Easy DIY Almond Milk

One year ago, I posted a picture of my homemade almond milk. It was so easy to make!

Here’s how:

Soak about 1 cup of almonds in water, overnight. Then strain out the almonds and place in a good blender with about 2 cups of water. Pulse the almond mixture a few times, then blend for several minutes, until the almonds are a fine meal. The mixture will turn white and milky, when complete.

Place a nut milk bag or cheese cloth over a large mixing cup or bowl. Pour the almond mixture into the nut milk bag. Allow the milk to strain for a few minutes, then carefully twist the bag with your hands, to extract as much milk from the mixture as possible.

Bottle the almond milk and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

***The left over almond meal may be spread over a baking sheet and dried in the oven, at the lowest temperature for 2 to 3 hours, until dry. Store in the freezer and use in your baking or add it to smoothies***

This process is super easy and the result is pure deliciousness. This almond milk has a true almond taste, unlike anything you will buy in the store!

Please let me know if you make it and how it turned out?

Happy Gardening!


Challenge: Create a fall centrepiece from your garden. ūüćĀūüćā


My fall bouquet and centrepiece!

Summer came and went in a flash. Fall is upon us, along with cool nights, changing leaves and shorter days.

As I look around my gardens, I remember the bright greenery of spring and colourful flowers of summer.  Although I miss those days, I still appreciate all the beauty that fall brings.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this coming weekend.  It is a great time to be thankful for the harvest and bring inside more than just vegetables.

As I walk through my gardens, I notice many beautiful flowers and shrubs displaying their gorgeous colours.  The Zinnias are breathtaking, with their spectrum of colour.  They are growing in shades of purple from dark to electric, in brilliant reds, pinks ranging in colour from light to dark, peaches, oranges and warm yellows.  These flowers add so much colour to a fall garden and remind me of summer on those cooler days.

The Cosmos are still flowering in their light pinks, purples and whites.  Their foliage is playfully fern-like and whispy.  I saw bright and healthy Marigolds and stunning Tithonias.

I had the idea to bring some of these flowers inside and arrange a fall bouquet. However, instead of simply cutting flowers, I decided to enhance the bouquet with some fall colours and foliage.  Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) is just starting to turn crimson red and adds a lovely texture and colour to the arrangement.

In the fall, Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) displays drooping thin branches filled with tightly clustered pink berries.  Although these berries are poisonous to humans, wildlife enjoys eating their fruit in the winter.  A few branches of these berries would also look interesting in a bouquet.

Another flower which is lovely all summer, but changes in the fall is Snowball Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). ¬†This shrub has beautiful large white flower “balls”, which turn green in the fall.

Walking through those gardens, my bouquet became a collection of zinnias, cosmos, tithonia, marigolds, burning bush, snowberry, hydrangea and perennial asters.  I surrounded the vase with ornamental gourds and pumpkins.

How do you think it turned out?

Now I give you a challenge:

Walk through your garden or even a neighbourhood park. ¬†Take a look around yourself and see if you can take a few branches of shrubs or trees, maybe some flowers from your garden or even wild flowers. ¬†It’s amazing what you can come up with and how easy it is!

Do this now, before the frost, then share it here in the comments section. ¬† I would love to see what you create. ¬†Let’s share our ideas and maybe come up with some new ones.

Happy Gardening!



An easy tomato sauce recipe…


Roasted Tomato Sauce

This has been a terrific year for tomatoes! ¬†I’ve been harvesting them¬†for weeks and they are still producing. ¬†After many batches of tomato sauce, I’ve discovered the easiest and most delicious way of¬†making it.

This sauce is made entirely in the oven, then blended.  There is no need to peel the tomatoes, since they will be completely blended into the sauce.  Skipping this step saves a lot of time, which is great when your counter is covered in freshly harvested tomatoes!


Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic Cloves – notice their beautiful caramelized colour?


Leave the tomato skins on and they will disappear when blended together.

Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Roasted Tomato Sauce


  • Plum tomatoes (i.e. San Marzano, Roma, Amish paste, etc.) – enough to fill a baking pan
  • Whole garlic cloves – 10 or more
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Ground¬†black¬†pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • optional –¬† 1/2 sliced onion, jalape√Īo peppers, shallots, etc.


  1. Preheat oven to 375¬ļF.
  2. Cover baking pan with 2 overlapping pieces of aluminum foil.
  3. Slice tomatoes in half and place face-up on the pan; do not overlap.
  4. Place whole garlic cloves among the tomatoes, along with any other optional vegetables.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  6. Using your hands, mix up all ingredients in the pan, until tomatoes get evenly coated with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
  7.  Spread out all ingredients evenly in the pan, keeping tomatoes face-up.
  8. Place baking pan in the oven and roast for 50 minutes, or until tomatoes are lightly browned, but not burned.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  10. When tomatoes are cool, blend all roasted ingredients in the blender, until smooth.
  11. This sauce may be kept in the fridge for 1 week or frozen in freezer-safe jars or freezer bags.


Roasted tomatoes and garlic, ready to be blended.

This is an incredibly easy tomato sauce.  The tomatoes develop a beautiful caramelized flavour when roasted and the garlic cloves become creamy and somewhat sweet.  I love the flavour of this sauce and it has become my favourite!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.



Belgian waffles and school day breakfasts…


Here’s an easy breakfast idea for hectic school day mornings and lazy weekends. ¬†Belgian waffles cook quickly and perfectly in a waffle iron.


Whatever is left over, may be frozen, then later defrosted in the toaster.


Waffles ready for the freezer!

In order to save time on busy school mornings, I make extra waffles on the weekend and freeze what we don’t eat. ¬†I then lightly toast them in the toaster, and they are ready. ¬†When running late, they are a perfect little package to eat on the way to school.


Making an extra batch for freezing.

The recipe that I use is a simple one. ¬†You mix the dry ingredients together, you mix the wet ingredients, then you mix it all together. ¬†It’s easy. ¬†This recipe makes approximately 8-10 waffles.

Recipe for Belgian Waffles

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp white sugar

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1.5 cups warmed milk
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Turn on waffle iron and set temperature to medium or “4”.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients together.
  4. Pour wet ingredients, into the dry ingredients and beat together until smooth.
  5. Using a ladle, spoon out one portion of waffle mixture and pour onto the waffle iron.
  6. Toast waffle until golden and slightly crispy.
  7. Serve with sliced strawberries, maple syrup, icing sugar, etc.


Belgian waffle served with icing sugar. Yummy!

Our days are hectic. If your mornings sound similar to ours, consider this recipe for a quick and easy breakfast solution.




Flower of the Day: Perennial White Aster



When I see an Aster in bloom, I know that summer is coming to an end and fall is around the corner.  Asters remind me of warm sunny days, delicate flowers and softness, among the changing climate of fall.  I love the delicate daisy-like petals and soft pollen centres of perennial Asters.

Asters belong to the Asteraceae or daisy family.  They are a relative of Dahlias, Coneflowers (Echinacea), Sunflowers, Shasta Daisies and Zinnias. (No wonder I love them as much as I do! These are some of my favourite summer-time flowers.)  They make a great cut flower and beautiful bouquet.

Aster flowers are made up of ray and disk florets. ¬†The rays are the “petals” which emerge from the central disk. ¬†These petals attract pollinators and birds and come in various shades of pink, red, lavender, blue, violet, purple and white. ¬†The central disk is made of a tightly packet tiny florets. ¬†These disks may¬†be yellow, orange, brownish, purple or even white.

Asters grow best in zone 3 t0 9, in full sun and prefer a moist, well-drained soil.  In order to produce the best flower show, it is recommended to pinch back the tips of the plant until no later than July 4 and to plant in a location with full morning sun.

In general, plants will grow to a height of 12-24 inches and will form a bushy clump.  Asters may be divided every 2 to 3 years.  Flowers do not require dead-heading and the plant will bloom until frost.

Insects/predators:  Few insects and diseases and resistant to deer and rabbits.

Are you growing perennial Asters? Do you have a favourite colour?

Growing Tip:  Consider planting perennial Asters in fall containers for added colour, then replant them into garden beds before frost.

Happy Gardening!




Photo Contest!!!


I’m running a photo contest on my Facebook Page – “Julia Dimakos, Gardening Girl”.

Looking for funny garden photos, silly vegetables, funny animals in the garden, anything funny and garden-related.  Winner will win a packet of my favourite tomato seeds!

In order to enter, click the link to my Facebook page on the side bar and select “Like” for my page. ¬†Then you can post a picture in the comments section of the post with the silly carrot.

Contest ends on September 30, 2016 Р11:59pm EST.  (One entry per person.)

I look forward to seeing your photos!

Happy Gardening!


From Plum to Prune, use your dehydrator for easy preserving.



Prunes are pitted and laid out on dehydrator rack.

Black plums going into the dehydrator. These will become prunes, wonderfully sweet and chewy. Prunes are incredibly satisfying and delicious. Dehydrating plums brings out the flavour of the prunes. They end up with a deep flavour and a fun, sticky texture.




Finished product – Prunes!

Prunes are highly nutritious. They are high in fiber and potassium, thereby helping with digestion. Potassium also helps with heart rhythm, nerve impulses, muscle contractions and blood pressure. Prunes are a good source of iron, and the mineral Boron, which helps build strong bones and muscles. It is also a good source of vitamin C. Finally, prunes are very satisfying and filling, therefore helping you feel full after a meal.


– In order to dehydrate black plums, simply slice down the side of the plum and easily remove the pit.

– Then place on a dehydrator rack, skin side up.

– Set your dehydrator between 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the plums to dehydrate for 6 to 24 hours, or until they are no longer wet, yet remain pliable.

– If you can squish the prune meat and it feels wet, put them back in the dehydrator.

– Allow the prunes to cool down before storage.

– Store your prunes in a glass jar or resealable freezer bag.

With prunes being this healthy, how can you go wrong?

Happy Gardening!

Julia ūüėÄ

Flax, beautiful and tasty too

Early this spring, I broadcast sowed flax seeds around the chicken yard. These were seeds I purchased at the feed mill for the chickens to snack on. Some of the seeds in the bag began to sprout, so I thought to broadcast them around the chicken’s area. Whatever they ate, great! What was left over, perhaps it would grow?


I looked for it all summer, but didn’t notice it growing. Then last week, I noticed these beautiful purple flowers growing all over their yard. On those same plants, I noticed dry seed heads. The seed saver in me decided to open those seed heads and see what I might find. Lo and behold, they are full of raw flax seeds!


This might seems minor to most people, but to me I’m feeling pretty excited! Flax is a beautiful plant that not only gives quite a lovely flower show. It also feeds you with fresh flax seeds. This plant is a winner for me on both fronts.

Happy Gardening!



The end of summer and fermented pickles…

Hello September and goodbye to summer!  Thank you summer for giving us beautiful weather, great memories and another prosperous gardening season!

It’s back to school time and soon-to-be the start of my next favourite season, Fall. ¬†What do you think of when you think of Fall? I think of falling leaves, fall¬†colours, pumpkins, halloween, thanksgiving, turkey, pie, the harvest and how best to preserve the bounty.

With the kids going back to school, this is the perfect time to capture summer in a bottle and enjoy it throughout the long and dreary days of winter. ¬†I have a list of our essential pantry items and I do my best to stock up. ¬†For example, I make batches of freezer apple sauce, tomato sauce, dehydrated fruits and vegetables and pickles. ¬†I also add a few¬†new¬†items to the list, that I haven’t tried¬†before.


Do you have a favourite pickle? There are vinegar pickles, quick pickles, bread & butter pickles, relish, French cornichons, sour pickles and many others.

My favourite is fermented pickles!  These are traditional deli shop pickles, that are perfectly salty and satifying.  They pair beautifully with a roast beef sandwich or nicely top a burger.


These pickles are not made with vinegar. ¬†Instead, the cucumbers are submerged in a 5% salt brine solution, along with garlic cloves, dill, all spice, peppercorns, grape leaves, cherry tree leaves, oak leaves, etc… ¬†They are then left in the jar, and kept on the counter or some other convenient location, to “ferment”. ¬†In doing so, lacto-bacteria or lactic acid develops in the jar, causing the contents to preserve through¬†fermentation.

There are several health benefits to fermented foods:

  1. Preserves food – during fermentation microorganisms on the food produce alcohol, lactic acid and acetic acid, thereby retaining food nutrients and preventing food spoilage;
  2. Breaks nutrients down into more easily digestible forms and improves the bioavailability of minerals present in food;
  3. Creates new nutrients – microbial cultures in fermented foods create B vitamins, including Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin and Biotin;
  4. Removes toxins from food – through fermentation, some previously toxic foods change and become digestible.

For these reasons and for the simple fact that fermented food is delicious, I try to add it to our diet as much as possible.  Some other fermented food that we enjoy are kefir, kimchi, saurkraut, tofu, yogurt, coffee, wine and dark chocolate.


This is my second year making fermented Sour Pickles. Last year’s batch turned out much better than I expected, making this¬†practice¬†my yearly tradition.

The recipe I use to make these pickles is from a book called “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz. ¬†This book explains in detail, how the process of fermentation works and its health benefits. ¬†He then lists numerous simple fermentation recipes for vegetables, beans, dairy, breads, grains, beverages, wines, beers, vinegars and many others. ¬†If you have an interest in fermentation, I highly recommend checking out his¬†books!

Recipe for Sour Pickles:


  • Sea Salt
  • Cucumbers (small size)
  • Garlic cloves
  • Grape leaves, oak tree leaves, cherry tree leaves, currant leaves, strawberry leaves, horseradish leaves (any of these or a combination of them – used to maintain cucumber crispiness)
  • Fresh dill weed and/or dill seeds
  • All spice (whole)
  • Black peppercorns
  • Mustard seeds
  • optional: hot peppers, carrots, radishes, horseradish root


  • Large canning jars or crock (for fermentation)
  • Cheesecloth or linen towels
  • Trays (to store the jars)
  • Large pot or bowl to prepare the salt brine solution
  • Ladel and jar funnel


  1. Prepare the cucumbers by soaking them in ice water for at least 2 hours or overnight.  This will help to keep their crispiness.
  2. After soaking, wash the cucumbers well and scrub off any sand or dirty spots; cut off ends.
  3. Prepare the salt brine solution by mixing 3 tbsps of sea salt with every 1 quart of water.  Stir well until dissolves. This will create a 5% salt brine.
  4. Cover the bottom of each canning jar with the grape leaves, cherry leaves, etc.
  5. Add 1 tsp (combined) of ‘all spice’ balls, peppercorns and mustard seeds to the bottom of the jar.
  6. Add sliced garlic cloves to the jar (2-3 cloves per large jar).
  7. Add dill weed and/or seeds to bottom of jar.
  8. Fill jar with cucumbers and pack tightly. (I sliced some of mine and filled in the empty spaces with them.)
  9. Pour the salt brine over the cucumbers, until the top of the jar and all cucumbers are covered.  If you have a small jar to weigh the cucumbers down, place it on top. Your goal is to keep all cucumbers under the brine.  If any float to the top, they will spoil. *when I packed my jars, I did as tightly as I could, thereby keeping the ingredients from floating.
  10. Cover the jars with cheesecloth or a linen towel, to keep out dust and flies and place jars on a tray; the trays will collect any liquid that will spill out of the jars, as the contents ferment.
  11. Check the jars daily and skim any foam or white mold off the top.  Eventually it will stop producing reside.
  12. After a week, taste the pickles.  If they have reached their desired sourness, close the jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.  If you would like them to continue to sour, leave them out until they reach the flavour you prefer.  Then store all closed jars in the fridge. They will continue to ferment there, but very slowly.

Last year, I made 22 jars of sour pickles. They kept well in the fridge and lasted until early spring.  This year I made 17 jars.


Feel free to add sliced carrots or radishes, if you would prefer.  I also added whole hot peppers to one of the jars, as an experiment.


What do you do with your excess of garden veggies?  Do you preserve your harvest and how? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Happy Gardening and Have Fun!


A brief garden update and some plans for next year.

The garden is really coming along this year. Some vegetables are growing better than others. For example, this has been a better year for tomatoes than the previous two years. Peas and beans are flourishing, beets are growing nicely and kale is growing so quickly that I can’t keep up. Hot peppers are producing beautifully. Even parsnips are surprising me with how easy they are to grow.

On the other hand, I’m giving up on corn, broccoli and cabbage. Onions started from seed in early February are growing so slowly, that I will be buying onion sets next year instead. I’m finding a shortage in cucumbers again this year and sweet peppers will either be planted in biodegradable black plastic mulch or in large pots next year, because they are not producing many peppers and grow quicker in extra warm soil.

On that note, here’s what I harvested yesterday:

-Tomatoes (various varieties, shapes, colours and sizes)
-Beets (for borscht)
-1 cucumber
-Beans (bush and pole)


What have you been harvesting? I would love to hear about your successes and anything you might do differently next year.

Happy Gardening!