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Farmers and food vendors find creative ways to serve us

Chef Sha’anan Fader, the visionary food artist behind Niu Life Kitchen, is shown with his partner, Ashley Stewart. SHA’ANAN FADER photos

We are finding new ways every day to stay nourished and enjoy the food on our island home during this uncertain time that has put unprecedented restrictions on our lives. With many restaurants closed and markets putting rules in place to honor new health regulations to keep us safe, we are spending more quality time with loved ones in our kitchens at home.

We also have more time to think up creative ways to eat. I sat down with a few of the vendors of our farmers market community to hear what they are doing to keep it all going.

Undoubtedly one of the hardest working men on Maui is Ryan Earehart of Oko’a Farms. I spoke with Ryan to get the lowdown on how he and his team of farmers and production staff are adjusting. For those who may not know, Ryan owns and operates one of the biggest and well respected farms on island. Selling to stores, restaurants and wholesale to the community at most of our beloved outdoor markets, this man doesn’t stop. I have a huge amount of admiration for what he and his crew manifest. It is no small feat nurturing seed to a finished product that you can eat (think about that for a moment).

Ryan has an amazing cornucopia of vegetables, fruits, juices and edible flowers. It’s the stuff great food is made of. Due to the coronavirus, it seems that everything has changed, but for Ryan and his staff “getting food into people’s mouths” continues to be their way of life.

As for this next week, our Upcountry Wednesday and Saturday markets are both still open!

A six-inch raspberry chocolate Hapa Cake from Niu Life Kitchen.

Here’s what to know in regards to Oko’a Farms: ordering ahead is the new way to play. You can text your order, or go to okoafarms.com and order from there. Making a profile on their website will give you access to what’s in stock. My suggestion is to let them choose for you. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes are available weekly for $40 and give you and your household a beautiful array of what’s fresh, delicious and seasonal. The boxes are also available for home delivery! With a $50 minimum and a $10 fee for delivery, you can stay home and the farm will come right to your door! Ryan and his team will also be delivering boxes for pickup at the following locations: Rodeo General Store in Makawao, The Kuau Store, Lahaina Natural Foods, and Kihei Cafe. Don’t go hungry, Oko’a Farms is here to help you stay fresh and creative in your own home restaurant.

• Wednesday Farmers Market, 17 Omapio Road, Kula, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Tuesday and Friday markets at Queen Ka’ahumanu Mall will also be open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Saturday UpCountry Farmers Market, 55 Kiopaa St., Makawao, 7 to 11 a.m.

*****

A piece of Hapa Cake from Niu Life Kitchen is shown in front of a stack of savory, probiotic coconut cream cheese spreads (left) and dairy-free moringa pesto. The almond Hapa Cake has cultured coconut malted-marzipan icing, blended with vanilla bean and maca root powder.

One of my favorite booths at the Upcountry Saturday Market is Niu Life Kitchen. Niu Life Kitchen specializes in local, organic, cultured or probiotic coconut desserts and raw fusion delectables. Chef Sha’anan Fader is the visionary food artist behind Niu’s creation alongside his lovely partner, Ashley Stewart. This couple has won over my food-loving heart with their incomparable live food confections, both sweet and savory. They offer dairy-free options for dessert lovers made fresh with local coconut meat and other seasonal fruits like berries, chocolate and durian.

Niu Life Kitchen will continue to serve their community fans and are seamlessly keeping in flow, taking things week by week. Because there are so many moving parts to producing a live, fermented food product, Niu Life Kitchen will be also be focusing on pre-ordering. The minimum will be $40 for special order consisting of Hapa Cakes, Cultured Coconut Cheese Cake, Tiramisu Parfaits, Lassies and Moringa Pesto. If you’ve never tried a lassi before, this is traditionally a fragrant Indian yogurt-based drink. Niu’s is made with coconut yogurt, mango, vanilla and sea salt. So cooling to the mouth and so good for you.

Their moringa pesto is another big seller. It is made with local moringa instead of the traditional basil pesto. Moringa is a superfood plant that is widely used in Southeast Asia. It has a mild flavor that, when added to cultured coconut, makes a really dynamite pesto. I use it on pasta and as a dressing. I also find it to be a stunning marinade for fish. A must try.

The brightest new star on their menu is their Hapa Cake. This gluten-free cake is baked, then topped with a raw coconut frosting, hence the name Hapa or half. This stunning work of art will add pizzazz to any dinner, birthday, anniversary, or for the sweet tooth you love.

For more information, visit niulife_kitchen on Instagram or email contact@niulifekitchen.com.

I am hoping to keep you inspired to buy local produce and cook Maui grown organic food. It’s here. Thank the heavens! We are so lucky to live on Maui.

Aloha, be well, stay healthy, Aya.

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