Okinawa Spinach (紅鳳菜) & it’s Purple!!

While neatening the planting bed held by a retaining wall, I noticed that the Okinawa Spinach has started growing in length again. I guess it “knows” that it’s Fall now and it’s comfortable to run wild (again). Literally translated  紅鳳菜 actually means Red Phoenix Vegetable but it’s actually Purple so how can I miss out on Cee’s Super Fun Foto Challenge?

Purple underside

Purple underside

Worker ant likes this veggie too

Worker ant likes this veggie too

We share food

We share food

Hmm… I wonder if Popeye ever got to taste this variety of spinach. Simply stir-fried with sesame oil, garlic and ginger … it goes so well as a vegetable accompaniment with meat or rice main meal.
Oh! and excellent in quiche with bacon and cheese too.


Cutting a Hedge for Dinner on the 1st day of Fall

Yes, we trimmed our Katuk Hedge this afternoon and the leaves are going into tonight’s dinner plus some for the freezer. This edible hedge has grown so well I’ve even introduced/shared some Katuk dishes with neighbors.

My hedge harvest

My hedge harvest

Katuk flowers are edible too!

Katuk flowers are edible too!

Many Katuk gardeners in the US have blogged about “throwing them in salad” and tasting its “nutty flavor” but having eaten this plant for decades in Asia (& I used to call it Cekur Manis) I simply prefer the cooked version ~ in curries, in sambal (hot paste with shrimp base) dishes, etc. Well, today, I decided to cook it in a “fusion” kind of dish.

sauteed with garlic and olive oil

sauteed with garlic and olive oil

Too much for 1 dinner so I’ve frozen half of the sauteed Katuk, the other portion got cut up finely on a cutting board. It’s much easier to ‘control’ when cooked so if your dish requires “finely chopped/diced” greens, stir-fry Katuk till it’s slightly limp then cut them up.

I’ve slow-cooked it with pasta sauce from my freezer (made from home-grown tomatoes) plus onions, mushrooms, firm tofu and loads of sweet basil from the backyard.

Vegetarian pasta topping

Vegetarian pasta topping

Tonight’s dinner is probably unheard of, as yet, so I’m going to call it Penne con Katuk.

Penne con Katuk

Penne con Katuk



Feathering her Nest?

My very limited knowledge of birds restricts me from detailed commenting on the North Carolina Wren but Wikipedia tells me their preferred habitat is in dense cover in forests and farm edges. Well, these sweet birds have once set up nest in my hanging tomato planter and now they have decided to try out our porch light. Strange place but they’re most welcome.

probably measuring the "floor space" for her nest

Mama Wren probably measuring the “floor space” for her nest

Then she turns around with no chirp and no fear ~ simply stayed put while I was bringing out our recycle bin.

just looked at me

sat still and just looked at me

1 more camera click before I went in

1 more camera click before I went in

Life is so rich when you live simply and share your space with “the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees” as the song goes …




Bananas this Summer

Something tells me the squirrels in our area are practising birth control… or they’ve moved to a squirrel-loving neighborhood far, far away. We haven’t heard much scurrying on our metal roof and gutter, nor any loud squirrel-squabble on our front oak tree where the large busy bird feeder hangs. nor see any “claw-print” on our bananas which are ripening… Yippee!

This a bunch which can be observed closely and frequently when sitting at my laptop table ~ no squirrel (so far).

green bunch right outside our computer room window

green bunch right outside our computer room window

A bunch in our backyard began ripening & we (the owners) began the debate of whether to harvest or not ~ in case of a possible attack (like in the past) by the Squirrel Squadron.

The ripening bunch ~ to harvest or not to harvest ...

The ripening bunch ~ to harvest or not to harvest …

We decided the proverb “Better Safe Than Sorry” applies in this case so out came the knife and down came the bunch. We’ve had some with cereal, made smoothies and left the bunch hanging from the arbor over our back patio, visible through the glass door, (instead of the garage) just to see if the nasty squirrels will attack.

just like in grandma's old village house

just like in grandma’s old village house

Our Australian guests are arriving tonight … guess what we will offer for breakfast tomorrow morning?:mrgreen:


How & Why did the Sweet Potato plant cross the path?


With my help of course … no, actually at my insistence. I usually propagate Sweet Potato plants in summer and to give them a good chance of survival (in our still very poor ground soil) I usually perform what I call the Sweet Potato Spa treatment.

In this corner/stretch, I have decided to let Ma Nature help me.  My “Sweetie” shares playground with my carefully controlled Water Convolvulvus (蕹菜) and is the secondary recipient of water from the air-conditioning unit.

Sweet Potato plants love the air-conditioner created micro climate.

Sweet Potato plants love the micro climate created by the air-conditioning unit.

So let it stay connected to mama-plant while it happily strays (with my guidance) to lay down roots on ground soil.

Straying on new ground.

Straying on new ground.

When established, I will cut their “umbilical” link and allow them to be my groundcover on the other side of the path. Then, for sure, I will not run out of Sweet Potato leaves (hopefully roots too) for my kitchen use.




9/11 Commemoration


I’ve been into the World Trade Center several times, I’ve watched with horror the attack of 9/11 on TV so, yes, I could actually feel the vibes of sadness when I stepped on ground zero.



The bird that took his/her holy dip?

But not all was lost,

lone surviving tree

lone surviving tree … if only it can speak

St Paul's Chapel

St Paul’s Chapel did not have a single broken window

It’s been 15 years but I still can’t bring myself to watch re-runs of videos of the attack, screened on news channels, especially one that captured “the falling man”.

Lychee (荔枝)

Sometimes spelt Litchi, or in Mandarin phonetics Lizhi, is a fruit I love. Commonly sold, when in season, in Southeast Asia but alas I have only seen them in Asian stores in Florida and many a time, not as sweet as their Asian “sisters”.  Below is a borrowed a pic from Organic Facts.


BUT … a couple of months ago, I saw some really nice looking ones so decided to get some and they were so sweet & juicy I couldn’t believe it. Drove 32 miles back the next day to the Asian produce store and they were all gone.😥

Nevertheless I decided the seeds were worth saving (more for fun growing than for fruit harvest, said to take 7-10 years) so into a dumpster-retrieved papier-mâché tray they went, with some seed-starting mix. Not all germinated but …

8 week old Lychee seedlings

8 week old Lychee seedlings

7" tall with happy seed-leaves

7″ tall with happy seed-leaves

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Age is but a Number

After watching some very motivating videos, like:

the awesome Sister Madonna Buder

& Deshun Wang

I feel it’s time to start planning again, they’ve put me to shame … get off the butt to train for another marathon? Why not?  After all, as the saying goes “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”