How to Grow a Pico de Gallo Garden: Gardeners Enjoy a Taste of Summer All Summer With This Salsa Garden

Pico de gallo, literally “rooster’s beak” in Spanish, is a popular Mexican dish that can be as hot as the summer sun or as cool as a glass of iced lemonade. Gardeners can settle on the recipe and plant their rows accordingly.

How to Grow a Pico de Gallo Garden: Gardeners Enjoy a Taste of Summer All Summer With This Salsa Garden

Why Grow a Pico de Gallo Garden?

Gardening with a theme is a fun way to anticipate the taste of the harvest. With a delicious recipe in mind, gardeners are also sure to put every last bit of their produce to good use.

Most gardeners have a mile-long list of herbs and vegetables they’d love to plant. Unfortunately, limited space is usually at odds with these goals. Instead of throwing together a haphazard mishmash of produce, some gardeners utilize all their space for one purpose. Salsa gardens, and pico de gallo gardens in particular, are good examples of this.

What to Plant in the Pico de Gallo Garden

The most abundant ingredient in pico de gallo is the sun-ripened tomato. True salsa connoisseurs claim pico de gallo is only at its best when made with garden-fresh tomatoes.

Next, gardeners will need to plant some white onions. If gardeners want to taste their pico de gallo throughout the summer, they’ll need to either start their onion seeds in the previous fall or plant seedlings.

The characteristic spiciness of pico de gallo usually comes from the fiery jalapeno pepper. Gardeners who prefer their salsa mild may decide to leave these peppers out of the patch altogether, but the gardeners who like a kick to their salsa may want an extra row.

Last but certainly not least comes the savory herb cilantro. This herb’s recognizable taste and aroma feature in many popular Latin dishes. Because cilantro goes to seed nearly every three weeks, gardeners will need to keep up with harvesting and planting to ensure a steady supply throughout the summer.

Pico de Gallo Recipe

Once the garden is producing, whipping up a cool dish of pico de gallo is only a few minutes of dicing away. Gardeners can harvest what they need and head to the kitchen to start the preparation.

Here is a ratio of garden ingredients that will combine to make a scrumptious bowl of salsa for the whole family.

  • 4 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (more or less to taste)
  • ½ cup diced cilantro (more or less to taste)
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper

If gardeners have a cucumber or radish on hand from another garden patch, these are sure to add extra flare to the recipe.

Once the ingredients are combined in a bowl, gardeners can toss them together and chill in the refrigerator for a few minutes. The fruits of their labor are excellent served with tortilla chips or over a bed of brown rice.…

Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, NYC: The History of a Renowned New York City Neighbourhood

West of Times Square is a neighbourhood once renowned for sex, violence and extortion. While gentrification has filed off its jagged edges, Hell’s Kitchen feels grittier and closer to real life than elsewhere in Manhattan.

Between 8th Avenue and the Hudson River, from 34th Street in the south to 59th Street in the north, the city’s signature towers of glass and steel are only beginning to creep into the skyline, and shuffling queues of shutter-happy tourists and mile-wide billboards rarely choke the thoroughfares.

A Bloody Birth

The first to settle this stretch of Manhattan’s shoreline were Irish and German immigrants in the 19th century, working on the Hudson River docks, in local slaughterhouses and factories. These streets were the brawn of Manhattan; gangs swaggered through the slums and brawling was commonplace. The origins of the name “Hell’s Kitchen” are lost to time; some point to a violent hostel in the area, long since gone.

When alcohol was barred by Prohibition in the 1920s, the street gangs evolved into organised crime rackets with interests in everything from gambling and extortion to prostitution. An influx of Puerto Rican immigrants in the 1950s brought about the return of the gang violence as romanticised in West Side Story.

There’s little left to hint at this neighbourhood’s tawdry and violent past. The eastern boundary of Hell’s Kitchen at 8th Avenue remains a seedy and intimidating stretch, littered with sex shops and strip bars – once a halfway house between the working class and poor to the west and the porn-peddling theatres of Times Square to the east.

Here and Now

Hell’s Kitchen of the 21st Century is a vibrant, up and coming district of the city. The leisurely menu of restaurants and bars on 9th Avenue give the locale a similar vibe to the East Village and the Upper West Side, artistic and creative, more subdued, less rush. The residential streets connecting 9th and 10th Avenues are still spacious and airy; several blocks were protected by preservation orders in the 1970s that limited building height, although the relaxation of regulations in recent years has seen modern condominiums encroach on the low-rise skyline.

More recently, development of derelict sites in the neighbourhood has accelerated at a frightening pace. On 10th and 11th Avenue the streets are awash with cranes and concrete and hods of fluorescent labourers drinking Schnapple on the sidewalks. While some residents lament the further loss of New York’s heritage, others are relieved that after years of neglect the area is finally receiving attention from business and developers.

There are still signposts to the past visible across the west side of Manhattan. The Landmark Tavern on the corner of 46th Street and 11th Avenue stood on the shores of the Hudson River during the 19th Century, serving gangs of burly Irish dockworkers. Although the bar is now several hundred yards from the river (landfill from construction has been used to extend the island’s coastline over the decades) it’s appearance has changed little, save for the occasional plasma screen.

Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, NYC: The History of a Renowned New York City Neighbourhood

While every New Yorker knows where Hell’s Kitchen is, don’t expect to find its location in print. The yellow-bordered map in the back of cabs refers to the area as Clinton while the MTA Subway map refuses to name it. Developers and City Hall have pushed for a more sellable designation since the 1950s, and although it’ll always be known to those in the neighbourhood as the devilish Hell’s Kitchen.…

Consumers Care About What’s in their Food – So Should You!

Consumers Care About What’s in their Food – So Should You!

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the potential harm that artificial preservatives can inflict on the body, causing damage in ways that are not yet fully understood by science. Everyone has heard horror stories of preservatives preventing decomposition after death – that, due to all of the harsh chemicals present in the modern diet, corpses lie perfectly preserved for months or even years after being buried. It’s a stirring and disturbing image. Not only do stories like that recall monsters from folklore and movies, such as Dracula or Frankenstein (horrifying in themselves!), but undoubtedly those unnaturally preserved bodies can’t be very good for the environment, either. And one wonders whether modern phenomena like the prevalence of cancer is due to the unknown effects that these chemical preservatives might have on the cells in our bodies.

That’s why it’s important to explore alternatives that are found in nature, which stand much less chance of causing such horrific complications. Consumers want to be reassured that the products that go into their body are made out of natural materials that are unlikely to cause such serious problems with their systems. That’s why savvy manufacturers look for natural preservatives for the food industry, so that their consumers feel reassured about the origins and make-up of their food when they make a purchase. That way you can avoid potentially awkward associations with horrible monsters from the history of cinema, and instead get your consumers to focus on the taste, convenience, or nutritional benefits of your product.

But where do you find ingredients that will maintain the shelf life of your products without compromising on texture or taste, in addition to coming from naturally sourced materials? That can feel like a challenge, especially since a lot of the currently available offerings can seem underwhelming. You need to find a company, like Cambrian Solutions in Ontario, which globally sources their materials from a wide variety of advanced chemical innovators as well as maintains a research and development department to develop and test new offerings. That way you don’t have to worry that the claims of the high-tech raw ingredients manufacturing firm you have contacted in New Delhi are substantiated – that work has already been done for you. A good distribution company will also ensure that all of the products they carry have been tested thoroughly, so that there are absolutely no ambiguities when it comes to introducing them into recipes.

Not only will you feel better knowing that your products will have additives that are safe, effective, and which will have consistently reproducible effects, you will be able to save a lot of time and energy sourcing the materials when you let another company scour the world for ingredients. Hiring another company – like Cambrian Solutions, which has been providing solutions to manufacturers since 1995 – to do your sourcing for you, takes all of the headaches out of making progressive changes to your formulations. Because they have contacts with firms all over the world, as well as a detailed understanding of their offerings, they’re able to find ingredients that will match exactly with your needs. So when you finally decide to make a change in your recipes in order to stave off your customers’ fears of joining the living dead – you can do so as quickly and effectively as possible!…

Game Day Buffalo Chicken Dip

Game Day Buffalo Chicken Dip
I admit that I am a huge fan of dining on what I like to call “picky food.” And by that I don’t mean food for picky eaters, but that range of food you just pick up and eat with your fingers. Appetizers in general appeal to me. Nachos, wings, dips, olive trays, deep fried pickles – these are the things I would eat daily if it weren’t for the fact that these options aren’t always the healthiest, and I’m trying to encourage a healthier diet for me and my family. But everything in moderation, right?

Perhaps my favourite date night or girls’ night out includes heading to a pub and ordering a bunch of appetizers to share, along with a pitcher of beer. Yum. Which is why Sundays at our place during football season present the perfect opportunity to indulge. Appetizers, beer, and football. It’s a given combination.

We’ll be watching Super Bowl 50 this evening, naturally, and along with wings, and cold cuts, and assorted munchies, we’ll have a big bowl of this Buffalo Chicken Dip, served with tortilla chips and chunks of warm bread. It is so delicious, rich, and filling it’s almost a meal in itself. Might want to add a veggie though. Actually, you could dip some carrot or celery sticks in this too. I’ll be sure to add those to the spread.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 chicken breasts (to give about 2 cups)
1/2 cup wing sauce
1/8 cup Frank’s Red Hot
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
2 cups grated cheddar
8 oz cream cheese

Poach the chicken breasts until cooked through. Let cool, then chop roughly. You will need about 2 cups.
Combine chopped chicken with the other ingredients in a medium casserole dish. Mix well.
Cook 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven, until top is bubbly and dip is lightly brown around the edges.
Serve warm with tortilla chips, slices of baguette, carrot sticks, celery sticks.
/Raising My Boys: Easy & Organic Rice and Grains for Your Busy Mealtimes #SeedsofChangeCA/

I often think about the “lazy days of summer,” but in reality I don’t think I really have very many truly lazy days. During the school year there’s school and work and lessons and early bed times. During the summer there’s work and outings and camps and generally a lot of running around and being more active and social. Basically, my family is always busy. And as we all know, that can be a problem when it comes to getting healthy, home-cooked meals on the table.

How many evenings do you find yourself resorting to pizza delivery or grabbing a prepared convenience food from the pantry or freezer? I prefer to keep things fresh and homemade, although sometimes I have to admit that’s not going to happen. But I worry about extra fat and sodium, and question some of the ingredients I can’t pronounce on many packaged foods. So I appreciate when I find a new product that provides the convenience I need with the healthy profile I desire.

Seeds of Change began as a small organic seed company in 1989 and has grown to produce a line of organic rice and grain blends. Their ingredients are ethically sourced and kept as simple as possible. New to our country, Seeds of Change is the only Certified Organic, ready-to-heat rice and grain brand available in Canada. It is available in 6 premium varieties, including Spanish, Caribbean, and Indian flavours, all of which are suitable for vegetarian diets. As well, Seeds of Change products contain no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives, and still …

Easy Rhubarb Crumble {Recipe}

Easy Rhubarb Crumble {Recipe}

Easy Rhubarb Crumble {Recipe}

My garden is flourishing! Roma tomatoes are starting to ripen, carrots are ready to pull, and I’ve even harvested 3 eggplants!! Don’t get me started on the cucumbers taking over my fridge. (But if you need any, please drop by!)

Things got a little wild out there while I was away in Newfoundland, so I’m working my way through weeding, pruning, and tying up. When I went in to tackle the cucumber plants I was pleasantly surprised to find yet another crop of rhubarb ready to pull. I had figured anything at this stage of the summer would be too soft, but these stalks were perfect. I got almost 5 cups of chopped rhubarb from my haul, which I supplemented from my frozen stash to make a yummy crumble for tonight’s dessert.

This crumble is super easy and results in a nice, slightly tart, slightly sweet treat. It’s great served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Easy Rhubarb Crumble
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 TBSP butter
Combine all ingredients, mix and crumble with fingers.

6 cups chopped rhubarb
1/3 cup white sugar
Place rhubarb and sugar in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes to stew the rhubarb. Drain.*

Place drained rhubarb in the bottom of a greased baking pan. Cover with the crumble. Bake in a 350 oven for 25-30 minutes, until crumble browns.

*You can save the drained liquid to use as a drink syrup, either combined with soda water or used in place of simple syrup in cocktail recipes.  It should be good for up to a week in the fridge.

San Diego Restaurant Week at The Smoking Goat

San Diego Restaurant is happening, now through Sunday, January 22nd!

Tuesday night, Kevin and I stepped out of our North County bubble and traveled down to The Smoking Goat in North Park for San Diego Restaurant Week. North Park has such a wide array of good restaurants, I just never seem to make the trek. For example, I’m pretty sure The Smoking Goat has been on my “to-try” restaurant list for the past 6-7 years, so I’m glad San Diego Restaurant Week gave me the chance.

The Smoking Goat is a French bistro with a rustic farmhouse vibe that definitely fits the San Diego food scene. The restaurant week menu provides a good representation of what The Smoking Goat normally serves, while only priced at $40 for 3-courses.

To start, we ordered the French Onion Soup with oxtail broth, crouton and Swiss gruyere and the Foie Gras Torchon with fig preserve and toast. The French Onion Soup had a flavor that was reminiscent of Thanksgiving (perhaps the flavor from the bay leaf?). And the Foie Gras did not disappoint since it’s one of my favorite things (and I don’t think I’ve had it since I studied abroad in Paris basically 7 years go!).

Our waiter was very knowledgeable and helped me select a Cotes du Rhone to pair with my entree, the Duck Confit. If you haven’t noticed a trend, duck is my absolute favorite! The Duck Confit was accompanied by a sweet potato-oyster mushroom hash, rapini and black truffle jus. And for Kev’s second course, he ordered the Compart Farms Duroc Pork Chop with potato-bacon gratin and braised kale. Both of our dishes were very moist and flavorful, and we completely devoured them.

This season, San Diego Restaurant Week partnered up with the Girl Scouts of America to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scout Cookies, so chef’s created dishes that incorporated this treat. We found this collaboration in the Chocolate Pot de Creme dessert that came with Girl Scout trefoils shortbread cookies and espresso cream. Of course we had to try one of each dessert, so we also ordered the Apple Cobbler with stone fruit and coconut-oat streusel.

Everything was absolutely top notch! One of my favorite things about San Diego Restaurant Week is that it makes me try new places. And through this format, we’ve always been able to sample a selection of dishes that leave us wanting to come back another time to try more.…