Archive for curry leaves

A Doctor’s Garden

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2010 by PickMeYard

Dr. Udayashree Nune is a family practitioner in Clewiston, Florida.  She’s originally from South India and comes from a family of doctors.  She speaks fluent Arabic, English and  the Indian dialect, Telugu.  She is a doctor of internal medicine, an OB/Gyn who has delivered thousands of babies in India, Libya and the U.S. …. and she’s a gardener

Her family history is absolutely intriguing.  Udaya’s life story is one that I will never forget.  As a little girl growing up in India, she had a series of events happen to her that sounds like the script of a movie.  When she told her mother that she didn’t want to live on a dirt floor anymore and asked what she needed to do, her mother replied that she should become a doctor.  So she did.  Her career started that very moment. 

It was a long, difficult road for her that  had many obstacles.  She sacrificed eating lunch and dinner so that she could use the money for transportation to school instead.  Transportation consisted of  many hours and many buses to get where she needed to go.  Udaya overcame so many trials and tribulations…  most people would have given up.  She didn’t and she still doesn’t.   

Dr. Nune comes from a culture that is so different from mine.  She knows how to maximize her resources and appreciates the little things that I tend to take for granted  (like water always coming out of the faucet.)  She always shows me something new that I’ve never heard of before.  So far, she’s turned me onto Indian yogurt, curry leaves, soap nuts, neem, gongura, drumstick soup,   seagrape leaf dinnerware  and numerous other cool things.

So what does a doctor grow in her garden?

She grows fresh curry leaves and makes delicious meals with them.


Cucumber/zucchini looking vegetable called tindora fry.

Tindora fry (Dondakaya kura).

I know what you're thinking... and it's not what you're thinking. It's gongura.

Lots of eggplant.

Moringa tree. It's called a drumstick tree in India.

Baby neem trees peeking out from under a potted eucalyptus.

Some of Dr. Nune's backyard.

She germinates her seeds under a large patch of banana trees.

Dr. Nune is growing Florida peaches, apples, papaya, bananas, figs, citrus, tamarind, curry, moringa and many other edibles… all on just over a quarter acre lot.  I’ll have to do another post on all the wonderful things she has introduced into my life.  The drumstick soup,  tindora fry,  soap nuts, neem and gongura are a few of my favorites.  When she told me the stories about washing with soap nuts as a little girl in India, I had to find out all about them.  We both ordered some online and we’re using them  successfully.

Gongura is new to me.  My kids and I just love the freshly picked leaves. Dr. Nune likes to stir-fry, pickle and steam them.  When she steams them she puts two green chilis into the water.  If Dr. Nune  ever opened restaurant, there’d be a line around the block to get in.  She makes everything taste delicious!

Her back yard is filled with fruit trees, vegetables and many varieties of pepper plants peeking out from under the trees.  But… her front yard is  filled with flowers.  She is clearly a woman who appreciates the beauty of flowers, from roses to impatiens and everything in between.

Dancing lady orchids.


She has a large collection of hibiscus.

Her garden art. Were you expecting a flamingo?

Just a few of her flowers.

Dr. Nune next to her gongura plant. I should have asked her to flip her hair over her shoulder... it's down to her waist!

Dr. Nune is one of the most intuitive and open-minded persons I have ever met.  She is also one of the strongest, hardest working women I’ve ever met… next to my mother. 

She never gives up and loves a challenge.  Her personality is infectious and we all love and adore her.  

Come grow with us!

The Iced Tea Taste Test

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by PickMeYard

It was brutally hot outside today.  Even the tropical plants are suffering.  The kids came in the house all sweaty from playing outside and I figured this was a good time for an iced tea taste test party.  I asked for volunteers and it was the two boys that were interested.  The two girls took off to tell each other secrets somewhere and the toddler promptly fell asleep on the floor.  She was not  happy when she woke up and found out she missed it. 

We picked lots of ingredients from the yard that we figured would make our iced teas delectable.  We made a big pot of Luzianne (unflavored) tea as our base and used tupelo honey as our sweetener.  We put the hot tea in many different pots and added the different ingredients to flavor the tea.  After they steeped for a few minutes, we poured the tea into a glass of ice to do our taste test.  We rinsed each glass after we tasted the tea and added more ice for the next tasting. 

That's lemongrass on the left, then echinacea (clockwise), jasmine flowers, stevia, spearmint, bay leaf and galangal.

The ingredients we picked out of the yard are basil, cranberry hibiscus, lemon balm,  jasmine flowers, stevia, spearmint, echinacea (cone flower), galangal, ginger, lemongrass, bay leaf and fresh lemon juice.  We included some fresh curry leaves that I bought from the Indian market.  I don’t have this growing in my yard yet, but I will soon. 

A cranberry hibiscus leaf.

Fresh curry leaves.

Stevia leaves. We only used them as a garnish because we learned that stevia does not taste good after it's been heated. It's delicious, mega-sweet and doesn't have an after-taste when it's just eaten fresh.

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), also commonly called cone flower.

The first flavored iced tea that we made was with lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and edible jasmine flowers (Jasminum sambac).  Grayson said this was his favorite and Jackson said he favored this one too.  They agreed that they tasted the floral jasmine first and then the lemon balm.  It would be extremely refreshing on a hot summer day.  We added some fresh ginger to it as an after-thought.  

Lemon balm and jasmine flavored Luzianne iced tea.

The next concoction was cranberry hibiscus  (Hibiscus acetosella) and cone flower (echinacea) petals.  Both the kids thought it tasted a tad strange but said it was still pleasant.  I thought it tasted great.  

The next experiment was just bay leaf added to the tea.  We all thought it was surprisingly good.  It made a wonderful spicy flavored iced tea.  

The next was sweet basil and fresh, squeezed lemon.  Jackson thought it was pretty good, but I could tell he wasn’t that impressed.  Grayson’s description was that it had “a tangy flavor with a zig-zag instead of a whole turn”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

We then tested fresh-cut galangal and smushed lemongrass stalk.  Grayson said it burned his neck (he meant his throat).   Jackson said it didn’t burn his throat at all.  I fell in love instantly with this concoction and will definitely be making this again.  I think I’ll probably add some spearmint to it next time too.  Before we put the galangal into the tea, Jackson asked to smell it.  He exclaimed, “wow, that smells really good!”  It does smell really, really good.  It adds an incredible flavor. 

Fresh cut galangal and lemongrass iced-tea. I will add more lemongrass and some spearmint next time I make it.

We mixed a bay leaf and some fresh curry leaves together too.  I said, “no, not good”.  Grayson said, “no”. Jackson said it was “okay”, but he was just being nice.  Curry leaves have some excellent uses, but this isn’t one of them.  Although, if they were used alone and not mixed with the bay leaf, it might have worked. 

Our final and absolute favorite iced-tea was spearmint and a little bit of fresh lemon juice.  The cooling menthol with the “green” flavor of the spearmint and some tangy lemon was excellent.  It was super refreshing.  We agreed that this is the iced tea we’d make for guests. 

We could have spent hours coming up with new flavors of iced-tea.  The possibilities are endless. One of my personal favorites has always been iced green tea with spearmint and lemongrass.  


Come grow with us!