Friday, January 22, 2010

Florida Oranges - Nature's Sunny Fruit

Honeybell Tangelos being packed for shipment.
Perfect goodness - Florida oranges

Today as the sun was shining brightly in a clear azure blue sky, I was reminded of that old saying, "A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine."

And that got me reminiscing about my trip last February to Polk County, Florida in the interior of the state. Although Florida was experiencing a bit of cold weather that weekend, it could not dampen the spirits of a group of garden and travel writers as we experienced the wonderful hospitality central Florida has to offer - beautiful gardens, antique airplanes, conservation areas, great food and even a dude ranch, and of course, delicious, sweet citrus fruit.

Although we can't grow citrus fruits here in Canada, it was so interesting to learn about the various aspects of the citrus industry from growers to industry specialists researching methods to keep the citrus crops free from pests, from processors to restaurants and food companies turning the orange orbs into tasty and delectable treats. Not to mention growers more than happy to ship fresh picked produce direct to your door. Nor did I realize that there were so many different kinds of citrus varieties. One of the most delicious, and only available for a limited time in January is the Honeybell Tangelo - sweet and juicy, a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. The growers at Lang Sun Country Groves say "they are so juicy some folks eat them in the bathtub."

If you're looking to bring a little Florida sunshine into your day, you should try this delicious recipe for Honeybell Cake from Lang Sun Country Groves, it's guaranteed to brighten your day.

1 package of lemon cake mix

1 3 oz. package of orange gelatin

1/2 cup canola oil

1 Tablespoon grated Honeybell zest

3/4 cup Honeybell Tangelo juice

4 eggs

1 recipe Honeybell glaze
2 cups confectioners sugar thinned to a glaze consistency with Honeybell juice

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch fluted tube pan. In a large mixing bowl combine cake mix, gelatin, oil, zest, juice and eggs beating on low speed with an electric mixer to combine. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Using a knife or skewer, punch holes in cake. Pour warm honeybell glaze over cake. When glaze has soaked in and cake has cooled completely, remove cake from pan, sit down and enjoy this sweet treat.

All this talk about sunny citrus and that delicious Honeybell cake, I think I'll go a bake one right now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Seed Catalogues Are Here!

" Snowy winter, a plentiful harvest."

As you can see from my last post it has been a very snowy winter in our part of the country. So if the proverb above is correct, I'll be looking forward to a plentiful harvest both in the blooms like this bounty of roses as well as in the veggie garden.

Each day it seems there is another seed catalogue bursting forth from my mailbox. And I can't wait to peruse the offerings looking for something new to try, easpecially in the veg department. I've been reading the book "Growing Chinese Vegetables in Your Own Backyard." I love cooking and one of my favourite cuisines is Chinese. I once worked with a Chinese girl who took me under her wing, introducing me to all sorts of Chinese food products not available in your local supermarkets and then showed me how to prepare them. Several times a year I make a pilgrimage to Toronto to Chinatown and load up on sauces, unusual vegetables and other culinary treats that are staples in Chinese cooking, so this book has been very interesting in learning the more unique veggies I can add to my backyard garden.

Since Asian foods have become more mainstream in recent years, more seed purveyors are offering these "new to us" varieties. So I look forward in the next couple of days to taking time out with a cup of steaming green tea and the new seed catalogues, making my list and garden plan for the upcoming season (that is if our snow ever melts). And then as the proverb says, with a little tender loving care, I'll be looking forward to a plentiful harvest. This is the perfect time to be making your seed selections, before you know it spring will be here.