Oh my dear coffee, how I love you and hate you…let me count the ways… I love the ritual of getting up in the morning and first pouring the water into the stainless steel espresso maker, otherwise known as a Moka Pot. I love packing you in, ground-up fine, and putting you on the stove. It’s comforting. I love the smell of you and your taste. So what don’t I like? That the time it takes to perform this ceremony could be used to support a healthier habit, like making a fruit or veggie smoothie. And what I hate is that I’m addicted to you. This morning I tried to split-up with you. I didn’t drink you; I made a fresh juice instead. By the end of the day I had a splitting headache. When you look at the overall picture coffee, you’re not that bad of a habit—I mean you’re not nicotine or heroin. But the caffeine withdrawal is unpleasant. So now that I already survived the first day of a horrendous migraine, I think I’ll stay away from you for another day, and maybe another… we’ll see how it goes.
If you have a strong blender it’s easy to make pineapple juice or a smoothie. I use a Vitamix, which will totally pulverize the fruit. Start with a whole pineapple. Cut off the crown (top) and bottom. Then slice off the outer layer of the pineapple so you are left with the yellow part. Now slice that crosswise and into wedges. No need to slice out the middle core. A strong blender will puree that. Toss the wedges in the blender and add water and/or ice, depending on the desired consistency. Blend on high. If you add water it will look like the juice that I made in the picture. If you add ice, it will have the consistency of a smoothie. Either way, it’s sweet and tastes great.
If you want to GROW a pineapple, just take the crown that you cut off and set it aside for a couple of days to dry out a bit. Then place it loosely in soil, either in the ground or in a planter. Pineapple grows shallow roots so it is fine in a planter. It will take approximately 2 years to grow an edible fruit so it is good to have a few plants, started at different times. Pineapple is a tropical fruit; it does need sun and warm weather. Good luck!
This morning I got to harvest the first pineapple from my yard. I had bought the plant over when I moved here a year ago. When it changed colors from green to yellow, I knew it was ripe. I have six other pineapple plants, in different stages of development. It takes approximately 2 years to grow a pineapple. This fruit can be easily grown in a container as well, because the roots are shallow.
I love peanut butter—spooned straight out of the jar, on bread, in a pie, in sauce, and in a shake! The ingredients are non-hydrogenated peanut butter, very ripe bananas, fresh figs and soy milk. You can use a nut milk or dairy if you prefer.
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 picked some basil leaves today to use in a Pasta Pomodoro. This is a staple food for me because I always have the ingredients on hand: spaghetti or angel-hair pasta, basil, tomatoes, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. I sauté the garlic in oil, then I stir in chopped-up fresh tomatoes & basil just to warm them up. Once the pasta is cooked I toss it with the fresh sauce or I pour the sauce on top. Optional: add salt & pepper, to taste; and parmesan cheese.
Basil is easy to grow, though it is a little finicky. It grows well either in the ground or in a planter. It likes a good amount of sun and does not like to be over-watered. It is best to let it dry out before watering the soil completely. But don’t wet the leaves if you can help it! If the leaves are wet too much or it sits in water, it can get a fungus (spots on the leaves), especially if you live in a humid place like I do. You can pick the leaves as you need them. Ideally you should use the leaves fresh. You can also dry the leaves, or freeze for later use.