Should I Convert?

IMG_2133 (3)Zucchini is battling traditional wheat pasta in a NOODLE HOLY WAR. Have you noticed that everywhere you look someone is talking about “spiraling” zucchini to make a pasta dish? I went online to look up recipes and discovered zucchini noodles even have a name: zoodles! And noodles made out of squash are… squoodles! Is it me or does this seem a little undignified?!  I’m old school. I like the romance of sitting down to an Italian dinner, with an Italian wine, a hot heaping helping of pasta with pesto or primavera or pomodoro sauce… the waiter coming over with a chunk of parmesan to dice over the dish and the big pepper grinder under his arm… Now rewind this scenario and when the waiter comes over you order a plate of zoodles & squoodles. Seriously?!

And then this “spiralizer” thing? Does it cut the noodles like curly fries? I’m not sure I want curly noodles. There’s an entire business built around this… all kinds of spiralizers on sale now. When did this start happening? Where was I? Do we really need to spiralize noodles? When you go to a restaurant would you order your noodles spiralized, or if you are more of a purist would you say, “I’ll have my noodles straight up?” Sorry but I am not ready to join the church of spiralizing yet.

I do like to eat healthy so when I saw this guy giving a demonstration of how to julienne a zucchini at an outdoor festival, I bought the little gismo he was selling. Now I was ready to dip my toe into this new religion of zoodles & squoodles. I julienned one zucchini and one squash with the new gadget. As you can see in the picture they looked great. I was very proud. Then I sautéed the noodles with a little oil, before topping them with a home-made pesto sauce. I will admit that the final dish tasted delicious. I hope my Italian friends don’t get mad at me. Please don’t hurt me! (Stay tuned for my pesto recipe & finished dish photo in my next post).

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Growing Dragon Fruit

Pitaya grove
Pitaya grove

When I moved to my house, there was a double clothes-line on the side, strung between 4” X 4” wooden posts ending in a T on the tops. I decided to keep the two posts for the express purpose of using them to grow climbing plants:  Pitaya on one post and Passion Fruit on the other. Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) is a climbing cactus, native to Central America. It can be propagated by cutting a piece (approximately a foot long) off of an existing plant and either rooting it in water or in potting mix. It prefers sandy, well-drained soil. Since I had never cultivated Pitaya, I drove over to Pine Island Nursery, a commercial grower in Miami, to see how they do it.

Several cacti are planted around a support and tied loosely against it as they climb up the post. There is a circular support on the top of each post that the Pitaya branches hang over. Since Pitaya has aerial roots that attach themselves all around the post, a sprinkler is placed on top of the post so all the roots get wet, not just the ones in the ground. Dragon Fruit can also be grown successfully in containers; Pine Island has a large number growing in planters as well as in the ground.

I have three cuttings that I received from a couple of different people. The two older cuttings, which I had planted 7 months ago, have already reached the top of my clothes-line post. The third cutting was planted 4 months ago and is still small. Pitaya can begin bearing fruit in as little as two years so I still have a ways to go before I’m eating home-grown Dragon Fruit.


© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Carambola Care Package

0155636 (2)I delivered this Carambola Care Package to my nice neighbors on the left side of my home and to their housekeeper. The housekeeper used to work at my place once a week, for the prior owners. They had told me that she loves Star Fruit. Since they don’t grow any in their yard, I want to make sure to keep them all stocked up with the fresh fruit from my trees. As for my #NeighborWithCameras on the right, they are on the Naughty list so they don’t get fruit. What they get is more water thrown onto the Clusia hedge separating our two houses. The hedge has almost grown tall enough to cover their security cameras that are pointing at me!

For more information on Carambola you can check out: Star Fruit  For recipes go to: Avocado/Star Fruit SaladCarambola/Blueberry SmoothieCarambola/Papaya Smoothie.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Hilton’s Guava

IMG_4513 (2)The guava is a small evergreen tree. This is my friend Hilton’s tree (Ruby variety), which he only planted a few months ago and it is already bearing fruit. The guava fruit is pink or reddish inside. It is superb eaten fresh and is generally consumed with the seeds. The seeds are strained when the fruit is used as an ingredient in pastes, pies, pastries and ice cream. I have fond memories of eating guava paste as a child since my father had a food company that made it, along with other tropical fruit products. Guava paste is generally eaten with crackers. In Miami, “pastelitos de guayaba” (guava pastries) are very popular in Cuban restaurants, cafés and pastry shops. The pastries contain a filling made with guava by itself or guava and cheese.

That’s Hilton’s shadow in the right corner of the picture. Hi Hilton! When he sent me the picture from his phone he had no idea I would use it on my blog. I bet he’ll be more careful with the next pictures he sends me!

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Plant-Based Eating

0105ff (2)Last week I listened to Marco Borges, exercise physiologist and author of The 22-Day Revolution, talk about his newly published book. The book contains the fundamentals for starting a plant-based diet & maintaining healthy habits; and a detailed 22-day meal plan. Borges’ program is based on the principle that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, hence his program is 22 days. I only quickly perused the book before he signed my copy and I took it home. The recipes and corresponding photos in the middle of the book look fantastic. Dr. Dean Ornish wrote the book’s Introduction and the Forward is by Beyonce. I’ll tell you more once I finish reading The 22-Day Revolution and prepare some of the meals. To be continued!

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Sis’s Herb Garden

Sis's Herb Garden now
Sis’s Herb Garden now

I helped my sister plant her first little herb garden on a ledge in her back yard (in Maryland), two months ago. We stuck the little plastic tags that came with the tiny plants into the ground, along with the herbs, so she would remember which herb was which. She also put a wire barrier around the plants to protect them from foraging rabbits. Today the basil, parsley, oregano and rosemary are all thriving and are being used in recipes…including a mysterious biscuit recipe her husband used the parsley in, this morning.


© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Frogs can Stay

IMG_1290 (2)Frogs are welcome in my yard because they eat insects, including the blood-sucking mosquitos that are so prevalent in summertime here. They are carnivores. Small to medium sized frogs and toads, like this one, will also eat flies, moths and dragonflies. Larger frogs will eat larger insects like grasshoppers & worms; and some will also eat small snakes, mice and baby turtles. Can anyone identify this green guy?

 

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Come Get Me

01f3ae0e246a (3)There are three papayas left on the tree from the latest crop: one ripe & ready to be picked, and two still growing. This tree was already in my yard when I moved here. It’s quite tall so it’s a little difficult to pick the fruit. I’ve planted a couple more trees. One of them I started from seeds from a tree in my old place. It is just starting to grow little fruits.  The other is only a seedling, started from seeds I got at the Fairchild Tropical Garden. Papaya is very easy to propagate. All you need to do is plant the seeds that come from the middle of the fruit. For more information about papaya, a picture of a cut fruit and a recipe click on  Papaya/Soursop Smoothie or Shake or click on my easy Papaya/Carambola Smoothie Papaya/Carambola Smoothie

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Jonathan’s Shake

4 (2)We were at ROBERT IS HERE fruit stand, in Homestead, waiting in line to order one of their famous fresh fruit shakes. There was a menu on the wall, listing all kinds of fruits that were available for shakes & smoothies. When it was our turn Jonathan said, “I’ll have a Guanábana Mamey shake.” I had never tasted either of those fruits so I asked him about them. “Never tried them,” he said, “I liked the sound of the names.”  “Seriously?! You ordered a shake made with fruits you’ve never even heard of!” I replied. He couldn’t even pronounce Guanábana. He called it guana-banana. I was impressed with his order, none-the-less. The cold concoction arrived and I sampled it. And then proceeded to drink half of it before Jon took it away from me. I will say that it was the best tasting milkshake I had ever had. If I would have died after drinking it, it would have been with a very satisfied smile on my face. That must have been about 10 years ago. Since then I have turned countless people onto Jonathan’s Shake.

RECIPE Ingredients:
16 oz. mamey
14 oz. guanábana (soursop)
8 oz. ice cream OR milk (whatever kind you like: soy, nut or diary)

Instructions: You can use fresh or frozen fruit. For the shake to have a thick consistency, some of the ingredients need to be frozen to start with–either the fruit, milk or ice cream. If you prefer a smoothie, just substitute the ice cream/milk with ice and water. Don’t worry about exact measurements. You can use equal parts of each of the fruits or slightly more of the mamey. Put everything in a strong blender and blend. This makes 2 tall glasses of fruit bliss.

For more soursop (guanábana) info, picture and recipe: Papaya/Soursop Smoothie or Shake
For more mamey info and pictures go to Fruit Stand Loot

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Magazine Invasion

018a7a89185I love gardening magazines. I look through them and want to buy just about every edible plant I see… How could I not want to have all these great fruits and herbs and vegetables growing in my yard?! What a utopia it would be. I have a small problem though, I don’t have the room to grow them all or the time to care for them. Also, the amount of magazines is a little overwhelming. It seems like I go to sleep and when I wake up there are even more publications scattered about…on my bed stand, on the living room table, on the kitchen counter, on the table by the front door, piled in the corner of the dining room… Since I have ordered plants from various publications, the publishers know I am a sucker for a pretty picture of a fruit tree and add me to new magazine lists. But really, I don’t recall all these glossy rags arriving in the mail. Where are they all coming from?! Are they reproducing? Help they’re taking over! HEEELLLPPP!!!

 
© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.