Monday, October 28, 2013

On the Hydroponic Farm

Nestled away in a small corner of north west Hillsborough County there sits an unassuming yet amazing place called Urban Oasis. Just off of Linebough Avenue, Urban Oasis takes up perhaps an acre of land where owners Dave and Cathy Hume have developed a very practical form of growing vegetables: organic hydroponic farming.

I drive by this almost hidden treasure a dozen times a day and have always told my self I would stop to see what it was all about. Today I did.

I talked to John Carminati who manages the farm and who has had an incredibly interesting career (more about John a little later.)  John explained the workings of the farm and the methods used in their hydroponic system. He showed me the many varieties of vegetables they grow; from egg plant to okra to tomatoes to Genovese basil and the list just goes on. He even showed my where the bees work that make their honey!

Now just a little about John. In reading his website, Chef on The Farm, you learn that he is a classically trained chef, having graduated with honors from Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, who has worked literally all over the world in his search for, as he put it, "...something new." Learn more about Johns fascinating life and career at his website by clicking here.

(Photo credit: Chef on the Farm)
Now back to Urban Oasis. I was very impressed with the concept of Urban Oasis. They offer fresh, local organically grown vegetables as well as grass fed beef, fresh milk, eggs, and honey harvested right there on their urban farm. They offer a "farm share" program which gives you a share in the harvest. They have a full season harvest share and an 8 week harvest share. Either way, if you love to cook with truly fresh organic ingredients or you are concerned about your families consumption of pesticides found on vegetables from your local big market retailer, you will really appreciate Urban Oasis. You can also just walk right up and shop just as you would a farmers market.

Expect to pay a little more for products offered at Urban Oasis; but then again, you are getting so much more. There really is no comparison between vegetables that are grown organically and naturally and those that need a layer of wax just to make them attractive.

You can visit their website but better yet, just go there, I guarantee you will find something you like. Urban Oasis is located at 5416 West Linebaugh Avenue, Tampa, FL 33624 : 813-293-FARM (3276)

What is hydroponic farming?

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without using soil. Urban Oasis uses a coconut fiber growing medium to hold the plant roots while using natural fertilizers to provide plant nutrition.

An automatic drip irrigation system complete with timer guarantees a perfect growing environment for most types of vegetables or plants. As Dave Hume declares on his website it's "the farm of the future." The hydroponic farming system available from Urban Oasis is ideally suited to urban living where land may not be especially suited to farming or where space may be limited. You can visit their website for more information on their systems by clicking here.

If you visit the farm be sure to tell John you heard of them from me! Thanks.

All photographs are copyrighted 2013 jnadesign, inc. except as noted in photo credit. Please ask for permission to use and give appropriate credit.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Spiced apples over oats. Just like autumn

You can taste Autumn in every bite of this spiced apple and oats breakfast. But it isn't just for breakfast, its a great desert as well.

It features another great recipe from Therapy Bread. And although it is not the easiest recipe, it is fun to make and well worth the effort. Toasting the steal cut oats give it a nutty flavor that is topped off with spicy cinnamon apples.

Light brown sugar, cinnamon, and good old nutmeg brings the smell of Autumn into the house like no ones business. Its like good old pie filing.

The steal cut oats are toasted in butter. The apples would go just as well with regular Quaker oats but toasting the steal cut oats give it a natural nutty flavor that is worth the extra effort.

Once the liquid is absorbed, the oats are ready. And viola!

Its delicious! And though its no where near fall down here in Florida, if you put the air down to about 69 degrees you can pretend. Not really, but you know what I mean. Get to Therapy Bread pronto and try this recipe.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chicken Scampi Alfredo, need I say more?

Another great recipe from Therapy Bread. I just cant get enough ideas and recipes from there.

This one features chicken, spaghetti, and one of my favorite: Alfredo sauce.

Jess over at Therapy Bread does it again. Be sure to check Jess' recipe for chicken scampi alfredo and try it. It's super easy and delicious.

Here's my version of it.

A little Marsala wine, a little fruity but nice anyway.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Smile and wave!

I found the website of this very talented astro-photographer, Sean Goebel, who has an incredible time lapse video of the telescopes on Mauna Kea. See the video here.

This is a still image from his video of the Andromeda galaxy at the top of the picture with a Perseid meteor streaking across the sky. It is the closest galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy and it will actually collide with ours in some 4 billion years.

Next time you are outside at night and catch a glimpse of Andromeda, wave back, someone is up there looking back at us.

Check his page out here and read some fascinating things about the work he does, including the story behind the laser shooting out from that telescope.

Friday, October 4, 2013

In the tradition of 3.1417

Just when you thought pie could not get any better along comes Jess with another great pie. Jess is the great cook over at Therapy Bread and she has a Swedish apple pie that you got to try.

Its super easy and takes less then 20 min to prepare and just around an hour to bake.

Apples are in season right about now so there should be all kinds of varieties available. I used Granny and Fuji apples from the local supermarket. They had a great selection but the Granny and Fuji just looked so much better and I have used them before.

The recipe can be found over at Therapy Bread with an interesting story behind it so go take a look.

Everybody loved it and best yet; it was easy to make.

Actual eggs from a friends chicken!

I used pastry flour for the crust but I think next time I will follow the recipe closer and used regular flour. The crust was delicious but I am curious to see the difference.

 The house smelled like potpourri all night.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

To Die For

We have a friend who is a wonderful lady that we all love. She makes the most wonderful soup called ajiaco. Ajiaco is a very common South American soup dish and most countries have their own version featuring local ingredients.

The ajiaco she made consists of chicken, corn, potatoes, and plantains. It is literally heaven on earth, a cornucopia of the gods.

I will work on getting the recipe. You can find one at My Colombian Recipes for a Colombian version.

But check out this deliciousness for yourself:

This ajiaco consists of chicken, potato, corn, plantain, pasta noodles seasoned with cilantro. And of course a little Cholula hot sauce

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Peachy Keen

My first ever peach pie. I've made an apple and cherry pie and now I am proud to announce that I have made... peach pie.

I went to Therapy Bread, once again, for this most excellent pie recipe.

I am just so overwhelmed with this peach pie I made that I don't know where to start. I am not sure why I am so filled with joy, maybe its the just the feeling of accomplishment or maybe its just the pie. Maybe pie just does that, make you happy! When I pulled the pie out of the oven I had this great urge to put it on my window sill. It made me feel like gramdma. It just made me feel happy.

Take a look at the filling and tell me that just doesn't give you happy thoughts.

 I could have eaten the filling just like it was before baking.

I made this little happy ramekin with the left over filling and pie shell.

 I even put my signature bow on.

And let me tell you, it was as good as it looks.

The pie crust was delicate and flaky and not dry at all. Even though I forgot to brush the egg wash on before I put it in.

Check out the recipe here at Therapy Bread and tell Jess I sent ya!

The kids really enjoyed the pie!

 Even the new adult liked it.

After school peach pie.
 Milk and peach pie, unbeatable.