Pineapples, Cake and Poetry

The Long Way Home : A Pineapple’s Journey

Too long
Pineapple clung
to the juices she was born with.

Though she tried to hide the seep of syrup
from the rot of flesh
that cracked her armor.

She knew no magic pill,
nor painless shortcut
could extend
her shelf life
any further.

And the only place that she could turn to

was the long road
to the lonely field.

Giving up the crown
she had held so high
upon her head,

she replanted herself
in the unknown soils,

and then began to wait …

Slowly
slowly
she replaced her fibers
with those that grew in the nutrient earth.

The veining roots brought green to stems
and blossomed the fruit within her core.

Still,
she remained,
while she rose from the ground —
fresh and full of wonder

at the sun
and the rain
and the stars
and their music
that echoed the song inside her.

Her skin turned gold with the honeyed dawn —
it’s sweetness gave off
a newfound fragrance.

And she glowed from within
with the light she’d unearthed :

a harvest
found buried in darkness.


I am completely AMAZED by pineapples! I had no idea how fascinating they were until I saw an actual pineapple plant for the first time: a miniature version of itself suspended atop a single stem, growing from the ground. How ridiculously adorable and miraculous that such a complex fruit is created this way!

Look at this tiny cutie!! 😍🍍

Here are some pineapple facts that have been blowing my mind recently:

  • One plant produces only one pineapple fruit per season.
  • Most species of pineapples take 24 months to reach maturity. That’s right, one pineapple from one plant takes two years to grow!
  • To grow a new pineapple plant you can simply twist off and replant the crown of a mature pineapple fruit.
  • The pineapple plant flowers with hundreds of little “fruitlets” that fuse together and become one fruit.
  • Once the pineapple ripens and the fruit is harvested, it stops ripening and its short shelf life begins quickly ticking away. So how you purchase the pineapple from the store is as ripe as it will ever be. It is only rotting at that point.
  • Although pineapples have become a symbol of Hawaiian agricultural, and Hawai’i is the only US state that grows them, they are not native to the Islands. They were introduced only in 1813.

🙃 I have always loved pineapple upside-down cake and wanted to try making one with fresh pineapple, instead of the traditional canned pineapple, most recipes call for.

This pineapple was grown right down the road from my house at the Maui Tropical Plantation. The fruit itself tasted like heaven, so I knew whatever was made with it would be divine!

This is a recipe I have adapted from many recipes and I am very happy with the outcome. The fresh pineapple caramelizes nicely with no overflow on the topping and the cake is dense and moist. Not only is this cake delicious, but the combination of spices and fresh pineapple makes your home incredibly fragrant when it is baking and after!

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients

Topping:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
5-8 fresh pineapple slices (or 8-10 canned pineapple slices)
Maraschino cherries (to decorate with as you wish)

Cake:

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/3 cup full fat Greek yogurt at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk (or half and half), at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Prepare topping:
    • Cut and up fresh pineapple into rings.
    • Pour melted butter into an ungreased 9×2 inch pie dish or round cake pan.
    • Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
    • Blot all excess liquid off the fruit with a paper towel and pineapple slices and cherries on top of the brown sugar.
    • Place pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set while you prepare the cake batter.
  3. Prepare cake batter:
    • Whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and cinnamon together. Set aside.
    • Mix the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 min. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about 1 min, scraping down the sides as needed.
    • On high speed, beat in the egg whites until combined, then beat in the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
    • Slowly our the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Beat on low speed just until all of the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix.
  4. Remove topping from the refrigerator. Pour and spread cake batter evenly over topping.
  5. Bake for 43-48 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.
  6. Remove cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto a cake stand or serving plate.

Pineapple Wine

Over a glass of pineapple wine
thoughts of you float to the surface,

sweetly swirling in my mind
as hours sip —
lick drips from the rim

and I smile
thinking how time is an ineffective metric

when you’ve fallen in love with a soul.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

The Pageant

Maui held a beauty pageant
for the plants on the island’s stage …

First up was the talent portion

The Palm Tree did the hula,
the Hibiscus danced ballet,
but it was the Trumpet Vine
who wooed the crowed
with her jazzy serenade.

Next up was the evening wear

The gowns were rich in pines and petals
from the Norfolk and the Orchid,
but to the Bougainvillea
and her ruffled florals —
the blue ribbon was awarded.

Then there came the on-stage question

The Fox Tail and the Lobster Claw
didn’t have much to say,
but the Bird of Paradise won, wings-down,
with her passion for civil rights day.

Awards would start with specialties …

Of course, Photogenic, went to Belladonna,
she thought she’d win Congeniality,
but that went to the kind Plumeria
(Belladonna had no personality).

And then there was the final moment;
the title holders announced

The first runner up was the Ginger Plant
with her spicy need for the spotlight
but the crown went to the Pineapple,
for her sweetest beauty laid inside.


Writing and Photography By: Katy Claire Funke

This month officially marks 10 years since I entered the world of pageants. I won the title of Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Teen through the Miss America Organization in 2010. It was one of the most life-changing moments for me and I still reap the benefits from the skills I gained through my pageant experience. Even though pageants get a bad rap (and don’t get me wrong, they definitely do have some not so pretty aspects), I can say, without a doubt, that the people I personally worked with: my state directors, fellow contestants, and title holders, are still some of the most remarkable women I have ever encountered. I earned a great deal of scholarships through the Miss America Organization to go toward my college education and so many unforgettable experiences that I will always be grateful for.

I fell in love with Poetry

A love story #prose #poetry

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment
when I fell in love with Poetry.

Somewhere between the summer nights
and the carelessness of his hair.

Of course, he was a musician with this
hypnotizing rhythm and a smile like Chardonnay.

Just the way that he knocked at my door that autumn day …
I must have known for certain that I’d never be the same.

How he waltzed right up to me and took me by the hand.
How he whispered, we should dance
and I felt so silly, only knowing a few steps
like the haiku shuffle, and the iambic slide —
but oh, the way he held me, right then I could have died!

All of it is beautiful, he said, because it’s you.
I swooned into his smooth talk, but deep down always knew
that my rhymes about my dog were only child’s play,
while a masterpiece he was, (but good heavens, still I blushed!)

On our very first date we hiked up into the forest—
and no, he wasn’t wealthy, but was richer than the royals
when he showed me all the jewels hidden, muted in my world,
and he listened ever gently to all my heart had to say.

To hear it as he did was like dining at the Ritz.
As never had I seen the sky in such divine array
in a morning glory apricot.

And music — how it just lit up like candlelight!

And all the late-night drives… where was he taking me?
A coral beach at sunrise? Floating on the sea?
Somewhere down the way to a love, complex and deep?
I swear the way he knew me was like I’d known him all my life .

But my dear, he was a heartbreaker…
He showed me what it was to cry through all the pain —
oh, the pain! His pain, my pain — it was all the same.
An unanticipated turn into a ping-pong game;
ending in a knock-down-drag-out fight within myself
pinned into a corner. I had to write to get me out.

Impassioned in our nights and exposed in all my scars
that he kissed and turned to stars while we held each other tight.
We forgave and fell asleep, only knowing I’d awake as a new unburdened day
finding beauty ever steady than it was in yesterday.

On my journey never knowing where all of this would land,
but always being thankful for the journey he began.

Writing & Photography By: Katy Claire Funke

May Day is Lei Day!

May first is the celebrated Lei Day throughout the Hawaiian islands, dedicated to the beautiful tradition of making and wearing lei.

The holiday was started May 1st, 1928, after the famous poet, Don Blanding, (AKA the “poet laureate of Hawaii”) suggested a special day be made to honor the spirit of aloha, which is best embodied in the lei tradition.

Lei Day is usually full of celebratory events throughout the community which include live music, food, hula dancing, and lei contests. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, none of these gatherings were able to take place this year. However, kama’aina (Hawaii residents) were encouraged to make their lei at home and share their creations by hanging them on their mailboxes or taking photos.

Hawaii is well known for its “Spirit of Aloha,” which is a way of life on the islands. Being a new resident and having only visited here before now, I have been very curious about what exactly aloha means to the people who live here. We all associate the word with hello, goodbye or love, but what it means to natives goes much deeper.

The direct translation of aloha from Hawaiian to English is presence of divine breath. Hawaiians used to greet each other by placing their foreheads together and inhaling at the same time as a practice to exchange good health and spiritual power. Today, this practice is very rare and the spirit of aloha is shown in other ways. Aloha is the essence of being: love, peace, compassion and respect, living in harmony with the people and the land. It is all about caring for one another without expecting anything in return.

The lei is a symbol of affection representing aloha, given to those coming and leaving Hawaii. Leis are usually strung fresh flowers, shells, nuts, leaves and berries, but can be made of a variety of materials.

Here is my poem for my first Lei Day:


Spirit of Aloha

To wear such words
(such masterpiece)

though one may not assume
to be in tenderest of messages—
intricately woven
of berries and blooms :

A harmony
of understanding

A breath sent
from me to you

A greeting
of deeper meaning

between
mayflowers
who always knew
. . .

To be revealed within
the gauze of rainbow
in prismatic kindness

the Aloha Spirit
shines its colors
through the veils
of silvered mist


And my lovely he’e berry lei along with a bonus May Day rainbow outside the kitchen window!

Since day one I have felt this aloha spirit and been blessed to be welcomed into the community. Despite all the chaos with COVID-19 neighbors are always checking in on me, having me over for dinner and helping me get acquainted with the island. It has been a crazy time of adjustments, especially during these unprecedented times, but having aloha has helped immensely.

Writing and photography By: Katy Claire Funke

Synergy & Seal Haikus

Synergy

Before the coral reefs felt pain
and the oceans could speak English

we were as one,
the mountains and I,
as were
the sea lions
and constellations .

Before our spirits
could be sacrificed
for jewels and false images

we exhaled
with the ebbing tides
in waves combined of energies .

God made us
to participate
one body
and one spirit

when stars were space
and space was not
we were
a knitted ball:
immaculate .

Can our molecules remember
through our inner cracks in concrete
that our seeds were scattered to thrive ?

Can our hearts
break our molds
like the ancient banyan trees,

their root-woven wisdoms
still in our eyes ?

I am on a constant quest for Banyan trees these days. Such incredible wonders! I found this beauty on the grounds of the Maui Country Club today.

Seal Haikus

from today’s run-in with an adorable sea lion at Paia’s Ho’okipa Beach:

Splash me with your pearls!
Oh! Paint me like your French girls!
Sea, make art of me!

Waves can’t crash my scene!
Watch me worm and wobble ‘till
I collapse dance shores!

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Exquisitely Dressed / Haikus on the Beach

Exquisitely dressed are the shores
that hem the oceanic abyss:

cashmere sands are iced
in crystalline fishnet nylons

adorned are corsets
with bones of coral
and buttons
of tiffany blue diamonds

effervescent waters
still bubble up
beneath the foam-trimmed tulle

gowns of brackish satin
learn to let go
of their most treasured pearls

skirts of gelatin pirouette
their secrets laced in seaweed

embraced for love
of blue-dipped kisses
in the spring organza breeze

pressed in sands
are footprints
that danced
on jeweled bays

where the sea extends its tides
to gently clear the stage in waves

sweeping beaches slowly back
into a sacredness
of sapphire
depths

as the wind surfs aside couture
into clouds
soft-silken lilac

Haikus

Sun proposed a tan
my skin has yet to accept.
– Forever Pale Girl

The sparkling tides fill
my sight with Gatorade blue’s
quench for hopes renewed

Reflections of you
are seen in shadows by me
missing my best friend.

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Sea Turtles

In this endless blue
my heart swells
& breaks
on rocks
in waves;

my mind
as loud
as tsunamis.

But you,
you glide
through time & space
to reveal the truths
in each our souls.

Each stroke
a meditative dance

your cosmic travels
in utter silence.

Can you teach me
a shred of your stillness —
a grain of your
gentle strength?

With just a glimpse
of the galaxies
in your eyes
I believe
I can accept life’s
ever-changing shades
& learn to float
in the rain.

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Music of Good Friday

We are called to:

*Listen
to the melody

(Edge tones of pigeon wings)
(A humming of waves cello
)

*Harmonize
in sonic civility

(Ease of human frequency)
(Stillness of city rumbles)

*Reflect
on suffering’s elegy

(Dissonance of our being)
(Sickness of the innocent)

*Forgive
in resting humility

(Mercy of our heart strings)
(A cadence of gently living)

This year’s Good Friday is especially poignant during a time of darkness and suffering for humanity. Many of the lessons we are learning during this pandemic are reflected in the stillness of this day.

Napili Bay is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on Maui. It was so strange to be one of the only people there due there being no tourists on the island.

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Photos from Napili Bay, Maui, HI 4/10/2020

The Creation of Art

Why is it that every time I create something I panic that it is the last time I will ever create? Will this be the last poem I ever write? The last song I ever sing?

What is the creation of art but …

A narrowing of winding roads

leading to unnamed destinations?

A taming of the ruthless wild —

a guardrail on unforeseen emotions?

A beauty that hides the chaos,

but makes the truth be seen?

A grieving tree that’s frozen,

but surprises us by blooming?

A flourishing of harmony

of life in volcanic death?

A mesmerizing flower

that leads us on a new path?

A pruning of the jagged hedges,

a corralling of the lawless pastures?

An uprising of hearts impassioned,

a feeling expressed in lines & colors?

Maybe I needn’t worry

about if I’ll create again.

Maybe it’s in the beauty

of unknowing

where we realize

the creation.

Writing & photography by: Katy Claire Funke

All photos were taken on the Kula Highway in upcountry Maui, HI.

This poem was inspired by Francisco Bravo Cabrera’s post on What is Art?