Nana’s Garden Salad
Salads and sandwiches have sustained Nana and Wonderful Wally all week. We are probably looking at one more week without an oven or stovetop before the kitchen remodeling is complete. The granite countertop is holding delivery of the sink and new appliances hostage; it must be installed before they can be. I’m not complaining. It is a necessary inconvenience for the new kitchen Nana has been dreaming of for the past 16 years.
Eating out is always option to break up the monotony of cold cuts and rabbit food. And then there was the evening I scouted the backyard to see what was growing and ripe for a unique treat.
Plenty of arugula and leaf lettuce were growing in abundance in huge pots at the base of my plumerias, or frangipani as it is called in Florida. Two of my plumerias were given to me by a dear friend; one is now in bloom. I had previously harvested some of each of the lettuce varieties but this would be the first fresh tomato of the season from my pot garden. Most of my edibles are containerized and serve double duty as accent plants.
Home grown lettuce and tomato supplied a good and colorful base for Nana’s Garden Salad. Arugula, with its peppery-mustardy flavor is a little too potent on its own, which is the primary reason for mixing with the milder greens.
Still looking for a splash of color and uniqueness, I thought – why not the plumeria blooms? They are edible after all. The pretty little flowers, used for making the welcoming leis in Hawaii, mix well with virtually all lettuce and spinach-based salads. One must first rinse the petals with cold water and let them air dry fully on a paper towel before consuming.
Dry frangipani, plumeria, petals are great for use in hot teas; they add fragrance and a subtle taste. Consider sprinkling brightly colored petals over white or brown rice to make an attractive dish. You can even dip the petals in batter and fry them in oil in the same manner you would vegetable tempura or onion rings. These little flowers freeze well, so you can use them as garnish for cakes and all kinds of things.
Since I had only a few pink petals (not that you would want many), I decided to harvest the tiny yellow blooms from the 16 perennial peanut plants I purchased last week to use as cuttings for an upcoming Dirt Day program next weekend.
Lastly, I decided on some Okinawan spinach that Nana has growing as groundcover in the nursery. Okinawan spinach is grown commercially as a vegetable in China and is very adaptable to Florida’s climate, thriving in full sun or partial shade. Cooked or fresh in salads, it is said to contain excellent nutrients for helping to lower cholesterol.
While Okinawan spinach forms a dense, non-vining groundcover, it also makes an attractive potted plant. What I really like about this hardy perennial is the beauty of its shiny green leaves on top that are a deep purple on the underside.
With all ingredients gathered, I headed to the master bath sink to begin preparations – yet another temporary inconvenience.
Nana thoroughly enjoyed the combination of flavors. However, I had to chuckle at Wonderful Wally’s response when asked his opinion. “It’s tasty,” he said, with the same inflection as delivered by the son in the Ocean Spray television commercial who is obviously avoiding a truthful answer to his father’s question about driving the family car.
P.S. Circle B Volunteer Rescues Tiny Colt
As Nana readers know, Wonderful Wally is keeping a watchful eye on the Sandhill colts at Circle B, charting their growth with a photo every chance he gets. He is particularly concerned about the smaller of the two, the runt who is somewhat bullied by the more aggressive sibling. (These birds have become family.)
Earlier this week, he observed a Circle B volunteer covered in mud to her knees and returning from the marsh where she had rescued the little guy who was stuck. Both colts were muddy, but the larger colt had escaped by itself.
Thank you Circle B volunteer!
Glenda Mink, a self-taught copycat who learns from others, is now officially retired after 22 1/2 years with Polk County government. She co-operates her oldest son’s successful publishing company with soul mate (now also retired) Wonderful Wally. Nana to two teenage grandchildren, Cameron and CayLeigh, she describes herself as an “expert on nothing,” but hopes readers will find inspiration and a few good ideas from re-invented projects for use around home and garden, along with musings about this and that.