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Homemade Banana and Maple Syrup Granola

I’ve tried to make homemade granola a few time, based on the excellent recipe from http://orangette.blogspot.ca/2008/02/consider-it.html. It’s a pretty good recipe to get started, but it was still missing a little something : when I swapped the applesauce for a few overipe bananas lying on my counter, it turned out great. The whole kitchen smelled of bananas for a few days, but the taste is not overwhelming.

Granola
Granola with plain yogurt, my favorite!


Here is my own version of the recipe, with many adjustments :

5 cups of rolled oats
2/3 cup of almonds
1 cup of sunflower seeds
2/3 cup of sesame seeds
2/3 cup of brown sugar

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of powdered ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

3 ripe bananas
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of honey
2 tablespoons of canola oil

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas to a puree. Add the maple syrup, honey and oil and stir.
  3. Pour the bananas and syrup mix over the dry ingredients, stirring well until the oats are well coated.
  4. Spread the granola on two baking sheets lined with paper. Bake for 30 minutes at 400F (200C), rotating the sheets and mixing the granola every 10 minutes.
  5. Let the granola dry for a few hours before storing it in an airtight container. The granola will get crisper as it cools.
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April 1, 2013   No Comments

Vegetable Garden in Containers Update

It’s been a month now that everything is planted in its proper place and 10 weeks since I first started planting outside, so I figured this would be a good time to post a first update to follow up on my post about seed selection.

Courgette Midnight F1 (left) and Cucumber Delikatesse (right)

cucumber and zucchini

Those two were started indoors a few weeks before transplanting them last month. There are many small cucumbers and a small courgette, with a good amount of flowers, so I should get a few vegetables out of them.

I’m also pleased about the way the cucumber is climbing the tomato cage. I had to tie the stems of the two plants to the bottom ring of the cage to get them started climbing, but it’s all good now. I’ll have to keep an eye out when the cucumbers get bigger…

Cheeseman’s Tomato (left), Tomato Riesentraube (middle) and Tumbling Tom Red (right)

cherry tomatoes

They were all started indoors about 6 weeks before transplanting them last month, two plants for every pot. The two indeterminate types, Cheeseman’s and Riesentraube both look pretty much the same for now. I pruned them a bit and both have a few flowers. The Tumbing Tom have a whole lot of flower right now and is growing in a nice bush shape without any pruning since it’s a determinate tomato. I probably won’t put them in a cage next year if I try them again.

Pea Super Sugar Snap

peas

I had trouble starting the peas since one of the neighbouring cat thought the pea planted was a great litter box and kept disturbing the seeds. The one that did grew are just starting to produces flowers (and there is one tiny pod), but I think it’s a bit warm to plant more right now. I’m sure the planters would be prettier with more pea vines in them…

Lettuce Grand Rapids (back) and Arugula (front)

lettuce and arugula

I ended not starting any lettuce Grand Rapids, since some of it grew by itself in early spring. I just gathered them all together in the same box. One of them went to seed late in the season last year, so I guess some of the seeds ended up in the boxes.

The arugula was started from seeds outdoor 10 weeks ago and grew nicely in front of the lettuce and is producing enough for my salads needs

Lettuce Catalogna (left back), Mustard Tendergreen (right back) and Radish Saxa II (front)

greens and radishes

Both the lettuce and Mustard Tendergreen were started from seeds about 10 weeks ago. I had mixed results with the Catalogna : it was slow to start, in part because the cat that messed with the peas also liked that corner. Also, the taste is nothing really special and the plants are not particularly productive, although the leaves look pretty. The Mustard Tendergreen has been a good producer like last year, producing many leaves which taste a bit like spinach.

The radishes have mixed results : the one growing with the lettuce have grown pretty big (and tasty), helped by the cat troubles and the slow growing pace of the lettuce, but the ones with the Mustard Tendergreen had more trouble since the greens grew so fast the radishes had no time to get to a decent size before being choked.

All together, the greens have produced enough in the last three weeks for me to eat at least two or three large salads a week and extras for sandwiches, with more to spare. The lettuce Grand Rapids, the arugula and the Mustard Tendergreen are looking like they want to bolt and go to seed already, but I’m cutting the flower heads as they show up and hope they’ll keep producing for another month. After, I’ll most likely plant more of the lettuce Grand Rapids and the Mustard Tendergreen in the spots currently occupied by the radishes for a late summer/fall harvest.

Oregano (left), Thai Basil (left right), Parsley Moss Curled (middle right), Fine Verde Basil (right), Chives (back right) and Cilantro (two back left)

herbs

The chives is the same plant as last year, it grew back just fine. The oregano, Fine Verde basil and cilantro were started from seeds indoors 10 weeks ago and grew pretty well. I’ve started picking up some and they all taste great too. The Thai basil and parsley were started at the same time, but they’re pitiful (they’re probably invisible in the picture). The large plant in the parsley pot is actually a arugula plant that got lost…

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June 28, 2011   3 Comments

Sweet and Spicy Baked Oatmeal

I’ve been known to reheat my weekend oatmeal batch for breakfast all week, but the texture is not as good the second time around. Baked oatmeal tastes a lot better reheated, and can even be eaten cold if you’re in a hurry.

I first heard about baked oatmeal on A Year of Slow Cooking. Since I love all things oatmeal for breakfast, I had to try it. I adapted it to add my favorite spices, but they’re not needed if you want milder oatmeal.

1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of flax seeds, ground
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cardamom seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon of cloves, ground
a pinch of salt

3 cups of rolled oats (not instant)
3/4 cup of raisins

1 cup of milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup of canola oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

  • In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flax seed, baking powder, spices and salt. Add the rolled oats and raisins and stir again.
  • In a smaller bowl, mix the milk, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid in the oats mix and stir well.
  • Spread the mix in a 8″X8″ pan and cook for 30 minutes at 350F/175C. Let them cool for a few minutes and cut into 9 large breakfast squares or in smaller bars.
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May 26, 2011   No Comments

Plans For My Vegetable Garden in Containers

Since the weather is warmer and snow is melting, I’ve started thinking about my container garden for this year. If you want grow vegetables, this is the time to start planning it if you’re planting from seeds. Most of my crops are greens that will be direct-seeded in the boxes in the beginning of May (I’m in Montreal, so it can’t be any earlier than that). Still, the tomatoes and basil will be started indoors, so I’ll have to do it in a week or two at most if I want decent plants in May. So, here is the list of varieties I plan to grow this year :

Will be growing in pots (12″ wide and more, I still have a few to buy)

  • Tumbling Tom Red (Mr. Fothergill’s Container Gardens at Canadian Tire) : A red cherry tomato plant made for containers. First try with this variety, but the packets says that the tomatoes will be sweet and juicy.
  • Tomato Riesentraube (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) : A indeterminate sweet cherry tomato plant with large clusters of 1 oz fruits. I had one planted in the box last year and I thought it would be way too cramped, but I was able to get a few tomatoes even in those harsh conditions. Looking forward to trying this one in a proper pot this year.
  • Cheeseman’s Tomato (The Cottage Gardener) : An early indeterminate cherry tomato plant that produces tons of tiny teardrop-shaped tomatoes, or so it says on the web site. This is new for this year, so I have no idea how well it will work.
  • Courgette Midnight F1 (Mr. Fothergill’s Container Gardens at Canadian Tire) : A compact zucchini plant made for containers, first try this year.
  • Cucumber Delikatesse (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) : According to the packet the cucumbers will be 10″ long and pale green with crisp flesh and thin skin. I consider this my first try, I tried in the box last year but they were really too cramped and the vines stopped growing after a few inches. I have my doubts about cucumbers since I had trouble keeping a store-brought plant properly watered last year, but freshly picked cucumbers are really good. I have a 10″ pot left that’s a bit too small for the other plants so I’m going to try again. This time, I’ll add a tomato cage so the vines can climb and mulch so I don’t have to water as often. I’m also considering moving it to a more shaded spot if I have too much trouble.
  • Pea Super Sugar Snap (Burpee at Zellers) : Sugar snap peas, with edible pods and full sized peas. I’m going to try to grow them in a spot that’s in the shade for most of the afternoon in wide flower planters. This is a real experiment, I really don’t know how this will work out, I’m not even sure how I’ll stake them yet…

In the three flat boxes (thanks dad!) :


Some of last year’s seedlings in a flat box

  • Lettuce Grand Rapids (Dollarama) : An early variety of loose-leaved light green lettuce. Pretty mild, it’s nice to mix with other greens in a salad, or alone with a zesty salad dressing. This worked well last year so it’s coming back.
  • Mustard Tendergreen (part of the Burpee mesclun sweet salad mix at Zellers) : Earlier than the lettuce and very productive, it tastes a bit like spinach , with a little mustard aftertaste. Good in salads or stir-fried and a good alternative for spinach since my spinach never grew past an inch or two last year. It overtook every other green in the mesclun mix, so I saved some seeds to plant it alone this year.
  • Lettuce Catalogna (Mr. Fothergill’s Italian Vegetables at Canadian Tire) : The packet claims that this is an early lettuce with crisp leaves and good bolting resistance. New for this year.
  • Arugula (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) : Standard arugula, with the usual peppery taste, it’s nice to mix with other greens in a salad. Worked decently next year but I had a very small patch, so I’ll plant more and see how it goes.
  • Radish Saxa II (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) : Pretty standard early radishes that grew well last year, I’ll be planting some in front of the greens rows. When they’re picked, I’ll probably start new rows of greens if the older ones look too tired at the time.

Herbs in smaller dollar store pots (7 1/2″ wide) :

  • Chives (store-bought plant): I had a plant last year, so I’m hoping it will grow back.
  • Cilantro (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) : It grew decently last year, but I’ll have to stake them better since they grow pretty tall for the small container. I loved the taste too, so I may grow two pots.
  • Parsley Moss Curled (Dollarama) : It’s indoor right now, so I’ll just take it back outside. It took a while to get started from seeds but it’s going strong now.
  • Mint : I’ve had it for a few years and put it through alot of hardships, but it’s still growing. It’s indoor right now, I’ll repot it and put it back outside.
  • Oregano (store-bought plant) : This one pretty much died at the end of the season last year after producing many tasty leaves. I’ll probably just buy a new plant.
  • Fine Verde Basil (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds): A cute small-leaved basil that grows in a compact ball shape with the classic basil taste. Was pretty productive too so it’s coming back this year.

Good but not for this year :

  • Tonga Di Parigi carrots (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds) Produces small 1″ long carrots perfect for a container. I was only able to start picking up carrots in September last year, so I would rather use the space for radishes or greens, but they were delicious when freshly picked.

What are you going to grow on your balcony this year?

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March 13, 2011   4 Comments