Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Culinary Garden- 2 Week Update

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and plant my first culinary garden. Not only did I plant my first, tiny culinary garden, but I also decided to share it with you our long time friends. This definitely puts a lot of pressure on me because I want to make sure I keep these alive and I have a bountiful garden to show you. But the bottom line is, I'm going to make mistakes along the way...and learn from them, hopefully.

I've had success with some herbs and veggies, and not so much with others. Whomp, whomp...

BASIL- I have to say I'm very surprised at how this baby is...not progressing so great. A couple of years ago I took a dying basil from my kitchen and planted it in that very same spot. It grew like a bush almost as high as the fence. I couldn't keep up with it and kept cutting off bunches to give to friends. But this time around hasn't quite been the same. It's definitely not making any improvements. Although I did use it today in my pasta sauce...delish! And I just loved walking out to my garden and getting my basil. I'm hoping that it's just a matter of it getting warmer for it to thrive.

JALAPENOS, SUMMER SQUASH AND RED BELL PEPPERS- These are progressing quite nicely. I realize I didn't take a great picture of the before,  but you can tell from the middle plant, summer squash, that these are getting fuller. I can even start to see little pods sprouting...summer squash!!

ARUGULA- Well, hello there arugula. This one seems to be working out quite nicely. This is the one I feared the most. I literally grabbed these seeds packets on my way out when I purchased all the other herbs and veggies and really didn't think they'd grow. I thought maybe they needed to be indoors in pods...blah, blah, blah. We'll see if we'll be having our first garden-to-table salad in the next couple of months.

MINT, CILANTRO, CHIVES- Looks like I didn't take a before picture of these. They seem to be doing well, but I can't tell how much they've grown. From what I remember the chives look fuller than they were when I first planted. Oh well. 

ROSEMARY- Well this has been a complete fail. This was a tiny plant I purchased at Sprouts and it was in my kitchen for a few days before I took it out. No luck here. I really thought it might like it better outside. I see rosemary used as hedges all the time so I'm quite surprised it just completely died.

There you have it.  Any suggestions? Specially for the basil....


Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Here's my mom's delish ceviche recipe. It can be used either as a main meal with tostadas, or as an appetizer with some chips or crackers. 

- 1 bag small or medium cooked shrimp, chopped
- 2 cans crab meat (some people use imitation crab, I like the real stuff)
- 2 avocados, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1-3 jalapenos or chile serrano, diced
- juice of 2 lemons
- salt to taste

Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate before serving so it's nice and chilled. Serve up with homemade tostadas or chips.

Super easy! Enjoy!!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Planting My First Culinary Garden

Much like learning to cook Mexican food by taking our family's recipes, cooking them and then blogging about the results of our cooking learning experience, I decided to learn to grow a culinary garden and share my results with you, via blog articles.
This is my raised ledge

I've tried doing research and reading up on the what, when and hows of planting an herb and vegetable garden. And there is SO much information it just feels overwhelming. I couldn't figure out if I needed a raised garden bed, given that this ledge I was planning on using for my herbs and vegetables, is already raised off the ground.

After our recent house remodel, we had a nursery come out to meet with us and provide some landscaping suggestions. I spoke with him about my herbs and veggie garden and he basically said, just start experimenting. What you see at the nursery is ready for your garden. Use good organic soil specifically for herbs and veggies. And BONUS, my dirt ledge IS in fact my raised gardening bed. However, if it wasn't raised, it would've been a good idea to use one of these cool Raised Garden Beds. After working on my planting for an afternoon, I was really glad my culinary garden ledge is 3 feet high...it was very friendly on my back.

So I decided to go for it, and here is my first shot at it. Joanna Gaines' suggestion is to start small...and start small is what I did.

I went to my local Lowe's and picked up my goodies. They have these fantastic, eco-friendly, biodegradable herb and vegetable pots. You just cut off the shrinkwrap around them, soak them in water, let them drain for a little, tear off the bottom of the cardboard pot, stick them in the hole and cover them up with dirt. It's supposed to not create transplant shock and minimizes waste.

Bonnie Plants Biodegradable Pots

This is what I planted:
Bonnie Plants Cilantro
Bonnie Plants Mint

Bonnie Plants Italian Parsley
Bonnie Plants Chives
Bonnie Plants Jalapeno Pepper
Bonnie Plants Bell Red Pepper 

I also picked up some Seeds of Change Arugula seed packets. Heck, while I'm experimenting and learning...why not? I've never planted seeds before so this is also a first. I just followed the instructions on the packet. Created four rows in the dirt and drumped seeds in them. I'm pretty sure I probably did this wrong, but hey...this is all a learning experience. Says it takes 40 days so we'll see if in 40 days I start to see sprouts. 

And finally, I already had a large-ish basil plant in my kitchen and a tiny dying rosemary. I've planted and successfully grown basil before so I'm pretty sure this will be no problem However, the tiny rosemary was literally almost completely dead, so not sure this will be happy with it's new home and decide to spring back to life.

  Basil to the farthest left

Still need to get some oregano from mom's this Sunday. 

Really looking forward to learning, and growing a larger garden. Next year should be larger if all goes well. And maybe if I am successful EL NOVIO (the boyfriend) will let me have a chicken coop. But that's a far s--t--r--e--t--c--h. Wish me luck with it all!

Yup...that's my culinary garden.
I know it's not impressive, but it makes me giddy!
Have you grown a culinary garden? I'm in Southern California, so any tips for this area would be helpful.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Top 5 Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Although Cinco de Mayo is not a highly celebrated holiday in Mexico (Independence Day on September 16th takes the cake taco), it is clearly a much celebrated day in the US. Cinco de Mayo  literally means "Fifth of May". The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin

The victory represented a significant morale boost to the Mexican army and the Mexican people at large. As Time Magazine remarked, "The Puebla victory came to symbolize unity and pride for what seemed like a Mexican David defeating a French Goliath." It helped establish a much needed sense of national unity and patriotism.

Fast forward to this week, and we're either looking for a spot to fill our craving for Mexican food and margaritas, or we can create our own at home. We've rounded up our top 5, most popular Mexican family recipes...as determined by our readers. 

  1. Camarones a la Diabla
  2. Carne en Chile Rojo / Beef in Red Chile
  3. Enchiladas de Dulce / Sweet Enchiladas- the recipe that sparked the idea for this blog 
  4. Tamales
  5. Tostadas
How are you spending your Cinco de Mayo? Do you join in the festivities? We'd love to see your pictures on our Facebook page!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mother's Day Gift Guide / Regalos para el Dia de las Madres

So you just realized Mother's Day is in one week and you haven't got a gift for the moms in your life. We're on the same boat!! I was shopping around and decided I'd put some ideas together to share with you. Here are ideas for her and for her home. Just click and purchase. 

And if you celebrate Dia de las Madres on May 10th as is customary in Mexico and other Latin countries, you're in luck because this year you get an extra 2 days to get the perfect gift.

Which would you like to receive? I'm smitten for the espadrilles, necklace, cake stand, skillet...um, well, all of it!!

 *Affiliate links are used. We make a small commission on your purchases, at no extra cost to you.