Colorful Cactus Flowers

Cactus Flowers are brilliant and give amazing color to the muted shades of the desert.

Colorful Cactus Flowers

 

These bright blossoms of the Cactus flower less than a dayColorful Cactus FlowersColorful Cactus Flowers

but are beautiful when they are blooming.

 

 

Colorful Cactus Flowers
Colorful Cactus Flowers

 

 

 

 

Colorful Cactus Flowers

Arizona Cactus Sales is a fun  nursery that offers  an abundance of variety in color choices, sizes, and types of cactus: 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorful Cactus Flowers

 

 

A close inspection shows a unique design in these pretty flowers

Colorful Cactus Flowers

The Desert Botanical Gardens is another fun place to visit,

especially when the cactus are blooming! 

 

Hippity Hoppin’ Easter Fun

Have Hippity Hoppin’ Happy Easter FUN!

Natural Dye-d Eggs and Tie-Dyed Eggs, Bunny Buns, Deviled Chicks, and Bunny Cake

 

 And All I Need to Know…

. . . I Learned from the Easter Bunny!

HAPPY  EASTER!

Tuesday Tidbits – Watermelon Slicing

Watermelon Slicing the right way?

Is there a wrong way?

Watermelon: Big wide wedges of red juicy slices at summertime picnics or as a refreshing treat on a hot afternoon – juice dripping down our arms and staining our faces from ear to ear. These are the images – or memories – most of us have of eating watermelon.

Tuesday Tidbit - Watermelon slicing

 

How to slice and serve the easy way:

With little people in my life, I have learned to cut smaller pieces of watermelon – easier for them to handle but here is a really practical way to slice and serve watermelon – easy to eat, still juicy but confined. It is almost like every slice is the delicious ‘heart’ of the melon.  Great for everyone!

Tuesday Tidbits: Watermelon Slicing

Instead of slicing the melon into wide wedges that inevitably get juice all over your face and chin, cut the fruit (or any other melon) in half, then slice it in a grid. That will give you evenly sized slices that each have a bit of rind at the bottom to act as a convenient handle

Watch this video if you need specific instructions!

 

Anyway you slice it, Watermelon is delicious and refreshing

 

 

Top image: VisualPhotos.com

Adapted from News & Views  Photo: Courtesy Dave Hax

Tuesday Tidbits: Famous Fiction Writers and their Cocktails

  Literary Drinks:

A Fun Look at 10 Famous Fiction Writers and their Cocktails

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

From theKitchn, here is a brief look at some great American writers and their signature drinks

  “the boozy concoctions they drank and wrote about”

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Literary Drinks: 10 Famous Fiction Writers and Their Cocktails

 

Readers, what’s your cocktail of choice?

 

For Recipes: Click on each author or go to the Kitchn Post 

Read More: For more on great writers and their cocktails, check out Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide, which NPR profiled in this 2006 Morning Edition broadcast.

 

 

Tuesday Tidbits: Happy Holiday Eating Tips

 

Happy Holiday Tips

Follow these tips for a holiday you won’t soon forget:

  1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
  2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
  3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
  4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
  5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
  6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
  7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
  8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
  9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
  10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention.
  11. Reread tips, then start over. But hurry: January is just around the corner.Happy Holiday Tips

Tuesday Tidbits: Pumpkin Time!

It’s October.   It’s Fall.   It’s PUMPKIN TIME!

Pumpkin Time!

From Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns and Cinderella Carriages Pumpkin Time! Cinderella Pumpkins to Thanksgiving Pies, these little (and sometime quite large) orange and round (mostly), vining ‘fruits’ are a ‘delicious and nutritious’ addition to our menus and are quickly becoming the talk of the town, gaining more respect each season as we discover creative and delicious ways to use, prepare and – yes, EAT them!  Recipes abound via the internet, from ‘soup to nuts (seeds) and I am eager to do some taste-testing!Pumpkin Time!

Considered an ‘underrated’ SuperFood, Pumpkins, and their seeds, are native to the Americas, and indigenous species are found across North America, South America, and Central America. They were an important Native American Indian food treasured  for their dietary and medicinal properties.

But first – Let’s start with the Seeds:Pumpkin Time!

DID YOU KNOW?

Pumpkin Seeds that date back to 7,000 B.C. were discovered in caves in Mexico by archeologists.

Pumpkin Seeds are filled with lots of minerals, including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper and are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin B group (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6)

Pumpkin Seeds contain phytosterols (shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol) and  L-tryptophan (helps with good sleep and lowered depression.

Pumpkin Seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation, reduce inflammation for arthritis without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs, and are used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites.

Pumpkin Time!

Pumpkin Seeds are good for prostate health.

Pumpkin seeds are the only seed that is alkaline-forming which is important in this world of highly acidic diets.

Pumpkin Seeds are called ‘Pepitas’ in Mexico where the Spanish phrase “pepita de calabaza” means “little seed of squash.”

Pumpkin seeds were very popular in ancient Greece.

 

Today, China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country.

Pumpkin Time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits:

top left: Great Food Fun Places

top right: Good Books for Young Souls

center right:Kids Cooking

center: 123rf

lower right: Punch Bowl

bottom left: Diana Dishes

Purple Potatoes, Poi, and ….Spam?

Culinary Curiosities of Hawaii

There are any numbers of wonderful reasons to take a vacation to the islands of Hawaii. And the food is one of them.

Hawaiian cuisine is a delicious mix of Polynesian, Asian, Portuguese, and American influences.

The Hawaiian Islands also have their own unique foods that certainly add interest to many of their dishes. Here are 3 for you to consider:

1. Poi. 
For centuries a staple of the Polynesian diet, poi is made from the tuber of the taro plant. The tuber is cooked either by baking or steaming, and then mashed to a viscous fluid.

The consistency is determined by the amount of water that is added during the mashing process and again just before serving. The desired consistency is highly personal, and can range from liquid to dough-like, being called one-fingertwo-finger or three-finger, depending on how many fingers you would have to use to eat the poi by dipping it out of the bowl.

Poi has a paste-like texture and a delicate flavor. Fresh poi is sweet. Each day thereafter the poi loses sweetness and turns slightly sour. Sour poi is still quite edible and delicious with salted fish, lomi lomi salmon, and terriyaki meat on the side. Sour poi is also used as a cooking ingredient, usually in breads and rolls.

2. Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes. (See top photo)
These tubers are a member of the morning glory family and are called ‘uala in Hawaiian.

Sweet potatoes are such an important part of a the Polynesian diet that they were one of the 30 plants the Polynesians selected and brought with them when they first settled Hawaii in the 6th century. By 1400 AD sweet potato farming was quite extensive and regular consumption was definitely a main portion of the islander’s healthy diet.

Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes have a beautiful purple coloring which makes them appealing to kids and are visually attractive when plated. Their natural sweetness casts them as a star in desserts and as a wonderful contrasting flavor in savory dishes as well.

They are wonderfully versatile and can be a key ingredient in everything from chips to ice cream. These purple potatoes have a naturally creamy flavor and texture and hold their shape well for salads.

Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes maintain their lovely lavender hue even after cooking

3. Spam. 
Yes, that pink pork that is pressed into a can. Hawaiian residents eat more than 6 million containers every year, the nation’s highest per capita consumption of the processed meat.

The state’s love affair with Spam began during World War II, when rationing created just the right conditions for the rise of a meat that needs no refrigeration and has a remarkably long shelf life.

And leave it to the Hawaiians to make Spam uniquely their own. Served with a Polynesian flair, Spam in the islands can be found combined with rice and wrapped in seaweed, or served with eggs topped with pineapple.

The most popular Hawaiian version of the potted meat is Spammusubi — teriyaki-fried Spam served on nori-wrapped rice, which is massed produced and widely available, including at most convenience stores (see photo).

Spam is served in a variety of forms and can be found on the menus of both high-end restaurants and fast food joints.

Enjoy an island vacation by staying in a budget-friendly Hawaii timeshare rental, and then use your timeshare kitchen to have fun preparing your own Polynesian versions of these culinary curiosities.

Photo Credit (1): tastyislandhawaii.com
Photo Credit (2): iowaavenue.com
Photo Credit (3): emiandkyleheartfood.blogspot.com

Adapted from an article by  Alice Perkins who is a timeshare travel blogger for RedWeek.com, the largest online market place for timeshare rentals, where vacationers can find luxury accommodations for less than the cost of a typical hotel room.

 

Tuesday Tidbit: Lovin’ Those Tomatoes

Lovin' Those Tomatoes

If you NEED reasons to Love Tomatoes,  then here are a few: 

Tomatoes keep your Immune System strong as an excellent source of Vitamin C. 

Tomatoes speed the body’s fat-burning capacity by over 30 percent by stimulating the production of the amino acid carnitine. 

Tomatoes may contribute to reduced risk of breast cancer.

Tomatoes can help improve vision and protect your eyes from degeneration.

Tomatoes can protect our genetic material against damage and resulting disease.

Tomatoes can help restore biochemical balance in diabetics.

Tomatoes can reduce osteoporosis in menopausal women.

Tomatoes fight aging and have anti-cancer properties, particularly  against prostate and colon cancers.

Fresh tomatoes and tomato extracts have been shown in research to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides

Tomatoes have also been shown to prevent clumping in the blood (known as platelet aggregation) which is a risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Tomatoes are rich in a collection of phytonutrients called carotenoids including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and total carotenoids. 

Tomatoes are delicious and so versatile! They can be enjoyed in pasta, salads, soups, stews, wraps, curries, and many of your favorite dishes.) as well as sandwiches for lazy summer eating — see previous post: Lazy Hazy Days of Summer. Or an all time family favorite: Garlicky Roasted Tomatoes.

Read more about the studies and research supporting these claims in the article: 11 Reasons to Love Tomatoes  from Care 2 Make a Difference:  Healthy Living Home.

For ideas of delicious ways to fix tomatoes visit 12 Tasty Tomato Recipes also from Care 2 Make a Difference:  Healthy Living Home.

Coffee Art? This is Coffee Sculpture!

Wow! Now THIS Coffee Latte Art is the most amazing I have seen yet! I wish I’d had the fun of seeing it in person, but then…I wouldn’t ever be able to actually drink it (and disturb this adorable seen? No!!) But I am excited to share it here!

Latte Art is truly a unique talent…. amazing AND Fun!  I personally believe it changes the flavor of the drink but if that isn’t really true, I know it changes my enjoyment of it! And I am so fascinated, I have to take a picture of each one I have.

But this …. Wow – THIS is the most amazing I have seen yet:Coffee Latte Art Sculpture

 

Tuesday Tidbit: Fun Fact for Ripening Fruits Faster

Ripen Avocados Faster  I remember hearing something about using caution when combining fruits in a bowl but didn’t remember what it was. This must be it!

DID YOU KNOW?  Bananas, tomatoes and apples give off ethylene gases that speed the ripening process of other fruits.

And –  DID YOU KNOW?  Brown Bag Avocado RipeningPlacing these fruits in a brown bag with other fruits (avocados in this case) hasten the ripening even more.

This Fun Fact was discovered while perusing a recipe for different but delicious Taquitos paired with an equally different and delicious pumpkin seed Guacamole.  Advice (from SoCal Avocados) was shared on speeding the ripening of the avocados by placing them in a brown paper bag with the above mentioned fruits.

Now that we know how to speed up the ripening of avocado, how about those Taquitos and Guacamole. . . Curious?  You should be!   They get even better when accompanied by a warm Mexi Kale Salad and Plantains.

This delightful – and delicious! – meal (and fun fact) is from Healthy. Happy. Life at lunchboxbunch.com.  Visit this website for more fun information and interesting eating!

BUT . . .   Make the guacamole NOW:

Pumpkin Seed Guacamole

Sunny Pumpkin Seed Guacamole

[This] Pumpkin Seed Guacamole is simple enough to let those brilliant avocados shine – yet unique enough to intrigue. This guacamole has a buttery, nutty accent of flavor from adding in rustic bits of pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds.

Bonus Fun Fact: Good-for-you pumpkin seeds are rich in protein, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and healthy fats. So load up.

Pumpkin Seed Guacamole

2 avocados, remove pit/skin and cube (I used SoCal avocados)

1 red onion, diced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 serrano pepper, diced (or jalapeno)

1 lime, squeezed

1 lemon, squeezed

1/4 tsp salt

dash pepper

3-4 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds – minced in Vitamix for 1 minute or smashed or chopped

Directions:

1. Prep ingredients. Blend pumpkin seeds in Vitamix for about a minute. For more flavor, you can toast the seeds in a dry frying pan over high heat for a minute.

2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss well. Mash avocados for a creamier texture or leave as rough cubes for chunky guacamole.

Lighten it up! Lighten up the calories by subbing out one avocado for 1-2 tomatoes – or other diced veggies. Try carrots, celery, zucchini – even sweet accents like apple or crunchy jicama.

Yummy – E N J O Y!!