Cantaloupe salad with lime, mint, ginger and the best honey ever

Mint, ginger, lime, sugar and honey to dress up the cantaloupe.

Cantaloupes were a buy-one-get-one deal at the local grocery store. My husband cannot resist a BOGO and so we have melon bounty.

I used a recipe from Bon Appetit: Cantaloupe Salad with Lime, Mint, and Ginger

In addition to lime juice, there is grated lime peel in this salad. The scent of citrus is concentrated in the peel and grating it makes a nice aromatherapy! The ginger gets grated too.

Ripe sweet cantaloupe is good all by itself but this recipe made it more special and interesting. I really liked the light ginger flavor with the honey and the mint.

We had this at dinner as a sweet side/ dessert with spicy chicken chili.

❤️ Cantaloupe has a huge amount of beta-carotene, more than other orange fruits and equal to carrots. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A (for eye health, healthy blood cells, immune system) or acts as an antioxidant fighting free radicals that attack healthy cells. One cup has 100% of your recommended vitamin C, also.

7 Nutritious Benefits of Eating Cantaloupe

THIS IS THE BEST HONEY, all caps because I love it so. It’s creamy, rich and mild (not as strongly flavored as Manuka). Order it online, you will be glad you did. (No affiliate links yet, but someday I will add them for the stuff that is really worth it.)

You used to be able to get it on Amazon. Last time I bought it I went right to the source and it shipped fast. HONEST RAW HONEY is made from American hives, free of antibiotics, chemicals, pesticides and additives, uncooked, unfiltered, and ships from Blue Ridge, Texas.

Honestly, I can eat it from the spoon and feel like I just had the best candy ever.

Don’t buy the thin, runny honey so widely available in grocery stores. There are no FDA rules about what “honey” is and it can be diluted, artificially sweetened and full of chemicals. Ultra-filtration removes the pollen so the country of origin cannot be traced. Some countries (China) produce honey with illegal animal antibiotics.

Food Safety News: Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey

The Honeybee Conservancy: Funny Honey: the Murky Contents of Commercial Honey

Globe and Mail: Honey laundering: The sour side of nature’s golden sweetener

Bee America: How to Detect Fake Honey

Love this salad

Side salad for two featuring that sexy spring vegetable, asparagus.

The name for asparagus — a member of the lily family — comes from the Greek word meaning “shoot” or “sprout.” Now widely cultivated throughout the world, this regal vegetable is believed to have originated 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region, where it was prized for its unique texture and alleged medicinal and aphrodisiacal qualities.

I served the roasted asparagus on a bed of Boston lettuce, drizzled with dijon vinaigrette and decorated with shaved parmesan cheese. My husband took charge of roasting a whole chicken, stuffed with herbs. He cooked a sweet potato at the same time and we halved it to share. Nice dinner on a rainy evening.

Boston lettuce is a type of butter lettuce. Soft and tender, this lettuce makes a nice “bed” for other ingredients.

We are fortunate to live in a time and place where we can get perishable healthy foods like this, in any season.

I followed a recipe for the vinaigrette, while shepherds were keeping watch.

Bon Appetit’s Dijon Vinaigrette (RECIPE HERE) calls for olive oil, white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic and fresh lemon juice. I thought it would go nicely with roasted asparagus, and it did.

For roasted asparagus: preheat the oven to 450 degrees; trim off the ends, wash and dry the asparagus; toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt (I love the big beautiful flakes of Maldon sea salt); roast for about 8 minutes, checking for slight browning at the tips.

To shave the cheese, just run a vegetable peeler along a flat side of the hard cheese. Works best if the cheese is cold from the refrigerator, or at least cool.

I’ve been so busy tossing soft crumbles of feta or goat cheese on this or that salad that I forget that shaved cheese can be quite nice too. Note to self: try some other hard cheeses again soon.

Fine Cooking: Good Cheeses for Shaving

Washed and torn lettuce, roasted asparagus, a bit of vinaigrette and shaved cheese and there it is.

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette and Parmesan Cheese

Let there be seasons so that our tongues will be rich in asparagus and limes. – Anne Sexton

Mm… Mango

I was hungry. It was lunchtime. I got creative with some ingredients we had on hand.

Do black beans and mango go together, I wondered? The answer is yes! especially with the rest of the ingredients in this Black Bean Mango Salad with Corn, Red Onion and Feta.

The vinaigrette was 4 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp citrus champagne vinegar and a tsp of honey. Any other light vinegar (champagne, white or white wine) would work with this, and apple cider vinegar might be nice too.

I used one 15 oz. can of black beans, half a cup of frozen corn, defrosted, about 1/3 cup chopped red onion, 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese and about a cup of mango chunks. At the end I decided to add basil from our garden, about 6 cut up leaves of it. A good addition!

Don’t forget the salt with the sweet. I sprinkled the finished salad with a bit of Maldon sea salt too.

The mango was so soft and sweet and delicious, I need more mango in my life! The black beans were creamy and filling and – with the protein and fat of the feta cheese – made this a complete lunch. The red onion added a nice spicy bite without overwhelming the other flavors. (I think a hot pepper like jalapeno could do this too.)

Somehow, without thinking too much about it, I made a really great salad. I will have to refine this and make it an official, carefully measured, printable recipe… when I get to that point on this blog.

Isn’t it beautiful?

After a morning of vacuuming and washing floors (ah, the joys of owning two German shepherds), this impromptu lunch was a delicious reward. We had leftovers with dinner too.

Mangos are ripening on neighborhood trees, I noticed during a bike ride yesterday morning.

Mangos are native to India and southeast Asia, but grow quite well in Florida. There are a tremendous number of cultivars with a variety of flavors. The season lasts May through October.

Fun read… Mango Mania! An Authentic Florida Road Trip

Restaurant return

The Bistro Salad from Berry Fresh Cafe in Stuart, Florida. It was our first restaurant visit in two months.

We were having lunch at this very same place on the day (March 20) when Gov. DeSantis announced all restaurants in the state would close except for takeout. Restaurants are now open at 50% capacity. We decided our first dining out experience should be a return to the same restaurant.

Waiters and hosts wore masks and seating was at every other table or booth.

Description of my salad, from the lunch menu. I added chicken. It was a satisfying, tasty salad, and a filling lunch. My husband had the Shrimp, Crabcake and Brie Omelet. He recommends it.

Have you ever noticed it takes the person with a big salad twice as long to eat their meal as the others at the table??

Mural near the entrance.

Fresh ingredients, locally sourced when possible, Berry Fresh is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch and has three locations, in Jupiter, Stuart and Port St. Lucie.

Berry Fresh is listed in Yelp’s Top 100 Brunch Spots in the United States, and first in Florida.

After lunch, we took a walk in downtown Stuart. The royal poinciana trees are in bloom.

Creamy lemony potato salad

I revisited a tried and true recipe yesterday: Creamy Potato Salad with Lemon and Fresh Herbs.

It’s a Bon Appetit recipe. First time I made it was to accompany Easter dinner on March 31, 2013. That was also the last day of the first time I tried to eat a salad every day, for a month, not a year.

Here is my old post about it: Little round potato, like a period at the end of a sentence.

Reading back through that blog, I have to laugh at this part, written March 27…

Salad Month. I’m half sick of it and half feeling a weird compulsion to continue right through April as well. Or what if I ate salad every day for a year! There are so many salads I still want to try. It’s so human to get carried away with things, isn’t it?

(More about Salad Year on my About page.)

I decided on potato salad because I found some nice looking potatoes at Country Club Produce. Small potatoes were nestled in brown paper bags. The sign said “Little Baby Creamy White Potatoes.”

Okay, that wasn’t the exact wording but “creamy” was definitely in there. I remembered that recipe for Creamy Potato Salad.

I bought green beans too, and assortment of other produce that caught my eye.

For dinner, I sauteed a couple of handfuls of green beans to go with our potato salad and the mini meatloafs John made. Potato salad is easy to make ahead of time.

To make the salad (recipe HERE) I boiled the little potatoes whole for 15 minutes, let them cool for 20 minutes, cut them in halves or quarters depending on their size, and layered them in a bowl with rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Then simply add the mayo, finely grated lemon peel, and the chopped herbs and scallions and gently stir. Easy. (The recipe calls for celery too, but I did not have any.)

I really like the lemon in this. It adds a bit of zing.

I sprinkled a bit of paprika on, to add some color and just a bit more flavor (along with herbs, green onions and lemon) to the otherwise bland potatoes and mayo.

This potato salad was a nice change from green salad. Leftovers were good the next day.

The earliest written recipes for American potato salad date to the mid-19th century. Cooked potatoes were typically dressed with oil, vinegar and herbs, which culinary historians believe were introduced by German immigrants who had a penchant for sour, sweet and spicy ingredients such as vinegar, sugar and coarse mustard.

NPR: Rethinking Potato Salad

❤️ Potatoes are starchy, yes, but it’s resistant starch.

This starch is not broken down and fully absorbed by the body. Instead, it reaches the large intestine where it becomes a source of nutrients for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Takeout salad fail

Unboxing the salad.

My husband and I couldn’t decide what to have for dinner last night so we ordered takeout from a restaurant we have often enjoyed in downtown Stuart.

I went for the “Asian power greens” with rice noodles and cashews and I added shrimp to the order, for a well-balanced meal.

It looked like it would taste so good. It did not. I couldn’t even finish it.

There was a problem with the “cashew ginger vinaigrette” – it came across as just weird oily soy sauce that stung my lips and overpowered every other flavor except the intense sweetness of the mandarin oranges. What the heck?

Also the shrimp tasted a bit old, and the rice noodles were stale.

I have often had good food at this restaurant which shall remained unnamed as I give them the benefit of the doubt. The shutdown (takeout only) and recent reopening of Florida restaurants (allowing seating at 50% capacity), has probably thrown a lot of places off their game.

Eating out is a Florida thing. When we first looked at houses here, we found many with small-ish kitchens. Many stoves came without hood vents, including the one in the first house we bought. We installed a hood vent. But we got a bit lazy here in the Land of the Lotus Eaters, in our mildly self-indulgent, reasonably well-off late middle age, and dined out much more often than we did in New Hampshire. We loved the restaurants with outdoor seating especially. The “dining out” line item in our household budget was nearly double what it had been up north.

When restaurants were first ordered closed at the end of March to “flatten the curve” of the projected coronavirus cases, many of us worried about our favorite places and hoped they would survive. We might order takeout in those first days just to help them make ends meet, or buy gift cards to use later. We even ordered Easter dinner from our favorite farm-to-table!

As time went on, we got in the habit of planning menus, shopping just once or twice a week (as in the olden days), and making our own meals every day. And we found that it wasn’t so bad. Indeed, it can often be better! And certainly less expensive. Last night was truly a waste.

Instead of going out to dinner, buy good food. Cooking at home shows such affection. In a bad economy, it’s more important to make yourself feel good. – Ina Garten    

Cooking demands attention, patience, and above all, a respect for the gifts of the earth. It is a form of worship, a way of giving thanks. – Judith B. Jones

Cooking is one failure after another, and that’s how you finally learn. – Julia Child

You might say that about life too.

After dinner we went to a local beach for a walk. It was a beautiful evening. Life is good.