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Jenny Wildman - page 2

Jenny Wildman has 39 articles published.

Beyond The Backyard – “Mother, May I?”

in Issue 29 by

In March 2015 alone more than 100,000 visitors flocked to Washington State USA to see the Cherry Blossoms. They fly from around the world and join the feeding frenzy sucking up the sight of these marvelous trees. They marry under the confetti of petals, dancing and reveling in delight, taking shots with their i phones and sharing their joy on Facebook. In Belize there is a blossom that momentarily takes my breath away, as I am stunned by its beauty, every bit as impressive as the cherry blossom but with much more versatility. It has a fairly humble position as it is used mainly as a living fence and nicknamed “quick stick”as it is really that easy to grow in…

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Beyond The Backyard – Fabulous Forest Food

in Featured/Issue 28 by

Twelve species of Chamaedora are reportedly found in the understory beneath the forest canopy of Belize. Three of these have value for cut leaves, the best known being Xate. As usual I search for plants that are edible and nutritious giving us interesting food alternatives. The Chamaedora tepejilote, date palm or Pacaya is an attractive ornamental palm but also produces a vegetable well known to many as chib. The tree thrives in shady locations and usually grows a single trunk reaching as high as twenty feet but there are also clumping varieties. The petiole has a prominent yellow stripe, the tree produces very showy decorative berries and the male and female flowers grow on separate trees. The stems can be…

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Kitchen Companions

in Issue 28 by

I used to think the Chaparro (Curatella americana) tree was a “garbage” tree until I discovered its many uses. Now I keep a jar of its pretty leaves in a vase on my kitchen window sill. It is called Chaparro as it has very rough leaves. It is nicknamed the sandpaper tree; its many uses include polishing metal and wood, arrow heads and the like. I use it to clean pots and pans. The young leaves are soft but grow more abrasive with age. The tree can be used to make charcoal and good for posts as termites do not attack it. Its tannin is used for curing hides. The seeds are edible and can be added as flavour to…

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Beyond the Backyard – Ginger Up Your Flower Beds

in Issue 27 by

The garden of my childhood hosted a multitude of colourful plants: roses, cornflowers, geraniums, gladiolus, sweet williams, lavendar, pansies, violets, phlox et al and my favourites were the sweet smelling ones that had nectar which could be sucked and petals that could be eaten. Today I choose to plant only edibles and steer clear of anything allergenic or potentially poisonous. I was therefore very pleased to find that most gingers fall into this realm. Turmeric, galangal, cardamom – all have beautiful flowers and foliage and have valued culinary uses. When I first encountered Zingibar Zerumbet I was awe-struck and simply had to have some. It was introduced to me as shampoo ginger. The act of squeezing the bulbous head and…

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Beyond The Backyard – Let’s Switch

in Issue 26 by

Switchels, oxymels and shrubs have one thing in common and what I am about to say may leave the soft drink companies groaning. I walk the beach most mornings and every few feet encounter plastic drink bottles galore. I wondered what people used to drink. The switchel, oxytel and shrub were the forerunners to today’s energy drinks, rehydration fluid, soft drinks and concentrates. The switchel, a splendid word that rolls off the tongue and describes an equally refreshing beverage, is made from water, vinegar, sugar and ginger with other ingredients such as oatmeal, lemon, and lime. It is similar to ginger beer in taste and originated in the Caribbean. As early as the 17th century it migrated to the USA…

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Beyond The Backyard – “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside”

in Issue 25 by

People ask me, “What is your favourite thing that grows in your garden?” Without hesitation I say, “Asparagus” which surprises them – that it actually grows here in the tropics. I walk out most mornings and check the patch in hopes of a few delicate shoots to eat, raw and delicious. For me this is the best way and feels very healthy as it is rich in all kinds of nutritious vitamins, A, C, E, B12 and K, plus minerals and antioxidants. It is low in calories with no fat, no cholesterol, and no sodium. First off I always consider what it can do for one’s health. It is a good source of fiber, a natural diuretic, improves mental ability,…

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Beyond The Backyard – Just Kidding

in Issue 24 by

High on the hill was a lonely goat herd..” A very, happy, catchy song that got me wondering why we do not see more goats. It is claimed that goat is one of the most eaten meats in the world yet we hardly ever see one here, let alone find someone who has ever tasted it. We see a lot of those long legged unkempt Barbados black bellies roaming freely in villages and I believe some Dorper in Cayo. Those are sheep and come with a distinct indicator: the tail hangs down. Goats have a perky tail pointing up, unless sick or in distress. Most sheep have wooly fleece although some tropical breeds have hair not wool; goats have hairy…

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Beyond The Backyard – A Grain of Truth

in Issue 23 by

We have become used to the labels fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free, nut free; now gluten freeseems to be the latest trend. On the one hand we realize that the food industry is a business; so selling the idea that you need or suffer from something is inevitable. On the other hand we must consider the fact that incorrect labeling or secret ingredients for some people can become a matter of life and death. At a recent cocktail party two people said they were allergic to shrimp, one to oysters, two to nuts, one is lactose intolerant, one to the polymers of surgical gloves and four out of the ten were on gluten free diets. One may have celiac…

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Beyond the backyard – Tally Me Bananas

in Issue 22 by

Driving into my property the other day I was horrified to see how neglected my banana plants looked: overcrowded, with leaves dead and perhaps even diseased. Earlier on I had passed a newly erected sign just before Riversdale advertising Bunches of Fun Banana Tours 624 4297. Now there is a good idea. So I made an advance booking for a dozen ladies who were somewhat skeptical when I asked if they would like to accompany me. Our guide, Evin, was lively, charming and eager to tell us about the farm and the importance of the banana industry here in southern Belize. We were off to a great start with an informative video outlining banana history. Sagitun Farm is one of…

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Beyond The Backyard – The Money Trees

in Issue 21 by

Aaromas and piquant flavours. The popularity of certain spices can be attributed to the practice of Humoral medicine gleaned from the ancient Greeks who taught that the balance of the major bodily fluids (humors) was the key to human health and emotions. Spices were used to stimulate the senses and it was this belief that fueled the quest for discovery and kept the spice trade booming. During medieval times Muslim traders controlled the maritime routes and, secreting their information, sold their cargoes to the middle men, the merchants of Venice. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire the Ottomans seized and blocked the trade routes, levying huge taxes on all. The Europeans not wanting to be controlled by non-Christians increased…

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