Monday, July 23, 2012


For many, the island of Hawaii is the ultimate dream getaway--Paradise on Earth. Lush and lyrical with a timeless allure, Hawaii sends a siren's call. Today, Hawaii is a global gathering place for visitors to share in the spirit of aloha. Beyond the sun and surf of the islands, you'll discover that the rich cultural history of Hawaii makes a visit there truly memorable. “The Aloha State” became the 50th state in 1959, but the history of Hawaii goes back centuries earlier. Roughly 1,500 years ago, Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands first set foot on Hawaii Island. With only the stars to guide them, they miraculously sailed over 2000 miles in canoes to migrate to the Islands.

Five hundred years later, settlers from Tahiti arrived, bringing their beliefs in gods and demi-gods and instituting a strict social hierarchy based on a kapu (taboo) system. Hawaiian culture flourished over the centuries, giving rise to the art of the hula and the sport of surfing, but land division conflicts between ruling chieftains were common.

In 1778, Captain James Cook, landed on Kauai at Waimea Bay. Naming the archipelago the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of the Earl of Sandwich, Cook opened the doors to the west. Cook was killed only a year later in Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii Island. In 1791, North Kohala born Kamehameha united the warring factions of Hawaii Island and went on to unify all of the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810. In 1819, less than a year after King Kamehameha's death, his son, Liholiho, abolished the ancient kapu system. In 1820, the first Protestant missionaries arrived on Hawaii Island filling the void left after the end of the kapu system. Hawaii became a port for seamen, traders and whalers. The whaling industry boom flourished in Lahaini Harbor in Maui. Throughout these years of growth, western disease took a heavy toll on the Native Hawaiian population.

Western influence continued to grow and in 1893, American Colonists who controlled much of Hawaii's economy overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a peaceful, yet still controversial coup. In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States. In the 20th century, sugar and pineapple plantations fueled Hawaii's economy bringing an influx of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Portuguese immigrants. Lanai, under the leadership of James Dole, became known as the “Pineapple Island,” after becoming the world’s leading exporter of pineapple. This mix of immigrant ethnicities is what makes Hawaii’s population so diverse today. Food exports include macadamia nuts, pineapple, livestock, coconut and sugarcane. Many of the foods and flowers native to Hawaii, like coconut, cane sugar, shea nuts, orchids, and white ginger, just to name a few, are used in cosmetic and skin care products. Hawaii has made a strong effort to diversify its agriculture, which used to depend exclusively on sugarcane and pineapples. The only state in the United States of America able to grow coffee plants commercially is Hawaii. Coffee, grown primarily along the western coast of Hawaii Island, is a major export crop.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Oahu. Four years later, on September 2, 1945, Japan signed its unconditional surrender on the USS Battleship Missouri, which still rests in Pearl Harbor today. The USS Missouri or Mighty Mo, as she is often called, is anchored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor within a ship's length of the USS Arizona Memorial, forming fitting bookends to the involvement of the Unites States in World War II.

Long before Western explorers and missionaries arrived in the Polynesian islands, many traditional crafts existed in Hawaii that set the stage for the development of its unique and wonderful style of quilting. The striking method of cutting a design from a single piece of fabric and appliqueing it to a contrasting background emerged in the islands sometime in the mid-nineteenth century. A Hawaiian quilt is a distinctive quilting style of the Hawaiian Islands that uses large, symmetric applique patterns. Motifs often work stylized botanical designs in bold colors on a white background. Hawaiian quilt applique is made from a single cut on folded fabric. Quilting stitches normally follow the contours of the applique design. The climate of Hawaii is unsuitable for cotton cultivation, so all Hawaiian quilts are constructed from imported material. Hawaiian women learned how to quilt from the New England missionaries in the early nineteenth century. 

Before quilting, Hawaiians originally covered their beds with kapa moe, which is made by beating the bark of the mulberry tree, felting it, and then strategically dying the blanket to produce a traditional pattern. After the Hawaiians were taught the modern quilting techniques by the missionaries, they fused their traditional patterns with the newly learned quilting style and Western fabrics. This produced wholly unique blankets reflecting their unique island culture blended with western methods.


1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 (8 oz.) carton whipped topping
1/2 c. coconut flakes
1 can crushed pineapple (drained)
1 c. chopped macadamia nuts
1 (8 oz.) jar maraschino cherries
3 or 4 bananas, sliced
2 graham cracker crusts (deep dish)

Beat together sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice in a large bowl. Lightly fold in whipped topping. Add coconut, cherries, pineapple and nuts, stirring just until combined. Slice bananas and line bottom of crusts. Layer whipped topping mixture and bananas, ending with whipped topping mixture. Top with a cherry in center. Chill until firm (sets better overnight).

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