Adela’s Bird of Paradise

Remembering Adela - the hostess with the mostest!

Remembering Adela – the hostess with the mostest! 1963

Vinny’s Grandma Adela loved a dramatic presentation. She had inherited her own dad’s artistic temperament. Great granddad William Enge was a master woodworker, making violins as well as decorative furniture. He played the violin so beautifully, his music made a woman 20 years his junior fall in love with him.

Adela too had musical ability, singing in the choir at church, as well as for the Ottawa Opera Company.  Like him, she had an eye for color and fashion, designing and sewing her own clothes and much of the clothing for her family. She also built or refinished many pieces of furniture for her home, following in her dad’s footsteps. Knitting, sewing, carpentry, painting—nothing was too difficult for her to try her hand at.

But Adela was at her best in the kitchen. She kept an extensive recipe collection. And, like an early Martha Stewart, Adela was known to set an elegant table.

I’m now taking time to document some of the dishes we learned to love around the family table. In the past few posts, we’ve explained how to make some of the key foods served for a Ukrainian Christmas.

This time out, we present one of Adela’s favorite recipes, loved for its crunchy sweetness as well as for its flair. Vinny says carving a pineapple to look like a Bird of Paradise is easier than it sounds. If you have a food processor to grate the carrots, this salad is fairly simple to assemble.

Remembering Adela, 1999

Adela turns 73 in 1999

Adela’s Bird of Paradise
Serves 8-10 as a side dish (5 cups)

Create a Bird of Paradise

  1. Place a large attractive pineapple on the side that shows the green leaves at their best. Slice off a piece about 1/5th from the top, lengthwise, and save it.
  2. With a small sharp knife, hollow out a dish. First cut deeply around the edge. Then score the flesh deeply in both directions. Use a heavy spoon to firmly coax the flesh out. Throw away the hard stem parts, or if sweet enough, chop very small. Save the sweet pineapple and cut it into small pieces for the salad.
  3. Cut the pineapple piece that you sliced off the top in step 1 into an ell shape for the head, by removing a rectangle.
  4. With the rectangle you removed to make the ell, create two wings by cutting it diagonally in half. Slice the flesh off to make the wings thinner and add it to your bowl of pineapple.
  5. Use heavy toothpicks to attach the head and wings to the body.


Make the salad

Mix the following ingredients together in a medium bowl.

•    3/4 pounds carrots, peeled and grated (about 5 medium)
•    fruit from the pineapple you cut into a bird of paradise (step 2, above) – 1-1.5 pounds (discard hard core )
•    ½ cup dry shredded coconut (unsweetened)
•    1 tablespoon maple syrup
•    1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or 1 tablespoon orange juice plus 1 teaspoon orange zest)

Grating the carrot by hand was easier than I remembered

Grating the carrot by hand was easier than I remembered

Chill the salad for at least an hour. Serve it in your Bird of Paradise, with a flourish. Ta-da!

Making the bird bowl takes about 30 minutes. Grating, chopping and mixing the salad by hand, about 20 minutes. A lovely presentation for a special occasion. It tastes especially good with a chicken or pork curry.

Making the bird – a  photo essay


Slicing off the top one-fifth



Scoring the flesh and scooping out the bowl



Cutting an ell for the head


Making two wings by cutting on the diagonal


Attaching the head and wings with toothpicks


  • Pineapple kings them all – Pineapple wears a crown for a reason. It is royally healthy. In fact, it may be the healthiest fruit we can eat.
  • Carrots for dessert? – Try my new carrot recipe served hot or cold with grapes. Warm, it makes a great side for chicken or pork. Chilled, with a luscious yogurt cream, it makes an unusual dessert.
  • I’ve got a loverly bunch of coconuts, tra-la – The once-reviled coconut is the new darling of health-food gurus. Recipe: Kale chips, using coconut oil and chocolate.


Quiet moment, 1965

Adela, 1926-2000


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Fae's Twist & Tango
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 20:26:04

    A heartfelt, endearing tribute to your beloved Mom, Adela. What a talented Lady!
    I love this pineapple cutting/carving and the salad in it!


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