Monthly Archives: June 2013

JBean Vegetable Garden

Well, another move, another kitchen and another update.  CH and I have relocated (again!) this time to a house, with a yard…which meant one thing for me: a vegetable garden at long last.  You see, my Pepere (Grandpa in French) was an avid and amazing gardener.  He grew carrots and lettuce and everything in-between and while he was puttering away in the garden, my Memere and I were in the kitchen.  So, as you can see, the two things go hand-in-hand for me.  I remember sauntering out to the garden and plucking carrots, lettuce and radishes for our salads, peas for a side dish and rhubarb for dunking in sugar (yes, I ate rhubarb straight from the garden with nothing more than a little sugar…).

So, when I finally had the opportunity to build a garden, I jumped on it.  But, it wasn’t exactly as easy as planting a few seeds and watering.  I got this idea to build planter-boxes so that I could start from scratch and ensure I had the best soil and the best growing conditions. So, onto the web I went and found many upon many tutorials for building my own planter boxes.  I had a rough idea what I wanted (tall to create a little privacy from next door – after all, we still live in the city so our shoebox yard was the best we could do! – narrow so that they didn’t take up too much room in said shoebox yard and most of all, I wanted them to be as environmentally ‘happy’ as possible).  One of the draws for me of growing my own vegetables was to control how they were grown and to reduce the amount of money we spend at the market each week. Ontario definitely has the upper-hand to British Columbia when it comes to gardening.  The warm, humid, sunny summers here tend to be great for gardening (or so all my research tells me).  So, once I figured I had all the right plans, away I went.

Boxes Built

My Dad actually flew-out to Toronto for a fun-filled long weekend and helped me build these boxes from the ground-up (although probably questioned my sanity a few times too…wondering if they really needed to be this big!)  After hauling all of the lumber and tackling them together, the boxes were in place and ready to be filled with soil.

Now, this is where the fun comes in.  3 planter boxes that measure 2ft wide, 3ft high and 10ft long.  That is 60sft of planting space. Do you know how much soil that means….well, neither did I…until I had to calculate it.  I calculated it.  Recalculated it.  And then said to myself…oh…my….word…4.5 cubic yards of soil.

I wouldn’t admit defeat and got it in my head that 4 yards wasn’t really THAT much soil (and didn’t tell CH about how much soil it was either..).  All was fine until the landscaping company came and dropped off the soil, in a dump truck, infront of my house…..4.5 yards of soil.  Not to mention that the chosen day of the soil delivery was a cold, rainy, sleeting and SNOWY day in May..barely 6 degrees. Ya, well done J 🙂

Nonetheless, my amazing husband began the oh 80+ trips from the front yard to the back yard will wheelbarrows full of soil, while I was on either end helping load/unload the soil. A mere 10hrs later, we had moved almost 10,000lbs of soil…(yes, I double checked that figure and no, it is not a typo)…all in a hard days work. Ha.


(for the record, this is not my house, it is across the street where the dirt was dropped-off on-top of a tarp!)

Then, came the fun part (for me)! Shopping for my seedlings and seeds.  My friend Jane mentioned Richters Herbs so on a beautiful Sunday we spent the day giggling away and purchasing all sorts of heirloom seedlings plants and seeds, whilst enjoying the beautiful weather and great company.


I came home and sat-down with my diagrams, my companion planter details and my list of what I had purchased and I designed a blue-print of my boxes. The next morning, I was up early like a kid at Christmas – I couldn’t wait to plant!  One by one the vegetables went into their spaces, a few little adjustments, and a few trips back and forth to the hose for water and my garden was planted.



It is now almost a month later and things are really starting to happen…My lettuce and arugula have sprouted well, my tomatoes have buds and have grown a lot, my peppers are flowering and my herbs are happy…but most of all, I am loving every minute of it.  As I write this post, I actually just enjoyed my first radish out of the those things grow fast!

This is the top left box above (it does not do the growth justice and I may update this photo with a better one:


This is the middle box above:


This is the right box above:


Let’s just say…it’s going to be a great summer full of vegetables…and be prepared to see lots of recipes.

A full list of what I planted:

  • Tomatoes (Hill Billy Potato Leaf, Tomatillos, baby Romas and Cherry)
  • Broccoli
  • Celeriac Root
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers (both field and English)
  • Peppers (Yellow, Orange, Red and Green)
  • Snow Peas
  • Green and Yellow Beans
  • Radishes
  • Carrots (multi-colored heirloom and regular orange)
  • Lettuce (green leaf and romaine)
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Strawberries
  • Herbs: rosemary, mint, thyme, parsley, cilantro, lovage, garlic, chives, thai basil and regular basil

Here is to all the sunlight I need and I’ll definitely keep you posted on progress.

Box Design inspired from: Mom on Time Out



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Banh Mi (Vietnamese-Style Pork Sandwiches)


I can’t remember the first time I had a Banh Mi and it certainly wasn’t at a restaurant.  In fact, now that I am dusting away at my memory cobwebs, I think I was searching in my Google Reader for a recipe when I had a pork tenderloin to use-up a while back and came upon Bridget’s recipe for Banh Mi and knew I couldn’t go wrong.

Why couldn’t I go wrong…because the flavours are oh-so-right (lame, I know!).  But Banh Mi has a flavour profile that just has to be given high-praise and as a bonus, it truly is a quick and easy meal to prepare.  As Bridget describes in her post, it isn’t the most authentic recipe, but I agree with her that “taste will trump authenticity every time”.  Don’t get me wrong…this is pretty close to authentic (although I am soon to test that statement when I finally get over to Banh Mi Boys in Toronto).

Nonetheless, this is a great recipe.  I, like Bridget, made a few switches, didn’t bother with a mandoline – hand-slicing worked just fine and I used greek yogurt to lighten-up the mayo.

Definitely give this inexpensive meal a shot if you are looking for a new twist on your pork tenderloin recipes, or just a delicious sandwich to impress!


Banh Mi (Vietnamese-Style Pork Sandwiches)

Yield:  4 servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes


  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 regular red radishes, sliced
  • 15 baby carrots, julienned by hand
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder (I was a little more generous)
  • 4 hoagie buns (or 1 24-inch baguette, cut into 4 pieces and split partially open lengthwise)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly


1. Combine vinegar and sugar in microwave-safe bowl. Heat until sugar has dissolved, about 90 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon sriracha, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, radish and carrot to bowl and toss to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, remaining 1 tablespoon sriracha and remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce together in second bowl.  Set aside.

3. Ensure your pork is dry (rub with paper towel) and rub pork with five-spice powder.

4. Cook Pork (choose whichever method you prefer – I’ve done both and they are equally as good).

  • Grill pork over hot burner until browned on all sides and pork registers 145 degrees, 12 to 14 minutes.
  • Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and grill pork for approximately 6-7 minutes, per side, or until pork registers 145 degrees (I rotate my pork 4 times, so each side is nice and brown).

Transfer cooked pork to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Grill bread until lightly toasted, about 1 minute (not essential).

4. Slice pork crosswise into thin slices. Drain vegetables. Spread mayonnaise on inner sides of bread halves. Arrange slices of pork on bread and top with vegetables and cilantro. Serve.


Recipe slightly adapted from The Way The Cookie Crumbles, originally from America’s Test Kitchen Feed

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Filed under Appetizers, Bread, Healthy, Mains, Thai, Vietnamese