Choco banana date cookies aka breakfast in a bite

Confession: I never really liked bananas until I moved into a house that had several banana plants on the property. I always found them a bit dry and starchy, and unless they were soaked in rum and set aflame in a pan (or blended with espresso in a frosty smoothie), I usually passed them up in favor of fruits like oranges. Peaches. Strawberries. Bold, juicy, refreshing fruits.

But then I tried one of the bananas that we grew. They were fat and short, unlike anything I’d ever seen in the market, and they tasted like a cross of banana and apple — light and sweet. Certainly sweeter than a standard banana, but not cloyingly so. Come to find out, our particular variety is called an apple banana!

Homegrown apple bananas


November 24 2015      23 comments     Linda Ly
En La Cocina

Homemade "tin can" cranberry jelly

Growing up, I always ate Thanksgiving dinner with my friends’ families since my own family never celebrated it — not because they weren’t thankful on that day, but because it was never a part of their culture. So when that fourth Thursday rolled around every November, I couldn’t wait to partake in the classic American holiday.

I loved watching the grand entrance of the turkey, steaming hot from the oven and being carved up at the table, I loved the green bean casseroles with French fried onions, the marshmallow-glazed sweet potatoes and Marie Callender’s pies, but most of all, I loved the cranberry sauce that came out of a can. It was so fun to see the jiggly relish scooped out of the can, ridges and all, plunked down into a serving dish, and sliced up into individual rounds.

Homemade cranberry jelly

I still get nostalgic for that cranberry sauce, even though I now make my own and my palate has shifted to fancy-schmancy cranberry sauces with ginger and bourbon and other delights. I guess it’s the shape that I’m most fond of, and its appearance on the dinner table always brings me back to some of my favorite childhood memories.


November 22 2015      30 comments     Linda Ly
En La Cocina   Frutas

The five little things that made my week…

Follow my new Twitter handle

1. After two years of trying to convince Twitter to release the name, I finally got @gardenbetty as my official handle! If you’re already following me on Twitter, there’s no need to do anything on your end. The name transfer was seamless and all tweets and followers remained intact. But be sure to tag @gardenbetty in all your tweets from now on!


November 20 2015      19 comments     Linda Ly

Navigating the big wide world of blog monetization

So you’ve poured your heart and soul into your blog, it’s got a good motto or mission at its core, people are connecting with it and the next step in cementing its status as a full-fledged business — what will launch you from a passionate hobbyist to a full-time blogger — is monetization.

Monetization is the machine that keeps a blog running. It’s also a highly controversial subject, as often there are naysayers who believe monetizing your blog means selling yourself out. But let’s be realistic: one cannot pay the bills by working for free. If you are offering a useful service and running your blog like a business, you deserve to be compensated like a business.


November 18 2015      14 comments     Linda Ly

Tips for becoming a full-time blogger

I’m not sure how it happened, but since my series of biz tips last November during National Career Development Week, I went from a serious blogger earning part-time income from my posts to a professional blogger making a living from writing about my life.

Saying that out loud is something I can’t even convince my own mother is true. Blogs, for her, are still a new world — and a strange one at that for a career. And honestly, even I am baffled by this transition. Blogging was (and still is) a hobby for me, and I’m so thankful that it’s reached a point where it can support my lifestyle too.

I don’t make millions from my blog, though there are certainly superstar bloggers out there who pull in an impressive income without celebrity status. I don’t have a staff or even an intern, and I still prefer to produce my own content without contributors or guest bloggers. In a way, I feel that makes the idea of blogging for a living more approachable for most people.


November 16 2015      36 comments     Linda Ly

Chicken first aid: how to wrap a sprained wing

Working from home all day means I’ve become accustomed to the various sounds coming from my chickens in the backyard. There’s the egg song, which they trumpet upon a successful lay. There’s the cooing chatter as they happily scratch and peck at the dirt. There’s the homing squawk when one of them suddenly realizes she’s alone, and the frantic flap of wings meant to shoo the neighborhood cats as they dart across our garden.

Then there’s an entirely different sound I’d never heard until recently, a cross of the homing squawk and a stuttering siren, a definite distress call that told me something was not right.


November 12 2015      36 comments     Linda Ly

A day in Pennsylvania Dutch Country

What is it about the Amish life that’s always drawn me? Perhaps it’s the throwback to simpler times in the way they eschew modern technology in their homes, the romantic scenes along a country road of horse-drawn buggies and one-room schoolhouses, the traditional form of dress or the charming Pennsylvania Dutch accents.

Bucolic Amish countryside

It feels like the pages of a history book opened up before my eyes. Thousands of years of religious faith, persecution in Europe, and eventual settlement in Pennsylvania have created the oldest and largest Amish community in the country, in a sliver of the state called Lancaster County.


November 10 2015      44 comments     Linda Ly