Gardening Update #5: Harvests and Other Thoughts

Its been almost a month since the last gardening update. I honestly just got back to do another grass and weed clearing session and it went relatively fast. I’m still frustrated that it seems to be a problem that won’t go away but I am hoping with enough frequent clearings, I will beat this.

Over July, we had more sun and more rain and last week, we had a huge thunderstorm. It was really a mix of both good and bad weather however, it might have been to my advantage. The rain helped me out a lot so I didnt have to worry about watering too much and still we got a ton of harvests. Last time we talked raspberries and they were still the star of July.

Latest update as of a few days ago…

Pineapple Sage has grown up!


If you recall, the last storm knocked out my entire pineapple sage except for a little baby stem. Well, its not a baby anymore and yet again proves what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Eggplant


This eggplant has been growing forever. I am about to harvest it. I really don’t think it will get bigger for the container grown eggplant. Hopefully, we will get another one before the end of the season.

Cucumbers & Zucchini


Zucchinis doing well is almost always a guarantee. My three are doing great. We have harvested two zucchinis so far and three more in the garden.


As for cucumbers, we were a little worried about the in ground ones. It seems that all it needed was time. In fact, it has surpassed the container cucumber and we have had harvests already.

cucumbers

Container Cucumber seems to be doing okay, I guess. I mean, there is this one right now and it looks like we have a few growing right now as well.

Zucchini and Cucumbers

Fresh from the garden yesterday are three cucumbers and one zucchini! We’re set for dinner tonight. 🙂

Ground Cherries are a Success!!

ground cherry

It only looks like foliage on the picture. I should have taken a closer shot. Either way, you can see the harvest below. And we still have a lot on the branches.

Actually this is only part of the batch. At this time, I had already given some to my mom. I’m thinking about making some fun dessert with it although I don’t mind eating these just like that. They are more tart but I enjoy them.

Gardening Thoughts

Thought #1: In terms of gardening, I’ve seemed to have found a good system between container and in ground vegetable and fruit areas. As time goes by, I see that only a section of the vegetable garden will be annual replants. Right now, already there is mint on one end and ground cherries and blueberries along with green onions on the other side which are perennial. I’m slightly worried about the blueberry plants right now because the area should expand however, I’m not quite sure how because the other part is just a grass area now and I use it to put my hose. Maybe I’ll just turn it into tiled grounds to make it easier to put stuff and add more containers there since it gets a lot more sun there. Some research to be done there. My parents had tiled their walkway one year by themselves so I think with the right research and buying stuff myself, I can take care of that small patch of land myself. If not, I’ll hunker down and turn it into a perennial garden or something filled with medicinal plants or herbs. Something to match with the edible garden that is going on right now.

Thought #2: I had wanted to recycle one of the pickup truck tops left by the previous owners and turn it into a flower garden. It would help minimize the weeds in that area since that area really would be near impossible to get it weed-free. Plus, I wanted to plant in some annual flower gardens, targeted mostly towards being a bee and butterfly garden with bee baths and different assortment of flowers appealing to them. I’m excited to get that going. Right now, I’m just waiting for my husband to have a moment to drag out the thing from behind the shed. Its pretty heavy and lots of obstacles to do by myself. Then I can get the soil bought and get cracking on it. I probably won’t start on it this year but I would like to have it set up before the season ends.

Thought #3: This thought has been on my mind ever since the first summer we’ve had the house. Its an ambitious plan and one I haven’t felt like I have the time or abilities to put together yet. However, this summer, one of the houses that I walk by when I get off the bus had done that by themselves. They have it on half of my scale. The idea is that I have a slope on my garden and I want to turn that into a landscape thing. Get some boulders or larger rocks, buy some shade and partial sun required flowers and get a nice landscape going on. Before all that, the most painful part will be getting all the grass out. I’ve been researching here and there on this and its a whole idea of conceptualizing what to plant as well as what to keep and what to remove.

That’s it for this gardening update!
How are your gardens going? Any harvests?

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Gardening Update #4: Rain & Harvests!

Welcome back to a long overdue Gardening update! It keeps getting bumped back and finally, now its time to report back after vacation.

Its been a rainy and gloomy summer. We can’t complain much because we live without the luxury of air conditioning in a bungalow so that means, when its hot, its boiling inside most of the time. Compared to last year, this is somewhat a heavenly situation especially on days where I need to record podcasts. However, plants and flowers aren’t like us and most of them need the sun and bees to pollinate in order to bear fruit aside from just water, which it also needs a lot of, of course. With that said, the garden is still doing pretty good. We started to have some harvests and the vegetables and flowers are all coming around.

In-Ground Garden

Gardening

Gardening

Gardening

zucchini

No blueberries or asparagus in these pictures as they are waiting for next year to have any harvest. However, they are so far doing quite well.

Here is the in-ground garden. Zucchinis are coming out now. The lettuce is actually doing worse than in the containers. You’ll see later. Cucumbers are also not doing as well as in the container however they are starting to form some cucumbers. Hopefully it’ll work out especially with all the rain. If only, there was more sun. One of the more solid plants are the Ground Cherry. The challenge so far is still actually getting it to ripen before it falls down. I had planted it two times before in containers with that same issue. Now I’m hoping planting it in-ground will do the trick so we can harvest some ground cherries soon. Its definitely looking strong.

Raspberry

On the other side is our trimmed but somehow still overgrowing raspberry shrub. Strawberries had their season and I would have shared the harvest but like a loser, I deleted all my pictures this past weekend off my phone when I was lining up for a Comiccon panel. Long story short, I don’t have it anymore and the season is over. We did have decent harvests but nothing as epic as what raspberry will be. We had two tupperware bowls already in the last two weeks, which is pretty impressive. As you see, there are still raspberries ripening so the rain and sun balance seems to work beautifully for it. Plus, raspberries are great to have as it also helps out the bees, which Canada has been acting on to encourage Canadians to plant more bee gardens. I got my bee garden kit, just trying to get the garden ready as it’ll be a raised garden that I’m trying to get ready.

Flower garden

In my flower patch, the flowers right now is my mini rose shrub and these yellow flowers. I have to remember to keep these in check as they spread really fast although they are super pretty. My cone flowers are also starting to bloom however, they are also super depressed because the rabbits now can’t access the vegetable garden and they decided that they’d snack on the cone flower leaves instead. They looked miserable for the longest time. And now there another one that I moved and suspect will have to move again. The flower garden needs to be restructured and organized. I’m pondering that at the moment.

Container Gardening

Herbs are doing fantastic. We’ve harvested some basil mostly and added it to our recipes. The others we keep fresh in the fridge. It gives us a reason to use fresh basil and make foods with it. As you may notice, my pineapple sage lost the fight with the storm and is not just one stem struggling to stay alive. At least it survived. I almost thought it was a total loss. The kale and cucumbers are doing great here. Pots do cucumbers miracles as they are growing well although, it won’t be successful until we actually get some cucumbers to harvest. Finally, there’s the eggplant. The over excessive rainfall and lack of sun seems to be affecting it the most as it gets more yellow everyday and its not really having anything yet.

Our lettuce harvests were probably the earliest. While they are growing slower now, they are still doing quite well. Especially since we have them in-ground and in two hanging baskets.

Finally, the last thing is our kale. Its been doing fantastic. We’ve really only been making kale chips out of them. I should really post up the recipes for it that we use. I promise I will soon. The kale has been treating us well. As this post goes up, I’ve been thinking of harvesting my next batch this evening and making some more chips.

That’s it for this gardening recap!
How are your gardens doing?

Dinner: Oven Roasted Tricolor Carrots

I have a confession to make. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Tricolor Carrots, Brussel Sprouts and Portobello Mushrooms. I see this obsession particularly with the Tricolor/Nantes Carrots to last a while. So far, I’ve found the best way to do them is oven-roasted. I actually would like to replicate what I tried in Kelowna at Basil & Mint Restaurant. Those carrots were absolutely delish. Its because of that that when I went to Atwater Market a few weeks ago, I got a bag of these carrots and amazingly, also the second reason why I love buying carrots is that they can be preserved for a good while.

This is a simple recipe and I’m sure someone else has probably done it but I did put this together on my own.

Oven-Roasted Tricolor Carrots

Carrots

Ingredients

10 Tricolor Carrots (or Nantes carrots), scrubbed and cleaned
2 tbsp Avocado Oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp Herbes de Provence (or as you see fit)

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Lay carrots in a single layer on top of the parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle oil over the carrots.
  4. Sprinkle on the Herbes de Provence.
  5. Put in oven for 20-25 minutes or when carrots are tender enough for your taste.

Simple and easy is what I usually aim for. We paired this up with Tourtiere which is a meat pie. Plus, Tricolor carrots have a sweeter taste, especially my favorites are the purple ones with the orange center that taste a little like sweet potatoes. Plus, Herbes de Provence is one of the best herb blends for making a lot of different varieties of food from pork chops, chicken, turkey and even vegetables. It is our go-to spice for a quick solution that packs a little extra taste.

How do you like to cook carrots?

Dinner: Roasted Endives with Thyme

Its been quite some time since I last posted up a recipe and here we are! I went on a cooking craze so here we are!!

I’ve been wanting to try out cooking endives for quite some time now. A few weeks ago I went out to Atwater Market in Montreal and came back with a ton of vegetables. Of course, I picked up some endives. After looking at some recipes, we decided to do this simple recipe which we also happened to have all the ingredients. That is definitely a plus. 😉

Also, the recipe below is for 4-5 endives but I only had three so I made little adjustments.

Roasted Endives with Thyme
(recipe from: http://naturallyella.com/roasted-endives-with-thyme)

Roasted Endives with Thyme

Ingredients

4-5 Endives
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp thyme, minced
3-4 tbsp toasted bread crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Slice the endives in half lengthwise and toss with two teaspoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until endives are tender and starting to brown.
  2. Heat 4 remaining teaspoons of olive oil in a small skillet until warm. Remove from heat, add thyme and when endives are done, drizzle the olive oil/thyme on top and sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs.

That’s it! Easy, right?  Still, as I type this up, I realized that I did make some small changes other than a slight adjustment of portions. The main thing is that we ran out of black pepper. Horrible, I know. So instead of using salt and pepper, we ended up using The Keg steak spice. Also, we completely forgot about the toasted bread crumbs so that was omitted. Another thing is that we recently swapped out olive oil to avocado oil. I’m not sure if that would affect the taste.

However, it turned out absolutely delicious. I haven’t had endives many times but it turns out that I like the texture of the vegetable, plus this one blends in simple spices. Definitely an efficient and easy meal to make and that is exactly how I like recipes to be since I’m not such a skilled cook.

Do you eat endives? How do you cook them?

Dinner: Roast Beef

Man, you can tell that its the holiday season when I’m filling up the space with tons of recipes! This one is from a week before the holidays when we realized that we were truly running out of stuff in the freezer and had to desperately go do some major grocery shopping even if meats were expensive…  Still, here we are with my first attempt at roast beef! 🙂

I got the recipe and adapted it a little to what I had available from the Made in Quebec cookbook.

Roast Beef

Serves 8

wp-1450148215083.jpg

Ingredients

1 standing rib roast, 4 to 4 1/2 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tsp spices of your choice (commercial spice mixture or about 1 tsp each of red pepper flakes, dry mustard, dried thyme and rosemary)
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 strig fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves)

 1. Remove roast from the refrigerator 2 hours before starting to roast.  When ready to cook, preheat oven to 250F. Sprinkle meat all over with salt, pepper, and spices. Insert meat thermometer in thickest part of roast, avoiding the bone.

2. Place a rack just a little longer than the meat in a roasting pan and add oil to the pan. Place roast on the rack. Roast for 2 hours, then scatter onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves around the meat.

3. Stir thyme into pan juices. Continue roasting for another 2 to 4 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the roast. When the meat thermometer registers 120F, the meat will be rare.  Remove from the oven or continue roasting until the meat thermometer registers 125F for medium-rare, 130F for medium, or 140F for well done.

4. To brown the roast, increase oven temperature to 500F and continue roasting until richly browned, from 5 to 15 minutes.

5. Remove meat from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving.

 Note:

  • I honestly don’t remember what was the cut of the roast but it was definitely not 4 pounds. It probably was less.
  • I used their recommended spices but without the dry mustard
  • When I did this recipe, I was incredibly low on veggies so I ended up making 4 carrots in the place of the celery.
  • This recipe is paired with a gravy made with the pan juices. If you would like to know it, just email me

The experience of making roast beef the first time is definitely memorable. It took a lot of time. Its been a long time since I had taken so much patience and care on cooking. While I felt a little like a headless chicken around the kitchen and somewhat unsure about how it would turn out, but it did work out alright.

The meat was rather tender. The outside was a little drier because the inside wasn’t cooked enough so I popped it back in for a little bit. I should have added some wine or water or sauce to evaporate to help. However, it was well worth the effort.

Have you made roast beef before? What suggestions do you have? What spices do you use?

Lunch: Fried Rice with Shrimps and Yin-Yang style Vegetables

I’m sure we all have that issue at some point or another. Preparing lunch in advance is always a huge difficulty for me.  I usually stick with leftovers and whatnot.  Most of my meals are interchangeable between lunch and dinner.  In this case, one week night, I thought about how I haven’t had shrimps in a long time and I conveniently had just bought some frozen Yin-Yang style stir fry vegetables from the grocery store.  Typically, using overnight rice is the best results but I didn’t have that so we made a tub of rice in the morning and cooled it down so I could cook it at night. I haven’t made fried rice in forever so forgive me if its not exactly presentable.

Fried Rice with Shrimps and Yin-Yang Style Vegetables

Fried Rice

Ingredients:

2 bowls Steamed Rice (overnight is the best)
Shrimps, defrosted and peeled
Fresh or Frozen Vegetables (I used Arctic Gardens Yin-Yang Style Stir Fry Vegetables)
1 Egg, beaten
1 tsp Garlic, minced
salt or soy sauce, for taste

How to make it:

1. Heat some oil in a pan. Add some minced garlic. Cook shrimps.  Remove from pan once cooked thoroughly. Set aside.
2. Cook frozen vegetables (or fresh ones) until they are thawed and heated.  Once ready, remove from pan and set aside.
3. Heat up rice and add beaten egg. Mix together until egg is cooked.
4. Add back the vegetables and shrimp. For taste, add in a dash of salt or a bit of soy sauce. Mix it together until its blended.
5. Remove from pan.  Put in a bowl and its ready to eat!

Fried Rice

I’m bad at teaching people how to cook.  My mom taught me cooking from improvisation so measurements are more instinctive than exact.  I tried my best to give you approximations. For mine, I forgot to add in the salt or soy sauce so I added that later.  But, please do.  Or else, its going to be really bland. Unless you like the natural non-seasoned tasting.  That works also.

In a fully unlazy me way, I’d use fresh vegetables.  However, improvising me only uses what’s on hand and defrosting shrimps felt like this was the best recipe.  As you may notice, I don’t cook shrimp very often but fried rice is also one of the quickest and easiest ways to make a meal. I’ll try experimenting a little further.  Maybe I’ll be back with chicken and beef fried rice.  Who knows, right? The one I want to learn to make has to be with pineapples and whatnot.

Do you like fried rice? What recipes do you make with shrimps?

My Weekly Adventures [on hold]: The Ugliness of Being Sick

This week is all about being calm and quiet.  My mind not so much but activities, yes.  Trust me, its a good thing. With a breakdown (physical or mental) feeling like its looming in the background earlier in the week, I tried to take it easy and find some routine back in life so that I can avoid it. But, the title already says it all…I lost that battle in a really really bad way eventually…

Still, lets take a look at this week.

1) Running Update: Week 3

Nike Running App

The rain, my friends! Its been my absolute enemy.  I used to do dragonboat so drizzle, I could work with but its just been downpours. I ended up doing my Tuesday run around my house.  Like I literally ran up and down the stairs then circles around the dining table and my den and my bed then back and forth in the basement, etc then repeat. I was jogging doing chores with one hand because I needed to have the Running App track my movement with the other hand.  It was crazy and I probably looked ridiculous but it was done in the end.

The second thing I’m learning (again) is commitment.  Training is a choice and a dedication.  One that means you trade off certain things and rearrange life to do this because it means something. Just like any goal, right? So with that said, despite the stupid migraine plaguing me on Friday and I eventually just took the night off after starting to feel a little sick.  I actually felt better on Saturday and went for my run, which turned out to be a huge mistake.  You’ll see… especially since I managed to go do groceries and run a few errands before realizing my body was not too happy.

2) Updating the Appearance

I’ve talked about this for two years at least.  My stuff on the side bar was from 2013! 2013!!!! Can you believe that? That’s when I started losing touch with blogging a little but this week, I sat down and took care of it.  Change the header picture last week and then updated a few things and rearranged stuff around.  Now it’s better! I’m not changing the theme since I just changed it last year or something. I’m happy with where this is all going. My indexes are all back up to date and will be updated on a weekly basis as promised and trust me, that Disney baking project! I’ll get that Snow White recipe done! 🙂 I literally have all the ingredients and even a little more for a little baking extra (once my energy level increases).

3) Garden Update

There was a lot of rain in the past week.  I mean, a lot.  So, the good part was my garden was so alive.  Everything grew like crazy.

Gardening

Lettuce after all the rain

Gardening

Cucumber Plant

Gardening

Ground Cherry

We’re starting to harvest the lettuce and its delicious. Both the iceberg and romaine are awesome.  The cucumber plant is having some flowers now so its all good.  And the ground cherries are looking lovely.  My issue is that last year, we had that but it never ripened before it fell.  So I’m hoping to figure out why that happens and fix it.

4) A Little Visitor (who could be my strawberry eater)

Garden

Can you see it?

I went out for a little bit of fresh air and to catch some pics for the garden update.  And who knew that I turned around to look at the mess of moving over a plant to free up space for my raspberry eventually and something brown moved around in my peripheral vision, kind of. Its a little bunny.  I have neighborhood rabbits.  I know that because they hang out right in my garden here.  I’ve been suspecting the rabbits are the ones responsible for eating ALL of my strawberries but I guess I can’t get angry when its a cute little one like that…

5) Being Sick with the Not So Forgotten Gastroentritis

Being sick sucks.  We can all agree with that. Its been a while I haven’t had gastro not to mention one that took a billion years to build up to the actual symptoms resulting in my taking a day off work today (as I write this after sleeping and lounging around the entire day). It has not been easy.  From migraines to realizing I had a minor fever on Saturday and having slept 12 hours but still lasted into Sunday and then the fever tapering off and my date with the bathroom began for hours.  It was memorable and painful and I just couldn’t work up the energy to go to work nor did I want to pass on whatever bug I had to my coworkers because I’m not that evil. Its taken me a whole day with some congee, a good amount of warm water, sitting around lounging in bed and watching Netflix and wondering if it was actually over.

As I write this up, I’m rebuilding my energy and my health because gastro is ridiculously damaging especially since I already have the underlying IBS so my digestive system is already bad.  Either way, I don’t know how regular my posts will be this week.  I have the content.  I just need to write it and that takes energy that I’m not sure I have right now.  So I apologize if things are a little slower here this week.  Bear with me as I work hard to recover.  Perhaps, I’ll take this opportunity to write about vacation since that takes a whole lot less time than reviews.

Upcoming:

  • Orange is the New Black Season 3 TV Binge
  • The Fault in Our Stars Book Review
  • Day in Seattle Vacation posts

That’s it for this weekly adventures! Stay Healthy!! 🙂