Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday's Meanderings In The Garden

I did have a pineapple, I was quite proud of it and checked on it every day for weeks....and then one morning....

It's a shame because it was ripe for picking (as you can see), but something noshed on it in the night.

Two weeks ago I emptied out my compost bin into the raised vegetable bed that once housed the onions and cabbages. Within a few days I was surprised to see what appears to be squash plants coming up. 

I haven't had any luck for years growing squash because of the bugs that lay their eggs inside the stems, in order words I won't hold my breath.

Elsewhere in the garden I am amazed to still have quite a few thriving tomato plants. Some are doing better than others. The one on the right doesn't have as many leaves on it as it should, but it is fruiting and has plenty of blossoms. Too many leaves would indicate more nitrogen than it needs though. It's worth mentioning that I had a horrible year for growing tomatoes. The weather didn't help and it was the first time I grew any in amended garden soil. Finally my husband said 'why don't you go back to growing them in big pots?' It was already quite late in the season, but I grew 6 plants from seed and planted 4 of them in the soil and 2 in pots. The featured tomato plant is in a huge pot. It might be a Big Beef or Lemon Boy. I gave it a teaspoon of Epsom Salts to help it along.

The butterfly garden is a little overgrown (what else is new) and the milkweed plant is just loving all the abundant rain we have been getting recently.

Torenia has grown wild in my garden for years, I have to let it thrive where it will. It defies all attempts to be relocated into a hanging pot.

I planted this Chrysler Imperial rose a year ago. FlowerLady Lorraine (see my blog roll list FlowerLady's Musings) gave me some growing pointers, and so far so good. This rose has an amazing scent and loves all the used coffee grains it can get. Considering how hot and humid it is in South Florida I am very impressed with its hardiness.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Visit To: The Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando

Back in March my husband and I got to stay at The Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando for a weekend.

This luxury hotel is built around a man-made harbor/marina and recreates a gorgeous and colorful harbor fishing village actually called Portofino located on the Italy Riviera.

It's really spectacular! We had a really good time.

As you can see, it seems as though we practically had the whole place to ourselves. Although there were quite a lot of people there the hotel is big enough we weren't falling over each other.

The 'boats' in the 'harbor' are just props.

Features of the hotel are outdoor cafes, boutiques and cobblestone streets.

It's an easy walk along a shaded picturesque canal path to Universal Studios and the boardwalk. Along the way we visited a very well maintained butterfly garden (I picked up a few pointers, one of them being weed more often) and walked through a standing of mature bamboo trees that rattled as the rather chilly wind rustled through. Very cool. 

The canal water isn't photoshopped, it's really that color. They probably tint it to mirror the Mediterranean's turquoise colored water. No expense spared here.

Barges take you back and forth between the Portofino, Hard Rock Hotel and Universal.

This swimming pool is amazing. I believe we counted three pools in total scattered about the hotel. It features what appears to be a replication of a ruined castle, or maybe just old city walls. Since the actual Italian town of Portofino has a castle - Castello Brown (16C) - perched on a hill overlooking the village, this is probably where the idea came's a nice touch. The archway to the right with the water cascading down reminds me a little bit of the old 'Traitors Gate' at the Town of London, except there is no portcullis in sight and the water is a clear, aqua blue.

A lonely little duck swam around in the pool all by itself closely watched by the vigilant lifeguards!

When we got home I was thrilled to find this decorative dish which was made in Italy. It reminded me of the Portofino Bay Hotel so much, I just had to have it!

The real Portofino village in Italy was - according to Pliny the Elder - founded by the Romans and named Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphin, because of the large number of dolphins that inhabited the Tigullian Gulf.

To view pictures of the real Portofino in Italy go here. The Seaside Town Of Portofino in Italy

The photos are beautiful and you can see how much effort was put into the hotel in Orlando to replicate the pastel colors, authentic charm and ambience of the Italian seaside town. Trouble is I want to visit the real Portofino now! Viva le vacanze!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Juicing on Thursday - Mango with Cucumber

I wanted to kick start my busy cleaning-the-house day with a nutritious beverage that replaces breakfast. Mangoes and nectarines are in plentiful supply at the grocery store right now and not too expensive. I think the mangoes are $1 each.

So I gathered up :
1/2 a cucumber
1 ripe tomato
1 nectarine
1 mango - peel it!
1 cup fresh spinach leaves

Chop everything up, but don't bother removing the skin or seeds from the tomato or cucumber. 

Remove the stone from the nectarine 
and don't use the skin of the mango or the tough fibrous pith inside.

Start up your juicer!
Hurom Slow Juicer

I'm using a Hurom which I blogged about previously here. Juicing With A Hurom

It has to have a permanent 'place' on the countertop because it's so darn heavy!

I mix my ingredients together a little bit before I start pushing them into the juicer.

I find it helps if the spinach goes in first, then the tomatoes, mango and then the cucumber with the nectarine.

The cucumber skin seems to help to push the fruit juices through the grinder inside.

The consistency is quite thick so you could always go ahead and dilute it down a little bit with 1/2 cup of Coconut or Almond Milk. I'm not going to do that today though.

Juice coming through spout on right and the pulp is exiting on the left.

Don't be discouraged by the color, it really doesn't taste as 'green' as it looks!

Just those 5 ingredients made 12 floz of freshly pressed, vitamin packed juice. Since the spinach went in first you might want to give it a swirl with a spoon to distribute the ingredients, but I don't think it matters.

Just delicious! Sweet and fresh tasting and through the mango and nectarine I could definitely detect the coolness of the cucumber.

The pits, skin and pulp will go into my compost bin the contents of which I am hoping to be able
to integrate into my fall veggie beds.

Mangoes have lots of really good properties read here for the scoop on this valuable fruit. Mango Properties

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meatless Monday - Spinach, Mushroom & Feta Cheese Casserole

Serve as a side instead of rice/potatoes and veg. A great brunch!
I tried this recipe two ways, with and without the feta. I can assure you hands down it's better with feta cheese (although probably low fat cottage cheese would work as well).

Prep time: 15 mins -- Total time 60 mins -- makes 6 to 8 servings (but if you have two teenagers count on only 4 to 6). Best hot but good served cold too.

You will need:
4oz crumbled feta cheese, flavored or plain - your preference
10 medium sized mushrooms - thinly sliced
4 medium sized eggs - whisked lightly
1/2 cup oil - grapeseed or vegetable 
1/2 cup Parmesan or Parmesan/Romano
1 cup pancake/waffle mix in a box
1/2 bag or almost 5 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves
Small onion - finely chopped
1 tsp of complete seasoning and 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
A 2 quart baking pan - I used glass

Spray baking pan with oil, like Pam, and put rack on middle shelf in oven. Heat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs lightly, stir in oil, parmesan cheese and your favorite seasonings.

Fold in the pancake mix and smush out any lumps

Stir in the onion and then the spinach leaves until coated.

Now add the mushrooms and feta cheese.

Scoop into your greased pan, and sprinkle with a little more parmesan/romano cheese and ground black pepper. Completely on a whim, I also added a little ground lemon peel on the topping and was very pleased with the final result.

Bake for 40 mins. Remove from oven and let stand or 5 mins. Serve with a little salsa/salad. It's really delicious with a little drizzle of ranch or blue cheese dressing! Note: It doesn't reheat well. Enjoy! The boys scoffed back the whole thing in a day.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Meatless Monday - Fish Soup With Cabbage and Leeks

I'm recovering from the flu, so light, healthy fare is about all I can manage.

This soup is easy to make and, even though I had two bowls I didn't feel uncomfortably full.

You will need:
1/2 white cabbage cut into fine ribbons
2 leeks, white stem only - sliced into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 freshly chopped tomatoes
3 or 4 potatoes, cut into small cubes. Red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped with skin on would be more colorful
8 cups of vegetable stock
1 minced heaped teaspoon of garlic
1 tsp dried basil and 2 tsp dried marjoram
1 cup white wine (or apple juice)
A small piece of lemon zest
A light, white fish of your choice, cod etc. I'm using dover sole.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your pan and add the onion, saute on low 3 mins until softened and then add the teaspoon of garlic, stir well allowing the garlic to brown nicely but not stick to bottom of pan. Add the teaspoon of basil and also the marjoram and give a good stir. Dissolve 4 vegetable bouillon cubes in 2 cups of water and add a cup of that broth to your pan. Now add the tomatoes.

Cover pan, raise heat to medium/low on your stove top and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the leeks to the pan, recover, cook 3 minutes.

Add the thinly sliced cabbage, a cup of white wine, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Heat some oil in a separate pan for the fish. Wash your fish, but don't pat dry.When oil is warm but not hot, add your fish. Allow to poach lightly and season well with black pepper.

After 5 minutes is up, add the remaining 7 cups of vegetable broth to the cabbage, leek tomato mix and simmer 10 minutes. Peel and chop the potatoes and add to the pan, bring to boil, then take the lid off and simmer 6 minutes. Turn the heat off and add the lemon zest giving the pan a good stir to incorporate. The potato pieces should be al dente but not mushy. Allow to stand 5 minutes.

The Cabbage, Leek, Tomato "Soup"
Poached Dover Sole

Put a ladle of veggie broth into a soup bowl and then add a piece of fish on the top, scooping up some of the fish juice and spooning that over top of fish.

Eat the soup base through the fish.

It is very mild in flavor. Next time I would add more tomatoes, but this time around I didn't want anything too acidic.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...