t2

Monday, December 31, 2012

Cucumber Agua Fresca with Lemon and Mint Recipe

PhotobucketSorry y'all, I had a more intense, deep, and thought out post planned for you today, but I had a rough day today, found out that a friend of mine just died out of the blue, and I really wasn't in the proper headspace to be writing that post, because when I write it, I want to write it well, and today I'm not capable of that...

So instead, I'll leave you with this terrific recipe for cucumber agua fresca, a refreshing drink made from cucumbers, lemon, and mint, and is the perfect thing to do with cucumbers that are past their prime, or accidentally got frozen.

I originally got this recipe from the awesome gluten free transcontinental cooking blog, GirlCooksWorld.com 2 summers ago, and made it a lot when I was visiting family. I was afraid at first that the combination of flavors would make less adventerous people think it was weird, but my mother in law fell in love with it so much that she asked me to give her the recipe.

I've since played around with the recipe, and came up with this version that is refined sugar free, but I've also  included instructions on how to make it as cheap as possible, just with regular sugar.

I make mine with both a juicer and a food processor, but you can use a high powered blender instead.

P.S. You might be wondering about the timing of this post. I mean, hello, New Years Eve??? This seems more like a post that would be good for the middle of the summer... But hey, its the middle of the summer in the southern hemisphere, and they can enjoy this nice refreshing drink... And it was a wonderful 60 degrees here today, so also good weather for a refreshing drink. But really, the biggest reason why this drink is on my mind is because I got lots of free wilted cucumbers lately, and together with lemons and mint I forage, I have been able to make this drink practically free lately. And I've been having it to start off my day, and its really awesome... Gives me quite the energy boost!
But if you're the type that prefers only hot drinks in the winter, just file away this recipe for when its warmer weather. Because seriously, this is one recipe you've gotta try out!

Cucumber Agua Fresca with Lemon and Mint Recipe

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Homemade Vegan Parmesan Cheese Recipe

PhotobucketI like cheese and cheesy flavorings, but being off dairy already for the past while, I often need to go without. I mean, yes, there are many recipes for vegan cheeses and vegan cheese sauces out there, but I get lazy sometimes, and sometimes want to add a bit of cheese flavor without all the extra work. This here is a vegan Parmesan cheese recipe that is very quick to make and can help add cheesy flavor instantaneously to a recipe, like I did to this vegan gluten free lasagna.
Not having eaten real cheese in a long time, I thought it tasted very parmesiany, but a dairy eater who tried it said it was good, but didn't taste like Parmesan to her. Ok, so it may not be perfect, but it definitely works in a pinch, and since cheese is very expensive here, and in many places, you may find that its cheaper to make and use this vegan Parmesan than to use the real deal.

Homemade Vegan Parmesan Cheese Recipe

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Homemade Pierogi Recipe, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Vegan Options

PhotobucketI grew up in a home where much of what we ate was homemade- there were a few things that we almost always had from a can, like cream of mushroom soup and pickles, a few things that we made from scratch that very few people make from scratch (maple syrup, sake, mead, beer, and miso come to mind), and for the most part, we just did a lot of standard from scratch cooking.
But there are some very few things that I remembered my mom or dad buying as frozen dinners, ready to eat after a drop of cooking, and pierogi were among them. (I keep wanting to say pierogies, but wikipedia informed me that pierogi is plural, so go figure.)

Pierogi are these delicious semi circles of dough filled with the most tasty filling- usually extra yummy mashed potatoes- and they were such a treat growing up! The biggest problem was that there were not enough of them in a package for us to all get our fill from, and they were expensive.

But despite having some Polish blood in me, I've never before made homemade pierogi, until today... And oh boy, I can't believe I waited this long! They were to die for! And I just made them by chance because I had some leftover dough after making some lasagna, which I made because I had leftovers from making homemade ravioli...

This recipe is easily adaptable- I made mine gluten free, dairy free, and egg free, but I've included many different varieties if you have no special dietary needs. As for filling, you can use leftover mashed potatoes, or if you want to use other fillings, apparently you can make sauerkraut pierogi, meat pierogi, or many other types, but I'll just stick with my potato pierogi.

So, how do make them?

How to Make Homemade Potato Pierogi- Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free Options

Monday, December 24, 2012

Trying out the GAPS Diet- Curried Carrots and Peas Recipe- SCD and Paleo Diet Legal, Vegan/Vegetarian, and Gluten Free

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I've discovered that despite being off gluten for a year and a half already, and despite being on a stricter and stricter diet, some of my gastro issues have come back...
On top of that, it appears that a few family members have a candida overload, so I've been looking into the idea of going on the GAPS diet, which is much stricter regimen than my family is on now, but not that different, because my family already uses lots of the foods recommended on the diet...
Why would I be willing to go on the GAPS diet and further limit what we can eat? Because the point of my limiting what I can eat is supposed to be healing, and what I'm doing now is more symptom managing, instead of getting down to the root cause- an unhealthy gut that is causing all the symptoms, which I've been trying to manage, with less and less success lately.
The GAPS diet is a strict healing diet, that, by the end of the diet (from six months to three years, depending on how bad your diet was previously), the gut is completely healed, and most people are able to go back to a regular, traditional foodies diet instead of a really strict, dairy free, egg free, gluten free, etc... diet like we're currently eating.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Making the Most of Your Christmas Dinner: An International, Yet Frugally Inspired Affair

With Christmas coming up, and big Christmas dinners being planned, it would be a shame for all the leftovers to go to waste, especially as these leftovers typically are made from expensive ingredients. Here's a guest post about how to reuse those leftovers, with an international twist. Hope you liked these ideas as much as I did.
Hint- even if you don't use some of these specific ingredients, the ideas can be translated and used for similar dishes made with things you do eat.

The iconic British Christmas meal would (metaphorically) feed the 5,000 on the big day alone. With its mounds of trimmings, and a beast of bird that weighs more than a baby, you could potentially be living off this one dinner for absolutely ages. Here are a few frugally inspired ideas, with an international flair, to ensure you effectively continue making meals with your Christmas dinner leftovers long after the main event.

The jewel of the table’s crown, the Christmas turkey, has the most versatile leftovers that can be used for absolutely all sorts. Typically the breast is long-gone by teatime on Christmas Day after an epic main course and then a round of sandwiches in the evening to make sure you’re doubly stuffed. The dark meat of the legs is incredibly flavoursome and succulent, perfect for casserole and curry, especially when kept on the bone. Turkey curry is a particular favourite, served on a bed of fluffy basmati rice with samosas and bhajis. What’s more, the whole body is recyclable. If you’ve not used the giblets for gravy, freeze them along with the carcass and use them to make your own stock for future dinners and soups.

Foraged Wild Sushi and Crispy Salmon Skins


PhotobucketI like free food, I like foraged food, and I like nice food. Lately, I've tried to combine all three, and have been inspired to make ultra frugal gourmet foods. You all probably know that I'm a big sushi fan, so when I heard of people making "foraged/wild sushi" I got inspired to do the same.
And then when I got some salmon skins for free (rescued) from the fish monger, I decided I'd make sushi also with foraged stuff and also with that salmon skin. Also for the cheapness, and also for the thrill of it. To be able to say "I did it".
And I certainly did.
Everything in my sushi and sauces, other than the rice and salt and honey in the rice was free, foraged or "rescued".
Even the "nori", "soy sauce", and "wasabi".

To start off, I'll tell you what I did with the salmon skin.

How to Move Your Big Items During a Move

This is a guest post by Nancy Evans, a freelance writer who enjoys writing about families and frugality.

 Moving is a huge deal no matter if it is across town or across the country. Whatever move you are making, there are a few ways to keep your items safe and secure while getting everything where it needs to go. There are lots of wonderful ways to move your items both large and small. Moving trucks, companies, friends and neighbors are all great assets to have when it comes to moving.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind on your next move:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Garden Envy, and a Potato Growing Experiment

I have garden envy. Or maybe farm envy. Or homesteading envy. Not exactly how sure I'd define that.
But back to that in a moment.

In our old apartment, back when we had a yard, we experimented growing potatoes. A potato, in fact, and we didn't follow instructions so well, didn't do everything we should have done, but from one little supermarket potato, we ended up with a lot of potatoes.
Which makes me know that growing potatoes is certainly doable for a novice gardener.

Especially since we don't eat gluten, and go through a lot of potatoes, I was wishing that maybe, maybe I'd be able to grow our own potatoes. But since we have no yard, is that even doable?

Well, I read that you can grow potatoes very well in an old garbage can. Or in a sack. But since I thought a sack would be messier, I decided to attempt to grow potatoes in a garbage can. So I dumpster dove a huge one..... only, without a car and without a yard, getting dirt or compost to fill that can proved very difficult, and eventually some people played with the garbage can, and sadly, it is no longer with us.
So I sort of gave hope for growing potatoes, at least this year.

And then my potatoes decided to sprout. And sprout. And sprout, until I had 5 potatoes sitting on my shelf, with stalks growing out of them, each a good three or four inches long. Taunting me. Begging me. Saying "Penny, just plant us already! You know you want to!"

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Hrmmm. If they're begging for it, I guess I'll just have to find a way to make it happen.


I called a neighbor of mine who gardens if I could buy a bag of compost off of them; they agreed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade Diaper Rash Cream and Hand Lotion

PhotobucketImagine not needing to buy anything expensive from the pharmacy, and still be able to treat your baby's diaper rash. Imagine having a good, soothing hand cream to use on your dry, chapped hands. Imagine having a cream that would be good for faces, also as a moisturizer, but also helping to fight acne. Imagine having diaper rash cream and hand cream and a fae cream that as completely devoid of man made chemicals, parabens, and a 15+ ingredient list, most of which you vcan't pronounce and whose safety is questionable... Imagine those all in one. Imagine such a thing that didn't cost a small fortune...

Imagine no longer.
Here's a recipe.
5 ingredients.
5 safe ingredients.
5 effective ingredients.
5 ingredients with well documented, multifaceted healing properties.
5 ingredients whose name everyone can pronounce, some which can be bought in the grocery and/or health food store, and some can be found free everywhere.

Here is a cream/lotion/mixture that you can easily make at home that is good for diaper rashes, faces, and body lotion. Two caveats though- because it has very few ingredients and no chemicals, it needs to be kept in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. Also because of the lack of chemicals, its texture is also a little different than the creams and lotions you're used to, but that's ok- once you're rubbing it in, it feels good anyhow.

Homemade Diaper Rash Cream and Hand Lotion Recipe

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Hearth & Soul Hop

Welcome back to yet another edition of the Hearth and Soul blog hop.
This is where you get the chance each week to share your favorite food related posts with the other visitors to the hop, and you get to check out theirs as well. The Hearth and Soul Hop is about food that not only nourishes our body, but also nourishes our souls.

Announcement-
Next week, on Christmas day, there will be no hop. Enjoy the Holiday and celebrate with your family.
The week after, the week of New Years Day, the hop will open early, on Monday the 31st at 4:00 am ET and leave it open through midnight on the third ET.

Here's a recap of some of the rules for participating:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.
As much as many of us are interested in frugality and green/natural living, this is a food blog hop; there are many other blog hops where you can share those posts of yours. Please keep your non food related blog posts off the hop.

All the hosts at Hearth and Soul care very deeply about this blog hop, and make an group effort to be sure that every post is commented on. We also Pin and Tweet many of the entries. You don’t find this with every blog hop, and in exchange for our efforts, we respectfully request that you include a link in the actual blog post you are sharing back to one of the hosts, either by worded link or using our badge. It is not enough to link using a communal blog party page. People rarely click on these links and it is unlikely they will find the Hearth and Soul hop using these sort of pages.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Homemade Herbed Seafood Ravioli in Coconut Cream Sauce- Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

PhotobucketI had a whole long preamble written for another ravioli post I've written up but not posted yet, but I'll have to save that for when the post finally gets up...
I'm short for time today, but just wanted to get this delicious recipe posted for you to enjoy. I made ravioli because I (now that I have my grain grinder and can make my own flours) am selling gluten free fresh pasta to people, and a friend ordered 16 sheets of fresh pasta, and a single batch only makes 14.... so I have to double my batch, and am left with a whole bunch of extra pasta to use for my family. So I decided to make it into ravioli, using the fish left over from my fish experimentation. I served it with an herbed coconut cream sauce, and it was totally terrific, but this fish pasta can also be served with a regular white sauce, tomato sauce, or any other sauce really.
You can make this recipe gluten free, dairy free, egg free easily, but depending on which pasta recipe and bread crumbs you use, it can have eggs or gluten, if you have no need to make the recipe specialized for a diet.
Any cooked fish should work for this recipe, provided it is deboned. I used some type of white fish (not exactly sure what kind), but all should do the trick.

Homemade Herbed Seafood Ravioli in Coconut Cream Sauce

Homemade Othello or Reversi Game

My son learned how to play Othello/Reversi at his Grandma's house. Every time he goes there, the two play together, and he's gotten pretty good at it. Up until now, it's been a special "Grandma's house only" game, but Lee has wanted his own game to play at home.
I contemplated buying a set for him, but upon further thought, decided against it. Why buy an expensive game (unfortunately all games are extremely overpriced where I live) when I can make it myself? Reversi is a pretty simple game- composed of just a grid and two toned game pieces- such an easy thing to make on my own.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Eating Fish Scraps and Fish Guts- A Kitchen Experiment

PhotobucketThis post wasn't what I'd originally intended to write on my blog today, but that'll have to wait for another day, because I just did some very frugal, slightly crazy, but very rewarding things today, both while out, and in my kitchen, and I wanted to write it up already to share with you.
I know, if you already read the title of the post, you know a good chunk of what I'm going to be sharing, (I write it that way to help Google searchers find me) but lets pretend that you didn't see that yet, so I can get into this post slowly but surely, so I don't scare you off before even reading it.

So, first off, as you probably already guessed, this post is not for squeamish people, or die hard vegans. (If you fit into that category, consider yourself warned. There are lots of pics in this post. ) Nor is it for stuck up food snobs who think that people who eat "low brow food" are "less than". Not that I'm worried that any of my usual readers are food snobs, but I just still had to have that disclaimer.

So, today, I went to town to buy some sardines to make my own homemade fish sauce. There are at least 10 fish mongers with stalls in the open air/farmer's market, and I wanted to do some price comparisons before I bought my sardines.
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These are the fish heads I found...
As I was nearly at the market, as I was passing by the market's dumpster, I saw workers wheeling their carts of garbage to the dumpster. In the cart was a styrofoam box, and in that box, I saw this huuuuuuuge fish head looking at me.
"Hey- why is this getting thrown out?" I wondered to myself. "Oh yea. Duh. People here don't eat fish heads. That's why." I asked permission, and "stole" the fish head- which turned out to be attached to a long skeleton and tail, as well as another fish head and skeleton, and another fish skeleton. All carp, I'm pretty sure. (If its not carp, I don't mind if someone corrects me and tells me what type of fish it is.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Hearth & Soul Hop

Welcome back to yet another edition of the Hearth and Soul blog hop.
This is where you get the chance each week to share your favorite food related posts with the other visitors to the hop, and you get to check out theirs as well. The Hearth and Soul Hop is about food that not only nourishes our body, but also nourishes our souls.


My Favorite Post From Last Week
TBA

Here's a recap of some of the rules for participating:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.
As much as many of us are interested in frugality and green/natural living, this is a food blog hop; there are many other blog hops where you can share those posts of yours. Please keep your non food related blog posts off the hop.

All the hosts at Hearth and Soul care very deeply about this blog hop, and make an group effort to be sure that every post is commented on. We also Pin and Tweet many of the entries. You don’t find this with every blog hop, and in exchange for our efforts, we respectfully request that you include a link in the actual blog post you are sharing back to one of the hosts, either by worded link or using our badge. It is not enough to link using a communal blog party page. People rarely click on these links and it is unlikely they will find the Hearth and Soul hop using these sort of pages.

How to Prevent Making Common Costly Tax Mistakes

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Image credit- Arvind Balaraman
Do you find filing taxes as annoying as I do?

Most people don't enjoy paying taxes. Grudgingly, each year, they file taxes, wishing they'd be able to keep their money for themselves instead of sending it over to the government. And as much as people don't like to give their money to the government, most people make mistakes, and often repeatedly, that ends up costing them a lot financially.
Here's some common costly mistakes people make when filing taxes; hopefully, with this knowledge you can avoid making the same mistakes, and make sure you're not paying more money than necessary to the government.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Donuts Recipe, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan

PhotobucketYes, I know, I just posted a sugar free, gluten free, vegan donut recipe last week- do we really need another one... But I'll have to say- absolutely yes! These donuts are absolutely delicious, don't have either any eggs or any egg replacers like ground flax seed, so they're naturally vegan without trying too hard... And they get their sweetness from sweet potato, for the most part, so they end up being cheaper than other sugar free donuts...
I made these this week for a party, and got rave reviews... and when I posted about it on Facebook, friends were begging me for the recipe, so here it is.
I based it on this recipe from Nanette Raw, which was a good base, but was woefully lacking when it came to instructions.
I am absolutely sure that you can make this with wheat or whole wheat by replacing the brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch, mochiko, and xanthan gum with 2 1/4 cups wheat flour or whole wheat flour- if you try it out that way, let me know how it worked for you.

Sweet Potato Gluten Free Donuts

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pineapple Cake Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, with Refined Sugar Free Option

PhotobucketI'll be honest- baking is probably my least strong point in cooking. I'm usually the "a little bit of this, a little bit of that, taste it and add a little bit more of this and that" type of gal in cooking and salad making, and baking... it just seems so much more finite! No messing around with the ingredients after its already cooking- you make the recipe, stick it in the oven, and finito- no more changing things, even if you discovered that- oops- you forgot to add the salt. You ruined it? Too bad. Not much way to fix it, unfortunately...
On top of that, baking is such an exact science, needing to get all the ingredients to interact with each other properly so that the texture is exactly as it should be- not too dry, not too liquidy, not too crumbly, not too gummy... and of course, not too sweet, salty, sour, bitter, or baking soda-ey...
I've shared my story before of my worst baking mishap, of my bread (wheat) that was so hard to cut that our bread knife broke when my husband was trying to cut it. That was one of just many baking stories, which made me loathe to experiment with baking, especially bread making. And then I gradually gained more confidence, and even began baking my own bread without measuring, just throwing a bunch of ingredients together, until it seemed right- and my bread came out terrific!
And then I started going gluten free.
Which was a new learning process, all over again, because gluten free baking requires all sorts of ingredients that have all sorts of different properties than regular wheat flour. At first, I stuck strictly to recipes, when I was first learning the ropes, but gradually I became more confident, and started making substitutions and changes in recipes, turning gluten recipes gluten free, and changing gluten free recipes to suit the ingredients I had at home or to make them healthier.
But the one thing I was still scared to do was to make up a recipe completely from scratch. Because I needed to have something, some ratio of flour to sweetener to oil to work with, otherwise my food would flop...
So that's why most recipes on my site, especially gluten free, will tell you what I based the recipe on. Because I didn't make the recipes up from scratch.
Eventually I gained more confidence and started making cookies from scratch, because those are usually more forgiving... At worst, they'll crumble, or be soft when you wanted hard, but they won't really be bad... (Ok, other than that cookie recipe I tried one time that nearly broke my teeth...)
But not cakes. I mean, I tried cakes and had them crumble on me or be gooey messes...

Not yesterday, though.
Yesterday, I decided to be daring, decided to be bold. I decided to make a cake entirely from scratch. And make it gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar free! And a type of cake I'd never made before- pineapple cake.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Baked Herbed Cucumber Recipe

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If you think the concept of cooked cucumbers sounds weird, don't worry, you're not the only one. I thought so too, at first, but then I learned that cucumbers are often eaten cooked around the globe! Julia Child even has a recipe for baked  cucumber, which is what I based this recipe on.

Cooking cucumbers in this method leaves you with cucumbers that have the texture of pickles- my kids like to call them "hot pickles".

The reason I like to make this recipe is because we don't go through raw cucumbers fast enough in my house, and I often get them free when they're almost wilting, so I often have limp and wilted cucumbers to work with. While gazpacho and Korean cucumber soup and marinated cucumbers are good things to do even with wilted cucumbers, in the winter I often prefer hot dishes, which is where baking the cucumbers comes in. Cooking cucumbers offers them a new lease at life; if they were one step away from spoiling when raw, they'll last at least another few days, perhaps longer, if cooked.

This recipe isn't an exact recipe, it's more a cooking suggestion; feel free to play around with the proportions of the cucumbers and other ingredients; it'll be good no matter what.

Dairy Free Swedish Meatballs Recipe- Gluten Free, Egg Free and Regular Options

PhotobucketGrowing up, I knew of three types of meatballs. Meatballs in tomato sauce, meatballs in a sweet and sour cranberry sauce, and meatballs in mushroom gravy. I think the first time I'd even heard of such a thing as Swedish meatballs was in a discussion about Ikea and the delicious meals they apparently serve in the cafe there.
So, I'll admit, I'm not a Swedish meatball expert. I've never tasted real Swedish meatballs made with sour cream, because by the time I'd discovered the meal known as Swedish meatballs, I was already gluten free and dairy free. So the first Swedish meatballs I ever tasted were ones I made myself, based on this recipe from Allergy Free Vintage Cookery. Immediately I was hooked. I like Swedish meatballs so much better than any other type of meatball I've eaten previously.

I like this recipe because:
It's completely allergy friendly. No gluten, no eggs, no nightshades, no dairy, no tree nuts, no peanuts, no fish, etc... But if you don't have any of those limitations, you can easily make it cheaper by using non allergy friendly alternatives.
It's delicious!
It's pretty cheap.

The biggest drawback about this recipe is that you need to have a whole bunch of different items ready made to make this recipe- gluten free breadcrumbs (the perfect thing to make from gluten free bread recipes that flop), sunflower milk, chicken broth, and homemade noodles.
Of course, if cost isn't an issue, you can buy those or similar alternatives ready made, but I am a cheapskate and make these all myself. And of course, if you don't have any allergy issues, you can just use homemade or store bought regular noodles, broth, milk, and breadcrumbs.

But, even with the steps involved in making everything from scratch, it's worth it! Because, as I said, it's the most delicious recipe for meatballs on the face of the planet.

I've included two varieties of meatballs below- one is stretched, one is not stretched. The stretched one uses more fillers, but still tastes very yummy, even if a tad less meaty. But if you like things meatier and aren't concerned about the cost, feel free to use the unstretched alternative.

This meal is best served over noodles or rice.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Swedish Meatballs Recipe

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Musings of a Bulk Buying Mom

Various thoughts flying through the mind of this bulk buying mama.

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Oh darn! The 50 pound sack of sunflower seeds is all finished up! I can't believe it's finally all finished up... We've had that one for a while, I thought it would last forever...
I use those sunflowers instead of nuts in so many recipes, in cakes, in cookies, but my favorite thing to do with them is to make sunflower milk- the best tasting and most versatile of all the cheap non dairy milks...
I really need more sunflower seeds...
The timing really is terrible!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Weekly Menu- in Retrospect

I am very disorganized. Part of my creativity is connected to that lack of organizational skills, I'm sure. But either way, I rarely remember what the day of the week is, which is why I make a "Menu Plan Monday" post on Tuesday...
And which is partially why I make a "weekly menu in retrospect", and not a weekly menu plan. The other reason being that I never know what food I'll have in my house at any given time, because sometimes I'm given something, and sometimes I forage stuff, and sometimes I go shopping unexpectedly... and I also don't know what I'll be in the mood to cook or have the energy to make.
So instead, you get my menu in retrospect- what I made each day in the past week, and why.

I generally cook one main meal each day, but on the rare occasions that I cooked two, I differentiated what was lunch and what was supper.

Wednesday
Lunch- Peasant soup made from leftover tomato dip, chicken broth, chicken necks, black eyed peas, mallow, and wild mustard
Supper- Stuffed peppers filled with grated potatoes, leftover chicken, preserved foraged lemons, cumin, turmeric, and tomatoes.

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Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Hearth & Soul Hop

Welcome back to yet another edition of the Hearth and Soul blog hop.
This is where you get the chance each week to share your favorite food related posts with the other visitors to the hop, and you get to check out theirs as well. The Hearth and Soul Hop is about food that not only nourishes our body, but also nourishes our souls.


My Favorite Post From Last Week
http://willingcook.com/recipe-pumpkin-roll-free-of-gluten-dairy-soy-egg/
http://mysisterspantry.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/sweet-sour-lentils/
http://mysisterspantry.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/a-better-veggie-burger/

Here's a recap of some of the rules for participating:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.
As much as many of us are interested in frugality and green/natural living, this is a food blog hop; there are many other blog hops where you can share those posts of yours. Please keep your non food related blog posts off the hop.

All the hosts at Hearth and Soul care very deeply about this blog hop, and make an group effort to be sure that every post is commented on. We also Pin and Tweet many of the entries. You don’t find this with every blog hop, and in exchange for our efforts, we respectfully request that you include a link in the actual blog post you are sharing back to one of the hosts, either by worded link or using our badge. It is not enough to link using a communal blog party page. People rarely click on these links and it is unlikely they will find the Hearth and Soul hop using these sort of pages.

Beat The Winter Blues With Heater Hire

This is a guest post about an alternative heating option. It's something that makes me want to look into if this option is available here, as the reasons seem pretty convincing. I can think of another reason why heater hire might be useful- it allows you to try out different heating types and seeing how you like something and how it affects your utilities bills before you invest a lot of money into your own heater.

As the soft golden sun cushions the morning mist and gently illuminates the myriad of colours that now decorate the trees, you’ll find yourself lost in the romance of an autumn dawn. But as beautiful as autumn is, and as fun as it is to kick those crunchy leaves and collect fallen conkers, it sure is cold.

The bad weather
If you live in the UK, you’ll know that this year hasn’t seen the best of the British summer (in fact, it was one of the worst in living memory!) but as the thermometer reports falling numbers every day, you’ll be yearning for the days that you could leave the house without a thick coat and for the days where you could sit indoors, at home or at work, without having to use a heater.

Why hire heaters
But it’s time to face the facts – it’s cold, and it’s only going to get colder. If you’re reading this right now and shivering away, that might not be the best news. There is some good news though, you can best the winter blues and blow away the cold with affordable heater hire.

So why not buy a heater? 
Well, you could buy a heater, but then when the spring and summer months finally come around, you’ll have to find somewhere to store the heater. As well as storage, there is maintenance. If you haul that old heater out of the cupboard once a year, who’s to say that it will still be in full working order.

Safety comes first
In recent weeks, a fire raged through a home in Canada with flames that reached more than ten metres high (about 30 feet). According to the report by CBC, “the fire destroyed several sheds, a gazebo and a boat.” The home was also damaged, but fortunately nobody was home at the time so nobody was injured. Fire officials said the cause of the fire was a faulty heater.

Maintenance is king
When you are dealing with heaters, safety is of paramount importance. The devices have to get super-hot to heat a room and if they are not properly maintained, they can be a fire hazard. If you are hiring your heaters rather than purchasing them, you will have a guarantee that they will be fully maintained and checked before they are delivered to you.

Perhaps the best thing about heater hire is the range of heaters available and the expertise within your grasp. Rather than going to your local department store and selecting from the small range on offer, a hire company should have a large selection of the latest models for you to choose from to fit all sizes and requirements.

So whether you’re at home or at work when you admire that autumn scene, sit back and warm your hands and look forward to even more beauty in the winter time.

See my disclaimer.

Homemade Gluten Free Donuts Recipe- Egg Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free Options

PhotobucketDo you like donuts? I know I certainly do, as do my kids, and most people I know. The thing is- living a gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and attempting to be refined sugar free lifestyle, I knew delicious donuts were impossible. Just a dream. And then I discovered this recipe on LivingWithout.com, via a post on FrugalFarmWife.com. It was labeled "best ever gluten free donuts", but knowing how these "best ever" claims are, I didn't really trust that it truly would be good, because, as any gluten free or otherwise special diet following people know, there are lots of terrible recipes out there that claim to be just as good as, but definitely don't do the job.

Well, since it had a recommendation on FrugalFarmWife.com, even after her tweaks, I decided to give it my best shot, trying to make it dairy free and egg free. It came out amazingly, so I tried making it with healthier sweeteners and it worked just as well! I want to try making it with only potato starch, no tapioca starch, but I haven't done that yet...
So I've got a few options for you here when making your donuts- all of them are gluten free and dairy free (but I'm sure you could take this recipe, and replace the flour with 3 1/4 cups wheat flour or whole wheat flour if you don't need it to be gluten free- if you try it out that way, let me know!), but you have the option of making it egg free and/or sugar free as well if you want.
The texture of this donut isn't 100% like that of a yeasty wheat donut, nor is it exactly an Entemann's style cake donut, but its good. My kids pronounced it "just like the donuts from the store, and perfect", but I'm not sure that's true, but it certainly is a satisfying alternative.
What I especially like about this recipe is that even when it's not fresh out of the oven, it's still got a good texture. Unfortunately I can't tell you how this recipe fares past the 48 hour mark, because all the donuts have been polished off well before that point.
You can make this recipe into either ring donuts, or you can make this recipe into jelly donuts, but I prefer how the ring donuts come out.
Oh- and one last thing- if you were saying "I'd love to make donuts, but I don't have any special equipment like a donut pan" like I was saying until recently, that's fine- you don't really need any special ingredients, though a candy thermometer does help.

Homemade Vegan Donuts Recipe

Monday, December 3, 2012

Parcel Delivery Services- Do They Save Money?

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This is a guest post that has gotten me thinking. Because lots of things are cheaper for me to buy in the US, I've considered buying them there then shipping it over here, but the shipping costs dissuaded me. I didn't realize that there was the option of a parcel delivery service that might even be a cheaper option to have overseas deliveries.

Need a cheap international delivery that does not cut corners? No problem.

We’ve come a long way since the fastest method of delivering a parcel over long distances was a man on a horse. Not all that long ago, though, your best (and perhaps only) option for sending something overseas would have been using a traditional mail service, a service specifically designed for carrying letters and small parcels. Today, a quick search online will present you with a near limitless list of cheap courier services for almost any type of package to all corners of the globe.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Kitchen Tip- How to Shell Nuts Easily

PhotobucketMy friend has a walnut tree in her backyard. Though walnut season is over by at least a month, probably more, yesterday I went over to her house and came home with a small haul of walnuts, even though, when looking at the tree, it looks like there is nothing left.

Here's a trick I figured out how to crack walnuts and other walnuts easily.

If you're saying why is a trick needed, well, if you know how to crack nuts well, good for you, but I and many didn't know how to do it properly. In the past, when I'd use a nut cracker, the nuts would often escape the nut holder and fly across the room. And if they stayed in the nut cracker, usually the whole nut would be smashed to smithereens, and you'd have to pick out bits of nuts from the shards of shell.
If you don't have a nut cracker, you might be tempted to use a hammer, but from experience, the same thing exactly happens- the nut either flies away or gets smashed to smithereens.

Here's a trick I figured out to get the nuts out easily, without it flying across the room, and without smashing the nut meat to smithereens. I'm sure I didn't make this up and lots of people already do this, but for those that don't, I figured its worth a share.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Homemade Necklace- Upcycled Cereal Box Beads

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I've recently decided to get into accessorizing more, but instead of spending a lot of money on accessories, I wanted to see what I could make at home either cheaply or completely free, ideally using what I had in the house already.

I had known for years about making beads out of magazine pages, but we don't read buy magazines, and I couldn't get from neighbors because magazines are a precious commodity where I live, trade around until they fall apart, so everyone can get a chance to read them. So I never made beads out of magazine pages. And I'll be honest, I didn't really like the look of the magazine page beads, as I found they tended to be wide and flat, just little paper cylinders, which didn't do it for me.

But then I was browsing Pinterest for ideas for upcycled accessories, and came across the idea to make beads out of cereal boxes- immediately I was hooked. Because magazines I don't have, but cereal boxes I certainly do. Unfortunately for health, gluten free cereal is the standard breakfast in our house, more often than not... At least I manage to find it cheaply now. But either way, we go through it quickly and I always hate just throwing the boxes in the trash and filling up landfills- if I could find something fun and creative to do with the cereal boxes, even better!
The other thing I liked about cereal box beads is they have some shape to them; the cardboard from the cereal box is thicker so the beads end up having some substance to them and aren't just hollow tubes like the paper beads are.
These types of beads are very easy to make, and cost virtually nothing. The more colorful your cereal boxes are, the better. Mine are a pretty purple and white, or blue and white or orange, all perfect colors for bead making.

This necklace of mine has received lots of compliments- no one believes it is made out of cereal boxes, and I've got orders from people who want me to make some for them too!

Homemade Cereal Box Bead Necklace

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Shopping Trip- November 27, 2012

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My grocery transportation method
I had a rough morning this morning; the kids went to sleep far too late last night and paid the price with their extreme crankiness. When Mike got home from work today, I let him know that I'd be going out- my friends told me earlier today that because of price wars, there was a sale going on at a supermarket in the city nearest to my town, but on the other side of the city entirely.
Skeptically, Mike wanted to know if I really thought that was a good idea, to exhaust myself even more by schlepping out to there for a sale, especially after such a hard day.
But no, I don't find shopping stressful, at least when it's just me and the babe, and after a day like today, I really enjoyed being able to go out all by my lonesome and do some shopping.
Was the trip worth it, my friends want to know.
Yes, for me it certainly was. Because I enjoyed myself, and didn't mind the trek. If I were like Mike, that the mere thought of such a trip would stress me out, then perhaps not, but in my case it was worth the time and the effort.
As for the money- since it was just me and the baby, I only had to pay bus far for one person- total travel costs were around 4 dollars- and I saved more than that on my trip.

I didn't do the hugest trip because of the distance, and because I'd be carrying everything back by my lonesome.
How do I do it?
A super huge backpack, filled up, and placed in my stroller, with a few other items tied onto the stroller handles.
And what about the baby, if the stroller is being used for groceries?
In my super wonderful baby carrier, either on my front or my back, depending on my/her mood and what I'm doing.

It was heavy, surely, but I managed to make it home all in one piece.
Ok, other than the bottle of olive oil that despite my best efforts, broke on the way home!!! Hey, at least it was cheap olive oil, and a small bottle, and not expensive stuff...

My sister also wanted to take advantage of this sale, so she too came into the city; we got to go shopping together. Unbeknownst to me, my dad and brother also came along, which ended up being very useful, both physically- my brother held Anneliese and pushed around the stroller, as well as allowing me to save even more money- as you'll soon see how.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Hearth & Soul Hop

Welcome back to yet another edition of the Hearth and Soul blog hop.
This is where you get the chance each week to share your favorite food related posts with the other visitors to the hop, and you get to check out theirs as well. The Hearth and Soul Hop is about food that not only nourishes our body, but also nourishes our souls.


My Favorite Post From Last Week
Sprouted Sunflower Pate- This looks like a great thing to do with my sunflowers that I bought in bulk, especially since sprouting makes things more digestible.


Here's a recap of some of the rules for participating:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.
As much as many of us are interested in frugality and green/natural living, this is a food blog hop; there are many other blog hops where you can share those posts of yours. Please keep your non food related blog posts off the hop.

All the hosts at Hearth and Soul care very deeply about this blog hop, and make an group effort to be sure that every post is commented on. We also Pin and Tweet many of the entries. You don’t find this with every blog hop, and in exchange for our efforts, we respectfully request that you include a link in the actual blog post you are sharing back to one of the hosts, either by worded link or using our badge. It is not enough to link using a communal blog party page. People rarely click on these links and it is unlikely they will find the Hearth and Soul hop using these sort of pages.

Vegan Italian Quiche- Cinque e Cinque- with Non Vegan Option- Gluten Free, Soy Free

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Cinque e cinque, horta salad (cooked wild greens with lemon
and olive oil, potatoes with foraged caperberries, capers, and olives)
I like quiches and frittatas- not completely sure what the difference is though... but either way, they're good, yummy, healthy, frugal, and very easy to make. I find that they also tend to be great even for kids and picky eaters- they seem to have a universal appeal. I just take whatever vegetables I have in the house, throw 'em in a pan with a few other ingredients, stick it in the oven and forget about it, and an hour later have a great meal ready to serve my family.
The thing is- quiches, typically made with eggs, milk, and flour, are a problem for me, because I'm off of dairy and gluten. For a while, I was making quiches with homemade non dairy milks and gluten free flours, but lately I've discovered that I do better without eggs, so I try to keep those to a minimum, making quiche a non option.
Or is it?

I discovered that chickpea flour, when mixed in the right amounts with water, and either fried or baked, has a very egg like texture, as well as an egg like taste. Italians made a lovely chickpea flour pie called cinque e cinque- which I have to say, is exactly like quiche! Only vegan!
Cinque e cinque is a good alternative to quiche for people who:

  • Are off eggs because of allergy/food sensitivity reasons
  • Are vegan
  • Are trying to limit animal products
  • Are trying to eat only organic animal products and can't afford them too often.
And honestly, lately eggs have gone up in price so much here- they cost over a quarter per egg now- that depending on how much it costs to buy chickpea flour, it may very well be cheaper to make this chickpea flour based quiche than an egg based quiche. Indian stores tend to sell chickpea flour cheapest- they call it besan.

I've included instructions though how to make an Italian inspired non vegan crustless quiche as well though, if you're a quiche purist, and/or you don't have/want to make a chickpea flour quiche. I didn't include cheese in the recipe because it's cheaper without and in my opinion, totally unnecessary  but you can add cheese if you feel a quiche must have.

Vegan Italian Quiche- Cinque e Cinque- with Non Vegan Option

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tips For Busy Working Moms

I'm a stay a home/work from home mom, so I am able to do lots of stuff that take a lot of time. Time management honestly isn't one of my areas of expertise. Hopefully this guest post by Mary Murphy will be helpful to those of you who are working moms and need to be able to be efficient with your time, while still running a household.

Working mothers face a mountain of demands and challenges that they have to face every day. And being on call for the needs of a family 24/7, makes meeting other responsibilities that much harder as priorities, daily tasks and professional duties are juggled with critical intensity every day. Spontaneity is something of an indulgence, exclusive for people without kids and a full-time job. The thought of an hour of uninterrupted yoga, or the chance to lie in a dark room, and just listen to nothing else except the tap drip, suddenly seem like the most extravagant of luxuries.

The Harsh Reality

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Traditional Southern Dressing Recipe


One of the things I love about being a blogger is making friends with different women from around the bloggosphere that I'd never have a chance to know otherwise. April Lewis Patel, of AnAppleADayWisdom.com and author of the great ebook "Don't Compost It- Cook It!" is one of those really great ladies.
April and I have had many great talks about all sorts of things, among them, our two mutual loves- frugality, and cooking. One day I was looking for ideas of what to cook for supper, and April suggested Southern dressing, as it was gluten free and cheap.
I had never heard of Southern dressing before; the phrase immediately conjured up images of salads made of collard greens, pickled watermelon rind, and topped with bacon grease... but April corrected me-
Southern dressing isn't salad dressing or anything even remotely connected- its just a cornbread based stuffing type thing! Who wudda thunk it?

Southern dressing is really delicious- the perfect gluten free alternative to bread based stuffing; that's why it appeared on my Thanksgiving dinner table, but its also great any other time as well! While it is usually eaten with gravy made out of chicken or turkey broth, hard boiled eggs, chicken pieces, and thickener like cornstarch, potato starch, or flour, I thoroughly enjoy this dish even with no gravy over it.
And it is just so, so, so simple to make!

If you're egg free, feel free to leave the hard boiled eggs out of this recipe; it's just as good that way. But you'll need to add another protein in its place if you wanted a whole meal out of this dish. If you're vegan, just use vegetable broth instead of a meat based one, though I'll admit, its not as yummy.

Oh- and one other thing- Southern dressing is a terrific thing to do with cornbread that is old and got dry and stale- no need to throw it out! Though I'll admit, I usually just whip up a batch of cornbread specifically for this- if I wait until I have leftovers, it won't happen- there rarely is any cornbread left over when I make some.

P.S. If you don't have cornbread, and aren't gluten free, you can use stale bread for this in place of the cornbread.

Traditional Southern Dressing Recipe- Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Frugal Thanksgiving Feast, and a Really Appreciated Present

PhotobucketMy husband isn't American. He's a native English speaker, though, so I tend to forget that he isn't American, that he grew up in a different culture than I did, most of the time. I even don't notice his lovely accent most of the time anymore, after being married to him for 6 years, even though other people comment all the time on his "strong South African accent."
But there are certain times that I am reminded that no, my husband isn't American, and it boggles me how something that was such a large part of my childhood is completely foreign to him.

Thanksgiving is one of them.
Growing up, we would have big get togethers on Thanksgiving, with all our local family and the same exact friends every year. It's a great tradition, a little gratitude never hurt anyone, and a get together dedicated to that purpose is always a good idea.

But my husband didn't have that frame of reference, and living out of the US, getting a whole turkey and other Thanksgiving dinner standards aren't easy, so we haven't had a Thanksgiving dinner since we were married, other than the one time I was invited to a friend's house for one.

This year though, I did make a Thanksgiving dinner, but not just any Thanksgiving dinner.

I wanted to do something nice to honor my mother. She is a very wonderful woman with so many fine qualities, and we love her so very much.
But we blew it, and missed her birthday, an especially big one, and she was hurt that no one remembered it...

I decided that I wanted to make it up to her, by throwing her a meaningful party to say thank you... And what better time than on Thanksgiving, the day dedicated to giving thanks?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Foraging Pink Peppercorns- and the Difference Between Different Types of Pepper

Some people, like my husband, think everything tastes better with ketchup.
Other people, like myself, think everything tastes better with salt.
My uncle Jay, on the other hand, thinks that there isn't a single thing in the world that doesn't taste good with pepper on it. In fact, his motto is "Nothing can ever have too much pepper." Before tasting anything, he'll put some freshly ground black pepper onto it.
See, I'm not that extreme. I don't put pepper on everything in the world. Just most things. And I do taste my food before adding pepper.
Usually.
And pepper, like all spices, I've discovered, can end up being rather expensive. (I recently noticed just how much money I spend on spices... Not fun!)

I was very happy to discover that pink peppercorns grow near me- I now use them to replace nearly half my pepper in my cooking, cutting my cost of pepper in half.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Beating the Lines

Plan on taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in just a few days? This guest post by Nancy Evans should help you out in an area, where I frankly, have absolutely no experience.

Every year new products enter the market, when those items are new mobile phones, computers or technical gadgets, lines to purchase the products can be very long. This is especially true right now and through the holiday season, when Christmas buyers are out in full force. If the thought of braving these lines raises your blood pressure, take heart. You can get many top technology products as well as every day items in easier ways.
Here are some tips for you to take note of.

Seek Discounts Online
If you already know exactly what you want to purchase, go online and browse for discounts and coupons pertaining to that specific product. Ultimately, make use of the many coupon sites. If you want to shop local stores, choose ones that offer printable coupons. If you would rather shop online, which is the most convenient way to shop this season, then use sites that offer discount codes for products.

Like most coupons, online coupons do expire, so be sure to make note of the date, if it is given, and keep hunting for deeper discounts. There is nothing that says you cannot have membership to numerous coupon sites. Join as many as you like. Some offer additional benefits besides coupons. For example, if you or someone you know have student loans, check out Upromise. Online coupons from Upromise offer great deals and you will find discounts on top of the line products and services. However, in addition to this, shopping through stores like Upromise also gives you cash back for college.

Take Advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday Online
Many do not know that stores offer special online-only bargains. This usually occurs on Black Friday, and not just on Cyber Monday. While others are waiting out in the cold, you can be sitting inside taking advantage of these sales. Do a search on the Thursday before Black Friday to learn about forthcoming sales and when they start. Do not wait too long to make your purchases after the sale starts. Products can, and do sell out online.

Do not forget to compare prices. In the excitement of finding a good deal, it is easy to buy on impulse. One great thing about the internet is the ease of comparing prices at a glance. The ability to compare is also great when it comes to product specifications – especially regarding electronics and appliances. You can compare between different brands or different models, and more easily narrow your choices.

See my disclaimer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Hearth & Soul Hop

Welcome back to yet another edition of the Hearth and Soul blog hop.
This is where you get the chance each week to share your favorite food related posts with the other visitors to the hop, and you get to check out theirs as well. The Hearth and Soul Hop is about food that not only nourishes our body, but also nourishes our souls.

Here's a recap of some of the rules for participating:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.
As much as many of us are interested in frugality and green/natural living, this is a food blog hop; there are many other blog hops where you can share those posts of yours. Please keep your non food related blog posts off the hop.

All the hosts at Hearth and Soul care very deeply about this blog hop, and make an group effort to be sure that every post is commented on. We also Pin and Tweet many of the entries. You don’t find this with every blog hop, and in exchange for our efforts, we respectfully request that you include a link in the actual blog post you are sharing back to one of the hosts, either by worded link or using our badge. It is not enough to link using a communal blog party page. People rarely click on these links and it is unlikely they will find the Hearth and Soul hop using these sort of pages.

Winner of the $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Last week, I announced a giveaway on my blog for a $50 Amazon.com gift card, in celebration of reaching 3000 Facebook fans!

We had 1377 entries for the giveaway- a great turnout! Thank you so much for participating, and helping this blog grow even bigger.
I loved hearing what each of you would buy with the $50 Amazon.com gift card; each so varied and fun to read!
I also really enjoyed hearing what your favorite types of blog posts were. It seems that the overall consensus is that most people prefer the recipes the most- so I guess I better start posting even more recipes now!

And now, the winner, chosen via random.org---

Maureen L is the winner of the $50 Amazon.com gift card!

What will she do with that money?
Well, she says "I would love to buy some stuff for my daughter, like toys or clothes. My daughter just turned two, so she's becoming much more fun to shop for. "

Congratulations, Maureen L! I hope your daughter really enjoys her new things!

Thank you everyone else for participating!

Survivalism- Is It Frugal? Is It Useful?

As of late, there seems to have been many natural disasters, tropical storm Sandy, tsunamis, and earthquakes, among other things, all of which affect people's lives. War and dangerous political situations create man made disasters on a similar scale.
When people hear about potential of war or potential of natural disasters, some of the things they recommend doing is stocking up their household with things, just in case of disaster. Be prepared, they say. Survivalism and disaster preparedness have been on my mind a lot in recent times.

I find that as a frugal blogger, especially one who does non conventional things, I get a lot of hits to my blog from people interested in survivalism, people like Doomsday Preppers, and things of the sort. There seems to be an overlap between survivalism and frugality.

But is frugality and survivalism the same thing? Is survivalism frugal? Is frugality survivalism?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Investment Tips for Families

This is a guest post by Nancy Evans.

Saving for the future is very important at any stage of your life. The younger you are when you start the more time you have to explore options and earn income. Some may think that in this economy it is just better to hide your money away but that's not true. Put your money to work for you by making smart investments in your future. Start today by checking out options that will help you provide a safe and secure future for every member of your family.

Homemade Gluten Free Soba Buckwheat Noodles Recipe- Vegan, Pasta Maker Friendly

I had store credit at this hardware/household type store, and they didn't really have anything that I needed,so I decided to use that credit to get myself an extra- a pasta maker. I figured, since gluten free pasta is so expensive, if I could make my own it would be cheaper.
The thing is- you don't really need a pasta maker to make your own pasta- it's very doable with no special equipment. However, a pasta maker streamlines the process, and makes it much easier to make your own pasta in even less time and with less effort, so that making homemade fresh pasta is no big deal, and can be done on a regular basis and not just on special occasions.

So, smart me bought a pasta maker.
And then I discovered that my standard homemade gluten free noodles are too flimsy to go in the pasta maker. So it just sat there on the shelf unused for a few months.
Until I discovered this recipe.

Soba noodles are a type of noodle originating from Japan, made out of buckwheat flour. I was very excited when I heard about this type of noodle, because obviously it would be gluten free. Right? Wrong. Soba noodle recipes almost always always always have wheat in them, or at least that's what I've found with the online recipes.
And then the few gluten free soba noodle recipes I was able to find had egg in it, something I've been avoiding lately.
So I shelved the idea of making soba noodles.

But then I found this recipe for gluten free soba noodles that are pasta maker friendly, and because I was so excited by the pasta maker friendly recipe, I cheated and made those noodles, egg and all. They were perfectly textured, worked terrifically in the machine... But now I wanted to figure out how to make it cheaper and egg free, but without any packaged egg replacer.

Here's my version.
It works terrifically.
Its very versatile. Tastes yummy. Is easy to make. And did I mention that it works terrifically in the pasta maker, and also by hand, as its such an easy dough to work with?
In short- its so perfect you won't believe it's gluten free.

You can make these noodles and use them fresh, or you can leave them out and let them dry, so that you have noodles that you can just pop onto the stove whenever you want.
My favorite way to have these is with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, salt, scallions, and sesame seeds.

I've included some pasta maker tips that I've discovered via trial and error, for those, who, like me, are pasta maker novices, so that your pasta making goes more smoothly.

Homemade Gluten Free Soba Buckwheat Noodles Recipe- Vegan, Pasta Maker Friendly


Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Onigiri Recipe- Japanese Rice Balls

I like packing a lunch every day for my husband; its my way of connecting with him while he's at work, by sending him something yummy and nutritious to eat while at work, something I'm happy to do.
My husband is willing to eat a container of leftovers as lunch, even though it's cold since he has no way of heating them up at work. Mike has mentioned though that since he has no official lunch break where he can sit down to a full meal, he prefers meals that don't need a fork, and that can be eaten on the go. But sandwiches are hard to make gluten free, and I don't bring gluten into my house.

Someone recommended onigiri to me as an on-the-go meal for me to make for for my husband. Onigiri are rice balls, usually stuffed with different ingredients, that are easy to transport. What is cool about onirigiri is that you can fill them with leftovers, making a cool repurposed meal. Onigiri, traditionally, is stuffed with sour or salty Asian dishes, but really you can fill them with anything that isn't liquidy or too oily, and whose flavor complements the flavor of the rice.
It doesn't hurt that the onigiri is pretty photogenic, in my opinion.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

DIY Homemade Portable Cell Phone Charger Tutorial

Sometimes I feel like I don't give enough credit on this blog to my husband, Mike, making it seem like all the  frugality in our household is done by me, and he's just a bystander, but that really is not the case. He is willing to go along with nearly all of my frugal ideas, is on the same page with me in regards to the importance of living frugally, and even helps me out in some of my more annoying frugal ventures; he's the one who rinses the poopy cloth diapers off before sticking them in the machine.
But yes, for the most part, its my husband spending the time and effort earning the money in this house, and myself spending the time and effort to make that money stretch further, and Mike going along with it. Occasionally, though, there are blog posts that are entirely his- all the inspiration comes from my discovering a cool money saving trick he's been up to lately and wanting to share it with you.
This post is one of those.

Mike has a smartphone. Yes, I know, total luxury, but its one that Mike finds worth it. His call.
But the thing about smartphones is that since they're so useful for so many things aside from just making phone calls, from browsing the internet to using apps to listening to the radio, their battery gets used up pretty quickly, and if you're out all day and have no place to charge your phone, you might be stuck without any phone.
To deal with this issue, many cell phone stores sell portable cell phone chargers, which you charge to capacity while at home, and then when out and about, you plug your phone into these chargers and juice up your phone once again. Only these chargers are pretty expensive.

Mike decided to make his own portable charger, and it works just as well as a store bought one.
Now I just want to say that neither he nor I are electricians, nor mavens in cellular phone technology, so I can't be sure that what I'm about to show you is safe for your phones and won't void your warranty, I'm just sharing what he did, and then you can decide if you feel comfortable implementing this idea.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cute Crocheted Flower Hat Tutorial

I had some extra yarn left over from crocheting my flower necklace, so thought I would crochet my daughter, Anneliese, a cute hat. At first I thought it would be suitable for the winter, but now that it's ready, I see that it's a light hat, suitable for a crisp day outside, because it's better than no hat, but isn't good for the dead of winter. Either way, I think it came out nicely, and wanted to share with you how I did it.

It was very quick and easy to make, and cost me less than 2 dollars- this used up nearly one ball of cotton yarn . Yea, I probably could find a hat at a thrift store for cheaper than this, but this was made with love, and suits my taste better than something that wasn't made by me.

So, how do you do it? (My attempt at writing a crochet pattern will be in italics.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Hearth & Soul Hop

Welcome back to yet another edition of the Hearth and Soul blog hop.
This is where you get the chance each week to share your favorite food related posts with the other visitors to the hop, and you get to check out theirs as well. The Hearth and Soul Hop is about food that not only nourishes our body, but also nourishes our souls.

Here's a recap of some of the rules for participating:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.
As much as many of us are interested in frugality and green/natural living, this is a food blog hop; there are many other blog hops where you can share those posts of yours. Please keep your non food related blog posts off the hop.

All the hosts at Hearth and Soul care very deeply about this blog hop, and make an group effort to be sure that every post is commented on. We also Pin and Tweet many of the entries. You don’t find this with every blog hop, and in exchange for our efforts, we respectfully request that you include a link in the actual blog post you are sharing back to one of the hosts, either by worded link or using our badge. It is not enough to link using a communal blog party page. People rarely click on these links and it is unlikely they will find the Hearth and Soul hop using these sort of pages.

Millet Anise Shortbread Cookies Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free


"Mommy, why don't you ever make us cookies?" Ike asks me this morning.
"Yea, you never make us yummy food," Lee chimes in.
"No? I never make you yummy food? Not even the chocolate pudding cake that I made for you this morning for breakfast? That wasn't yummy?"
"Oh yea... That was a little yummy, Mommy. But we want something really yummy, like cookies."
So, looking out at the pouring rain, and with a house that desperately needed to be cleaned, instead, I, Mommy Penny, decided to earn some Mommy points and make cookies.
Only I needed to go shopping, and didn't have the standard cookie recipe ingredients.

I was inspired to make these cookies by the fact that I had lots of home ground millet flour in the house. In searching for millet flour cookies, I came across this recipe, which is where I got the idea to do cookies in log form, but I made up the recipe completely on my own.

I also wanted to make a cookie that was slightly less unhealthy than the chocolate pudding cake I made this morning, with so much white sugar that it was so sickeningly sweet that even my kids didn't like it... So the cookies that I was going to make would be completely refined sugar free. But I am out of date syrup, and honey is too expensive for me to justify putting it in cookies... I decided to go with jaggery, but since jaggery is so annoying to use, since you have to grate it up, and even once you grate it, it all sticks together anyhow, I decided to use partially jaggery, and partially my homemade stevia extract.

I haven't done much experimenting with cooking with stevia, because I find that stevia has an anise like taste and a slightly bitter aftertaste, which is strange and not always the most pleasant, in my opinion. I thought to make these anise flavored cookies, with star anise and fennel seeds, so that the stevia flavor would be masked.

I really like how these cookies came out. So did my husband. Star anise and fennel seeds were the perfect flavor combination to use to hide the stevia flavor.

My kids, on the other hand, weren't so thrilled with these. Mostly because Lee was convinced that the ground fennel seeds in his cookies were bugs...

Oh well.

At least the adults liked them. I'll be making these again, that's for sure. For myself. If my kids don't want to have them... well then, more for me.

These cookies are also vegan, another score.
I haven't done it myself, but I'm sure these cookies can be made with wheat flour, either all purpose, or whole wheat, or spelt, or sprouted wheat flour in place of the millet flour. And that brown sugar can be used in place of the jaggery if you don't have that available where you live. Playing around with it, and using honey in place of the jaggery and some of the water would probably also work.

Millet Anise Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Celebration- A Giveaway- Free Money!


My sister is always full of ideas of what I should write about on this blog, you know, just in case I ever run out of ideas. Fortunately, I usually have an idea of certain things I want to say, even if I don't always have the energy to write about it...
But anyhow, my sister told me that lots of bloggers and other people on various social media platforms are taking the month of November, and in preparation for the holiday of Thanksgiving, are writing about something that they're thankful for every day. I didn't do that exactly, but today's post is in part inspired by that.

Because this is a thank you to you, my readers.
A few years ago, I was feeling very dejected. I wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted to matter to people, and not just to my husband, kids, and small circle of friends. I wanted to be able to help people, and to be important to people, to leave a legacy behind me one day when I die. I wanted to feel I was doing something greater than just taking care of my family... not that that isn't very important, but it wasn't enough for me.
I knew I had some tricks up my sleeve to saving money, thought that maybe I'd be able to share those ideas with other people via my writing, and tried to get my writing published in various publications, like magazines, etc...  But it was to no avail, and I was ready to give up.
And then I had the idea to maybe start a blog, see if maybe I could do it on my own, maybe help people out without first needing to get editors to approve my writing and publish it...

Thanks to you wonderful readers, this blog really took off. It's nearly 2 years old, and in that time, I've had over 1 million, 65 thousand, 600 hits... Mind boggling. And very flattering that so many people are coming to hear what I have to say!

But as much as I love my blog itself, sometimes the thing I love about it most is the community that has cropped up around it, such as on my Facebook fan page. Because I keep this blog for the "big things", but the little things like what I made for supper, my frugal find that day, or any frugality/health related question that I need advice on, I post on the facebook page, and there are so many wonderful people there to share their thoughts and opinions, many of whom I've got to know more personally.

Since the Facebook page has grown so much, when I saw that the amount of fans was approaching 3,000, I decided that when it reached the 3,000 mark, I'd be making a giveaway to give back to you readers for everything you do.
Because you ARE the blog.
Because without you, there would be no blog.
The only reason I've been writing this blog is because of you readers... with no readers, my interest would have petered off very quickly.

So thank you!

Well, you readers are awesome, and when I announced that I was trying to reach 3000 fans, you recommended my page left and right, and I reached my goal in a few hours, not in a few days like I thought it would take...
So I waited until after the weekend to do this giveaway.

As to this giveaway, I thought about what I wanted to give away, what you readers would enjoy... but I came up short. You're such a diverse group of women and men, all different ages, marital status, and location. I wanted to give something that could go to any one of my readers and still be useful.

And that's why I chose an Amazon.com giftcard.

Because pretty much anything you want, you can get on Amazon.com

You can get electronics.
You can get books.
You can get clothes.
You can get groceries.
You can get kitchen tools.
You can get linens.
You can get toys.
You can get cloth diapers...

I can't really think of anything you can't get on Amazon.com.

And that's why, I'm giving the lucky winner of this giveaway a free, 50 dollar gift certificate to Amazon.com.

So you can get whatever it is your heart desires. So long as it costs less than 50 dollars. And if it costs more than 50 dollars, you can use that gift card towards the cost of the item, and make up in the rest.
This gift card also covers shipping.

This giveaway, unlike giveaways on most blog, is not just open to readers in the US and Canada. Its open to anyone, all over the world. (And if there are any astronauts in outer space reading this, they're eligible as well.)

The giveaway is via Rafflecopter using this widget below. There are multiple ways to earn entries. (This is my first time using Rafflecopter, so if it isn't working properly, please tell me.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The giveaway is open from now, until 12:01 AM on Tuesday, November 20th, 2012.

There are some entries that can be done once, and other entries that can be done once a day, for even more entries.

So, what are you waiting for?

P.S. One very important rule- if you don't leave an email address for me to contact you at, even if you win, you will not get the prize- it will be passed on to someone else. Make SURE you leave an email address with your entry!

Five Tips for Saving Money on Health Care

This is a guest post by Sean O’Connor,  a health insurance expert at GoHealthInsurance.com.

Bad news first – in the United States, health care costs are rising at five times the rate of inflation. There is a silver lining, however. As consumers, we have the power to make informed decisions and avoid over-spending on health care. Consider the following tips:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why Choosing to Have a Cell Phone Isn’t a Waste of Money

Image courtesy of adamr 
/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Cell phones- necessary, or a waste of money? In the frugal world, especially, it seems that there is no general consensus. Many people, especially those that work from home, choose to go without a cell phone, yet others, like myself, find a cell phone absolutely necessary, especially because I have no car and am traveling on public transportation on dangerous roads with my three kids, and need to be able to have the ability to get a hold of my husband and other people should emergencies crop up. Some people I know chose to go without a house phone, and just have cell phones. Others find cell phones to be a complete waste of money.
Reader Kathryn, shared this guest post about why choosing to have a cell phone isn't a waste of money.

When it comes to technology, we’re all under the impression that to get our hands on the latest crazes, we all have to pay an arm and a leg for them. And, mobile phones are no exception to this perception.

From touch screen smart phones, to razor thin devices, there are thousands of options to choose from, many of which cost users an average of $47.16 a month. Pricey, huh?

If you’re a frugal saver, it’s pretty likely that you won’t be one of these users. After all, that’s a grand total of $565.92 a year that could be spent elsewhere. A mobile phone, in your opinion, is just an unnecessary cost, right?

But, believe it or not, owning a mobile phone need not be expensive, and contrary to belief, isn’t a waste of money. Here’s why:

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