Unsettled Spirits Stir Amidst Florida’s Balmy Spring Night Air

Jungle Prada de Navarez Park, location of the historical Narváez expedition landing.

The light of the silver moon and the fiery orange sunset silhouette the winged ones spooked by the Spirits of the Tocobaga Indians.

First one, then two, then many explode from the trees covering the sacred mounds.

Jungle Prada de Navarez Park, an archaeological site featuring Indigenous Tocobaga mounds.

Are the spirits restless questioning why “white men” are a warring people full of thirst of others possessions?

Jungle Prada de Navarez Park location of the historical Narváez expeditions landing.

Sunlight folds into the night, the Gulf breeze blows inland and all becomes quiet as the Spirits settle.

Note: History of the site can be found at https://www.trailoffloridasindianheritage.org/narvaez-mound-jungle-prada

Art in the yard

Tony Treadway art

Gulfport FL is known for its resident artists and this Saturday they are displaying their art in their yards. It’s a fun casual way to meet the locals and find a special piece for your home.

You want to check out the display by Gulfport local artist, Tony Treadway between 11th and 10th Avenues on 60th St. He expresses deep emotions in a sometimes surreal way with vivid colors and thought-provoking images. You can purchase his oils on canvas for very reasonable prices. Here is a whimsical mural painted on a shed.

I’m off to the south side, what we call weird Gulfport, to search for other treasures.

Saturday morning farmers market

Ready made herb gardens

St. Petersburg FL has, in addition to its natural beauty and tourist attractions, one of the best farmer’s markets in the southeast. The array of fresh organic vegetables and fruits are a feast for the eyes. Worden Farms from Punta Gorda had the most gorgeous red kale and fat bunches of red and green leaf lettuce. I picked up a few heirloom tomatoes on my way to our friend John’s booth, Florida Fresh Live Herbs, in search of a spearmint plant. When I said that I was looking to replace one that had died, he told me that spearmint is native to the Northeast, and it’s too hot for it to thrive here. He recommended the Yerba Buena from Cuba, known for the distinctive flavor in a Mojito.

John holding my new Yerba Buena

He also has very nice herb gardens housed in handmade pine boxes. Perfect for your window or patio.

Don’t miss the fabulous food vendors. My favorite is the Twisted Indian. This morning I had a mango lassi with a chicken tikka masala in a buttermilk naan wrap with added avocado, heaven in your hand.

Bitter with the sweet

Chard is in season! You don’t want to miss this beautiful vegetable, it’s almost too pretty to eat. I sauté it in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper the same way I make my collards, Brazilian style. It was the star of tonight’s delicious dinner featuring pork chops glazed with mustard and maple syrup, roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower piccata. See the recipe page for full details.Recipes

The view from the tower

Riviera Bay

If you walk the trails at Weedon Island in St. Petersburg FL, be sure to climb the lookout tower. You’ll see islands of mangrove on oyster shell foundations in Riviera Bay with the St. Pete skyline in the background.

Baby osprey

St. Pete natives can hear the plaintive call of the osprey from the beaches to the bay. If you pay attention you can catch one flying off with a fish or a snake in their talons. We saw a mother feeding her young in this nest on the way to Weedon Island.

On Weedon Island

Be good scouts, leave it like you found it.

Jamie Oliver’s beet salad

My foodie cousin Bill sent me a picture today of a gorgeous beet salad from Jamie Oliver’s book, 5 ingredients. We took his five ingredients and raised it by a few items we had on hand.

Jamie Oliver’s beet salad

We roasted the baby beets with a sweet potato. The salad foundation became romaine, arugula, dandelion and radish micro greens. Walnuts probably work better with the feta and beet taste, but we opted for pecans. A few radishes added color and zest. The clementines and a balsamic vinaigrette brought it all together.

Our version

How can you go wrong with purple, red, orange and green?

Burger and Fries

My mom loves a good hamburger with French fries. In search of same, we landed in front of Siri’s Gourmet Burgers on Beach Blvd in Gulfport. It was lunch hour and most of the outdoor tables were full. As we hesitated on the sidewalk, we were greeted by a charming woman who said to us, “come, sit down, you will like it, we have good food at good prices.” I spotted a table for two on the deck and we complied with her insistence that we sit down. She encouraged us to order the special of cheeseburger, French fries and a drink for $8.99. She explained that she grinds the meat herself from three types of steak and hand cuts the potatoes with the skin on. Also the buns are baked fresh each day. It takes some time for them to cook each meal to order, but it’s worth the wait. Our burgers were cooked perfectly, my medium was just how I like it, cooked enough for safety but still juicy.

The charming Ting

Our host turned out to be Siri’s mother, Ting, and treated us like guests in her home.

Freshly baked !

Check out Siri’s Gourmet Burgers next time you’re in Gulfport. I’m going back to try the grouper sandwich.

What’s for dinner-Purple, Orange, Red and Green

Lycopene, Carotene, Anthocyanins, Goosefeet, oh my!

What did we do with those piles of colorful vegetables from the Farmer’s and Asian markets?

Dinner is easy when your kitchen is full of garden fresh vegetables. Slice some beets, eggplant, carrot, onion, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, coat with olive oil and salt and roast until just tender. Sauté some chard in olive oil with leek and garlic (can’t eat too much olive oil). Steam some fresh green beans until al dente. If you have good tomatoes, just slice and eat raw. If you have too many, you can create a treat by inserting mozzarella cheese in slits and bake with a few Panko crumbs.

You’ll have a beautiful vegetable plate and a number of important health benefits.

Purple vegetables like beets, purple cauliflower, red onion and eggplant are rich in anthocyanins. These phytonutrients are anti-inflammatory, lower blood pressure and reduce artery stiffness. They also enhance memory and inhibit cancer.

Orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes are full of the antioxidant carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health. Carotenes also increase the integrity of epithelial lining of the respiratory tract.

Chard is a member of the goosefoot family along with beets and spinach and has important vitamins and minerals like magnesium and potassium. It has several flavonoid antioxidants including quercetin, kaempferol, rutin, and vitexin. Kaempferol is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound with anti-cancer properties.

Green beans reduce the levels of lectin in your body. See the Plant Parodox by Dr. Gundry for chapter and verse on the adverse effects of lectins.

Red vegetables typically contain lycopene, an antioxidant that protects the cell from free radical damage and reduces the risk of cancer, especially with hormone-positive breast cancer. It also helps to undo damage to collagen in the skin.

Are you already running to the fresh market? Nature provides us with such variety in every season. Try to buy organic produce from the local farmers if you can. Let us know what you find and how you prepared it.