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Monthly Archives: April 2012

  • Backyard fruits and vegetables

    Last summer I decided to grow some fruits and vegetables at home as a teaching experience for my two little girls.  I think it's very important for children to know where their food comes from.  It all started with a trip to Lowe's.  They had a raised bed on display at their garden center entrance.  As soon as I got back to the market, I couldn't wait to tell Jim about my "summer project".


    These "raised beds" are fairly inexpensive if you are handy.  There are lots of raised bed tutorials online.  I wish I had pictures of Dad and Jim putting together our raised bed.  I have asked them to build me another one, so maybe I can do another post on how to build one.

    I filled our raised bed with the potting soil we sell at the market and picked some fruit and vegetable plants right from our market: blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes.   We also planted sunflower seeds.

    Late last year, we tried broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, swiss chard, strawberry onions and peppers from starting plants.  We also planted carrot and lettuce from seeds.  I take a very relax approach to my garden.  I mostly leave it alone.  I let the sprinklers water the plants unless it was a real scorcher of a day.  I can say we had good success with the broccoli, cauliflower, and the swiss chards.  The pepper plants died in the first freeze we had, but at least they were fun to pick.

    We've eaten a few "baby" carrots and some "mini" strawberry onions (nothing like you see at our market).  A few weeks back I saw this and could hardly contain my excitement.

    Those are raspberry flowers!  I couldn't believe the "wait" was over.  You see, we planted blueberries too and had enjoyed a few of them already.  But it has taken the raspberry a year to bloom and produce these beautiful berries.

    But the best part of it all, was having the girls come rushing in last night to tell me we had raspberries growing in our backyard.  To hear their little voices filled with excitement and accomplishment is priceless.  Have you tried growing veggies or fruits in your backyard?  Were you successful?



  • Take me out to the...Circus?

    For the past 3 years, it has been a tradition to take the girls to the Shrine Circus in Tampa.  We look forward to a night of surprises under the big red and white tent and all the sweet treats.   The Egypt Shriners in Tampa have been around since the early 1900s.  Their philanthropy, Shriners Hospital for Children, provides medical care to any child under the age of 18.  Shriners Hospital provide medical care at 19 orthopedic units and 3 burn centers throughout North America.

    Our trip to the Shriners Circus always begins at the petting zoo.  For $2 you can feed carrots to a hungry giraffe, wallabies, llamas, goats, and donkeys.

    After feeding the animals, and feeding the girls, it was time for the Circus.  You want to get there early because there are no assigned seats.  However, we've gotten there late too and there really isn't a bad seat under the tent. :)

    The show started with my favorite: Camels, Arabian Horses and Llamas.  I couldn't help but think about the book and feature film "Water for Elephants".  Other acts that follow were the stilt walkers, jugglers, and the girls' favorite the Hula Hoop Girl.  This year, the Hula Hoop girl brought a friend.  It was amazing to see the agility needed to spin a "cube" on their bare hands.  The best way to describe it is to picture a metal frame cube moving through the air at high speed.  I really should have taken a picture!

    Right before Intermission, we decided to go on to the midway.  There's a few rides and no lines!  What's not to love!  This is definitely one of our family outings which I enjoy the most.  Not only do we get to spend some time with our kids, but we are also helping other kids in need.

    The Shriners Circus will be in town through Sunday, April 22, 2012.  There are three shows on Saturday, April 21 at 11:30 am, 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm.  On Sunday, April 22, there are two shows at 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm.  We have 2 extra tickets to raffle off today.  Please leave a comment here and on our facebook page by 1:00 pm for a chance to win the tickets today.  The tickets can be picked up at our market in Plant City.  When was the last time you went to the Circus?





  • Last minute weekday dinner

    Try as I might, I just can't put together a weekly meal plan for my family.  I have tried, but things always come up.  I either forget to thaw the meat, or the thought of "what are we having for dinner tonight" first thing in the morning just doesn't appeal to me.  Today was one of those days.  Lucky for me, I work at Parkesdale Market :)

    Tonight's meal consisted of roasted cherry tomatoes picked off our tomato plants at the market.  One of our garden employee's, Lupe, brought me a pint of grape tomatoes from our plants in the market!  I just cut them in half, sprinkle with salt, drizzle some olive oil and topped with some fresh basil.  In the oven they went, 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

    Sweet potato fries are always a favorite around our household.  Frankly, if they are not in the "fry" shape, the little ones won't eat it.  I sliced about 5 sweet potatoes I had in the pantry, drizzled olive oil and seasoned them with salt and paprika.  The sweet potatoes also went in the oven with the tomatoes for about 25 minutes.  This totally depends on how crunchy you like your sweet potato fries.  For the protein, I grabbed one of our Troyer's Cottage Ham and sliced it.  They are boneless smoked pork shoulders which are fully cooked.  Just need to heat it up in the pan with some Troyer butter for about 10 minutes total.  Once the sweet potato "fries" and the roasted tomatoes were done, dinner was ready.

    These Troyer Cottage Hams have really come in handy a few times.  They've become my "go to" protein for dinner when I just can't think of anything else!  Once dinner was ready, I realized we needed some green in our plate.  Another employee, Sandy, has a vegetable garden at her home.  She was kind enough to bring us some fresh Collard Greens from her garden.  I sauteed the collard greens with some more olive oil in the pan with the ham drippings for a few minutes.  Yum!  (Sorry I didn't get a picture, but it was delicious.)  Dinner was a delicious combination of sweet, salty and savory flavors.

    For dessert, we had a few slice of the new Lemon Creme Fruit Filled pound cake.  They are so moist and not too sweet.  What's your "go to" dinner ingredient?  Have you tried the Troyer Cottage Ham yet?  How about our new fruit filled pound cakes?



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