What to do with Cabbage

Cabbage & Veggie Soup

What to do with the cabbage I received in my CSA share this week? I decided on making a healthy soup; and I also used some of the other vegetables I received from the local farms in the recipe. The soup is very easy to make, with nothing fancy—just fresh veggies, chopped up and thrown into a big pot, covered with water and simmered. I used an 8 quart (7.6 liter) pot.


  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 or 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • half a head of cabbage, ripped or cut into small pieces
  • green beans
  • bunch of scallions, diced
  • 2 to 3 cups of chopped tomatoes
  • water
  • preferred seasoning, to taste


Put the carrots, onion, green pepper, celery and mushrooms into the pot. Add enough water to cover the veggies. Put the lid on the pot and simmer. Then add the cabbage, green beans and scallions. Keep adding water as needed to keep veggies covered. Lastly, add the tomatoes. Keep pot covered and simmer until the veggies are tender, approximately 45 minutes. This soup is flavorful and doesn’t need any extra seasoning. You can serve it as it is, or enhance further.  I added an organic no-salt seasoning, made by Kirkland, which contains a whole bunch of herbs including garlic and pepper. It added a little “kick” to the recipe. Expect 10 – 14 servings.

Veggies received this week

New Papaya Tree

IMG_3330My newest papaya plant is full of fruit. This tree is only 7’ tall so the fruit will be easy to pick once they are ripe. Papaya is also called lechosa and fruta bomba in Spanish. In Australia and some countries of the Caribbean, it is called papaw or pawpaw. The mature fruit can weigh up to 20 pounds!

Making Dehydrated Treats

IMG_3478 (2)
Dehydrated Star Fruit

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.

Happy New Year everyone. Make it a great one!!!!

My First Persimmon

IMG_3129 (2)I only discovered persimmon when I was visiting my brother Carlos, in Sacramento, California, 13 months ago. He had a basket of it on his kitchen counter that his neighbor who was growing it had given him. Carlos had never tasted the fruit either. So we sliced one open and ate it. I was astonished at how good it tasted. So Carlos gave me a few of the precious bounty and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

When I saw persimmon trees on sale at my local nursery this past May, I took one home, even though persimmons don’t usually fruit well in south Florida. The variety I purchased– Fuyu Persimmon– is bred for our hot climate and is supposed to need less cold days to develop fruit. The little tree had three tiny persimmon growing on its’ limbs, which the saleslady told me would fall off because the tree was still too small to fully develop the fruit. But I held out hope that they would grow large enough to eat.

I placed the new tree along the side of the house until I could figure out where I wanted to plant it in my yard. Then I sort of forgot about it. By the time I began to pay attention to it again, it had dried out. All the leaves had fallen off, but the three tiny persimmons still clung to the tree. I promptly planted the tree and began to faithfully water it. Leaves grew back. Then one immature fruit fell off. Then the second immature fruit fell off. But the last remaining fruit (pictured) tenaciously hung on and did eventually grow large enough to eat. Can’t wait till next year’s crop!

The Papaya Whisperer

IMG_3354 (3)I am so thankful to my gardener for helping me cut down these large papayas from my very tall papaya tree. I just couldn’t maneuver the fruit-picking pole between the high hedges and the electrical wires to get at these beauties. He got them easy…although a fourth papaya was accidentally knocked into the yard of my NeighborWithCameras. We weren’t able to retrieve it because there is a wall protecting their side yard from mine, not to mention the security cameras trained on us. I hope they are grateful for the tasty treat that fell out of the heavens onto their grass!

Artichoke & Avocado Salad

IMG_2803 (2)The Day 2 Dinner recipe I made from The22DayRevolution is Artichoke, Tomato and Avocado Salad. The ingredients listed in the book are:

  • 1 box grape tomatoes
  • Haas avocado
  • 1 BPA-free can artichoke hearts
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp Kalamata olives
  • Dash paprika

I used chopped-up plum tomatoes because that is what I had at the time I made the salad. Instead of the olives I used olive oil and mixed it with lemon from my tree. If you have fresh artichokes, use them rather than the canned ones. Lastly, I garnished the dish with fresh basil from my herb garden. This was an easy, basic recipe that makes 2-3 servings. Thumb up on this one!

Beans over Sweet Potato

IMG_2811 (2)The Day 2 Lunch recipe I made from The 22-Day Revolution is called Spanish Beans over Sweet Potato. The ingredients are:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 cup black beans
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • dash salt & ground black pepper

I used oregano from my herb garden and garnished with tomato and avocado. There are no fancy foods here, just basic stuff. I loved this meal; it was easy to make and very satisfying. The recipe makes 2-3 servings.

Big Magic

IMG_3162 (2)“Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living.” – E. Gilbert

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert when she came to Miami, a few weeks ago, to promote her new book, Big Magic. I had read a couple of her other books: Eat, Pray, Love and Committed both of which I enjoyed.  I just finished Big Magic and loved it! This book is about the creative process, how you get ideas, living a creative life and inspiration. In a nutshell, Gilbert’s point of view is that EVERYONE is creative. What we humans do is create. We make things. Some of us nurture this aspect of ourselves, while others don’t. I also appreciate Gilbert’s thoughts on IDEAS. If you have an idea you’re exploring—whether for a story, song, painting or other invention—and you don’t work on it, it will go to someone else who will. The IDEA is a life-force itself.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is creative, wants to be creative, seeks inspiration, struggles with their craft, or is just plain curious.

Since I’ve been blogging primarily about plants and people– especially in relation to edible plants and tropical fruits, I thought I’d pay homage to Gilbert’s book by dressing “her” up as The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat. (Bonus points for anyone who knows who I’m talking about)!

The 22-Day Revolution

IMG_3153 (2)I read The 22-Day Revolution, by exercise physiologist Marco Borges, while on vacation. I had been given the book a few months ago at an event where the author was speaking. The book contains the fundamentals for starting a plant-based diet & maintaining healthy habits; and a detailed 22-day meal plan. The book’s Forward, written by Beyonce, is about how and why she converted to a plant-based diet; and the Introduction, by Dean Ornish, M.D., touches on the benefits of eating whole plant foods for your health and the environment.

Borges’ program is based on the principle that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so his regimen is 22 days, just long-enough to kick some bad habits and adopt new, good ones. The first 100 pages are about the why and how to change your diet from animal-centered food to a completely plant-based, non-processed, whole-food regimen. It has lots of nutritional information and tips for how to set-up your kitchen, how to shop, etc. The next 100 pages are the actual regimen, broken down into Day 1 through Day 22. For each day, he provides an inspirational message and/or power-talk and a recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The last section of the book contains more information on lifestyle, exercises and additional recipes.

What I like about the book is that the diet is for a defined and reasonable amount of time—less than a month–so it seems do-able. It makes sense that if you feel good at the end of the 22 days you will want to continue eating that way. That is what the point of the book is—it’s not only about losing weight (although you can use it for this) but about eating healthy to have a vibrant life. I also liked the beautiful color pictures of many of the recipes in the center of the book. Honestly, this is what first enticed me to delve into the book. I know I had to try some of them! So for the next few weeks, I’ll be making many of the recipes and sharing a corresponding picture and thoughts with you. Hope you let me know if you try any of them!

© 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.

A Common Plant

IMG_3136(2)Do you recognize this leaf? It belongs to a common plant, grown in many people’s yards. It’s a Monstera Deliciosa, also known as Ceriman, Split-Leaf Philodendron or Swiss-Cheese Plant. I first wrote about Monstera last July when mine began to fill with fruit. What’s special about Ceriman is that it is one of few plants that flower and fruit in full shade. And most people don’t know that they can actually eat the fruit. Monstera can also be grown in a planter, and as a houseplant, though it is unlikely to produce fruit like this.

If you want to use the fruit, Monstera is best grown at temperatures of 20–30 °C (68–86 °F). It requires shade and likes high humidity.  The fruit begins to ripen when the hexagonal green scales start to lift off naturally. It takes about a week for all the scales to come off, so one piece of fruit is harvested over several days–not all at once. As the scales come off, you scrape off the moist flesh underneath, which is what you eat. With the piece of fruit in the picture it took 9 days for all the scales to fall off. Since I wasn’t going to use it right away, I scraped the flesh off into a container and froze it every few days, until the entire fruit was finished ripening. A warning is warranted here—don’t force the scales off! You need to let it ripen naturally to the point where the scales lift-off on their own. Then you can eat the flesh underneath. If you eat the flesh before it is fully ripe, it could cause severe irritation in your mouth and throat. If you do this once (as I did the first time I attempted to eat the fruit), you won’t do it again!

Monstera is high in potassium and vitamin C. It tastes like a blend of pineapple and banana. Here are some of my recommendations for how to eat the ripe fruit: mix it into a fruit salad, add it to smoothies, put it on granola or on top of oatmeal, sprinkle it on salads.

© 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.