WELCOME to the Levy County Kitchen. Autumn is finally here but our warm temperatures still make turning on the oven a non-event at my house. It’s about this time of year that my creativity and energy for preparing meals start to lag. A recent comic strip echoed my feelings. In the comic, a husband asked his wife what she was making for dinner. She replied, phone in hand, her favorite. When their young children asked what mom was making for dinner, the father said: reservations. That sounds like my kind of meal.

Quick dishes and salads will remain the mainstay of my meals until cooler weather is here to stay. The following recipes for grilled chicken and beef are easy to prepare. Vegetarians can substitute cubed tofu or tempeh for the meat. Insert two skewers parallel to each other into the tofu to keep it from rolling. Make up the marinades for either recipe in the morning and let the meat marinate until dinner. Serve over a bed of rice or quinoa with vegetables of your choice. Grilled summer squash make a nice accompaniment. Slice small zucchini or yellow crookneck squash in half from end to end. Brush both sides with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on the grill, turning once, until done to your liking. I would not have reservations to serving any leftover meat or vegetables (chopped up) over salad greens, drizzled with your favorite dressing, for lunch the next day.


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Pineapple Beef Skewers
1 cup (8-ounce can) tomato sauce
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup soy sauce (regular or reduced sodium)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 and 1/2 pounds flank steak
Metal or wood skewers (soak wooden ones in water about 30 minutes)
In a small saucepan, combine tomato sauce, pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder and ginger. Simmer over low heat several minutes and then let cool. Reserve 1/2 cup.
Trim excess fat from meat and cut against the grain into 1-inch wide strips. Place meat and cooled sauce (not the reserved 1/2 cup) in a large, zip-close plastic bag, turning to coat meat with the sauce. Marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Weave meat onto skewers and grill over medium heat about 8 to 10 minutes, turning and basting with reserved sauce several times. Serve with remaining reserved sauce on the side.

Chicken Skewers with Dipping Sauce
To substitute chicken thighs, use about 2 and 1/2 pounds. Remove skin, debone, and cut meat into 1-inch chunks.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons soy sauce (regular or reduced sodium)
4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or lime juice
Metal or wood skewers (soak wooden ones in water about 30 minutes)
Trim chicken of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes. Mix soy sauce, oil and vinegar in zip-close bag. Add chicken and marinate 2 hours or overnight. Thread chicken pieces loosely onto skewers and grill over hot coals, 3 to 5 minutes per side. The chicken should be a crispy brown on the first side before turning. Serve with dipping sauce of your choice.

Gainesville Video ProductionDipping Sauce 1
1/4 cup soy sauce (regular or reduced sodium)
2 thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
Crushed red pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Dipping Sauce 2
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce (regular or reduced sodium)
3/4 cup your favorite hot sauce
In a small bowl mix water, ginger and garlic. Let stand 10 minutes to develop flavor. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Dipping Sauce 3
2 tablespoons soy sauce (regular or reduced sodium)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon grated lime peel
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

WHAT AN EXCITING time of year for Florida gardeners! Vegetable and herb starter plants and onion sets are available now at your favorite hardware or feed store. Cultivate your garden beds, incorporating any needed amendments, rake them smooth, and start planting fall crops. How do you encourage your garden to grow? I have known several older gardeners who would play music for their young crops. One man maintained his plants preferred country or classical music to rock and jazz. His gardens were an inspiration. I used to go out of my way to drive by them just to check their progress.
I can sometimes be found sitting on an overturned bucket in the middle of my garden. I find this a great way to discover what bugs are flying or crawling about. It also lets me see where the sun or shadows are falling at different times of the day. I add these notes to my garden journal to help me plan the timing for next year’s plantings.
Fall is the best time of year to divide perennials and to plant trees and shrubs. Make sure you water them regularly now that the summer rains are less frequent.
It’s time for me to head outside and plant a few rows of carrots and lettuces. Until next time, the kitchen is closed.

October Holidays and Events

October 10 through November 23: Chiefland Chamber of Commerce’s Scarecrow City. Annual Fall event where individuals, organizations, clubs, and businesses are invited to build scarecrows for display at the Train Depot Park. Build the scarecrows in advance or on October 10 between 10 a.m. and noon. Prizes will be awarded, and the public is invited to come by to view these creative displays.

October 10, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m: Hunting Expo at Tractor Supply Co. in Chiefland on U.S. Highway 19. Demonstrations and displays include wildlife identification (view skulls, tracks, and skins), archery and air rifle shooting ranges, and the inflatable Daisy shooting range. The Deer Camp of Chiefland and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will be present. All the bows, arrows, air rifles, and ammunition will be provided at this free Hunting Expo.

October 17: Sweetest Day (always the third Saturday in October)
Herbert B. Kingston, a Cleveland, Ohio, philanthropist and candy company employee, started Sweetest Day in 1922 as a way to bring happiness to orphans, shut-ins, and the under-privileged. He did this by distributing candy and small gifts to show these people that they were not forgotten. The popularity of this holiday quickly spread, but today it is celebrated as a way to recognize loved ones, friends or that sweet special someone. My mom used to send me a card with a dollar enclosed. It really did make me feel special. However, I encourage you to follow the intent of the original holiday, and find ways to give candy and small gifts to those in need.

October is Cookie Month, Eat Country Ham Month, National Pizza Month, National Vegetarian Month, National Popcorn Popping Month, and Seafood Month. What better way to celebrate Seafood Month than with a trip the Cedar Key’s 46th Annual Seafood Festival.

October 17 and 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m: The Cedar Key Lions Club’s 46th Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival features seafood, arts and crafts, a Seafood Festival Parade, and live music. The Seafood Festival parade, with the theme Protect Our Water, begins at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. For more information, visit

DeBerry Marketing ServicesOctober 24, all day: The Levy County Horse Club’s 15th annual Breast Cancer Awareness Trail Ride fundraiser. All proceeds help local breast cancer patients meet their treatment needs at Shands Cancer Center. The trail ride will be held at the Tidewater Trailhead on Levy County Road 337 in the Goethe State Forest. Enjoy the trail ride, poker ride, fun raffles, breast cancer-themed dress-up horse and rider contest, and lunch. Registration is $30 per rider including lunch, or $8 for lunch for non-riders. For more information visit or email

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