August 2015

Kitchen DIY: Making the most of real vanilla

Vanilla Bean

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice following saffron. Vanilla remains pricey (around $3.50 a pod) largely due to the fact that it is very labor-intensive and challenging to grow. Originally from Mexico, the vanilla orchards had a highly symbiotic relationship with its natural pollinator, the Mellipona bee. Man-made attempts to replicate what nature was doing best by artificially pollinating the plant were largely unsuccessful until the discovery that the vanilla plant could be hand pollinated, thus enabling the plant to be grown in areas outside of Mexico.

Read more »

Gardening for Dinner: Using seasonal bounty

fried green tomatoes

I have never really considered myself a gardener. I have always had a plant or two growing in a pot or hanging basket and on some rare occasions, actually got something to eat from them. Then, four years ago, my wife and I bought a house and discussed putting in a raised bed for a small garden. That first bed was five feet by 10 feet and served as our very first garden. 


We didn’t get a whole lot out of that little bed, I think because we overplanted the small area. I wanted a large variety of vegetables and that didn’t work out so well. So, the following year, I added five more boxes and three half-barrel planters so that I could get a larger variety. 


Read more »