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eG Foodblog: FL Heat - It's the humidity. . .


FL Heat
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Technically, we have a freeze warning; in all likelihood, our backyard (where anything delicate is) won't freeze, it's protected from northern winds really well. So the tomatoes, pineapple plant, and papaya tree are safe & sound! The herb garden should be sturdy enough, it's got an eastern exposure and gets really warm in the afternoon. Plus we're only about 7 miles from the water, so it never really freezes. . . .frost, once in a while, and if we were further inland I'd worry, but the nice peninsula we're on moderates the temperatures really nicely.

I took some photos of the food plants when it was sunny, I'll put them up tomorrow so we can all remember warmth and sunshine.

Diana

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Good morning! We got down to 31, but no damage done. We're much like you with our exposures and proximity to the beach. I didn't cover any fruit trees, cabbage or pepper plants, or herbs, and they are all just fine. No freeze expected tonight, and 70's will be back by Wednesday. :smile:

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Brrrrr.. ...I know I won't get sympathy from people who live where it's REALLY cold, but 40 first thing in the morning IS cold for this part of the US!

Breakfast was yogurt & a tangelo; TJ had his cereal & english muffin (at least, that's how it sounded & smelled, I stayed under the covers!).

Several months back, I put us on the South Beach program, with the recipes & knowledge I had, not necessarily with the recipes from the book. It worked phenomenally well for TJ, he lost about 40 pounds. I lost 12. Life's so unfair. At any rate, since then, I make a South-Beach-inspired lunch for him in the evening for him to take to work the next day. The lunches usually look like this:

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Plenty of fruits & vegetables, plus enough protein & fat to keep him feeling full.

Mine is usually simpler. . today the rest of the apple walnut chicken salad on whole wheat and Triscuits with spicy hummus. And, since I think she feels left out of the whole blog thing, Mia the beagle made an appearance in the kitchen today, woefully watching me while I made lunch, so I promised that I'd put her picture in today, and she made me swear to take pictures of her dinner tonight, too. Hers will be. . .kibble. Ours will be pecan-crusted chicken and roasted sweet potatoes. Something nice & soul-warming for a cold day.

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Mia also mentioned I might want to take pictures of the squirrels & birds & their dining area in the backyard. . .and I will, just not today. How about a thriving pineapple plant instead?

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My brother was stationed in Hawaii and we went to visit him (with my mom & dad) two years back. We brought back pineapples (legally!), and planted the top of one of them to see if it really would grow. And it's done pretty well!

Diana

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Diana, has your pineapple plant produced fruit yet? Mine has not. I planted ours about two years ago and no sign yet, even though it thrives. The lady who told me this would work said hers took two or three years to make a pineapple.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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enjoying this blog very much! and as we are covered with 2 feet of snow, I am jealous of your locale.....

what a cute dog - my golden retriever, Pete, gets much the same look on his face when I am cooking something he would like a taste of. :rolleyes:

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Susan, from what I understand, pineapple plants make one pineapple, three years after being planted. Not for the impatient gardener, I suppose. Glad none of your stuff took the cold badly!

Dinner tonight. . .roasted sweet potatoes, pecan-crusted chicken. Maybe "pecan-crusted" isn't the right name. It's an amalgamation of several recipes. To make the cooking time faster (the sweet potatoes were coming along faster than I expected), I sliced the chicken breasts into smaller strips. Dunked them each in honey, then into a food-processor-ground mixture of whole wheat flour, pecans, and kosher salt. Baked at 350 for about 15 minutes. Sliced up a tomato from the Sat AM Market, and I had a glass of Franz Reh 2002 Peisporter Michaelsburg Auslese Reisling. TJ had a big glass of water.

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Mia had Science Diet Lamb & Rice. And a pig ear.

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TJ's words of advice: "You know, it was a really good dinner, honey, but from this angle (looking at the picture), the chicken looks furry."

Rest assured, the chicken is not furry.

Diana

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Mia the beagle made an appearance in the kitchen today, woefully watching me while I made lunch,

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Yay Mia! I can see, as is the case on our home, the hound rules the kitchen! :laugh: The pig ear she had ... leftovers from a previous smoke session?

Very jealous of the Farmer's Market. We're at least 4 months away from opening day for ours. *sigh*

A.

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Susan, from what I understand, pineapple plants make one pineapple, three years after being planted.  Not for the impatient gardener, I suppose.

That's what I thought... How nice. The lady I was referring to was the wife of one of my Hospice patients. That confirms it was an honor to be invited over to eat some of her one pineapple. :smile:

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Sorry for the lateness of the first post of the day, had a wee bit of stomach trouble this morning.

Took a trip to Mazzaro's Italian Market & Coffee Roasters early this afternoon. I forgot how crowded Florida can be this time of year, so pictures are unavailable. Too crowded and my basket was kinda heavy :cool:

When you walk in, the registers are on your right, and the cheese & meat section on your left. A big freezer case full of cheese, then two large refrigerated bins with even MORE cheese. Behind the cheese case, they're usually bagging up balls of fresh mozzarella. Next to that is the meat/fish/poultry case, full of all kinds of prepared and fresh meats. You walk through a narrow area that contains another freezer case, this one full of their lasagna trays and other frozen entrees, plus a refrigerated case with European butters & milks, plus fresh salads & yogurts to pick up and eat on the run.

Through the skinny area, past the vegetables & fruit, to the huge display of coffee beans. I always feel a little guilty that I don't drink coffee when I pass by there, because it just looks so. . . .delicious. The shop opens up again, and there's a deli on the left (full of just everything you could imagine an Italian deli having), and a fresh pasta counter (my lunch for today & tomorrow was a piece of spinach & sun-dried tomato lasagna from there). The middle section is large racks of olive oils, vinegars, imported packaged breads & sweets, and bottled goods. Next to the fresh pasta area are all the packaged pastas, shop-made sauces, bottled & canned sauces, canned tomatoes, and all sorts of fun condiments & stuff.

There's a tremendous wine selection, focusing primarily on Italian wines and liquors (and liquers!). If anyone knows of a wonderful Italian wine that isn't over $20, I'll pick it up next time I'm there, but my grasp of Italian wine is infintesimal. There's a wonderful bakery with fresh breads & sweets (two of which I picked up for us to share the next two nights), shop-made gelatos and a coffee bar. On Saturdays, they've always got a wine vendor there giving samples and nearly always a band playing near the coffee bar. Really a treat. . .but waaaaay too crowded this time of year.

Below is a picture of what I bought, if anyone has any great suggestions for what to try with any of the stuff, I'm game!

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In case you can't read the labels, the cheeses are Pepato (soft), Tillsit, and Maytag Blue (I know plenty to do with the blue, but I buy other cheeses just to see what they taste like). The vinegar is an apricot balsamic, I figure it'll be tasty in salad dressings. The two desserts are an Italian rum cake and a raspberry vanilla cake.

Dinner tonight is chicken fried steak :wub: YAY!

Diana

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Hi Diana & T.J. --

My wife Sara & I live just north of Tampa in the south end of Lutz off Van Dyke Rd. We are also foodies and have just loved your blog. I'm glad to see the photos of Land & Sea Market, I haven't been there in years and wasn't impressed then, but it looks like it has changed a lot. Hearing about Mazzaro's brings back memories of working at the Barnes & Noble in St. Pete years ago. The best & quickest lunch in town. Next time your in Tampa and in the mood for cuban food, try La Teracita (sp?). I'll have to get the address for you cuz' I'm currently drawing a blank. Tony Bourdain ate there the last time he was in town and he said he really enjoyed it. They are open all night on Fridays and Saturdays and til around midnight the rest of the week. Try the stuffed plantains, they are amazing.

If you ever find yourselves in need of some dining companions, we would love to get together for dinner some time. I'll PM you later with our contact info. Sorry to be so long winded but your blog got me all excited. See ya soon.

Sara & Adam

"And those who were dancing were thought insane by those who could not hear the music." FN

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Evening!

Dinner tonight was chicken fried steak and sauteed sugar snap peas with garlic.

Then a raspberry-vanilla mini-cake from Mazzarro's. Absolutely fantastic. I like raspberries, but after that, I REALLY like raspberries.

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And for the snowbound, a picture of the herb garden that TJ built on the side of the house, right under a kitchen window.

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From left to right: oregano, chives, globe basil, rosemary, thyme, dill (the BIG one), and parsley

Diana

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Yum, the chicken fried steak looks great.... (and the snap peas!)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Diana, I love chicken fried steak!! Do you use cube steak? it looks great!

Yep, cube steak! The meat market was running a nice special on it this week. Mom & Dad (who live in Illinois right now, but spent most of their lives in Texas) can only find it at Whole Foods up near them. . .and you should hear Dad complain about the cost of organic, free-range cube steak. . . :laugh:

Oh, and Daddy-A. . .the pig ears are purchased in bulk from Costco. . .we live maybe too much in the city to get away with lugging a whole pig home. . .though. . .maybe, if we did it at night. . .

Diana

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The picture of the chicken fried steak brought a tear to my eye, but then I am partial to the dish. Thanks for posting it.

And I really admire your herb garden! I wish I could do the same but don't have the space to do it. What's Globe Basil? I haven't heard of it before. Is it very different from regular basil?

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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  What's Globe Basil?  I haven't heard of it before.  Is it very different from regular basil?

VERY different? Not particularly. I think on the tag it's called "Spicy Globe Basil", it's a little more peppery than regular basil (which is in a pot with tomato plants), but the "globe" is what appeals to me. It grows in clumps on stems, so when you pick it, you just snap off part of a globe and it's a perfect amount. I'll snap some later this evening and take a closer picture to show, since the explanation sounded a lot better in my head than it does typed out. . .

We'll be going to my personal favorite restaurant in the "neighborhood" tonight. It's a family-run place called Dal'Italia, and is right across the street from a Melting Pot. Whenever we go and sit next to the windows, I feel sorry for the people at Melting Pot, since there's no way what they're eating is nearly as good as what we're eating. There's a big brick oven and a tiny Italian woman in the kitchen. Her daughters are the waitstaff, their children bus tables & do some of the table service. It's very casual & simple, nothing extraordinary at first glance, but the food is just outstanding. A friend of ours who has Italian family says it's very much like the food she grew up on.

The second time we went, I asked if it was possible to buy just the pizza dough (because it's SO good). The waitress went to ask her mom, who unleashed a string of (presumably) expletives in Italian, and stated repeatedly (and loudly) "NO NO NO". Then she went back to singing in the kitchen.

The waitress came back, her face a little red, and said that she couldn't sell the pizza dough, but we could buy all the plain pizzas we wanted :biggrin:

Diana

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Dinner was soooooooooooo good.

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We got the antipasti platter (a small one), which we hadn't before, and really enjoyed it. There was a ham-type meat which the waitress said was "cappicoa" or something similar. Spicy spicy! It came with the salad dressing that is the whole reason we get their salads. It's balsamic vinegar, olive oil. . .and we taste garlic & black pepper. But no idea what else, except that it's incredibly addictive. We dip the bread in it, and if it weren't bad manners, would probably order it in a wine glass.

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TJ got a calzone. It's full of cheese & pepperoni, and comes with a bowl of sauce on the side. It's fun to say "EXCALIBUR!" when he pulls the knife out of the crust.

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I had the shrimp fradiavolo. Most times it's spicy. . .tonight it was BLAZING. In a good way. My lips were numb by the end of the meal. Half of it came home for lunch tomorrow.

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Now, as we were waiting for the check, some other folks came in. One woman in particular was wearing enough perfume that it was bothering US. Why would you bother going out to eat wearing that much, when everything you eat is going to taste like your perfume anyway? Blech.

We stopped at our favorite ice cream shop afterwards.

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They serve a locally made brand of ice cream that is flavorful & full of chunks of all kinds of good stuff. Haven't had anything there that wasn't delicious.

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As mentioned above, here's a picture of the globe basil growing. . .

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And here's what part of a "globe" looks like. . .

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Tomorrow's the last day, so please come on over for steaks from the grill. TJ's eager to show off HIS skills :cool:

Diana

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We got the antipasti platter (a small one), which we hadn't before, and really enjoyed it.  There was a ham-type meat which the waitress said was "cappicoa" or something similar.  Spicy spicy! 

Cappicolla, maybe? It looks like the meat in your photo with the reddish-orange coating.

One of my favourites!

I'm really enjoying your blog, Diana. Send some sunshine out west, will ya? :laugh:

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The photos of your meals out and the markets have been great! Before you go... :sad:... Can you tell me anything about the restaurant in the Renaissance Hotel, International Plaza in Tampa? It is Pelagia Trattoria, and for that matter, what else might be good in the area? I think I'm going to attend a conference there in March.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I haven't been out there much (except to shop!) Susan, but I'll see what I can find out. Maybe we'll have to hit the mall together. . .

Capicolla! Yes!

I think it might be purchased on the next trip to the Italian Market. . .

Diana

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Your dinner tonight looked great--I'd have a difficult time choosing between the calzone or the shrimp diavalo...

Neat to see the pix of the globe basil; don't remember ever seeing those.

Thanks for the nice blog.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Diana, your pictures are wonderful and I'm still drooling over the smoked brisket. It looks like absolute perfection. The sandwiches and fruit salad from the next day don't look too shabby, either. And yum, the chicken fried steak. Heh, I guess I like a lot of what you're eating. Thanks for blogging.

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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I lived in Tampa many years ago, and am trying to remember why I ever left!

:rolleyes: Pam

August, exceeded in misery only by September . . . the heady smell of red tide . . . tiny blue-haired heads peering through the steering wheels of very large cars . . . scraping sand-covered tar off your feet . . . Military Trail in West Palm Beach . . . sandspurs in the instep of your foot . . . people who think coconut oil is an appropriate personal scent . . . no-see-ums . . . NJ license tags on the aggressive SUV that just forced you onto the shoulder of I-95 . . .

Sorry. Lived in South Florida from 1969 to 1980 and go back to visit family regularly. Sometimes I just like to hold my hands out to the glow of the fireplace and remember. Good times, good times.

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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Thank you for blogging, Diana. It's been a great week and you've inspired me to start a similar herb garden. I love the look of that globe basil.

Note to self: send the Spouse a link to the photo of Diana's herb planter

(And thank you for the sunshine! It's not raining today...yippee!)

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