Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spring is in the Air... and on My Balcony Part 1

It's that time of year! The long weekend came and went with a little bit of rain but a lot of sun that just made it so wonderful to be outside.

For the last few years I've been living in the city I've wanted to have a 'garden' on my balcony. Not having a garden or a lawn or green space is hard in the city, even though I do live in a fairly green neighbourhood. I think it's that there is something lovely about making from scratch, getting your hands dirty and making it grow.

I may have caught this itch from my grandmother on my father's side, my Nan, who was an impeccable gardener. She could make just about anything grow and had the most beautiful gardens when I was a girl, and kept great gardens up until she died. I best remember her cascading lawn garden with levels upon levels of fruits, flowers and vegetables. It felt like they were growing from nothing they always brought around the best birds and insects. My grandparents home in St. Catherines was like a secret garden, but I have a feeling I may be remembering it with rose coloured glasses.

Either way I've always wished I had an ounce of the talent she did with plants, but sadly there is a point I must confess; I do not have the greenest thumbs and in turn kill quite a few of my plants. Even the ones that are guaranteed to not die. I'm that good. So with the coming of warm weather I began a plan and plot for grander, though probably not truly 'grande' designs.

This is part one, of two parts (I think). Now as much as I love pretty flowers and plants I love cooking more and thought I'd try my hand at herbs and vegetables.

First thing I did was grab the essentials.


I had a bit of a time finding out how much I needed, 30L ending up being a large amount but it led t a two part project so I can't complain. That and Zach was a joy to help carry this back home as we do not have a car. It's organic, which I wouldn't normally bother with except for the fact that we'll be eating what comes out of this dirt. The nursery suggested going with this one and since it only cost a dollar or two more than the 20L non-organic I thought 'what the hell'.


I went with a longer planter so that maybe I could hang it later or it could sit outside on the table. It came with a solid bottom which was not what I needed so out came the drill!

These are the small but effective holes Zach drilled in the bottom of my planter that will allow for proper drainage. Which, again getting a little convessiony, is important as I overwater like a champ and must have that drainage to keep from smothering my lovely new veg with all the water.

Plants.... and Pommies

I guess something for the dirt would be smart? And what better to plant than onions, hot portugal peppers and 'comedy third option' (as Zach calls it) leeks! Not to mention we all need a drink here and there while gardening, especially on a nice, warm and sunny day in early spring.

I'm always a fan of all kinds of onions so I gravitate towards onions and leeks. I might not be getting huge yield on these vegetables but as the other half keeps reminding me, this is for fun! So what if they die.

A Touch of Spring

And there we have it! A small box happily filled (pun intended) with some hopefully tasty vegetables. It's still a little on the cold side right now so I don't think they'll be living outside in the evenings (I'll truck them in to my kitchen table, where all my other plants live).

I'm generally pleased with the progress on the weekend, was able to get a bit of part two started and can't wait to do more.

On a side note, remember to keep your plants up high enough, or have a squirt bottle ready.

This is what happens when your cats, who don't like onions, but like the stems of onions get near your newly potter plants. Bad Oscar. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

GTFU F&V Challenge: Rutabega

Last week I set up a challenge. By last week I mean maybe five minutes ago to me time but through the power of blogging I am both then and now and tomorrow!

Okay I'll admit that was strange, moving on.

Rombegarootvut... ga.


Image copyright

It's a 'rut' vegetable. Get it?
I know nothing about it other than the fact that it looks like a dirty smushed colourless radish. What does one do when they know nothing?
Or google. Whatever. Shut up and listen to my mad research skillz.

The rutabega is a cabbage turnip abomination of mad science or crazy silly nature with both edible roots and leaves. Livestock eat it so I guess it's cool for people too. Something about Swedish turnips... and I'm done. That's enough of that. Thanks Wikipedia. You've been most helpful.


How does one buy said magical cabnip baby? (Way better name if you ask me but rutabaga is so much fun to say.
According to the internet at "Select rutabagas that are 3 to 5 inches in diameter—the smaller, the sweeter—and that feel firm, smooth, and heavy, with no cracks or soft spots. They may have a wax coating that prevents moisture loss."

I wish I had paid more attention to this when picking up my rutabaga.


Now I don't promise this each time but I decided to cook it two ways!

Mashed Rutabaga

Image copyright UpsetAppleCart 2014

  • Milk
  • Water
  • Rutabaga
  • salt
  • heavy cream
  • garlic 
  • butter
Directions (loosely based on recipe from

  1. Peel and roughly chop rutabaga. 
  2. Place in a pot and cover with equal parts milk and water; add a pinch of salt. 
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook until soft.
  4. Drain. 
  5. Puree (using food processor or immersion blender) with cup heavy cream and butter. 
  6. Cook a few sliced garlic cloves.


Rutabaga Fries 

(from the
  • Rutabaga
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning (cajun for me)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional) 
I suggesting going over to the to get the full directions. 


Sadly there aren't any reaction pictures because it turns out, I can't take my own pictures and the other half is working. Boo hoo.

Taste summary: Eh. It tasted like cauliflower but the texture was.... not what I liked. I added butter and salt, more than what was requested and then it tasted like fluffy, almost grainy butter. I don't think I liked it. It wasn't terrible though, just not my cup of tea in mashed form. The illusion of it looking like a potato threw me off, I was expecting something other than cauliflower tasting mush. I can see it working well with some green or an onion but it's missing something.
I did not finish it. Consistency of baby food. That might not be the fault of the vegetable but my cooking skillz.


Taste summary: THEY TOOK TOO LONG TO COOK! OMG. Some parboiling probably should have happened. My only fear was that I'd boil boil them and then BAM you'd have mush fries. So I'm still waiting while they cook. It's taking a while...

I burned them. No more Rutabaga.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Grow the Fuck Up and Eat Your Damn Fruits and Vegetables... Challenge

I don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. There is no long of this short and crappy fact. In this age of processed poop where I am brainwashed into feeling good about eating a macaroni and cheese that 'contains one serving of vegetables' in their not so cheesy tasting "cheese" sauce, something is obviously very wrong.

There are some truths about my eating habits I have to admit.
  • I over eat like a champ. That's probably not something to be proud of but if it was I would be.
  • I love the shit out of carbs. Carbs and I have a long standing love hate relationship. It's mostly based on me loving them and then hating the handles of love we've built together. Such mighty mighty handles. Also, typing carbs instead of crabs is really hard. That sentence would have had a totally different context if I didn't reread what I wrote. 
  • Sugar is sweetest when in my mouth. This was more true the younger I was, or said less awkwardly the older I get the less I like sugar. 
  • Salt is the nectar of the gods and of my probably high as hell blood pressure-y veins. 
  • I look good in red (meat). I mean I'm sure I do. I don't wear meat often, or ever unless you count your body as meat, then we're all wearing meat but... I like red meat. 
  • Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. No explanation required. 
Notice how in all that mess not a fruit or vegetable made an appearance. This is a problem. 
Now I can't blame macaroni and cheese, the government, my mom, that guy outside New York Fries giving out free samples or the... weather for not eating what I should. 
That shit is entirely on me. 

I'm less inclined to make the right decision on food habits due to pressure from a million and a half places but everyone deals with shit so today I'm telling myself to grow the fuck up and eat your damn fruits and vegetables. 

The GTFU F&V Challenge

One day a week I will try a new fruit or vegetable. I will start with, but is not exclusive to, fruits and vegetables I have either never tried before or have not tried in years because 'I'm sure I don't like it'. It may also include trying F&V I'm sure I don't like because why the hell not! Or you know, eating fruits and vegetables I already like. 


I dunno. Let's see... 
  • I have to eat it. I can't drink or juice it. Lemons are going to suck so hard.
  • It must be a fruit or vegetable. No magical bacontato here. Man... if that existed though I would eat the hell out of it. 
  • If it's in my grocery store(s) I have to try it. Well has it in an edible condition.
  • Try it both raw and cooked (if it can be eaten raw).
  • Will take suggestions from commenters on what to try next if available in my area.
  • Reaction photo's are required where possible because I make hilarious faces. 
If you think of cooler rules tell me. Can't hurt to make it interesting. The first step will be to keep it with the season and try to stay local (to keep the costs down) until I run out of local selections. I'm going to use this Availability Guide for Ontario produce from to guide me each month. 


Why the hell am I doing this? For a healthier outlook and a wider pallet for F&V to incorporate into my regular diet? A range of hilarious photo's of me making faces while eating? A sense of understanding in what I do and don't like? A list of what F&V work with bacon? Because bacon. 

Who the hell knows if I'll keep up with it or not. Maybe I'm slightly inspired by watching Julie and Julia but tempered with less aspirations for a book or movie deal. 

I aim to start this on Monday by picking a vegetable from the grocery store. There is a great chance I'm a giant wuss and will pick something simple I'm sure will be good but everyone starts somewhere and I like to be kind to me. 

Any suggestions? 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mother's Day Carding 2013

Last year I made some lovely cards for Mothers Day. It didn't take much in the way of supplies or skill but certainly made more than a few smiles because it did take some time. This can be a simple DIY project you do each year, I could link you to a million resources online for how to so I will try to keep it brief. These cards go well with DIY gift baskets of some things you know they'll love.

Supplies you'll need:

  • Card stock in varying colours and patterns
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread
  • Tape (double sided) or glue
One thing to remember, or that I like to, is that it's all about layers. 

In this "MOM' card I've layered behind the 'MOM' enough that the letters really pop. Which they do in being another print as well. Playing around, it's a lot of fun. In doing your own cards you can't really go wrong. No one will throw it in your face and scream 'DO IT AGAIN BUT BETTER'. That'd just be mean as all hell. 

I like to layer card stock on card stock to great an embossed look that just feels nice in your hands. 

Like the hearts in this card. Not just one layer, but two layers of them, with a bit of tape beneath to give the look like the hover. I had to be particularily careful putting them in an envelope but they looked really nice. 

Dots: I love using a needle to create shapes in the card. 

This leads well to embossing if you are so inclined, but the cards look nice just with a little poking too. 

As posts go this is a pretty tame one but had some cute ideas that I used for last year. Maybe I'll do the same this year for the Mom's and Gma's out there.