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September 2008



I Think I Am Going Bananas!

By Karen Yoneda  


The phrase “I think I am going bananas,” reflects how wildly I feel about this fruit. But I am not alone. In the entertainment world, “The Banana Boat Song” by Harry Belafonte told of dockworkers loading bananas. Other recordings include Louis Prima: “Banana Split for Baby” and “Please don’t squeeze Da Banana”. In later years, Buddy Clark, Xavier Cugat and others performed “Chiquita Banana.” And what about “Yes, We Have No Bananas?”

A few species of banana (or mai`a) was brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesians and noted by Captain Cook when he first landed in the Islands in 1778.

When I was growing up in Hawaii, my mother would often quiz us the various types of bananas, such as the Apple, Chinese and Bluefield which neighbors or relatives in the Makiki area of O`ahu would gladly share.

My personal favorite is the apple banana as it is sweet yet tangy, a bit similar to the apple. On hot summer days, we often would prepare refreshing banana desserts with ice cream, cherries and nuts. Imagine lying outside in a hammock with a banana split, sundae or float! I remember walking into Kress or Woolworth and ordering a banana split for lunch - it was heavenly!


Bananas can be eaten raw or cooked at any time of the day. For breakfast a favorite is banana pancakes:

2 eggs, beaten well
2 cups milk
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
6 tsp. baking powder
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt (optional)
3 bananas

Mix ingredients. Add mashed bananas. Fry batter in greased pan. Enjoy


For a snack, lunch, dinner or appetizer, my mother would use bananas in the following recipe:

Banana Fritters

1 cup sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
1 well-beaten egg
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp. oil 3-4 bananas

Combine dry ingredients and add liquids to batter. Peel bananas, coat lightly with flour. Dip into batter and fry until golden brown.


Banana Cream Pie

2 cup milk
2 egg yolks beaten
3 T. flour (heaping)
1 T. cornstarch
½ cup sugar
½ t. salt
1 T. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 bananas
1 (9 inch) baked pie shell

Set ¼ cup milk aside and scald the rest. Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Combine the ¼ cup milk with the egg yolks and add to the flour mixture. Gradually add a little of the scalded milk to the mixture then combine it with the rest of the scalded milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Take off heat and add vanilla and butter. Cool completely. Slice bananas and line the bottom of a baked pie shell. Pour cream filling over and refrigerate. Optional: top with whipped topping .


While growing up in Hawaii, the entire family spent a few summer vacations with relatives in Hau`ula near the beach. I remember preparing banana nut bread with my aunt. It is delicious for breakfast, snack or dessert.

Banana Nut Bread

1 cup melted butter (I have used canola oil)
1 cup sugar (I prefer brown sugar)
2 eggs
2 c. sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
4 + large ripe bananas, mashed
1½ cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in dry ingredients. Beat in mashed bananas. Add nuts. Pour into greased, floured 5” x 9” loaf pan. Bake 350 about 1 hour until done. Can be frozen.


Banana muffins are a favorite in our household.

½ cup butter
1-1/4 cups sugar (may be brown sugar)
2 eggs
¼ cup sour cream
1 t. baking soda
1 cup banana, mashed (about 3)
1 ½ cup flour
¼ tsp vanilla
dash of salt, wheat germ and flaxseed

Nuts - optional

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Beat until light. Add sour cream and baking soda.

Stir in banana. Add flour, salt. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla. Pour into muffin pan. Bake 350 for 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 large or 18-24 small muffins.

The next time you eat a banana, remember that it does not grow on trees. It is a huge herbaceous plant which grows from fifteen to thirty feet. In addition, the banana is an asexual clone, which is grown by seeds in a process called vegetative propagation. In other words, the top banana is simultaneously a clone and herb. It is also very versatile and nutritious, high in potassium and fiber and wildly available. It can be eaten raw, cooked, or baked - whatever your heart desires! These recipes are just a small part of my collection so enjoy! Bon Appetit! Pono mea`ai!

Karen Yoneda grew up in Honolulu and is a Rough Rider ( Roosevelt HS) and Warrior (UH-Mānoa.) She and her husband John now live in Redmond, Washington.

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