When in Okinawa, Get a Pedi (pt2)

“You should get a fish this time.”
“They have a lot if designs but I doubt they have a fish.”
“Oh, they’ll have a fish!”
“I want flowers, you wouldn’t actually want me to get a fish!”
“Will you get a fish? For me?”
“Okay, if they have a fish, I will get a fish for you!”
“Cool”
-Dialogue between Brian and Marissa

Why is it such a big deal to get a pedicure in Okinawa?

After spending half of my chair time at Cocok trying to decide which pretty floral design I wanted…my eyes finally found a fish. “Ok, It’ll make my husband smile,” I thought to myself.

I still got a beautiful hibiscus design on each and every other toe with a butterfly on one big toe and a little Coy fish on the other. The original model for the fish was in an entirely different color scheme but I just simply asked my artist if she could match the color scheme. She did a beautiful job!

20130729-170945.jpg

And that is why you should get a Pedicure in Okinawa!

How I Wound up EATING Flowers

YOU DO NOT LIKE THEM. SO YOU SAY.
TRY THEM! TRY THEM! AND YOU MAY.
TRY THEM AND YOU MAY, I SAY.

SAM! IF YOU LET ME BE,
I WILL TRY THEM. YOU WILL SEE.

Dr. Seuss “Green Eggs and Ham”

It has been a busy week to say the least and I’ve been waiting anxiously to tell you about my most recent Farmer’s Market Finds. You know by now that every visit I will find something purple to place in the basket. Here it is:

DSC03234 Some of you know this fruit already but for those of you who don’t–it’s a Dragon Fruit. Dragon Fruit may be this hot pink hue (okay, it’s close to purple), others may be a sunny yellow, and usually the fruit inside is even more vibrant than the outer skin. Some even have greyish fruit. Here’s what mine looked like:

DSC03236 I think it’s purple.

So here is something interesting about the Dragon Fruit; it doesn’t originate in Asia. It is actually a South American Cactus-like plant that was at some point imported to Asia and is now very popular in all the Asian Countries as well as Israel. I first saw this fruit on my friend Jessa’s blog www.shalomsweethome.com .

To eat, cut it in half and scoop out the center with a spoon the way you would a Kiwi. It is delicious. It doesn’t taste exactly like a Kiwi but the fruit flavor and texture is strikingly similar and you get to eat more of it (my favorite part). Another one of my favorite bloggers features a recipe using the Dragon Fruit here: http://naturallydiy.com/2013/07/16/dragon-fruit-salad/

As I was so intrigued by this fruit at the market and eager to give it a taste, I also found this item in the same bin:

20130721-113800.jpg Was it a dragon fruit relative? Was it another fruit entirely? Was it a vegetable? Would I eat it here or there? Would I eat it anywhere?

I pried it open to see what was inside.

20130721-113819.jpg It appeared to be a flower. Could I, Would I, Should I eat this thing?

I made a hypothesis that it could be a Dragon Fruit Flower. I wasn’t sure if it was or what parts were edible and this concerned me. I googled and oogled. It seemed like it could be a Dragon Fruit Flower but I didn’t find many pictures of the flower bud from the outside or in this state. I couldn’t find credible sources. One of my blogger friends (www.naturallydiy.com) helped me out with her research and sent me a picture of a dragon fruit flower she saw at a botanical garden. So now that I had narrowed down what this was, I needed to find out how to use it.

The most information I could find in English about preparing it was on the website http://okinawaislandproduce.com/. There are two to three options for preparing this vegetable. The bud itself can be cooked as a vegetable such as in boiling water or a broth. The flower can be fried, sautéed or steeped as a tea. I used the two recipes from the site. The boiled vegetable went into a chicken broth for a soup and the sautéed flower was cooked with soy sauce and chili peppers. The sautéed flower was the one I liked better–to me it tasted like a mild cheese.

Here is what it looked like:

DSC03239 Cut up flower bud for cooking as a vegetable.

DSC03240Isolated flower ready for sautéing.

DSC03241 Into the skillet. DSC03242 It looks lovely browned. DSC03243I forgot to take a picture of it on my plate. I am sorry. I actually liked it though. DSC03244 Here is what it looked like after being boiled as a vegetable. The flavor is mild-it actually had very little flavor to me.

DSC03245Here it is in my soup with some purple okra!

The next day, I attended a local botanical garden with my husband and saw for myself what this mysterious Dragon Fruit Plant looked like.

DSC03302 DSC03301 DSC03299 DSC03297 DSC03296

So now you know how I wound up eating flowers.

I DO! I LIKE THEM, SAM-I-AM!

AND I WILL EAT THEM HERE AND THERE.
SAY! I WILL EAT THEM ANYWHERE!

-Dr. Seuss “Green Eggs and Ham”

When In Okinawa, Get a Pedicure

There are moments to indulge and enjoy, but I always know when it’s time to go home and wash my knickers.

-Kate Winslet

I was going to quote another actress who once said, “it is good to indulge now and again,” but I thought Kate’s words were far better!

Here is a confession: I have never gotten a Pedicure, until today. Sure, I have painted my own toes, used nail buffers, foot scrubs, and peppermint lotion like many homemade pedicures can include; but I never indulged in a professional Pedi. I could do it myself and had no reason to justify spoiling myself.

Then I moved to Okinawa and witnessed first hand the beauty of toe art. All over the island women sported toe nails as Devine accessories the way gals sport handbags and shoes in the states. I never thought I would ever be a fan of busy toe paint until I saw the “Monets” that graced pretty little American and Japanese toes alike all around me. It didn’t take long for me to decide to indulge in this little luxury (which would cost much more in the states I might add).

What did I have to lose? Now that I’m not at a teaching job stateside, or in college, I hardly ever eat out, have not been feeding a Starbucks addiction, don’t have to pay PTO to wear jeans, don’t have to “donate” money to our team party fund, have not been to the movies, or feel obligated to buy donuts for Friday. I feel no guilt indulging in a Pedicure at long last. So Kaity and I (remember my partner in crime who took me to Yoho?) got our toes done.

“What on earth does this have to do with gardening?” you might ask… Take a look:

20130529-155249.jpg
Each toe nail is painted with white flowers that are tinged with hints of orange and deep green leaves swirling around over a bright green background. Yes, I have garden toes.

20130529-160759.jpg
Now that I have had this fun, I’m going to do some laundry; or as Kate says, “wash my knickers!” Perhaps I will put on a Kate Winslet movie while I’m at it. More garden news to come later.

Keep on blooming,
Marissa

Keep a record of when you fertilize so you won’t forget when to fertilize again (lots of pictures)

Had a good and busy day in the garden today and yesterday:

20130423-195628.jpg

I added a couple more flower plants in this entry bed.

20130423-195822.jpg

I added some flowers to this spot as well. In this area I also buried fertilizers around the first 9 Hibiscus bushes. I learned through my research that Hibiscus plants need approximately three parts potassium, two parts nitrogen, and one small part phosphorous. I used banana peels and coffee grounds as I’ve heard old gardeners sometimes do.

20130423-200907.jpg

Here I planted Lemon Balm which is a yummy smelling herb. I have heard Mosquitos aren’t big fans of this plant which makes it appealing to me. Since it is like a mint, I have it in a self watering container as these herbs like a little more moisture than most. I sprinkled some slow release fertilizer in with it.

20130423-201440.jpg

Here I have three pepper plants in a box that can fit 8 pepper plants. The first two on the left are jalapeño transplants I bought here in Okinawa a week ago, the third is a colorful pepper plant I bought today (the label reads “okinawa vegetable”), and the next plants will be the seeds I started. I sprinkled slow release fertilizer around the plants.

20130423-202018.jpg

In this shallow clay pot I lined the bottom of the container with a coffee filter and drainage stones. Most herbs (mint being the exception) are Mediterranean and like a hot dry climate. This means you must make the pots as moisture wicking as you can. For this arrangement I chose two thyme plants, chamomile, and a melampodem flower (common herb and vegetable companion in Pamela Crawford’s container series). I also used slow release fertilizer in this container.

20130423-203229.jpg

Here I also used the drainage stones so that this Basil will be especially tasty. I only planted a single impatiens flower as it is flexible with sun or shade and it won’t take long for the Boxwood Basil to get BIG. Slow release fertilizer was added to this one as well.

20130423-204449.jpg

Here I have an okra plant I found in the 45 yen bin and I couldn’t be happier about this one. I really hope I have success with okra this year. With it I planted some gorgeous, tiny petunias and sprinkled some white petunia seed around the empty space. The petunia/okra combo is also featured in Pamela Crawford’s container series. Slow release fertilizer was added.

20130423-205300.jpg

Here I have a lavender plant in which I left open space to plant seeds in hopes some flowers will spring up and accompany this fragrant plant. The seeds I chose are white petunia, purple salvia, and chamomile. Slow release fertilizer was added.

20130423-205903.jpg

I can hardly wait to harvest delicious food from this garden and watch my flowers bloom.

20130423-210233.jpg

As for the “Eesa-Fuji”, after observing it I noticed all of the flowers dropped when it didn’t get very much light. I also noticed that it is in a quick drying soil and as I kept it in partial sun it seemed to become greener. I wanted to plant low growing, dainty purple flowers and these where the only ones I found. I will continue to watch its progress.

20130423-211002.jpg

If following in the advice of fertilizing every three months, most of my plants will be due for a feeding in late July. Happy Gardening!

Marissa