15 Reasons Not to Visit the Florida Keys {humor}

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Ah, the Florida Keys… Carefree days filled with fun, sun and fancy umbrella drinks, right? Well, not exactly. I’ve learned that living in The Florida Keys isn’t quite what it seems.

So before you pack your polka dot bikini and fly south for the winter, check out the everyday reality of Life in the Florida Keys:

1. Hold onto to your floppy hat! That cool tropical breeze is actually a Category Five hurricane making its way from Africa, heading directly for Key Largo.

2. Spectacular sunsets feature massive mosquitoes, sucking enough blood from us to buzz all the way back to Miami.

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3. (Cue Jaws soundtrack) Diving excursions turn you into instant shark bait.

4. Those “authentic” Florida Keys conch shells are plastered with Made in China stickers.

5. Modern-day pirates set up souvenir shops to pillage and plunder. “Interested in buying a crappy, overpriced Key West T-shirt, matey?”

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6. Ernest Hemingway’s famous Key West cats are really stuck-up (or maybe they’re just hung over).

7. One visit to the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet blows your chances of squeezing into that teeny weeny bikini.

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8. That fishing trip won’t be so exciting once you realize you’re on the hook for $199 per hour. (Oh, and the fish that got away was not “THAT BIG!”)

9. After basking in the blazing sun all day, you’ll begin to resemble patients in hospital burn units.

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10. Our beach buddy is a twelve-foot alligator, just waiting to join us for a swim.

11. (Cue the Pina Colada song) You’d better really like piña coladas because each frozen concoction is fourteen bucks at the tiki bar!

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12. With the sweltering heat and 99-percent humidity, you’ll probably be stuck inside that “ocean-view” dump you booked online. Although the room reeks of rotten fish and stale smoke, at least it has air conditioning.

13. Coco-Loco! People actually die from falling coconuts (because they aren’t smart enough to realize that coconuts are harder than their heads!)

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14. Observing Key West’s Fantasy Fest makes Girls Gone Wild videos look like Disney flicks.

15. So, “Welcome to The Florida Keys: Come on vacation. Leave on probation.”

Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Have you ever had a dream vacation turn into a disappointment? Please share!

The Stranger and The Snowflake

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  “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo

It was only 6AM and I was already miserable. My pants were uncomfortably snug from overindulging on South Florida cuisine. Dressed for the Florida heat, I knew I was going to freeze my butt off once I landed in North Carolina.

Tired and crabby, I rushed to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. The security check was backed-up. People were pushing. One jerk even PASSED ME in the security line as I was going thru the scanner. (I secretly wished he’d develop motion sickness on his flight!)

Finally boarding my flight, I prayed to be far from screaming kids. No one should dare bother The Grouch. A lady then crawled over me to the window seat. “Don’t worry I won’t bother you,” she said. Jeez, did I look that agitated?  There was just something about her aura that was so inviting. Sure enough, I instantly started up a friendly conversation with the blonde woman sitting next to me.

“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.”

Fydor Dostoevsky

By coincidence (or not?), she lives just one block from me in Miami, has rescue dogs, and vacations close to me in The Florida Keys. She was also traveling to her Carolina getaway. With great ease, we giggled, chatted up a storm and found so much in common. Close in age and looks, the mysterious stranger could have easily been the sister I’ve always wanted.

“I do desire we be better strangers.”

William Shakespeare

I couldn’t help but notice her dancing blue eyes and pure spirit. Filled with calmness and confidence, she spoke joyously. Caught up in our conversation, I was no longer drained and bothered. The splendid spirit of this passenger rubbed off on me, plastering a huge smile on my makeup-less face.

“Stranger, if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?”

Walt Whitman

Somewhere in between our discussions about crafting, men, and fabulous food, she serenely mentioned “her surgery.” Oh, you had surgery, for what, may I ask?”

“Brain surgery. I have brain cancer.” She so calmly replied.

What a fool I was for complaining all morning about my tight pants and Miami traffic! How dare I be bothered by other passengers trying to make their flights? Was I actually cursing at my carryon bag for being too heavy? 

I was sitting next to a living angel: a mother of two, facing the unimaginable. Filled with grace, she smiled as she spoke. What a true example. I am so thankful just to know this person. We eventually talked about everything two girls can chat about. We exchanged contact info and hugged as our flight landed.

“There are no strangers here;

only friends you haven’t yet met.”

William Butler Yeats

I was blessed to have met my new friend. Her kind spirit filled me with joy and peace. I floated to my car, and grinned during the entire drive home.

Once home, I skipped into the yard, playing with my dogs. Still in my South Florida clothing, I had somehow forgotten how cold it was. The sun shined down and brightened my face. As I turned towards the sky, I gently closed my eyes and smiled. I paused and listened to my calm breath. This was a great moment indeed.

Suddenly, a strong breeze almost knocked me over. Icy droplets caressed my face. I opened my eyes to big, beautiful, flawless snowflakes! It was snowing! Gigantic snowflakes danced in slow-motion. White butterflies whirling in the wind. The tiny falling stars reminded me of my new friend: Beautiful. Magical. Joyful.

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I joyfully threw up my arms and arched my back. Like a little girl, I opened my mouth to catch the falling white gold.

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Life is good. Life is a flawless-magical-huge-dancing-snowflake kind of good!

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  “A snowflake is one of nature’s most fragile creations but look at what they can do when they stick together!”

– Author Unknown

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Shared with Fiesta Friday, Flashback Friday, Foodie Friday, Simple Saturdays, Natural Family Friday, Motivation Monday, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Busy Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Simply Natural Saturdays

Photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer and Pascal Gaudette, Julie FalkChris Dodson and Gen Thul

All rights reserved.

got pecans? Make Turtles!

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“All you need is love.

But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Charles M. Schulz

Spanish Moss dripping from Oak trees. Quaint Southern streets. Welcome to Georgia! This sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.

A roadside sign lures me in for local Georgia Pecans!

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So many pecans, so little time.

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Fresh, crunchy, decadent pecans.

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Loaded up with my stash, I spotted this sign. Got me thinking that I can make my own Pecan Candy!

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My love for Pecan Turtles dates back to when I was young. I rode my pink bike (with pink basket) throughout our neighborhood, selling chocolates as a fundraiser for my brothers JV football team. But, between the hot Miami sun and my girlish appetite, not many turtles survived. Sorry, dear brother.

Turtles get their name from their turtle-like shape.  Sweet, buttery caramel, and silky, smooth chocolate cover crunchy, toasted pecans. Irresistible. Yet so easy to make. You will never buy boxed chocolates again! (Even if a girl is selling them for her brother’s football team!)

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 “Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.”

Bill Copeland

CHOCOLATE PECAN CARAMEL TURTLES

Yields 60 turtles

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds pecan halves (raw or lightly toasted)

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup (Karo)

1 (14oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

One package (24oz) Chocolate Almond Bark (or chocolate chips)

Half package (12 oz) White Chocolate Almond Bark (or white chocolate chips) (optional)

PREPARATION:

Arrange clusters of 4 or 5 pecans on greased cookie sheets. (I used parchment paper.)

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Melt butter, sugar and salt in a heavy pot. Stir until combined. Stir in corn syrup and mix well.

Gradually add condensed milk, stirring constantly.

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Cook to firm candy stage, about 12 to 15 minutes (240 degrees using a candy thermometer).

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Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Carefully spoon caramel sauce over arranged pecans, enough to cover pecans. Let cool.

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Melt almond bark/chocolate over double boiler.

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Spoon chocolate on top of cooled caramel. Let cool.

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Repeat with melted white chocolate, if desired.

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Allow turtles to cool and set completely (at room temperature or in the refrigerator) before removing and packaging.

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Store refrigerated in airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

***

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Caramel, pecans and chocolate are “so happy together!”  Just like the song says, by, of course … The Turtles! Enjoy!

Happy 2015!!

What is your favorite homemade candy?

Shared with: Mix It Up Monday, Motivation Monday Gluten Free Fridays, Natural Family Friday  Simple Saturdays, Motivation Monday, Clever Chick’s Bloghop, Mix It Up Monday, Home and Garden Thursdays, Recipe Round Up, Great Ideas Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Fiesta Friday, Foodie Friday, Weekend Bites

Original photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

“I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Hill” [recipe]

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Wild Blueberry Bread

My friend and I really ripped up Western North Carolina. We could have written our own tour book!  We hooted and hollered at the County Fair. (See: Hoedown at Haywood County Fair.)  We pretended to be culinary experts at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival and Rhubarb’s Sunday Supper. We hit the local Farmer’s Market and chomped down NC Apples at Barber’s Orchard. Then we hiked (okay, walked slowly) on The Blue Ridge Parkway….

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Summer on The Blue Ridge Parkway

And we hiked…..(a little bit slower)

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Top Of Devil’s Courthouse, Blue Ridge Parkway

Boy, did we hike!! (crawled)

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Highest Elevation, Blue Ridge Parkway

Besides burning some calories (thank goodness!!), we hit the jackpot on our winding trails:  Wild Blueberries! 

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Blueberries as far as the eye can see!  Armed with our gallon ziplocks (the allowable limit) we picked…

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“I found my thrill on blueberry hill!

And we picked…

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Boy, did we pick!

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What to do with these gorgeous plump, juicy gems? (Well, with those beautiful berries that didn’t accidentally fall into our mouths!) Something simple, yet special…Aha! Fresh-baked Wild Blueberry Bread!

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This treat is jam-packed with two cups of fresh blueberries. Lemon and Blueberries go great together! I added both vanilla and lemon extracts to really accent the flavor of the blueberries.

My Wild Blueberry Bread is:

One Giant Blueberry Muffin!

BURSTING with blueberries!

Cake-like

Light and fluffy

Very moist

Tart AND sweet

A little lemony

Slices beautifully; not crumbly (or crummy!)

Crunchy crust yet soft inside

Smells amazing!

Berry, berry good!

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BLUEberry RIDGE PARKWAY BREAD

Adapted from PBS.org

Yield: Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour, plus one teaspoon

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 teaspoons lemon zest

½ cup plain yogurt, regular or lowfat (I used vanilla flavored yogurt)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon lemon extract

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place blueberries in a small baggie with 1Tablespoon of flour. Toss well to coat berries.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and salt. Add the blueberries and lemon zest and gently toss to combine being careful not to crush the blueberries.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yogurt then the dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated, again, being careful not to crush the blueberries.
  5. Scoop batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until golden brown. (*Check with toothpick if done after one hour. My loaf was perfect after an hour.)
  6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting gently onto a plate.

“If you want to add an extra sweet addition to this bread, you can make a simple lemon glaze for the top using a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice with enough powdered sugar to make a runny glaze. Pour the glaze over top when the bread comes out of the oven and voila!

Store the bread at room temperature covered with plastic wrap.

***

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I’m bringing a fresh-baked loaf to the party at Fiesta Friday #32.

Do you experiment with wild berries? What’s your favorite blueberry recipe?

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.

Just Peachy! [Pie Recipe]

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“An apple is an excellent thing – until you have tried a peach.”

George du Maurier (1834-1896)

I’ve always wanted to have a big ole peach tree. Yet it’s too hot to grow peaches in Florida. In North Carolina, it’s too cold. But in South Carolina, it’s Peachy Keen!

Recently, I was driving down the Interstate in South Carolina, and signs were everywhere:  Fresh Peaches!  There were more Peach signs than Speed Limit signs!  I got a whiplash checking them all out. Drooling, I had to stop!

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Ripe, sweet, juicy peaches are sure to put a Big Smile on your face.

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Summer is peach season. Supermarket peaches (flavorless hard baseballs) don’t hold a candle to just-picked-from-the-tree peaches, like these beauties from Ragan Orchards in Inman, SC.

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The girl at the Ragan Orchard stand was a real peach and even set up my own taste test!  August Prince peaches (larger, yellow skin, melting yellow flesh with an acidic tang) versus O’Henry peaches (bright red and orange skin with a sweet and juicy flesh). Of course I bought both types!

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My first bite: As sweet as the perfect summer day.

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I even got to check out the peach trees at the orchard!  Really cool!

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“I really love your peaches, I want to shake your tree.”

I was hooked! I loaded up my car with peaches like Santa packs his sleigh with presents. Like a human Pac Man, I chomped on my just-plucked gems all the way back to North Carolina. Amazingly, some peaches survived for my homemade Peach Pie. Mmmmm!

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The addition of fresh rosemary adds a touch of savory, almost buttery taste to this sweet treat. For a more intense flavor, I replaced some of the sugar with pure local honey (from the orchard). Tapioca thickens the pie and cooks up clear. Tradition holds that peach pie is lattice-topped, which adds beauty and allows some moisture to escape during baking. This summer treat is Just Peachy!

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Savory Peaches and Cream Pie

Adapted from Ready, Set, Dough! By Melanie Barnard

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

½ cup sugar

¼ cup pure honey

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

3 Tablespoons heavy or light cream

One 15-ounce package refrigerated folded Piecrusts

6 cups fresh peaches, peeled and cut into ½ inch thick slices

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove and reserve 2 teaspoons of the sugar. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the remaining sugar, honey, tapioca, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, rosemary and lemon zest. Stir in the peaches and any peach juice.  Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes to soften the tapioca.

Keeping one crust refrigerated, unfold the other crust and ease it into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Spoon the peach mixture into the crust, spreading evenly. Dribble with 2 tablespoons of the cream.

Unfold the remaining pie crust and place onto a floured surface. Use a small, sharp knife or pizza wheel cutter to cut the crust into ½ to ¾ inch wide strips to create a lattice topping.

Brush the lattice with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cream and sprinkle with remaining reserved 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Bake the pie on the lower rack for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. Carefully remove the pie from the oven, place a 14-inch square of foil on the middle rack, and move the pie to the center of the oven. Place the pie on the foil and bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 15 minutes more.

Cool the pie on a rack.  Then serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Tips:

*If available, use a variety of two peaches for a more complex flavor.

**To peel peaches, place peaches in a pan of boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove with thongs and run under cold water.  Use a small knife to loosen the skin, then slip the peel from the peaches.

***If the edges of the pie begin to darken during baking, lightly cover edges with foil to prevent burning.

***

How sweet it is! Homemade Peach Pie! Want a slice? (or two…)

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I’m bringing a slice of my pie over to the party at Fiesta Friday #31.

Do you stop at roadside farm stands? What is your favorite Peach recipe?

All original photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

 

Hoedown at Haywood County Fair

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“County fair, county fair,

Everybody in town’ll be there

So come on,

Hey we’re goin’ down there.”

County Fair, Bruce Springsteen

What do you get when two city slicker lawyers visit the County Fair?  A whole lot of fun! My friend and I hit the Haywood County Fair this past weekend. We loved it!

In between stuffing our faces with fair food, (Hint: eat AFTER the rides!) we cheered on the contestants in the tractor pull. “Full pull, full pull!” We never won a cake in the Cake Walk, but burned fair food calories trying. The humongous cabbage that took home the winning Blue Ribbon was bigger than my entire garden!

After impersonating Dr. Doolittle at the viewing zoo, we decided to mosey on over to the Country Hoe Down. Hee-Haw!! (I took some clogging lessons at the Stompin’ Ground during summer vacation in NC, but I have never seen such spectacular dancing as this!) (Check out the video below!)

My cotton-candy fingers kept getting stuck to the camera, but I managed to get a few snapshots of our fair adventure.

Fair Food

Candy Apples


And more food

CornDog


Kids of all ages


Old Tractors

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And modern tractors

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Prize-winning produce

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“The Cabbage Patch”


Viewing Zoo

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“Talk to the Animals.” – Dr. Doolittle


Hoedown: Clogging!

Clogging

(Clogging video link)

***

If a County Fair is coming to your town, be sure to go! Be there. The Fair.

Do you have fun memories of your local fair?

“In fact, my heart would break should you not take me to the fair.”

Take Me to the Fair, Camelot

 

Original Photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.

 

Oh Honey!

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“For bees, the flower is the fountain of life;

For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.”

Kahlil Gibran

Sugar, Ahh Honey Honey!” (Remember that song? Am I showing my age?) Simply put, I love honey!  I’m the human version of Winnie the Pooh! Seriously, I should have been a bear! I’m not talking about that supermarket fake honey crap sold in clear plastic animals. (Wonder why it’s so cheap?) I’m talking about sweet, pure, sticky, gooey, just-harvested-from-the-local-bees honey. You know, the real liquid gold. Have you ever tasted honey that delectable?  If not, put it on your bucket list. (Just make sure it’s ahead of skydiving!)

I love tasting honey from all over the country (and the world). This golden goodness varies according to season and location because of the different plants and flowers. I visit farmer’s markets just to stalk meet the beekeepers (and of course to sample their delicious honey).  You must try some for yourself. Meet me at the beekeeper’s booth. I will be the one with my hand in the honey jar!

Of course, I am thrilled to celebrate National Honey Bee Day on August 16th and National Honey Month during September. But I honor honey bees everyday. Albert Einstein explained that, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” Bees pollinate most of our food, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. And of course, busy honey bees make sweet, golden honey. (Oh yeah, baby!)

Honey is truly a magical food. Filled with healing and nutritional properties, its culinary possibilities are endless.  This sweet nectar is also one of the world’s oldest ingredients.


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“The secret of my health is applying honey inside and oil outside.”

Democritus 

(A contemporary of Hippocrates, who lived to the ripe age of 109)

The history of honey is incredible. Spanish cave paintings dating back to 8000BC show the earliest records of beekeeping. European Kings and Queens made (Mead) wine from fermented honey. (Did someone say wine AND honey?! Hello!) Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans offered the “liquid gold” as a gift to the gods.  This food that has been around forever also lasts forever if stored properly. (It doesn’t last long at my house!)  With all its rich history, it is no wonder that honey is so healthful.

With many health benefits, this sweet food is also a natural antimicrobial – effective against viruses and bacteria. Such a powerful healer, the Romans even used honey to heal battle wounds! Honey soothes sore throats and is a natural cough remedy. Choose more nutritious darker honey like buckwheat, avocado, and wildflower, which also adds intensity to food.


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 “The only reason for being a bee that I know of is to make honey…

And the only reason for making honey, is so as I can eat it.”

Winnie the Pooh

My idol, Pooh Bear, couldn’t have said it better! Honey is found in kitchens worldwide. What’s more delicious than golden honey dripping from hot toast? Try drizzling it onto cheese. (Check out my post on gourmet cheese.) Use this gooey treat as a syrup.  You can even bake with it, replacing sugar.  Honey also adds flavor to my sauces, dressings and marinades. This sticky, thick liquid has so many unique and different flavors.  

(Song break! Click on link: Wild Mountain Honey– The Steve Miller Band)

Speaking of Wild Mountain Honey, Busy Bee Farms in Brevard, NC says that, People are missing something if they think sourwood honey is the only honey … They’re missing the dark honey that comes during the early spring, showing almost the same color as molasses. It’s often called tulip-poplar or wildflower honey.” Yum! (Sold at Transylvania Farmer’s Market.)

Rhubarb restaurant in Asheville, NC only uses Busy Bee Tulip Poplar Honey. Can you blame them? Chef de Cuisine Dean Neff explains, “The fragrance is so unmistakable intensely floral. It is one of my favorite single ingredients at Rhubard.”  So, no matter which honey you choose, make sure you use only high quality honey which is both local and pure.


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Get the buzz about bees and honey. Beekeeper at Haywood Historic Farmer’s Market.

“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” 

― Henry David Thoreau

Bee-ware. Sadly, not all honey sold is pure.  Surprise, surprise! Recently, a shocking survey by Food Safety News found that “more than 75% of the honey sold in American supermarkets and drug stores wasn’t honey at all but was instead a watered down, reconstituted mish-mash mixed with other cheaper ingredients.” Look for local raw, unfiltered, all-natural honey .

If you want pure honey then find the beekeeper. I learn so much from beekeepers about the survival and hardships of their hard-working honey bees.  It makes each spoonful of honey that much more special. Here is some delicious honey found in my travels:

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Beth Queen of Queen’s Bee Honey loves her bees.

Beekeeper Beth Queen of Queen’s Bee Honey in Pisgah, NC has a great affection for bees. “We love bees and really take good care of them at our farm. Bees need the farm with its natural habitat to survive. It’s important that you buy pure 100 percent honey, free of pesticides.” Queen’s Bee Honey is sold at Historic Haywood Farmer’s Market in Waynesville, NC.

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Rebecca’s Bees: Local to Pinellas County, Florida,  Rebecca’s Bees says, “The honey our bees produce is as contaminate-free as possible, raw and unfiltered. We keep small cell bees which are able to pollinate different flowers than larger, more commonly kept bees.” Sold at Williams Park Farmer’s Market, St. Pete Beach, FL

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Eden’s Nectar is locally harvested by season.  Each season has a distinctively different taste due to the bees’ pollination cycle. Sample the Flavors of Citrus, Primrose, and Clover.  Sold at Williams Park Farmer’s Market.


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 “Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”

Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

I invite you to celebrate honey bees with me and enjoy honey, Nature’s Golden Miracle. You will bee happy you did. You may just find yourself singing along with The Archies: Click here for song 

Bringing my passion for sweet honey over to my friends at Fiesta Friday #29!  Remember, “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”Winnie the Pooh

Where do you buy your honey?  What’s your favorite way to use honey in recipes?

Photos courtesy of:  AussiegallChris BeckettPurple Sherbert Photography,  Laura FerreiraThe Archies

Other Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

The History of Hemingway’s Mojitos [recipe]

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 “Never sit at a table when you can stand at the bar.” 

-Ernest Hemingway

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mojito  (mo·ji·to)

Definition: A cocktail made of rum, sugar, lime juice, crushed mint leaves, soda water, and shaved ice.

Considered one of Cuba’s oldest cocktails, the Mojito was made famous by Ernest Hemingway. A debate exists as to meaning of the name itself – Mojito. Some say it get its name from the Spanish word “mojar” which translates to “a little bit wet”.  Others say Mojito is from the African word “mojo”, meaning “to cast a spell.”  No doubt, partaking in more than a couple of these wet Cuban concoctions and you will definitely be under a spell (and may even behave badly)!

“Everyone behaves badly — given the chance.”

– Ernest Hemingway,

The Sun Also Rises 

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The Mojito was first popular among “badly-behaved” pirates and other questionable characters in the Caribbean. One legend has it that the Mojito originated in Cuba in the 1500’s when the crew of  Sir Francis Drake (known by his enemies as the Pirate El Draque or The Dragon) suffered from scurvy.  As a cure, the Cuban locals added lime, mint and sugar to local rum to make it more palatable (the rum back then was not high quality.)

Other popular myths claim that the Mojito was invented by Cuban field workers or African slaves on sugar cane plantations. Either story you believe, a very important ingredient of Mojitos is fresh mint.

Boy, do I have tons of fresh mint in my herb garden! I planted three types of mint (Mentha spicata (apple mint, chocolate mint and spearmint). Little did this novice gardener know that this stuff spreads like crazy! Who knew that you were supposed to plant mint in containers because it was so invasive? Now I have enough mint to start my own toothpaste factory!

Mint mania!

Mint!

Well, I dug up some mint and shared it with friends, neighbors and even with my Grandma (in containers of course!) I have experimented with mint tea, mint lemonade and  mint smoothies. I have added mint to salads and main courses.  I even wrote a blog post featuring mint. What else could this Garden Girl do with all of this cooling, fragrant herb?

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Three types of mint in my garden

Alas, an epiphany! After a recent court appearance in Key West,  I was driving by Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home, and it dawned on me.. MOJITOS!!

Ernest “Papa” Hemingway, the great American novelist, loved indulging in Minty Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio while living in Cuba. “It has also often been said that Ernest Hemingway made the bar called La Bodeguita del Medio famous as he became one of its regulars and wrote “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita”.  Hemingway’s original signed writing is said to still be on display at La Bodeguita.

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“My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.”

“Drinking is a way of ending the day.”

–  Ernest Hemingway

My refreshing Minty Mojitos are perfect on hot summer days (or any day!)  Adjust the sugar and mint, to taste. ¡Salud!

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Minty Mojitos

adapted from about.com

1 serving

Ingredients:

6-10 fresh mint leaves (preferably spearmint), plus 1 mint sprig for garnish

2 teaspoons Sugar in the Raw or light brown sugar

2 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice

1 ½ to 2 ounces light rum

Splash of club soda** (chilled)

Ice (preferably crushed)

Preparation:

1.  In a tall Collins glass, add the mint leaves, lime juice and sugar. Gently muddle with a pestle to release oil from the mint.

2.  Add rum and stir.

3.  Add ice and top off with a splash of soda. Stir.

4.  Garnish with mint sprig.

**Hemingway preferred a splash of champagne.

***

Papa Hemingway’s birthday is July 21st.  Let’s raise our glasses and give a birthday toast to The Legend who made the Mojito famous, using Hemingway’s own words:

“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.”

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Toasting my friends over at Fiesta Friday #25! Cheers!

Do you have a great Mojito or summer cocktail recipe?  What is your favorite quote from Hemingway?

La Bodeguita del Medio photo courtesy of  Martin Abegglen

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Rock on, America!

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Birthday, America!  To show what America means to me, here are some of my favorite personal photos, with a rock and roll twist.

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 Saturday in the park

I think it was the Fourth of July

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Saturday in the park

I think it was the Fourth of July

Saturday in the Park, Chicago


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My folks.

Ain’t that America

For you and me

Ain’t that America

 Something to see, baby

  Little Pink Houses, John Mellencamp


 

GirlwithflagMiamiFL_LisaLesperance

Well, she was an American girl

Raised on promises

– An American Girl, Tom Petty


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My rescue dog, Dingo

You ain’t nothin

But a Hound Dog

– Hound Dog, Elvis Presley 


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The Lamons Family celebrates Independence Day

Living in America

Hand in hand, across the nation

Living in America

Got to have a celebration

– Living in America, James Brown


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Parade on Main Street, USA

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.

Yeah, Yeah!

Rockin’ in the U.S.A.

-R.O.C.K in the U.S.A,

John Mellancamp 


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Some folks are born made to wave the flag

Ooh, they’re red, white and blue

Fortunate Son,

Creedence Clearwater Revival


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We’re An American Band

We’re An American Band

We’re comin’ to your town

We’ll help you party it down

We’re an American band

-We’re An American Band,

Grand Funk Railroad

 

Hoping your Fourth of July weekend rocks!

How are you celebrating this holiday weekend? What song says “America” to you?

Another reason to celebrate: It’s Fiesta Friday #23!

Original Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.