The air was still and the fog glided in a stream that virtually kissed the ground.  The blanket of early morning mist that rolled across the marshlands of Coyote Hills looked strikingly dramatic.  The slender reed stood tall, nearly motionless, against the faint orange sky lit by the sun that peeked through Mission Peak.  It was a stunning sight to see.

Morning RunI planned a quick three-mile run on a trail that would meander through the marshlands past local Mallard ducks and Canadian geese.  It was fifty seven degrees outside but it felt colder.  Much, much colder. I thought I wouldn’t need my running jacket but as soon as I stepped out on the trail, I shivered and regretted my indecision. It was too late to quit. I just couldn’t give in yet again to foolish inactivity.   I have to get back in shape, I reminded myself.  Only a month till Thanksgiving and Christmas will follow suit.  The year slipped by so quickly and so did my neglected running goals.  I braved the cold and dragged my sad, heavy legs out for a run.

The beautiful Indian summer came and went.  The seasons have changed without a doubt.  The days have gotten shorter.  Dishearteningly shorter and colder.  I don’t know about you but my brain instantly shuts down when the sun goes down.  I feel exponentially more productive when the days are longer.  I get infinitely more done.  And I swear, I get more allergic to cold weather as I get older.  I see a tropical island in my hoping-it’s-not-so-distant future.

When the temperature dips,  I find comfort in my mom’s ginataang halo-halo [gi-nah-tah-ahng hah-lo hah-lo].  Ginataan, as you’ll recall, means cooking with gata or coconut milk.  Like the Filipino favorite halo-halo, ginataang halo-halo is a veritable mix of fruits and tubers but instead of enjoying them with shaved ice and milk the mix is slowly cooked in coconut milk.  Any combination of fruits like banana and jackfruit and tubers like sweet potato, yam, and taro can be used to make this hearty sweet stew.  A warm bowl of ginataang halo-halo is my kind of comfort on a cold Fall day.


Ginataang Halo-Halo Recipe, makes six servings

2 13.5-ounce cans coconut milk
1 cup water
roughly 1 lb purple sweet potatoes or ube (purple yam), peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces, about 1-1/2 cups
roughly 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces, about 1-1/2 cups
3 saba bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices, about 1-1/2 cups
1/2 cup sweetened jackfruit
1/3 cup sugar

Bring coconut milk and water to a boil in a large pot over medium to high heat. Add purple sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.  Add bananas, jackfruit and sugar and simmer until sweet potatoes and butternut squash are cooked through, about 10 more minutes.  Ladle the stew in bowls, top with more sliced jackfruit, and serve warm.


Cooking Notes:

1. Cut the sweet potatoes and butternut squash uniformly so that they cook evenly.

2. For a more traditional halo-halo, substitute camote (yellow sweet potatoes) and gabi (taro) for butternut squash but keep the purple sweet potatoes or purple yam because its color bleeds into the stew, giving it a beautiful purple hue.

3. To make the stew thinner, add more water and adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar.  To make the stew thicker, add sago (tapioca pearls) and bilo-bilo (sticky rice flour dough balls) made from sticky rice flour and water (a cup of sticky rice flour to half a cup of water).


Ginataang Halo-Halo