. On their last day, my father eagerly turned to us and asked “Are you coming back her next year? Maybe we could do this again… Or another island. We could do another island. Or somewhere else. How about Alaska?” AJ and I smiled at that thought of spending more time with them in Hawaii, or some other location, happy that they enjoyed their trip.

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The Family ready to enjoy some Mango Bread on the Road to Hana.

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Peter, Natatia, Mom and Dad at the Surfing Goat Dairy.

After we shuttled my family off the airport, AJ and I took a deep breathe and looked around our condo, suddenly alone without a tight agenda of tourist must do. We had three days left all to ourselves before returning to reality of the mainland. We didn’t want to go back, but we knew we had to. But not before hitting the beach one more time. Until next time, paradise. Aloha!

Hitting little beach one more time.

Hitting Little Beach one more time.

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Saying goodbye to Maui. Until next time. Aloha!

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

[email protected] October 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

LOVE the last photo of you two watching the sunset(?) And is it strange that the colors of your pie look very similar to the colors in the second photo? 🙂
As usual loved reading through your post!


Irvin October 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm

I hadn’t actually thought about the similarities until you mention it, but it does look that way doesn’t it? I LOVE that you pointed that out!


Steph October 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I love how you swirl. everything. 🙂


Irvin October 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Stephanie. That’s totally a gaycist statement. Shame on you. 😉


Lori @ Lemons and Lavender October 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

The pie looks wonderful! I took a helicopter tour of Maui with the doors off when I was on my honeymoon…on the windiest day ever! The waterfalls were blowing up toward the sky, the helicopter was bouncing around and I was holding on for dear life. I thought we were going to die on our honeymoon. Your tour looked a more peaceful.


Irvin October 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm

OMG that sounds totally scary! Yes, my tour was very calm. a little wind, but not too bad. It was really magical, but I can only imagine that it would be slightly short of terrifying if we were being blown all over the place.


raquel October 20, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I am your constant reader and I really love your recipes and the story on every post you made…but today I hope I could taste what that pie.=)


Irvin October 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Thank you so much for the comment, but thank you even more for being a constant reader!


Jonathan October 22, 2011 at 3:15 am

That pie looks gorgeous. Purple yam is a very nostalgic ingredient for me – we had it all the time growing up, usually as a sweet spread for sandwiches. Crossing fingers that they’ll have some at the local Asian grocery – I’m quite inspired.


merri October 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

i love that last photo!! and this dessert is so pretty! i love purple!!


kimberleyblue October 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

We spent half of July and half of August this summer on Big Island and Kauai. I adored those purple potatoes! So sweet and wonderful. Gorgeous pie!

We did that open-door helicopter ride was well. Simply amazing.


Sarah B.V. November 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

This is one crazy looking pie. I love the colors and the fact that it’s not dye, but natural! I definitely could see these colored yams being created into some sort of halloween dessert!


valerie simmons June 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Aloha Irvin,
I am here in Kauai and deciding what foods to offer at our Happiness Planting
festival June 16. One of my criteria is that the ingredients are from local farmers market day therefore, this recipe caught my eye. I noticed comments about color
ect. but none has commented about flavor and wondering about how much vanilla
extract to substitute for the bean? Any comments back ? Many mahalo and aloha.


Ellen Bille October 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Hi Irvin….I last saw Valerie in Boston just before she moved to Kauai a handful of years ago and I have lost touch with her. I’m here in Texas and would love her to contact me (so I won’t have to track down her children!) If you see this Valerie – Write to ME via my email. I still have an actual letter you wrote to me thirty years ago that you painted a flower on….so long ago. -Love Ellen (PS, we are moving to Northern California at the beginning of 2013)

Thank you SO much Irvin!! Love you website!!


Eltaria June 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I don’t have dark rum 🙁 Is there anything that I can use as a substitute? 🙂


Cindy Simeno October 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I wanted to read that people made it and what their comments were about the pie! I am looking for a recipe made with potatoes. Thought this was interesting!


rista March 20, 2015 at 4:19 pm

I want that pie so bad but I don’t know where to get those potatoes outside of Hawaii…


Ian November 21, 2015 at 2:51 pm

This is exactly what I was looking for! I just happened to have both purple and orange sweet potatoes, and full fat yogurt. I didn’t want to have to go to the store for evaporated milk! In my head I was thinking I’d do a Yin/Yang mix of colors 🙂


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