kruizing with kikukat

Monday, April 8, 2013

East Meets West Fruit Salad

In less than a week, I will have house guests.  My cousin LA is coming to town!  She and her boyfriend SN will be here for his friend's wedding.  We are excited because this is the first time we are meeting SN.  LA's parents will also be in town to celebrate her dad's birthday.  Even though he no longer resides in Hilo, UM often comes here to celebrate with his siblings.

LA and SN will be staying with me (UM stays with Kikukat Mom).  I am entering panic mode because my house is very messy at the moment.  I will need to do some blitz cleaning on Friday afternoon/evening since they arrive on Saturday.  I hope SN isn't allergic to cats or mess.  He went to a private school, so maybe he might be scared off by the kitty hair and clutter.  LA is tough so I'm not worried about her.  She survived NYC during the 9/11 attacks.  A little kitty hair won't bother her!

While the lovebirds (LA & SN) will be busy with the wedding on Saturday (provided SN gets over the initial shock of my house mess), the rest of the family will likely get together.  I hope there will be no opportunity for UL to cook on a hibachi.  I also hope there will be no opportunity for AS to get plastered in a restaurant and display offensive behavior.  Shame!

Since I am often asked to make some kind of dessert for family gatherings, I'm anticipating this coming weekend will be no different.  In expectation for warmer weather, I was hoping to make this fruit salad.  Unfortunately, we seem to be entering into another ice age rather than spring.  I love Guy Hagi (local weather bunny for the soon-to-be-geriatric set. . .sorry, Guy), but he seems to always be delivering bad news about the weather.  Well, even if I end up making a warm fruit cobbler, my heart will be pining away for a cool, fruity dessert.

I love this creamy fruit salad.  I think its a variation of halo-halo, a filipino dessert.  The creaminess comes from cream cheese and condensed milk.  You may vary the fruits and sweets.   It makes a whole lot, which is why its good to serve at a gathering (versus trying to eat the whole thing yourself).  Coconut gel, pineapple gel, kaong (sugar palm nut), and macapuno, can be found in the Asian section of most supermarkets (or at the Chinese store).  They are sold in shelf-stable jars.  If possible, try to look for white/plain kaong.  Some stores carry kaong which has been dyed a horrific magenta color (see picture at right. . .the kaong is visible between the mandarin orange segment and the kiwi).  If you use that, be warned that eventually, the entire salad will take on a pink tinge.

If you like canned fruit cocktail, you may also use it.  I go to great lengths to avoid canned fruit cocktail because canned pears and grapes (other than fermented liquid) give me the willies.  I cannot stand those little hard granules in pears, and grapes are kinda close to the Devil's condiment on my list of foods to avoid.  I have tried and tried to like grapes, but I just cannot.  I think it has something to do with the area where the grape is attached to the stems and the disgusting seeds.  Plus it takes so dang long to peel them; the skin doesn't come off breaks up into bits and gets all over.  I've gone through a ton of napkins just to get the skin off my fingernails.  What?  You say you don't peel grapes?  You've got to be kidding me!  Euwwwww.  Don't even get me started on jaboticaba.

Now that I've totally grossed myself out with the grape description, I need to pull myself back together.  I've got too much to do before Saturday.  I can't afford to lose my focus.  The Ds need to get cracking with their rooms.  The more they clean, the less I will need to do on Friday evening.  The purr-mobile is a total mess, but I can't clean that until Friday, when I'm done using it for work.  The hallway bathroom also needs to be tidied.  There are enough hair care products on the counter to open our very own Fantastic Sam's!

LA is one of my favorite cousins. . .I will not be the reason for SN running away.  We've got other family members who have the potential for making that happen without even trying!

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     1 block cream cheese, softened
     1 can condensed milk
     1 jar coconut gel, drained
     1 jar pineapple gel, drained
     1 jar kaong, drained
     2 cans mandarin oranges, drained
     1 jar macapuno
     1 cantaloupe
     1 kiwi
     2 c blueberries
     1 lb strawberries
     1 mango, if available

Beat cream cheese and condensed milk.  Add diced fruits and sweets.  Chill until ready to serve.

It was a busy week in Hilo. . .Merrie Monarch Festival time.  This year was the 50th anniversary of the festival, and Hilo was crawling with tons of people.  Traffic everywhere was crazy.  The Help reported seeing people holding up traffic at an intersection while trying to look at a map.  While I made it a point to stay out of the downtown area, I did manage to sneak a plate of Hawaiian food (okay, okay, the Hawaiian food stand is located outside of the downtown area).

The most popular (this is just my opinion. . .don't wanna offend anyone) Hawaiian food venue during the festival can be found on the main highway (Kanoelehua Avenue) and is operated by Ka Uhane Hemolele O Ka Malamalama.  The entire Keawekane ohana and friends are always hard at work preparing tons of plates.  I have tried all kinds of stuff (pastele, butterfish luau, laulau), but my gold standard is the kalua pig plate (Hawaiian style).  Hawaiian style plates come with lomilomi salmon, chicken long rice, white rice, and haupia.  Local style plates come with white rice and macaroni salad.  Gotta pay extra for the poi (worth it!).  I like how they chop all the lomilomi salmon ingredients really small because I hate getting a mouthful of onion.  And there are pieces of salt salmon in the lomi...these days, many places seem to forget that part.  By the time this post hits the internet, the festival will be a fond memory and the food stand by HPM will be dismantled, but don't despair.  During non-festival times, the Hawaiian food truck can be found parked at Hilo bayfront. 

In the salt mines. . .The High Commander did it again!  She bought me and a whole bunch of other people lunch in an impromptu show of appreciation for our work.  She handed a Benjamin to my coworker and asked her to take orders and go to get the orders.  Wow!  Generosity is a character trait which impresses me, and its easy to look up to and respect a leader who has traits we value.  The work drives me mental, but when you have a leader you respect, you know that the road, though bumpy, is going to lead you somewhere you want to be.  And maybe that should have been reason enough to listen to her when she told me the fish mcbites I ordered was nothing special.

The tangent to this story. . . my coworker and I were just gushing about how the High Commander has the grace to show aloha and appreciation for hard work.  Upon hearing us, one of the lieutenants mentioned nice things she and the other lieutenants do for the foot soldiers they supervise, and then she us asked what our boss does for us to show appreciation for all that we do.  I would've loved to capture the look on her face (and upload the pic to this blog) when my coworker and I answered in unison, "nothing".  The lieutenant was totally floored.  Yup. . .no aloha spoken at my office.

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