The danger is real. There’s a paradise out there.

You can’t move two steps without hearing old-time tales of unsuspecting wanderers who passed by and never left, got sucked in by that boundless flickering of Pacific blues so wicked that they dared plunging into the terrifying anxiety of a slowed down life. Made home, even a family, grew roots. Their next generation, born-and-raised, has fascinating stories to tell about their unwavering connections to being the children of these captivating islands, seeding ideas inside visitors with a less affirmative mind such as myself who all, at one point or another, fondled the unthinkable… could I live here? Oh you’ll see. Just a split second of carelessness and you too would find yourself romancing the same idea.

Hawaii is that kind of hazard and I barely made it out in one piece.

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The majority of myself at least, came home with me to a less… amiable world yet I live here for reasons too basic to be challenged. I mean God damn it THINK, Mandy! There are reasons, benefits for mornings of inexhaustible tiredness and the jet fuels we drink, followed by an emotionless movement through a herd of commuters in the pursue up the social ladder, so what could I possibly gain from starting the day with a backdoor opening to… well, openness, and dip my feet into the brisk water where sea creatures who don’t know a thing about vigor in life, eat their aimless breakfasts? Right, targets. Targets, Mandy! Laying back is too terrifying. And who am I kidding, ocean? The kicking exhilaration that flushed over my rationing when a wild (WILD!) sea turtle swam up by my side in a shore of transparent water, nearly made me forget that these city-grown limbs cannot swim even in the kids-pool let alone in this deep bed of blue, and almost followed.

I could have died there. Hawaii is just. Too dangerous.

And yet I couldn’t stop the thoughts of moving there from running through my mind. Freedom. Tranquility. Sense of calm. Where else would you find those feelings on these levels? I started to tell myself that moving there wouldn’t be that hard. There are removal companies, car shippers, and other ways of making the move a painless procedure… No, Mandy! This isn’t real life.

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So I have to stay here you see, and do my best to ignore the jet-lag that’s muddling my daily tasks with glimpses of my alternate universe. Hawaii… you know you can’t live there yet it haunts you. It’s useless to search for pieces of comfort that would fake the memory of paradise, scrambling to gather ingredients for a taste for the could-be life. Because I failed, both you and myself, miserably. It is clear. I’m not in paradise anymore. Instead, this is a city where those flutterings of fishes we saw dipping inside Ala Wai Canal, adults plus infants, would choke instantaneously of toxins or perhaps… depression. The price we pay for… advancements. So with what I had on hand, I missed Hawaii in the humblest of ways, little nuts coated in a layer of confection and fragrant Kona coffee. So simple yet surprised us just as much as its home did.

Steady now, the danger is real, so close that it’s only 5 hours away from the west coast. And God forbid, if I don’t find my restless footings in this discontent life, it’s so dangerously… dangerously easy to just grow a pair, and find myself stuck in paradise, without even needing a visa.

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Makes: 2 cups

We were amazed by the deliciousness of Hawaiian coffee crusted Macadamia nuts that me, a non-nut person, decided to give it a go. Due to the intimidating price-tag of Kona coffee, more often than not you’ll see a variety of more approachable “Kona blend coffee” on the market, which is a percentage of Kona coffee blended with other types from different regions. I think they will do more than superbly for this specific purpose (nut flavorer/decorator). Then of course, there’s the nut. Macadamia would be the authentic nut-of-choice in Hawaii of course, but I ran into a bit of trouble getting it in Beijing, so I substituted with almond which is a crunchier/less fatty option. I suspect cashews would be an excellent substitute as well.

The ground coffee and light brown sugar must be further ground into fine powder, in order to adhere well to the surface of the nuts. I’m afraid a coffee/spice grinder is the only tool I know of for this job. This recipe yields a mildly sweet snacks (less sweet than the original). You can increase the ratio of sugar if you like.


  • 2 cups (300 grams) of whole raw almonds
  • 3 tbsp of ground Kona blend coffee
  • 4 1/2 tbsp of light brown sugar
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 2 tsp of honey
  • 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar to coat

Preheat the oven on 350ºF/177ºC.

Combine ground Kona blend coffee and light brown sugar in a coffee/spice grinder, and grind into fine powder consistency. Beat the egg white until foamy. Place whole raw almonds into a large bowl, and add the beaten egg white, honey and vanilla extract, then fold until every almond is evenly coated. Add the ground coffee/sugar mixture, and toss until every almond is evenly coated again. Scatter the coated almonds onto a sheet-tray without overlapping too much. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, then gently move around the almonds without breaking off the crusts. Roast for another 5 ~ 8 minutes until the coating looks mostly dry.

Let the almonds cool down completely on the sheet-tray. Then coat the almonds in a fine layer of powdered sugar. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.


  • Belinda @themoonblushbaker

    October 12, 2013 at 7:01 PM Reply

    Such an interesting take on coated nuts, I never though of coating them in the beans before. They look addictive! Once again another culinary delight to rise y blood sugar levels to unbelievable highs.
    Yes Holidays are fun but what is life without pressure in my opinion. While intoxicating, we can not have too much of a good thing. We are not made for constant relaxation.

    • Mandy L.

      October 12, 2013 at 11:19 PM Reply

      Belinda, they coat macadamia nuts this way! They were so good! And is it my stereotype or you don’t sound like an Australian at all… ;)

  • Todd @ HonestlyYUM

    October 13, 2013 at 9:43 AM Reply

    Mandy!! One of the best things I’ve seen in a reeeally long time. You’re bringing me straight back to Hawaii. Dangerous indeed..

  • Kim C.

    October 13, 2013 at 10:38 AM Reply

    I Love Kona coffee!!! These look Soo Good and I think your suggestion to use cashews is a very good idea!!! I miss Hawaii as well. It was a place I never really thought about visiting and then I won a trip to Oahu and that was it. Ever since then I now have this dream that one day I’m going to live there. Thank You for the recipe!

  • Joshua @ Slim Palate

    October 13, 2013 at 10:05 PM Reply

    This looks really interesting! I like the idea of the use of kona coffee a lot. I was curious how you got your moodier shots to fade into pure black like that? Are you manipulating it in RAW to get that look or is your lighting specifically? I’ve been trying to achieve some shots like that but they don’t look quite right. if you don’t want to give your secret then thats totally cool. Your photography is gorgeous anyway.

    • Mandy L.

      October 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM Reply

      Joshua, of course not! I used a black/very dark brown board for the counter as well as the background, and used artificial lighting coming from one direction only. When editing, I increased the contrast of the photo and the dark tone of the counter/background would just turn to black, compared to the other lighter color objects. The boards I used are actually just shelves for closets from IKEA. They are really cheap and large enough for the shoot.

  • Kitchen Butterfly

    October 15, 2013 at 5:05 AM Reply

    Mandy – I’m going to write you an email NOW! This is awesome!!!! Welcome home!!!!!!!!

  • Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes

    October 21, 2013 at 12:31 AM Reply

    I still have to get to hawaii, but I’ve seen my share of the world to relate to this post! Awesome mix of pictures, breathtaking! And those almonds…

  • Melinda

    October 24, 2013 at 4:12 AM Reply

    I so identify with this post. Coming home from Hawaii = utter depression.

  • Shelley

    March 24, 2015 at 12:39 PM Reply

    Please come and visit Hawai`i again! The turtles are way friskier than you’ve pictured. Way.

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