Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Victory Wine Crate Herb Gardens

Red, white and blue. They are three bold colors that are fresh and strong. Three colors that I love with the added bonus that they are patriotic colors!

Victory Gardens were very popular during WWII, Americans were inspired to grow there own vegetables, joining the "Patriotic" cause.  
Picture courtesy

"Families were encouraged to can their own vegetables to save commercial canned goods for the troops. In 1943, families bought 315,000 pressure cookers (used in the process of canning), compared to 66,000 in 1942."
What better than to make my own updated version of a Victory Garden, re purposing two wine crates that I picked up at a local flea market.   

Mom's little helper in the corner. 
I purchased four caster wheels/feet for each wine crate (8 total) and wood screws to attach. 
You can either attach the caster feet before or after the painting process, I chose to do it before I painted. 

Later, I covered the feet with painter's tape to complete the painting process. I primed the outside of each box. 

*Note: on the ends were they are stamped by the winery, I kept those bare so that you can still see that they were wine crates. 

Later using vinyl contact paper to make stars to adhere to the white primed box. 

I used painters tape to the other box to create the "Stripes". Using spray paint, I painted over the stars and the painters tape. 

Wait until the spray paint is "tacky" before pulling up the vinyl stars and painters tape. *Optional: You can go for a more distressed look and use sandpaper to distress the crates if you wanted

Using Minwax Helmsman Clear Spray Finish for Outdoors to seal the inside of the crates. This will take some time because you have to spray multiple layers. 

Next step was to drill drainage holes into the bottom of the crate then using a plastic wrap to keep the soil moist. 
This video below was a huge help during this process. 

And Voila! You have your updated version of a Victory Garden. I chose to fill mine with various herbs, because I kill everything else. The caster wheels make it great to move around my patio so that it can get optimal sun or move to the shade on the extremely hot day. 

The other half of my flowers. I love red, white and blue. 
Looking for some more information on Victory Gardens? has a great page on the history and a free ebook on starting your own Victory Garden. 

Click HERE  

Let me know if you make your own wine crate gardens!! Happy Gardening!


I will be entering this project for the Patriotic Challenge at:


Monday, May 28, 2012

Lemon-Champagne Bars with Strawberry Brulee Topping from The Pastry Queen

This recipe is from one of my favorite recipe books, The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe by Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman

My husband really loves Lemon Bars so what better than to try making them myself with a little twist. I love my Pastry Queen cookbook, every recipe attempted ends up becoming an instant favorite. 

My "Pastry Queen" Cookbook
1 cup ( 2 sticks ) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup raspberry or strawberry jam (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375* F. Coat a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray. Using a mixed fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 3 minutes, until creamy. Add the flour, salt, and zest. Beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 1 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let cool about 10 minutes. Spread the jam evenly over the cooled crust. Turn the oven down to 350*.

Lemon Filling:
6 large egg yolks
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup champagne or brut sparkling wine
3/4 cup  ( 1 1/2 sticks ) chilled unsalted butter

To make filling, whisk the egg yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon juice and champagne in a large bowl set over a saucepan with 2 inches of simmering water. Cook about 15 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Cut the cold butter into tablespoon-size pieces. Whisk the butter, one piece at a time, into the lemon mixture. Cook about 10 minutes longer, whisking occasionally. The mixture will thick and puddinglike.

Strawberry Brulee Topping:
1 pink strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup sugar

To make the topping: Slice the strawberries thinly and arrange them in a single layer on top of the lemon filling. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the strawberries. Use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar until it is brown and crackly; or put the bars under a hot broiler for about 1 minute, until the sugar melts and browns.

Let me know if you enjoyed this recipe at your own home. I used the strawberry jam in mine and they were delicious. Wondering how the raspberry jam would taste thought? Message me if you give it a try.