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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.

soil

(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.

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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.

 

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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 garden..man 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:

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This is the middle box above:

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This is the right box above:

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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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Mediterranean Veggie Pizza

ImageThis pizza is the ideal pizza to me – a crisp, thin crust; loaded with almost all of my favourite veggies and a little cheese (especially the feta!) This pizza is actually inspired by a pizza that I would order from Pizza Hut – but they took it off the menu a while back, which forced me to re-create it at home – never a bad thing, as I could make it “perfect”. I also feel a little “healthy” eating an extra slice of this pizza…hey, you have to get your veggies right?  Feel free to adapt this pizza to what veggies you have at home or to your preference. 

Enjoy!

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Mediterranean Veggie Pizza

Yield:  One Medium Pizza
Prep Time:  20 minutes of active prep
Cook Time:  15 minutes for pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of pizza dough, or your favourite pre-made
  • 1 (small) can tomato paste (about 4 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • dash of hot sauce
  • S&P
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 small can of sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees (and if you have a pizza stone, preheat that as well).  It is good to allow your pizza stone to pre-heat in a 500 degree oven for at least an additional 15 minutes.

If you have a pizza peel, lay that on the counter.  Otherwise, prepare a sheet of parchment paper (either square or cut to shape of your dough).

Prepare your dough. On top of your parchment paper or your pizza peel, roll out the dough into a round pizza shape.  Leave an edge around outside for the crust. Once you’ve achieved the shape you desire, pinch the outside of the dough to create a crust. Then pierce the crust with a fork all the way around (this will prevent large air bubbles from forming in your crust while it bakes!).

Mix together the tomato paste, sugar, oregano, hot sauce and salt and pepper. Spread evenly over the top of pizza.

Meanwhile, wilt the spinach in a pan for a few minutes.  Top the pizza with the wilted spinach, mushrooms, green and red pepper, cherry tomatoes, black olives and the mozzarella and feta cheese. 

Bake in your pre-heated oven for approximately 17 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

Enjoy!

JBean Cuisine original recipe, inspired by Pizza Hut

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Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho

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One thing that I’ve loved over time is experiencing new foods and new regions of cuisine.  Vietnamese became one of my favourites – but I cannot remember when/where I first tried it.  I think it became a regular cuisine choice while we lived in Ontario while CH was in law school – there was a great place not too far from us and it became a date “lunch” venue – cheap, delicious and time together.  It has actually also become a comfort food to me, because nothing cures a cold, allergies or stuffy nose like Chicken Pho (at least to me!)

Making this recipe was a two time attempt – I first tried the traditional method of making pho, which involved roasting beef bones, many upon many hours of simmering and lots of little steps.  The result was fabulous, but with pho being so accessible and reasonable, making it myself like that wasn’t going to happen again.

And THEN, came this recipe.  When it popped into my reader, I was intrigued – could it really be as good as said?  One try of the recipe and we were hooked.  Yes, yes it could be.  It is everything pho should be – simple, delicious flavours, comforting and now, quick from my own kitchen!

Definitely give this soup a try – you won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!

ChickenPho Shot2

Quick Chicken Pho

Yield: 2 servings for us, original recipe states 4
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 – 25 minutes

Ingredients:

SOUP BASE

  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (store bought or homemade)
  • 1 whole chicken breast
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce

ACCOMPANIMENTS

  • 1 lb dried rice noodles
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
  • fresh cilantro tops
  • 1/2 cup shaved red onions
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
  • sriracha chili sauce
  • hoisin sauce
  • sliced fresh chili peppers

Directions:

In a large pot – add the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.

Immediately add the chicken stock, chicken breast, onion, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat, discarding the bone (if you used a bone-in breast).

Taste broth and add more fish sauce or sugar if necessary. Strain the broth and discard solids.

Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package and spilt between desired serving bowls.

Ladle the broth into bowls and divide the shredded chicken breast into each bowl.

Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, red onion, and other accompaniments as desired and enjoy.

Recipe from Love and Olive Oil

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