Tag Archives: Florida Food

2024 Florida Resolutions: Tomato Sandwiches and Road Trips

A cat cuddling a dog
Yes, that’s a cat. Cuddling a dog. Hobie Cat isn’t really into what we’d call “consent” and she’s beaten Banyan into submission. My 2024 Florida resolutions are as subdued as my hound dog is in this photo.
Photo by Cathy Salustri

Last night we went to dinner at one of our favorite Gulfport restaurants, The Pearl. We’d initially planned to ring in 2024 at a campsite far from idiots shooting off fireworks and petrifying Banyan, but 2023 left me feeling like a limp dish rag. I didn’t need to get away; I needed to not do anything for a few days.  That’s what we did.

After we ordered,  my husband,  known to you as either El Cap or Barry, said, “Well, how could 2024 be worse?”

I stared at him. He isn’t Italian, something Universe-tempting comments such as this illustrate.

“Well, let’s see,” I said. “The dog could become a serial killer. The house could get possessed by demons. Do we need a third possibility?”

He admitted he could see my point and we stopped any foolish talk of how 2024 could be “better.” I should have learned my lesson when I write that 2023 would at least be the “other side” because I was not wrong but also not specific enough in that desire.

So, bearing that in mind, here are my low-key 2024 Florida resolutions.

A hand holding a small vial of water from the Fountain of Youth tourist attraction in St. Augustine
2024 Florida resolution: more road trips, perhaps to the Fountain of Youth. I no longer scoff at the idea; some years, you need all the help you can get.
Photo by Cathy Salustri

  1. More Florida road trips. 

    The last time we camped was August, because everything went to hell after that for a few months. Two days ago an assignment sent me to Deltona for the day; this reminded me how much I enjoy seeing Florida’s back roads. (Shout out to SR 44 and the largest hawk I’ve ever seen not in captivity).

    When we bought the camper in 2021, we unintentionally shifted from “a day trip can be fun” to “let’s only go if we can take the camper!” I want 2024 to have more road trips.

  2. Tomato sandwiches.

    We buy the bulk of our produce from Little Pond Farm. They’re in the Central Florida area, organic, and irrigate with a pond on their own property, which is about as close as you can get to lower carbon footprint and keeping GMOs out of your food. They grow the tastiest tomatoes I have eaten in recent memory. 

    I started 2024 with a tomato sandwich using one such tomato. I want 2024 to have more tomato sandwiches.

  3. That’s it. There’s no number three.

    As I said, 2023 taught me a lesson about non-specific intentions. 

    Oh, wait. There’s a third one. I want to finish this damn puzzle my friend Nicole gave me as a birthday gift in 2022. At only 300 pieces, it sounded easy, but it lacks standard-shaped puzzle pieces and has no easily identifiable border pieces.

    oddly shaped puzzle pieces

    Photo by Cathy Salustri

So, there you have it. I may be taking a road trip to visit my mom in prison and not have enough money to eat anything but tomato sandwiches, but, hey, the puzzle should get finished.


Spiced Sour Orange Cider: Christmas Cocktails, Florida-Style

oranges, lemons, and cloves boiling in orange juice — this is spiced sour orange cider
Spiced sour orange cider — festivity in the making.
Cathy Salustri

“This tastes like sour orange,” my husband tells me as he sips his drink, the newly invented spiced sour orange cider.

The drink didn’t start that way, but the more I sip it, the more I agree — and the more I can get behind a sour orange holiday. Plus, I like how “spiced sour orange cider” sounds.

I’m a fan of Chef Justin at Fresh from Florida, although I have real concerns about what “Fresh from Florida” means for life in the Everglades. I’ve tried several of his recipes, and without fail I enjoy them quite a bit.

When he sent a Thanksgiving email, in it he included a recipe for Florida Orange-Cinnamon Cider, and I tucked it aside until I had a free afternoon.

Today I had that free afternoon, although making spiced sour orange cider took all of 10 minutes. I adapted it because it didn’t smell or look the way I wanted it to look or smell, and my results are likely different than what he intended, but I’m happy, and if you like sour orange things,  I think you will be, too. With apologies to Chef Justin…

Spiced Sour Orange Cider Ingredients

4 cups (Florida) orange juice (I used Uncle Matt’s; please do not use Minute Maid or Tropicana — and here’s why)

4 cups apple cider (I used Trader Joe’s)

2 (Florida) oranges, sliced (I used Valencia because they’re juicy)

1/4 c. black mangrove honey

1 lemon, sliced thin

2-5 sticks cinnamon

2 Tbsp. cinnamon

16-20 whole cloves

Dried and sweetened orange slices

Optional: Bacardi 151


  1. Bring everything but rum and honey to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes
  2. Add honey; stir
  3. Serve in glasses
  4. Add one shot rum (optional) to each drink
  5. Garnish with orange slices
  6. After the first few sips, put garnish in drink to mellow tartness at the end

Did you make spiced sour orange cider? Tell me what you thought; I love to hear from readers! Happy whatever makes you happy this season!

two glasses of spiced sour orange cider
Getting festive, Florida-style.
Photo by Cathy Salustri

July in the Sunshine State

The Florida Spectacular: July

July in Florida

School in New York ends much later than it does in Florida, which is why, when my parents moved to Florida at the end of my second-grade year, we didn’t arrive until July 1. 

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the best thing that happened to seven-year-old Cathy and even though we’re all waiting out the pandemic, even though it’s broiling outside by 10 a.m., and even though my favorite part of July, the afternoon thunderstorms, hasn’t kicked in yet… well, I feel pretty great this month. 

Florida Road Trip!

The hardest part about the pandemic for me (other than the always-present general anxiety about the pandemic itself) isn’t wearing a mask, or the half-hour it takes to disinfect my groceries, or even finding room in my new fanny pack (it has the Skunk Ape on it!) for hand sanitizer and gloves. The hardest thing for me? I miss my road trips.

Take an aerial tour of Big and Little Talbot Islands state parks. Need more parks? Check out the webcams and other armchair adventures from Florida State Parks.

Speaking events

Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.: Tangelo talks. Come meet like-minded Florida-philes as we explore bits of Florida you want to know more about. Zoom; OLLI’s Explore Florida members only.Get your Floridian membership here.

Thursday, July 23, 1 p.m.: Hurricane History. Florida’s hurricane history is nothing short of amazing. Come learn about our historic storms, and how we paved the way for better storm forecasting. Westminster residents only.

Thursday, July 23, 7 p.m.: Floridian Cocktail Society. Floridian members learn a little about Florida — and how to make a Florida-themed cocktail or cocktail. Zoom; OLLI’s Explore Florida members only.Get your Floridian membership here.

Monday, July 27, 4:30 p.m.: Floridian book club. This month we have Tom Corcoran’s classic mystery series about Key West, “The Mango Opera,” on our nightstands. Zoom; OLLI’s Explore Florida members only.Get your Floridian membership here.

Florida in the kitchen

Randy Wayne White recipe The Sunshine Plate
Everyone loves Randy Wayne White’s shrimp recipe, but check out his pork with pineapple salsa. Trust me.

I can’t get enough of shrimp lately, and there’s nothing like Key West Pinks. I’ll eat shrimp in any iteration you can dream up, and since the new Doc Ford’s opened near me, Randy Wayne White’s Yucatan Shrimp has haunted my dreams. White’s best-known for his environment-and-history-studded Florida crime novels, but  don’t underestimate his cooking prowess. That Yucatan Shrimp dish at his restaurants? He created that recipe. I make several of his recipes (he published a cookbook in 2006) and, if for some reason I can’t get shrimp, this pork-with-pineapple-salsa dishnever fails. 

(By the way, even if you don’t love to cook, you may want to check out his cookbook. The stories to go along with each recipe offer insight into how White creates many of his characters.)

Florida bookshelf

Diane Roberts Tribal
image via Lipsio / CC BY https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

This month I’m reading Tribal, by Diane Roberts. Diane’s a Florida native with a delightful lineage. She writes regularly for FlamingoMagazine and has no shortage of books about Florida to her name. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone with Tribal, because while I love watchingcollege football, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read about it. Diane’s always a delight, though, so I decided to dip my nose into her work about college football in the South. Read for yourself; it’s $3.99 on Kindle!

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