I have wanted a Food Dehydrator for some time and had begun researching which one to buy. So when I read my sister’s email a couple of weeks ago, “What do you want for Christmas?” I replied with a model number. Sure enough, Santa promptly delivered the much-anticipated Food Dehydrator… thanks to my sister & her husband! For my first batch, I sliced-up fresh star fruit, papaya and banana. These fruits were all from my trees. I also sliced some fresh carrots; and lastly I added some frozen string beans. I assembled all the pieces on the trays, stacked them on top of each other, put on the top, set the temperature and turned the gizmo on. I checked the progress every few hours. It was not a quick process. I was surprised that it took approximately 12 hours for everything to be fully dried.
Of all my friends and family who tasted the assorted foods I dried, most people liked the star fruit the best. It just had a great texture and taste. It was a huge hit. The papaya and banana were also excellent. Now for the failures: the carrots felt and tasted like leather; and the string beans had a strange chewy consistency. I’m not sure what I did wrong with the carrots. As for the string beans, I’m going to try fresh beans next time, instead of frozen, to see if this makes a difference.
I cleaned out my closet today to donate clothes to Lotus House…and I also picked a bunch of fruit from my Carambola trees to give them. Lotus House is a women’s shelter, dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women and their children. The clothes that are donated to the organization are either given to the women who live at the shelter or they are sold in their Lotus House Thrift Boutique, to help fund programs such as employment and life-skills counseling.
I really like sharing my fruit concoctions. If you visit me at my house, chances are you’ll be offered a glass of whatever smoothie I have in the fridge. I lovingly serve them to my friends, family, neighbors and the workers who come to my house. In a conversation with my mother one day, about my fruit trees and the occasional smoothies I give the gardener, she laughed and said “you don’t make that GREEN smoothie for him, do you!?” What!? Is it against the 10 Commandments to give the gardener a green smoothie?
Today was the gardener’s day to do my yard and he was also going to plant a persimmon tree for me. I usually make a pitcher just for him and his assistant, with the fruits I have an abundance of, which are papaya and carambola. These are fruits they are familiar with and like. I decided that the tree-planting warranted a special smoothie: a green one! I made my new favorite recipe of carambola, banana & kale. I did go easy on them and put less kale than I normally do.
You should have seen the look on their faces when I handed them each a large plastic cup of the green goodness. They were confused. Drinking something green was not an experience they had had before. They drank it because it was a very hot day, they were thirsty and perhaps a little polite. Turns out they don’t EAT much green food, much less DRINK it.
Commandment #11: Thou shall not give the gardener a green smoothie.
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!
The Carambola (Star Fruit) trees are fruiting now, so I picked a bowl-full this morning. This tropical fruit tree is said to have originated in Southeast Asia or perhaps Sri Lanka, and it has been grown in Florida since the 1880s. The fruit are ripe when they are bright yellow/orange. To eat, you don’t need to peel them. Just take a knife and slice off the greenish spines along the length, then slice the fruit crosswise. This results in star-shaped pieces, hence the common name “Star Fruit.” Carambola is juicy & crisp and tastes a little like grapes. Aside from eating the fresh fruit, I add pieces to salads; juice them; and use them in smoothies.
Here are the first few people on my Naughty or Nice List (for mangos):
NeighborWithCameras on the right side of my house: NAUGHTY. They keep trimming their side of the Clusia hedge that separates our yards so it is so thin that you can see through it. And their security cameras are pointing right at my yard. Enough said. NO MANGOS for them.
Neighbor on the left: NICE. They are very pleasant people; we chat every time we see each other. They take care of my mail/newspaper when I am out of town and will even water a plant or two for me. I regularly leave Mango & Carambola by their side door and text them to notify them of the care package.
Madeline: NICE. She picks up a large jar of Almond Butter at Costco for me, periodically. It’s much cheaper there than where I normally buy it. Maddie had a small potted mango tree that her rambunctious dog ripped apart and ate so she is in need of Mango offerings. I bring her a couple of Mangos whenever I see her.
Brooke: NICE. Her son loves Carambola so I give her all the Star Fruit her family can possibly consume and they are demonstrably grateful. Most people don’t know what Carambola is or what the heck to do with it so I am always happy to find someone who likes it. It wouldn’t be appropriate to denigrate another one of my fruits and then expect to receive the king of fruits. She will keep receiving Carambola and has been added to the Mango list.
Gardener & Pool Guy: A LITTLE NAUGHTY. It’s kind of silly of me to gift them fruit, because they take whatever they want when I’m not around, but I keep up the pretext that they don’t and give them small presents of fruits to add to the collection they have already pilfered.
Physical Therapist: NICE. He does something magical to my shoulder to get me out of pain. I took a whole box of Mangos to him on my last session. Being able to carry the box is proof my shoulder is getting better.
Mom: NICE. She’s my mom; it’s impossible to pay her back for all that she’s done, so she can have all the Mango she wants.