Gardening – 5 Things I’m Growing This Year

5 Things I'm Growing This YearSince I moved to my own place, I’ve developed an interest and love of growing edibles.  Each year I try to grow at least 5 things.  This year’s no different.  I’m by no means a master gardener of any sort (in fact, my attempt at growing radishes, which are supposed to be one of the easiest to grow, failed miserably), but as a speaker at a talk I once went to said, “Gardeners are eternal optimists.”, I will try and try again.  Plus, there are so many things to choose from to grow, there’s got to be a few out there that will become my favorites.

I haven’t really blogged about gardening much but I thought it’s about time I do, as it does bring me a lot of joy.

This year’s gardening season has begun for me.  I always enjoy starting my own seeds because then I get to watch the whole life cycle of my babies, and there’s a certain sense of accomplishment to seeing your seeds germinate to a seedling, then a young plant, then a producing mature participant of your gardening family.  And eventually, you get to eat them, watch them die, clean them up, then start all over again next year!

There are usually 2-3 things I always grow, plus a few new trials. Here’s my list for this year.

5 Things I’m Growing This Year

#1: Ground Cherries

Ground Cherries

This would be my third year growing Ground Cherries.  They’ve always been a success for me and despite my lack of fertilization and somewhat frequent neglect, the ground cherries have always given me a fruitful harvest.

Ground cherries are part of the genus Physalis.  They are closely related to tomatoes and look more like tiny tomatillos.  Ground cherries grown within a papery husk and when ripe and ready for eating, falls from the plant onto the ground, hence their name.  They’re sweet and taste tropical.  Some people describe their taste as between pineapples and strawberries.  I personally think they taste more pineappley.

 #2: Tomatoes

TomatoesI actually always have at least 3 different types of tomatoes growing each season.  There’s just so many to choose from.  Since I live in a condo, I try to scope out the balcony kinds, which grow shorter and bushier, but still (or so they say) manage to give me enough tomatoes for a sandwich here and there lol.  But mostly I enjoy growing the cherry type, as they’re super sweet.

This year’s rotation are Iditarod RedAl-kufaHahms Gelbe Topftomate, and Mohammed (a super dwarf variety, small enough to be grown in a 1 gallon pot).  Last year the hahms failed on me…I only got one measly flavorless tomato out of it.  This year I’m actually going to try to fertilize and see how that fares.  See?  Eternal optimist =)

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Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains with Chef Lynn Crawford + Giveaway!

*All photos courtesy of Gail Bergman PR* healthy-harvest-ancient-grainsAncient grains are all the rage these days, appearing in staples from simple flours, to breads and cereals. Now Catelli went a step further and introduced to us their new dried pasta - Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains.  There’s a giveaway involved at the end…so please keep reading!!

healthy-harvest-ancient-grains-2Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta blends 100 per cent Canadian whole wheat (Go Canadians!!) with five wholesome ancient grains: quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet and sorghum. Certified GMO-free (NON GMO Project Verified), Catelli® Healthy Harvest® Ancient Grains pasta is available in three cuts – Spaghetti, Spaghettini and Rotini.

The toted health benefits of these grains are as follows:

  • Quinoa: Dating back to the 13th century South American Inca Empire, quinoa is high in fibre, protein and minerals – including magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron – and low on the glycemic index.
  • Amaranth: Native to the Americas and prized by Aztec civilization, amaranth is rich in protein, containing all the essential amino acids, key vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron.
  • Teff: Originating in Ethiopia and Eritrea between 4,000 BCE and 1,000 BCE, this poppy seed-sized grain is high in protein, fibre, calcium, thiamin and iron.
  • Sorghum: Domesticated in Northeastern Africa more than 5,000 years ago, sorghum – a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin and magnesium – is known to support digestive health, help fight cardiovascular disease and help control blood sugar levels. (Side note: You can pop sorghum…it looks just like mini-popcorn!!)
  • Millet: Cultivated 4,000 years ago from wild West African grass, this nutty-flavoured grain is known to be heart healthy, containing a high level of protein, magnesium and niacin. Alkalizing to the body, millet is considered one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available.

healthy-harvest-ancient-grains-3Catelli had enlisted the food expertise of celebrity chef Lynn Crawford to help launch the new line. I was one of the lucky bloggers who got the chance to meet Chef Lynn (who was HILARIOUS by the way), learn about the product, and to take home the recipe she had specifically created for the Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta. This all took place very appropriately at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts near Granville Island.

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Trader Joe’s Fireworks Chocolate Bar Review

Trader Joe's Fireworks Chocolate BarPop rocks are nothing new.  However, pop rocks in a chocolate bar is something completely new to me.  So when I saw Trader Joe’s Fireworks Chocolate Bar ($1.99 USD), I had to have and review it.

“Like any good romance, Trader Joe’s Fireworks Chocolate bar is sweet and hot, with just enough explosive moments to keep things interesting.  Share with your true love, or keep the Fireworks all to yourself!”

 The packaging is cute and retro, with lovers on the front and the writing on the back pretty much states you should share these fireworks with your lover.  Maybe.  I’ll see how they taste first.

Trader Joe's Fireworks Chocolate BarThe Fireworks bar is one of the most uneventful looking bars of chocolate I’ve seen.  At least it’s shaped in segments for easy breakage.

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Pumphouse Taproom

After a raving review from The Awkward Diner about Pumphouse Taproom, especially that they have a huge beer list (and a yummy fruity one to boot), I enlisted Six to accompany me to Richmond for a taste.

Pumphouse Taproom - interiorThe place has a full-on pub vibe for sure.  In fact, when we visited, it was ALL men there (the place gets busier after I took the picture).  I was the only other girl and I must say I felt a little out of place in my dress.

Pumphouse Taproom - Lindemans Framboise Lambic

Pumphouse Taproom for sure has an extensive beer list.  I ended up ordering a Lindemans Lambic which is a Belgium raspberry flavored beer.  It was a sweeter beer and super yummy.  Loving the ruby red color.

Pumphouse Taproom - Baja Prawn TacosTo start, we got the Baja Prawn Tacos ($12).  Tempura prawns in tortilla shells topped with smoked chipotle sour cream, cilantro lime cabbage and fresh salsa.

This was very yummy, albeit a little salty.  But the prawns were succulent and big.  This could easily have been the entree for me.

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Soft Peaks Ice Cream – Organic Soft Serve in Gastown

Soft Peaks Ice Cream - exteriorWith the grand opening of Soft Peaks Ice Cream in Gastown in February this year, a bunch of bloggers (me included!  Yay!) were invited to bring a friend and pay a visit to their store on Alexander Street for a free sample.  So of course I brought my partner-in-crime Fannypack to give Soft Peaks a try and see what their organic hoopla was all about.

The biggest selling point of Soft Peaks Ice Cream is that they use Avalon organic milk as their base, as opposed to cream.  Soft Peaks says this differentiation is why their ice cream has less than 6% fat, while the typical cream-heavy ice cream has an average of 15%.  Sounds good to me!

Soft Peaks Ice Cream - interior

Soft Peaks Ice Cream - Honeycomb Peak

I of course had to have their signature item, the Honeycomb Peak ($6.75 for regular size), which is their original creamy swirl topped with a piece of local Okanagan and Fraser Valley honeycomb on top. There’s cereal at the bottom.  To be honest I was very excited to try honeycomb for the first time.

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