I have gardened for two years and read a few gardening books and articles but never heard of the French Intensive Biodynamic gardening method until I read the Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden. All of the garden books I’ve read and instructions on the seed packets always recommended planting seeds in row with enough spacing thus requiring a lot of land and not ideal in an urban area. This book offers new ideas to maximize space and produce the most amount of vegetables, a minimum of 200 pounds of vegetables with a 25-square-foot bed (5×5 feet) or even with small containers.
The principles behind the postage stamp method include: start with an initial super-boosting postage stamp soil mix, plant vegetables very closely together to save space, reduce watering, and eliminating weeds, utilize crop stretching techniques such as intercropping, succession planting, and vertical planting to maximize space, to water deeply and regularly but infrequently, and to use organic methods such as companion planting to avoid using pesticides. This book lays everything out and goes into great detail about how to do things organically. However, it also gives you the easier alternatives (like buying store organic fertilizer) if you don’t have time to create the postage stamp soil.
I was really excited to apply those principles to our raised garden beds as we’re preparing them for spring. Following the author’s directions, I made a list of vegetables we like and the number of plants for each vegetable per family member and put my plan on paper using their spacing recommendations. Next I’ll be shopping for seeds and amending the soil. I will have an updated post with the result of my garden beds in a few months.
This book is a good read for gardeners who wish to weed, water, and work a lot less yet produce so much more. My only gripe is it has only a few illustrations for different size garden beds. It really needs color photographs to bring everything together. However, this book seems to be well thought out and have tips and tricks for any gardeners. I would recommend this book to both new gardeners and experienced ones.
*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher
My dad planted these carrots, dragon carrots and yellowstone carrots, at the beginning of September and we were able to enjoy them for our Christmas dinner. Some of them came out like the typical Bugs Bunny carrots that are long, narrow, and pointed while other were odd looking. Their shapes did not matter though. They tasted sweet and crunchy. The carrots were roasted, juiced, and eaten raw. I will post our carrot recipes soon.
This July 4th weekend brought an unbearable heat wave of low 90s. While many people flocked to the beach, we took refuge in our house with the AC on full blast. Anything above 70 degrees F is uncomfortable for us. To cool down, I whisked together a simple treat, granita.
I thought the sweetness of our overly ripe mangos would be a perfect complement to the tartness of the passion fruits from our garden.
Granita is the perfect treat for a hot summer day.
Incredibly refreshing and so simple to make.
3. When ready to serve, scrape the granita with a fork so it resembles ice shavings. Once made, this granita will keep for 3 days in the freezer.
Since I’m not a coffee drinker and quite sensitive to large amount of caffeine, I brought along my favorite drink, the London Fog, to help fight off sleep deprivation.
I was first introduced to the London Fog, or Earl Grey tea latte, during an outing at Le Marche St.George in Vancouver. It seems that the London Fog originated in Vancouver, but its creator remains unknown. Nevertheless, it has become one of my favorite hot beverages.
The London Fog tea latte consists of Earl Grey tea, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup. Earl Grey is a popular black tea flavored with oil of Bergamot, a fragrant citrus grown in southern Italy. I like my tea a bit more sweet so I deviated from the usual recipe and added an extra teaspoon of honey.
I can’t credit the London Fog entirely for helping me survive that stretch of night shifts, but it certainly helped ease some of that painful sleep deprivation. Even when I’m back to my regular work schedule, I still have craving for a cup of London Fog.
London Fog Tea Latte
When Vu and I went home this past Christmas, we couldn’t refuse a day trip to Napa with Vu’s sister. She’s a foodie herself so it’s fun to hang out with her and try new restaurants. Being a super sweet sister-in-law, she let me pick all the restaurants and planned the entire trip.
We drove two hours in the pouring rain to get to Yountville for our first destination, Thomas Keller’s well known Bouchon Bakery. Despite the heavy down pour, the line was out the door. The town folks must think that we tourists are crazy for pastries!
They ran out of almond croissants so we got the raspberry ones, which tasted way too sweet. Overfilled with jam.
Out of all the pastry items, my favorite was the salted caramel macaron. Of course, I devoured it on the spot and forgot to take a picture.
Lucky for us, our lunch destination was just a short walk from the bakery. We huddled under our umbrellas and made our way toward Bottega Ristorante. The ground around Bottega was quite quaint, making me wish that it was summer so we could sit outside with a glass of wine and enjoy the picturesque town.
The restaurant had beautiful stonework adorned with rustic Italian accents. It was nice to take refuge inside the warm and cozy restaurant.
We were hungry and ready to satisfy our growling stomach.
Wood grilled octopus olive oil braised potatoes, pickled red onion and salsa verde
Polenta under glass, caramelized mushrooms and balsamic game sauce. The polenta was creamy. slightly cheese, and paired so well with the mushrooms. Texturally it reminded everyone at the table of baby food, but darn good baby food.
Goat milk braised pork orecchiette chantrelles, cavalo nero pesto, pine nut gremolata, cristy Savoy spinach, pecorino. Everyone liked this one except me. Maybe because I’m not too fond of goat flavored food.
Ricotta gnocchi with old hen salsa di pomodoro and pecorino. Another favorite of mine. So light. Just amazing! I could eat these for days. My favorite gnocchi is still the spinach gnocchi at Bistro Moulin in Monterey Bay.
Duck three ways, roasted breast, confit leg, duck liver mousse, Sierra Beauty apple passata, spiced hazelnuts and watercress. My favorite was the duck breast, seasoned perfectly! I wish it was a bit more cooked though.
Smoked and braised natural short ribs polenta-speck polpette, espresso agro dolce glaze, smokey jus. Everyone seemed to like the short ribs.
Ricotta zeppole (Italian donuts) served in old newspaper with chocolate sauce.
Tiramisu with mascarpone mousse, cocoa ladyfingers rum and kahlua coffe syrup crunchy chocolate meringues. It didn’t taste like tiramisu but still delicious.
Basil gimlets. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was so good, some of us had a few.
Overall I enjoyed my experience at Bottega Ristorante even though I’m not a huge fan of Italian food. The food was comforting, delicious, and honest. Like your grandmother’s and mother’s food, but a bit more refined.
After lunch, we headed to V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena to indulge in some wine tasting.
Besides having an extensive selection of wines, V. Sattui Winery also houses an awesome market stocked with many meats, cheeses, olive oils, mustards, and artisan products, and for your convenience, a grassy picnic area for you to enjoy your purchase.
I couldn’t be happier when the rain died down and the sun made its glorious entrance.
I strolled the winery ground, admiring its serene and romantic setting, well manicured gardens, giant oak trees, and vast vineyards.
We must have taken a while at the winery because before we noticed, the sun started to set and it was time for dinner.
It was dark when we drove to Napa for our last stop of the day, Morimoto.
I have always been fascinated by chef Morimoto’s culinary style and techniques on Iron Chef America and was dying to try his inventive dishes.
Wagyu beef carpaccio. Melted in your mouth! Better than David Burke’s Primehouse in Chicago.
Toro tartare with minced seaweed, wasabi, sour cream, chive, guacamole, and mini fried rice balls. Beautiful dish but the taste didn’t match presentation.
Morimoto sashimi. All the fish were shockingly fresh! This was the first time ever that I tried every single piece of fish.
Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna). Fresh, buttery, and delicious.
Sea urchin carbonara with smoked bacon, udon noodle, and crispy shallot. It reminded me of the uni and caviar pasta at L2O in Chicago.
Grilled hamachi. Smoky and very flavorful!
Whole roasted lobster epiche. Seasoned perfectly!
Tofu cheesecake. The lightest cheesecake I have ever tasted. And you can’t even tell that it’s tofu.
Blood orange souffle. Everyone’s favorite! I will attempt this dish one of these days. Even though, Vu and I enjoyed our dinner at Morimoto Napa, we were not impressed. The delivery didn’t match the price. Many dishes are similar to L2O’s, but for the same price, we would rather eat at L2O.
Gail gave me some basil from her garden so I whipped up a batch of fresh pesto.