When I wake up crying

Hawaii kid time

I had a dream last night about my Aunty Marilyn. For some reason I didn’t see anyone else in this dream, just Aunty Marilyn, but I knew there were other family members there. We were all helping her pack up the house so she could move. That house on Lunaai Street in Kailua holds a lot of memories. One of my favorite pictures of my brothers and sisters and cousins was taken on the far side of the pool, Mt. Olomana in the background, each of us organized by age. My Uncle Jack took this picture, along with who knows how many thousands of others. We were always saying “Uncle Jack! Not another picture!” Now, of course, each one is precious. Even more so now since Uncle Jack passed away this year.

Anyway, I woke up crying. It felt like Aunty Marilyn was moving away from but I didn’t know where to. The feeling of my family getting dim in my mind’s eye, like fading old pictures, made me quite sad. I miss them. All my old aunties, sitting on the back seat of The Bus, dressed up in their muu muus, hats, bandanas and shell purses. They would see me get on the bus, probably leaving Community College, and shout “Stevie! Stevie! E nei!” The many, many family dinners at the house on Lunaai, or at our house on Hui Kelu, or at the beach. Spending time with my dear cousin Laurie and getting the drama bug from her and my sister, Eve. Braving King Intermediate with my dear friend, Peter Jones (who I owe an email–Peter, I didn’t forget). You get the picture. I’m having one of those bittersweet moments.

This holiday season (whatever you want to call it) take my advice. Enjoy every moment. Even the ones where someone has a little too much to drink and starts singing “Stormy Weather” with great gusto. Oh, and don’t miss the ones where the two old aunties break out an ukulele and tissue paper and comb and bust into a hilarious rendition of “Meleana E”. This year I’m planning to make new memories but I know the old will be with me always.

Mele Kalikimaka! and Hauoli Makahiki Hou!

The Hansen Girls Cheesecake

This is my favorite cheesecake. The recipe comes from the daughters of my wonderful friend Pat Hansen, now deceased. I have several recipes that make me think of Pat whenever I make them but this one is the most delicious. I would post a picture but, to be honest, it has never been around long enough to take a picture.

Download PDF version of this recipe

The Pan

  • Butter liberally a 9 inch springform pan
  • Line the bottom with a parchment or wax paper circle
  • Dust with graham cracker crumbs (about 1/4 cup)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°

The Crust
Mix together the following dry ingredients and nuts then the melted butter. Press into the bottom of the springform pan and set aside.

  • 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cups melted butter (unsalted)

Bake for 10 minutes then take it out of the oven and set aside while you work on the filling.

The Cake Part 1
Using your favorite mixing device cream together all of the following ingredients. Spoon the mixture into the springform pan and flatten. You don’t have to make it perfectly flat. Just distribute it as evenly as you can.

    • 2 pounds cream cheese (that’s 4, 8 ounce packages, at room temperature if possible)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Bake for 30 minutes.

The Cake Part 2
While the cake is in the oven mix these ingredients together in the same bowl you used for the cheesecake. You can even scrape up any cheesecake leftovers in the bowl and mix into these ingredients. When the cake has been in the oven for 30 minutes open the oven, pull out the shelf and spread this mixture evenly over the cake. Bake for another 10 minutes.

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Take the cake out of the oven and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.