Grilled Okra Recipe – Summer Gardening

In our Kitchen…


We have had the best okra harvest this year!  My littlest gardener isn’t a fan of tomatoes, yet. So I experimented with grilled okra pods for the first time this year.  My husband said, “Grilled okra? That doesn’t sound good.”  Well…


The entire family LOVED my grilled okra!

Grilled Okra


A dozen pieces of whole fresh okra, stems trimmed

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1-2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon

Salt & Pepper to taste

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I used two bamboo skewers, and marinated the first batch for a few hours before grilling. The second one I didn’t have time, so we just brushed on the ingredients as we grilled.  Both times the okra was tender with the nice flavor.

After you season the okra, place it on the grill at 400 degrees, and cook until the okra’s green color brightens, and charred grill marks appear on the edges, about 5 minutes. Turn the okra over, and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes.

This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, etc.  And the kids loved to dip the grilled okra into a special comeback sauce I whipped up.

Southern Comeback Sauce


1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup chili sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon of dried basil

We also replace the mayo with sour cream, depending on the flavor of the rest of the dish being served with the okra.

In our Garden…

I am getting the garden beds ready for fall gardening now!  Seminole pumpkins are already producing, tomatoes and beans have sprouted, and we are seeing citrus on our trees!  Fall and winter are my favorite time in our FL backyard!

 Happy Gardening, 


Fennel Thoughts & Recipes from the Garden

Black Swallowtail caterpillar on blooming fennel. Copyright 2013 Backyard FL Gardening.

Anyone eat fennel?! I have lots in the garden right now, and I am always looking for new ways to get my little gardeners to eat it. It is a great host plant for Black Swallowtails. The plant attracts the entire life cycle of the butterfly (eggs, larvae and chrysalis), which my little gardeners love, but some of it needs to be harvested this spring!


Fennel tastes like a combination of celery, licorice and leeks and is used in many Mediterranean dishes. It can be eaten from the top to the bottom as all parts are useful.  The bulb part is our favorite and should be pale green and firm when harvested. Flowers on the stalk indicate that the plant is past its prime and should not be selected.  Unwashed fennel bulbs should be stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.  When ready to use it, wash and cut bulb in half to remove the hard core.

Young fennel

Our favorite way to eat fennel is in our chili and lasagna! The little gardeners never notice.  Here are some other delicious recipes I have found online:

Fish with Fennel & Tomato This recipe calls for tilapia, but any white fish will do!

Braised Chicken with Fennel and Apples

Tomato – Fennel Soup with Brie Toast

Please feel free to share your fennel recipes in the comments!!!

Congratulation to Kayla, Dee, and Irineo! They were selected as the winners of our spring seed giveaway!  We are excited to announce another giveaway next week!  Sponsored by the awesome Aquarian Bath! Stay tuned for details…

Thanksgiving Recipe: Fresh Rosemary Butter

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

This is an article that I wrote, which was published on EcoEtsy in November.  I thought I would share this yummy recipe here as well!  Enjoy your Thanksgiving week and count your blessings. I am thankful for my garden and for my gardening community this year!

Post image for Decorative Pumpkins & Rosemary Butter Recipe

I love decorating with pumpkins during the fall holidays.  Years ago while purchasing some, a stranger stopped me at the local produce market to tell me how much she loved to eat sweet dumpling pumpkins. She wanted to know if I had ever tasted one? I thought to myself those pumpkins can’t taste good?

Sweet Dumpling pumpkin is on the far left.

Well, I have tried all of those pumpkins after talking to that stranger and they are delicious. I love buying them in the fall to have out in the house for months, and then eating them when Thanksgiving and Christmas come. How much easier can it get? Pumpkins are un-refrigerated, beautiful to look at, and good to eat! I can’t imagine fall without them.

Carnival Heirloom Pumpkins

This month I thought I would share our favorite way to prepare our favorite pumpkin, Carnival Heirloom!  This colorful squash has a surprisingly creamy texture and a flavor similar to a sweet potato. It makes a great substitute for mashed potatoes.  Just bake or steam, then mash with butter and herbs for a side dish.  My family likes it mashed with some rosemary butter.

Fresh Rosemary Butter

While the pumpkins are cooking (it generally takes about 35-45 minutes depending on your temperature), we make our herb butter.  We have a large rosemary bush outside and my daughter loves cutting herbs for me. When possible, I try to make cooking in our house a family affair.

Fresh Rosemary Butter:

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon orange juice

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 Mix all the ingredients together.

You can also use lemons instead of oranges. I like to double the recipe when I make it so I have some for another recipe later in the week.  During the holidays, you can save the butter in ice cube trays for a special touch.

 Be sure to be thankful for those pumpkins this Thanksgiving!

Thanks, Bee

Jalapeno & Shrimp Oh My!


Jalapeno and shrimp are in abundance in our backyard right now.   

My husband is an inshore fishing captain so he always seems to know when the shrimp are running.  He has been up early throwing his cast net in the Intracoastal this summer. We have gallons of shrimp each morning.  They haven’t run in so long, so I will be happy to stock the freezers again. We typically can get shrimp a few times of year over here on the East Coast of Florida. Our little gardeners have been picking peppers daily.  I’ve been trying to teach them how to check for ripeness. The little one, who is three, just picks, but my six year old is starting to understand their change in color and what the little white stretch marks mean.  Here’s a good article with a good photo for teaching: How to Check for the Hotness of Jalapenos.

Even though we’ve been giving the peppers away to neighbors and friends, I still have extras so I researched some new recipes.  Here’s some Jalapeno recipes, and a few using both jalapeno and shrimp! ENJOY!

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese Stuffed Shrimp – Serious Eats

Garlic-Jalapeno Shrimp – Martha Stewart

Jalapeno Bread and Butter Pickles – Simply Recipes

Jalapeno Strawberry Jam – Allrecipes

Jalapeno Popper Mushrooms – Allrecipes

And of course this previously shared salsa recipe from a fellow gardener & friend.

Happy Gardening!

Garden is Green

My garden is green again!  Spring is here, a little early, but it is here!

Our celery is doing lovely! As my five year old says, “Mom it is starting to look like the celery in the grocery store!”  This is my first attempt at growing celery and so far as good. Maybe another month and we will be able to harvest.

Sweet peas have sprouted in the garden. The little gardeners really enjoyed picking and shelling them last year!

Our fennel is doing great! It was brought over from the closing community garden.

Lots of green tomatoes!

Our pentas were never killed from the winter cold, so they seem to be full of extra blooms and much larger than normal this year!

Our lantana was killed from the cold, and is now making a coming back. Soon the bird bath will be hard to see, as we already have new lantana blooms starting.

My favorite green in the garden is our mint. I know I’ve said this before, but I love mint, and I have missed it!  

Here’s one of my favorite refreshing drinks after working in the garden:

  • 3 green tea bags
  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 large lemon, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 2 cups cold water

Brew tea in boiling water, letting steep for about 10 mins. Pour brewed tea into a serving pitcher. Add sugar and lemon, and swirl in the mint, holding it by the stems and using it to stir and dissolve the sugar. When sugar is dissolved, drop mint into pitcher and add 2 cups cold water. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. You can strain mint out before serving, but I like to leave it in. I think I originally got this from, but it was so long ago and it is only hand written in my cookbook now. 🙂

Happy Spring Gardening!

Saturday Afternoon Gardening Craft

We have been enjoying the seed saving side of gardening and have collected more marigold and lettuce seeds than we could ever need.  So, I decided to use old snail mail and send a few of my gardening girlfriends a little note and surprise pack of seeds in the mail! 

Happy Spring Cards with Marigold Seed Packs

I used the following materials that were already on hand:

left over brown kraft paper,

my x-acto paper cutting board

stamps & ink

left over coin envelopes

leftover invitation envelopes

leftover shipping labels, that I craft punched and used as stickers 



I cut & folded the kraft paper into 4″ x 5″ cards to fit my left over invitation envelopes.  I hand stamped the front of the cards with my favorite…honey bees!

 I packed marigold seeds into the leftover coin envelopes, and used old shipping labels to tell what was in side and growing information.

I put a little message in side, and I hope they have marigolds sprouts in their gardens soon!

Happy Spring Gardening!