Raised 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.

The Best Pizza Dough

We got a bit tired of our whole wheat pizza dough I think we got too accustomed to it and decided it needed some tweaking.

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.

Panama

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.

Cranberry Lemon Squares


Ingredients:- 

For the base:
  • 12 tablespoons butter, 180 ml;
  • 1/2 cup of sugar, 120 ml;
  • 2 cups of flour, 500 ml;
  • pinch of salt;
For the top:
  • 1 cup of sugar, 250 ml;
  • 8 tablespoons of flour, 120 ml;
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder;
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt;
  • 3 eggs;
  • juice of 1 lemon;
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries.

Procedure:-
  • In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the bottom of the cake. 
  • Flatten this dough on the bottom of the baking tray and bake for 10 minutes at 180 ° C (350 ° F).
  • In the same bowl, mix the ingredients that go on top of the cake (except cranberries). 
  • Distribute the cranberries evenly over the baked dough. Then pour in the mixture for the top. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes at the same temperature.

Christmas arrangement - Merry Christmas Djent'l men

Here's a quick musical arrangement I put together for Christmas. Arrangement on the keyboards with guitar tracked in garage band. Hope you like it! Merry Christmas!

Winter is here and it's time to feed our little friends

Winter is here and it's time to feed our little friends and make sure they don't go hungry. The winters are getting colder and it's harder for these little creatures to survive.

This year we've seen up to 30 C below with the wind chill. There are stats out there that say usually only 40% survive the winter. Feeding them will help roughly 30% more possibly survive.

Believe or not over a period of time you get attached to them and can tell each one apart.

We feed them a mix of white and red millet, wheat, sunflower seeds and peanuts. While millet ends up mostly on the ground, the sunflower seeds and peanuts disappeared first.

Sunflower seeds with black shell are smaller and lighter and can be opened easier by most birds as compared to the striped black and white shell variety.

We have some chickadee, black and brown squirrels, blue jays and northern cardinals.





Kincardine, Ontario

Took a road trip to Kincardine amidst the ghastly winds that hit Ontario late November. Some of the roads weren't cleared of snow. Let alone chains, the car wall still on all-season tires which made the drive all the more interesting.

We passed several Mennonite communities along the route. It was quite charming to see the odd horse drawn wagons every now and then amidst the intimidating eighteen wheeler semis.

Kincardine is a beautiful quiet little town. There's a nice pub just overlooking the lighthouse which was the perfect setting for lunch. A good lager, hot soup and fish n' chips with the chilly outdoors made it quite special

Here are some pictures from the trip
Kincardine

Ukrainian Boršč recipe

Boršč is a Ukrainian soup popular in many Eastern and Central European countries. You cannot beat this delicious soup on those cold winter evenings. Boršč is typically served with a slice of fresh bread. The best boršč I recall having was during a snow storm up in the mountains near the Czech-Polish border. After trekking for a while through zero visibility I stumbled upon a bouda which served the best boršč until now :) Hope you enjoy this recipe.


Ingredients:-
  • Beef with bone, 300 gr
  • 2 medium sized beetroot
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1/3 head of red cabbage
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 2 liters chicken broth
  • Dried basil
  • Sour cream or thick plain yogurt
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper
Procedure:-
  • Cur the beef into cubes and sear in hot oil till nicely browned. Remove beef from pan and set aside.
  • Fry the onions in the same pan. Add in the celery and carrots.
  • Pour in the chicken broth, add garlic, tomato paste,basil, salt and pepper. 
  • Simmer till the meat softens (approx. 45 minutes) 
  • In the meantime peel the potatoes, beetroot and cabbage. Cut into small pieces and stir into the broth.
  • Serve with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt.

Thai Tom Kha Gai Soup

Thai Tom Kha Gai has got to be one of the best soups I've tasted. It's just the perfect blend of spice,coconut and that Thai lemony flavor. It's best made with chicken but you can also mix in some fresh shrimps. Here's my recipe of Thai Tom Kha Gai soup.
Thai Coconut Soup - Tom Kha Gai Soup

Ingredients:-
  • 1” piece ginger, peeled
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves 
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 Oxo chicken cube
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
  • 7 shiitake mushrooms cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 carrots cut into thin discs
  • Can of coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 stalk of lemongrass
  • Chili oil, cilantro leaves with tender stems and fresh green chilli (for serving)

Preparation:-
  • Slice and lightly smash lemongrass and ginger; 
  • Cut lemongrass into 4” pieces. Bring lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves, and broth to a boil in a large pan. 
  • Let it simmer for 8–10 minutes so that the flavors kick in. 
  • Strain the broth into a clean saucepan and discard the solids.
  • Bring the broth to a boil and place in the chicken.
  • After 2 minutes add in the shiitake mushrooms.
  • Add in the carrots, fish sauce and sugar and cook until chicken,mushrooms and carrots done.
  • Mix in coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  • Turn off the heat and drop in some chili oil, cilantro, and roughly sliced green chilli.

Rosemary Chicken and baked potatoes

Thanksgiving was low key this year as I'd just undergone dental surgery a week before and was coping with a long and painful recovery. None the less I was not going to miss out on a delicious home cooked dinner. Given that we had a lot of rosemary we decided to put it to good use.
Thanksgiving lunch!
Rosemary Chicken

Ingredients:-
  • 2 chickens; 
  • 1 lemon; 
  • 6 unpeeled cloves of garlic; 
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic; 
  • butter; 
  • fresh rosemary; 
  • salt; 
  • black pepper. 
Procedure:- 
  • Rinse and pat dry the chicken.
  • Place them in a pan with a grid at the bottom. Let the chicken stand for an hour so it's at room temperature before baking. 
  • Stuff the chickens with lemon pieces and unpeeled garlic cloves. 
  • Tie the feet together. 
  • For the garlic butter, place the pieces of butter in a bowl, add finely chopped rosemary and garlic, salt and pepper. 
  • Mix and apply approx 3/4 of the mixture under the skin of the chicken. Coat the top of the chicken with the remainder and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes at 220 ° C (425 ° F) with the choice of the fan on your oven. 
  • Turn the chickens and bake another 45 minutes.

Rosemary potatoes 

Ingredients:-
  • potatoes;
  • 2 cloves of garlic;
  • garlic powder;
  • fresh rosemary;
  • olive oil;
  • salt;
  • black pepper.
Procedure:-
  • Cut the potatoes into chips. Cook them in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes. Drain and let them rest for about 3 minutes in their steam.
  • In a small bowl, mix olive oil, thinly sliced ​​garlic, garlic powder, finely chopped rosemary, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture on the potatoes and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
  • Place aluminum foil on a baking tray and preheat for approximately 10 minutes at 220 ° C (425 ° F). 
  • Place the potatoes on the tray and bake for about 45 minutes at the same temperature. 

Fall Colours

Here's a glimpse of the beautiful fall colors here in Ontario.  The drive through this countryside is so beautiful that i'm motivated to someday capture it through HD video.


 


 



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.

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






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

Nasturtium salad

We've been waiting a while for our Nasturtiums to grow. Nasturtiums make an excellent choice as they're edible, attractive, and supposedly will help rid your garden of certain pests.

It took eight weeks for them to flower and finally land up in my dinner. The leaves have a spicy tinge to them.

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



Rainbow Trout Fishing

True fishing is usually a test of patience with a lot of prep work. For those in a hurry the local fish ponds are just perfect. Maybe too perfect! We spent a lovely morning catching trout. It's a sheer pleasure to reel in those fish. Our largest trout was a five pounder which broke our line.
Trout fishing at the local fish pond

Catching the five pound rainbow trout

Cherry Cake

Cherry cake
Ingredients:-
  • All purpose flour, 200 gr.;
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder;
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda;
  • caster sugar, 100 gr.;
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence;
  • Plain yogurt, 125 ml;
  • Butter, 60 gr.;
  • 2 eggs;
  • Water, 75 ml;
  • Pitted cherries, 300 gr.

Procedure:-
  • Beat up the eggs preferably in a food processor.
  • Stir in yogurt, melted butter, sugar, vanilla essence, yoghurt and water and mix well with the beaten eggs.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until smooth.
  • Butter the cake tin and sprinkle with flour. 
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle with pitted cherries.
  • Bake at 180 ° C (375 ° F) for about 30 minutes.

2014 Flyboard North American Championships at Redpath Waterfront Festival

We caught a glimpse of the 2014 Flyboard North American Championships down by the waterfront. These water jet packs sure look like a lot of fun!




Family BBQ

We had a lovely family BBQ today. Mom's tandoori chicken, wifey's scallops, shrimps and grilled vegetables and my spicy pork ribs all turned out delicious! This was definitely one of the tastiest barbecue we've ever had. You can find the recipes below.





BBQ Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients:-
  • 8 chicken legs;
  • salt;
  • 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt;
  • 2 tablespoons tandoori masala.
Preparation:-
  • Mix yogurt with tandoori masala in a bowl
  • Wash the chicken legs and pat dry. Score the skin so as to allow the marinade to reach the meat. 
  • Rub each leg with half a teaspoon of salt and the above tandoori yogurt mix. Apply well above and below the skin.
  • Let the meat marinate overnight.
  • Bake in oven at 180 ° C (350 ° F) for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let it cool down to room temperature.
  • Grill on BBQ using direct heat for about 8 minutes turning it once midway.



Grilled Shrimp and Scallops

Ingredients:-
  • shrimps; 
  • scallops; 
  • olive oil; 
  • salt; 
  • pepper; 
  • thyme. 
Preparation:-
  • Wash and dry the shrimp and scallops . 
  • Place them in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. 
  • Season with salt and pepper and let it marinate for about an hour. 
  • Treadle the shrimp and scallops on skewers. If you're using wooden skewers it's good to soak them for at least 15 minutes before use. 
  • Grill the shrimp for about 3 minutes on high direct heat and about 2 minutes longer for the scallops.
  • You could also use a soaked cedar plank, that's optional.