Going Bananas

As we have told in past posts we have a nice garden in which we grow many different fruits and vegetables.  This time of year we are harvesting bananas.  Once the flower forms on the banana tree it takes 3 to 4 months before you can harvest the fruit.  This year we are very lucky to have 3 bunches growing at the same time.  We just harvested our first bunch.

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The best way to harvest the huge bunch of bananas is one hand at a time.  Each of the above sections shown in the picture is called a “hand.”  Several hands make up a bunch when we harvest them.  We still have two more bunches to harvest.

With so many bananas ripening at the same time what are you to do?  Well of course you eat some but that is too many to eat before they ripen too much.  So… we make banana muffins and banana bread.  We are often told that our banana muffins and banana bread is so tasty but when friends try to recreate our recipe they cannot get the same taste.  The secret is simple.  We use fresh bananas from the garden not ones from the store.

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Once they are made we can freeze the muffins and bread and take them out whenever we want a treat.

Victorio’s Oyster Bar and Grille

This family run restaurant was started in 1979 as a tiny pizzeria.  It has grown over the years to four locations in the Central Florida area.  Those locations are in Longwood, Apopka, Titusville, and Oviedo.  Since we were in the Oviedo area and were looking for some lunch we decided to to stop by Victorio’s.  I am sure glad we did.  Everything was delicious.  Since their specialty are oysters we decided to give them a try.  The oysters were fresh and tasty.

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Next we had a Create Your Own Seafood Platter.  When you create this platter you get a choice of two seafood items such as Jumbo Shrimp, Scallops, Fried Clams, Crab Bites, Pangasius, Grouper Fingers, and Fried Oysters.  On our platter we chose Grouper Fingers and Grilled Jumbo Shrimp.  The platter also came with Hush Puppies, Cole Slaw, and one additional side.  For our additional side we got the fresh vegetable of the day Broccoli.

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Our next entrée was the Grouper’s Cousin Sandwich.  It is a sandwich with Pandasius that can be served in one of three styles.  We decided on the fried style.  It came with seasoned fries.

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It was all really good and I know we will be back to this restaurant again.

The Market of Campo di Fiori

Located in the heart of Old Rome is one of the oldest markets known.  Campo di Fiori has been holding daily markets in this square since 1869.  The daily market is open to the public and several small individual vendors sell vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, flowers, and souvenirs.  At night the square changes to become a gathering place to enjoy the outdoor restaurants.

The square also has a very dark history.  It used to be the location where public executions took place in Rome.  In 1600 the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt alive at the stake for heresy against the church.  In 1889 a monument was built to him on the exact spot that he was executed.  In fact, his statue faces directly at the Vatican in defiance of his charges.

When we went to Rome this was a location we had to see for ourselves as we love fresh vegetables.  We bought for ourselves some nuts and souvenirs.  The slide show gives you a good idea of the fresh market we found.

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Cookies and Tamales Our Christmas Tradition

At one time or another we have lived all over the USA.  Over time we have picked up a few traditions that we follow at Christmas time.  Two of those traditions are baking cookies and making tamales.  Both are given as gifts to friends and family both near and far.  We picked up making cookies while living in the Northeast and picked up making tamales while living in the Southwest.  It is an all day family event where everybody helps out in the kitchen because it all takes a lot of love and care to make these up and package them.

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The tamales we make are made with corn wrapping or banana leaf and different types of stuffing.  Some with beef, some with chicken, and others with pork.

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Our cookies are also a large variety.

It is a lot of fun and our friends and family love their special care packages.

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Breakfast in Jamaica

When we go some place and travel, we like to sample the local cuisine.  Sometimes it is a hit or miss for our palate.  Fortunately for us, Jamaica is always a hit, with the tastiest and freshest food the island can offer.  There is a saying among the locals of Jamaica.  That no one can ever starve if they are not lazy.  The reason is due to the richness of the soil that produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and to the abundance the ocean can provide.  Here is a sampling of the wonderful breakfasts we enjoyed on vacation.

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The Jamaican national dish for breakfast is Ackie and Saltfish.  Ackie is a fruit this is eaten when ripe.  When cooked it resembles scrambled eggs.  The Ackie is mixed with salted codfish, onions, and tomatoes.  Callaloo is a leafy dark green vegetable that tastes like spinach.  It is steamed with tomatoes, garlic, scallions, onions, and thyme.  Cassava is either fried, boiled, or in dishes like Bammy that is made from grating the Cassava.  Saltfish Fritters are made with salted Cod, onions, scallions, and flour batter then fried until golden brown.  The entire breakfast is delicious and very filling.

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Add to breakfast the fantastic assortment of the freshest and flavorful tropical fruits like mangos and papaya.

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To top this all off is the rich dark brew of Blue Mountain Coffee grown right there on the island.  However, the best part for breakfast while on vacation is to have breakfast in your room delivered by your butler.  Now that is how you spend vacation.

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Dinner with Friends

We love to entertain and as such we enjoy making dinner for our friends.  So we decided to share our moments of food and friendship with all of you.  First we started with a White Cosmopolitan.

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For our appetizer we had Shrimp Cocktails.

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The next course was Winter Squash Soup.

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The salad course was French Lentils, Beets, and Goat Cheese.

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The main course was Roasted Pork with Roasted Potatoes.

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And to finish the dinner we had Southern Red Velvet Cake.

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Chocolate Dreams in Ocho Rios

One of the resort events we usually attend when at Sandals Grande in Ocho Rios is their Chocolate Festival.

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There are a number of chocolate varieties to please any palate.  There are chocolates filled with fruits, nuts, creams, as well as both dark and milk chocolate.

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The main attraction is two employees covered in chocolate.  One time when we were at the Chocolate Festival a guest walked up to one of these chocolate covered employees and tried to touch him.  He screamed “Don’t touch me, I am already taken.”

The Whole Enchilada

On the western edge of Downtown Winter Garden is a great little Tex-Mex restaurant.  One of our favorites.  It is called The Whole Enchilada.

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This time of year is perfect for dining out and enjoying both the good weather and good food.  One of the best things about this restaurant is they open up the front to let the outside in.

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The atmosphere is comfortable and their house margarita is pretty good.

Our entrée choices for today were pulled pork fajita and a smothered Big Bob Chicken burrito.

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The best part is the price is very reasonable.  The only bad things are the dishes are paper and the utensils are plastic.

Lake Meadow Naturals

Not far on the west side of the Orlando Metro area is a great place to get fresh, no hormone, cage-free eggs.  The place is called Lake Meadows Naturals.

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They distribute some of the eggs laid at the farm to local restaurants.

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January_058Besides their eggs, they sell honey, humanely raised natural meats, jams, jellies, and pickles.  All made the old fashioned way.

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It is a great place to take the kids to see all the animals.

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