Identifying Your Soil Type and Preparing Your Site

garden soil 01 Identifying Your Soil Type and Preparing Your Site

The early stages of making your garden involves some disturbance of your landscaping. What may be working may not be as abundant as it could be. Or as it will be. Gardening is an art, but soil prep a science. And as much as I would like it to be, it’s not always sexy. You have to be ready to get out there, get your hands dirty and sweat a little. After all, it’s the end result we’re going for here. And like the rest of life, the key is to relax and enjoy the process — the creative aspect of design and layout, the dirt under your fingernails, and finally reaping the rewards of your labors.

Fortunately, the first part is easy. Whether or not you enjoy it is up to you.

The first step is picking your plot.

Next opportunity you have to spend the day at home, settle in and take some time to observe your yard. Bring with you a good book and cup of coffee or tea and settle in. Relax, watch the weather. Maybe take out a pen and paper and jot down the time the sun reaches and later departs the site you have in mind.

Sunlight is crucial for optimum plant growth. Wind and rain patterns are also a strong influence. Find a sunny spot, avoid places that tend to channel strong wind. Six or more hours of direct sunlight is best. Vegetables especially require direct sun, but can handle some afternoon shade. Fruit trees are more forgiving, but you will find your fruit is sweeter if you choose a spot with afternoon sun. Your smaller fruits such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, melons, and corn will appreciate the late day heat as well.

garden soil 04 Identifying Your Soil Type and Preparing Your Site

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Lecce Forbidden Espresso | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals

aria alpert lecce italy espresso 01 Lecce Forbidden Espresso | Aria Alperts, Italian JournalsPhotographer: Aria Alpert

Well, I am here. In Lecce. The most quaint, glorious, Italian town I have ever experienced. Yes, I know this is the first time I have ever been to this country but I am still gonna stand by a statement like that. Lecce is everything I ever fanaticized an Italian town, along the coast would be. The friendly locals, the simple and rustic cuisine, the landscape, the vino and the…the…the (forbidden) ESPRESSO! Yep, my friends you read that right, I said it. I am proudly drinking it. It’s some good shit. I must say. I have missed you my espresso!

The espresso over here is totally different than in the states. Even the imported stuff doesn’t compare. I was talking to a local today about that and she says it has to do with the water here, which is loaded minerals and especially has lots of Iron. She says it balances the acidity in the espresso. And boy oh boy does it ever. Yum. Smooth, bitter, perfectly astringent and most importantly, it hasn’t given me the crazy cracked out feeling that I often get when I drink the stuff back home. This espresso just a nice little kick. A warm Italian embrace to get your day started out right. And while I am here in Lecce, or in Italy for that matter, I do believe I am gonna get into it. Well…I guess I already have.

aria alpert lecce italy espresso 02 Lecce Forbidden Espresso | Aria Alperts, Italian Journals Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Homemade Chocolate Liqueur (Bite This)

Homemade Chocolate Liqueur 01 Homemade Chocolate Liqueur (Bite This)Photographer V Blak

Now, I am not really a hard alcohol drinker, I would say I am more of a lover of wines. But when I was reading my Bon Appetit magazine a few years ago, I came across this recipe and couldn’t pass it up. I mean, chocolate liqueur. Damn. Yum! And it also makes a wonderful gift. Just be sure to make it about a month ahead of time so the flavors will have time to infuse.

Homemade Chocolate Liqueur 03 Homemade Chocolate Liqueur (Bite This)

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A Raw Pumpkin Mousse Pie With A Coconut Whipped Cream By GreenChef Heather Pace

coconut whipped cream raw vegan 02 A Raw Pumpkin Mousse Pie With A Coconut Whipped Cream By GreenChef Heather PacePhotographer Heather Pace

For Canadian thanksgiving, I made mini vegan pumpkin pies. For years I’ve made raw pumpkin pies, trying sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, carrot juice/nut combo – but I have to say, I prefer this cooked style. Enjoy it with a big dollop of the coconut whipped cream that I featured in my previous recipe post.

What’s so great about this pie? First, there are no nuts in the filling, making it far easier for me to digest (and good digestion is the name of the game for me these days more than ever). Instead I’ve used the natural creaminess of the cooked pumpkin along with healthy raw ingredients to create a delicious pie.

Secondly, this is a low glycemic dessert, using a small amount of coconut sugar in conjunction with stevia to sweeten it.

What makes it a “mousse” pie? I’ve suped it up with irish moss and coconut oil to give it a light, fluffy moussey texture. In fact, I’ve made this a few times already, that’s how much I like it, and it holds well as a cheesecake and as a simple mousse/pudding too! Whatever you choose, I’m fairly certain you’ll enjoy :)

pumpkin mousse pie A Raw Pumpkin Mousse Pie With A Coconut Whipped Cream By GreenChef Heather Pace Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Homemade Vanilla Extract (Bite This)

Homemade Vanilla Extract 01 Homemade Vanilla Extract (Bite This)Photographer V Blak

I must admit. I have never done this before. Making my own Vanilla Extract that is. It’s also only been 3 weeks since it started marinating in its beautiful glass jar. I am not sure how it’s gonna turn out BUT it looks so beautiful we decided we had to share this recipe with everyone. Life is all about the journey…right… :) Jump in and let us know how yours turns out.

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Coffee, That Dark Rich Demon In My Cup…Oh, Coffee!

coffee the dark demon inmycup juli novotny 01 Coffee, That Dark Rich Demon In My Cup…Oh, Coffee! Photography by V Blak (CC)

My uncle and I were talking the other day, he’s not a raw foodist by any means but he’s a health NUT and he owns a supplement company. He drinks green smoothies, makes everything fresh, eats only organic meat, goes on radical cleanses and so on as we do from time to time about health and food.

Our topic on this particular day was COFFEE! Yes, coffee, which I indulge in from time to time. The reason I brought up coffee was because I had read something that REALLY freaked me out. I mean, deep down I know that coffee is far from a healthy beverage. It’s a Fake-Out and a stimulant and bad for the kidneys and nervous system to some degree, it stimulates the bowls, and so on and so forth. Then you hear on the news sometimes that small amounts are actually “healthy for us”! Come on! I don’t believe that {although I listen in hopes that I hear something new and interesting as to why I should drink that espresso}. I mean, MAYBE the good {it’s a great pick-me-up when you are tired} outways the BAD sometimes and won’t really HARM us in a permanent way. Now that I can see!

But again, as with most things, we are always looking for an excuse to drink it or eat it! Right? We like to justify it. I mean come on, there are WORSE things, right?

Back to my story: the blurb I had just read that day was out of Sarma and Matthew’s Raw Food Real World. I had received the book as a gift about 5 years ago when it first came out and hadn’t really read much of it. Of course one of the first pages I turned to was the page on COFFEE and how bad it is for us.

coffee the dark demon inmycup juli novotny 02 Coffee, That Dark Rich Demon In My Cup…Oh, Coffee! Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Heirloom Beans And Greens By GreenChef Vanessa Sherwood

rancho gordo cannellini heirloom beans recipe greenchefs 01 Heirloom Beans And Greens By GreenChef Vanessa SherwoodPhotography Vanessa Sherwood

Beans and greens. Mmmm. One of the simplest, best tasting meals ever. And since I’m currently operating with three, count’em three stictches in my right thumb, my dinners this week have been dishes without a whole lot of chopping involved.

I’ve made lots of similar dishes in the past, but I’ve always used canned beans, since the thought of using dried beans always seemed like so much work to me. Then I came across this cookbook called ‘Super Natural Cooking’ by Heidi Swanson. In it not only is there a fabulous recipes for beans and green, but Heidi also mentions a company called Rancho Gordo that specializes in heirloom beans. I decided to order a few different kind of beans (there are so many amazing varieties) and am now totally obsessed over their giant Cannellini beans. Oh, and they are ‘kitty approved’ as well… :)

Yes, dried beans are a little more work, but with just a little planning ahead, it’s really not that difficult and sooo worth the extra effort. All you have to do is soak them in water before going to bed and then some time the next day, cook them up which takes about an hour to an hour in a half. In fact, you can find out all sorts of helpful tips and recipes at the Rancho Gordo website.

Beans and Greens (adapted from ‘Super Natural Cooking‘ by Heidi Swanson)

rancho gordo cannellini heirloom beans recipe greenchefs 02 Heirloom Beans And Greens By GreenChef Vanessa Sherwood Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Cucumber Salads For A Warm Summer Days By GreenChefs Golubka

cucumber salad ginger dill 01 Cucumber Salads For A Warm Summer Days By GreenChefs GolubkaPhotography Golubka

During the summers at our Russian dacha, meals were always accompanied by small, curiously shaped cucumbers that we picked from the garden that very day. Sometimes they were so perfectly sweet, that we would simply cut them in half and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Other times, we would toss a basic cucumber and tomato salad. Either way, this vegetable served as a cooling, hydrating, and nutritional companion to any summer meal. Cucumbers are at their best from May to July, and while we are at the peak of their season, here are two undemanding cucumber salads. One is a deserved favourite, and the other – a new addition. They are simple in preparation, and work well as side dishes or as snacks, on top of crackers.

I’ve always liked to pair cucumbers with dill, but came across the idea of combining them with apple cider vinegar in Carol Alt’s book.

Todays salads are the Cucumber and Dill Salad (an old favourite) and Ginger Cucumber Pickles (a Japanese salad).

cucumber salad ginger dill 02 Cucumber Salads For A Warm Summer Days By GreenChefs Golubka Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Blackforest Chocolate Cheesecake

Blackforest Chocolate Cheesecake (raw)

This decadent Blackforest Chocolate Cheesecake by Vanessa Sherwood drew quite a knockout reaction when she posted it on the forum. I’m sure you can see why. It is bursting with sweet cherries layered between a chocolate crust and a creamy chocolate cheesecake filling. Vanessa advised the members of the forum they can purchase raw cacao butter and coconut oil for great prices at Organic Living Food. She also said it can be replaced with a dark Green and Black’s chocolate bar. I know what some of you will be making your loved ones this Valentines!

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Delicate Raw Fruit Crepes With A Chocolate Brownie Filling

fruit crepe dessert raw brownie filling 01 Delicate Raw Fruit Crepes With A Chocolate Brownie Filling Photographer: Nadia

Some of you may already know that I have a brand new dehydrator at home, which is also the reason for the lack of posts lately. I’m diving into the raw cuisine with the open eyes of a new born baby. Raw crackers, raw desserts, “baked” nuts… I want to try it all and my dehydrator is working 24-7!

There are so many recipes I want to taste that the first moment the Excalibur arrived I got totally lost. I had absolutely no idea what to start with, where to begin and how to do it, although I spent the last 2 weeks preparing myself and reading all there is to read about using the thing. I also had a list with favorite recipes sticked to my desktop… Well, I had a list with recipes and no ingredients at all. Yeah, I know, the joke is on me. Instead of reading all days long I could’ve bought the necessary products, sprouted different things and prepare better.

Anyway, I managed to pull a couple of cracker variations (will share my most favorite one soon) and some desserts. I’m a true believer that you eat with your eyes wide open, so when I see something beautiful I got inspired. This time my inspiration were these cute little raw fruit paper like crepes appetizer from rawmazing.com, I just wanted mine sweet. The best option I could think of for making them sweet was fruit crepes for the bags and raw brownies for the filling. Easy, delicious and so beautiful! Especially if you make different variations, in my case – orange, apples & kiwi ones. Yum!

fruit crepe dessert raw brownie filling 02 Delicate Raw Fruit Crepes With A Chocolate Brownie Filling Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Kent Mango Cream Tart

jana kent mango cream tart 01 Kent Mango Cream Tart

Organic Kent Mango Cream Tart (raw)

This is one of those desserts your guests will really remember.

Makes about 4-5 small tarts

For the Crust:

2 Cups Almonds

1/2 Cup Dried Coconut

1 TB Coconut Butter

2 tsp. Lime Zest

2 TB Agave Syrup

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp. Salt

jana kent mango cream tart 02 Kent Mango Cream Tart

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Homemade Maple Granola (Bite This)

bite this post 01 03 2011 homemade granola 01 Homemade Maple Granola (Bite This)

Why spend a bunch of money at the store on granola when you can easily make it cheaper and way more delicious yourself at home! I have also included a raw alternative in the instructions at the bottom for all you RAW folks out there who wanna try making this in the dehydrator. Also, feel free to play around with the spices, nuts and dried fruits, tailoring it to your liking or whatever you have in your kitchen.

Oh, and this makes a wonderful homemade gift filled to the brim in a lovely glass airtight container… just sayin’… :)

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