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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Praying Panties & Sparkles the Alligator

Praying mantis

We bought some Praying Mantis egg cases (you can get them from Gardener’s Supply) - one of them finally hatched and we all watched in wonder as hundreds of Praying Panties wiggled their way out of the egg case.

Yes, only my kids would call them Praying Panties and get away with it.

I know you’re going to ask…WHY?!?!? PM’s are beneficial insects and we let them loose in the garden to keep the bad bugs away. Survival of the Fittest at its finest. One of the egg cases hatched last weekend, and Andrew and Nathan had fun releasing them in the garden.

Fill in the blank…
“In my book, ‘Praying Panties’ would refer to ______!”

Can you tell who’s holding the camera????

Andrew certainly has a fondness for stickers. Small, annoying stickers. They are ALL OVER MY HOUSE.

Sparkles the Alligator

Remember I told you about an alligator pond in my backyard? Here’s a baby alligator – we saw him sunbathing yesterday and the boys named him, “Sparkles” because alligators are pretty damn ugly and we just felt that he needed a radiant name. Sparkles the Alligator is about 3 feet long. Scott and I have to be careful watching the kids when we are out back now … where there’s a baby alligator there’s also a protective mama alligator close by. The pond is just 15 yards from my back door, so we’ve got to be really watchful now.

See Sparkles’ peeping above the water? To answer your questions, we don’t ever feed them because if they become too comfortable around humans, and vice versa…that would be bad. Last I checked, an alligator’s’ sharp teeth are more ferocious than my Lee Press-On Nails. Generally, they are scared of humans. Let’s keep it that way!! Crikey, mate, it’s not that we CHOSE to live near an alligator pond…we chose to live near a pond. Just so happens that 1) this is swampish Florida 2) our home was built new 3) alligators weren’t served an eviction notice by the builders.

Actually, most all the homes in our community back up to a man-made pond – we all have a screened in lanai and pool area, it keeps the gators and the annoying pests away. I know it sounds exotic and all, but it’s pretty much the norm here. I’ll have to take a photo for you to show you what I mean.

When we first moved here, we were in awe of all the wildlife in our yard. I mean, we had just moved from downtown SF, where the only wildlife I knew was on the corner of Broadway and Columbus – and they usually wore pleather not fur.

Enjoying the sunset with Sparkles the Alligator…can life be any more beautiful than this?

I’ll title this part . . .“Not Herbs”

And look! My sugar snap peas are popping out!

Gorgeous flowers from the Kalamansi Lime Tree. The tree is covered with flowers and I’m hoping one of you have some good recipes you can send my way! Especially mixed drink recipes. The Kalamansi Limes are about 1.25″ diameter, thin-skinned (actually the skin is pretty sweet and you can eat the thing whole), light orange-ish flesh and a have fresh, puckery-zing. Have you ever tasted a Kalamansi? I also have a Kaffir Lime Tree and a LimeQuat (cross btw lime and a kumquat)



56 Responses to “Praying Panties & Sparkles the Alligator”

  1. Spring has definitely sprung around here, hasn’t it? I wish I wasn’t stuck inside today with a crappy cold!

    My dad always used to plant marigolds amidst the vegetables in his garden. He said that it was a deterrent for bugs. It also made the garden prettier.

    Jaden, please, please, please be careful around those alligators. After living here for over 30 years, I have seen and heard of so many tragedies. During mating season, they will come right up to your door!

  2. Sabine — 2/16/08 @ 3:32 pm

    re. “In my book, ‘Praying Panties’ would refer to ______!”

    the equivilent of a rabbit’s foot for chicks looking to score. ;-)

    jaden, love the pic of sunset with sparkles. awwww.

  3. Dan — 2/16/08 @ 3:46 pm

    Whoa! Check out the hooters on that praying mantis. Insect boobage is “teh hawt.”

    Aside from that, I miss spring.

  4. Melinda — 2/16/08 @ 4:06 pm

    Real alligators in your back garden? I am glad you like having them so close, but I wouldn’t volunteer quickly to put out the rubbish late at night!
    The lime tree is lovely. Does it smell good? Drink recipes…let me see…mmm…gin and tonic with a slice of lime?

  5. LunaPierCook — 2/16/08 @ 4:27 pm

    Isn’t that the title of the movie coming out May 22nd … “Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Praying Panties”?

    So, how long’s it going to be before Sparkles ends up booty-first in a wok?

  6. cindy — 2/16/08 @ 4:32 pm

    we visited florida a few years ago and the gators were fascinating to me! we took one of those tours and saw some very close. they are like little dinosours! too cool! lime is my very favorite flavor! i know i can dig up some lime recipes for you, ESPECIALLY cocktails!

  7. kate — 2/16/08 @ 4:44 pm

    wow … u really live on the wild side girl … love that awesome backyard of yours and of course the garden too, with all the wonderful veggies and herbs.
    the lime tree looks absolutely gorgeous. I want to grow one too and lol i love your captions …boobage covered …:D ,

  8. The Big Guy — 2/16/08 @ 5:47 pm

    Love the backyard dinosaur… We had a 6′ barracuda that lived under our dock when I was a kid… It was always a surprise to see him lurking when we’d go swimming…

    “In my book, ‘Praying Panties’ would refer to the knickers the nuns wore when I was in Catholic School!”

    Where will the uncensored be published? I thought this was Steamy Kitchen?

    ;)

    TBG

  9. Jeff — 2/16/08 @ 6:11 pm

    What’s the font on that censor label? Helvetica Jillian Barberie?

  10. Lalaine — 2/16/08 @ 5:11 pm

    Hi Jade!

    Oh, how I envy your kalamansi tree!!!

    I am from the Philippines and kalamansi is an integral part of our recipes…marinade for bistek (filipino-style beef steak), squeeze on our pancits, arroz caldos, and of course our refreshing kalamansi drink (4 to 1 ratio of and water and kalamansi juice works for me, sweeten with sugar to taste).

    About that alligator, glad I am from LA metro. The only thing I have to worry about sneaking into my backyard are hooded men. Hmmm, come to think of it, I’ll probably be safer with Sparkles.

  11. Tartelette — 2/16/08 @ 7:05 pm

    We have an alligator in the marsh too! The kids named him “Dumba$$”! Not as cute as yours, he’s pretty scrawny looking. Love the tree.
    Re-boobage: I live vicariously through yours…I would have the ise the enhance clivage function if there were one!!

  12. Nicole — 2/16/08 @ 7:33 pm

    You can send sparkles up here to Iowa and he won’t be able to bother anybody. It’s too dang cold! You’re much calmer about the kids being near the water than I ever would be… I probably wouldn’t let my girls step foot in the yard if I knew there was an alligator! Eeks!

  13. JEP — 2/16/08 @ 8:23 pm

    Question: What does Steamy Kitchen feed the alligators? I’m gonna have nightmares tonite after reading this post!

  14. joanne — 2/16/08 @ 8:27 pm

    A few years ago we visited friends in Charleston, and they took us on an early morning boating excursion looking for gaters. We used BK breakfast sandwiches as bait. My son was 5 at the time, and he managed to clock one between the eyes with the sandwich. He was quite proud of himself.

    Living near an alligator pool is pretty brave. I’m happy living near deer, though it does put a hamper on landscaping and veggie gardens.

    Your lime tree looks lovely. I don’t know about drinks with lime in it, but there is always limeade spiked with gin or vodka.

  15. Kitt — 2/16/08 @ 8:59 pm

    “Praying panties” = Classic Mom: “Always wear decent ones in case you get in a car accident.”

    Great photos. What a lovely spot, though I would find the gators quite worrisome.

    The boys look so handsome in their matching shirts. And they always have such tidy haircuts! Do you do it yourself?

  16. Hal — 2/16/08 @ 9:25 pm

    You have inspired me–I thought for some reason that a mint julep might have lime in it. Alas, it does not. But a mojito does. And, it seems the only thing different between a mint julep and a mojito is the liquor and the lime.

    I’ll have to test it out to see if it works, but I’m going to suggest a Mint Julep Mojito–lightly bruise some about 4-6 mint leaves in a tall glass with some crushed ice. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the glass. Add 3 ounces of good quality bourbon . Then, stir in 1 ounce of a simple syrup–more or less, to taste. Garnish with a lime wedge and fresh mint sprig!

    Don’t skimp on the bourbon–for this, I might use Maker’s Mark, since it’s sweet; but, definitely don’t get some bottom shelf brand. In fact, I’m kind of a bourbon snob and don’t drink much that is below Maker’s Mark (I really like Woodford Reserve, and most small batch bourbons). And, even though it’s technically not true, for me, bourbon is not Bourbon unless it comes from my home state of Kentucky.

    This seems to epitomize the American Melting Pot culture. Perfect way to add a Kentucky Tradition with a Cuban twist to your Asian-Floridian Home :)

  17. Kat — 2/16/08 @ 9:36 pm

    scary stuff with those alligators so close! couldn’t view the flickr photo though. love the photo of the boys with their arms around each other!

  18. argus — 2/17/08 @ 6:34 am

    oooo… living dangerously close to alligators — how exotic!
    How about sugar-pickled calamansi (when the fruits come)?

  19. sunita — 2/17/08 @ 7:03 am

    Alligators in the backyard!!! Now, that’s seriously creepy…I’d probably be on tenterhooks if there was any in mine…especially with the kids around :-o

  20. chadzilla — 2/17/08 @ 9:31 am

    We have a saying in south Louisiana where the gators also roam free (along with the snakes, snapping turtles, and other varmints) with the human population… ‘cajuns will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first.’ I believe the same philosophy holds true for Chinese, right… I’ve seen some of the markets there?
    Fried gator tail isn’t bad with the right sauce… why not tempura? (I know that tempura is actually Japanese… well, actually introduced to the Japanese by Western missionaries… figures, since it’s probably the one ‘unhealthy’ factor in the Japanese diet).
    Are there any Asian swamp eels in that pond that may end up on a future post?

  21. Julie — 2/17/08 @ 10:55 am

    Just found your place, and I am loving it! As soon as I saw the “boobage censor” I knew I would be hooked. Your food porn is awesome. And the sunset with Sparkles, Awwww to cute. Now I could live without the Praying Panties, they give me the heebie jeebies. :)

    Can’t wait to link to you. :) I will be back!

  22. Zenchef — 2/17/08 @ 11:17 am

    I can’t wait until you come up with a barbecued alligator recipe! Yum yum! :-) haha. I heard of kalamansi limes but i never actually seen one. I bet it’s really good! Maybe squeezed over alligator satay sticks? :-)

  23. jan gilbert — 2/17/08 @ 12:54 pm

    Is there a nursery in your area that will ship citrus trees to Georgia? I would love to have an assortment of kaffir limes, Meyer lemons and other exotica we can’t seem to get here in Savannah.

  24. blondee47 — 2/17/08 @ 1:41 pm

    well truthfully your view is magnificent but how u are going to keep those boys away from the pond will take a full metal link….lol, hahaha…..just kidding i am sure Floridians all know how to protect …..i am most jealous of the lime tree, do u know that meyer lemons are practically impossible to find in Montreal….but sechuan peppercorns have always been! (so has absynthe)

  25. Mer — 2/17/08 @ 4:43 pm

    I would have thought that “praying panties” might have referred to LDS garments – or something more along a religious line.

    I love the name you guys came up with for the ‘gater. :0)

  26. one food guy — 2/17/08 @ 5:21 pm

    I am so jealous of your garden. I can’t even think about planting for at least another two and half months!

  27. Chris — 2/17/08 @ 8:11 pm

    Praying Panties = what u wear out to pub nite and pray to get lucky(applies to both male and female gender!)
    Wow! Alligators in the backyard! Up north here we can only boast of raccoons & possums.

  28. veron — 2/17/08 @ 8:19 pm

    Your kids crack me up. Scary Alligator. How I envy you the kalamansi tree. I couldn’t grow them over here and I much prefer them for Asian cooking than lemon and lime.

  29. lime/kalamansi indonesian way: squeese em on everything, including (uncensored) boobage HAHA

  30. Vitor Hugo — 2/17/08 @ 10:06 pm

    Oh, tiny Mantis! They’re amazing creatures, :) But the censor label is ROTFL.

  31. Cakespy — 2/17/08 @ 11:49 pm

    Praying Panties…Jesus-motifed wares at Victoria’s Secret? The mantis is awe-inspiring!

  32. Toni — 2/18/08 @ 5:02 am

    Alligators in the back yard? Uh………I think I’d rather not. Especially with kids. Praying mantis, on the other hand – absolutely! Watching one of those things bite the head off an aphid might be a tad gruesome at first, but then watching your plants thrive takes the edge off rather quickly. And your boys would LOVE the show, no doubt!

    I’ve never even heard of a kalamansi lime! I’m always learning something from you!

  33. sia — 2/18/08 @ 6:12 am

    alligators in ur backyard!!! OMG jaden. i am so scared of them. be really careful! all i have in my backyard is few snails ;)
    its been long time i visited ur blog and i have so much to catch-up which i am gonna do this week :D missed visiting ur blog a lot but life’s been quite hectic since past few weeks.

  34. Maya — 2/18/08 @ 8:38 am

    HI Jaden:

    I still have to wait for it to warm up here.
    I did send the rice and shrimp paste package to you. Hope you liked it. I am sure you will come up with something yummy with it!

  35. Brave Sir Robin — 2/18/08 @ 11:16 am

    Considering the state of my love life, Praying for Panties might be a bit more acurrate.

    *Ahem*

    Question for you – How do you keep your lime tree so free of pests? My citrus trees are a gross black color from all of the aphids. I have been trying to go organic for the last two seasons, but I’m about ready to give up.

  36. The Urban Eater — 2/18/08 @ 11:37 am

    Your kids are TOO cute. Praying Panties! I love it! and only a child’s mind could name an Alligator, Sparkles.
    I think I just may need to get some of those Praying Panties for my Herb garden.

  37. This is so much fun! They are beautiful creatures as well as helpful! I am sure your kids are loving this. :)

  38. Lisa — 2/18/08 @ 4:41 pm

    That 2nd to last photo of the boys holding each other.. cutest EVER! Even with an alligator pokin’ it’s ugly eyeball outta the water. Maybe he was eye’n up the cleave? :D

    xoxo

  39. Marvin — 2/18/08 @ 5:14 pm

    For a Kalamansi mixed drink, try this: http://burntlumpia.typepad.com/burnt_lumpia/2007/10/kalamansi-vodka.html

    Don’t the kalamansi flowers smell so good?

  40. Donna — 2/18/08 @ 8:00 pm

    I think “praying panties” are pretty neat creatures, too. I also think it’s great for kids to learn about the world they live in. Just wondered if you knew that an adult praying mantis can “take” a hummingbird? I had read it in a book about hummers, and really thought the authors were off their rockers. A year or so after I read about it, I actually had a very large praying mantis upside down on one of my hummingbird feeders poised just right to grab my little feathered friend when it came to feed. I took a stick and gently lifted him from the feeder and deposited him where he could find something other than my hummers to dine on. (I am really enjoying your website. Just read about using salt to tenderize steak and plan to try it soon.)

  41. joey — 2/18/08 @ 9:34 pm

    Praying panties! :) Your boys are just too cute!

    Kalamansi is used a lot here for anything needing a citrus kick (since it is locally grown and much cheaper than buying lemons or limes). We have a native stir-fry here called “bistek Tagalog” that is just thinly sliced beef, kalamansi, soy sauce, and lots of onions…really good. I also do a sliced chicken breast version of this. You can also use it in dipping sauces (kalamansi/soy/bird’s eye chili or kalamansi/fish sauce are some) and marinades. There’s even a cafe that serves kalamansi muffins. And, although I do like lemonade, I will always pick the kalamansi version over it any day! :)

    Careful with the alligators!

  42. Tia Nguyen — 2/19/08 @ 3:26 am

    Thanks for sharing your lovely photos. Your boys are adorable! Boobage censorship? This is the only reason I come to your website! ;)

  43. Christine D. — 2/19/08 @ 4:24 am

    That’s such a cool activity to share with your kids! Plus I love the idea of using natural pest controllers. Isn’t this a lovely tidbit: “Small mantids emerge from this case in the spring. Often, the first meal is a sibling.” I thought that only females ate their mates!

  44. Lynn — 2/19/08 @ 12:16 pm

    You are such a cool mom. Almost nuts enough to homeschool! Gators in your backyard? I get full body shivers just thinking about that.

  45. Nate 2.0 — 2/20/08 @ 6:05 pm

    Thanks for taking us outside into your backyard. I hope “Sparkles” knows what’ll happen to it if it gets too close to your cute kids. Perhaps an appearance in a Steamy Kitchen recipe?

  46. Garrett — 2/20/08 @ 6:06 pm

    *shudder* terrified of mantises… nightmare fuel.

  47. Amy — 2/21/08 @ 3:50 am

    Having gators in the backyard would scare the crap out of me. :(

  48. meeso — 2/22/08 @ 6:26 pm

    Wow, cool pics and how neat to have an alligator pond in your backyard!

  49. Al — 2/25/08 @ 12:46 am

    I’ve never used Kalamansi limes, just Persian limes (oh, Publix, why won’t you cater to the exotic?) but my mojito recipe has been very well received. Keep in mind we’re talking college students here, so as long as it tastes better than beer and “gets ya’ drunk” they consider it ambrosia.

    Al’s Mojitos:
    Throw one ounce of simple syrup, 9 medium sized mint leaves, and the juice of one lime in a highball glass. Muddle it up, get those minty flavors extracted. Fill the glass with ice. Add one and a half ounces of light rum (I tend to use Captain Morgan, what with the whole poor college student thing, but any light rum will do. I’ve even used Bacardi 151, at least I think I remember using 151…) and then top off with club soda. I only use Publix brand soda, because I’d swear Ritz soda tastes funky. Stir and enjoy with a straw. If you feel extra fancy, put a sprig of mint on top, maybe a wedge of lime.

    Al’s Simple Syrup:
    Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add one and a half cups of plain old sugar. Stir until you don’t see any undissolved sugar on the bottom of the pot, and then let it cool.
    I’d pour it into a nice container, like one of those glass olive oil containers. In the real world it might not be necessary, but after the twentieth time of someone asking “uh, what are you putting in my drink?” I had to find a way to make it look more like an ingredient than roofies.

    Try is with Persian limes first, and if you like it move on to those exciting Kalamansis. If you do give it a shot, tell me what you think of it. I’d love to see what constructive criticism someone with more discerning taste buds can come up with.

  50. Alex — 2/29/08 @ 12:36 am

    Oooh, gators in your backyard and kalamasi limes. My great aunt makes absolutely killer braised pig trotters with kalamasi limes, chiangkiang vinegar, garlic, ginger and dried chillies. And kalamasi lime juice mixed with sugar and water on crushed ice is terrific when it’s broiling hot out there. A splash of vodka would not go amiss in that either.

    I love your blog, by the way. Those no-knead recipes for sticky buns will be the downfall of my resolution to eat healthier this year.

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