Dragon Fruit

As you may or may not have noticed, this year is more than half over. In fact a couple of weeks ago when a friend and I were in a Hobby Lobby they already had Christmas decorations out! This was the last week of July and is far too early for this old lady; I prefer my Christmas stuff to be on the shelves after Thanksgiving. Yes, I understand about sales and how to make money, I worked in retail sales at a couple of different points in my life, but four or five months before Christmas is a little too much.
This past week has been different and I have to say at times very interesting. Tuesday was our monthly meeting, etc., of the Auxiliary and Wednesday the church in a nearby town had their annual picnic and homecoming. My friend’s husband was raised in the town of Praha, TX and this is where the action was! It is truly a Czech tradition for this small town and I was told they sold over 5,000 plates, just to businesses. They have a separate line for “business customers” and someone comes from various businesses and picks up the packages of plates. Needless to say, they come from miles around, as there are several larger companies in surrounding towns. The line for regular lunches and outgoing lunches was over 50 to 60 people deep in each line, at one time.
Many crews work all week getting the grounds prepared, the buildings cleaned and booths set up beforehand. My friend’s husband and others, who were raised in this town or now live in the town, come to work at 3:30 or so a.m. and begin preparing food. They serve the most awesome fried chicken you can find in any commercial place, along with the picnic stew that is a staple at all church picnics in this area. They also serve German style potatoes, seasoned green beans and sauerkraut with dessert and a drink. He was working with the fried chicken and another friend and her husband were working also, she with making the sauce for the beans and I think he was on fried chicken also. We had a great time, the auction was going really well with handmade quilts going for 3K to 5K each and jars of homemade noodles, cookies, rosettes claiming $300 to $500! The music went on all day long with four or five different bands playing mostly Czech and German tunes, some sung in the Czech language and others in German, with almost as many being sung in English. The dancing was fun to watch and the dance floor was always full. It was a long day but we came home happy to have been together and enjoyed ourselves. Thursday was quiet and uneventful, and I rested up from all the fun I had on Wednesday. However, in the wee hours of Friday morning, as I found out later, we had a shooting on our nice quiet road. A friend of mine from town who was out of state called me to see if I was OK and told me about it. Of course it was nearly a block away, so all I had noticed was a larger amount of traffic than I could imagine for that time of the morning. We are all unharmed; it was a typical fight between disagreeing drinking people. There had been problems between these two men before and it came to a head. The one did not survive and the other is in custody, so as I said we have no problem. The strange thing is that my friend who lived the closest to all the excitement slept through it! She knew nothing until her husband who was in another city called and told her about it. He works in the prison system and a friend from work notified him, as they knew he lived on this road and his family was at home.
Recently, in reading magazine articles, I’ve seen a picture of a strange looking fruit that was new to me. The skin was pinky/red and the flesh was white with black specks that I assumed were seeds. My curiosity got the best of me and I finally asked my daughter if she had a clue as to what it was; her answer was “It’s Dragon Fruit, Mom”! The photo in the magazine was a layout of a fruit plate and I was able to recognize all but that one.
This fruit is actually a member of several different cactus species that are indigenous to the Americas. There is more than one spelling of this fruit and each is a different genus. “Pitaya” refers to the fruit of the genus “Stenocereus”, while “Pithaya” refers to the genus “Hylocereus”. This is originally native to Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatamala and other regions of northern South America.
Sweet Pitahayas comes in three types “Hyloceres Undatus”, which is pink skinned with white flesh, “Hylocereus Costaricensis”, which is red skinned with red flesh and “Hylocereus Megalanthus” which is yellow skinned and has white flesh.
The flesh is similar to a Kiwi fruit because of the crunchy black seeds that have a nutty taste. The flesh of the Dragon Fruit is slightly sweet and it is low in calories with trace amounts of various vitamins and minerals.
The seeds can be removed from the flesh, thoroughly cleaned and dried and then they can then be planted in a good potting soil mix and it will grow as a houseplant. Since it belongs to the cactus family, you would have to be careful not to over water.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is the source of my information, and there was a lot of information available. When you type in “Dragon Fruit” to search, you are also given numerous other sites besides this one and some of them contain information on eating Dragon Fruit as well as information on the nutrition. I did not find a site with recipes.
The photo that accompanied the article of a field growing in China looked similar to a field of Aloe Vera growing, with the fruit looking something like the fruit of the prickly pear, but not quite as rounded. It is more cylindrical shaped and looks as if it has spines.
Quick Hot and Sour Chicken Soup
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 package (about 10 oz) refrigerated fully cooked chicken breast strips, cut into pieces
1 package (about 7 ounces) chicken-flavored rice and vermicelli mix
1 large jalapeño pepper, minced *
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
*Jalapeño peppers can sting and irritate the skin, so wear rubber gloves when handling peppers and do not touch your eyes.
Combine broth, water, chicken, rice mix, jalapeño pepper, green onions and soy sauce in large saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in lime juice; sprinkle with cilantro, if desired. 4 servings.
The following is one of the best and easy bar cookies I have ever found. It came from a relative of my sister-in-law and I served it at a family get together.
Quickie Bars
4 eggs
1 box (1 pound) brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups baking mix (i.e. Bisquick, Pioneer, etc)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 can Bakers Coconut
Beat eggs and brown sugar together. Stir in vanilla and baking mix, until well mixed; add pecans and coconut and stir together. Pour into 9×13 baking pan and bake at 350ºF for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly and cut into bars.