A Plethora of Papaya

Fall is Papaya season in South Florida. My neighbor has a tree and has been sharing his bounty. These are Mexican Papayas, slightly less sweet than the more pear shaped Hawaiian Papaya – the latest one in my kitchen weighed in at 5 pounds. My neighbor uses a dehydrator to save them. Not being a fan of dried fruit, it is a challenge for me to figure out how to eat five pounds of Papaya with only two people.


The first order of business was to bake some Papaya Raisin Bread, these freezes well and I will enjoy it for weeks. Click for recipe

The Bread:


The bread used about 1/5th of the fruit. I decided to make a Grilled Chicken Salad for dinner. The chicken was marinated in balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, olive oil and red pepper flakes. The salad was made with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, boiled eggs and yes, papaya. Divine. I had papaya and vanilla yogurt for dessert.


Several times.

Faced with papaya overload and some pork chops in my refrigerator, I did some sleuthing online for another dinner dish. Aha, a stir fry -Thai Style Papaya Pork Click for recipe


This was so good we made it twice.

And that was the end of the Papaya, all five pounds! Til next year.

In A Vegetable on Monday – Faux Fall


I like gourds in the fall. My husband told me once he knew when it was fall because I had the gourd arrangement on the dining room table. So, here is the 2016 version.

Florida is tricky about fall. September, in my opinion, should be, the transition to cooler weather. September, in Florida is a sweaty repeat of August. Fall manifests itself subtly, fruits appear on the Beautyberry, Muhly Grass bravely sends up a pink cloud and then slowly the calendar reaches October and becomes the savior of all things pleasant outdoors. We have now reached the magical day when a cold front arrives, humidity disappears and all windows and doors can be thrown open to invite the outdoors back in. In celebration of all things autumnal, here are the gourds filled with flowers from my garden.


The gourds aren’t all gourds. The striped centerpiece is a Carnival Squash, a vegetable, my husband wouldn’t eat squash on a dare, the result of a Midwestern upbringing featuring Butternut Squash baked with a lump of sausage. I had no worries about wasting an edible squash for a flower arrangement. This green one is an inedible gourd.


The mini pumpkins are just that and completely ornamental. Flowers from my garden include – in red, Tropical Red Sage (Salvia coccinea), in yellow, Beach Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis), purple berries, Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana), pink plumes of grass, Muhly Grass (Muhlbergia), orange firecracker flowers and foliage are from Firebush (Hamelia patens). The off white spikes are a mystery volunteer (i.e. weed) . The ‘Autumn’ leaves strewn about being from the Raggedy Ann Copperleaf (Acalphya wilkesiana ‘Raggedy Ann’)20161023_122725

It occurred to me that almost everything here is native to Florida with the exception of the faux leaves from Raggedy Ann, and the gourds, maybe there is fall in Florida – you just have to open your eyes and see it.

In A Vase on Monday – Tropical Zen


Much to my surprise, the day after Hurricane Matthew grazed our beach I was picking up debris and found the native Spider Lilies had sent up buds. A few days later, the flowers appeared.


These are probably three feet tall and quite sturdy, they appeared in my garden and I mistook them for Amaryllis, separated the bulbs and planted a long mass in my back garden. As these things sometimes go a third did well, another third are still alive and then another third didn’t really take or were eaten by the gigantic Lubber grasshoppers we have here. Still, these were a nice surprise and I decided to cut a few for a vase.

My husband’s comment was “that is really minimalist for you” – which is true, I think this vase belongs in a modern spa or a sleek black granite lobby.


The flowers  present a bit of a design dilemma – while striking they are in my imagination tiaras for fairies and my dilemma was to cut the flowers off and use them as a short stemmed element with other flowers or emphasize the lean whorls of crowns in a simple vase. Simple won out for a tropical minimalist vase.


The flowers are our native Spider LIly (Hymenocallis latifolia) they grow in pure sand on the back side of dunes and in hammocks. The foliage is the leaf of a Heliconia ‘Splash’ and a Split Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum). A burgundy leaf from an unnamed Bromeliad anchors the stems together in the glass vase. I remember buying the vase to force Cherry and Forsythia branches in winter and could never get that to work. I think the vase was waiting for some Tropical Zen on Monday.

In A Vase on Monday -Flowers for Matthew


By now I think most of the world has heard of Hurricane Matthew, I had an intimate experience with him on Thursday night as the eye of the hurricane passed about 60 miles from my house. The power went out about dinnertime and the storm as predicted started in earnest a few hours later. I was in my Living Room with one of my dogs (very unhappy) the other dog and my husband slept through it. Hurricanes tend to get really windy going in one direction, then as they pass it gets really windy going the other direction. The winds were somewhere around 100 mph and when the directions changed sometime around midnight a couple of of trees imploded in the backyard and hit the roof. About that time I could hear the screws in our metal roof popping. I was just waiting for the metal part of the roof to peel off and fly away, but fortunately it remains intact. The dog became so upset he was barking at the back door. Our porch was shuttered so we walked outside – it was difficult to open the sliding glass door and I was able to feel the suction of the passing storm.

We went back inside and I gave the dog a Valium, he settled down. By candlelight, I searched out an airline bottle of Glenfiddich someone had given me years ago, rooted a lemon out of the refrigerator and fixed a Scotch and water with a twist. Sometimes a stiff wind requires a stiff drink. Alan the Greyhound and I both felt better. Not much, but some and the wind howled on..

Eventually the storm passed and we went out the following morning to find our Rainbow Eucalyptus stripped of all its branches and my Plumerias decapitated. All in all, we came out the storm intact and our power was restored within 24 hours. The Rainforest Garden suffered a storm of debris, the garden is a little smushed but not destroyed. Much tidying to do.


Saturday we collected all our canned food, extra shorts, shoes and t shirts and sent them off to the Bahamas, where Matthew took a much greater toll.

Surprisingly the Tropical Gardenias (Tabernae montana divericata) were blooming in time for Monday’s vase. The white berries are hard to see, but I cut them from Wax Myrtles (Myrica cerifera) that was blown apart by the storm. Asparagus Fern and Asian Sword Fern add a little green texture to my mother’s Rose Bowl.


Below is a post I started before the storm, not knowing what would be left.



Hurricane Matthew is set to strike here tomorrow, so this is actually A Vase on Wednesday. I was not feeling optimistic about my Heliconia making it through the wind so I cut them and the crunchy Aloes. Flowers in the house might make the hurricane more bearable. Alcohol and Pepto Bismol might really be a better answer to that problem. My neighbors are sitting on the front porch drinking wine and it is early afternoon. They are longtime Floridians.


This is my save from wind damage plant palette: Parrot Flower (Heliconia psittacorum) in yellow and red, Bridal Bouquet Frangipani, Soap Aloe (orange and green) which is Aloe saponaria. The foliage is from Firebush (Hamelia patens var patens) and in back Shell Ginger (Alpinia)


Here is the view of our screen porch, fully enclosed with storm shutters. My Cactus Zinnias, Italian Sunflower and Aster seedlings are riding the storm out in here. Fingers crossed.

The View from Inside the Cone of Uncertainty


Hurricane Matthew is currently a top story, a Category Four Hurricane wreaking havoc in the Carribean as I write. The National Weather Service has announced we are in the cone of uncertainty, currently there is a 20 percent chance of hurricane force winds where we live. Meaning put up your hurricane shutters, buy batteries and water, and hunker down.

This is the current view of my front door. The hatches have been battened. My greyhound statuary will stand sentry over my front porch regardless of what winds may blow. My real greyhounds will stay inside with me. This front door is relatively new and I am happy we have it. The majority of the house is covered with corrugated steel storm shutters installed by my husband – who is, fortunately, a very handy guy. Unfortunately, the shutters cast a sepulchral gloom over the interior of our house.

The front door was installed earlier this year, as we like a bit of light in the house. I was the designated painter and thought this sticker was kind of funny, until today:


Not feeling like I want to know the exact definition of large missiles – but am planning to go outside in the morning and put any potential missiles into a safer place.

I decided to stock up on non perishables and water this afternoon. I could tell by the atmosphere at the grocery store that all hell was just about to break loose. Men (yes, men) were rushing through the aisles throwing anything canned into their cart. One guy was running through the front of the store, cell phone glued to his ear, saying “Oh My God, they are out of bottled water”. Well, they were not out of bottled water by a long shot, in fact, the office supply store I had just been in was selling bottled water. I am not sure I needed bottled water as we are on city water and I was assured by the guy in charge of utilities it always works during hurricanes. Better safe than sorry, so we will see what happens.


Here is the haul from my grocery adventure. Four kinds of tuna fish, (my husband and I both hate it – I was trying to find one to love), sardines ( he made barfing noises when he saw it), Cannellini beans (OK, I aspire to be Italian and there is Rosemary in my garden), cat food (for the cat), candles ( hoping I can find matches that work), crackers (not the Florida kind) and bottled water.

Anyone for dinner?

Being the chatty Southerner I am, I asked the cashier what the most popular supplies were today. It seems canned Ravioli followed by beer, many people eschewing water for beer and others opting for Gatorade as their beverage of choice.

I am not really sure what to think of that, although they may know something I don’t. As of right now, the hurricane is supposed to pass 5o miles offshore, with a 49 mile margin of error. I think that gives us about 4 miles. Feeling a little queasy.

Until further notice, my tongue is firmly inside my cheek – unless I bite it off.

In A Vase on Monday – Harvest


My quest for Autumness continues. To me, Fall means fruit to harvest, red and orange foliage and the end of hurricane season. Not this week, South Floridians are collectively holding their breath as Hurricane Matthew spins into a nightmare in the Caribbean. There is nothing to do but wait at this point, so I decided to look for some autumnal color in the garden and was gifted with some produce from neighbors.


The vase began with the selection of the Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus sp) in red, this shrub is naturalized in Florida and pops up in the garden flowering nearly year round – it had an especially nice burst of flowers this week, followed by something passing through that left the foliage in tatters -the flowers were put to good use and the shrub got a cosmetic procedure. Next I added some orange Firebush (Hamelia patens) flowers followed by red striped Dwarf Pineapple foliage and Dwarf Heliconia foliage, the mystery weed with frothy off white flowers completes the arrangement.

The fruits are from my neighbors. I confess to buying the pumpkin, I live too far south to grow pumpkins for fall. The long fruit is another Papaya from my neighbor, my husband weighed it and it weighs 5 pounds! My plan for this is Papaya Bread and Papaya Pineapple Granita, so I hope to freeze what we can’t eat. The Avocados are from a friend of another neighbor with a prolific tree. These are really good and I have been eating Avocado and everything sandwiches for the past couple of days.


As for Hurricane Matthew it looks like it will bypass us to the east – I am keeping my fingers crossed.


In A Vase on Monday – Grace


This post is called Grace because of the funky purple bowl I used as a container.


The bowl belonged to my mother’s Aunt Grace, who was a charming old school southern lady. Grace was my grandmother’s sister and a schoolteacher long retired by the time I came along – she would sit with me and we would draw cats from a series of circles. I have always liked to draw and perhaps she got me started with those cats.

I have been plotting the flower arrangement for a while waiting for the Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) to need pruning again. The bowl is good sized and it took 10 or so clusters of Frangipani to fill it, I added some buds and foliage of Heliconia (H. psittacorum) then some Asian Sword Fern for green texture.


The purple bowl of Plumeria is now gracing my foyer, I think of my Great Aunt when I pass it.

I feel I have been graced with new friends and some interesting new projects over the past couple of weeks, I wish the same to all who read this post. Happy Monday and thanks to our hostess, Cathy .