Nancy's Notes From Florida

Cranes Roost Park

March 17, 2021

Cranes Roost Park

This past weekend, we went for a stroll around the lake at Cranes Roost Park located in Altamonte Springs, FL. This one-mile paved walkway is shaded by large trees while the boardwalks are mostly in the sun. Numerous benches provide seating to people watch or gaze at the lake. This 45-acre park also has an amphitheater and a plaza with a water fountain.

Cranes Roost Park     

We spotted turtles, ducks and birds as we meandered along. The azaleas were in bloom, adding bright splashes of color against the green landscape.

   

At Café Murano, we picked up a fresh baked pizza to go for lunch. It had a thin crispy crust just as we like it with garlic and mushrooms for our custom toppings. Inside, a live band played for Sunday brunch. This restaurant is definitely worth a repeat visit.

        

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Did you miss my guest posts? If so, check these out:

“Writing about Real Places”
Guest Post on Cozy Florida

Author Interview with Nancy J. Cohen
Guest post at Eat my News 

“How to Make an Audiobook”
Guest post at Hallard Press Gazette 

“True Life Experiences in Fiction”
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Harry P. Leu Gardens Revisited

March 9, 2021

Harry P. Leu Gardens is one of my favorite spots for a nature walk in the Orlando area. Located at 1920 North Forest Avenue in Orlando, FL, this botanical oasis offers a delightful stroll through its fifty acres as well as a historical home. It’s the site for many weddings and was the model for Orchid Isle in my mystery novel, Shear Murder.

   

My favorite section is the Tropical Stream Garden with shady paths and tropical plants like in a rainforest. The sounds of a trickling brook follow you as you continue along toward Lake Rowena for scenic water views. Across the way in the photo below and on the left is the Orlando Science Center, a trip for another day.

     

As we continued along, we admired the flowering azaleas, camellias and other colorful blooms. The temperature was comfortable in the low seventies with sunny skies. We peered at the rose garden with a fountain at its center and bypassed the vegetable, herb and butterfly gardens that we’d seen on previous visits.

 

The Dinosaur Invasion exhibit was in force as were many children squealing with joy over the life-sized displays. The creatures are scattered around the park and look natural in their habitats.

The only thing missing from this park is a café. They have a gift shop with interesting garden-themed items but nowhere to buy a cool drink and a snack or to sit outside and view the gardens while eating lunch.

For more photos, visit my earlier post on Harry P. Leu Gardens.

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Lake Lily Farmer’s Market

March 2, 2021

Visit the farmer’s market held on Sundays from 9am to 2pm in Maitland around Lake Lily. This delightful five-acre park, located at 701 Lake Lily Dr in Maitland, FL, has a trail around the lake, a short boardwalk, abundant wildlife, a playground and gazebo, plus a historical house that you can tour.

             

After our stroll around the lake, we examined the booths with wares on display. I bought an almond croissant at a bakery stand and these vegetables at a great price by the produce booth.

I wrote about the Waterhouse Museum on a previous blog. Built in 1884 for carpenter William H. Waterhouse, the Waterhouse Residence Museum at 820 Lake Lily Drive in Maitland, FL is available to the public for a peek into the late Victorian era. It’s a fascinating place to tour.

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Comfort Food

February 26, 2021

Home cooking can get tiresome under forced isolation, but not with easy-to-make comfort foods. I’ve been rummaging in the kitchen of our new house trying to find where I’ve put things while preparing meals. Maybe you can find inspiration in some of these dishes that have been on our dinner table in the past week.

We had the kids over for brunch last weekend. I made this Zucchini Biscuit Bake with the recipe from my cookbook, although I added fresh mushrooms this time. I’d also served a Costco quiche, plus thin bagels with cream cheese. Dessert was peach cobbler.

Zucchini Biscuit Bake  Peach Cobbler

Because we’d cut up too many zucchini and onions, I put some aside and made this stir-fry dish for dinner. Sliced hot dogs became the go-to protein addition.

Zucchini Stir Fry

Once those leftovers were gone, the next order was to use the multitude of strawberries we picked before they spoiled. So I made my first strawberry bread using a recipe I found on Pinterest.

Strawberry Bread

Next dinner I made these Swedish meatballs with white rice for dinner, accompanied by a premade salad. If there’s any gravy left, I freeze it to use in Shepherd’s Pie. I’ll share this recipe with you.

Swedish Meatballs

 

Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 egg, beaten
tsp. garlic powder
1 cup finely chopped onions, divided
cup dry bread crumbs
12 oz. bottle chili sauce
18 oz. jar grape jelly
15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine

Directions

Make meatballs: Mix ground beef with beaten egg, garlic powder, ½ cup chopped onions, and bread crumbs. Form into small balls. Set aside. (Or use frozen turkey meatballs instead of making them from scratch).

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, blend together chili sauce, grape jelly, and tomato sauce until jelly is melted. Toss in remaining onions and add wine. When mixture is bubbly, add meatballs to pot. Stir gently to coat with sauce.

Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Periodically lift lid, being careful of steam, and stir. Cook for 1 hour on low heat (or ½ hour if using frozen meatballs). Serve over cooked rice as an entrée or by itself as a party appetizer.

These recipes and more can be found in A Bad Hair Day Cookbook – Order Your Copy Now

What have you made in the kitchen lately? And no, “a mess” isn’t the right answer.

 

 



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Bekemeyer Family Farm

February 22, 2021

Bekemeyer Family Farm is a hydroponic farm located in Winter Garden, FL off Colonial Drive near 429. In season, you can fill a white bucket with ripe strawberries as you trundle down aisles lined by plants reminiscent of The Land pavilion at EPCOT. You don’t have to bend as low as naturally grown strawberry patches, which is helpful. We could also pick oranges, but I’d given away our juicer so we passed on that opportunity. In a few more months, they’ll offer peaches.

Inside their small store, you can purchase honey and jams and a limited selected of homegrown vegetables. I bought bunches of dill that I needed for upcoming meals. They had small tomatoes, radishes and different kinds of greens including kale.

     

Our grandson had a good time enjoying the fresh air and picking the ripe berries. He had both sets of grandparents present to cheer him on and enjoy his company.

From there we went to the Winter Garden Farmers Market. It gets crowded on Saturday mornings. We strolled around in the sunshine, enjoying the sights like this cat in sunglasses and the multitude of booths.

We took a brief stroll down the main street of the historic district. Then it was back home to attend the Zoom meeting for Florida Chapter of MWA and make my vegetable bean soup.

For more details on Bekemeyer Family Farm, visit https://www.facebook.com/BFFWG

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