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Posts tagged ‘food’

the state of the garden

July 9, 2010

zora naki

what do you want first – the good news or the bad news? I’m usually a bad news kind of person – get it out of the way, and then you know you have something good to look forward to.

So here it is.

The garden this year? Not up to snuff. Between the cold wet spring and poor plant selection/soil issues, some of my plants are positively runty. I have a tomato plant that (bless its little heart) is only about 6 inches tall and is still manfully putting out two cherry tomatoes. Five pepper plants (home depot – boo!) are still the same size as when i planted them about three months ago.

Tried some new veggies out this year – the fava beans grew like stink and then got infested with little black bugs, and the cabbages grew big and also got infested (for some reason i keep writing invested) with green worms and greyish crap. My solution is to repeatedly blast them with water, but i’m thinking there’s room for improvement.

My strawberry bed was decimated by the reno – only 5 strawberries have made it to fruition 😦  Also, the plum tree that put out forty-odd plums last year has one single solitary fruit growing. Is it on sabbatical? Am i doing something wrong?

Now for the good news. The potatoes in the front yard are coming along nicely.

the newly planted apple trees are putting out fruit.

bumper crops of raspberries.

Finally, (and unrelated to gardening), we headed off to granville island last saturday to gorge on seafood and admire the houseboats. very chic, no?

stupendous flower baskets.

happy 11th anniversary!

front yard gardens

September 5, 2009

zora naki

we were on our way to the PNE yesterday afternoon and I ended up taking more pictures of the front yard gardens that we passed than i did of the kids on rides. Some gorgeous, mouth-watering displays of gardening ingenuity, in all its forms. First up, a lovely Craftsman with a picket fence. From the street, it looks pretty.

front yard gardens

When you peer over the fence (as i am wont to do), you spy a functional and attractive garden.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

so pretty. in the same neighbourhood, squash and melon vines sprawl vigorously.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

some are combined with raised beds holding other veggies.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

the scariest version was an entirely enclosed chain link cage.

front yard garden

ugly as heck, but effective – check out the crop (i’m guessing bitter melon, but i don’t really know)

front yard garden

when we finally made it to the fair, i did manage to get a shot of the smallest kid on a ride.
front yard garden

the rest was just a blur of lines and rides and animals and junk food galore. i really wanted to eat a deep-fried mars bar (just to say that i had) but we didn’t get to it this time around. maybe next year…

the middle part is boring

July 28, 2009

zora naki

once the big stuff is done (demo! framing! roof!), the middle stuff is B-O-R-(yawn)  let’s talk about my garden for a minute. it’s parched. scorching weather/no rain/water shut-off. and yet…

july plumscherry tomatoesjuly blackberries

how sweet is that? i’m going back this morning to battle the thorns for more blackberries.

house stuff on the inside: the plumbing rough-in has passed inspection and the heating and wiring are underway. sprinkler guy starts next week. i’m still working through the lighting plan in my head. i would suggest not paying an architect to draft one, since it turned out to be mostly useless. so many switches!

ergo sun tunnel

the sun tunnel has made it down to the basement. laundry chute (made from heating ducts) is in place.

house stuff on the outside: the city tree-trimming crew happened by yesterday and hacked the beautiful maple into a shadow of its former self. argh! ‘imagine that you went to a hairdresser with long hair and asked for an inch off the bottom – and then came out with a crewcut. horrible.

a massive trench was dug and then filled in to connect our sump pit to the city’s new water/sewer connection. front and side yards totally trashed – rocks and clay abound.

windows have all been reframed and bad wood replaced with good.

yawn. i’m putting myself to sleep. next post: shopping!

everybody has an opinion

June 23, 2009

zora naki

when it comes to doing a reno, everyone going by the house has an opinion. some people are devastated that we’re changing anything, some are just curious, a few (very few) are keen on the changes. i am trying (very hard) not to second-guess myself and my style choices (not traditional! not craftsman!). skin! grow thicker!

the crew is ripping along – in this case, through the roof. the master bedroom has some lovely new ceiling joists and a blue tarp roof.

master bedroom ceiling

from the outside, we have (temporarily) a flat roof.

roof rippage, day 1

i am told that most of the roof should be gone by the end of today, and walls on the second floor will start going up tomorrow.

still having some trouble with decisions over how the windows should be framed. we have a very clean line around the windows and doors (or rather, we did) – stucco/plaster without mouldings. would love to replicate this, but am told it is a lost art. was hoping to use aluminum windows, but the quote for that was more than double the vinyl windows. back to the drawing board.

for the inside framing, i want a very simple box. architect has suggested mdf window sill/frame and mudding/taping right up to the edge. contractor has expressed concern that drywall will shrink/crack and it will look like crap. also, drywall won’t stand up to wear and tear. he has suggested 2″ window trim on top of this, but i’m a bit meh on the idea. maybe the mockup will change my mind. was also hoping to have box drywalled higher than the top of the window frame, so as to have room to install roller blinds. also told that this is $$$ option, given extra j-beads  and whatnot (not sure on this term – extra corners anyways). must ponder on this.

my garden is struggling a bit with the lack of rain (in vancouver of all places). having trouble staying on top of the watering/weeding. i usually don’t get to this stage 0f garden neglect until later in july, but things seem to be okay so far.

herb garden (the fennel is taking over again). yellow flowers are the lemon chamomile run rampant. basil is my waterloo – has died again.

herb garden june 22

the first of the purple cauliflowers  (graffiti) is emerging in my daughter’s garden. she claims that her singing is the reason for this early success. i am skeptical. perhaps cauliflower is tone deaf?

first graffiti cauli of 2009

the strawberries are finishing up and the raspberries are in full swing.


i’m going to go and do some more unpacking. i should be finished by the time we move out. adios!

Grow Your Own #29

June 17, 2009

zora naki

Wow! Prepare to be awed by the fabulous entries for this edition of GYO.

Cannellini Bean Salad

Cannellini Bean Salad

Andrea Meyers (Virginia, United States) of Andrea’s Recipes came up with her usual yumminess in her recipe for Cannellini Bean Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette.


Artichoke Salad with Sage

Graziana of Erbe in Cucina used sage from her Italian garden to make Artichoke Salad with Sage.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs

Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs

I never thought that a chicken recipe would appear on my blog, but this one from Núria of Spanish Recipes (which makes sense since she is from Barcelona) sounds good – Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs with Rosemary, Honey and Orange.

Braised Rhubarb with Herbs and Saffron

Braised Rhubarb with Herbs and Saffron

Jessamyn Tuttle from Mount Vernon, WA used up some of her rhubarb harvest in Braised Rhubarb with Herbs and Saffron which you can read all about in her blog Food on the Brain.

Lemony Rosemary Polenta Cake

Lemony Rosemary Polenta Cake

Bee and Jai from Jugalbandi created a Lemony Rosemary Polenta Cake using some home-grown rosemary from their garden in the North-Western U.S.

Quinoa Flake Crisp

Quinoa Flake Crisp

Linda Simon (WI, USA) from Kitchen Therapy created a lovely Q-is-for-Quinoa Flake Fruit Crisp using the last of her rhubarb.


Lemon Thyme Shortbread Hearts

Elissa from the blog 17 and Baking lives in Seattle, WA (USA), and made Lemon-Thyme Shortbread Hearts using lemon-thyme grown in her herb garden. Sounds yummy. I wonder if she’ll have to change the name of her blog when she turns 18?

Potato Salad with Peas and Peppers

Potato Salad with Peas and Peppers

Kim Lewandowski (Portsmouth, VA) of Live, Love, Laugh, Eat came up with a delicious Potato Salad with Peas and Peppers, featuring her spring peas.

Raspberry Tiramisu

Raspberry Tiramisu

And finally, this fabulous-looking Raspberry Tiramisu comes from Dhanggit’s Kitchen in Aix en Provence, France and uses home-grown raspberries.

Bon appetit! If I’ve missed anyone, please fire me an angry email. I hope to have the cojones to contribute to the next round of GYO – #30, hosted by Graziana of Erbe in Cucina.

Grow Your Own 2009

demolition day 3

June 13, 2009

zora naki

i was thinking about subtitling this post ‘mishaps and misdemeanors’, as i have encountered both. the demo continues apace, i managed to scrunch my car on friday (distracted by reno thoughts – but thankfully no one was hurt), AND the contractor turned off the power to my freezer at some point, unbeknownst to me, which led to a horrific hour this afternoon. imagine the stench of defrosted fish that has ripened over three days of very warm June weather, in combination with thawed raspberries/strawberries from last summer’s harvest. now combine that in two inches of liquid sitting in the bottom of your freezer, and enjoy the clean out! yuck.

thinking positive thoughts. we got through the dvd of godfather 2 tonight (mr. naki didn’t fall asleep this time), we finally have our stuff out of the old house (save for a trip to the dump), AND i skipped a belt at my karate grading (i’m up to green now – yay!), so while i am not deadly, i am at least partially lethal.

photos. master bedroom before.

master bedroom before

master bedroom after day three:
master bedroom after day 3

kids’ bedroom before:

kids' bedroom before

kids’ bedroom after day three:
kids' bedroom after day three

this was the view down the hallway after day two:

hallway towards living room, end of day 2
and this was after day three:
view down hallway after day three

looking at the north wall of the living room after day two:

end of day 2

and after day three:
north wall of living room after day three

a new beam was installed that spans the living room entrance wall (please do not attach any significance to the numbers on the beam) – it will help to support the new second floor. This necessitated two holes cut into the roof.

hole in roof

I harvested a bumper crop of strawberries from my strawberry bed today – 250! i think we’re on track to beat last year’s harvest. i have noticed that some plants habitually produce deformed (although still tasty) strawberries. Should i cull these or not?

bumper crop of strawberries

this is not what it looks like…

June 4, 2009

zora naki

male hardy kiwi

Now,from this picture, you might think, ‘hey, look at that thriving male kiwi vine!’ and, if you’d been following the blog, you would know of my trials and tribulations with the kiwi vines, and you might jump to the obvious conclusion that my vine was doing great.

sadly no.

it grew some brave leaves earlier in the spring and then withered and died. the picture above is his replacement, a kiwi gigolo named Pavel.

female kiwi

one of my female vines is happy about Pavel’s arrival.

herb garden june 1, 2009

the herb garden continues to put the rest of my plants to shame. i’ve even managed to keep basil alive for a month. It’s the tiny little plant on the left. All the big stuff is perennial (oregano, thyme, lemon balm, fennel, chives, etc.) The snow killed the rosemary, so there is a replacement buried back in there.

baby plums

plums are growing on the grafted plum tree.

baby apples

did you know that baby apples are fuzzy?

green blueberries

they look green, but these are blueberries underway…

grow your own – and eat it too!

June 1, 2009

zora naki

GYO-2GR-200I’m super-excited to be hosting the June 15th edition of Grow Your Own (GYO). Do you grow/raise/forage edibles? Well, I would love to hear you blog about it. Extensive rules below, but basically, send me the link to your blog post before June 15th, and I’ll post a summary post shortly thereafter. And props to andrea’s recipes for metahosting the event – i’ve bookmarked so many of her recipes, they have their own folder .

Grow Your Own is a twice-a-month blogging event that celebrates the foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. Anyone with a blog can participate! Do you write a food blog? A gardening blog? A farm blog? A hunting or foraging blog? An eco blog? A frugal blog? Anything whatsoever related to home and garden or fun activities to do with children? You can write a post about some of the edibles you have raised, grown, or found and cooked with. Having a food blog is not a requirement for participation.

The rules are simple:

* Make a dish that uses at least one item from your very own garden or farm and post about it. Your garden doesn’t have to be big. Container gardens are welcome! If you hunted or foraged, those items are also eligible. You can also use something that was given to you, but the giver must have personally grown or raised the item. If you paid for it, then it doesn’t count.

* Anything edible that you have grown or raised qualifies, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, sprouts, edible flowers, nuts, grains, legumes, dairy products, eggs, livestock, etc.

* Please make sure your dish is posted during the month of the event because we like to celebrate seasonal items. One post per blog, please.

* As a courtesy, please include a link to this announcement in your blog post, and then update later with a link to the round-up.

* If you want to include one of the Grow Your Own badges in your post, feel free to grab one from here. (Please upload to your own server/image repository.) Logos professionally designed by Jeff Meyers.

To include your post in the round-up, send an email to zoranaki(at)gmail (dot)com by the 15th of June 2009 with the following information:

* Subject line: Grow Your Own #29
* Your name and location (country, state if applicable)
* Your blog URL
* Permalink to your post
* 300×300 pixel photo of your dish (As long as the photo is no larger than 300 pixels in either direction, it will work.)

It’s hard to keep track of entries if we don’t receive an email, so please remember to email your information.

I will post a round-up of all our dishes within a few days after the deadline (of course subject to any other events in life, acts of God, etc). Questions? Please ask in the comments or email.


April 22, 2009

zora naki


spring is blooming in patches around the yard.


the usual suspects have made an appearance.


if you watch really closely, you can see the rhubarb unfurling…


the garlic has bravely sprouted.


the peas are up.

herb garden april

the herb garden is making a statement (although you’ll note that i’m a little behind in getting the fall leaves off the bed). much to my surprise, chamomile (german, roman and lemon) is a perennial – who knew? i suppose reading the labels before i plant things might help. The thyme, oregano, and mints are all up and active. The chives (standard and garlic) are about to bloom already. The fennel is a mere 6 inches high, but we all know that will change. and i thought it was a one-season fluke, but a patch of the lemon balm (middle) has kept a golden tone in contrast to the other green variety (can’t wait for more of those lemon balm mojitos from last year!).


i spent about 5 minutes lying on the ground yesterday taking pictures of this fellow, and foiling the attempts of my smallest person to alternately pick it up or stomp on it.

happy growing…

tomato time

March 29, 2009

zora naki

tomato sprouts

ergo sprouts. second time for starting tomatoes from seed (my first efforts last spring were fruitless). killed off half of the early emergers with a preemptive exposure to the great outdoors on a sunny/windy day last week. i seem to operate on the ‘survival of the fittest’ principle of gardening. why bother babying them along with cushy heating mats and fans to prevent spindliness when i can just throw them out on the picnic table and leave them to the elements? only the best will live to be eaten. the cruel fate of a tomato.

it was still sad though – pulling out the ones that curled up and died. i actually find it harder to thin out perfectly good seedlings (after sowing the requisite 3 seeds per pot) that are just a wee bit smaller than their companions. we don’t get rid of short people, now do we? i’ve tried transplanting these runts to other locations in an effort to extend their lives to usefulness, but they usually don’t survive my clumsiness. perhaps should wait longer, until their little stalks are thicker than the width of a hair. too impatient. bad trait in a gardener.

this year, i’m trying to grow the following tomatoes (based on careful consideration and what was available on the West Coast Seeds rack):

  • sweet million cherry
  • big beef
  • red cherry
  • aunt molly’s ground cherry (little yellow fruit in a papery husk fall off the bush when they are ripe)
  • black krim – heirloom
  • amish paste – heirloom
  • super italian paste – heirloom
  • golden rave – baby yellow Roma
  • prudens purple – heirloom (supposed to be very early and BIG – up to 1 lb)
  • green zebra – i liked these in the taste taste i did last summer

haven’t seen seeds for sungold, but i will definitely snap up a bunch of these from the gardening store once they come in – they were my favourites last year.

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