Wednesday, August 14, 2013



A few weeks ago I made some homemade Lemon Verbena simple syrup, because my Lemon Verbena plant was exploding.  It's the easiest thing to whip up and can be used in multiple things. Here's the recipe:

1 cup organic sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup lemon verbena leaves

Simmer on low the sugar and water until blended together.  Remove from heat.  Twist Lemon Verbena leaves gently to help release flavor, then add to syrup mixture.  Let sit for 15 minutes before removing.

So easy, right??

Sunday night came, and I got an idea.  A couple days before Brian and I went to visit the Koval Distillery here in Chicago.  What a magical place full of delicious whiskey.  We ended up buying their Dark Spelt Whiskey, and I thought to myself, I wonder how that would be with the Lemon Verbena simply syrup....


So comes the w.w. cocktail:

1 part Dark Spelt Koval Whiskey
1 part homemade lemon verbena simple syrup
3 ice cubes
Spring of lemon verbena for garnish

This just makes you want to drink all of the Koval Spelt Whiskey....

Sunday, May 12, 2013


It's finally starting to feel like spring around these parts, and all things green are starting to turn up in the garden!  My seedlings have been spending more time outdoors, in preparation of the transplanting in a few days.

The fruiting fig tree that I thought was dead has even come back to life!  That tiniest of fruit buds on the tree has put a smile on my face everyday...

My favorite seeds to watch germinate are the colors and textures that comes from Swiss Chard...

I also ordered some hop rhizomes from Simple Earth Hops.  After planting them a week ago, new shoots are coming up everyday!  I need to get my act together on building a trellis...

 Columbus shoot

 Nugget shoots

Karma has also been enjoying the nice weather.  Her favorite past time is sunbathing on the picnic table...


Tuesday, December 25, 2012


 The winter blues started to kick in the other day, where I really missed working outside in the warm air and sunshine.  I pulled up some of my harvested pictures from my garden this year to put a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

Happy winter everybody!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I've become obsessed with canning for the past week or so.  I work the 9-5, get home, and make a batch of jam.  A lot of what I have been doing this past week has been playing, learning and experimenting.  But this might now be an addiction.  If you follow me on Twitter (@sarahjoannee) then you've already seen a majority of these photos.  If not, then here is your recap:

First batch, Blueberry Jam.  Loved this recipe and it didn't contain any pectin!

Second batch, Cardamom Plum Jam.  This one is definitely a fall ice cream topper, with the cardamom being really strong!

Third batch, The Greatest Jam.  This one came from a recipe on a card sent from a friend.  It contains strawberries, blueberries, apple and peach schnapps.  I call it The Greatest Jam because I was listening to Cat Power while making it. 

Fourth batch, Bourbon Rainier Cherry Jam.  This one was made in two batches.  The first one I didn't put enough pectin in, and the second one came out perfect.  This is the most beautiful jam I have ever seen!

Fifth batch, Strawberry Serrano Pepper Jam.  The Serrano peppers came from my garden!  This one is awesome, where you don't get much of the pepper bite until the after taste kicks in.  

Sixth batch, Raspberry Jam.  There were a ton of delicious raspberries at the market the other day, and I wanted to make a basic jam as well as....

the seventh batch, Raspberry Mint Jam!  I have a ton of mint in my garden and came across a recipe that seemed like a perfect fit!

Fresh mint floating in a sea of raspberries!

 Batch eight was today, and it contained fresh beets from the garden.  So pretty!

The batch was only three jars, but I am so excited to have canned something directly from the garden!

My taste testers are still out there, stuffing their faces with jam so I can continue to perfect the recipes!  My garden is looking beautiful, by the way.  The tomatoes are starting to ripen and the peppers and eggplants are trickling in as well.  Horray for late summer harvests!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Today was an awesome day off, with no plans but whatever I felt like doing at the moment.  These were some of today's moments...

It finally cooled off a bit to spend some time in the garden, and I sowed some lemon balm, lemon basil, savoy summer and broccoli seeds.  I've also pretty much taken up the entire fence/patio area.
Please note the creepy floating toy bird.

I also harvested some lettuce today, as well as some nasturtium flowers, and two sugar snap peas for a dinner salad.

(not pictured: sugar snap peas)

After that, while I was thinning out my beets, I came across this guy:

AND she has eggs on her!

After all of that, I harvested some of the most beautiful Swiss chard I've ever grown.


I also harvested some green onions, and then made my very first quiche.  It was a Swiss Chard and Feta quiche recipe I found online, and it turned out DELICIOUS.

I also baked some lemon shortbread cookies and received a beautiful bouquet of flowers, but we don't have photos of those.  Truly a lovely Saturday off!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I was leaving to take the puppy on a walk today, and while we were walking past the garden, I caught a glimpse of this little orange bud, and had a minor freak out.  IT WAS A NASTURTIUM FLOWER!!

So exciting!  I have been harvesting lettuce, and know these flowers will be excellent additions to my garden salads!  Has anyone ever done anything with the nasturtium stems and leaves?  I heard they are good to saute? Is that true??

I also spotted this lovely black krim flower yesterday:

And on top of all of that, I harvested some tiny green onions on Sunday:

They tasted delicious in my fried rice.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Tomato plants are my absolute favorite.  Their smell brings me back to my Great Grandpa Pustek's back yard in East Chicago, where in the summer we would go out back and pick the cherry tomatoes right off the vine and eat them.  The gardening seemed to skip a few generations in my family, where I am the first one since him to really take to growing my own food.

Remember that bad ass cherry tomato seed?  Well that hardcore dude was spotted today already making some flowers.  That guy has survived winter and caterpillars, and he is STILL the first to show off with some flowers! 

So pretty!

It's summer guys!  I couldn't be happier!!!