Friday, July 25, 2014

My South Florida Mango Salsa Recipe, Updated

It's not summer in South Florida until mango season starts. That's when mango cocktails, mango smoothies, mango ice cream and just plain mango eating occurs because practically everyone here has a mango tree. And if you don't have a tree then your friends do, and they will share their fruit with you. But eventually you'll get tired of all the sweet mango recipes and crave something different. That's when you can make my slightly savory mango salsa.

South Florida mango salsa with macadamia nut oil,
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey

The salsa goes great poured over Mahi Mahi or chicken.

1 ripe 8 oz. to 10 oz. fiber-less mango, peeled and diced
1 lime with washed skin, (zest and juice will be used)
1 medium shallot, peeled and diced
¼ cup finely chopped celery leaves
½ a sweet apple, skin-on and diced
½ bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. Florida grown and roasted macadamia nut oil (if you can’t get this you can use safflower or vegetable oil)

Sriracha hot chili sauce to taste (you can find this at Asian food stores and some grocery stores)

Zest the lime before you juice it. If you don’t have a zesting tool you can use a grater. Grate the zest off the lime rind by rubbing it back & forth over the finest grating surface until you can just see a color change.

Once the entire lime skin is grated, cut it open and juice it.

In a non-metal bowl mix the mango, zest and juice of one lime, celery leaves, shallot and macadamia nut oil together. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes so the flavors can soak into the mango.

Then gently fold in the diced pepper and apple and a few drops of Sriracha chili sauce. I used four drops. Then either serve the mango salsa immediately or put it in the fridge for an additional 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Pour it over your meat or non-meat main course and enjoy.

The salsa lasts about a day in the fridge, that is if there is any left over from the meal.

You might notice the lack of salt in the recipe. I prefer to use celery leaves or other naturally salty vegetables (like Florida grown tomatoes when they are in season) in my food instead of table or sea salt.

I bought the mango at Kenari Groves farm in Loxahatchee, Fla. And I got the macadamia nut oil from a friend.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Solar Water Still By Alexander Graham Bell, Miami, Fla.

Coconut Grove, Fla.—Water distillation started longer ago than you might think. Alexander Graham Bell was converting salt water to fresh in a solar still before 1920. You can find one of his two stills at the Kampong National Botanical Garden. The garden was the former residence of Dr. David Fairchild and his wife Marian (youngest daughter of Alexander Graham Bell).

Alexander Graham Bell's solar water still, The Kampong, Coconut Grove, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
“Bell would come down here all the time to visit,” said tour guide David Jones, “He was known as the inventor of the telephone but he also invented other things.” Pointing to a heavy looking table like object 10-feet away, Jones said, “See that. It is a solar water still invented by Bell to distill salt water to fresh water.”

Jones went on to say that Bell had designed the stone table with a hollow center and top surface that was angled 12-degrees off horizontal. There was also a ledge, running the entire length of the interior, that held a sheet of glass.

Bell would fill the table with water, slide on the glass, and waited for the sun to evaporate the fresh water out of the salt.

“He had another one built in Nova Scotia, Canada," said Jones, "It is made out of wood but Bell knew it would not do well down here in Florida, so that’s why he chose stone for this one.”

To see this solar water still in real life you’ll have to book a private tour of The Kampong Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Baobab Fruit, South Fla. Grown: Antioxidant Rich

Baobab, the new Super Fruit, tastes like tart lemon sherbet. It is packed with vitamins, calcium, protein and antioxidants. The fruit, contained in a velvety skinned, hard-shelled, seedpod, has the texture of dried marshmallow with tiny seeds. But you don't have to travel to tropical Africa or Australia to get a taste because it is growing in South Florida.
Baobab fruit, The Kampong, Coconut Grove, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
This past weekend I joined the Palm Beach Chapter of the Rare Fruit Council International on a tour of The Kampong, an 11-acre National Tropical Botanical Garden (former home of Dr. David Fairchild) in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida. 

David Jones, tour guide at The Kampong, Coconut Grove, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
Our tour guide, David Jones, said Fairchild (a plant collector and co-founder of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden) planted the baobab tree in 1928. On the day we toured, the ground, at the base of the tree, was covered with cylindrical brown seedpods.

Jones said the tree normally grows in dry climates and is able to store huge quantities of water so it can continue to grow through dry periods. 

When the tree gets older than 1000 years the trunk starts to hollow out and many people use it as shelter. In Modjadjiskloof, Limpopo Province, South Africa, there is a pub called Big Baobab Bar that is located inside a 6000-year old living tree.

Baobab seedpod, The Kampong, Coconut Grove, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
The Kampong, Fla., tree is only 88-years old so it's going to be awhile before anyone can live inside of its trunk.

If you are interested in sampling the baobab fruit and either don't live in South Florida or don't have the time to set up a private tour of The Kampong don't be sad because you can buy the fruit online as a powder.

Some words of caution—the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers baobab fruit a powerful laxative because it has very high levels of soluble fiber. For every 100 grams of fruit you get 5 grams of fiber.