Screamy, Fiesty, Good Food and Silly Cat

16 07 2009

Well, I’ve gone and let weeks go by without any proper updates. Nothing much has happened that would pass for exciting, so I guess I don’t feel too bad.

The Oasis is looking lush and tropical.

Oasis-Close

Screamy the Pepper has ripened. AJ thinks I could sell him as a Michael Jackson likeness on ebay. I’m letting him dry above my desk to see what he looks like when old and wrinkled.

Screamy-Ripe

This is “Feisty” the Cuban Anole. How these miniature dinosaur replicas have escaped extinction is beyond me; because they are none too bright. Every day, without fail, he takes his post on the grill lid handle, puffs up his crests and struts back and forth in an attempt to intimidate his perfectly matched opponent.

Feisty-Puffed-Up

Every day, he gives his best fight, only to be equaled by the foe with the steely  bites (which leave both of their noses battered and raw). Neither will relinquish their territory in this daily ritual. This is one neurotic lizard!

Feisty-Throwdown

Talk about neurosis. I got a little obsessed with this eggplant. As it grew larger and more regal, I began to get paranoid about its well being. My research warned that eggplants lose their goodness once they get too ripe. They grow tough and seedy. They are meant to be picked while young and shiny.

This is the first eggplant I have ever grown, and with all of the dangers of over-ripeness, insects and critters I gave in and picked it. AJ chastised me, saying that they were meant to be much larger before harvesting.

First-Eggplant

I sliced it up to find firm, seedless meat. I marinated in Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar with fresh chopped garden herbs. Then I grilled to perfection. Captain Kym came over for dinner. This is when I realized that eggplant (especially my version) is not for everyone. AJ and Kym politely nibbled on the vegetable, while we all devoured AJ’s roasted, stuffed pork tenderloin. Oh well, I thought the eggplant was good.

Grilled-Eggplant

AJ’s pork tenderloin was delicious. However, just as in everything he does, he immediately criticised his recipe and began planning for the improved version. We still had half of the large cut in the freezer, so a few days later he set about perfecting his stuffed, smoked pork tenderloin technique.

Here is his recipe:

AJ’s Smoked Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Sautee Italian Sausage.

Butterfly tenderloin lengthwise to flatten.

Spread Cream Cheese as bottom layer.


Splitopenandcreamcheese

Add a layer of fresh Baby Spinach

Spinachlayer

Next layer: Prosciutto

Prosciuttolayer

Sprinkle with Grated Cheese.

6Italiancheeselayer

Spread the browned sausage.

ItalianSausagelayer

Layer on Ricotta Cheese.

RicottaParmesanlayer

Roll up and tie with cotton string. Season with Rosemary, Dill and Ken’s Greek Salad Dressing.

Readyforsmoker-1

Smoke uncovered, spraying with mixture of Olive Oil, Pineapple Juice and Ken’s Greek Salad Dressing until internal temperature reaches 150°

Finished-1

Remove from heat, wrap in foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Thereitis

Unwrap, slice and enjoy!

Sliced

The mystery guest’s children overran the garden, eating up all of the dill and most of the parsley. I moved at least ten ravenous caterpillars to the carrots, where they quickly matured and went on “walkabout”, looking for places to pupate.

This one chose a green onion. Hope the wind doesn’t blow too hard.

Papilo-Polyxenes-Chives

How’s this for camouflage? I found this fellow on the broccoli. The next day was a perfectly hidden chrysalis that I would have never seen had I not known where to look. I have been aching to try broccoli greens, and carefully harvested the most tender leaves, while taking care not to disturb the sleeping beauty.

Papilo-Polyxenes-Broccoli

Roxanne’s Broccoli & Collard Greens

Harvest a bundle of tender Broccoli and/or Collard Greens.

Wash thoroughly, taking care to remove all insects and insect eggs. Cut into medium-sized pieces, removing central vein from larger leaves.

Blanch by submerging greens in boiling, salted water just long enough to tenderize, and then plunging into ice water. This preserves the bright green color.

Blanched--Greens

Chop bacon, onions and peppers (I used a red pepper and Poblano from the garden). Once the bacon is almost cooked, add pressed or chopped garlic.

Sautee

When bacon is cooked and onions are tender, toss in blanched greens. Drench with white wine, cover and simmer until greens are thoroughly wilted.

AJ, who had previously stated his reluctance to try broccoli greens, enthusiastically ate his portion and raved about how good they were. We enjoyed this dish as complement to his scrumptious smoked chicken. All in all, a week of good, down-home cooking.

Greens

And as if on cue, Smokey the Silly Cat has found yet another way to chill while looking ridiculously uncomfortable.

SillyCatBack071609

SillyCat071609

Hope everyone is enjoying life with peace and happiness! See y’all soon.





Another Week Gone by in the Trailer Park

28 02 2009

Since we have to work in the morning I consider today to be more like a Sunday instead of Saturday.

It’s past 3:00pm and I’ve yet to do anything productive. This morning was cool and the light was nice so I took my second mug of coffee outside and hung out with the cats. Once they had all been sufficiently fed and petted I picked up my camera and took a tour of The Oasis. Yesterday I spotted a red-tailed skink in the compost heap. I looked it up online and decided that it must be a Peninsula Mole Skink (Eumeces egregius onocrepis). I also saw a Carolina Anole (Anolis carolinensis) hanging out on the shed, and a Southern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus) which casually glided into a shrub and then quickly propelled itself upwards at a brown anole, missing by only an inch or two before it continued on along it’s hunting trek.

This morning it was too early for most reptiles to be active, but I did capture a Brown Anole (Norops sagrei) sunning himself on a bamboo stake in the garden. We have built a fence, a garden enclosure and trellises with locally grown bamboo. The anoles immediately set up housekeeping inside the hollow tubes and can often be seen peeking out from the tops of the poles.

Brown Anole (Norops sagrei)

Cuban Anole

The Sweet Basil and Dill are also taking advantage of the mild weather and are steadily growing.

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Sweet Basil

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Dill

Jorgi, the gray tuxedo cat, does not allow me to inspect The Oasis without his assistance.

Jorgi

The recent cold weather and wind has taken a toll on the banana trees. Even in their worst condition, these lovely tropical plants are elegant and interesting. Backlit, this dead banana frond resembles a piece of burlap.

Banana Frond

The Bromeliads have shrugged off the recent weather and are doing nicely.

Ball Moss (Tillandsia tenuifolia L.)

Tillandsia recurvata


The endangered Giant Wild Pine (Tillandsia utriculata) which I rescued from the asphalt of a parking lot, where it had fallen from its host tree.

 

Tillandsia utriculata

Although I have plenty of important work to do, I believe I will take another tour of the property and try to roust up the native reptiles.