Mailbox Monday

One of the wonderful peculiarities of the Keys is the elaborate mailboxes that pop up around the neighborhoods. Understandably, most of them are sea-themed, but all of them encapsulate the creative, sun-loving, and laid back lifestyle that is so unique to these islands. The idea is to feature one weekly here, and I am already looking forward to next week’s because I find it delightful. Happy Fourth of July all!

Sea Horse

Dooryard Garden

Our little Planter

This weekend we have our first guests in time for the 4th of July long weekend. While we intend to eat out quite a bit, we also plan to take advantage of our new home and grill to make some delicious dishes. For the past week, my fiance and I have been discovering our new home – the good, the bad, and the requires-more-than-a-little-elbow-grease. The garden in particular grows with a level of enthusiasm I’ve never seen. We have pulled, trimmed, sawed, and pruned more in the past few days than in my life entire. We also discovered a little planter that had previously an herb garden in it. I’ve since learned that it is not at all uncommon for Keys folks to have a “door yard” garden in which they grow herbs, fruit, and anything else that will thrive in this wet, hot environment. Our little planter already has a bit of rosemary and Greek oregano growing in it, but as you can see – it will require quite a bit of work to get it in shape again.

Even in its withered state, I let it dictate what we would make for the first night to utilize its current bounty. We trimmed some Rosemary to go with red potatoes and the Greek Oregano to dress a cucumber and tomato salad. All we did is quarter or halve the potatoes, roll them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and chopped Rosemary, then bake them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (you may need longer depending on how many potatoes you are cooking). For the salad, we diced tomatoes on the vine, cucumbers, added herb feta, olive oil, and chopped Greek Oregano from the garden (a little goes a long way as with Rosemary).

To go with these delectable sides we made foil packets for tilapia filets to grill them easily. Whether I bake or grill tilapia (or any white fish) I make it the same way: drizzle a little olive oil, lay 1-2 onion rings and a slice of lemon, a few bits of chopped garlic, and a pat of butter on each filet or set of filets if you are using foil packets. Sometimes I add a bit of white wine in place of oil or butter – whatever you have on had from this set of flavors works nicely with this fish. Then grill or bake for 15-20 min depending on the thickness of the fish.

Of course in the hustle and bustle of playing host, I neglected to take any pictures of these dishes, so you’ll have to suffice with imaginary vision of them for now until I make them again some day. I’ve added some more suggestions and links to my favorite eateries under Restaurants should you be looking for a good place to try delicious food in the lower keys this weekend.

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Our canal – isn’t she gorgeous?

As much as I day-dreamt about some day moving to the Florida Keys over the past decade, I never did believe it would happen. I wasn’t honestly sure that I wanted it to happen. It is one thing to vacation somewhere. It is another to live there. And yet for me, the Keys have always been more than a vacation destination. My brother was born here. My earliest memories of life were shaped by these blue-green waters, this heat, and this never-ending sky. I was only four when we moved away, but those memories are imprinted on me. I’m fairly certain I learned to swim before I could walk. Water is still my favorite place to be. And now we are here. At a new home in an old familiar place. I created this blog for a couple of reasons. One, I am far away from family and friends, so I wanted a venue to share our experiences and adventures with them. We have Facebook, of course, but I find blogging to be more substantial – like writing heartfelt letters to the world instead of short bursts of emotion or sentiment. Two, I am a PhD student at the end of the road who would like to have a fun reason to open her computer and a break from my normal research and writing routine. Three, I want to realize my dream to become a genuine foodie. My major form of recreation in the past seven years of grad school hell fun has been cooking, feeding people, trying new places and new foods…and now I have a garden! And the bounty of the sea! And all of these new/old places to eat and enjoy. I want to share this and how incredible life is in the Keys. So stay tuned for one delicious adventure.

My fiance and I cooling off in the pool after a long morning of landscaping work