Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Hemingway House in Key West, Florida

Our visit to the Keys in Florida this year was my first time in the Keys, and a visit to the Hemingway House had been on my bucket list for a long time.  A visit to the House did not disappoint, and it was one of the favorite things about being in the Keys.  We ventured down to Key West to spend a day, and we went early to Hemingway's House before crowds had arrived.  It was delightful.  The gardens are beautiful, the cats amusing, and the house interesting, especially if you are a Hemingway fan.
Hemingway's wife replaced all the ceiling fans of the original house with chandeliers she had collected.

A painting of Hemingway and his friend a Cuban who was the inspiration for Santiago in The Old Man and The Sea.
Fats Waller, one of the Hemingway house cats.

Hemingway's bed.
Apparently the headboard of the bed was a gate that Hemingway had collected.  They placed twin beds together and made a king size bed (before king size beds were available).

We wandered around on our own, but eventually joined one of the guided tours where the tour guide told us a lot about the house and about Hemingway.  Among my favorite rooms were his studio above the old carriage house and the art deco bathroom in the upstairs of the house.  
The Hemingway study with the original typewriter where Hemingway wrote many of his famous works.
Art deco tile on the floor of an upstairs bathroom.  I love this tile.

Hemingway lived in this house with his second wife, Pauline, from 1931 to 1940 when he moved to Cuba and married Martha Gellhorn.  Pauline and the their two sons lived there until Pauline died in 1951.

Frankly, I wouldn't mind returning to the Hemingway House & Museum for another visit there was so much to absorb.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fats the Cat at Hemingway House in Key West

Fats Waller, a polydactyl (six-toed) cat.
Hemingway was quite fond of cats, particularly ones that were polydactyl (having six toes), and at the Hemingway house there are still 50 or so cats, likely descendents of the ones Hemingway had, and many there now are polydactyl. Instead of the normal five front toes on the paw, there is a sixth toe that makes the paw look as if it is a "mitten".

As we toured the Hemingway House in Key West recently I was particularly taken with the cats, being a cat lover myself.  Apparently they never leave the confines of the Hemingway House property, but with the perks they get they are smart to refrain from roaming.  There's even a vet that checks in regularly to care for the cats. 

Hemingway named his cats for famous people and the tradition continues. The one that followed along on our tour of the house has the moniker Fats Waller.  The cats are not shy and never seemed to be spooked by crowds of people. 
Fats Waller enjoying the tour.
Patrick and Fats Waller.
Fats Waller on Hemingway bed.

Liz Taylor.
And here's Liz  Taylor lounging on the living room sofa.

Indeed the cats at the Hemingway House have a very comfy life.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lunch at Sloppy Joe's in Key West, Florida

We were in Key West yesterday and had lunch at the famous Sloppy Joe's Cafe.  Which reminded me of the old 1954s song Smokey Joe's Cafe.

This was a favorite of Hemingway and where he met Martha Gellhorn.

After lots of delicious seafood over the last few days, we decided to try the Sloppy Joe and it was good.
This is the location of  the original Sloppy Joe's.
I'll post other things we did in Key West later.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Paella at a Cuban Restaurant

Fernandez the Bull Cafe in Naples gave us an opportunity to try Cuban cuisine for the first time, and Patrick and Dan both pronounced their paella the best meal they have had on the trip so far.  I had a sample of theirs, and it was good.  I selected  the restaurant's famous sandwich, which turned out to be a lot like barbecue with cheese but without the sauce and slaw.
Patrick trying to locate the Bay of Pigs on the Cuban map while waiting for dinner. He's always been fascinated with maps even as a kid.  He should have been a cartographer.
Pat ready to eat.

Seafood paella.
It was fun trying a new cuisine.  They had no Key lime pie, so we shared flan, a traditional Cuban dessert. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Key Lime Pies in Florida

Key Limes (Photo from lookimadethat.com.)
Key limes are small, somewhat larger than a walnut, oval in shape with a thin yellowish rind.  They are aromatic and very juicy, with a stronger and more acidic flavor than Persian limes.

We really like Key lime pie, but in Raleigh it is difficult to find Key limes, and most of us use ordinary limes for making  Key lime pies.  I don't like to use the bottled Key lime juice, because it seems to make the pie too acidic. 

Now that we are in Southern Florida we hope to get the pie made with REAL key limes. We are trying Key lime pie as a dessert each time we have the opportunity.  The three of us share one piece of pie.
Key lime pie we shared in Fort Lauderdale.

Key limes were cultivated for thousands of years in the Indo-Malayan region, and this variety has long been treasured for its fruit and decorative foliage.

Key lime pie in Naples.
Columbus is credited with bringing the Key lime to Hispaniola (now known as Haiti), where it was carried on by Spanish settlers to Florida.

It flourished in South Florida, particularly the Florida Keys, hence the current common name of Key lime. Due to hurricane-depleted soils, locals switched from pineapple commercial crops to limes in 1906, and business boomed until a hurricane  wiped out the lime groves, never to be restored. Today, most Key limes come from Mexico

 Here's now to make a quick and easy  Key Lime Pie.

I noticed that Key limes are available in the grocery stores down here, and I plan to take some home, but I will wait until we are actually in the Keys later in the week.  And I can't wait to try the Key lime pie down in the Keys.  Of course, I like Key lime pie anywhere.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Water Taxi in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Dan says that to him Fort Lauderdale is a cross between Las Vegas and Venice, Italy, and today we explored the "Venice" aspect of it. I might add that Dan likes Venice.   A cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway in the Water Taxi with the possibility of hopping on and off with our day tickets provided several hours of nice scenery, pleasant weather and good food. 
The Water Taxi.
Lots of highrises.

Beautiful homes.
Patrick enjoying the cruise.
Broiled red snapper for lunch.at the Bahia Cabana.

Key lime pie for dessert.
Pat with this "handsome dude". He almost looks real.
Lots of really big yachts.
Dan waiting for the Water Taxi as we headed back to our hotel.
Tomorrow we head for Naples and the west coast of Florida crossing over the Everglades which I've never seen.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Learning to Use My IPhone as a Camera

My new IPhone.

I usually have my camera with me, but recently there have been a few times when I didn't so I tried to capture some pics with my new IPhone.  These are some of the first ones I've made with it. 
Briggs, the grandchildren's cat, jumps up on their fridge.
Granddaughter Grace amused at Briggs, the cat.
Briggs is down off the fridge and Grace is happy.
My grandson Zach, number 20, being introduced at the beginning of the game the other night.
Baby squirrel in tree (largest lower left branch--brownish).   
Wall of living plants in Cameron Village. 
Greenscape designs and plants these living walls.
Another living wall in Cameron Village.

 It's hard to ignore these living walls too.

Not as good as a camera, but pretty good for a phone.  At least I always have my phone with me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sweet Potato Crostini with Goat Cheese and Grape Salsa

Sweet potato crostini.

Once a month the Cameron Village Library sponsors a Cookbook Book Club* and this month those attending took a dish containing potatoes---any kind of potatoes.  I chose this easy and tasty appetizer using frozen waffle-cut sweet potato fries. In this case, instead of toasted bread crostini I am garnishing toasted sweet potato fries. The recipe is from Southern Living October 2012.

Waffle-cut sweet potato fries.

20 large frozen waffle-cut sweet potato fries 
2 tablespoons red pepper jelly 
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice  
1 cup quartered seedless red grapes 
1/4 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper  
2 tablespoons finely diced green onions 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro 
1 (4-oz.) package crumbled goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Bake potatoes in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet 12 minutes; turn potatoes, and bake 5 to 7 more minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.
Bake sweet potato fries.
Cool on a rack.
 2. Meanwhile, whisk together pepper jelly and lime juice in a small bowl; stir in grapes and next 3 ingredients.

Lime juice and red pepper jelly.
Add grapes, yellow pepper, and onions.
3. Arrange potatoes on a serving platter; sprinkle with goat cheese. Garnish with grape salsa, using a slotted spoon. Serve immediately.
Ready to enjoy.
The combination of flavors is wonderful and these provide healthful appetizers.

* I had to miss the book club meeting, because I had forgotten that one my grandchildren was playing basketball at the same time, and I chose the basketball game.  But my family enjoyed these appetizers, and I think you would like them too.