top of page

Advanced Search

98 items found

Meet the Makers (5)

  • The Mulberry Tree

    Even though I grew up between New York and New Jersey, I don't have nearly as much knowledge about the native flora as I do in Miami. Here, the flowers and fruit are in your face at all times. I've learn about native plants from customers at Mima, about pollinators from gardeners Mary Benton and Lina Castaneda, I've learned to forage fruit with Raul, about medicinal "weeds" like Spanish Needle from Gabi. Even though I'd spent time in nature as a child, it'd often been on a set path, at a distance from the brush that might be poison ivy, and further from the ticks. This summer, though, my perspective shifted. The Sunday morning of our trip to Shelter Island, we'd gone by the farmer's market to peruse the local faire and pick up a special treat for our hosts, Aunt Ellen and Uncle Ralph. Vendors included a distillery that used lavender in their gin, a café with nice pastries and breakfast burritos, awesome mushroom growers (that ended up being the treat), a few local farms, and artisans that sold stuff like crocheted handbags. But our almost-two-year-old Carmelo spotted something better-- a humongous mulberry tree, full of fresh berries. Overflowing, really. Raul hoisted him up and he gorged on them, every few stopping to feed Raul before eating yet another. They were so sweet and juicy. We weren't the first to enjoy them (the ground showed that rabbit and deer had been there not long ago!) but our grazing encouraged more marketgoers to notice the fruit and try it, too. What a gift! The funniest part was, as we were leaving, we noticed that the vendor just below the big tree, their fabric tent actually hitting the fruit laden branches, was selling pints of mulberries. A couple of days later, on my parent's couch in Jersey, I scrolled up to a friend Carla's video about berry foraging. I learned that berries grow on the edge of the forest and a field, or clearing. For over twenty years, my family had gone out with our dogs for walks at Thompson Park, and for the first time I saw the berries. Dodging the poison ivy, I left the trail and approached the bushes, using my mom's hat to fill with dewberries that I later found out were unripe (thus the tartness-- still enjoyable) and a few, carefully picked between the thorns, tiny raspberries. I made a jam and was just delighted. Back at Casa Cuatro Cocos, I feel like I'm only at the brink of seeing the fruit all around us. I've had capuli off the bush of our hedge, like a cotton candy aguanymanto. Coconut plums and Surinam cherry are now gone, but sea grapes are soon to ripen. There's always Poor Man's Pepper and Spanish needle down in the grass, always coconuts up towards the sky, always some kind of fragrant herb. I want to dive in to the perennial abundance innate to our natural environment, and immerse myself in it for our own pleasure, but also in order to protect it.

  • Mango Season

    This was written at the beginning of mango season, when the juiciness first hits, and included as a flyer in the Ode to Mango Box. With the backyard's harvest and help from our neighbors, this was our humble offering: 5-23-23 Mango season is a time of transition in Miami culture. Warm days with a breeze are changed for high humidity, intense sunshine, thunderstorms and, oh yes, mango. You can get mango from your neighbors and friends and strolls down the street, or baked into your local cafe’s seasonal pastry. There is an abundance of sweet stickiness, and it feels like a gift as the city shifts into its summer version of hibernation. Unless you’re allergic (not so uncommon, I’ve learned in my days as a shopkeeper), the mango is one of those fruits that everyone loves. How do you even describe the romance of its flavor and fragrance? There are many ways to savor mango, but nothing compares to slicing open a ripe one at room temperature and eating it straight up, its juice streaming down your chin. The mango in this box is from one of the two trees in our Miami backyard. One sits just beyond our back porch and— I admit, I don’t know what the name of this particular mango is but— uhnnmmm it’s perfect. Slices like butter, sweet and smooth, and grows big. With this mango we made mango jam and mango chutney. The mango roll up is from the second tree, which bears fruit earlier with a deeper orange flesh, lots of fiber, and even sweeter juice. The mango leaf is from both trees, and is nice used as an infusion (and has lots of medicinal properties I’m prohibited from sharing with you:) look it up! Mango Jam with Vivianne I invited plant-based baker and chef Vivianne of Love Bites to the house to make mango jam, since she’d made an amazing one for our Mother’s Day brunch. This time we flavored it with lemongrass, which is just a whisper in this chunky and yummy jam. Mango Roll Ups with Rosalia Rosalia is my sister who lives next door, and recently she whipped up mango fruit roll ups as an extra treat for that brunch I just mentioned. Truth be told, they never made it to the spread! But I did bring them to my son’s class the next day and it was a hit. It’s 100% mango. Mango Chutney with Jill Jill dropped off a mango chutney one day for me to try and I was so obsessed that, after giving a courtesy bite to Raul and my mom, I ate it with a spoon in one sitting. The depth of cardamom pairs so perfectly with mango, and this one we made at the shop second to last day.

  • Grabbing the Groceries

    (insert photo of rice stack) My early childhood memories are filled with visiting small mom and pop shops in Astoria and Sunnyside Gardens, filled with peculiar smells of spices, colossal vats of olives and, of course, baklava. The owners of the corner spot called me Sasha and as a small girl in a city as big and boisterous as New York City, it felt cozy to be known by name. When my parents moved to suburban New Jersey, they still would stop in little specialty stores for Italian rice balls or bagels, but the anonymity of the big supermarkets won out on convenience and selection. Convenience is number 1 when it comes to regular purchases. Even if you are interested in supporting small retailers and connecting with the people who produce your food, it is often made to be a privilege of those who "have the time". Not to mention the money: it's no surprise that products made, often by hand, in an American city cost much more than those made out in the countryside or mass produced in factories here or abroad. But it feels like it is our natural birthright to be connected with the food that is grown and made in our immediate surroundings. When the pandemic emptied big box stores, our CSA members were happy they could count on weekly, vibrant vegetables grown without harmful chemicals and in soil that's been lovingly built. And, as shopkeepers, we were happy to have a community that kept us connected when everyone was over 6 feet apart. My curiosity has been sparked by this conundrum. If we were to truly eat locally in Miami, we'd be forgoing American staples like wheat and oats, apples and maple syrup. Dairy and corn productions would be miniature, not large scale. We'd have to look towards other flours and starches, like sweet potato and yuca. Milk from coconuts. Sweetness of honey. This is the opposite of convenient, but in fact, it seems to be one way I'm called to reconnect us with the earth that birthed us.

View All

Upcoming Events (93)

View All
bottom of page