Friday, March 15, 2013

Red Dirt

The Scoop on Kauai's Red Dirt
Kauai is known for its red dirt. This substance is basically rusted volcano rock, turned into dirt over millions of years. Because Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands there is more erosion there and therefore, lots of rusty red dirt. The soil's red color is due to the fact that it contains a large amount of iron oxide.
I am told by 
Kauai locals that as children they were scolded for getting the red dirt on their clothes. Parents knew that once clothing was stained with the local dirt, it was stained for life. They knew of no way to remove the stubborn redness. In fact, the red dirt is well known for its strong staining property and is the reason behind the Hawaiian custom of removing one's shoes when entering a home.

On the door of homes and condos you will often find a sign similar to this one pictured below
Red Dirt Shirt History
On September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki, a category 5 hurricane, made a direct hit on the garden island of Kauai. Located in the lush hills of Kalaheo, behind what is today's Brick Oven Pizza, was a business called Tropical Shirts--a small "mom and pop" silk-screening operation. After Hurricane Iniki hit, the (then) owners assessed the damages. Among the spoils, they found messy cases of blank white t-shirts, partially stained with Kauai's famous red dirt.
When You Get Lemons...Make Lemonade
The owner, not being one to give up easily, wondered how to save his ruined t-shirts and possibly make some money in the process. He was determined to figure out a way to remove Kauai's red dirt from the fabric.
However, around that time a friend suggested the owners simply finish the job. His idea: completely dye the shirts with the red dirt and call them Dirt Shirts. The owner, always game for a quirky business idea thought it was brilliant. His partner and wife did not share the same enthusiasm. At first, the story goes, she told him he was crazy.
The Dirt Shirt is Invented
Nevertheless, both being artists, the mom and pop shop owners soon went to work on creating the first "Dirt Shirt." The first time the red Dirt Shirts were seen was in 1994 at Ho O Lau Lea in Poipu. To the couple's surprise, the Hawaii locals quickly mobbed the sales booth and bought up every single shirt. To keep up with the great demand, the owner had to go back to the shop that night to make more. At first it was local people buying the Dirt Shirts. Then tourists began buying these shirts as Hawaiian vacation souvenirs.
The Business Today
The Real Dirt Shirts line of clothing is organically dyed in 100% pure red dirt. The company uses no harsh chemicals or dyes and an all natural dyeing process. After one wash alone, the t-shirts may be washed with like colors. 
No time for a trip to Kauai? Then follow this link to order one online. 
And no... I am not a marketing rep for the company. I was just fascinated on the ingenuity these people showed to turn a  business disaster around into a profitable business. 
I am thinking of buying the one pictured above I saw at a store. Especially when I heard that according to Hawaiian custom the red dirt is blessed and wearing this Red Dirt shirt brings good luck. With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner the timing couldn't be better.

Here is the real red dirt

Banana Buttermilk Macadamia Nut Pancakes
Cook's note A recipe worth trying and the secret ingredient that makes them fluffy is buttermilk
  • 1-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (2)
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 3 TB. brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TB. softened butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts
  • Combine first 5 ingredients and set aside
  • Combine buttermilk, bananas, egg, vanilla, butter and brown sugar
  • Whisk buttermilk mixture till combined and smooth
  • Add to dry ingredients and whisk only till combined
  • Stir in nuts
  • Use 1/4 cup batter at a time for pancakes on a hot griddle 

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