Edible Bromeliad ~ the Pineapple

There’s the decorative Bromeliad (which is very pretty when in bloom)

and the edible Bromeliad which is otherwise known simply as the Pineapple.

When ripened they are fruits that are simply so “tropical” looking, aren’t they?

Ripe and Ready!

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Honey Harvest

They (the Honey Bees) are going strong. The hive is densely populated. It’s still summer and they have time to accumulate more pollen and nectar, regurgitate them over and over until a substance called Honey is produced.

On Wednesday, we felt it was a good time to harvest some honey and out of over 20 bars in our top-bar hive, 3 bars of honey-filled combs were all we would be taking. They deserve to keep the rest for themselves.

Apart from just harvesting honey, an inspection was needed to ensure that there wasn’t an invasion of beetles or mites.

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Luffa or Loofah or 广东丝瓜

Whichever way it’s spelt or written, I grow both Egyptian Luffa which is smooth surfaced and Luffa acutangula which is angled luffa, to be used as food rather than for sponge. I once posted and made it known that Yes, I eat Luffa!

It blooms beautifully in summer, but it is unpredictable when deciding whether it should produce more male or female blooms at any one time, usually more of one than the other, rather than 50/50. I guess it’s Ma Nature’s way of population control.

Blooms galore…

Right now, there are blooms all over the trellis but my Angled Luffa is producing 1 female to 9 males. I guess I shouldn’t complain as I’m still get some gourds for kitchen use.

Good Gourds!

I always make one of the simplest (and one of my favorites too) when out of ideas as to what to cook for a meal.

Luffa Fu Yong

In case anyone growing Luffa is curious to try:
– 2 Green Luffas (make sure it’s soft when pressed & heavy – loaded with liquid within)
– 4 cloves Garlic & 1/2″ ginger finely diced
– 6 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms & some Black Fungus, soaked & cut into fine strips
– Sesame Oil, 2 Eggs, Pepper, Soy Sauce, and some water
1. Skin/peel Luffas
2. Oblique cut into bite size
3. Rub in just a pinch of salt
4. Put sesame oil in hot pan & sauté diced garlic & ginger till fragrant
5. Add Shiitake Mushrooms & Black Fungus
6. Mix well and add 1/4 cup water, pepper and soy sauce
7. When steaming hot, add luffa & stir-fry until luffa turns a little translucent
8. Add a little extra water if more gravy preferred, then add eggs.  Wait till egg whites
begin to turn opaque then gently mix.
9. Serve (with garnishing of your choice).
* 3 servings if eaten with rice.
Ideal for ovo-vegetarians

 

 

 

Orchid Bees ~ my pollinating assistants

Buzzz … came an Orchid Bee

She came with a passion to a Passiflora…

The Orchid Bee then landed

Then came another

Both shared a bloom and enjoyed nectar uninterruped.

Recycling ~ done my way this summer

I’ve chosen to do something different this summer.

Re-do my “forest’s pathways” and improve the soil for Fall’s planting instead of concentrating on just on summer (tropical) vegetables. Yes, I’m doing it my way.

I’ve used corrugated cardboard – old wine cartons, appliance packaging, good thick brown cardboard from recycling dumpsters – cut them open, carpeted the paths, then wait for the afternoon rain (a common occurrence in Florida).

No red carpet… just plain return of tree material to soil.

A closer look at my handiwork :mrgreen:  …

Cardboard weed barrier

Covered with pine needles

They will look like natural forest paths in a couple of weeks and it hasn’t cost a cent! OK, they may need re-doing in a couple of years but it will give me time to re-plan and perhaps even re-design the pathways depending on the height of the in-ground trees and perennial edibles, as time passes.
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Singapore’s National Day

Time is but an infinite passing of events. Time doesn’t stop, only life does. When life stops for 1 being, life for others continue until it is their time to end their existence. Time is just too in-depth a subject for this blog’s discussion but each time I hear or see something from my precious past, of sentimental significance, it still makes me reminisce and long to go back in time … an impossible feat.

A 30-yr old video re-surfaced, I see faces and places I remember from my younger days, on the land of birth and it simply makes me so homesick it triggers the urge to travel, a return to my birthplace while I still am able to. August 9th is Singapore’s National Day, the day we obtained Independence and became a Republic. Each time I watch this video, which was on Singapore’s television 30 years ago, it’s like a travel back in time through the time tunnel.

Also in this video is the Singapore Pledge which I recited every school-day for well over a decade of my life.

We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity
and progress for our nation.

Yes, I am now out of Singapore but I simply cannot get Singapore out of me ~ a span of time which time cannot erase.

(Americans & others ~ I do not mean to sound derogatory but please do not assume Singapore is part of China.  Yes, I’ve had people in Social Security and USPS simply adding the word “China” to my submission of written forms. *sigh* Just for information Singapore is further away from China’s closest point than Orlando is from Boston, a long way away … 3hrs 50 min flying time.)

My Tropical Asian Treasure Trove – Part 2

Apart from those hidden Asian treasures in the micro shady boondocks of my backyard, summer warmth has spurred the growth of aromatic foliage which I need, for home style cooking, dishes which I grew up with, taught by my mother and grandmother, food that makes a house smell like home.

Walking around in the morning, at times with coffee mug in hand, pinching or breaking a leaf or two, inhaling the aroma, makes me appreciate what a little bit of each plant can do to enhance our chemical sensing system of smell and taste.

The very easy-to-propagate Lemongrass, nothing to do with lemons, has a citrus flavor which can make a not-so-appetizing dish smell heavenly. In Asia, it is used in soups, spicy stews, sweet tea, curries, as a basting brush for barbecues, as an air freshener in cars, fragrance for soaps and hair oil, heck! it’s supposed to even attract Honey Bees (which is why Lemongrass essence is placed in swarm boxes).

Lemongrass does not like lemons

It looks like scrawny weeds but has very sharp-edged blades and hibernates to a brown clump in winter. It’s also supposed to repel mosquitoes but that aspect is one I can’t vouch for.

The Curry Leaf Plant (Murraya koenigii) to me is what makes a Curry taste and smell like real Curry!  It is a plant native to India and Sri Lanka … the land of Curries, of course! I grew up with this in my backyard ~ yes, déjà vu.

Curry Leaves do smell like Curry.

Can this be found in all Asia grocery stores? No, only Indian run stores, unfortunately, which is why I need to grow my own. I harvest and dry some when it produces its leaves abundantly, just in case there is a bout of winter frost, that’s when it gets bald.

But … there is so much more that can be concocted with this herb, not just curry,

Just a versatile herb.

and in case you are curious (and brave) enough, you might even like to try making Indian Shepherd’s Pie. 😀

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My Tropical Asian Treasure Trove – Part 1

It looks like some overgrown wasteland, neglected, in disarray … well, Ma Nature never created forest growth in straight rows. If they can grow in harmony as companions, and they have for over 3 years, why should I try to ‘straighten things out’ and spoil their habitat?

My shade loving Asian bed

It’s summer. Both plants and human beings in this household can feel the heat, which results in the planting and monitoring frenzy of spices, herbs and rhizomes I use in the kitchen. I try to grow as much as I can, to harvest and preserve (dry or freeze) as I know when the weather gets cooler, they die off or hibernate. They make way for their cool weather comrades.

You may ask “why not just get Asian stuff from an Asian grocery store?” Well, it’s over 35 miles to the closest well-stocked Asian produce store so it would be crazy frequently heading there just to get herbs & spices I need. More important, many of the items that I use, are not sold there … oh yes, not all Asian culinary spices are created equal.
(Click on the sub-titled links for more info & photos.)

Turmeric ~ a much-needed spice in my kitchen. It has grown in my backyard for over 3 years so it simply feels at home and will start re-growing in Spring but will show its leaves in Summer. I use these leaves in tea, curries and as wraps when roasting; and the roots in curries, pickles, sambal, etc.

Fresh green Turmeric leaves.

Galangal (Alpinia officinarum) 南姜 ~ which I simply call Lengkuas is another crucial item needed when preparing S.E. Asian dishes like those Mum taught me.

Galangal – just “normal” looking rhizome growth.

Can you get these in Chinese, Vietnamese or Filipino owned stores? No, but you might find it in Thai & Indian stores … frozen ones, yes but fresh ones, maybe.

Sand Ginger (Kaempferia galanga) or Cekur/沙姜 ~ the mysterious ornamental ginger which I began growing when a ginger-growing enthusiast sent me a rhizome.

Cekur, it makes a beautiful groundcover

Leaves and rhizomes are edible. Lovely as ground cover, even lovelier as an organic backyard grown food aroma enhancer. Can one find this in Asian stores in Florida? Unfortunately I have to say 99.9% it’s “No”. So I simply grow it!

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