Adventures of a First Time Box Gardener

It’s summer time in the capital city, which means that Edmontonians have broken out of their winter shells and are embracing all things summer in their wonderful glory. For Justin and I, that means gardening. Our first summer’s garden at the Parkallen Home didn’t turn out too well – Actually, it was rather disgraceful. That is why, dear readers, I spared you the photos of sad looking plants from last summer. The problem was that the garden was just too wet. With record rainfalls, and an already super moist soil (Lake McKernan was drained back in the 40s to build the Parkallen and McKernan communities in Edmonton), our poor plants did not stand a chance. The only plants to produce were the heritage tomato plants I received as a gift last summer.

For all these reasons, we decided to embark on a garden box summer planting project.

DSC05316My handy dandy Justin built the boxes from scratch.

DSC05319And we lined them with cardboard boxes, for drainage.

DSC05320Here are our beautiful boxes, waiting to be filled with compost and topsoil.

DSC05328Justin’s mom has such a green thumb! She saved our heritage tomato plants for us over the winter, and seeded them. They turned out so nicely! She also seeded tons of other goodies as well 🙂

DSC05329Once I hauled all the dirt and mixed in the compost, we planned out the garden.

DSC05330Looking pretty good, if you ask me!

DSC05331This one is for our seed babies.

DSC05347Next, we planted the seeded greens. One box was devoted to the heritage tomato plants. They are already looking so tall and beautiful. I cannot wait to bite into a large, juicy tomato!

DSC05348Again, we planted zucchinis. Lets hope they don’t get out of hand, like they did in the Garneau Home Garden.

DSC05349I’m going to try my hand at planting cauliflower this summer.

DSC05350As well as some beautiful cherry tomatoes.

DSC05351The baby Hubbards didn’t like the transplanting as much as the other plants, but they are making a comeback. Common’ Hubbard! You can do it! I’m rooting for you to live again!

DSC05352Here are the beautiful baby bell pepper plants my wonderful mother-in-law seeded for us.

DSC05353And the row of squash – Acorn and butter cup. I cannot WAIT!

DSC05355We also took the plunge and planted two raspberry bushes. I hope they produce lots and lots of beautiful ruby red berries!

DSC05356Now for the rows. Carrots, lettuce, spinach, beans and peas.

If we properly love and care for our plants, I have a feeling this is going to be a very productive season!


Salmon Cakes

I love salmon. It’s such a lean, tasty protein, that can be used in so many different ways. Today’s variation is in the form of a fish cake. Hmmm, fish cakes!

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This recipe asked for potatoes in the fish cakes. I’ve never seen a recipe like this before, and I’m always wiling and ready to try something new!

DSC05291The recipe called for lemon zest and added a nice, bright flavour note to the cakes.

DSC05292Lemons always look so interesting once they’ve been zested: Like they’ve been stripped of their clothing!

DSC05294I chopped up some green onion stalks and added them to the mix.

DSC05296Once the potatoes were boiled, it was time to add them too and mash it all up.

DSC05297Tada! A tasty concoction.

DSC05298There are two ways to cook the patties: you can fry them with a little oil in a pan…

DSC05299Or you can brush them with oil and bake them in the oven.

DSC05300Here they are, all crispy and golden.

DSC05302Serve either by itself, or on a bun, slathered in tzatziki!

Salmon Cakes (Courtesy of Vikalinka)

You will need:

  • 4-5 medium potatoes
  • 4 filets of fresh salmon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon
  • A handful of green onions
  • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by chopping up your potatoes and bringing them to a boil. Next, chop the green onion stalks and throw them in a big bowl. Chop up the salmon filets, zest and juice your lemon and add to onions, then add egg. Once potatoes are done, add to the bowl, season and stir well to combine. Form into patties, and if baking in the oven, brush with canola of olive oil and bake at 400 until crispy and golden brown, turning once (about 20-30 mins). If frying, heat 2 tbsp canola oil in a pan and even cook both sides of the cakes. Serve on a bun with with your favourite toppings, or by itself, smothered in tzatziki. Enjoy!


Turmeric and Lemongrass Drumsticks

Lemongrass and Turmeric – Can think of two ingredients that scream “Thai!” more than those two? The last time I hosted dinner club, I was inspired to go for a Thai theme, so I hunted down a tasty appetizer, and found this great recipe online. It called for a lot of ingredients, but it turned out very well.

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Here are the ingredients for the marinade: Coconut milk, Turmeric, Chili flakes, Lemon Grass, Green Onion, Ginger, Garlic and Lime. All fresh, fantastic smelling ingredients!

This recipe had a lot of steps, and I confess that I forgot to snap a few of them. Here are the ones I did get, however!

DSC05278Slice the lime in half and juice it into your blender. Peel the ginger and cut it into a few, easy to blend pieces.

DSC05279Make sure you get all of limey goodness out of the lime by scraping the flesh with a spoon.

DSC05280Dice up the lemongrass, green onion, and garlic, then pour in the coconut milk, red chili flakes, and turmeric. Blend it all up!

DSC05282When it is all blended, it will look like this, and smell sooooooo good!

DSC05281The recipe called for chicken wings. When I set out to make this recipe, I was convinced I had chicken wings in my freezer. Apparently, I did not, so I opted for drumsticks instead.

DSC05283Pour the marinade over the chicken and let it soak in the tasty juices overnight. Make sure to flip them every once in a while so that all sides of the drumstick are marinated.

DSC05286Next, transfer the marinade to a pot and bring to a boil. You’ll be using the marinade to baste the drumsticks.

DSC05285The recipe suggested you grill the wings, and if I were to make these again, I would definitely follow that suggestion. I would also avoid making a really complicated meal like my awesome Pad Thai recipe at the same time! I baked them in the oven, and while they turned out really well, the flavour would have been enhanced with a little more crispiness. I also did not have time to baste them while they were cooking, which would have also helped to enhance the flavour. Lessons learned for next time…

DSC05287They made a great appetizer for an awesome dinner party.

DSC05288Hmm tasty Thai chicken!

Turmeric and Lemongrass Drumsticks (Courtesy of Bonappetit)

You will need:

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 piece ginger, peeled, chopped
  • The juice and pulp from one fresh lime. 
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 pounds whole chicken drumsticks
  • Combine coconut milk, green onions, garlic, lemongrass, chili flakes, ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, turmeric, and 1 cup water in a blender. PurĂ©e mixture until a smooth marinade forms.
  • Place drumsticks in a large baking dish. Pour marinade over; turn drumsticks to coat evenly. Cover chicken and refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 375. Remove chicken from marinade, shaking any excess marinade back into dish.
  • Transfer marinade to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until marinade thickens, 10-15 minutes. Pour half of marinade into a small bowl; set aside for basting chicken while it cooks. Keep remaining marinade in saucepan; cover and keep warm until ready to serve the chicken.
  • Bake drumsticks for 20-30 mins, turning often so that all sides get cooked evenly. Baste with marinade while cooking.
  • Transfer chicken to a large platter and let it rest for 5 minutes. Squeeze lime wedges over wings. Transfer marinade in saucepan to a small bowl. Serve warm marinade alongside chicken as a dipping sauce.