Category Archives: Food, Cooking, and Plants

Prickly Pear

For today’s post I am going to dive into the Prickly Pear (Opuntia). It is large cactus with paddle like leaves. They grow abundantly in Arizona and across most of the hot, arid states of the southwest and Mexico. They are easy to propagate and grow. The well known prickly pear fruit is used in jellies, syrups,

Thornless Prickly Pear

In my own neighborhood there are hedges made exclusively of thornless prickly pears. One neighbor’s hedge is over 8 feet high. Interestingly, the thornless variety was born through careful breeding by Luther Burbank in the latter part of the 1800’s (you can read his entire story here). He had hoped that the spineless breed would give grazing cattle a supplement for their water needs. As it turns out, he could not permanently breed out the thorns. If a cactus faces stress it will push out a most prickly pin cushion.

One of the wonderful aspects of prickly pears is the fruit. The easy part is knowing that all species of prickly pear fruit (and the whole plant!) is non-toxic and quite delicious to eat. The hard part? Harvesting them. A woman here in Arizona uses a set of long hot dog tongs and a plastic bucket.

My personal favorite way to harvest them is at the store after all the thorns are removed. I have an aversion to wandering off the beaten path, into the desert, with scorpions and rattle snakes. I like to stay far away from the things that are poisonous.

Bonus! These beauties are good for you too! They aren’t classified as a super food, but they should be. High in fiber, antioxidants, and carotenoids they rank right up the with the best of the green foods. It is promoted for treating diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and hangovers. It’s also touted for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. I think I’ll start eating these by the basket full and live to be 110! Before you go too crazy munching on these, be aware that your stomach may need a little bit of time to get used to the fiber.

The prickly pear cactus is also a nice place for pack rats and other rodents to build their homes. It is a great place for them to nestle in for the winter months and find a protected place from their various predators.

Although this plant looks intimidating it is worth getting past that and discover all that you can do with it. Whether you make smoothies from the fruit or toss a salad with parts of the paddles, you will have a plant that just keeps on giving. Just beware of the thorns. They are sharper than you can imagine.

This post brought to you by the letter P and:

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter P


Filed under Food, Cooking, and Plants, Gardening

French Fries Please

There was a time in the past when a french fry was a french fry. Mom would slice up potatoes and fry them for a fat, finger long, salt drenched potatoey treat. Today, you can get these scrumptious goodies nearly any way you can think of.

Where did the humble fry originate?

Don’t let the name fool you. Fries most likely came from Belgium, but it depends who you’re talking to. One legend says that the vendors in Paris sold deep fried potatoes on a stick along the on the Pont Neuf—the oldest bridge in the city. Although, Belgium claims to have invented them during a particularly rough winter in the 1680’s. the only issue with this story is that potatoes weren’t really a part of their diet at this time in history. Maybe we could just say that somewhere in a French speaking country the humble fry was born.

How do you take your fries?

Personally, I take my fries hot enough to almost singe the inside of my mouth, with plenty of salt and nothing else. Curly fires are pretty good, but don’t touch cheese to them. Many people I know have to have them drowning in so much ketchup that it drips down their chin. To me, you all are just eating ketchup with a side of fires. Then there are cheesy fires, chili fries, home fries, steak fries, tornado fries, and waffle fries. The possibilities are endless.

When in England…

Americans and the Brits laugh at each other for the silly way we have labeled things. In the USA the storage space on the back of a car is called a trunk whereas in England it is a boot. You can always leg it to the bus stop in England or when in America you just run. Biscuits there are cookies here. Fries are not immune to these fun differences. Here in the United States we have fries, and in England they have chips. What gets confusing is we also have chips, but we are referring to potato chips – those thin round crispy crunchy fried potatoes that come in a brightly colored bag. So, when you travel to England just leg it to the neighborhood delicatessen for some chips.

Who makes the best fries?

I hope by voicing my opinion here, I do not get inundated with hate mail. I have my likes and dislikes just like everyone else does, but in my most humble opinion, I don’t think Mom makes the best fries, sorry Mom. For me, french fries are one of those cravings that I drive out of my way to satisfy and, thankfully, that craving only hits every once in a while. Where do I go for what is my choice of best fry? Burger King.

What do you love about fries? Do you have a favorite? Tell us your french fry story in the comments, but be nice to me and my cravings for Burger King fries. LOL.

This post brought to you by A to Z Blogging Challenge and the Letter F.

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter F

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How Do My Oranges Grow?

I am on a new growing experiment.  Orangelos, are a cross between an orange and a grapefruit. They purportedly are a sweet flavored grapefruit and easy to grow in a pot. Because I live in a winter to summer climate, I couldn’t grow it outdoors so a pot was necessary. I did a little research on how to feed and care for an orange tree before I bought it to be sure I purchased one that did well in a pot. I bought it this past fall so it wintered by the back door where it got a lot of sun, but stayed warm inside.

This spring it blossomed. Not only are the blossoms beautiful, but they smell wonderful. My kitchen and living room were the best places to be while there were flowers. I was so excited to see so many flowers that I thought I would have a huge orange crop too.

Orange Blossom

This is just one of the many blossoms.

It pushed out about 20 of these little fruits.

Tiny orange fruit

See the little green ball on the right and at the bottom edge of the frame?

I knew that not every blossom would produce fruit, but I did hope for at least 5-10 orangelos. Unfortunately, all but one fell off. This last little one has been hanging on and it is my hope it continues to grow.

Last surviving orange.

This is the last one. As of this posting, it is about 2x larger than any of the others I lost.

I will keep you posted on how well this one does. Maybe I will be able to enjoy one single orange later this year.

What about you? Have you ever tried to grow fruit in a pot? What lessons did you learn along the way? Leave your comments. We love comments!

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Color Coding Bread

Have you ever noticed that there are different color twist ties and plastic bands on bread? Bread is color coded for freshness. The color coordinates with the day is was baked and with the colored bands it is easy for store clerks to pull the loaves that are reaching their peak of staleness. Now, it will make your search for freshness easier.


Why nothing on Wednesday and Sunday? Well, bakers do need a day off every once in awhile. Keep in mind that not all bakeries are created equal. Double check the freshness date to be sure you really are getting the best loaf for your buck.


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