Spring showers bring May flowers


I planted 5 Yukon gold potato seeds in a Potato Deck-Patio Grow Planter Bag on 3/20.  For those who are interested, here is more info about growing potatoes in a bag.

My potato plants have started stage 4: tuber bulking!  I’m surprised to see that potatoes have such cute flower buds.  I’m excited to see them bloom!


The potato plants are have reached right about hip height!


bush slicer cucumber growing vines


I planted some beans outside along with the one transplant that survived. Looks like they are catching up!

Turkey and navy bean soup


I found a bag of dry navy beans in my pantry, and the only thing I could think of making with it was soup.  Are there any other type of dishes that use navy beans besides soup? Things that make you go “Hmm.”

Now I know I said I was going to just eat what I had in my house, but the only soup vegetable I had in my house was celery.  Sorry, but bean and celery soup just did not sound good at all.  Easter was this past Sunday, and I really wished that I snagged some left-over ham or the ham bone from my brother’s house.   Rats.

I reluctantly went to the grocery store bought carrots, onions and smoked turkey necks — although I was so tempted in getting the smoked ham hocks, but I fought through temptation and mentally repeated my mantra “Make better decisions” and got turkey instead.

The soup turned out really yummy, and I’m actually surprised with how much turkey meat I was able to pick.

The Basics
4 smoked turkey necks
2 tbsp EVOO
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 lb dry navy beans, or 2 cans (drained)
6 cups chicken broth (I used 6 cups of  water and ham broth seasoning)
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper

The Rundown

If you have dry beans, rinse and pick out any stones.  Boil 7-8 cups of water and add beans.  Boil for 2-3 minutes.  Leave covered for about 2 hours. Drain.

Heat EVOO in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Sautee onions for about3 minutes.  Add turkey necks and garlic.  Let the necks brown on each side, about 5 minutes each.  Add broth and bay leaves. Raise heat until broth is gently simmering (about medium low heat).  Cover and let simmer for about 1 hour.

Add carrots, celery and beans and let simmer.  Remove turkey necks and let them cool on a cutting board (it’ll take about 5-10 minutes).  Use a knife to cut and remove the skin.  Pick off as much meat as you can and cut larger chunks into small pieces. Put meat into the pot and discard skin and bones.  Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.   Add salt and pepper to taste.  This makes a lot of soup so start digging in!

Hip hop hooray! It’s planting day!

container planting potatoes eggplants

Yukon potatoes and little prince eggplants

I read that it was better to transplant plants outdoors on a cloudy afternoon to decrease root shock, so I thought today was a good day to get started!  Since potatoes and eggplants are companion plants, I grouped them together in the corner.

container planting kale

Lacinato (dinosaur) kale

I planted put the kale planter next to the fence, so hopefully the shade will keep the kale tasting good for a while (kale thrives in cooler weather).

The rest of the plants were planted in City Picker’s Patio Garden Beds. Assembly was super easy, and took about an hour to put them together and transplant the seedlings.  After reading the reviews, I decided to not use the plastic cover.  Instead, I might buy some mulch to prevent weeds and insulate the plants.

The one thing I did notice was that my dogs were trying to eat the fertilizer so I suggest adding at 2 inches or more potting mix on top of the fertilizer to keep them out (my dogs don’t dig).

About a week ago I didn’t see any growth from the marigold seeds I bought from the Dollar Store, so I planted African marigolds in the planters.  To my surprise, I saw little marigolds so I guess I’ll have African and dwarf French marigolds! Sweet!

Growing potatoes in bags: Day 28

growing backyard potatoes day 28

I planted 5 Yukon gold potato seeds in a Potato Deck-Patio Grow Planter Bag on 3/20.  For those who are interested, here is more info about growing potatoes in a bag.

My happy little potato plants are still growing strong.  I hope that I didn’t overcrowd the taters in this bag.  In hindsight, I would have planted 4 in each bag.  I found this handy chart that describes what’s happening in the dirt.  I think it’s in stage 3.


Also here’s an update for the other set of potatoes that I planted in an old potting mix bag on 4/1.  This is day 15.  Looking good!

growing potatoes in plastic bag day 15

grown-up ramen


I’ve eaten instant ramen for as long as I can remember. My parents usually added vegetables like cabbage or bok choy and a poached egg. I’m always surprised when I hear all the different way people like to eat it, like eating the noodles dry and sprinkling the soup packet on top.

I recently watched the first season “Mind of a Chef” on Netflix, and I was mesmerized with authentic shoyu ramen. I didn’t have the funds nor the patience to make my own dashi so I bought premade dashi from the store. It adds a wonderful depth of flavor, and I’ll probably always make it this way.

I had radishes on hand, but feel free to add any fresh vegetables you have. Some suggestions are mushrooms, spinach or thinly sliced onion.


– pack of instant ramen (any flavor will do)
– 1 tsp soy sauce
– 3 small radishes, washed and thinly sliced
– 2-3 tbsp dashi base
– 1 tbsp mirin (optional)
– chives (optional)

The Rundown
1) Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add add soup mix, dashi, mirin and soy sauce. Let it boil for about 5 minutes.
2) Add noodles and radishes. Decease heat and gently boil for 3 minutes.
3) Pour into a bowl and sprinkle with chives.

Growing potatoes in bags: Day 23

growing backyard  potatoes

Lush.  That’s the only way I can describe the potato plants.  I rolled up the bag and added about 3-4 inches of potting soil.  Also Smart Gardener keeps reminding me to water it about an inch every week.

I’m a little worried that garden pests come so I’ve sprayed a thin mist of organic pesticide in the evenings.  It worked well last year, but I’m thinking about switching to an organic insect killing soap.

Also I planted three potato seeds in an empty potting mix bag on 4/1.  This is the growth after 11 days!

growing potatoes in plastic bag

Note:  I planted 5 Yukon gold potato seeds in a Potato Deck-Patio Grow Planter Bag on 3/20.  For those who are interested, here is more info about growing potatoes in a bag.

simple sweet chili chicken

simple sweet chili chicken

I just recently put myself on a strict budget, so my goal is to try to cook with ingredients that I have in the house and avoid those “Oh, I’m just going to stop by the grocery store for one thing, but end up with $50 worth of food” impulse buys.

In essence, I quickly marinated chicken with various Asian sauces I had, baked it, and served it on top of frozen vegetables . Feel free to adjust to whatever you have on hand!


  • 3 chicken leg quarters (skin and bone in), cut up to thighs and legs.
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey (substitute suggestions: brown sugar, sugar, mirin)
  • 1/2 sweet chili sauce (This isn’t spicy, so don’t worry.)
  • 1/4 cup of sriracha sauce (optional; adjust to preferred level of spiciness)
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flake (optional; adjust to preferred level of spiciness)

The Rundown

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, except the chicken.
  2. Coat the chicken and let marinate for at least 15 minutes. If you are using chicken with skin, be sure to put sauce underneath the skin.
  3. Arrange chicken on roasting pan. Occasionally baste chicken with left over marinade while it’s cooking. Bake for about 45 minutes or until chicken is done.   Serve on top of vegetables.