Sunday, 17 July 2011

July 17th Gardening and Cooking Updates

Well, the weather for the weekend was overcast and raining for the most part, so camping was out. Making a mess in the kitchen was in :-)

Things I made this weekend:

Pork Loin & Sweet Potatoes (my last post)

Salad Dressing mixes from Make A Mix Cookery book

French Dressing

Ranch Dressing

Super Salad (or vegetable) Sprinkles


Black Bean Brownies (from an online recipe)

(If you are using dried beans, soak and cook 1 cup of dried beans to equal 2 cups cooked beans for the recipe)

adapted from the Whole Foods Market

  • 1 19 oz (540 mL) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the black beans, sugar, eggs, melted butter, cocoa, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, pulsing and scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the beans are completely pureed. Remove the blade and gently stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour into an 8?x8? pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until slightly puffed and set. Cool before cutting into squares.

Next time I make these, I will up the cocoa powder and add a tsp of instant coffee and a good pinch of cayenne or chili powder to the mix… I think that it needs a bit more dark chocolate, to counteract the fact that there is less fat in the recipe.


I have 4 cups of dried mixed beans soaking right now, to make a batch of hopefully 12-14 pints of soup this evening. My stock of quick lunch soups is drastically low! Time to get cracking and do some batches of different soups up!

Gardening updates!

This morning it cleared up enough for me to take some pictures of the garden. Its neat to see how things are progressing!

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The tomato garden has turned into a jungle. The picture on the right shows the clusters of tomatoes forming on the Keepsake Tomato plants.

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I planted borage, calendula, sweet potatoes, parsley & basil amongst the tomatoes. My motto is, survival of the fittest! Once things get too crowded, I will do some judicious thinning of leaves and flowers, to encourage air movement around the tomatoes.


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The crimson flowered broad beans are almost up to the window of Marcel’s shed now.  The bottom flowers are starting to form pods. It will be interesting to find out how much we get from the 20 beans planted. I will always plant celery in these pots though! They are healthy and growing much better for me in these pots, than they did for me in the ground.

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The peppers are not doing as well for me this year as last. I think part of the reason is that I mixed the “earth” they are in… it is 1/2 compost and 1/2 potting mix. Last year it was all compost, and they were planted on alfalfa, which would have given them lots of umph as well.  Cody’s peas are doing well though! I think they mislabeled them…. they are turning out more like pole peas vs bush peas.

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The cucumbers I started from seed for the greenhouse are doing much better than the ones I bought and planted in the containers by Marcel’s shed…. lesson learned for next year ~ save my money and plant the seed instead of purchasing plants!

The back corner (right) is starting to look a bit more respectable too !


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The picture on the left is from the first planter bed going into the back yard. The perennial sweet peas (pink flowers) are starting to bloom.  They look good with the Maltese Cross (red flowers).  The picture on the right is a lily I had been given as a potted plant years ago (its at least 8 years old). Loads of blooms on it this year, about the size of my hand, in clusters.


Hopefully Marcel & I will get out camping next weekend.  With this weather, I think it is a case of do it or not.  Its hard to believe that we haven’t camped at all this season yet!


  1. Hi Shelly,
    Do tell I am intrigued here did you make the seasoning and dressing mixes your self? I probably read right over it, I was so wanting to find the recipes for them. They look so good!! Every thing on your blog looks great.

  2. Thanks for the compliment about my blog :-)
    I got the recipes out of the Make a Mix Cookery Book... its not in print now. But there is a similar recipe for ranch dressing here
    french dressing mix here
    salad sprinkles here

    I've used google to shorten the urls so they are easier to copy and paste into your web browser.
    Hope this helps! It is great to have mixes on hand in the pantry!