Certain plants are known in Hawai'i as 'Canoe Plants', meaning plants brought by the early Polynesian voyagers when they settled in the Hawaiian Islands. The Same Canoe Local Food Challenge is an ongoing project of the non-profit group, One Island Sustainable Living. The project was launched in September of 2015 and has taken different forms each year.
The name “Same Canoe” pays tribute to Hawaii’s original canoe crops and holds the lesson of the empowerment achieved when paddling together cooperatively by raising awarenes of island-grown canoe crops to help build appreciation, grow consumer demand, and encourage our local farmers and gardeners to increase production of these heritage foods and medicines.
The canoe plants are:
'ape/elephant's ear, 'awa/kava, hau/trunks of trees were used for building canoes; ipu/gourd, used for storing and carrying food as well as for percussion instruments; kalo/taro, kamani/Alexandrain laurel, ki/ti, used for clothing as well as 'dishes'; root can be used for making strong clear, brandy-like liquor called Okolehao; ko/sugar cane, kou/lumber tree; kukui/candlenut, oil used for light and as medicine, as well as for a food condiment called inamona; mai'a/banana, milo/portia tree, niu/coconut, noni/Indian mulberry, 'ohe/bamboo, 'ohi'a 'ai/mountain apple, 'olena/turmeric, olona/fiber used for cordage , pia/Polynesian arrowroot, 'uala/sweet potato, uhi/yam, 'ulu/breadfruit, wauke/paper mulberry.
Some were food, some medicinal and some were used for building material, and making kapa/cloth.
A few weeks ago I was contacted to participate today in a Same Canoe event at the 'Under the Banyans' Hawi Farmers Market where we shared tastings of delicious food made from 'canoe plants'.
Yummy, naturally sweet breadfruit and cacao, an incredible breadfruit hummus, and two types of sweet potato-haupia desserts. Recipe follows for the one I made.
Purple Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie
15 medium sized purple sweet potatoes
4 inch knob of fresh ginger
1 - 1/2 cups coconut milk (approximately 13.5 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used locally made from Orchid Isle Traders)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used Maui gold)
Boil the sweet potatoes in plenty of water, until soft. Peel and mash. Peel ginger and grate over the mashed sweet potato, add coconut milk, vanilla extract and sugar. Mix well.
Pour and spread into a sprayed 9 x 13 baking pan.
Make haupia. Haupia is the traditional Hawaiian style coconut pudding made with coconut milk, sugar and arrowroot for thickening. For my version I tripled the recipe, since I wanted a thick haupia topping on the sweet potato.
Haupia / Hawaiian Coconut Pudding
5 Tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1/4 cup white sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups coconut milk
Place the cornstarch, sugar, and salt into a saucepan; stir in 1/4 of the coconut milk to make a smooth paste. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened so that it coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Pour over the sweetp potato mix in the 9x13 inch baking dish; refrigerate until set and cold. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and chopped and toasted macadamia nuts, if desired.
It is delicious as is, but variations can include:
coconut flakes in the sweet potato mix
chopped and toasted macadamia nuts mixed with the toasted coconut topping
bottom crust made with mashed 'ulu (breadfruit) and flaked coconut mixed and prebaked for a few minutes before adding the sweet potato mix.
A beautiful day for a drive up the Kohala Mountain Road today!