Julianne Munn mug

Julianne Munn

And how to become a real Floridian

I guess I have finally become a bonafide Floridian.

I no longer shudder and tremble at the thought of a cockroach or, the more esoteric term, palmetto bug. Nor do I leap atop tables or scoot up trees if one of the huge black or brown monsters crosses my path.

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Many years ago, I would not have dared to predict such nonchalance.

Although I never expect to become actually fond of the critters, I am now able to tolerate them with a sort of detached, almost amused attitude.

After all, I keep chiding myself, they don’t attack and bite or sting. Nor to they bark, hiss or make any other irritating sounds.

As a matter of fact, I can now go to bed at night with all of the lights off and no more protection than a giant pressurized can of Raid by my side. How’s that for bravery?

I am even known to walk barefoot through the house now, having dispensed with the hip boots and flashlight I once armed myself with when moving from room to room.

Yes, I know it’s no disgrace to have buggy visitors if one resides in the Sunshine State. But somehow, that generous philosophy never gave me much comfort during my early years of Florida residency.

You know how people look forward to various events? Little things, sometimes, that make life worth while?

The highlight for me each month back then was the visit by the exterminator, whom I affectionately and possessivly referred to as “my bug man.”

No way would I take any chances on that fourth Saturday of each month and miss his smiling face. Long about the third week of each month, I would start showing signs of nervous tension and begin peering intently into darkened cracks and crevices throughout the house.

If any luckless bugs did manage to creep in between the periodic sprayings, I would cream them with my trusty Raid or in an emergency, a blast from a can of hair spray. Actually, I would rather shoo them outside but they are sooo persistent!

When I first moved to this area in the late 1970s, I consoled myself by referring to our “Ernest Hemingway atmosphere” when writing to friends and relatives, hoping they would envision me in a Key West type of tropical paradise with sighing palms, magnificant sunsets and rolling surf.

Well, it wasn’t quite like that on the west side of Citrus County, but close enough — in spite of la cucaracha and its kin — and I really wouldn’t ask for anything more.

Spray is again Sam!

Now, put aside visions of tropical bugs and such and take a look at a couple of delicious holidays recipes I have for you today shared by foodie friend Lou Espinosa:

ORANGES STUFFED WITH SWEET POTATOES

  • 6 Florida oranges
  • 3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, softened, divided
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/4 cup orange peel strips (only the orange top skin) cut into 1/4-inch pieces

TOPPING:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare oranges by cutting tops off, 1/4 to 1/2 inch down and spoon out the flesh, leaving a shell.

In a large bowl combine sweet potatoes, sugar, orange juice, eggs, vanilla extract, 1/2 cup butter and orange zest and peel, mix well. Spoon mixture into orange shells and place them in a deep casserole dish.

SAUCE: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine remaining 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans. Cook until sugar dissolves in melted butter then spoon over oranges.

BAKE: Add water around the orange halves until it reaches 1/2 inch in depth in the casserole dish. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD

(Nice as a holiday bread)

  • 1 orange
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans and/or walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grate rind from orange. Set aside.

Squeeze the juice and add enough water to make 3/4 cup. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange rind. Stir in cranberries and as an option the chopped pecans and/or walnuts.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, butter, and orange juice; stir into flour mixture just until blended.

Spread the mixture in a greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick (or cake tester) comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, turn out onto a rack, and let cool.

Julianne Munn is food writer for the Citrus County Chronicle. Email her at bonnyblu1@hotmail.com.

Citrus County is filled with great home cooks and we know you would love to share your recipes with our readers. Please click "Submit Your Recipe " to send us your recipes.

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