Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weekend Awesomenesss!!! v.14

Welcome to this weekend's awesomenesss!!!
I know it's been awhile so let's get to it...

One of my absolutely fav places to shop ;)...Twisted Trunk Boutique...think holiday gifts!

Here's what's happening in my hometown...Miami!

What kids drawings reveal about their parents!

I knew I was on to something...I do alot of squatting in landscaping, saves the back!

2017 and constant're not alone!

Once you know about the 2/3'ds rule, the rest is easy!

Some digitized jazz and classical pieces from ECM's collection!

Not sure how many people would do this DIY succulent coffee table but it's pretty cool!

A great place to shop inexpensive dealz...think stocking stuffers!

I hope we do not ruin this place too...humans suck sometimes!

A unique way to create landscape photographs!

And as always...Happy Gardening and Best Wishes,
Sheri B. that's me

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tropical and Caribbean Recipes from South Florida

Hey ya'll I truly hope everyone fared well from the hurricanes we have the displeasure of experiencing.  Our Caribbean neighbors have so much damage and destruction to their islands, they can use all the help we can give.  The Red Cross and UNICEF Puerto Rico are two good places to start.
With that said, this post (inspired by hurricane Irma and Maria) is about tropical and Caribbean recipes, so thanks for that ladies, at least something good has come from you!

Dolphin, kingfish, snook, stone crabs, lobster, grouper, amberjack, cobia, swordfish and wahoo & are in season October and November

Avocados, citrus (grapefruit/tangerine/orange/lemon/lime), carambola (starfruit), cabbage, carrots, green beans, corn, cucumbers, strawberries, squash, cotton candy berries and eggplant are in season October and November. 

Bahamian Seafood Scatterin'
adapted from The Bahamian Calendar
(A scatterin' comes from what ever you might seasonally have on hand)
2 lbs variety of firm seafood like fish, lobster, conch, mussels, crab
1 lb prime lean bacon, chopped
1 large onion, diced
3 cups coconut rice
Worcestershire sauce
Salt, hot pepper and lime
peanut oil to fry
In a medium stock pot, saute chopped seafood and bacon in oil until soft.  Add onion and celery and continue frying util golden brown.  Add sauce, salt, hot pepper and lime to your taste.  Add rice and fry for 5 minutes.  Add 6 cups water, cover with lid and simmer till rice is cooked.  Serve right away so your dinner guests will stop drooling on your table cloth. 

With all of our seagrape trees every where, so many people ask me how they can use their seagrapes.  So here are a few I have to pass along.  Just please be mindful not to take seagrapes from trees at the beach or coastal parks as they are a protected species.

Seagrape Cinnamon Loaf
adapted from The Bahamian Calendar
This is what you can use all those seagrapes on your tree for 
you can also adapt this to make cupcakes too
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup can milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs. cinnamon
2 1/4 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup seagrapes ( about 1/2 pound)
oatmeal to garnish
Peel off pulp from the skin of the seagrapes and discard the seeds and the skin.   Set aside the pulp.
In an medium bowl cream butter and sugar together.  Mix wet ingredients in.  In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Then add the dry ingredients.  Beat until smooth.  Add seagrapes.   Pour into a loaf tin, sprinkle with dry oatmeal and a dash of cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes.

Jeanne's Seagrape Jelly
A traditional Florida favorite recipe - makes about 3 cups of jelly
3 cups seapgrape juice and pulp
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup calamondin, sour orange or lime juice
Rinse grapes thoroughly, you will need about one quart of grapes to yield one cup of juice and pulp.  So for this recipe you will need 3 quarts of seagrapes.  Place in large pot and add water, covering the seagrapes by at least 2 inches of water.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Crush the seagrapes in the pot with a potato masher while continuing to cook for another 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain the mix into a large bowl through either a large sieve or strainer or jelly mesh bag to collect the juice and pulp.
Using the same pot, put all the ingredients back in and bring to a boil.  Taste to see if you have enough sugar.  Only add small amounts if needed because once it's too sweet there is no correcting it at this point.  Continue boiling until mixture reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit on candy thermometer or until jelly mix will not run when you dip a spoon in and turn upside down.  This will take about 30 minutes.  Pour into sterilized jars and seal and wait for the seal to indent as they cool.  Store unopened in cool dark cabinet.  Once opened you should refrigerate.

Pan Seared Snapper with Eggplant Escabeche
Escabeche ingredients:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1 cup diced Japanese eggplant
1/3 cup diced red onion
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs raisins or currants (optional)
2 tbs sherry vinegar
Snapper ingredients:
two to three snapper fillets (approx. 1-2 lb a fillet)
1-2 tbs oil
1 tbs chopped Italian parsley
1 green onion sliced
Prepare the eggplant escabeche one day in advance of serving.  Heat half the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and lightly saute the garlic with the red peppers for a few minutes.  Then add the eggplant and the red onion and saute for just a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Do not over saute them as you want them to still be a vibrant color when you serve them.  Add raisins and sherry vinegar and remove from heat. Coat the mix lightly with the remaining extra olive oil.  Refrigerate and allow the flavors to macerate.

Day of serving- chop parsley and green onion and set aside.  Season the fillets with salt and pepper.  Place a large skillet over medium to medium high heat.  When it's hot add the oil and allow it to get hot.  Then add the snapper fillets in the pan and cook, turning once, until they are lightly browned on each side; about 4-5 minutes each side depending on how thick the fillets are.  Once done remove from heat and place on serving dish.  Mix the parsley and green onion with the eggplant mixture and place as much as you like on top of the fish.  Serve on top of  patatas bravas
Makes approx. 4-6 servings.

Patatas Bravas
1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes
1/2 lb (one medium) vidalia onion, cut into strips
2 tbs olive oil
4 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced
3-4 piquillo peppers, diced (you can use roasted red peppers in a jar if you can't find piquillos)
1 tbs chopped chives or green onions
Boil potatoes until tender, drain, cut in half and set aside.  In pan over medium-high heat saute onions in oil for 3-4 minutes.  Add chorizo and peppers and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until thoroughly heated through.  Add potatoes to the pan, toss and season with salt and pepper. Finish with the chopped chives or green onions.  Serve under the snapper.

Pineapple Hand Pies
This recipe is from my blogger friend Kanak Hagjer.  You check out the full post on her blog Blending Flavours
one small pineapple
100 grams sugar
2 tsp butter
1 egg lightly beaten
Cream cheese pastry ingredients:
150 grams soft butter
150 grams cream cheese, room temperature
200 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
Cinnamon sugar syrup ingredients:
50ml water
50 grams sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
To make the cream cheese pastry, whisk the butter, sugar, cream cheese and salt together until light and fluffy.  Add flour and stir until it all the dough comes together.  Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and shape into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

In the meantime, cut the outer skin off the pineapple and carefully remove the eyes with a small paring knife (or you could buy one already peeled and cored at the store if that's easier).  Cut four slices about 3/4 inch thick from the pineapple, cutting out the cores.  Place the 100 grams of sugar on a plate and press the pineapple in the sugar coating both sides and the edges.  Heat a large frying pan on high heat, once the pan is hot, add the sugared pineapple slices and cook each side about 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Add the 2 tsp of butter in pan and gently shake pan until golden caramel forms.  Remove from pan and place on a parchment paper lined tray to refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 428 degrees Fahrenheit (conversion from 220 degrees Celsius).

Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the pastry dough into a 12 x 22 inch rectangle
Cut in half width-wise and then cut each half into quarters.  You should have eight equal size squares.  Place the pineapples on a paper towel to remove the excess moisture.
Place one pineapple slice in the center of the square and brush the beaten egg around all of the edges.  Place another square on top of the pineapple, pressing firmly all around the pineapple to seal the edges.  You want to make sure there are no air bubbles.   At this point you can either trim the edges with a knife or can use a large biscuit cutter or jar lid to shape it into a circle.  You can keep it simple or make them a bit fancy.  Once you're finished, place it on a parchment lined baking tray, cut a hole in the center, brush with egg wash and keep in the refrigerator while you continue to make the rest, putting each one in the refrigerator as you finish.  Brush the top of all the pastries a second time with the egg wash.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on the top and bottom of pastry.
In the meantime, make cinnamon sugar syrup, put the water, 50 grams sugar and cinnamon in small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat.   As soon as the pies come out of the oven, brush all over with the hot cinnamon sugar syrup.  Serve pies warms with a side of vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy!

Bahama Sunrise cocktail
a half-ripe banana
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
one shot anejo or vanilla rum
one shot gold rum
1 tsp grenadine syrup
Combine the banana, orange juice and rums in a blender -mix well, pour in glass, add grenadine,
stir, add ice and enjoy!

Bahamian Pumpkin and Rice
1 1/2 cups dice pumpkin, peeled
 1 cup rice
1 diced onion
4 sliced and diced bacon strips
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 stalk celery, diced
6 tbs tomato paste
salt, black pepper and hot pepper to taste
Saute the bacon and add onion, thyme and celery; saute for 4-5 minutes.  Add pumpkin. Continue cooking until onion turns a golden color, then add the tomato paste.  Mix in well and stir cooking for 7 minutes.  Add rice, water and seasoning.  About 2 1/4 cups of water should be enough.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover; cook for about 25 minutes until rice is cooked.

Hawaiian Spareribs
2 lbs lean spareribs
2 tbs flour
4 tsp soy sauce
3 tbs vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 tsp peeled & grated fresh ginger root
2 cups fresh pineapple and papaya chunks
minced parsley and toasted sesame seeds as garnish
Cut spareribs into 2 inch pieces.  Mix flour and soy sauce together and coat ribs.  Allow to stand at least 10 minutes.  Heat oil in skillet and brown ribs on all sides.  Drain off excess fat and add sugar, vinegar, water, juice and ginger.  Cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 45 minutes.  Stir in fruit and simmer another 5-8 minutes.  Serve garnished with minced parsley and toasted sesame seeds.

Hawaiian Mai-Tai
shaved ice
juice of one lime
1/2 tsp simple syrup
1/2 tsp orange curacao
2 1/2 oz. light rum
1/2 oz. dark rum
sprig of fresh mint for garnish
pineapple spear for garnish
Fill a 14 ounce glass with shaved ice.  Stir in lime juice, syrup, curacao and light rum.  Drop in half of lime shell.  Float dark rum on top of lime shell.  Garnish with a pineapple spear and sprig of mint.  If you really want to get authentic, float an orchid flower on top as well.  Serve with paper straws.
Image result for hawaiian cookbook mai tai
So I hope you enjoy all of these recipes and use them as your own!  Don't forget to drop a comment.
Wishing you all a great weekend and Happy Gardening!!!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

What's 'growing on' in the garden lately...

Hi Ya'll!  I know I haven't been around in awhile aaaannd you probably think I stink but since we last spoke, but work has been really busy until recently.   Oh did I mention we have a category 5 hurricane Irma coming up from the Caribbean right now!?! Eek ok back to talking to you all.
The vegetable/herb garden has been mostly stagnant anyway due to our typical summer heat.   It was a struggle to get anything to grow, so why struggle.  Since then we've slowed down a click, which was much needed...recoup & catch a breath.  *sigh*
In between our busy and slow times, I was collecting all kinds of cool pics and ideas to share.
See I thought of you! 😉
I left the vegetable/herb garden to tend to itself this summer, well I guess I figured it could.   And boy was I wrong, a child you have to allow them some freedom to roam but totally reign them in when they get close to outta this here squash, which produced a whole lotta nothin' except blossom end rot that I couldn't get rid of.  But I let it grow like crazy, which in turn drove my boyfriend crazy who said it looks like a weed. *sniff, sniff*
Don't listen to him squash, you're beautiful! 
Unfortunately all the tomato plants partied till they wilted into sad hungover looking college kids.   Which I never did in my college days...wait, what? You have pics?
Seriously though you don't right?
Ok so what were we talking about, oh yeah, tomatoes...that was all I wanted this summer.
Is that too much for a girl to ask for...sweet delicious sun-kissed tomatoes!?! *sniff, sniff*
Especially since my basil is looking so handsome this year!
Thank you basil, my favorite child...sssshhhh!  Ok minty mint your're the best too!
Is it weird I find myself talking about my plants with some sort of human pronoun or adjective?
No?   Whew, I was getting worried, for only like a tiny second.
But seriously, that basil right!?!
The peppers were no disappointment, from green jalapenos, purple jalapenos, scotch bonnets and a tiny Thai pepper called "i have no idea" but hot as heck for like a moment then you want another.
"Yes, master may I have another!?!"  Movie, anyone, anyone...Animal House!  Classic!

Mango season was less than stellar for us this started late, had small yields and well, I wasn't really enthused with mangoes this year.  And you know me, mango crazy here!

Let's talk mangoes for just a sec even though mango season is over...there is a reason why we folks here in South Florida call mango season "mango madness"...yes it totally induces the madness in many forms good and bad.  Bad=I read about this couple in West Palm where the wife stabbed her husband because he kept leaving mango peels in the house.  Yah totally true, it happened.  Uhm madness!  
Luckily he lived to eat mango another day.
Good=All through out summer we have tropical fruit fairs, mango festivals, mango mania fairs, King Mango parades, mango farm tours, mango tastings, mango farmers markets, mango horticulture, neighbors sharing their crops and mango stealing....yes they are so delicious that people will 
literally steal them from other people's trees=Bad. 
If you have not tasted a fresh-off-the-tree mango then you might not know how good they are.  Just cause you tasted one doesn't mean you've tasted them all.  Each variety has vastly different flavors, texture, shape and color than the other.  There is even a mango called 'coconut cream' and yes it tastes like coconutty.  
So don't give up on them in case ya' did.

Oh minty mojito mint, how I love thee...
The only reason it survived was the constant dripping of my leaky hose, um your welcome.

My orchids have been my babies this summer...yeah they got alot of love from me...
What would a piece of woody wood do if it had nothing to do?
I wood end up finding it, covering it with lots of orchids thus it wood get a second life. LOL
Wait till you see what they look like now!  Ugh, I need better pictures.

Our yard was soooooo lack luster...I kinda gave up on it, oops.  Bad landscaper I am, lol.
With that said the natives did AH-mazing!  Like our Jamaican capers that went cuckoo twice already this year.  The three B's love me's=Birds, Bees, Butterflies
 There's no stopping these red porter weeds from weeding out!

Another surprise that, I left to fend for itself...ok so in reality I gave up on it but shhhh no one needs to know right?   My white delicious alpine strawberry (I said it really sloooowwww in my head).
My white alpine strawberries were a super duper stunner!   Who knew...not me.
Think strawberry candy, no, think strawberry cotton candy mixed with a gummy bear...yeahhhh.
Ok so I leave you with that lovely thought for now.
Hurricane Irma is knocking on the door so I must bid you adieu!

My Floridians, please stay safe, keep calm and stay alert out there my friends,
help each other out in time of need.  
Best wishes,
Sheri B.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Growing orchids south Florida style

South Florida is home to so many amazing people as well as so many gorgeous plant species that call this place home.    One type of plant that grows well in our subtropical climate are orchids, oh the lovely orchid!  And one amazing person who does this extremely well is Ms. Gayle at Mickey's Orchids in the heart of Fort Lauderdale.    Normally one would have to drive almost an hour to some of the agricultural areas like Homestead, Davie, Loxahatchee or Delray Beach, but we are so lucky to have this gem right here.   Gayle is one heck of a master grower and her passion really shows in the quality and diversity of her orchids.  She and her son are by far some of the nicest people I know!   Not many people will take the time to answer questions and talk about their craft like they do.  Sooooo without further adieu, let me show you Mickey's Orchids so you can get your shopping list together and head over there.

Aaaaand your welcome!   
Oh my goodness I need to go for a visit now...Mickey's Orchids here I come!
Happy gardening and enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sustainable Gardening Practices for South Florida

Salutations everyone!  Today is about sustainable gardening practices.  It's all pretty simple stuff but important none the less. 

First let's start with garden design...a best laid plan is the key to a successful garden.   So ask yourself a few questions.   What will I be growing?   What are the growing requirements for the plants?  Where are my full sun area & my shade areas?   From here you can determine how to best utilize your space as well as start some good gardening practices like water conservation, properly grading your landscape terrain & soil preparation.  Once you have a good design & know the basics you can start implementing it.  Remember, you can always tweak the layout later if a specific plant(s) isn't thriving.
Water Garden Landscape (HWBDO11010) | House Plan from

Composting-  Please don't be discouraged, it's super easy.   Composting is essentially a way to recycle plant material & certain food waste to enrich the soil & fertilize your plants.  There are two methods: direct composting & bin composting.   Direct composting is putting the food/plant waste directly into the soil of your plant bed.  No turning or mixing necessary.  Just make sure your dog doesn't sneak into it like mine does; bad gross!   Bin composting is putting the food/plant waste either into an open pile or an enclosed bin.   This method needs consistent turning to aerate the soil helping the green material break down.   My preferred method is to use the open pile (or in my case a very large open container) as well as directly into the plant beds.   Composting is very beneficial to growing healthy plants, reduces the need of chemical fertilizers, reduces the impact on local landfills & encourages beneficial bacteria & fungi to help breakdown the organic matter which produces a rich nutrient soil.   Many of your local grocery stores will put aside produce they would normally throw out, just ask.   Your plants will thank you with a bountiful harvest of delicious food!

Soil Preparation-  A very important yet very often overlooked practice...yes, I myself have been soil shamed on occasion, hee hee.   Soil science 101 ya'll, the plants gets their nutrition from the soil so if the soil is void of essential elements the plant will struggle and/or your plant won't produce good fruits or vegetables.   For a vegetable garden it's a good idea to amend the soil with rich organic matter 4-6 months in advance.  Which is how long it takes for organic material to break down into a usable form.  Continue adding organic material every 2 months for consistent food source for your plants.   On the other hand, for a quick fix, synthetic fertilizers break down very quickly so plants can utilize it right away.  But that would take the fun outta composting!

Watering-   Drought!  Yes, I said it...the D word!  This is why it's super duper imperative to practice water conservation, even on a small scale.  Every drop you save can be used to water your plants.  Ok, there's my PSA outta the way.   Try using a rain barrel with a soaker hose attached to it which goes directly into your garden bed.   Create a natural dry creek bed with landscape rock to redirect water run off right into your plant beds and/or grass.   Install rain chains at the corners of your house to help disperse water falling.  Planting native species will require less water.   Grouping plants with the same water requirements will help streamline your irrigation efforts.   I put large buckets in the landscape to catch the water streaming off the roof when it rains...the plants hide the buckets & I use the collected water, plus the birds like to stop by for a drink.   Check with your local extension offices, city and/or county as they will usually have information for you to read and/or host educational events & seminars; great way to get kids involved.  

Seed Saving-   What a great way to save money, start a collection & a way to share/trade with others.   Plus it helps keep the survival of many heirloom species alive.   This is also another fun project to start the kids with, plus it'll keep them off the computer for a while.   Check to see if your community has a local seed saving club and/or a garden club you can share with.  Who knows you may start a neighborhood trend!

Go Native-   Yes, yes, yes!  Native's are the way to go!  Not only will native plants help with your water bill since they are naturalized to the area but you will find they attract wildlife too.  Birds, butterflies, bees and many others will make your landscape their home by simply providing the food and shelter they require.   Check with your city to see if they have "Free Tree Give-away" days.  They usually have some great native plant selections to choose from & it's free!

Beneficial Bugs-   Did you know that most insects are beneficial in some way or another?   "Bad bugs" usually serve as food for other bugs and animals.  I never met a lizard that didn't like a good cockroach or beetle meal.  By adding beneficial insects like ladybugs, praying mantis, beneficial nematodes, lacewings and butterflies, you can be sure that your plants will be some what pest free.   Planting native species to your area will help keep the beneficial insects around instead of flying off to your neighbor's.   You can purchase these either online or if you're lucky like us here in Pompano Beach, a local store will have some in stock.   The Garden Gate at the Sears on Federal Highway and Copans Road sells many of these lovely critters.

Mulching-   A great way to retain moisture in your soil, it moderates soil temperatures, it helps keep weeds to a minimum, it will add to the nutrient content when it starts to break down, makes the landscape look nice as well as keeping your soil from being swept away from the wind & rain.   Mulch can be in many forms from reusing tree leaves, wood chips, sawdust, pine straw, pine bark, hay, grass clippings, decorative rock, crushed shell and many other decorative items like crushed recycled glass. 

Reducing Carbon Footprint-   "There is always a way" of my favorite mantras, well because it's true, so sayeth me.   With that said, think about ways you can constantly be reducing your carbon footprint.   Hand pull weeds instead of using a gas powered weed wacker, plus it get's your heart rate going.  Try a manual push mower & watch your legs get super toned for summer beach days.   Instead of a hedger, used clippers & those biceps will emerge from their winter slumber.  Have a designated gardening day on the weekend to get the whole family involved.

Name tags-   What's in a name?  Uh identity?  Yes, you won the prize...just kidding, knowing you got the correct answer is your prize.  Anywhooo, the identity of a plant is just as important as the other gardening practices, especially when you have hundreds of orchids in your collection.  A vegetable garden is very specific to what types of varieties are growing in it at one given time.   It also helps determine what types of companion plants to use.  In a community garden, your neighbor would love to share their 'Indian glass gem' corn with you for your "I'm not sure but they're really delicious" seeds.  Uh, no thanks.  It will also help you stay organized in your seed saving efforts.

Pruning-  And this is where we will end it for today, with pruning.   My grandparents & parents taught us very early how to properly prune plants.  Looking back on it, I think that was a sneaky way to get us helping in the garden.  Where's the child labor laws when I needed to get outta Saturday chores, *sigh*.   Properly pruning a plant or tree promotes good health, longevity & vitality of the plant.   It can also promote good growing patterns for the plant.  Like a child you just have to guide it in the right direction.   Ok ok, I secretly had fun with Saturday chores, thanks Mom and Dad! 

Thanks for sticking around!   Hopefully you had fun & maybe walked away with a bit of info you can use!  
Happy Gardening and Best Wishes,