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    "Free Bananas" , and a whole lot more, on the Big Island of Hawaii.


    "Free Bananas" stand, on the way to the Hawaiian Vanilla Company in Paauilo Makau

    Day 3 of our honeymoon, and my first chance to connect to the internet. (Somehow the iPhone doesn't really count.) I have been eager to blog about my food experiences here, and now I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the sweet subjects I could be writing about. It's all good though. I'll catch up once I am back in rainy Seattle, where I will surely be daydreaming about peeling & eating funny-looking rambutans or making a super healthy smoothie with white pineapples or spreading guava jelly on my morning toast or drinking a liliko'i margarita at sunset...or...or...or...

    Rambutan fruit. Just peel & eat. Like a big, firm slightly-prickly grape!

    They say life is a journey and not a destination, and that was - in a sense - true of our trip to the Hawaiian Vanilla Company. We started out at Hapuna Beach, and drove due East. The drive across the island takes you through different types of terrain, and it's all spectacular. Cattle ranches on green rolling hills, eerie-looking black lava fields that go on forever, barren parcels of land with seemingly nothing but dead tree trunks on them, lush tropical rain-forests...and everything in between.

    The Parker Ranch, with it's rich history, is one of the oldest and, at 135,000 acres, one of the largest cattle ranches in the entire U.S. 

    Sometimes we would get glimpses of the turquoise blue Pacific ocean out one side of the car, and then look out the windows on the other side and see the the snow-capped peak of Mauna Kea, poking through the clouds. And always the flowers. Everywhere we went, something colorful and fragrant was in bloom.

    I don't mean to take anything away from the Hawaiian Vanilla Company however. It's a dreamy destination well worth a special trip. If you are ever on the Big Island, be sure to visit. The people are wonderful, and their family run "all things vanilla" business, which they have created over the past 12 years, is astounding. They are clearly dedicated to quality, and ensuring that their visitors leave just as passionate about vanilla as they are. In my case, I wasn't sure that was possible, but it was. I am more in love with vanilla than ever. I can't wait to use the vanilla beans we bought there....the biggest, plumpest, shiniest, most intense vanilla beans I've ever seen, smelled or tasted!


    But I digress...back to the bananas.

    They were free, yes FREE. We only took 2, one for each of us. After taking the first bite I wanted to take ALL of them. They tasted like a perfectly ripe banana should. Like the tropics. Like bananas & coconut & pineapple too, all at the same time, and they had the creamiest texture. It would have been beyond rude for us to take all of them though. On second thought, maybe we could have just taken half of themI had visions of sneaking them into a bag and taking them back to our condo in Kona, then spending a couple wonderful hours making either a batch of my beloved Banana Pineapple Jam, or my other favorite, the mostly banana-filled plus slightly coconut-y "Monkey Butter".

    I played it out in my over-active mind: I would keep one jar of Monkey Butter and I would take the rest of them back to the "Free Bananas" stand. I could tuck a few jars into the display next to the remaining bananas. My way of "paying it forward", or canning it forward, if you will.

    If it weren't for the 70 mile round trip, I think I would have done it.

    In fact, given the opportunity again, next time I probably will.



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    Reader Comments (3)

    Would LOVE to know your Monkey Butter recipe only if you do not mind sharing. :) It looks so, well, preserved on that toast. I wouldn't know how to keep it from going brown right away. I love your blog! I believe I found it by clicking a link on Facebook belonging to Food In Jars. I hope to someday master this art of preserving (yes, I read it's easy, I just never seem to have the right ingredients) I would give ANYTHING to find organic rhubarb in Southern New Jersey too!! Glad you enjoyed your honeymoon!! Very jell!! Haha! :)

    May 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTM

    Good morning ~

    I have the recipe for Monkey Butter on my original blog. It can be found by clicking on this link:
    It was a BIG batch -- it takes a big pan to make this much. I would divide the recipe in half unless you have plenty of people to give it to and/or you really love it :)
    It IS so good though. You can put it on toast or add it to smoothies or yoghurt.
    The bananas don't turn brown because of the acidity from the pineapple and citrus. When I was a kid I had a secret love for baby food, particularly one by Gerber called "Hawaiian Delight" or something like that. This Monkey Butter reminds me of that...smooth, pineapple-banana-coconut-y goodness!

    I am a rhubarb-aholic. Can't stop finding new ways to cook with it!

    Honeymoon on the Big Island? Highly recommended. Such an interesting place, with something for everyone. Cattle ranches, vanilla farms, coffee plantations, volcanoes, beaches, snow. And you can see it all in a couple days (if you get up really early, drive a lot, and stay up really late. Lol.Spoken from experience!)

    Thanks for commenting. I love hearing from people.


    May 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens

    Oops-- I guess you can't click on that link I included in my first post. You'll need to do a copy & paste. Sorry!

    May 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrook Hurst Stephens
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