The girls at Two Chicks in a Hammock make life sound like a lot of backyard fun, but they were busy bees in the kitchen coming up with a marinade that was just too good to keep to themselves. Katherine Crosby (Kat) started by tinkering with her grandma Katherine Helekahi Abreu’s recipe. It really is delicious, taking the best of some of my favorite flavors like shoyu, limu and chiles and creating an adaptable sauce and seasoning that works on meats, veggies and grains.
Michelle Jones, the other half of Two Chicks in a Hammock, and Crosby dropped by my office one morning to tell me about what it takes to be saucy and successful.
MAUITIME: So I suppose work isn’t all lounging in a hammock?
MICHELLE JONES: We decided to start our own business making chili pepper water because our friends and family kept trying the ones Kat would make, asking us to make them some for their houses and telling us we had to sell it because the one in the store was junk. Kat is always experimenting with different marinades, recipes and things to grill. This recipe was something her pure Hawaiian grandma used to make and Kat added some things of her own to make it what it is today.
MT: Do you make your own chili pepper water first?
JONES: We make the chili pepper water at the commercial kitchen by mixing the ingredients together, letting it steep for a little bit and then straining out the solids.
MT: What do you guys do when you are not making backyard juice?
JONES: I’m a case coordinator for Easter Seals Hawaii and Kat is a forestry worker for the Department of Land and Natural Resources for the State of Hawaii. I’m hoping to do this full time as well as do a food cart with our barbecue items and pickles soon.
MT: Describe that aha moment when you decided to start making and bottling the product.
JONES: After our wedding was over, we decided to go for it and embark on this journey. We make it at the Lokahi Pacific Pono Center commercial kitchen. We grow most of our peppers and a friend grows the rest.
MT: Can you give me a few of your fave recipes that use Backyard Juice?
JONES: It goes really well on grilled steak, fried fish, rice, tofu and grilled veggies. You can use it to spice up soups and noodles. We drink it at our house.
MT: Where can you find Backyard Juice?
JONES: You can find the original recipe at Foodland, Ah Fook’s, Tamura’s, Island Grocery, Olowalu General, Aina Gourmet at the Honua Kai resort and in the deli at the Fairmont Kealani hotel. You can find the gluten/preservative-free version at Down To Earth, Alive and Well and soon all Whole Foods in Hawaii. It’s also available on Lanai at Richards Market, Pine Isle Market and International Food and Clothing, and on Kauai at Aloha Spice Company. You can order on our website and we ship anywhere.
MT: Do you have other sauces planned?
JONES: We will come out with a rosemary marinade in the future.
MT: Now that you have the two versions are you going to stop making the original or will you offer both?
JONES: We will continue to make both versions since they will sell in different markets–regular stores and natural food stores.