Smoked Salmon Omelette Stack
Get the full recipe at Curiosophy!
How to make decadent chocolate bowls
This particular vertical urban garden was implemented in a Brazilian home that received a huge makeover. Hundreds of plastic soda bottles were taken and repurposed into miniature, individual planters for simple greenery in the front patio of this colorful residence. Rosenbaum design firm has gotten such a great response, that you can build your very own suspended art piece via their instructional guide, here.
We love the idea of using balloons as floating hangers for photos! The above was for a wedding, but thanks to the hundreds of different colored balloons, you can adapt this for just about any occasion!
Quick Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe
- 1 C half and half
- 3/4 C sweetened condensed milk
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 20 oz frozen strawberries (approximately 4 cups)
Add ingredients to your blender in order listed and secure lid. Hit that “Ice Cream” setting on your blender if you have it or put it on max and hope for the best!
How to Make: Mocafe Green Tea Flan
Recently I had the opportunity to try out Mocafe’s Matcha Green Tea Frappe powder through a contest over at 5minutesformom.com. Mocafe wants to see what new and original drink or food recipes people can come up with using their Matcha Green Tea powder. I love (and am slightly addicted to) contests and free samples so I had to give it a go.
Today I decided to try making a green tea flan.
In reality I had my mom do all the cooking while I did the garnishing since leche flan is one of her specialties. The results turned out to be very delicious!
Mocafe™ Green Tea Flan Recipe
makes six 6oz servings
- 1c sugar
- 12oz evaporated milk
- 7oz sweetened condensed milk
- 6 eggs (use yolks only)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp Mocafe™ Matcha Green Tea
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Place the six 6oz ramekin dishes in the roasting pan. Set aside.
- Cook sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat until sugar begins to melt. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until sugar melts into a golden caramel color. Immediately pour the melted sugar into the ramekin dishes to coat the bottom of each dish. Set aside.
(You may have extra sugar left over to create decorations.)
- In a large bowl, gently mix the egg yolks, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Do not beat the egg yolks. After mixing, add Mocafe Matcha Green Tea powder, vanilla extract and mix until powder is dissolved.
- Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into the ramekins.
- Pour hot water into the roasting pan up to half the height of the ramekin dishes.
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the flan. Do not let the water evaporate completely.
- When done, remove from oven and transfer the ramekin dishes onto a rack to cool. Refrigerate when cool.
- To serve, loosen the flan from the ramekin using a flat spatula (for best results) or knife. Carefully invert flan onto a serving plate and sift Mocafe™ Matcha Green Tea powder over plate.
Tip: Garnishing with a powdering of green tea powder is essential as that’s where you will really taste the matcha green tea flavor. You can play with the green tea powder measurements depending on how much green tea flavor you want to taste, but be careful not to overdo it or else the texture might change. Leave it out and you will still have a great recipe for leche flan.
Also, feel free to play around with that leftover sugar and create some interesting garnishes. After melting the sugar again, use a spoon and some flicking wrist action to create your design over some parchment paper.
Supporting the Locals
Not up to the task of making this delicious recipe even though your sweet tooth is craving it? If you’re near the Central NJ area, stop by my favorite local coffee shop, Van Gogh’s Ear Cafe in Union Center. Whether you’re in for their full lunch/dinner menu or down for some decadent desserts and coffee/tea, Van Gogh’s Ear makes a great spot to hang out and relax.
If you liked this recipe post.. visit my contest entry on 5 Minutes for Mom and throw in a “Like” for “Mocafe Green Tea Flan @ Obsessionist.net” (entry number 21).
The contest prize is a very sweet blender that will allow me to do more smoothie recipe experimentation. The winner is randomly chosen, but I wouldn’t mind having the most votes either!
Kahlua Kori Coffee
makes 2 servings
3 cups brewed coffee 2 tbsp Kahlua 2-4 tbsp corn syrup 1 1/2 cup Full cream Milk Ice cube trays
- Pour cold coffee in ice cube trays and freeze.
- To serve: divide ice cubes into two glasses.
- Serve with kahlua and syrup on the side.
- Feel free to use your preferred coffee brand.
- If you don’t have corn syrup, you can make your own syrup (refer to recipe’s section of our Earl Grey Tea Martini Recipe).
- You can also use other types of liquor instead of Kahlua like Bailey’s or Creme de Cacao.
Project Green Foot (Square Foot Gardening)
So lately I’ve become very obsessed with Pinterest. It’s similar to Tumblr except it’s solely centered around posting images to “boards”—like pinning your favorite images to a cork board. It’s definitely more girl-populated.
While food and fashion pins dominate, there are a ton of neat do-it-yourself things floating around, and one of the things I came across was this very simple plan for constructing a compact vegetable garden. The thought of digging up an area of the lawn so I could experiment with growing my own food sounded too unplanned and was something I didn’t see working out.
With an idea called Square Foot Gardening, you can simply plop down a 4’x4’ or 4’x8’ raised garden bed and grow a wide variety of vegetables in great quantity without needing to worry about the previous soil quality or the need to work the soil year after year. Also, 4-foot widths are ideal because you can reach at least 2 feet into the garden without having to step onto the soil. Not stepping on the soil means it can remain loose which makes things for easier gardening.
After doing a little research, I had a serious case of garden-eye the next day and had to venture to Home Depot to pick up supplies:
- 2x Greenes 48”x48”x7” cedar raised garden beds - $69.94/$35.97 each
- 6x bags of Vigoro Organic Garden Soil (each bag was 1.5 cubic feet) - $35.82/$5.97 each
- 1x bag of Miracle-Gro flower and vegetable garden soil (2 cubic feet) - $7.77 each
- 3x bags of Scott’s premium top soil (.75cu ft) - $5.94/$1.98 each
- 3x 2”x4”x96” douglas fir premium wood - $7.29/$2.43
- 1x 100ft 28-guage galvanized wire - $2.96
(Definitely should have bought a thicker wire. 28-gauge breaks easily!)
- various packets of seeds/plants
Now before I get into the rest of the project, there are many things I would have done differently had I looked a little deeper into square foot gardening which could have saved me a lot of time and some money, but I was in a get-things-done mood and needed to BUILD! After everything was put together I was especially annoyed by the fact that I spent so much money on the cedar garden beds and the soil, so read on to see other money-saving alternatives.
Building Project Green Foot
Assembling the Bed
I bought two of these kits because initially I wasn’t sure 7 inches would be deep enough to grow everything in a vegetable garden, but unless you’re growing potatoes or long carrots, you’ll only need one.
Cedar is a very good choice of wood due to its naturally high resistance to rot and pests. One downside is that it’s expensive and hard to find. You will likely find it at your local lumbar yard (which I wasn’t willing to look into at the time) or you could buy one of these pre-cut kits like I did. The wood is rough and isn’t very thick, but there’s not much work involved in assembling it. Plus you can stack these kits or connect them together to form tall or long raised bed gardens.
Other alternatives are: Douglas fir, pine, redwood, concrete blocks, recycled shipping pallets. Note that the wood alternatives will have significant rot in maybe 4-5 years if they aren’t painted with a few coatings of linseed oil or something to keep the moisture out. If you’re going for cheap and temporary, douglas fir will do just fine. Go with the 2”x10”x96” boards and it will run you half of the cost of the pre-made units. Just ask someone in the lumber department to cut the boards in half (48 inches) for you at Home Depot. Or if you’re on a tight budget, just put a mound of dirt on the ground!
Controversial alternative: Pressure-treated (PT) wood is weather-resistant and fungus/bug resistant, but many chemicals are used to achieve this. Some time ago, arsenic used to be one of the chemicals found in PT wood until around 2003. Many manufacturers removed it from the manufacturing process as a result of findings that arsenic was correlated with increased chance to develop cancer. Although you can use today’s PT wood in your raised garden beds, I still would recommend against it as the chemicals still leach into the soil and into your vegetables.
It also looks ugly. You wouldn’t want to ingest ugly, would you?
If you do use PT wood, at least throw down a thick black plastic liner before you put in your dirt.
Choice of screws/nails: Use long deck screws or galvanized nails to assemble your garden bed. If they are regular wall screws/nails they WILL rust.
One of the suggestions I came across was to attach weed-block and a wire mesh to the bottom of your garden bed to prevent grass/weeds growing upwards from underneath and to keep burrowing animals out. You can also use two layers of soaking wet cardboard or 6 layers of newspaper instead of the weed block if you’re placing your bed directly above grass. You definitely don’t want anything tainting your vegetable sanctuary.
My dad had both of these tucked away in the shed so I made use of it.
Location, Location, Location!
Picking out a spot to put the garden bed is crucial. You need at least 6 hours of direct sun to get good growths, and ideally you want to place it near a water source and near your house. If it’s too inconvenient to care for, you won’t want to do it!
Placing it over the grass is ideal as the moisture from the ground helps the garden bed maintain its moisture without getting water-logged. Be careful not to place your garden directly against your house as the water could do damage over time.
If you place the bed over asphalt or concrete, you will need to create some kind of drainage at the bottom with rocks and increase the height of the bed. Concrete/asphalt is a lot hotter in the summer and you’re essentially creating a large potted garden if you do so.
Unfortunately I didn’t have an available spot that offered a decent amount of privacy with full sun exposure, so I had to choose a location that only received morning/afternoon sun. I can only hope it’s enough.
I bought a very random assortment of soils because I had no idea what I was doing, and I really should have bought 5cu ft more of soil to fill up the 14” of bed. I’ll have to see over time how the Miracle-Gro and Vigoro soils work out for me, but if you really want a winning mix of soil, here’s what the creator of Square Foot Gardening recommends:
- 1/3 vermiculite
- 1/3 peat moss
- 1/3 compost (from as many sources as possible)
Mix it all together and you’ll have the perfect soil.
After some resentment from not doing enough planning, I decided that I needed to get in my seeds and plants as soon as possible and more closely follow the guide. The guide has a very good layout with plants that play well with each other. It even shows you how much of each plant you can plant in each square foot—something I didn’t notice until I started typing this section.
Seeing as I plan to use this garden for smoothies and for guacamole night, I changed the layout up just a little.
Another thing in Square Foot Gardening is the marking off of each 1-foot square. You can nail or staple nylon rope or even use thin wooden strips to create physical boarders. This will help your spacing of your seeds/seedlings.
This duck was watching me the whole morning as I began constructing the trellis for the tomatoes, cucumbers, and garden beans.
Something to consider: You might want to set up a fence around your garden to protect against squirrels, deer, rabbits, or whatever else might want to feast upon your garden. I’ll be setting mine up in a few months after I figure out how big everything gets.
The Finished Trellis
Using 2x 6-foot 2”x4” douglas fir studs, a 50-inch piece for the top (I should have cut it at 52 inches) and a 39.5” piece for the bottom, I created the trellis for the plants to hold on to as they grow to the sky.
Closeup of the Trellis
There are 6 wires held in by deck screws at the top and staples at the bottom. You can use a few things here for the trellis, but if you use galvanized (a zinc coating to prevent rusting) wire, definitely go with the thicker gauge. The 28-gauge wire I bought breaks fairly easily and will have to be replaced sooner or later. I may have to add some wires going across as well for better stability.
As the tomatoes grow, I’ll have to prune them in a way that will make them grow off a single stem for maximum fruit production in the smallest space.
The Finished Garden
I’ll know in a week or two if the seeds I planted are growing. I actually planted a second set of seeds above the first because I put the first ones too deep.
In the above picture are 2 tomato plants, 6 big head marigold flowers (African marigolds?) and a sweet basil plant. They are placed this way because supposedly the scent of marigolds and basil deters some pests (and other breeds of Marigolds keep pests known as nematodes away). However, marigolds also attract slugs and spider mites which plagued my strawberry plant when I brought it in for the winter.
Planting basil right next to tomatoes also supposedly enhances the tomato’s flavor, but I decided to keep it in its own square so that it doesn’t have to compete for nutrients and sun. Mainly it’s just there to make a good basil-tomato-avocado sandwich for later.
I haven’t heard much proof for the marigolds, but I’m just testing out this old gardener’s belief.
I definitely foresee this project as being a big success, but it will take a few years of harvests to break even. However, when growing your own garden it’s not so much about the savings as it is about knowing you’re able to grow your own (organic) food. A wide range of delicious ingredients will be conveniently located in your front or back yard and will be fresher than anything you can buy at a supermarket. Plus it makes for a fun time outdoors allowing you to get your daily dosage of sunlight.
If you are new to gardening and find yourself obsessing over the small details, the best advice I can give you is to just start something while the weather is prime for the first plantings. A 4’x4’ garden sounds like a daunting task, but it is easy to take care of once you have it set up; all you have to do is keep it watered. And if you do come across a problem with your garden, there’s always Google!
I’ll keep you guys updated in the coming weeks on Project Green Foot’s progress. In the mean time, get gardening!
I spent the course of a week making many trips to Home Depot to buy supplies so I didn’t build the whole raised bed at once. It took a while to figure out exactly how I wanted everything to look and it took a few days to figure out a decent location for the garden.
Many things went on sale a week and a half after I built all this which means that it really helps to wait until it’s really warm enough to be gardening season. The cedar raised garden beds dropped down to $30 each at Home Depot and Lowes currently has a sale on 1cu ft bags of Miracle Gro’s soil for $2.50 each (as of the date on this post). It’s a souring sight to see sales after I already purchased and set everything up, but the presence of a few plants in the garden brings a bit of comfort to my mind.
My Total Cost to Build: $138 (not including seedlings and seeds)
This was about twice of what I thought I was going to spend initially but it’s one of those learning curves that everyone goes through.
- Garden Soil Calculator - Calculate how many cubic feet of soil you need to fill your garden
- Smart Gardener - Awesome tool for planning your garden layout with weekly to-dos
- Companion Planting - Suggestion for plants work well with each other
- Square Foot Gardening - Getting started with Square Foot Gardening
- /r/Gardening - Gardening section of reddit
Quick Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe
- 1 C half and half
- 3/4 C sweetened condensed milk
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 20 oz frozen strawberries (approximately 4 cups)
Add ingredients to your blender in order listed and secure lid. Hit that “Ice Cream” setting on your blender if you have it or put it on max speed and hope for the best!