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Archive | Spring 2014

Basic Almond Mylk


Makes 3½ cups


1 cup whole almonds, preferably raw or steam pasteurized
3½ cups filtered water


To prepare almonds, place in a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight. Drain water and rinse before using. Place soaked almonds in a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix.

Add 3½ cups filtered water and blend on high until completely smooth, about 1 minute.

Slowly pour mixture into a nut milk bag set over a large bowl. Squeeze bottom of bag to extract mylk. (Do not discard almond pulp, freeze to use later for baking or making smoothies.) Transfer mylk to a glass jar and refrigerate. Shake well before drinking. Best served very cold.

NOTE: I highly recommend purchasing a nut milk bag, it makes the process of homemade mylks much easier. A variety of choices can be found online.

Where to Buy:

Not ready to commit to homemade mylk-making but still want to see what all the fuss is about? Not to worry, Sarafresh Juice ( and CROP ( both offer their own unique versions of fresh and additive-free almond mylks for purchase. Be prepared to be addicted.

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Asian Citrus Psyllid



An insect that you can barely see on your fingertip has forced Tim Brown, owner of Sarasota’s Brown’s Grove Citrus & Produce, to completely rethink his business.

Because of the Asian citrus psyllid and the citrus greening that it has caused, Brown, whose family has farmed for nearly 100 years, no longer sells citrus wholesale to large companies. He simply doesn’t have the excess fruit.

He reluctantly had to raise the price of the citrus that he sells at his roadside stand in Parrish and to customers at area farmers’ markets. His production costs have at least doubled, and he’s stopped selling citrus trees to the public.

You can hear the frustration in Brown’s voice when he talks about what citrus greening has forced his farm to do. “It’s been a tough couple of years,” he says.

Photo by Peter Acker


Clockwise: Tim Brown and son Travis, Brown’s Grove
harvesting freshly picked oranges; Dean Mixon,
Mixon Fruit Farm; A lopsided orange, an affect of
citrus greening.

Brown’s not the only one facing tough times. Citrus growers around the Sunshine State—who collectively provided 65% of the nation’s citrus in 2012—have been hit hard in the last five years by the bacterial disease called citrus greening, also known as Huanglongbing or HLB. Citrus greening was first identified in the United States in South Florida in 2005, but it’s now found in the 30+ counties of Florida that produce citrus, including Manatee and Sarasota, according to Denise Feiber, public information director for the plant industry division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It’s also found in other citrus-growing states around the country.

The insect that carries the bacteria that causes citrus greening spreads the disease as it feeds on citrus leaves and stems. In turn, the affected trees produce lopsided or bitter fruit, fruit that stays green even when ripe, and yellow blotchy leaves. Growers don’t know their tree is infected until a couple of years after an attack.

Within Florida, citrus greening has caused about $4.5 billion in economic damage and has affected about 8,200 jobs, says Andrew Meadows of Florida Citrus Mutual, a Lakeland- based trade group that represents the citrus industry.

Greening also has led to a dramatic decline in the state’s citrus production over the past two to three years, says David Steele, director of public relations for the Florida Department of Citrus in Bartow. This year’s production is expected to slump to 115 million boxes, compared with 133 million boxes in the 2012–13 seasons and a recent high of 242 million boxes in the 2003¬–04 seasons. “In the past few seasons and the foreseeable future, HLB is the leading culprit,” says Steele. “All of the state’s citrus-producing regions have been profoundly affected.” Brown’s Grove has taken a hit because of the high production costs now associated with citrus growing. Those extra costs go toward buying more trees—a tree’s life is now 10 years or so compared with 30 to 50 years, said Brown. Brown also spends more money on fertilization and nutritional sprays to try to combat HLB.

Because his citrus production decreased, Brown could no longer wholesale his fruit as he simply has not had the excess.

Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton has had a similar experience. “You get a load of fruit and 25% of it you just have to throw away—and you’re paying for it,” says Janet Mixon, who operates the farm with her husband, Dean Mixon.

At your average citrus grove, production costs have skyrocketed from an average of $500 an acre to as high as $2,000 an acre, much of it going toward expensive pesticides and plant nutrition, says Meadows. There are also increased labor costs; because of Mixon’s location, they’ve had to do some spraying in the middle of the night when local businesses and schools were closed. That meant some employees had to return to spray in the wee hours.

The challenges of citrus greening have prompted some growers to exit the business entirely—something that Brown does not want or plan to do. “This is something we love, and we hope the future looks brighter,” he said.

Still, battling greening will require immediate solutions, says Mixon. “If we don’t get help, in two years there won’t be any orange groves in Florida,” she says.


Sam Mixon, production manager
and Jay Ellis, plant manager showing
examples of citrus greening.


As Mixon alluded, citrus growers cannot battle HLB on their own—and they need solutions fast. There are research dollars currently invested into finding cures for citrus greening, including $8 million at the state level and $21 million from the federal government appropriated this year, said Steele.

The 2014 Agricultural Act—commonly known as the Farm Bill—has allotted $125 million spread out over the next five years to help find a citrus greening solution. However, funding needs to reach growers sooner rather than later, says Mixon. The Mixon family visited Tallahassee in March to discuss the need for citrus greening dollars to reach growers directly.

Finding an overarching cure for citrus greening may not produce an immediate “magic bullet,” although it may result in disease eradication or more resistant trees, says Steele. There’s also research underway to help restore or sustain the productivity of existing and infected trees, says Steele.

The state’s agriculture department is working closely with industry, the University of Florida, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop and implement Citrus Health Management Areas, where growers are encouraged to take part in timed pest-control measures to achieve area-wide control of the psyllid, says Feiber.

The department is also involved with biological control facilities to produce higher volumes of an insect called the Tamarixia radiata, which attacks the Asian citrus psyllid.

There are also efforts underway to release wasps in areas where psyllid counts are particularly high. “Tiny wasps that parasitize Asian citrus psyllids but do not harm other plants or humans are being reared,” says Feiber. A number of farms, including Mixon Fruit Farms, are trying nutritional sprays that could benefit their trees. Mixon says she and her husband feel positive about their current use of a spray that gives energy to the tree and kills the psyllid. They are still fertilizing trees but not using other pesticides. Mixon is hopeful. “Right now, it’s our only option,” she says.

How consumers can help So just what should citrus lovers do to help in the fight against citrus greening? First, you don’t need to worry about the quality of the fruit you’re eating, says Brown. Greening often prevents fruit from ripening so the actual fruit you eat won’t have greening problems. Plus, growers are always checking to make sure the fruit they use and sell is of top quality.

Next, if you enjoy a glass of orange juice, support brands that use Florida-grown oranges, Steele suggests. “We want consumers here and around the world to continue their longtime love affair with Florida citrus,” he says.

Brown steers customers away from buying citrus trees right now because of the greening problems. However, down the line nutritional sprays like the one used at … Read More

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Your Guide to Community Farmers’ Markets

He who plants a garden
plants happiness


Bradenton Farmers’ Market
Old Main St (12th St W)
Saturday 9am–2pm

Bridge Street Market
Historic Bridge St
Bradenton Beach
Sunday 10am–3pm


Ellenton Farmers’ Market
6750 US 301(Rocky Bluff Library)
Saturday 9am–2pm
Year Round


Englewood Farmers’ Market
Historic Dearborn St
Thursday 9am–2pm


North Port Farmers’/Craft Market
14942 Tamiami Tr
Saturday 8am–2pm
Year Round


Punta Gorda Farmers’ Market
Taylor St
Saturday 8am–1pm
Year Round


Central Sarasota Farmers’ Market
4748 S Beneva Rd
Saturday 8am- 1pm
Year Round

Old Miakka Farmers’ Market
Old Miakka Schoolhouse
15800 Wilson Rd
Saturday 10am-3pm
Year Round

Phillippi Farmhouse Market
Phillippi Estate Park
Wednesday 9am–2pm

Sarasota Farmers’ Market
Main St & Lemon Ave
Saturday 7am–1pm
Year Round

Siesta Key Farmers’ Market
5124 Ocean Blvd
Sunday 8am–2pm
Year Round


Venice Farmers’ Market
Nokomis & Tampa Ave.
Saturday 8am–12pm
Year Round

*Farmers’ Market hours vary from season-to-season. Check market websites for more information

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12 Kitchen Essentials for Cooking Today


The Modern Pantry is an edible collection of 12 essential kitchen staples for today’s modern, home cook. You know, those versatile ingredients you should always have on hand to whip up a spectacular dish for you, your family, or that unexpected guest that stops by. Some of our picks are tried and true: garlic, for example. Others, like miso, might be surprising. We have created recipes using each that prove there’s never been a better time to stay home and cook.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Fresh Herbs

“Even just a few spices or ethnic
condiments that you can keep in your
pantry can turn your mundane
dishes into a culinary masterpiece.”
Marcus Samuelsson


San Marzano Tomatoes
Sea Salt
Dried Pasta


Pork Chops with Pickled Peaches

Watermelon with Honey & Elderflower

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Batter Up

Location at Circus City Architectural Salvage
Hair and make-up provided by Cutting Loose Salon: Kasey Gaskill and Vicky Collins


We’ve come a long way
since Julia Child was the
only female in her culinary
school classes. These edible
entrepreneurs are proving
that a women’s real place in
the kitchen is to be in charge.
These edible entrepreneurs
are rolling up their sleeves,
rolling out the dough, and
serving up the sweet smell
of success.

Canopy Road Market

Cami Gable has lived in Sarasota for 30 years and operates her gourmet cheesecake company out of the Sarasota Culinary Kitchen. When Cami tried cheesecake for the first time as an adult, her desire to replicate that ecstatic gustatory pleasure caused her to seek out a simple cheesecake recipe and begin experimenting.

Edible: What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Cami: “Do what you love, have fun, and put your family first!”

Canopy Road Market:

The Lollicake Queen

Sisters are doing it for themselves at The Lollicake Queen: Sarasota’s (and the world’s) premier cake pop shop. Erin’s background as an investment advisor and Amy’s career as landscape architect in no way hinted at the success that these two women would find when they combined their formidable forces in order to follow their dreams.

Edible: What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Erin: “Follow your passion, choose an authentic direction, invest yourself entirely, find a way to incorporate your family.”

Amy: “Don’t be afraid to make it up as you go along, trust your mistakes, people will always tell you no—try to be the first, best, and only whenever possible.”

The Lollicake Queen:
1821 Hillview St, Sarasota;

DeeZiner Cakes and Pastries

Dee Baker’s 30-year career in pathology led her to a job in Sarasota but she longed to indulge her passion for baking and decorating cakes. For the past 4½ years Dee has been following her dreams and, when she is in her shop alone, baking pies from scratch, she remembers doing the same thing with her grandmother so many years ago on a farm in Southern Illinois.

Edible: What is your advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Dee: “Make sure that you love it before you go into it because the money won’t always be there to keep you going.”

DeeZiner Cakes and Pastries:
773 US 41 Bypass S, Venice;

The Cake Zone

Alla Levin was already a pastry chef and sugar artist at the age of 18 when she decided to translate her flair for decorating into a career in fashion, designing hats and accessories. After moving to Florida in 2000 she began making cakes for friends as a hobby but her over-thetop, outrageous, celebrity-style cakes soon set her on a lucrative new career path.

Edible: What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Alla: “Follow your dreams no matter how old you are, listen to your gods and let it flow.”

The Cake Zone:
5015 Fort Hamer Rd, Parrish;


Heavenly Cupcakes

Becky Shultes comes from a family of entrepreneurs and she approaches her life and business with the same enthusiasm that her customers approach her cupcakes. Becky caters to every kind of sweet tooth from the decadent to the health-conscious—Paleo cupcakes, anyone? Bet you can’t eat just one.

Edible: What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Becky: “Go for what you’re passionate about no matter what, believe in what you’re doing, and you will be successful.”

Heavenly Cupcakes:
6538 Gateway Ave, Sarasota;

Pastries by Design

Sandi Byers managed a pastry shop in Buffalo, NY, whilst completing her accounting degree, then spent 13 years as a corporate accountant. Last year she bought Pastries by Design and she hasn’t looked back. Sandi draws inspiration from customer suggestions and exotic flavors such as Thai Tea Cake and Passion Fruit Mango can always be found alongside the chocolate and vanilla.

Edible: What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Sandi: “Be ready to work hard and stick with it and it will all be worth it in the end.”

Pastries by Design:
10667 Boardwalk Lp, Lakewood Ranch;

Sift Bakehouse

Christine Nordstrom has a culinary pedigree that rivals that of a chef on a TV cooking show, with celebrity mentors and an impressive culinary education from Johnson & Wales, but she fell into making pastries almost by accident and now finds herself making hundreds of perfectly addictive scones and other confections every day for farmers’ markets and high-end events.

Edible: What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Christine: “Think about yourself, create your own life, respect your kids, build your business around the life that you want to have.”

Sift Bakehouse:

The Short Giraffe Mini Confections and Catering

Bradenton native Leigh Growney considers Sarasota to be the “big city” that she moved to after high school. Even though Leigh is not a formally trained baker, the cakes she made for friends were so well received and in such high demand that the people around Leigh began to take notice and recognize that perhaps her passion and talent would be better spent concentrating on her “hobby” rather than her chosen career of high school social studies teacher.

Edible: What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Leigh: “Don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to make the jump, lean on your support system, and go for it!”

The Short Giraffe Mini Confections and Catering:
1412 State St, Sarasota;

Cupcakes a Go-Go

Lorrie Amodio was a kindergarten teacher from Connecticut with a degree in fine art and a secret passion for decorating cakes when a high school friend, Sheree Origi, suggested that she move to Florida so that they could start a business together. Six years and multiple awards later the friends are still going strong.

Edible: What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Lorrie: “Go to business school and get as much hands-on experience as you can.”

Cupcakes a Go-Go:
2079 Siesta Dr, Sarasota;


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Readers’ Choice


Five lauded culinary leaders are the recipients of this year’s Local Hero Awards—farmers, chefs, artisans, shop owners, and humanitarians who are uplifting the Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte food economy. You, our beloved readers, voted online for your favorite winning quintet, and here they are. Our deepest congratulations to everyone!

Photo by Peter Acker


Tiffany Bispham Bailey

A sought-after staple at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market and the Sarasota Farmers’ Market, Honeyside Farms grows and peddles fresh, local produce. Fourth-generation farmer and former University of Florida agriculture student Tiffany Bispham Bailey is behind the operation, along with her father, Jack Bispham. The U-pick strawberries are among the most popular items at the Sarasota farm, and various restaurants (including Gecko’s Grill and Pub, S’macks Burgers and Shakes, and Madfish Grill) carry Honeyside’s fruits and vegetables. The farm cultivates crops using nontoxic bio-rational pesticides and is committed to general eco-friendly practices. “It’s very humbling to be recognized for what we do. I didn’t even know that many people in the community knew us,” Bispham Bailey says. “I’m from here, my family’s from here, and I want to raise my family here, so it’s important to me to have a sustainable business for my family.”

Honeyside Farms:
7850 Ibis St, Sarasota;

Top Left: Photo by Cat Pennenga; Top Right: Photo by Kathryn Brass-Piper
Bottom Right: Photo by Kathryn Brass-Piper


Kristine Insalaco-Gaioni and Fabio Gaioni

Sarasota’s Sapore della Vita gained national attention in January at the 2014 Good Food Awards, which recognized 130 socially responsible, sustainable food and drink producers from across the United States. The company’s Lick My Spoon Caramel Sauce—a small-batch, decadent spread made with organic Madagascar vanilla beans and local cream from Dakin Dairy Farms—was among the winners in the confections category. Owners Kristine Insalaco-Gaioni and Fabio Gaioni, who launched the business in 2009, were thrilled not only to garner such widespread acclaim but also to bring a spotlight to Sarasota. They are purveyors of organic olive oils, aged vinegars, honey creams, and other Italian delicacies, and they distribute their products to gourmet retail shops and high-end restaurants throughout Florida. “Winning a national award and turning around two months later to win Edible’s award was a major accomplishment,” Kristine Insalaco-Gaioni says. “It makes us proud that, locally and nationally, our company is recognized for providing well-sourced, high-quality foods.”

Sapore della Vita:
941- 914-4256;


Henry Detwiler Sr.

One of the main go-to grocery stores for shoppers committed to all-natural, local, humanely grown foods is Detwiler’s Farm Market. With locations in Sarasota and Venice, Detwiler’s is committed to stocking its shelves with fresh produce, proteins, and dairy items daily. Owner Henry Detwiler Sr.—who grew up on an eight-acre farm in Vernfield, Penn.—has been planting since childhood, and his family’s passion is evident in the Detwiler’s inventory. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, fruit preserves, deli meats, Amish cheeses, bulk organic grains, cage-free eggs, and clean seafood offerings are among the market’s most popular products. “Every day I go into the market I try to do the best I can, and it’s in my heart to bring the best to everybody for less,” Detwiler says. “I always try to accomplish that.”

Detwiler’s Farm Market:
6000 Palmer Blvd, Sarasota;
1250 U.S. Highway 41 Bypass, Venice;


Sean Murphy

Before restaurateur Sean Murphy opened his trio of Eat Here eateries (in downtown Sarasota and on Siesta Key and Anna Maria Island), he was a pioneer of fresh food with integrity at his award-winning Beach Bistro. The latter has been setting the standard for nearly three decades but the “Gulf Coast cookery-style” Eat Here is quickly catching up, namely with its American-sourced and wild-caught seafood. Sustainable ingredients are expected at the Bistro, which is one of ZAGAT’s “Top Restaurants in America,” and Eat Here, which has been recognized in Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon Awards. Even the décor has an eco-conscious slant, with a rolling fountain-side bar at the downtown Eat Here, created from salvaged wood by local artisan Mark Nodeen of 390 Design. “We’ve always been committed to local ingredients and championing the idea that patrons should know where their food comes from and the story behind it,” Murphy says.

Beach Bistro:
6600 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach;

Eat Here:
1888 Main St, Sarasota;
240 Avenida Madera, Sarasota;
5315 Gulf
Dr, Holmes Beach;


Joan Marie Condon

Children’s Garden is a wondrous play space in Sarasota where youngsters and adults reconnect with their imaginations. Joan Marie Condon’s family helped create the locale, taking recycled materials such as colorful glass bottles and tires and turning them into lookout towers and climbing walls. Inside the open-air property is a Wonderland, a Monster Garden, a Hobbit Ville, a Flamingo Road, a Rain Forest, and a Butterfly Garden. Little ones play dress-up, steer pirate ships, and host tea parties. The Children’s Garden also holds annual fundraisers for organizations such as All Faiths Food Bank, the Humane Society of Sarasota County, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “Our humble roots began 13 years ago when we created a green space for kids to play, imagine, and make-believe. Over the years, we’ve incorporated gardening, nature, and art programs to help kids stay connected to nature,” Condon says. “We hope teaching the magic of planting a seed turns into a lifetime of a thousand seeds.”

Sarasota Children’s Garden:
1670 10th Way, Sarasota;

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Three Suns Ranch



On a 5,700-acre property off State Road 31 in Punta Gorda sits Florida’s only large-scale producer of bison: Three Suns Ranch.

Here, Army veteran Keith Mann handles the administrative operations that come with raising more than 2,000 grass-fed, hormone-free bison and processing clean, local meat. With the support of private investors, eight employees and his loving family, Mann is raising the bar for sustainable ranching in the Sunshine State.

“My family and I really wanted to do something like this. There were good cowboys on the ranch already when we found it [it had been a beef cattle ranch for decades] and I knew where I wanted to go with it,” says Mann, whose family includes his wife, Caitlin, and their three sons: Cavan, 7; Pierson, 5; and Gadsden, 2. “I knew it would be a good opportunity for me to have a more family-oriented career and life.”

In the summer of 2012—after relocating from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Sarasota the year prior—Mann saw his family’s dream begin to materialize. Serendipitously, thousands of bison were becoming available due to a drought in the Midwest, and ranchers were looking to sell just as Mann was ready to buy.



Jaime Dowdell, retail sales
manager; Kieth Mann in
the field with his bison.

“We started shopping for bison. The next thing we knew, we got more than a couple thousand animals in six months,” Mann says. “But there has been a lot of effort and sleepless nights since then. The biggest challenge is trying to get a bison adapted to Southwest Florida. I was less successful than I wanted to be for the first year, but it takes time.” Even with the initial obstacles, Mann knew the financial potential for raising and processing bison, especially in a southern state. Mann’s wife, an amateur Paleo cook, had been preparing the flavorful meat for years because it has more protein and nutrients but fewer fat and calories than standard beef.

The demand for bison exists. The next step is to create the supply. “We are harvesting and processing about two animals a week, probably pulling out 500 to 700 pounds a week,” Mann says. “If the herd goes as planned, I’ll have three dozen animals for processing and sales a week. I have to turn down restaurants and individuals right now. I need almost three years to get a bison ready for harvest, so it’s a matter of time.”

Now, two pounds of ground bison costs $20 and sirloin steaks are $14 per pound, and they can be purchased directly at the ranch. Mann’s biggest restaurant customers are Gecko’s Grill and Pub, and S’macks Burgers and Shakes, and Three Suns’ bison is on the menu at these Sarasota- Manatee locales.

Onsite at the ranch is a USDA-inspected slaughter and meat processing facility, which is under the umbrella of Three Suns’ sister company, Real Meats. This allows animals to be raised, managed, processed, and sold right at the same property, which Mann describes as “the ultimate in accountable food production.”

“The meat business is a critical part of what we’re trying to do. Real Meats is all about processing and packaging local animals for local ranchers. I can do beef, goats, etc., and farmers can bring them right to me,” Mann says. “Right now, the only option these ranchers have is to take the meat to a market and pay the market price. There’s more money in it for the rancher by coming to my ranch. There’s also more incentive to keep the meat local.”

Because Mann’s bison are allowed to roam in the grass without drugs or chemicals, patrons can rest assured that Three Suns’ products are always safe, he says.

“My longtime goal is to start a revolution in Southwest Florida,” Mann says about his ranching and processing strategy. “There’s room for disruption in the current system. I think it could be much better.” Mann intends to elevate the standards, which is no easy feat, but he will at least be working toward that goal while living a life he craved for so long. He resides in Sarasota with his family and no longer has to worry about deployment.

“When I was in the Army, I spent so much time away from my sons and my wife,” Mann says. “Now I work long hours but it’s much easier being on the same continent, and being my own boss is much better than taking orders. My boys like to come to the ranch and go camping and fishing. My whole universe revolves around my family and I’m happy to be with them.”

Three Suns Ranch:
2351 State Rd 31, Punta Gorda;


Bison Bacon Chili

Bison Flank Steak

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Fresh, Simple, Seasonal



I’ve been called an overachiever many a time in my life. What can I say? I’m driven.

So it’s really no surprise that, when it comes to my garden, the overachievers steal my heart every time! Those golden currant tomatoes that produced like crazy all summer long, despite neglect and never-ending rain … I loved them. The collard plants that thrived last fall in the raised bed of death where nothing else will grow … they both wooed and awed me. And then there are the backyard banana trees, unashamedly and continuously bearing bunches of fruit- such sweet loves are they.

I’ve been cultivating love affairs with a few herbaceous types lately too. With their bold flavors, heady aromas, and medicinal properties, all herbs are really quite enchanting. But a few perpetually producing, self-sufficient, flavor-popping superstars are vying for my adoration. These ambitious, Florida-friendly herbs effortlessly make the transition from garden to kitchen—so I think they might win your affection too!



In the Garden: Voted as a Florida Garden Select choice by the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association in 2006, African blue basil gained my devotion after I brought home a small plant from the ECHO global farm in Fort Myers. (Pick one up closer to home at the Florida Native Plants Nursery). The little start quickly left my sweet basil in the dust: African blue basil can grow into a bush that’s four feet around! Plus, it’s a lot less needy—you never have to pinch off the flowers, as it will never go to seed and die. African blue basil offers a lot to admire: It’s drought-tolerant, it grows year-round here (protected from frost), and it produces lovely, fragrant green and purple leaves, as well as a pretty lavender-pink flower that attracts all kinds of bees.

In the Kitchen: African blue basil is endearing in the kitchen too. Its leaves, flowers, and stems are all edible and have an earthy, clove-like flavor. Use the leaves to enhance and garnish soups, salads, and roasted veggies, or swap it in place of traditional basil in recipes. Try floating the blossoms in lemonade, ginger ale, and champagne, or sprinkle them on strawberry ice cream. I’ve become especially fond of using African blue basil in pesto, where I incorporate both the leaves and blossoms, along with dried lavender buds, for a subtle floral flavor.



In the Garden: I was first attracted to lemongrass by its impressively quick growth and dramatic size. After planting a small start in the spring, I had lemongrass taller than me by the end of the summer (it grows slower in cooler months). However, this super-sized tropical herb (up to six feet tall and three feet wide) is enamoring in more ways than one: It will grow year-round through warm winters, it does double-duty as an ornamental grass, and it is naturally pest-resistant— in fact, it’s often grown specifically to repel mosquitoes from outdoor living spaces.

In the Kitchen: I’m still flirting with lemongrass in the kitchen. The entire plant can be used for cooking, adding a zesty, lemony flavor and aroma to a variety of dishes. Lemongrass stalks can be crushed and placed in the bottom of foil wrappings with meat or vegetables; tucked in the cavity of a whole chicken before roasting; simmered in soups and sauces; and chopped and added to stir-fries. This multifaceted herb is good for you, too: It’s high in antioxidants, it acts as a diuretic, it relieves gas and stomach discomfort, and it is antimicrobial and antifungal. I’ve taken to simmering lemongrass leaves and stalks in water, with fresh ginger, to make a refreshing, lemony tea.



In the Garden: I’m also smitten with the hardy and flavorful garlic chive. This herb is distinguished from the more common onion chive by its leaves, which are wider, flatter, and more grass-like (vs. skinny and hollow). Garlic chives are eager to impress: They grow twice as large as common chives, they remain evergreen through our warm winters, they are drought-tolerant, and they even self-expand, producing new “clumps” that can be divided from the main plant. Once established, garlic chive plants produce clusters of edible white flowers in mid to late summer.

In the Kitchen: Garlic chives are equally appealing in the kitchen. I fancy them chopped and added to salads, soups, baked potatoes, sautéed veggies, and especially scrambled eggs. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this herb (or any herb, for that matter) is mixed into butter that can be spread, drizzled, or dolloped … onto crusty bread, seared meat, root vegetables, whatever! Garlic chive butter is good enough to eat plain, so to offset the guilt of excessive butter consumption, consider the medicinal properties of this hardworking herb: It helps improve digestion, it has a diuretic effect, and it helps promote blood circulation


Garlic Chive Compound Butter

Fresh Lemongrass and Ginger Tea

African Blue Basil and Lavender Pesto

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Aloe Organics

Kay Hall and daughter Allison “Aloe” Hall Nelson


Allison Hall Nelson died March 7, 2012, before the first seeds of her legacy were sown. But the memory of the young woman—described as funny, feisty, and full of life—will live on for generations through the vegetables growing at Aloe Organics.

At just 28, Allison—or “Aloe,” as she was called by her husband, David—was faced with a shocking diagnosis: Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Less than three years later, the disease claimed her life.

Until her diagnosis, other than a persistent cough, the active fourth-generation attorney seemed healthy. Like many women her age, prior to her diagnosis Allison was not focused on nutrition. But her doctors stressed its importance on her quality of life and possibly her prognosis, so Allison made changes, following a list of recommended foods, cooking and experimenting with new veggies. “Allison said she realized that she had the biggest fight of her life coming and knew she needed to make a change,” says Katie Rauch, one of Allison’s high school girlfriends.


Clockwise: Welcoming you into Aloe Organics Farm;
Freshly picked organic carrots; Purple cabbage
ready to be harvested; Scott Schroeder washing
kale leaves to be packed and donated.

Allison spoke openly to family of her desire to leave a lasting impression and help others with cancer. Out of these conversations evolved the idea of an organic farm, where the produce grown could be sold and, more importantly, donated to cancer patients. Without hesitation, her family dedicated a portion of its 6,000-acre cattle ranch in Arcadia, and Kay moved quickly to make her daughter’s vision a reality. With no experience or a sense of where to begin, she enlisted the help of organic farmers Chris and Eva Worden of Worden Farm, who, among many other tasks, identified a plot on the ranch nestled between old Florida hammocks. Allison liked the spot they chose.

Other family members jumped in to help. Her sister Emily, the marketing director at an organic farm and food processor in Oregon, took on social media and marketing efforts; younger brother Miles, now a nuclear engineer, was Aloe’s first salesman. On the Wordens’ recommendation, Kay hired Farm Manager Scott Schroeder, who, despite a lack of formal farming experience, had the skills the Halls needed. “When [the Wordens] called, I said ‘But I am not a farmer,’” says Schroeder, “and they said ‘Well, we are and we’ll train you.’”

Aloe Organics is a now thriving six-acre certified organic farm. Schroeder attributes many of the farm’s accomplishments to a greater influence. Although he never met Allison, he says her presence on the farm is strong. “Kay says Allison’s here looking over us, and I agree,” he says, referring to Allison’s mother, Kay Hall. Kay is humble about her dedication to her daughter’s legacy, but she is the driving force keeping Allison’s vision alive.

On the first anniversary of Allison’s death, Kay made the farm’s inaugural donation to the Center for Building Hope in Lakewood Ranch. She does so every Thursday during growing season.


Clockwise: Pete Wood showing off his colorful
boots; Scott holding Tank C in the field;
Freshly picked radishes; Local farm workers
picking the day’s harvest.

“I didn’t really know how [Allison] wanted me to do the donations,” Kay explains. “More than anything in this world, she wanted kids, so it just came to me one day… I needed to give good, healthy produce to children with cancer.” Now, every week, as families of children with cancer fill their bags with Aloe’s produce, Allison’s dream is realized. “Because of the farm and what it does, no one will ever forget her, or her face,” Emily says.

The Center’s Program Director Andrea Feldmar sends a weekly reminder to 35 families about the donation. Because treatment is expensive, she says many families cannot afford organic vegetables on top of the medical expenses they incur. Aloe grants these families the critical opportunity to manage what goes into their bodies. “It’s a mixed blessing,” says Feldmar, “but the knowledge that [Aloe] is helping improve their quality of life, and helping them [control] what they put into their systems, so they can make it to baseball practice or ballet lessons, is huge.”

Any unclaimed produce is offered to Survivors Rock, a support group for women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Anything left after that trickles out to additional Center programs.

Kay and Schroeder estimate they donate about 20% of the farm’s weekly harvest. They aspire to give even more.

To cover operating costs, the rest of Aloe’s weekly harvest is sold to Sarasota restaurants, including Pomona and Simon’s, and groceries, including Detweiler’s Farm Market and Morton’s Market. The farm also fills orders for food service companies like Suncoast Food Services.

Although the farm is still young, it already offers an immense variety of gorgeous produce, and is constantly experimenting in the field. Kay and Schroeder say they’ll continue to expand Aloe’s product and would like to grow custom for local chefs, as well. “The more [Aloe] can sell, the more it can do for the community and the families with kids who have these diseases,” says Rauch.

Family is a recurring theme in the farm’s daily operations. The Aloe Organics team— Kay, Schroeder, Assistant Farm Manager Pete Wood, and two others farmhands—feels much like one itself. “Allison would be so excited to know that it actually happened,” says Emily. “She never thought it would be here today. And to see everything that they’ve done … she would be touched.” Emily is especially proud of her mother.

Kay Hall may not have ever imagined herself a farmer, but watching things grow in her daughter’s name has become her passion. Though she daily faces the tragedy of losing a child, she believes the legacy Allison left with her family for future generations is the greatest gift.

“There is no doubt to any of the family that Allison knows and blesses the farm,” Kay says. “With every beautiful vegetable we pull from the ground, her spirit soars!”

To find out more about our farm and our donation program please contact us at :;


Aloe’s Fresh Farm Grub

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Mike Tozier



It’s 10 p.m. on Saturday at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, with not one empty seat on the patio. Icy platters of SKOB’s famous oysters vanish by the dozen, and glasses clink while bodies sway between the tightly packed tables.

Mike Tozier sits front and center of the band, twanging 12-bar blues on his acoustic guitar, which he’ll later trade for a steel-bellied slide, then for a Fender. He leads the groove through Creedence, swings to the Allman Brothers and into Sublime without missing a beat.

“I’ve had some success here,” a modest Tozier tells me during his coffee break. “I don’t want to sound vain and say people like me, but I’ve worked down here for a while and tried to figure out what people want. Just like in anything: If you’re selling hot dogs and people want hamburgers, then you’re out of business.”

Given that Tozier’s held his standing Saturday night gig at the SKOB for more than 13 years, it’s obvious he both knows his business and loves it passionately. His one hiatus from the SKOB deck came when he left his Tampa home for Nashville to hack it as an original songwriter for a year and a half.

“I almost say it took the wind out of my sails,” Tozier says, recalling how the hit factories of Music City squeezed the life from his songs. “I realized what I had and how nice it was. … You’d have to pay me a lot of money to get on a bus and wake up in a hotel room away from my home and my family.”

SKOB is a family establishment, co-owned by sisters Jill Pedigo, Beth Owen-Cipielewski and Beth’s husband, Keith, and they treat everyone in their restaurant like extended family. Tozier’s SKOB family clearly missed him—when he returned from Nashville, all it took was one phone call to get his job back.

While he splits his gigs between Sarasota and Tampa, Tozier’s ties to Siesta Key have grown into deep roots.

“When I first started playing here, people really took me in,” he says. Oftentimes, near strangers would freely offer him their couches so he wouldn’t have the make the 75-mile drive home after midnight. Tozier says the people he meets while playing at SKOB are worth more than all the earnings dropped into his tip bucket.

“I see people come in with their friends. They party and have a fun time. Then they meet somebody and start coming in with that other person.

“Then they don’t show up for a while—and then they show up, like, two years later with a baby and a ring. I’ve seen a lot of people grow up,” Tozier says.

Mike Tozier:;

Siesta Key Oyster Bar: 5238 Ocean Blvd, Siesta Key; 941-346-5443;

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Morton’s Gourmet Market



Experience is what has been passed down through the generations to Eddie and Todd Morton, father/son owners of Morton’s Gourmet Market—and their tempting store truly offers an experience. Keys to their success include hiring the best people they can, giving their chefs broad creative license, commitment to customer service and a loyal clientele.

Weaving your way through the wide selection of wines, sea of salads, sights of sushi, simmering soups, and breezing past the braised brisket, fresh cuts of filet and aroma of amaretto coffee, the senses are overwhelmed.

“If you can’t find something to fit your palate, I’d be amazed,” Todd Morton said, smiling. Finding something you like is quite simple at a place where at every turn someone sincerely offers a sample.

Reflecting on the history of his time spent at Morton’s Market, Eddie shared how he has the satisfaction of working with his son, Todd, just as he got to work with his father, Ted. In 1952, Ted Morton moved his family from Tampa to Sarasota and began his grocery career at the same Sarasota location on South Osprey Avenue, working for Ed Marable, who owned Marable’s Market, the first full-service independent grocery store.


In 1969, his family bought the business and Morton’s Market became the first place on the West Coast of Florida to carry S. S. Pierce specialty canned foods, shipped out of Boston. In 1971, Morton’s became the first grocery store in the area to have a deli. Then, in 1997, Ted Morton retired and sold his market to Epicurean Life Inc., which added a bakery and coffee shop, expanded kitchen and fine wine store. They also changed the name to Morton’s Gourmet Market, offering specialty items you couldn’t get elsewhere in a chef-driven kitchen.

Meanwhile, in Memphis, Todd was looking to join a management team to move his growing family back to Sarasota. He seized an opportunity with Epicurean Life in 1999. His hospitality administration and business background enabled him to continue the tradition and, in 2007, the next father/son venture was born as he bought back the business with his father.

“I have a partner I can trust,” Todd said candidly about his father. “98% of the time we are on the same page, we have a great relationship and we think alike … our standards and goals are the same.” Voicing consistent appreciation of their employees and co-workers, it was clear how valued employees and customers alike are at Morton’s Market. “We hire the best people we can,” said Eddie, adding that location, commitment to customer service, and the great relationship they have with their neighbors and loyal clientele all attribute to the success of their place.


Intro: Owners Eddie & Todd Morton.
Clockwise: Wally Hoppe, senior floor manager,
displaying one of the many gift baskets sold at
Morton’s; Cutting the cheese; Dave Routenberg,
produce manager, stocking the shelves
with fresh veggies; Grilled onions ready for
the lunch crowd ; Locally grown tomatoes
brighten up the front of the store; Fresh Bread
baked daily in the bakery.

Family continuously plays a role in the success of Morton’s Market as can be seen in Eddie’s younger brother DK, who has shared his expertise for 30 years.

This well-traveled foodie, who heads the cheese department, is hailed as a jack of all trades who has a vast knowledge about anything Morton’s. Todd’s wife, Kristin, can be seen working in customer service, in-house catering, and preparing gift baskets. Asked if he could foresee any of his offspring following in his footsteps, Todd smiled, recalling his kids teasing each other about only liking cheeseburgers and mac ’n’ cheese. “They talk about it sometimes.”

When asked what sets them apart from their competitors, Todd said, “The prepared foods that we have and our staff.” He noted that 35 people work every day in the kitchen alone and stressed the trust they have in their chefs, who create unique specialties depending on their moods or the trends. Kudos were given to Wally Hoppe, the senior floor manager, whom they call “the backbone of our store out front.” He will be celebrating his 30th anniversary with Morton’s this year.

What are the locals’ favorites? According to Todd, the classic chicken salad is “unbelievable” and a top seller. A constant stream of customers hit the hot deli over the lunch hour to get in on another top-selling special: One entrée with choice of two sides for less than $8, with many choices, changing daily.



Top: Adam Lawrence, meat
manager, serving Dennis Rees a
loyal Morton’s customer; Bottom Right: Fresh
red snapper is one of the many
catches of the day; Bottom Left; Rebecca
Moss, florist, displaying freshly cut

“People drive a distance to shop here,” said Eddie smiling, “and some famous people come in off Casey Key to shop here … ”

Eddie also added that they try to support and buy local as much as possible. Besides their produce at local farms such as Honeyside Farm and Jones Farm, Morton’s Gourmet Market also showcases local favorites such as Sirard’s Chocolates and Elle’s pottery for unique gift options.

In addition to supporting local businesses they are major supporters of the Asolo theater and recently sponsored a show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Morton’s supports the local community with proceeds from their annual events benefitting a Culinary Education Fund, with the first $1,000/year scholarship to be awarded this year. Watch for their Wine-Centric Big Cheese Event and Celebration of Brewing Craft Beer Event. Also, Morton’s supports the annual Firehouse Chili Cook-off, which supports the Firefighters Benevolent Fund.

When often asked if he’s nearing his time, Eddie rebukes, “Why should I retire? I love it!” Experience Morton’s Gourmet Market, savor the history, soak up the savvy selections, and partake in the pride of a family market that has stood the test of time.

Morton’s Gourmet Market: 1924 S Osprey Ave, Sarasota; 941-955-9856;

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Some people tell stories with words; Tracie Decker tells them with plants. The owner of A Garden Story creates whimsical handmade arrangements from succulents that are a cool, greener alternative to sending cut flowers. She also sells outdoor accessories, like super-cute garden markers made from upcycled silverware, and will soon sell her original watercolors as well. Visit Decker at the Sarasota Farmers’ Market downtown on Saturdays or email her for custom work including centerpieces at



In 1966, Karl Schoenberger’s father opened a bakery in Colorado. Karl grew up absorbing the tastes and aromas of the bakery and went on to spend three years in Germany learning the art and science of pastry in trade school. Six years ago he relocated the decades-old family business to Sarasota, where he creates delicate pastries for his wholesale customers, designs elaborate wedding cakes, and visits his customers every Saturday at the Sarasota Farmers’ Market downtown with hearty muffins, nut rolls, traditional Bavarian pretzels, and much more. Find out more at



Seven years ago, Mary Arndt started Blissful Essences, a natural bath care company that makes soy candles, bath scrubs, lotions, lip balms, and more. Arndt spends time developing her formulas and layering delectable scents like Lemongrass & Ginger and Fig & Bergamot in her handcrafted products. She credits her customers with being her best source of feedback. You can find her at the Phillippi Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays, the Central Sarasota Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, or online at



Marilyn McLeod started making milk chocolate pecan toffee 40 years ago as a special-occasion gift for family and friends. Three years ago she took her hobby to work and launched Marilyn’s Toffee. Her repertoire now includes four more flavors— dark chocolate with toasted pecans, almond rocha, cappuccino, and white chocolate with macadamia nuts—and though her audience is much bigger, she still handcrafts every batch. Find her at the Bridge Street Market, Bradenton Farmers’ Market, and special festivals around the area, or contact her at 941-761-4959;



As mayor of Holmes Beach, Carmel Monti is used to running a large-scale enterprise. With his business My Garden Products he keeps things much simpler. Monti provides smallspace gardening solutions, selling vertical gardens and garden boxes that allow people without yards to grow their own amazing fresh produce and herbs in a very small space, making gardening accessible to virtually everyone. It’s a lot to be proud of, but Monti is perhaps even more excited about Moringa, a tree that’s been around for thousands of years. He sells both the Moringa tree itself and the powder derived from it, which contains tons of vitamins and nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, and protein. To learn more, visit Monti at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market downtown, or check out



Alex Ionita started Pure Florida Apiary six years ago, but its roots go all the way back to his grandfather and great-grandfather back in Eastern Europe. Ionita’s old-school methods are simple and pure. His artisanal honey isn’t mixed or blended, and it goes straight from the hive to the bottle. Depending on the season, you can purchase orange blossom, saw palmetto, black mangrove, or Brazilian pepper varieties at the Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market. For more info, contact



Last year Seema and Rico Sanchez were making hot sauce in their home kitchen for their own use. Friends and family loved their sauces so much, they decided to start a business. OMG Sanchez started up in October 2013 and they have already been generating some serious buzz with their zingy, flavorful jalapeño-based sauces and spice blends. The Jalapeño Pineapple sauce is particularly popular for its ability to pack a flavorful punch without an overwhelming amount of heat. Pick some up Saturdays at the Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market or Thursdays at the Englewood Farmers’ Market, or visit



JC Stevens began his career as a chef. In a happy accident, his onetime employers at Club Med misclassified him in their system as a baker. It was then he discovered his true passion. He traveled the world honing his craft until he opened JC’s Daily Bread in Jensen Beach ten years ago. He and his personally trained team of bakers craft breads (including rosemary garlic, jalapeño cheddar, and asiago cheese) and pastries (including chocolate croissants, and cheese and guava turnovers), which they wholesale and also sell at farmers’ markets all over the state including the Englewood Farmers’ Market, or visit

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Easy Like Sunday Morning



Stacks of fluffy pancakes. Crisp, smoky bacon. Warm maple syrup. Nothing conjures up comfort quite the same way as breakfast food. Hearty and warm, savory and sweet, there’s something about it that just makes everything, well, better!

For years, Wednesday has been breakfast-for-dinner night in my home. Dedicating one night a week to serving this “first meal” last is a win-win for everyone. The kids consider it a mid-week treat, and it makes meal planning and prepping a bit easier on the cook (that’s me), as well as on the budget.

Most breakfast dishes are fairly simple to make; they can be thrown together quickly (or even in advance) and they often use ingredients already on hand. Have some stale bread? Soak it in eggs and milk overnight for a next-day strata, or whip up some thick slices of cinnamon French toast. Any leftover or extra veggies lurking? Sauté them with potatoes and herbs for a savory hash, or tuck them into an omelet or frittata with some cheese. Add fresh, seasonal fruit to pancakes, or purée it into smoothies to accompany your meal. Breakfast for dinner is full of winning possibilities!

Spring is an ideal season to freshen up your dinner-time routine with some typical morning-time favorites. Serve farm-fresh eggs sunny side up atop a bed of hash made from new potatoes and zucchini, now abundant at local markets. Snip fresh sage and thyme from a flourishing herb garden to mix into homemade turkey sausage patties, kissed by maple syrup. And enjoy local, seasonal blueberries baked atop a fluffy, old-fashioned Dutch Baby pancake, brightened with lemon zest and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Set the table with a pitcher of real maple syrup and creamy, grass-fed butter and watch the smiles spread!






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