Chicken 'N Waffles Coffee Syrup!

chicken n waffles syrupPrepare to Have Your Mind Blown

I am continuing my research for my upcoming coffee blog (I think I now have a great name and a great tagline), coming across cool sites, products, and possible affiliate marketing products. In this research, I came across coffee syrups and there are two main companies that sell coffee syrups: Torani and Monin. If you thought hazelnut, toffee nut, cinnamon, and vanilla were all there were to coffee syrup flavors, then you were dead wrong.

Not only are there over 100 coffee syrup flavors between these two brands (obviously, the two of them duplicate on many flavors, and not all of them are created to be used in coffee), but my mind is blown that one flavor actually exists. It's from Torani and it's called Chicken N' Waffles.


I'm not sure if it's vegan because I'm not sure if any actual chicken is used in the product. I know the description for the product says that it really goes well with buttered biscuits or cornbread, but who cares. I'm going to have a chicken 'n waffles soy latte, and I am going to blog about it, and it's going to be the next big thing. It'll be awesome.

I know those potato chips came out from Lays that were this flavor, and they received mixed reviews, but that's not a big deal. Some people complained on Facebook that the flavor was too random, or that there was too much maple and not enough chicken. Hogwash! The chips were fantastic, and this soy latte is going to be fantastic. Those people can just eat normal sour cream and onion potato chips and drink normal hazelnut lattes like normal people. How do you not try this when you now know that it exists?!? I mean, at least put it on the butter biscuits or the cornbread. You know, do something normal like follow the instructions and recommendations.

There Actually Was a Close Second

Yes, there was actually a flavor that was a close second for the "OMG-I-didn't-know-this-existed-it's-so-amazing" title. The close second goes to Monin's Hibiscus syrup.

I find this really interesting because the hibiscus is the state flower of Hawai'i, but it's not like we eat it or anything. Maybe we should, since it's not even a native Hawaiian flower. I mean, I think it might actually be illegal or sacrilegious to eat the Ohi'a blossom or 'ilima flower. Please don't eat them. But, apparently, according to the hibiscus syrup product description, people have been eating and using the blossom for medicinal purposes for a long time now. It might actually make a great mocha or Italian soda. This will totally be the next big thing, at least in Hawai'i, after the whole chicken 'n waffles latte buzz.

I have no idea why more coffee shops don't have 100+ flavors to choose from. I understand most people want the good 'ole recipes and would just prefer a vanilla latte and leave. However, some of us want to take the 20 minutes to read your entire list of flavors, and then pick one to have. Think about it! If you have 100+ flavors, then you might actually have a few people come back 100+ times just to go through the entire list and to try every flavor. Once you have that going, then you can turn it into a competition or a reward system where if you do go through all the flavors then you get a prize. I want a cool prize. Who doesn't want a cool prize?


I often wonder if I’ll ever see Ludmila again.  It’s been over a year since I last saw her, at the end of my five weeks studying in St. Petersburg .  I have one picture of her, a picture in which she spent 10 minutes in the bathroom getting all dolled up for only to not even smile at the flash.  Ludmila doesn’t speak any English.  That made living with her at the flat much more fun. I wonder if she even remembers me; I wasn’t all that memorable.  But I could never forget Ludmila.


Ludmila made her own croutons.  She’d cut up slices of bread into tiny cubes and leave them to dry on the microwave for a few days.  On the morning I was leaving to go back to the states, I tried to take a picture of the croutons.  Ludmila caught me before I could get my picture, got really embarrassed, scooped the croutons into a jar and hid them, and told me to take a picture of her flowers instead.  She told me her flowers were very beautiful.  I told her that I agree, they are beautiful and because they were beautiful I already had pictures of them.  As beautiful as they were, the croutons were neater.  Americans, too, grow beautiful flowers, but they do not make their own croutons.

Milk in a Jar

Ludmila kept a lot of things in jars: cheese, butter, fruit.  Even the milk.  The milk did not originally come in a jar.  I know this because the amount of milk in the jar would always change.  Ludmila never ran out of milk.  I never saw where the milk actually came from but it always came to me in a jar.  It never killed me either, so don’t worry about it anymore.

Russian Air Travel Sucks

One thing I did worry about was how the hell I was going to bring all my souvenirs back home. Medvedev, Putin, Yeltsin, Gorbachev, Brezhnev.  My absolute most favorite souvenir from Russia is a matrushka doll that regurgitates the previous leaders of the country.  I paid approximately 36 US dollars and it is worth every penny.  It was not worth the 60 US dollars I paid for my second check-in luggage, a backpack, at the airport.  It was definitely not worth it in London when United Airlines very nicely put the backpack in a giant plastic bag as to avoid the straps snagging to anything else.  Kind of ruined the purpose of backpack, as I now have to carry around a bag with perfectly good straps in a clumsy plastic bag.  Oh well.

My Home

I would be flying through five cities before I got home: St. Petersburg, London, Washington DC, St. Louis, Los Angeles, then, finally, Honolulu.  It is the day before I am to leave, and this is the day Ludmila decides to figure out where I’m from.  I told her on the first day I met her, but she now wants to know exact location. She calls me into the living room and pulls out an atlas, falling apart at the binding, pages worn, torn and missing, aged to a dirty brown.  Ludmila finds a map of the United States and asks where my state is located.  The atlas is so old that my state is not even a state yet.  It’s not on the map.  I tell her this and she thinks I don’t understand her question, so she asks me again.  I tell her again that it’s not on the map and I begin to look through the pages to find a map that might possibly have my state on it.  The only one is the world map; Hawai’i squished all the way to the left hand side.  I point to it and tell her that, right there, is my home.

Ludmila’s eyes grow big.  “So far,” she says.  Ludmila takes the map and sits on the couch and spends in the next half an hour in awe of how far I’ve come.  She asks me how far it is to this location and to that location, and I tell her.  I ask her how old the atlas is.  She tells me that it’s very old, that she used it when she was in school.

In Russian, there are separate words to say school at the university level and school at grade level.  Ludmila said she used the atlas when she was still at grade level.  I pegged Ludmila to be about 65 years old.  That means I peg the atlas at about 55 years old.  I peg 55 years ago at 1957, two years before statehood.  That didn’t explain the fact that Alaska was on the map, but then again, it does.  Alaska used to belong to Russia.  Maybe they still care about their old territory.  Maybe they can see former governor Sarah Palin too.

I managed to get Ludmila’s address before I departed for good.  I intended to write to her in due time, to show her that my Russian language skills have improved.  I still haven’t written, and I’m no longer sure if I can consider myself improved anymore.  But even as my Russian deteriorates, my memories of Ludmila will not.

5 Desserts to Try when Visiting Hawai’i

Hawaiian desserts Because of Hawaii’s multi-ethnic history and population, the state has many unique foods and flavors (besides the obvious Spam). Below are five popular that are a must-have when visiting, even if the dessert itself isn't unique, or didn't even originate, in Hawaii. The point is the state serves these specific desserts best. I've even provided recipe links or a recommended location so you can easily try the best version of each of these dishes for yourself.

  1. Shave Ice – It’s like a snow cone, but better. The ice is, literally, shaved off in a machine from a giant block of ice into a paper cone. The ice is then flavored with delicious syrups of traditional (vanilla), strange (buttered popcorn), and local (lilikoi), tastes. The best place to go for shave ice is the Shimazu Store in Liliha. Not only do you get the biggest shave ice around (order the small, as the large is the size of a human head), but the Shimazu Store has over 50 flavors to choose from, such as red velvet cake and crème brulee and four different versions of vanilla. You can also get your shave ice with ice cream underneath, and/or condensed milk and azuki beans on top.
  2. Haupia – It’s also known as coconut pudding, and that’s essentially what it is, although, haupia does have more of the consistency of jello than pudding. Here are three recipes for the delectable dessert, complete with ingredients that are easily accessible at a mainland supermarket. It's typically made out of diluted coconut milk, sugar and salt, mixed with arrowroot or cornstarch, so its also vegan-friendly!
  3. Mochi – Best described as “jello you eat with your hands” mochi is a rice-based treat that’s coated in powdered sugar. Also called chi chi dango, the treat is cut up into squares or rectangles and can come in many colors. Local Costcos serve a flavored batch of chi chi dango. Mochi is also great with ice cream, and this combination is sold at the grocery stores in a ball form, where mochi surrounds a golf-ball sized ball of ice cream. The treat is easy to make, however, getting a hold of mochiko, or rice flour, is tougher to do on the mainland. You have to know where to look (which is typically in the organic food aisle or health food stores. Oddly, it's not sold next to the wheat flour.) The ice cream mochi can be found at international food stores.
  4. Green Tea Coco Puffs – These are a specialty of Liliha Bakery, and well worth the long lines to purchase a batch of six. The Green Tea Coco Puffs are the biggest and most delicious chocolate pudding-filled balls you've ever tasted. There are other flavors of coco puffs if green tea doesn't suit your fancy. The bakery sells over 5,000 of their coco puffs each day, so they’re on this list for a reason.
  5. Malasadas – Originally a Portuguese dessert, malasadas are dough balls fried in oil and covered in granulated sugar. The best come from either the 50th State Fair or Leonard’s Bakery in Waimalu, but it’s also really easy to make malasadas yourself.

There are tons of snacks and unique Hawaiian foods that one must try when visiting Hawaii, so don't consider this an exhaustive list. That’s only five of the most delicous and most notable of desserts. I might be covering other foods and food traditions in later posts (after all I do plan to cover Hawaii and food insecurity in this blog, and I understand that this post has nothing to do with food insecurity). But for now, just sample these “ono grinds” and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Hawaiian Names for the New Baby

My nephew is due to be born any day now, and my niece (1 1/2 years old!) is adorable, I'd like to introduce a little bit about Hawaiian names and put up a few suggestions for a Hawaiian name if you or someone you know is expecting. I don't know what my nephew will be named when he is born (I'm not sure if his parents are set on any ideas), but here are some ideas for his parents and others who are looking for a beautiful, cultural name for their child.

In Hawaiian culture, there are several different types of names. Names weren't chosen simply because they sounded great, they were chosen because of their specific meaning or to commemorate an event or relative. There are several different types of names:

  • inoa po - a name received in a dream. It was believed that if a relative received a name in a dream and didn't give the child that name, then the child would be cursed
  • inoa ho'ailona - a name received in the form of a natural phenomenon or a mystic sign
  • inoa 'ulaleo - a name heard
  • inoa ho'omanao - a name for an event or person
  • inoa kupuna - a name from an ancestor
  • inoa ewe - a name based on traits or personality

In Hawaiian culture, the longer the name, the more power it has. This is part of the reason why many people in Hawai'i have long Hawaiian names (though they may often go by a shorter version of their name for day-to-day activities). But nowadays shorter Hawaiian names are quite common as well and have become a point of pride and reflection for individuals upon his/her Hawaiian heritage.

Most Hawaiian names are unisex, though most are given to one gender more often than the other gender. For those in Hawai'i, it might be better to stick with the gender norms while those on the mainland could have more choice, particularly if the child will be the only one with a Hawaiian name in a 100 mile radius. I found two websites that have an extensive listing of Hawaiian names. One includes the 'okina, or glottal stop, to ensure proper spelling of the name, while the other doesn't. This second one also includes names that have letters that aren't part of the Hawaiian alphabet. I don't particularly like those names because they aren't truly Hawaiian names, but that's just my opinion.

If there isn't a name on the list that strieks the fancy, then tnother technique that's really popular is to name a child a Hawaiian adjective. This not only ensures that the child's name has a great meaning, but that he/she has a great name as well. Here are some examples below:

  • Hau'oli - happy
  • Kaulana - famous
  • Ikaika - strong
  • 'Alohi - bright
  • Koa - brave
  • 'Alapa - athletic
  • Pono - righteous
  • Kilakila - majestic
  • Kupono - honest

Similar to this is to name children after things in nature, like a star (Hoku) or the rain (ua) or a flower (pua) or a rainbow (anueanue). Here's a link to a good online Hawaiian dictionary. Also by putting together an adjective with a noun (like hokukilakila for "majestic star"), a creative, original yet meaningful name could be given the newborn.

There are also Hawaiian versions of English names. Most of these names are very uncommon and only serve the purpose of knowing a cool alternative to our own name. However, there are a few, such as Mikala (Michael), Kamuela (Samuel), Kimo (James) and Kawika (David) that are given to children quite frequently.

What is Hawaiian? That is the Question

It's Aloha Friday! That means that in preparation for the weekend, I have prepared something a little more historical and intellectual for the blog. Fridays from here on out are reserved for answering questions about Hawaiian history and culture. Today's question asks, What is Hawaiian?. The answers to this question will illustrate what is meant when the word "Hawaiian" is used and delve into some detail of what this word connotates both in the islands and on the mainland. In a future post, I will talk about the history and origin of common Hawaiian icons. But for now, let's talk about the concept of 'Hawaiian'.

So, what is Hawaiian?

The Associated Press Stylebook defines Hawaiians as "members of an ethnic group indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands and are also called Native Hawaiians. Use Hawaii resident or islander for anyone living in the state." This definition is important because AP Style is used by almost every news organization in America. This also means that "Hawai'i" would never appear in the newspaper, except maybe in Hawai'i. I understand that this might mean that the title of the blog is misspelled, but "kawaii" doesn't have an 'okina (the glottal stop symbol that looks like the apostrophe) and I am anal about consistency. I would have to misspell one or the other or else change the name of the blog entirely.

What is a Native Hawaiian? According Section 3, Definitions, of Senate Bill No. 147, March 2005, sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI),

(1) ABORIGINAL, INDIGENOUS, NATIVE PEOPLE. - The term "aboriginal, indigenous, native people" means people whom Congress has recognized as the original inhabitants of the lands that later became part of the United States and who exercised sovereignty in the areas that later became part of the United States.

According to the U.S Census Bureau Demographic Profile, there are over 400,000 Native Hawaiians currently living in the United States. About half of these people live in the state of Hawai'i.

Hawaiian could also refer to the Hawaiian language, one of the two official languages of the state. It was originally an oral language until missionaries in the 19th century created a written form in order to teach Hawaiians the word of the Bible. It's very similar to the Samoan, Tahitian and Marquesian languages. In 2002, the University of Hawaii at Hilo established a masters program in the Hawaiian Language. In fall 2006, they established a doctoral program in the Hawaiian Language. In addition to being the first doctoral program for the study of Hawaiian, it is the first doctoral program established for the study of any native language in the United States of America.

With all this in mind, what does 'Hawaiian' mean to you?

Famous Hawaiians? I Can Name Five!

One of best ways to start off this blog and to introduce the spirit of Hawai'i is to introduce a few friendly faces that have done well to represent the Hawaiian people on a national or international scale. I tried to avoid movie stars and singers as best I could when putting this list together, but it turns out that most famous Hawaiians are entertainers in some shape or form. These people may not be/have been knowlingly or purposefully representing the islands, but I think that all people from Hawai'i do so no matter what. It comes from the iconic images of Hawai'i that conjure in the minds of many. No, Barack Obama does not count. Being from Hawai'i and being Hawaiian are not the same thing.

Duke Kahanamoku (1890 - 1968): This three time Olympic gold medalist put the island chain on the map,breaking the Olympic record for the 100-meter dash in swimming in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. He competed in four separate Olympics and continued to give swimming exhibitions in California throughout the 1920s. The Michael Phelps of his day, Kahanamoku went on to play minor roles in a movie career spanning almost 30 years. He's also the first person to be in both the swimming and the surfing Hall of Fame and served as a Honolulu sheriff after completing his swimming career. Kahanamoku is also credited with introducing and popularizing the sport of surfing to the mainland, New Zealand and Australia. In 1960, he was appointed Hawai'i's Ambassador of Aloha and remains one of the state's most well-known citizens in its history.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (1959 - 1997): Best known for his medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World", Bruddah Iz still is a powerful influence on Hawaiian music and culture. Alone in Iz World, an album released four years after his death, debuted at #1 on Billboard's World Chart and #135 on Billboard's Top 200, #13 on the Top Independent Albums Chart, and #15 on the Top Internet Album Sales charts. His music often had a political message, promoting Hawaiian rights and Hawaiian independence through his lyrics. At his funeral, his koa wood coffin lay in state at the Capitol building in Honolulu. He was the third person in Hawaiian history to be accorded this honor, and the only one who was not a government official. Approximately ten thousand people attended the funeral, and thousands of other fans gathered as his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.

Brook Mahealani Lee: She was Miss Universe 1997 and is the most recent American to wear the crown. She is also the first native Hawaiian to wear the Miss Universe crown. After her reign, Lee pursued a graduate degree in communications and made several appearances in movies and television shows.

Nicole Scherzinger: After fronting the Pussycat Dolls and winning the 10th season of 'Dancing With the Stars', Scherzinger is continuing her success by joining the cast of Rent at the Hollywood Bowl. Besides 'Dancing' she's made minor appearances in various television shows and also appeared as a guest judge on NBC's "The Sing-Off". Though originally born in Hawai'i, Scherzinger spent most of her time growing up in Louisville, Kentucky and attended Wright State University before launching her singing career by singing backup for the rock band Days of the New.

Kelly Hu: You may better know her as Lady Deathstrike from the movie X2, but Hu has played minor roles on television since the 80s. She was Miss Teen USA in 1985, and was the first Asian American to wear the crown as well as the first Asian American on the cover of Maxim magazine (her issue is the best selling issue in the magazine's history). Currently, Hu is the voice of Stacy in the Disney animated series "Phineas and Ferb" and has a reoccuring role in "The Vampire Diaries" on the CW.

Why Hawai'i is Cool Enough for a Blog

During my freshman year of college the resident adviser of my floor started a door-decorating contest. The theme was “I love ___”.  With myself from Hawaii and my roommate from Tennessee, we went with “Home is Where the Heart Is” for our door theme and we decorated with pictures from our respective home states.  We won the contest, and our prize: a metal picture frame for each of us with the word ‘family’ around the border.

I still have that picture frame with a picture of my family inside.  It’s not the best picture, taken at Sam Choy’s Restaurant with the boat in the background and two unknown kids in the boat looking at the camera.  My attire also makes me look fat.  But it’s the best I got.

I am an angel, as I was born and raised in heaven.  By heaven, I mean the Hawaiian Islands, and yes, they are heaven.  They are as beautiful and as sunny as television makes them out to be.  We are the Aloha State for a reason and our legislature said so in 1959.  Sixty-five degrees is considered cold, spam is considered delicious and an aloha shirt is considered business attire.  Heaven is Hawaii, and I honestly believe that one of the biggest steps toward world peace is to have the next G8 meeting at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa located within feet of Waikiki Beach.  With mai tais in hand and waves crashing upon the shore, war can only seem like a ridiculous idea.

Joking aside (but not the bias), Hawaii is God’s gift to Mother Earth.  We are the most isolated populated group of islands on the planet, almost 4000 miles from Japan.  That is about an eight hour plane ride, about the same from the east coast of the United States to London.  We were also the last piece of land to be discovered and documented by Western explorers, first discovered by Captain James Cook in 1778.  We also have the distinct honor of murdering Captain James Cook.  He returned to the islands during the time of war after first arriving during the time of peace, in which we realized that the captain is no god at all and killed him.  I said Hawaii was heaven.  I did not say Hawaii was perfect.

While we do not have perfection, we also do not have billboards, rabies, snakes and seagulls.  Billboards and snakes are illegal.  Snakes eat birds and we don’t want what happened to our avian population like what happened to Guam’s population as a result of the introduction of the brown tree snake.  Billboards are just ugly.  I know we don’t have rabies because we don’t have any raccoons but I don’t have any idea as to why we don’t have seagulls.  And while we are on animals, gerbils, hamsters, hedgehogs, foxes and porcupines are all prohibited from entering the state.

I now live in St. Louis, Missouri with its oppressively hot summers and unbearably cold winters. People don't understand why I would leave heaven to come to, well, here. Very few people from Hawai'i do make the trek past the west coast. Because of the rarity of my presence in the middle of the country, most people I meet don't know very much about Hawaiiana, or any and all things Hawaiian. I'm taking it upon myself not only to introduce and explain Hawaiiana, but to help others back in Hawai'i considering to come up for the mainland either for vacation, college, or good.

It's not heaven, but the mainland isn't all that scary and foreign and horrible a place. There's a lot both sides of the Pacific can learn from each other.