The garden July

Here's a little garden info for all'ya. I've been busy at it this year. To be honest, it gives me a huge amount of joy and satisfaction. I love the flowers and all but it's growing my own food, such as it is, that really gets me.

I started the raspberry patch with one little tiny raspberry plant (can't be called a bush) about 8 years ago or so and now it's taken over about half of my back garden. That's okay though. Truth be told, I was getting a little pissed off that I had so much bloody leaf and so little berry to show for it. This year, finally, it's coming into it's own. If things continue, I figure that by next year I can really start doing something with them. We're getting some hefty bowls of fresh raspberry this crop and there should be another one in the early fall - Sweet. No really... Sweet!

I picked up a couple of tomato plants at Grassroots (Danforth) - organic seedlings - and they're doing gangbusters. I only have four plants but who knows how many tomato's I'll end up with at the end of the day. This one is the biggest one and it's a real bruiser. Can't wait for this one to ripen.

My beans are planted in window boxes (remember the back half of the garden is gone now for raspberries and it's a city garden after all!). I'm hoping that this gets kid #2 (Mr. Finicky) a little more jazzed about beans. I've got some lovely purple variety that I didn't save the name of (figures) that is just behind these green lovelies. Once they get a little bigger I'll slap up a pic of them too ;-)

My fave little veg right now is my little, eensie eggplant. Look how cute. It's just started to bulge out from under the flower pod. I think that it's the most adorable thing ever. I've actually got about 4 more blooms on the plant. I have no clue how many eggplants are a normal yield from one plant. I'll have to check that out.

My cucumbers are also doing well but they haven't started to grow into anything edible just yet... I'll keep you posted.

Peanut Butter Cups

Well not really. These are more like Peanut Butter Cupcakes with a chocolate surprise - ah, there, I gave it away. Anyway, the recipe said Peanut Butter Cups. This is the second recipe that I've made from 'the Pastry Queen' cookbook. To be honest though, the first recipe that I tried should have been spectacular but instead it was a complete flop. I hate it when that happens. It was a white cake that used cake and pastry flour. This was the second or third experience that I've had in which the cake texture when I use cake and pastry flour is terrible. It's gets too flat, almost like a pudding. Gross. If you have any experiences, tips or ideas about using cake and pastry flour please let me know...

Anyway, this recipe is a different thing altogether. It looked interesting on paper and the smell when it was baking was great. The peanut butter isn't overwhelming at all. I have to make the most of summer for baking with peanut butter because once school starts it's no taking peanut butter anywhere. I feel bad for peanut butter sometimes, it really gets a bad rap these days. I know that the allergy is very serious and all, really I do. It's just delish stuff and there it is. I've got another peanut butter recipe stashed away for later, maybe sooner actually.

With these cupcakes, the batter was delish (yes, this is important) and the texture was quite all right. The icing looked a little fiddly at first but the reality was that I just threw some crap into a pot, boiled it, cooled it and then threw in some icing sugar and stirred. No biggy. VERY SWEET!!!! Can't emphasize that enough. If you're not a sweet tooth then do not go for this icing.

Peanut Buttercups with Peanut-Penuche Icing
(the Pastry Queen)
makes about 12 cupcakes


1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky- I used natural)
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 bar bittersweet chocolate cut into small squares


1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or whatever you normally do. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix well. In another bowl combine the butter, peanut butter, milk and vanilla. Mix until everything is well blended. Add in the eggs and beat the mixture for a few minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Fill the muffin cups about half full. Place some chocolate in the batter and then fill the cup with more batter until it goes about 3/4 of the way to the top.
Repeat until the batter is done (I got about 13 cupcakes. Bake for about 30 min. or until a cake tester comes out with just some chocolate on it. Cool for about 10 minutes and then remove from pan to cool completely.

Throw the butter, peanut butter, milk and sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a low boil for 1 1/2 min. Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes (not more than). Once cooled, add in the vanilla and icing sugar. Mix until well blended. I let mine sit for a few minutes before icing the cooled cupcakes.

Creamy Chicken

Chicken is one of those meats which I think is often underwhelming. However, it is incredibly versatile and, when it's well done, can be extremely satisfying. Mind you, that all sounds terribly clinical. Hear what, I've already told you about my love of UK food magazines and that's what inspired this recipe. Really though, the recipe coupled chicken with bacon - there's really no down-side here.

Here's the thing... this summer has, in reality, been all about me exploring my 'anglophile' love. I used to wonder if I might have been Indian in a former life, what with my love of Sunday afternoon Bollywood films, the endless desire for curry of any kind and my penchant for colour. However, now I'm realising that it might not be 'Indian' after all. It's more 'English' of me. It's the Brits that really created curry and were generally highly influenced by their presence in India (without going into how much they jacked up the whole place). Plus, I have a deep love, no a need for pub food and beer. In short, I am now leaning more towards having been somewhere in London in my previous life. It all makes much more sense... haha 'Sense'. Whatever, back to the food.
I'm on vacay and it's a friday. Normally, friday is NEVER a cooking day but today is vacay. That changes everything. I've got a lush organic chicken who needs to be dealt with and this lovely recipe completely fit the bill.

I totally over-cooked for kid #2's b'day bash and it's been scorching hot ever since so I haven't cooked a thing in about 5 days. We're all going a little squirelly, I've got some beautiful veggies from my food box that have been sorely neglected all week and the temperature in the house has finally dipped below 28 degrees. Time to cook this bad boy up!!!

Chicken with Bacon
(inspired by BBC Good Food magazine)
serves 4

1 chicken, cut into pieces (about 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces)
6 slices of bacon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup onion, coarsely chopped
small bunch of fresh herbs (I used chive and parsley from the garden), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (can be combined with white wine - which is what I did)
1 cup green beans (use fresh not canned)
1 bunch of spinach (between 3 and 4 cups) coarsely chopped
salt to taste
dash of Angostura Bitters (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream

In a large, heated Dutch oven fry up the bacon. Pull out the bacon and add in the chicken pieces in the leftover bacon fat. Let the chicken cook for about 10 minutes, turning as needed. Once the chicken starts to look browned, push it to the side of the pot and add in the onion, beans and garlic.
Cook in the fat for a few minutes, letting everything cook through a bit. Mix together with the chicken and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the chicken stock/wine mixture and throw in the spinach and the fresh herbs. Let the mixture cook down a bit (about 20 minutes to let the chicken cook through). Season with salt just to taste. Add in the sour cream (or Cream Fraiche, even better) just before serving.
Serve over carb of choice ;-)

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
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  • More-with-Less Cookbook
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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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