Desert Gardening 2011

Posted in April 29th, 2011, under Food, Gardening, Home Decor

Some of you probably figured out that I live in the fabulous city of Las Vegas; however, not many know that Las Vegas is actually a desert. So, what does this have to do with cakes? Well, nothing.

What I really want to talk about is growing your own food. I have always wanted to grow vegetables and herbs but the desert climate keeps intimidating me. Remember, when visiting Las Vegas for the first time, you should either bring a fur coat or a swimsuit. That being said, it either gets too hot or too cold over here. We have our occasional good weather but it never lasts long.

So, what grows in the desert? Not just cactuses that’s for sure! Take a look at my herb bed.

I built this stacked herb bed a couple of weeks ago with just regular, construction lumber. I would actually prefer to use Trex, redwood or cedar (rot resistant) but since we are just renting, I didn’t invest too much. Also, when building your raised beds, make sure not to use treated wood. Chemicals will leach into the soil and contaminate your food. Of course, if you are just growing ornamental flowers, that is okay.

I added the dividers to keep each herb contained. I also think it looks more organized this way.

This boxwood basil is probably the lushest herb in my bed.

You can use chives in endless possibilities!

Italian parsley for pastas, salads and garnishing dishes! Doesn’t it look like cilantro?

How about some lemon verbena on your iced tea?

I haven’t cooked with Thai basil yet but I’m sure they would be great for Southeast Asian cuisine.

Sweet basil is definitely a staple in Italian dishes. This is probably my commonly used herb, too.

Doesn’t this lemon thyme look beautiful in the herb bed?

This one is called pineapple sage. When I first saw it, I was intrigued by the name. It actually smells like pineapple!

Ready for some lavender ice cream?

I was surprised to see some curry at our local nursery! I love the aroma!

There was a huge variety of rosemary to choose from and I only get to pick one. One day, I’ll have a rosemary garden!

Keep your oregano and mint trimmed and contained so it doesn’t spread all over. These herbs actually inspired me to add the dividers.

Do you like adding dill to your tar tar sauce and potato salad?

I also have a raised bed with three varieties of strawberries. A few days ago, I picked off all the strawberries and blooms. I wanted the plant to first focus on growing some leaves than bearing fruits. That way, I get a better harvest next time.

I’m also growing six varieties of peppers. Peppers are actually perfect in the desert; as well as eggplants, okras, melons and some varieties of tomatoes. I wish I can plant them all!

I planted several of these collards and I’m not exactly sure of the variety. I’m guessing they are Georgia collards?

Of course, I can’t forget my bok choy. They are wonderful for stir fries and stews!

As you can see, plenty of things can actually grow in the desert. Of course, you wouldn’t want to plant cabbages during the desert summer nor plant tomatoes in the freezing winter. Keep in touch with your local nurseries and see what grows well in each season. Get some good organic soil and compost; plus don’t forget to water them regularly (just don’t water them too much).

Special thanks to Jason Tucker for giving me advice on growing edibles here in Las Vegas. I couldn’t do it without him! Also, I would like to thank John Kohler for inspiring me to start gardening! Thank you!

What are you waiting for? Start growing now!

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Recent publications and BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Posted in April 14th, 2011, under Giveaways, Sugar Art

I can’t believe it’s been months since my last post! From now on, I’ll do my best to keep this site updated as much as possible. In fact, I’m thinking of adding a “gardening” tab for my upcoming gardening adventure. Let’s see how this one goes!

Okay, so I’ll keep this post as short as possible so we can proceed with the giveaway. You can scroll down at the end of this post if you really can’t wait. GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. Check below for winners.

Here are some of my recent works:

Cake Central Magazine October-November Issue

Now and Then

This black and white cake was featured in the Now & Then article on Cake Central Magazine. I was asked to recreate Rod and Kathy’s vintage wedding cake and make something a little more updated. The vintage cake had the traditional pillars that were very common during that time. Since I wanted to challenge myself, I decided to incorporate that element in my design. But instead of using the actual pillars, I asked my dad to build me a cake stand that would mimic the architectural details of the columns. I think he did a fabulous job! What do you think?

Honestly, this was actually my very first square cake. At first, I could not get the edges look as sharp as what I envisioned. After many attempts, I had to settle down with the paneling method (think of laying tiles). Once the panels were attached, I spackled the seams with royal icing. It was so time consuming that I would never do square cakes again!

As you can see, the birds have finally evolved its wings and ready to fly away from my mind. Maybe those eggs will hatch one day and once again appear on one of my cakes. The bands and ribbons were made of  gumpaste while the monogram was painstakingly hand-cut by hand. Now, does anyone want to send me a Cricut Cake Machine?

Asian Yellow Cake

I was also asked by Cake Central Magazine to create an Asian inspired cake for their issue. I wanted to think outside the box (too much, maybe?) and stray away from the bamboos and cherry blossoms. So, I came up with this design using handmade, silicone molds of Chinese coins and ornate carvings. Again, I used a paper puncher over gumpaste to make the scalloped trellis border and then used a fluorescent light cover to leave the quilted impression on the bands. I wished the camera captured the actual shade of yellow but unfortunately, it didn’t. The magazine got it close with editing, though.

Last but not the least, the book finally came out! Two of my cakes were featured in the book 1000 Ideas for Decorating Cupcakes, Cookies and Cakes by Sandra Salamony and Gina M. Brown. The cake pictured above is one of the two cakes that were printed. It was such a pleasure working with the authors! I’ll be giving away two copies of this book to two lucky winners! Take a look below for details.

GIVEAWAY

To enter, just simply answer my question by leaving a comment below:

What do you enjoy making the most? Cupcakes, cookies or cakes?

Two winners will be picked through Random.org
Contest ends on Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm PST
Open to international readers
Your number may change due to deletion of spam comments and addition of pending comments

Edited to add: As of 2013, AFTER the contests winner/winners have received their prize/prizes, I have deleted several comments due to an aftermath of realizing missed spam comments. On this matter, the number and order of comments is no longer accurate. Again, this has happened AFTER the winners have been announced during the time frame of the contest.

For updates, you can subscribe HERE, follow me on Twitter or join me on Facebook. Good luck!