Last week was spring break and my family and I were fortunate to travel to southwest Florida to visit my “snowbird” parents who were on an extended vacation of their own there.  This was a special trip as my Dad was diagnosed with lymphoma, underwent chemotherapy, and entered remission all since August.  It has been a scary time for our family and we are blessed to both have the means to vacation with them, but more importantly have been given the time to enjoy their company.

We took advantage of sunsets on the beach.

Gulf Coast Sunset

Walked for miles admiring the other worldliness of seashells.

Toes in the Sand

Cherished the loving moments shared by our children.

a treasured friend

Expressed our wild side with an airboat ride (and alligators) in the Everglades.

IMG_8363

Spotted graceful pairs of dolphins gliding through the harbor.

dockside dolphins

We also took a jaunt to the town of Immokalee, known for its rich Seminole Indian heritage (and a Seminole casino in which 4 “men in black” surrounded us and escorted us out.  Who knew children weren’t allowed in?  Go figure!).  Immokalee is an important part of the country’s agricultural scene supported largely by the greater than 75% hispanic population.  We found row after row of shacks set up in a parking lot, each one offering produce worthy of gracing covers of the finest cookbooks.  The boxes of mango brought memories of last night’s sunset to mind, while the rolls in the heirloom tomatoes were reminiscent of a chubby baby’s plump thighs.  The prickly pear with its stubbled skin reminded me of the bristly kisses my children receive from their Daddy after a few days without a razor.  The colorful sights of just harvested fresh fruits and vegetables, the sounds of foreign languages, the warmth of the Florida sun and the taste of the refreshing agua fresca served in plastic cups from large vats was invigorating to me.  I continue to be inspired by what Mother Nature provides for us and hope that we serve her well by caring for the earth and those that dedicate their lives to cultivating her soils and providing us with her bounty.

We left the market with jalapeño, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes, red onion, strawberries ($9/flat!), and a few prickly pear.  The strawberries were enjoyed in smoothies, on cereal, and out of hand and a delicious guacamole was prepared by my husband to enjoy on the lanai with tortilla chips.  Here is our simple recipe.  We hope you enjoy it with produce from your favorite farmer.

Fresh From the Field Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 Haas Avocados, halved and pitted
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 of a red onion, minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed, minced
  • 3 fresh ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves removed and chopped, stems discarded
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Remove the flesh from the avocado and place into a small bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice to the bowl and toss the avocados gently to coat with the juice to prevent browning. Pour the excess juice off of the avocados and into a small bowl for use later.
  3. Using a fork or a potato masher, mash the avocado until just slightly chunky.
  4. Add the onion, jalapeño, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, salt, and cumin and mix gently to combine. Add up to 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice to taste. Best consumed on the day it is prepared and ideally within an hour of assembling.
http://theculinaryartist.com/the-immokalee-produce-market-and-a-guacamole-recipe/

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