Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Natureman's Homemade, Prickly Pear Jelly & More, W.P.B., Fla.

Ever had jelly made out of the cactus fruit--prickly pear? Joshua "Natureman" Knight, owner of Natureman's Homemade & Edible Landscaping, makes it out of fruit he sources within walking distance of his house.
Joshua "Natureman" Knight of Natureman's Homemade &
Edible Landscaping, Tequesta Green Market, Tequesta, Fla.
"It tastes a bit like berry jelly," he tells me during a recent visit to the Sunday afternoon Tequesta Green Market. And he's right. It is dark red in color, with a jam like texture, and tastes like raspberry herbal tea with a slight citrus finish.

Knight believes strongly in local and has several other jams made with Florida sourced ingredients like jackfruit, papaya, and mango. He even has sugar-free jams, made with these ingredients and agave.

He also has an edible landscape design business. But he doesn't have a website of FaceBook account.

You can get Natureman's Homemade jams by calling him at 561-676-0962, or email

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bonnie's Old Fashioned Biscuit Recipe, Dade City, Fla.

There's nothing quite like the taste of old fashioned biscuits. It's a dying art form. So, when Bonnie, Steve Melton's mother-in-law, said she would make a special batch for me I grabbed my camcorder to capture the experience.

Her daughter Sandy narrated the first part. "I got married and I called my Mama and I said, 'Ok, how do I make your biscuits?'

"And she said, 'Well, you put your flour in a bowl.'
"And I said, 'How much flour?'
"And she said, 'Well I don't know.'
"And I said, 'OK.'
"'And then you put your shortening in,' she said.
"And I said, 'How much shortening?'
"And she said, 'About three fingers worth.'
"And I said, 'That's not going to do. You're going to have to come closer than that.' Anyway we just kinda made due and I did learn how to make them. But, she can whip them out faster than anybody I know."

Bonnie's biscuits made the old fashioned way, Dade City, Fla.
The end result, light, flaky biscuits that melt in your mouth, don't need butter and go perfectly with just cooked cane syrup.

Bonnie's biscuit making demonstration was at Steve Melton's Sugar Cane Syrup Making Day, Dade City, Florida, on December 8th, 2012.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Kumquat Growers Inc, Dade City, Fla

Kumquats have been a grown in Florida since the late 1800s. Kumquat Growers Inc, a Gude & Neuhaufer family owned business, has been packing and shipping kumquats since 1895. Kumquat are small, orange skinned, completely edible citrus that have their origins in China. The two most popular varieties are the Meiwa (sweet) and the Nagami (tart).

Frank and Sonny Gude, Kumquat Growers Inc.,
Dade City, Fla.
Traditionally the fruit was used as a living mantle decoration for Christmastime celebrations. Then it became popular year-round in the 1920s according to Frank Gude, co-owner of Kumquat Growers Inc., when Mrs Nath made it into marmalade from trees her husband had planted. She shipped jars to friends up north and it became an instant hit. Soon her husband Christopher Nath had to plant an acre of fruit to keep up with demand.

Front entrance of Kumquat Growers Inc., Dade City,
"All kumquats are clipped and not picked because the stem gives the fruit a longer shelf life," said Fanchone Gude, my guide for the day I toured in December 2012. She added the fruit are still shipped around Christmas but they no longer have their leaves attached because the USDA restriction about leaf greening and canker disease spreads to other States.

Three different stages of ripeness on Kumquat tree,
Kumquat Growers Inc., Dade City, Fla.
"Kumquats are  the only citrus not waxed because the skin is edible," said Fanchone. She added that kumquats cannot be gassed to ripen them because again the skins are going to be eaten along with the rest of the fruit. According to Franchone the skin is actually the sweetest part of the fruit.

Gift shop at Kumquat Growers Inc., Dade City,
Fla. taken Dec 2012
They have a gift shop on site where you can buy fresh kumquats of either the Nagami (tart) style or the Meiwa (sweet) style.

The Florida season goes from mid-November to mid-February. Then the groves in California take over the market.

The shop also has lots of jams, jellies, barbecue sauces, hot sauces, and desserts all made with Kumquat Grove grown kumquats. You can visit them in Dade City or go to their website to buy their products

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Florida Sourced Beer Risotto With Shrimp and Mushrooms

Risotto is a good way to use Florida ingredients. It is great if you can start with Belle Glade, Florida, grown Sem Chi rice. And it is even better if you add Florida caught shrimp, Florida grown mushrooms, Florida brewed beer, and Florida aged raw-milk havarti cheese.
Florida shrimp, mushroom, and beer risotto topped with
raw-milk aged Havarti cheese.
I made mine with Key West Pink Shrimp, Oyster Island Mushrooms, Due South Brewing Co. Category 3 Ale, and Cypress Point Creamery aged Havarti raw-milk cheese (bought from Farriss Farm).

I combined three risotto recipes from the Joy of Cooking, page 260-261, and changed out the wine for beer. The end result was tasty but it was more of a comfort food dish than gourmet. I added a squeeze of regionally sourced lemon to give it more depth of flavor and that helped.

It took over three hours to prepare mainly because the larger than normal shrimp took so long to cook.

It is not a recipe I plan to repeat any time soon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mule Drawn Sugar Cane Mill, Dade City, Fla.

Working antique sugar cane crushing mills are fun to watch. What makes them extra special is if they are over 90 years old and mule powered. I got a chance to video one in motion at Melton's Machinery Museum, sugar cane syrup making day, in December. 2012.

My cane crusher guide, Mr. Jim Carty, said there was no way of telling exactly how old the sugarcane mill was but he guessed it was about 100 years. He called it a Roundy-Round Mill because it was easier to say than a mule-drawn sugar cane mill.

It was manufactured in Louisville, Kentuky. He said it was a pretty modern system with three crushing wheels instead of two.

The juice was then made into cane syrup but that will be on another video later this year.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Maggot Melts And More At Jungle George's Sth Fla. Fair Booth

Are You Wild Enough?--is the motto of Jungle George's Amusements Inc. When, founder and owner, George Sandefur asks the question he is referring to the food he serves at State Fairs around the United States like chocolate covered scorpions and maggot melts.
Maggot melt made with beetle larvae and cheese at
Jungle George's booth in South Florida State Fair,
West Palm Beach, Fla.
I recently met Sandefur at the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach. I bought a maggot melt for $7 and a box of barbecue flavored larvae for $4. The larvae tasted similar to toasted sesame seeds and the melt tasted more like cheese than toasted maggots.
Camel burger at Jungle George's booth in South
Florida Fair, West Palm Beach, Fla.
This year's special meat is camel. I got a burger for $8. It was slightly musky and drier than expected. "Camel is a lean meat and so tends to be a bit dry," said Sandefur. He added, "Yak burgers are good for people who don't want too exotic an experience. It is a sweet meat and the closet to beef."

Along with the exotic bug ingredients Jungle George Amusements Inc also serves kangaroo, venison, gator, mountain oysters, frog's legs, beef, and chicken. Last year he served python. But this year the import price was over three times higher so he had to take it off the menu. "Python for human consumption has to be imported from out of country," Sandefur said, adding he buys his meat from a farm in Vietnam.

George Sandefur and Darin Lusenhop of Jungle
George's Amusements Inc at South Florida
Fair, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Sandefur has been in the catering business for 40 years and just in the past four years started serving exotic ingredients. "I got a dare four to five years ago to do something unusual," he said with a smile that suddenly broadened when the face of a passerby scrunched up in disgust after they read what was on the menu.

"That's the reaction I want," Sandefur called out to the passerby. Then he turned to me and said, "Those people are usually the ones that land up eating my food."

To find out more about Jungle George Amusements Inc you can go to their website at

Monday, January 14, 2013

My Florida Sourced Kumquat, Black Sapote, Beer Cake

Here's my Florida version of chocolate beer cake. I found the original recipe at  and added exotic Florida ingredients like Kumquat Growers' kumquats, Black Sapote fruit, and Tequesta Brewing Co's Pumpkin Ale.

Florida kumquats, black sapote fruit, pastured eggs,
brown sugar, pumpkin ale, and chocolate beer
cake, Sth Fla.
2 oz cocoa powder
7 fluid oz Tequesta Brewing Co Pumpkin Ale (or Stout, or any beer you prefer)
4 oz Black Sapote fruit
10 oz Florida Crystals brown sugar
2 large pasture raised eggs, beaten
1 Tablespoon thinly sliced Florida kumquat peel
6 oz plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

The recipe included icing ingredients and directions but I chose not to make it.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

2. Lightly grease and flour two-8 inch round (20cm) cake tins, 1 1/2 inches deep (approx 4 cm) deep. Also line base with parchment and lightly grease. (I barely had enough batter to fill both tins)

3. Cream Black Sapote and sugar together, beating for 3 to 4 minutes until it slightly changes color to a lighter shade. Then slowly add in eggs, mixing well between each addition. Add the kumquat peel by sprinkling it across the surface and then mixing it until blended well.

4. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together.

5. In another separate bowl, gradually add the beer to the cocoa powder. Go slowly to make sure you get rid of all the lumps of cocoa powder.

6. Then carefully fold in small quantities of both the flour and the cocoa-stout mixture into the egg-black Sapote mixture, alternating as you go.

7. When both are added, divide the cake mixture equally and pour into the cake tins.

8. Bake the cakes in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes (times may vary depending on the type of oven you have). The top of the cake should feel springy and will have shrunk slightly from the sides. Leave the cakes in their tins for five minutes before turning them out onto cooling racks.

The kumquat peel complimented the pumpkin ale beautifully. But unfortunately the spices of the ale overpowered the cocoa, so it was less of a chocolate cake and more of a spice cake. Also, I waited too long to use the beer. It was flat when it went into the recipe and resulted in a flattened cake. I'd suggest using fresh beer in your cake for more volume.

I got the Florida ingredients from Farriss Farm (eggs), Florida Crystals (brown sugar), Kumquat Growers (kumquats), Tequesta Brewing Co (pumpkin ale), and my neighbor's yard (black Sapote).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Angora Yarn Made Live, Dade City, Fla

Ever wonder where Angora yarn came from? This past December, I witnessed the process at Steve Melton's farm in Dade City, Florida. Kimberly Buchy of The Fiber Mill, Brooksville, was sitting on a rocking chair spinning yarn. She had a big white fluffy thing in her lap that she was pulling clumps of fiber from to roll into yarn. She let me sit by her to shoot a video.

If you haven't guessed, the big white fluffy thing was an Angora rabbit.

Kimberly Buchy spinning yarn out of Angora rabbit
fiber, Dade City, Fla.
To learn more about her fiber mill you can go to

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

2012 Blue Oven Kitchens' Commisary Kitchen Open House, Gainesville, Fla.

Gainesville, Fla.--Blue Oven Kitchens' December, 2012, open house was very colorful. They invited friends, farmers, chefs, and University of Florida members to celebrate the opening of their new Commissary Kitchen.
Stefanie Hamblen addresses audience at Blue Oven Kitchens'
commisary kitchen open house, Gainesville, Fla.
"We plan for everybody in the rural areas to have a kitchen easily accessible so farmers can do value added produce and people can start their own food businesses," said Stefanie Hamblen, co-owner, Secretary, and Director of Fundraising.
Val Leitner, co-owner of Blue Oven Kitchens,
Gainesville, Fla.
Blue Oven Kitchens is a not-for-profit kitchen incubator that serves the needs of people in North Central Florida. According to their website this means--a kitchen incubator provides access to inspected, commercial kitchen space while also providing business support service.

Crones' Cradle Farm sourced fried-green tomato
lollipops, Gainesville, Fla.
They plan to rent out the commissary kitchen, at a low-cost, to chefs, farmers, and disadvantaged food entrepreneurs in North Central Florida. Even though the kitchen is now open they are still looking for donations to help them get more equipment and other things.

"As we move forward, we have entrepreneurs that are getting their stuff together so that they can start renting. We're pulling together people either chefs or community members who want to do cooking classes. And so as we get all that going we need some bridge capitol to keep us solvent during that time," said Val Leitner, co-owner, and President of Blue Oven Kitchens.

There were many colorful finger foods sourced from farmers around Gainesville, Florida.

There was also a multitude of rainbow colored baked vegetables.

To find out more about Blue Oven Kitchens you can go to their website at

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Locally Sourced New Year's Day Meal: Fla. Style

Everyone needs more good luck. There is no better way to get this than by eating collard greens with ham hocks, and black eyed peas, on New Year's Day. And it is even better if most of the ingredients are local or regional.

This New Year's Day my family and I prepared this meal with Central Florida sourced ham hocks from Tracey Lee Farms (bought from Farriss Farm), collard greens from D & D Family Farms (Stuart, Fla.), and black eyed peas from Georgia. We washed it all down with a rather nice dry-muscadine Chablis wine from Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards in Clermont, Fla. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 Localecopia Meet & Greet At The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, Fla:Updated Version

The atmosphere was festive at this year's Localecopia Meet & Greet. Tables decked out in colorful produce and food items invited in chefs and restaurant owners. Ingredients for every course of a meal, from appetizer to dessert, was represented at the event.
Farmer Carl Frost, Kai Kai Farm of Indiantown, Fla
Kai Kai Farm, Indiantown, Fla., is a 40-acre farm that uses organic growing methods and practices water conservation. They grow produce year round and have a huge assortment of vegetables and strawberries. They are a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. This means you can become a member by buying shares, in advance, for a portion of their next season's crop that gets you the first pick of the produce. They also sell items at the Sunday Palm Beach Gardens Green Market.
D & D Family Farms of Stuart, Fla
D & D Family Farms, Stuart, Fla., has been growing vegetables in Florida for many generations.  Their 10-acre u-pick-it farm is located close to exit 133, off the turnpike. They use organic growing methods.This year they are growing squash blossoms and nasturtiums. You can purchase their produce by either becoming a CSA member or by going to the farm or to the Saturday West Palm Beach Green Market or Sunday Palm Beach Gardens. Now Closed.
Mushroom grower Michael of Oyster Island Mushrooms,
Vero, Fla.
Oyster Island Mushrooms,LLC, Vero Beach, Fla., grows mainly Shiitaki and Oyster mushrooms.Occasionally they grow Maitaki, Piopinno, and Lion's Mane. They also sell mushroom growing blocks.  You can buy their products at the West Palm Beach Green Market or the Palm Beach Gardens Green Market. Now closed.

 Francesca's Terra Verde Farm Club, Jupiter, Fla., is a medium sized farm club that has access to over 24 farms around the State of Florida. You can buy their produce by getting a membership or going to the Sunday afternoon Tequesta Green Market. Now closed.

Pascale's LLC, Delray Beach, Fla., makes small-batch gourmet jams, preserves, and hot sauce with many Florida grown seasonal ingredients like mango and papaya. Their products are preservative free.

The Lord's Place, West Palm Beach, Fla., is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization that helps people overcome their homelessness. Residents tend a garden that supplies produce to Cafe Joshua. Formerly homeless, chef apprentices get to train at Cafe Joshua and all proceeds from the cafe go to the Lord's Place

Localecopia a non-profit organization that started in 2008, promotes local product consumption by bringing together people, farmers, universities, businesses, and government officials. They encourage sustainable business models, and low carbon footprint practices.

Updated January 2018