Archive for May, 2009


Posted by Linda Bodo of Absolute Bodo
June 2009 Edmontonians

living wall

Patrick Blanc loves gardening but not the plant bed, container or hanging basket variety; he prefers to lush up building facades with vertical plantings known as living walls. Blanc pioneered the idea of creating gardens that explode from upright planes, sending tendrils and arced flower stems into the empty air. The French botanist expertly weaves a green bedding mix that graces Parisian museums, Manhattan boutiques and Berlin department stores.
This type of cultivation is sometimes referred to as ‘Urban Gardening’, since it is well-suited to city environments where limited horizontal areas are endowed with generous vertical space. Scaled down, this standing garden is the perfect solution for balconies or petite outdoor footprints.
I did a little research and found a source that retails a 22” x 31” unit for a whopping $400.00. My version (same dimensions) combines coconut liners, cedar boards, stucco mesh and, yes, ice cube trays to create a similar unit that is sow inexpensive: around $50.00.

Wall Flower Final

My “Wall Flower” is planted with lettuces and herbs which I keep near the kitchen door for fresh salads or aromatics. But, it could easily morph into a floral masterpiece that Monet would envy.
Envision a living painting, abloom with low-growing annuals like ageratum, pansies or alyssum, or a variety of trailing plants/hanging basket stuffers that will mimic Blanc’s large-scale walls.
√ Level: simple
√ Cost: $45.00 – $50.00
√ Time: 4 – 5 hours

1 – 1” x 6” x 8’ cedar board
1 – 1” x 4” x 8’ cedar board
2 – 1” x 1” x 8’ cedar boards
1    roll 2’ x 5’ x ½” hardware cloth/stucco mesh
3    2’ x 2’ coconut liners
4    ice cube trays
1 ½” deck screws
Exterior wood glue
20 gauge wire

Drill, 1/8” drill bit
Measure tape
Stapler, 9/16” staples
Wire cutters

Prepare the following: (get your hardware outlet to cut boards if necessary)2          1” x 6” x 30 ¾” cedar     (sides)
1          1” x 6” x 22 ½” cedar     (bottom)
3          1” x 4” x 24”cedar          (face plates)
4          1” x 1” x 22 ½” cedar     (struts)
2          24” x 24” hardware cloth units
Cut       25 – 2” holes spaced approx 2” apart on one coconut liner
Drill       1/8” holes in each compartment of 2 ice cube trays
Pre-drill pilot holes for screws with 1/8” bit, then glue and screw lumber together as illustrated.

photos 1


Staple coconut liner to back of unit between face plates. Staple mesh on top of liner.

photos 2

Flip over and measure inside bottom of unit, cut liner and mesh to fit, staple mesh onto bottom then lay liner on top.
Staple perforated liner onto front, staple mesh over liner. Cut holes in mesh over holes in liner.

photos 3

Wire front to back inside unit with 20 gauge wire by piercing liner and looping around mesh. Snug wire to prevent panels from bulging. Trim perimeter of front liner and mesh with 1” x 1” cedar if desired.

wall flower 1

Angle unit by leaning the top back. This will prevent soil from escaping holes while planting. Using a high quality potting soil mixed with vermiculite, fill inside bottom of unit until it reaches the first row of perforations. Place plants in holes at an angle pointing upward.
Add more soil until next row of perforations and more plants. Continue adding row by row of soil and plants until full.
Place 2 pre-drilled ice cube trays in top receptacle for drip assembly and cut a section of coconut liner to cover; this will prevent debris from clogging drip holes. Place remaining 2 trays in lower area to collect overflow.

photos 4

Water generously until soil is saturated, and place in a sunny location. Allow panel to dry out between watering to avoid water-logging. Soil will occasionally escape from the openings until the plants establish a root system. Fertilize weekly and prune or deadhead as required. Do not re-use water from overflow trays as the sediment may clog drip assembly.

Wall Flower Final


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Posted by Chef John Berry of MenuMagic
June 2009 Edmontonians

June09-Rob Feenie & Me
Chefs Rob and John

Chef Rob Feenie is a Canadian food icon. He made his mark in Vancouver owning and operating Lumiere Restaurant, a true culinary leader in Canadian cuisine. He’s left the AAA Five Diamond Vancouver hot spot, and is now the corporate chef for the ever popular Cactus Clubs in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
While some may see that as a slight step down, you have to understand Chef Feenie: His passion is creating and experimenting. His creations are nothing short of brilliant. He is a true master at his craft. In fact, he’s Canada’s only Iron Chef, defeating Masarharu Morimoto on Food TV’s Iron Chef America.
For the Cactus Club to snag him, and turn him loose in their test kitchen in Vancouver is either pure genius or the biggest stroke of luck to ever hit the chain.
Chef Feenie was in Edmonton recently to open our first Cactus Club at West Edmonton Mall. It’s a very elegant free standing structure, right next to Sears. The moment you walk through the doors it has a very distinct, yet subtle, West Coast feel. From the Cactus fine art collection on the walls—boasting such artists as Andy Warhol, Jean Michel-Basquiat, Sol Lewitt, and Edmontonian Tony Baker—to the architectural lighting designs at around $5,000 a pop, it’s a warm and inviting atmosphere.  

June09-Chef Feenie & Cactus Club Owner
Chef Feenie with Cactus Club owner Richard Jaffray 

President and founder Richard Jaffray launched the casual dining concept, which embodies his Cactus Clubs, 20 years ago. Now with Chef Feenie, that concept is being redefined.
We were lucky enough to sample some of the mouth-watering menu items from lunch and dinner menus. By far the rave of the night was the pan seared scallop ravioli. It’s a Rob Feenie original: butternut squash ravioli with seared scallops, truffle beurre blanc, amaretti and fried sage. Another delightful surprise was his BBQ duck clubhouse. The duck is married with pan-seared chicken and prosciutto on pecan fruit bread with sea salted fries. Lunch entrees run from $12 to $23, and dinner entrees run from $12 to $31.
 June09-Cactus Club Kitchen
The bustling kitchen at the Cactus Club 

Judging from the evening, Cactus Club is now the place to be, and to be seen. Don’t be surprised to see Chef Feenie pop out of the back. He’s in town every now and then, especially since he is NAIT’s first “Chef in Residence” in its renowned culinary arts program.
And, for your at-home pleasure, here is Chef Feenie’s recipe for Tuna Tataki—seared tuna over green papaya slaw. Fantastic.

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June09-Rob Feenie's Tuna

Yuzu Vinaigrette
2 tsp     yuzu juice
1 tbsp   soy sauce
1 tsp     garlic – minced
1 tbsp   rice wine vinegar
1 tsp     lemon juice
2 tsp     oil
black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. 

Green Papaya Slaw
2 tbsp   daikon – julienne
2 tbsp   carrot – julienne
2 tbsp   green papaya – julienne
1 tsp     thai basil
1 tsp     mint
Toss all slaw ingredients together with yuzu vinaigrette and mix together until coated.

Seared Tuna
Tuna loin
Heat a sauté pan with oil. Pat tuna dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Lightly sear all sides of the tuna for 10 seconds each side. Wrap tightly with saran wrap and place in refrigerator. When fully chilled, slice tuna into 1/4” thick slices.

Tuna Tataki
Orange – segments
Avocado – diced
Papaya – diced
Pine nuts
Place dressed green papaya slaw on a plate. Garnish with orange, avocado, papaya and pine nuts.
Fan tuna slices over slaw and drizzle with remaining yuzu vinaigrette. Garnish with cilantro.

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May 2009 Edmontonians


A subtle blend of hot and sour with citrus overtones, tom yum goong is the most famous of all Thai soups. Each region has its own particular variation of the recipe.

8 oz (250 g) shrimp/prawns, shelled and deveined, with shells reserved
3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) water
2 garlic cloves (kratiem), minced
5 kaffir lime leaves (bai ma-good)
3 thin slices fresh or dried galangal (kha)
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) fish sauce (nam pla)
2 stalks lemon grass/citronella (ta-krai),
lower 1/3 portion only, cut into 1” (2.5-cm) lengths
2 shallots, sliced
1/2 cup sliced straw mushrooms
5 green Thai chili peppers (prik khee noo), optional
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) lime juice
1 teaspoon black chili paste (nam prik pow)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro/coriander leaves (bai pak chee) 


  1. Rinse the prawn shells and place them in a large pot with the water. Heat to boiling, strain the broth and discard the shells.
  2. Add the garlic, lime leaves, galangal, fish sauce, lemon grass and shallots to the stock, then the mushrooms and chili peppers, if using. Cook gently for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp to the soup, and reheat to boiling. When the shrimp are cooked, place the lime juice and black chili paste in a serving bowl. Pour the soup into the bowl, stir, garnish with the cilantro leaves, and serve.

Serves four.

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May 2009 Edmontonians


8 oz ground pork
2 oz shredded taro root
2 oz shredded carrot
2 oz silver noodle (bean thread noodle)
2 Tbs Nam Pla (fish sauce)
1 Tbs palm sugar (or substitute white sugar)
1 tsp black pepper
1 small egg
1 Tbs of flour
1 pkg of 8″ Spring Rolls wrapping
2 quarts of Canola oil (for deep frying)

 1. Steam carrot and taro root for 10 minutes. Set aside and let it cool down. Soak silver noodle in cold water for 3 hours. Squeeze off excess water and cut noodle into 1 inch length. Mix ingredients 1 through 7 well in a large bowl.

2. Put a sheet of wrapping diagonally on a clean counter. Put about 2-3 tablespoons of meat mixture in the middle of the sheet and form it into the shape of a small sausage. Fold both side corners to the middle and start rolling tightly from one end to the other.

3. Crack the small egg and mix it with flour into a thick paste. Use the paste to “glue” the end of the roll.

4. Put enough oil in a frying pan and set the burner to medium heat. Fry 4 to 5 rolls a time until golden brown. Set aside to drain off excess oil.

5. Serve immediately with lime chili dipping sauce.

1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup Nam Pla
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs Sambal Oelek chili sauce
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbs chopped peanuts.

  1.  Melt sugar in water and Nam Pla over low heat. Set aside to cool.
  2. Mix in lime juice and chili sauce.
  3. Sprinkle peanuts on top before serving.

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May 2009 Edmontonians
Test Tube Babies

My green thumbs are calling—yelling actually. They are itching to plunge into untamed territory where delicate buds unfurl as they escape the clutches of their winter hibernation. Longer days, balmy nights, and rays of sun partnered with ample room and board ensure a bounty guaranteed to keep me in fresh-cut flowers for months. My callused hands work the soil ruthlessly ridding the terrain of unwanted rock and incessantly massage chunks of soil until they crumble to a velvety powder. Victories over slugs and evasive plantings are easily forgotten in the quest of textbook deadheading and pruning. At times, the work seems endless.And then, one day, it happens. The sweet scent of summer arrives, so impossibly intoxicating that I almost want to eat it. It hovers over the garden beckoning the birds and the bees in a breathtaking profusion of colour… and I realize that blisters, broken nails and an aching back were well worth it. The payback is considerable. 

It’s so gratifying to reap the rewards of your efforts with home-grown flowers for your digs. Not to worry—you don’t need a huge inventory to make a bold floral statement. Displaying single blooms in clever devices—designed to make each flower a statement—is a simple project and easily accomplished.

 Window Dressing

may09-window-dressingMy ‘Window Dressing’ project will spruce up any window with cafe style curtains detailed with small pockets that house test tubes—perfect for single blooms. Windows clad in these sheer accoutrements are guaranteed to make you smile with every glance outside. You can whip up this project for next to nothing by recycling an existing curtain and saved floral tubes, vanilla bean tubes or cigar tubes.

  Level: simple                  
  Cost: $2.00 – $10.00
  Time: 2 – 3 hours

Sheer fabric (size of window with hems + 12” for pockets) – use a stiff organza, drapery sheers or an existing curtain.
Test tubes/Floral tubes/Vanilla bean tubes/Cigar tubes, 3” – 5” long
Curtain rod

Sewing Machine 
Tape measure
Cloth or towel

Step by Steps

  1. Cut fabric to size 1” wider and 3” longer than window. Roll a 1/4” hem on sides and bottom and sew a 1” sleeve at top for rod. Steam press with a damp cloth to prevent scorching.
  2. Cut several strips of 2 1/2” fabric with the grain, and sew a 1/4” hem on the long sides. Press. Cut strips into 4 1/2” units, and hem top and bottom.
  3. Position pockets on curtain, pin in place and sew, leaving top open. Feed rod through sleeve and hang curtain. Fill test tubes with water and flowers, and insert in pockets.


may09-wobblersIf you are looking for a twist on the classic vase, ‘Wobblers’ are vessels that weeble, but never fall over. These little delights are crafted from round wooden coasters or art plaques and incorporate tubes to accommodate flowers. Line up a series of them on a flight of steps, use them as place-card settings, or disperse them through a bookcase or end table for colour and whimsy.

Level: simple
Cost: $2.00 – $3.00
Time: 1 – 2 hours

Large test tubes/Vanilla bean tubes/Cigar tubes – approx. 6” long
Round wood coasters/wood art plaques/scrap wood 1/4” to 3/4” thick & 3 1/2” to 4” in diameter.
Craft paint (optional)
Wax or Varathane

Drill / drill press
Spade bit of various sizes
Paint brush
Sander & 180 grit sandpaper

Step by Steps

  1. If using scraps of wood to make coasters, cut with jigsaw 3 1/2” to 4” in diameter.
  2. Mark center of coaster/plaque/disc and bore hole with appropriate spade bit slightly smaller than diameter of test tube. Slowly and patiently file out bored hole until test tube is a snug fit. If central hole has become too large for test tube, add a small dollop of hot glue on inside walls of hole and spread around perimeter to create a tight fit.
  3. Finish with two coats of paint if desired and seal with several light coats of Varathane or wax.
  4. Add test tubes, fill with water and display your favourite blooms. √

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