David deSouza

David deSouza

David deSouza

David deSouza

South India

We started our journey in Madurai, the oldest city in Tamil Nadu also known as the Athens of the East. And then on to a lovely traditional wedding in Trichy, Tiruchirapalli, the city of Rock Fort and Temples and then relax at Kodaikanal before heading down to Ramanathapuram and Rameshwaram, the birth place of Rama and all the way to the Land's End at Dhanushkodi.

Traditional Czech Fried Carp and Potato Salad

I joined my good friend Tomas to cook a very traditional Czech Christmas meal together. It was quite an undertaking and turned out delicious.

US Road trips

We've made a few road trips around the US. There's a lot to see here and a lot of distance to cover. Here are some of our trips on the east coast.

Carnival

Panama's carnival celebration in Panama City are supposed to be the second largest in the world. Enjoyed this big party with fantastic street food, dozens of stages and loud music blaring at every corner.

Canada

Canada has some of the most beautiful sceneries and landscapes. I hope to drive across to the West coast some day but till then here's a glimpse of Toronto and beyond.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Home-made Strawberry Jam

Spent a lovely afternoon with family making some strawberry jam. It was our first attempt with a canning kit. The secret to great jam is not just having fresh fruit but more importantly the right amount of sugar. You don't want too much for sure and neither too little. We used sugar which was roughly one fourth the weight of the fruit in our jam and it turned out delicious!

Home-made Strawberry Jam


Ingredients:-
  • 2 cups strawberries, 1280 gr.
  • Sugar, 320 gr.
  • 1 tablespoon pectin.

Procedure:-
  • Wash the jam jars thoroughly with soap and water and rinse.
  • Clean and chop the strawberries.
  • Heat water in the canning pot and immerse the washed jars. Keep this boiling.
  • Put hot (not boiling) water into a small pot and place the bottle covers to sterilize.
Now get started on the jam;
  • In a non-stick pot place the strawberries with a spoon of pectin and keep stirring until it boils.  
  • Add sugar and cook for about 1 minute from the time it boils.
  • Remove one jar at a time from the canning pot, drain well and fill with jam, then wipe the rim of the jar and place the lid and seal firmly but not too tight.
  • Place it back in the canning pot. Now repeat the process until you fill all your jars.
  • Now leave to boil for about 10 minutes then turn off the flame and let it stand for another 5 minutes 
  • Remove the jars from the water and leave out for 24 hours in a dark place. 
  • This process should guarantee your jars being perfectly sealed and your jam well preserved.


Lamb chops braised in lemon juice

After a lovely morning spent at the farmers market and our local butcher, I got inspired to make these delicious lamb chops. This is a mild but delicious recipe.
Lamb chops braised in lemon juice

Ingredients:-
  • lamb chops;
  • salt and pepper;
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon;
  • 2 teaspoon all-spice;
  • 2 tablespoons dried mint;
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil;
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes;
  • juice of 1 lemon;
  • 1 onion.

Procedure:-
  • Season lamb chops with salt,pepper, a sprinkle of cinnamon, all-spice and mint.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan and sear the chops briskly.  
  • Place the seared chops in a slow cooker crock pot  along with some diced tomatoes, finely chopped onion and lemon juice.
  • Set the cooker at higher temperature for about 4 hours. 
  • Serve with rice or stuffed Vineyard leaves.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

It's been a joy and truly a labor of love piecing our raised bed garden together. We learnt a lot from our last/first attempt at gardening and this time we were better planned.

We had been discussing the raised bed to grow fresh organic vegetables for a while. Initially I was to do a bit of carpentry and build the wooden box. But after studying different lumber, it made more sense to get something which wouldn't rot or pollute. So we settled for a modular raised bed kit which let us focus on other aspects; Deciding on the location and more importantly the choice of  vegetables that we'd grow.

Below you'll find a weekly update with the progress of our vegetable garden.




Week 17: Fall is here and we're almost done with our vegetable garden. We will be clearing our patch next weekend. We have a few carrots,radish, okra and peppers left which should be ready by next week!

Seventeenth week: The last of our cucumbers.





Week 14: The very last of our tomatoes but a lot of cucumbers and capsicum in the coming weeks.

Fourteenth week: The last of our tomatoes.







Week 13: Our first cucumber is ripe and ready to eat! The cucumbers are growing into whoppers. We've had just a handful of perfect tomatoes, the remainder that we salvaged was made into some delicious green tomato chutney.
Thirteenth week: Our first cucumber is ready to eat!






Week 10: We've had a lot of rain! Our tomatoes took the hit due to the limited space between them. Too much trapped moisture led to over a dozen damaged tomatoes. We had no option but to trim the plants. There are still quite a few tomatoes and hopefully the quick trim will help. I've started sampling the peas and they are just delicious! The cucumbers have grown well these last two weeks and we have a couple of them almost ready.
Tenth week: Too much rain, our tomatoes take a hit




Week 9: Our peppers, tomatoes, peas  and cucumbers are growing steadily. We have a lot of
Nasturtiums as well. Our salad is thinning down. We now have just enough for salad twice a week.
Ninth week:  Peppers, Tomatoes, Peas  and Cucumbers




Week 8: A joy to see our first tomatoes, peas and cucumbers. Our Nasturtiums flowered and we had them in a salad. We've had some severe thunderstorms but luckily minor damage. I can only wonder if our initial mistake of planting the tomatoes very close to each other might be a blessing in disguise. Time will tell..
Eight week: The first on the scene




Week 7: The slugs seem to be the worst for our vegetable patch. We've researched some organic sprays but have decided against it. So far they seem to be content with the salad and there's plenty to go around. Our radish is almost done and three new rows planted.
Seventh week: Some of our visitors




Week 6: Our tomato plants are clearly the highlight of the raised bed. It's a bit of a squeeze for them and hopefully that wont affect their produce. Rather than a foot apart, I think they need to be two feet from each other. The rest of our vegetables are growing steadily and we await the results. For now we have abundant salad, radish and two varieties of spinach.
Sixth week: Too close for comfort.




Week 5: We have visitors to our vegetable patch. Snails and slugs and what looks like a squirrel. Good thing we spotted them early and I was able to relocate them to the grass. There's been very minor damage and I can safely say there's enough for dinner tonight and the weekend BBQ.
Fifth week: Dealing with pests




Week 4: We now have plenty of salad and quite a lot of radish for the week. It's such a difference eating fresh salad straight from the garden. We have removed the green house frame and put in some supports for tomatoes.
Fourth week: Our Salad is ready to eat




Week 3: Our salad has been growing well and so have the radish
Third week





Week 1: We had to cut a piece out of our lawn where the raised bed would sit, lay down some weed block and assemble the raised bed. Into the bed went twenty 6 Kg bags of triple mix soil, some manure and peat moss all mixed in.
The vegetables that made the list were lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, subarctic tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, green and red chilli, two varieties of spinach, peas, radish, carrots, okra, bitter gourd and nasturtium.

Following some basic square foot gardening techniques, the plants were laid down into broadly two areas, one which would be green housed and the other open.
Preparing the location and assembling our raised bed



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Composting: making compost at home

Tired of filling bags full of lawn cuttings and dried leaves, we've now decided to experiment with composting.There was a shady corner in the garden that wasn't utilized. That worked out to be the perfect place to compost.

We built our tumbler compost bin from a simple garbage can. Composting reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and is actually better for your plants providing rich nutrients and structure to the soil.
Setting up our compost bin 

The best home baked Birthday Cakes !!

My wife has been baking some absolutely delightful cakes for my birthdays.
37: Black Forest  

36: Chocolate potato cake

35: Chocolate Hruškovice cake

34: Austrian Sachertorte

34: Strawberry and cream cake

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Nasturtium salad

We've been waiting a while for our Nasturtiums to grow. It took eight weeks for them to flower and finally land up in my dinner. The leaves have a spicy tinge to them. I couldn't really taste anything special with the flowers.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Flower Garden

We wait patiently for our vegetables to grow. In the meantime we have these beauties to visit every evening. Amongst the flowers here are the Don Juan climbing rose, the Julia Child rose, Raspberry Sundae peonies, the Swan lake climbing rose and Shasta daisies