Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cheater Fast Sushi and Paleo Sushi Techniques

I've been a fan of sushi since I was a kid and have passed on that love of sushi to my kids.

The first time I ever had sushi was on a trip to New York when I was in elementary school. We stopped at a restaurant just as we were about to come home, had a variety of different types of sushi, and quickly became hooked.

Once home, we saw that it wasn't so easy to find sushi in my home town, and what there was cost a lot of money, so my parents, do-it-yourself-type people decided to learn how to make their own. Because we couldn't get sushi grade fish easily, our sushi was always made either with only vegetables or with the addition of lox or surimi (fake crab) strips.

I quickly mastered the art of rolling sushi (it's really not difficult, and becomes much easier and faster with practice), including the more complex inside out rolls. Sushi making, overall, was no big deal for me....

...Alright. Other than the rice.

Making sushi rice was always the most annoying part of making sushi for me. 

Tips to Staying on a Tight Budget Without Driving Yourself Crazy

This blog post was written by James Daniels, a freelance writer, tech geek, and avid reader. I especially find it useful because these are tips that take very little time to implement and can pay off quickly.

If you feel like you are constantly stretching your pennies until they scream, take heed: with a few adjustments and tricks, you can make living on a tight budget less of a burden. Check out the following ideas that should give you more money left at the end of the month:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Do Chua - Vietnamese Style Pickled Carrots and Radishes Recipe - Paleo and Cheap

When I got my hands on a lot of free carrots and radishes a couple of months ago, I wanted to figure out something amazing to do with them. I'd remembered reading about a Vietnamese carrot and daikon pickle on VietWorldKitchen.com and decided to try to make my own take off from them, using regular radishes instead of daikon, and using non refined sweeteners instead of the white sugar often found in recipes.
Vietnamese carrot and radish pickles are an essential component of the famous Vietnamese sandwich, banh mi, a baguette filled with mayonnaise, chili pepper, cilantro, sliced cucumbers, soy sauce, a cooked protein of choice (from fish to meat to chicken to tofu) as well as these carrot and radish pickles. While not Paleo, I do want to try to make a banh mi inspired wrap, with those fillings and Vietnamese spicy sardines, a common component in banh mi sandwiches.  

I started off with this authentic do chua recipe and played around with the ingredients and proportions until they were to my liking, so I won't say my recipe is authentic anymore, but it is close enough that I think it still can be called do chua. 

Since that original time, I've often been able to get cheap or even free carrots and radishes and I've made them many times since. They are so delicious that my daughter will try to sneak fistfuls out of the refrigerator when I'm not looking. Every single person I've served these pickles to enjoyed them.

Best part about them? They are a great way to make past prime veggies last longer- the vinegar and salt preserves the vegetables, and these can easily last a few months in the fridge. I have not tried canning them, but I don't see why that wouldn't work (although it probably will take away from the crunch factor).

The way I make these pickles, they come out full of flavor, nice and tangy, with the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty. Feel free to adjust the ratio of vinegar to sweetener to suit your taste preferences- I use more vinegar and sweetener than in the original recipe. I've used date syrup, jaggery syrup, and honey as the sweetener in mine- white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar all will work as well, depending on your dietary needs/preferences and budget. Do chua doesn't typically have onions in it, but I find them a welcome addition.

If you aren't a big fan of the flavor of radishes, note that they don't taste radishy here, and even non radish lovers generally like them here. But if you want to leave them out, feel free and just increase the amount of carrots.

Do Chua - Vietnamese Style Pickled Carrots and Radishes Recipe - Paleo and Cheap

A Happy Garden Update!

You have no idea how long I've waited to write this post!
Growing up in Cleveland, my family had a decent sized house with a relatively large yard. While most of it was grassy, wonderful for playing, and we had a grape arbor/swingset and club house we built, we had many different distinct areas for gardening. A vegetable garden in the very back, where we grew all sorts of things like asparagus, rhubarb, corn, chives, snow peas, zucchini, and tomatoes. A garden along the side with blueberry bushes, gooseberries. A garden along the other side with raspberries and wineberries. Various fruit trees like apricots and peaches. Another little area with mint and horseradish. And in the front a flower garden with strawberries, and on our tree lawn, around our tree, we grew Jerusalem artichokes.

My mother has a green thumb and loves gardening. I've wanted to be like her and garden, growing my own food as much as possible, instead of buying it from the grocery store. But we lived in a rental apartment the first five years we were married, and we never knew how long we'd be staying there, so were loathe to invest in a garden that we would have to leave behind.
Eventually, though, after we'd been there for 4.5 years we said that if we'd been there that long already, we'd probably be there another while too, so why not just make a garden already. We planted tomatoes and swiss chard... and then decided (and rather suddenly, at that) to move, because we'd had it up to there with our hellacious landlord. We gave away our chickens and rabbits, packed up our house, and moved to an apartment that not only was half the size of our previous one, but also had no yard whatsoever.
For the next 5 years we were in that apartment, having no idea when we'd be able to afford to move to a bigger place. I got more and more into frugality and self sufficiency, really wanted to garden, but had very little success. Any gardening I could do had to be in pots and planters.
Most plants that I attempted to grow from seed never actually grew. The ones that did start to grow, overall, did not do well in the planters. We had a few moderate successes, but my experiences made me think I was just a plant killer. The few plants that I had growing that I managed to not kill, and even could harvest from occasionally, were aloe vera and purslane.

Basic Things to Know About Mutual Funds

Often when I talk to people about saving money and how to save, they scoff and say "That's not saving. Saving money means actually having money to put aside into savings." When I teach people how to be frugal and save money on their groceries, household expenses, clothing, or anything else, the point is to live within your means enough so that you have excess cash left over after your expenses. That cash, after building an emergency fund, can be saved, and also grown in all sorts of methods, such as mutual funds. Reader Janica Buenconsejo explains a little more about this next option, how you can turn your saved money into more money in the future.

A lot of people are looking for ways to grow their money. Some would start a small business so that they can earn from something they actually want to do, like making accessories or printing shirts. Others would fund a project or a start-up company and expect a sizeable return of investment once it earns. However, some choose to invest their money through buying stocks or bonds.

If you choose the latter, you should that there are many kinds of investments you can choose from, depending on the risk factor and the length of time you want your money to in play. However, if you are afraid of risking money, note that it is not just about buying stocks or bonds; there are less stressful ways of investing. A mutual fund is one such kind of investment and is probably the easiest way to invest in the market, even young adults can start doing it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Paleo Stuffed Artichoke Hearts or Zucchini Recipe- Egg Free, Frugal

I adore artichoke; it is one of my absolute favorite vegetables. The best part of the artichoke, of course, is the heart. When I brought home a large amount of artichokes super cheaply, I knew that I wanted to make stuffed artichoke hearts with at least some of them. I prepared the artichoke to access the heart and hope to make a post in the near future on how to do that yourself. If you don't want to do that, or only have access to frozen artichoke hearts, feel free to use them in this recipe.
Stuffed artichoke is generally made predominantly with ground beef which gets expensive, with dairy that I don't eat, or with rice or breadcrumbs mixed with the meat to stretch it further, also things I don't eat. 
I took the idea for stuffed artichoke hearts that I've eaten elsewhere--beef seasoned with lemon and mint-- and made it more frugally and without ingredients I don't eat. Here you have allergy friendly, frugal, paleo stuffed artichoke. 
If you don't eat artichoke, or they aren't frugal or in season where you live, I made half of my batch with artichoke and the other half as stuffed zucchini, and they are equally delicious.

I find that when vegetables are stuffed with meat that is not stretched with rice or another vegetable, the meat ends up getting dry and not so pleasant to eat. Because the meat in this recipe is steamed in the oven and mixed with zucchini, it stays very moist and delicious.

I highly, highly recommend this recipe.

Paleo Stuffed Artichoke Hearts or Zucchini Recipe- Egg Free, Frugal

Friday, May 19, 2017

Some Fabulous Deals at the Market and Lots of Free Food

The other day I was in town, heading to the market via public transportation and I met another English speaker. She saw my empty folding shopping cart and asked me if I was heading to the market. I confirmed that, so she commented, "You can get some pretty cool deals there." Yes, definitely.
We were talking a bit and then introduced ourselves by name, and when I said mine she exclaimed "Oh! You're the frugal market lady! I read about what you get there!" That was amusing.
Anyhow, we then started talking and she asked me what I was planning on getting there and how much I planned to spend. Since I had a decent amount of vegetables in my house already, although not all the ones I needed, I told her that I planned to spend no more than $30, but ideally less than $15... Usually when I go to the market I don't decide beforehand how much I plan on spending. I just buy what I need for as little money as possible—trying to find as many free or nearly free things as I can—and whatever I spend, I spend.I does typically end up within the $15-$30 range, hence my goal. Once I have a challenge though, I have a lot of fun seeing just how little I can spend, because I enjoy proving something to myself and the one who challenged me.

I came home with all this food. 83.6 lbs of produce. 22.2 lbs of fish. 105.8 lbs of food, all paleo and unprocessed and healthy, for a grand total of.... wait for it... $11.42!
That works out to under 11 cents a pound for all that food!

Modern Ways to Save Money

As a frugal conscious person living in today's modern world, I am very appreciative of the fact that today's technology and specifically the Internet allows me even more ways to save money than were open to us in the past. Here's a few ways the Internet can help you save money in 2017.

Save differently.
I know how challenging it can be to put away money to savings when cash is short and you can't find many ways to save. This 52 Week Saving Challenge is based on the idea that it's hard to find money to set aside to save, so it starts you off small- just one dollar put into savings the first week, two weeks the next. Because of the gradual way in which you are putting aside money you don't feel a big hit to your wallet. Instead gradually you learn to spend less and less money so you have what to put in savings but by the end of the year you will have saved a lot of money.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Homemade Carrot Peach Leather Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Easy

I got a very large amount of carrots recently for free (more about that in a later post), but because they weren't in the best of conditions, they needed to be used up sooner rather than later, or at least something needed to be done with them to extend their shelf life. 
With some, I made my sweet and spicy carrots medallions. With others, I made a stir fry with other free vegetables. I made Vietnamese carrot pickles (recipe to come soon). But I still had so much more left and was trying to figure out what to do with them. (Chilled carrot soup will probably make it to my menu soon, either with orange juice, or with leek and cumin.)

When I was on my recent hiking getaway with my mom and sisters, we were brainstorming with ideas of Paleo food to bring along that wouldn't be too heavy (since we had to carry it on our backs) and while homemade ground beef jerky was for protein, figuring out vegetables was harder. I thought of making butternut squash leather, and my mom did so, and it was pretty tasty but lacking something. Eating it together with the banana leather it was perfection.
Seeing my carrots on my counter, I thought I'd take inspiration from that butternut squash leather, and see if I could turn my carrots into "fruit" leather. (I know it as fruit leather, but have a hard time with calling it fruit leather when its pretty much vegetable leather.) I did some googling to see if carrot leather worked on its own, and all other people seemed to add fruit to it, so I figured why not. It still is predominantly carrots, but I added a few peaches that had soft spots and would spoil if I didn't use them up soon. I decided to add some ginger and cinnamon so it would be reminiscent of pumpkin pie.
Well, I can't say that it worked. I don't taste the pumpkin pie. Next time I should probably increase the amount.
But what I can say is that this leather tasted amazing. In fact, I'd say its probably some of the best tasting "fruit" leather I've eaten in a while. My kids loved it too.
It doesn't taste quite carroty and it doesn't taste quite peachy, but somewhere between the two, just the right amount of sweetness, etc...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Homemade Egg Free Hollandaise Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Delicious

Foraged asparagus with vegan hollandaise

My 9 year old son Lee sometimes asks me "Mommy, how do you come up with all your recipe ideas?" and I tell him, more often than not I get inspired by recipes I see on the net or elsewhere. I don't usually make recipes as I find them, because of food sensitivities and monetary constraints. Some recipes I am especially proud of, as I figured them out from start to finish, not basing them off any or even multiple other recipes, but entirely out of my head.
My vegan, flax seed based mayonnaise is one of those recipes that I figured out entirely on my own, and it is really an amazing one, with the exact texture and taste of egg based mayonnaise (unlike most vegan mayonnaise recipes whose texture leaves much to be desired).

When I was lucky enough to be able to forage a bunch of asparagus (something I rarely eat, as they are ridiculously overpriced here, and wild ones don't grow so frequently where I live), I wanted to serve them in the most delicious way possible, that would let their flavor shine (and not be hidden in a quiche or soup) while adding something to bring its flavor up a notch. Cliched though it is, I decided to serve my asparagus with hollandaise sauce.
Or my version of it anyhow.

I'm not a vegan by a long shot, but unfortunately I've got a sensitivity to most dairy and eggs. I've tried my way around it, tried duck eggs instead of chicken eggs, but I can't eat them either. And even ghee, which is clarified butter, with the milk protein removed, something many dairy intollerant people are able to have, makes me react, unfortunately. So the classic hollandaise sauce, made from egg yolks and butter is out for me. But that didn't mean I wanted to give up on it.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Easy Homemade Peach Sauce Recipe - Paleo, Vegan, Delicious

Peaches are coming into season around here, which means that I can find them on the reduced rack at the grocery store or market, being sold for very little or even sometimes free. When I get them extra frugally or free, they often are mushy and/or banged up, which means that they should be cooked so they don't spoil. This peach sauce works perfectly well with overripe and/or mushy peaches, and is freezer friendly too.
We had this peach sauce with my homemade strawberry chocolate cheesecake swirl ice cream, and while each tasted amazing on their own, they were perfection together. This peach sauce, so delicious, is extremely easy to make, to the extent that I almost feel silly sharing the recipe here. It works great as a topping on ice cream, pudding, yogurt, or any cakes or brownies, or even eaten on its own.
And of course, it is paleo, vegan, without any refined sweeteners, etc...

Easy Homemade Peach Sauce Recipe - Paleo, Vegan, Delicious

Friday, May 12, 2017

Homemade Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

I had another recipe that I wanted to share today, but upon request I'll share this delicious and easy recipe with you today instead. I debated what to call this. My kids call it ice cream, so I might as well just call it that. However, it is based on an idea for cashew based vegan cheesecake with strawberries that my family and I really love. Cashews make a delicious mock cheesecake, with a cheesiness that you don't often find in vegan foods. This recipe is made with almonds, not cashews, but it still has a resemblance to it, hence the cheesecake ice cream name I gave it. While I made this with almond butter, feel free to make it with cashew butter instead. I have not tried it with other nut butters, but if you want to experiment, feel free.

This recipe is pretty easy to make. The only thing to note is that the ingredients do need to be added in the order written, otherwise it can flop, so keep that in mind and follow the instructions precisely.

Homemade Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

My Frugal Produce Cooking Marathon

Yesterday I had a really great shopping trip, bringing home a bunch of produce for very little money. Much as I love a good deal on produce, bringing home that much at once does mean that I need to figure out what to do with it all so it doesn't spoil and gets the most use.

Here's what I did with the produce I brought home yesterday. Of course there is still much more fresh in my fridge to use up at later dates, but this is the food prep I did for now.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

My Latest Super Frugal Shopping Trips

I love a good bargain. My husband frequently sees what I buy cheaply and laments that I "brought the entire market home with me". But yes, I do have a hard time passing up a great bargain, and yesterday's shopping trips were no exception.

Here's my total shop from yesterday. Guess how much it cost?

The entire shop cost me $76.15!

If you break up the shop into produce and meat, all that produce (the vast majority of what is pictured) cost me only $30.70, and the meat cost me $45.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Frugal Girls Mini Vacation

I just got back from a great trip with my mom and two sisters, Violet and Lizzy. We moved abroad when my little sister Lizzy was only 6, and Violet and I moved out of the house right around then. We realized that we girls never really did trips together, and Violet had the idea to go on a hiking trip/mini vacation with the three girls and our mom, and we had an awesome time. 
It was frugal and fun and just hit the spot.

Violet wanted to go to this specific water hike that is very famous, and is a rite of passage, of sorts, for locals, as it something a large percent do growing up here, which we never did since we only came at a later stage.

We left yesterday afternoon, came back yesterday night. 

Entire cost of the trip? 

$25 per person plus groceries.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Nightshade Free Hot Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Delicious

I love my hot sauce. Whether tobasco or sriracha or any other type, being able to add a kick to my food easily is something I really enjoy. In a discussion with a friend of mine who is off of nightshades (the family that includes potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes), she noted how I use nightshades in most of my dishes. That confused me, as I avoid potatoes, eggplants, and peppers because they bother my stomach, and make many tomato free dishes. Then it hit me- hot sauce. I use it a lot. And it is made with hot peppers or hot pepper flakes.
It got me thinking- what if I could make a hot sauce that is nightshade free? Peppercorns are actually not in the nightshade family, so if I could make a hot sauce based on them instead of the usual hot peppers, we'd be in luck, and hopefully all those sensitive to nightshades would be able to finally have hot sauce. (People off nightshades are often told to add horseradish or mustard or fresh garlic or ginger to their food in place of hot sauce, but it is definitely not the same. They have very different tastes.
I set out to see if I could make a peppercorn based hot sauce, but first scoured the internet to see if I could find something like that already out there, but came up empty. So here it is. And it's darn good. I would say it rivals my homemade sriracha sauce in terms of taste. I highly highly recommend this recipe, and not just to people who can't use nightshades, but everyone. The one issue with it is the color not being as attractive as the bright red sriracha you see in the grocery store. Oh well.

While I used sweet potato in this recipe, if you're on the GAPS diet or another diet that forbids sweet potatoes, I am confident that it would work just as well with pumpkin, butternut squash, or carrots in place of the sweet potato. The purpose of the sweet potato is to add a mild sweetness that sriracha has, as well as thickening it, and any other orange veggie would work as well.

Nightshade Free Hot Sauce Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Delicious

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Reddit Ask Me Anything

Hi everyone! I just wanted to let you know that today I am doing an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, under the username PennilessFoodie! Anything you want to know about me, or anything you wanted to pick my brains about, that's where to do it! Just a reminder though- as I'm an anon blogger and don't give away my identity, location, or religion, if you do know any of those things about me, please keep them off your questions on reddit. Thanks, looking forward!

Here's the link to the reddit post. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My Latest Super Frugal Shopping Trip

It is no secret how much I enjoy shopping at the open air market. As a family who goes through a lot of produce, I hate paying supermarket prices for produce when I can get it all for a fraction of the price.

Because I regularly go to the open air market, I develop a relationship with many of the sellers, who get to know me as someone who loves a good bargain, and they offer me better bargains than they offer everyone else, sometimes.

This last time I went to the market was no exception.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

DIY Workbench and Tool Storage

To say that my husband has a lot of tools/building equipment would be an understatement. It is an enjoyable hobby of his, and fortunately it is a cost effective one. Building our own furniture and other things we need in the house, and in general doing our own fixing saves us money, in both the short and the long term. The problem is that when you have a lot of tools, it can be hard to keep track of them and find what you need when you need it.

To be able to store his tools more easily and make them easily accessible to him, my husband built this tool storage station of sorts, without spending a thing. We have a small apartment, as we divided a two floor home into two apartments, one to live in and one to rent out. We have "stairs that lead to nowhere", as the division between the two apartments was made by building a wall at the top of the stairs. We use the upper part of the stairs for storage, and my husband made use of the landing in the middle of the stairs, as a place to store his tools. (Eventually we would like to build a storage shed in our yard, either from scratch or prefabricated, and plan to move this work station there.) I like that his tools now have a place of their own, out of the way of our general living area so it doesn't take up valuable room in our small home, and out of the kids, meanwhile utilizing what otherwise would be wasted space, yet easy enough for my husband to use when he needs it.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Penniless Foodie in the Wild: Adaptable Recipes for Foragers and Frugalistas is Now Out!!!

Awesome news to share with y'all!!! My new cookbook, Penniless Foodie in the Wild,  Adaptable Recipes for Foragers and Frugalistas, is finally out and available on Amazon!

This has been a work in progress for months (or years, depending on how you look at it), and I'm really excited by it.

It's not a foraging ID book, but that is in the works. Its not even just for foragers- those with no interest in venturing out into the wild will also enjoy this food- it's just low cost good food that can be made with wild edibles or things from the grocery store.

Here's what the blurb at the back of the book says:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Russian Vinegret Recipe- Root Vegetable Salad

One time, not so long ago, I was at a friend's house and was offered some absolutely delicious salad, a Russian one called vinegret. In American English, and in many other languages, vinaigrette is a type of salad dressing based on vinegar, but Russian vinegret is actually the name of the salad, not just its dressing. There are so many different versions of vinegret, and I posted one a few years back with mayonnaise, but that day at my friend's house, discovered one even tastier and easier, made without mayo.

Last night I made a get together at my house, a belated house-warming party (I was going to do one in December, but we ended up getting sick, and since then, so many things came up that it got pushed off until last night), to show people my new home, and in general, just to have fun with friends and family. (I don't know if house-warming party is the right term for this, since according to Wikipedia gifts are the norm at house-warming parties, but gifts were totally not the point of this party.) I wanted to keep costs down but still serve lots of yummy food to everyone. I made this vinegret and it was enjoyed by all. It was quite easy to make, not to mention frugal, using all seasonal produce that can be purchased cheaply at this time of year.

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The layout of one of the tables at the party, vinegret in the back,. Also shown: sesame spaghetti, quinoa salad, veggie crudites, cabbage salad, lentil salad, tahini dip, beet and carrot salad with mint, and purchased gluten free crackers.

I have made vinegret a few times this way, and each time it tastes slightly different but just as delicious. I don't have an exact recipe, more a general guideline on how to make it, since the recipe is flexible and can be adjusted to taste.

Vinegret traditionally is a cold salad made with potatoes, beets, carrots, and cucumber pickles, but as I generally try to avoid white potatoes, I have made this with sweet potatoes and it is awesome. If I don't have cucumber pickles, I also just use plain cucumbers for this. You can add cooked (but not canned) peas to this as well- baby peas are my favorite, but as I can't usually get them very cheaply (and they aren't paleo) I tend to leave them out.
Apologies about the picture- when it is freshly made you can see the different colors in the dish more distinctly, but as it sits, the color of the beets start overtaking everything, and you get a dish with various shades of pink instead of the original magenta, orange, white, and green.

Russian Vinegret Recipe- Root Vegetable Salad

Monday, April 24, 2017

Getting Air Conditioners and Making a Cardboard Playhouse

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Yesterday, for the first time in our married lives, we got air conditioners for our home. Growing up, we actually never had air conditioners, but just used fans, and were totally fine. A year or two before we moved away from Northeast Ohio, my parents installed central air conditioning in our house to increase its market value.
Then we moved abroad, and again, no air conditioning.

This September, we'll have been married 11 years, and we've never had "real" air conditioning in our house. We started off using fans when necessary, and trying to avoid using fans when those weren't necessary, to keep down our electric bills. One summer we were just so miserably hot that we bought a portable second hand air conditioner for our bedroom (we were co-sleeping at the time, so it was for the entire family). It stood up on the floor, connected to one of the windows with a pipe, and worked... sort of. During times when the fan blowing on you simply felt like a car exhaust blowing on you, this portable air conditioning unit was a welcome relief even if it didn't actually make you comfortable, but it did a terrible job of actually cooling down the room. It just made it marginally better. And we didn't have any air conditioning in the living room/dining room/kitchen. The portable unit we had was barely strong enough for our small bedroom, let alone the bigger living room/dining room/kitchen. And the children's room was built in such a way that we couldn't put any air conditioning there.
So essentially, no AC in our place.
In the winter, we used blow heaters and radiators and halogen heaters...

Yesterday we finally bought real air conditioning units that double as heaters (I think they are called split system heat pumps). The same unit warms the place in the winter as cools it in the summer. It is supposed to be the most cost efficient way to heat your home here. When we designed the layout of our new home, we had them build it with preparations already there for the air conditioning units, so we wouldn't have a large expense to install them (places for pipes and electricity).
But we spent most of the winter here without those units, since I didn't get around to ordering and installing them.

Finally on a price comparison website I found some decent pricing for these AC units. One large one for the living room/dining room/kitchen, and one small one for my bedroom. The kids' room is right near the living room/dining room and should be able to be cooled or heated from the adjacent room, but if not, we may also put the portable AC unit in there. We also put an air conditioning unit in our rental unit's living room. (They brought and installed AC units from their old home into two of the bedrooms.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Chinese Style Corn Soup Recipe- Without Eggs

This past week has been a very busy one in my house, foraging so many different things, shopping a for frugal groceries, doing a lot of cooking from scratch, and even being filmed by a film student for a "day in the life of" documentary for her documentary making class.
With this film student, I went to the market and while there, got an insane amount of produce for very little. It was 55 lbs of produce for 20 dollars, and that included some great things, like dragon fruit, baby greens, fresh basil, lots of fruit, and a whole lot of ears of corn on the cob. I'm a big fan of corn on the cob, and was so excited about them, since I rarely see them for a price I like, so I don't buy it much.
Unfortunately, I didn't realize that my kids aren't big fans of corn on the cob (but enjoy it just fine off the cob), so after cooking up the lot for dinner, I had quite a bit left over.

I decided to whip up a batch of Chinese restaurant style corn soup, using that corn on the cob and chicken broth (made from my free chicken frames) as the base. I looked at a few different recipes for inspiration, but most had egg in it, which I don't eat, or used canned corn and creamed corn, or just seemed rather bland, so this recipe is entirely my own. If you don't have corn on the cob to use for this recipe, I'm sure it will work just as well with frozen corn or canned corn. Instead of grating the corn, put 1 cup of corn in the food processor instead of grating the two ears.
I used a large amount of ginger and black pepper to give it extra oomph, but feel free to use less ginger and leave out the pepper if you want less bold of a flavor.
While I haven't tried making this vegan, I am sure it would also work fine using vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.

Chinese Style Corn Soup Recipe- Without Eggs

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Making Your Own Vegetable Sprouter for Microgreens and Sprouts

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Many people are familiar with sprouts, such as bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts. Generally people purchase these at the grocery store, but it is quite simple to make them at home. (Though I've made mung bean sprouts many times and mine always turn out less sweet and crunchy than the store bought type, and with a bitterness missing in the store bought ones. My alfalfa sprouts come out perfectly.)

In my grocery store, they also sell various microgreens, especially sunflower seed and lentil microgreens, which is like sprouts, but continued a little past the sprouting stage. Microgreens are sprouts taken to the next level. Sprouts generally are eaten when just a sprout starts coming out of a seed, before there are any leaves, and the entire thing is eaten. Microgreens are sprouts that you let continue growing further, so the sprout turns into a root and a stalk, with little leaflets on them. They are packed with nutrients, much more so than a mature plant of the same variety. They are used in many fancy restaurant style/gourmet dishes, and the fact that I can make these myself for next to nothing gives me a thrill.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sweet and Spicy Carrot Medallions Recipe- Easy, Cheap, Paleo and Vegan

Sorry for not having posted so much lately, my husband has been on spring break from work, so we've been spending time as a family and less time on the computer and writing posts on my blog. I'm sorry about that!
So, what's new with me?
My husband has built so many cool things for our house- I posted about a couple of them already, have another few to show, and we're still working on some more projects. That has been really fun.

Since people here are also on spring break from school, I've been taking the opportunity to teach foraging classes when people are available, and that has been great! It's so nice to open people's eyes to new types of food, and help them see the wild edible plants all around them. Yesterday in one of my classes, I had a three year old enthralled by foraging, wanting to taste everything I showed them, and his excitement with the edible plant world reminded me so much of my little daughter, Rose, also three, and also in love with picking her own wild plants to eat (under my supervision, of course, but she's getting very good at identifying them).

My book is due to be released next week via the publisher, Passageway Press, on Amazon and more, and as the clock is ticking down anticipation is building. I've reviewed the final proofs and I think it's going to be really awesome, and can't wait to have a hard copy in my hands after all this time! When I saw the cover photo (not releasing it until the book is released) I was ready to squeal with excitement.

I've been watching a lot of cooking shows lately and getting really inspired by the various techniques I've seen them apply, and am trying to implement them in my kitchen, so that has been fun.

With all that going on, I've been alternating between cooking fancy meals, some with no recipes at all, just made up on the spot but ending up perfect, and some with recipes from this blog (like the musakhan I made the other day), and then some times I just want simple but good.

This carrot recipe has been my go-to carrot recipe lately, because as simple as it is, it is also delicious. My kids and I can finish a whole batch in about one meal. We love snacking on them hot or cold. They have the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and spicy, and our family finds them very addicting. As there have been requests for me to also share my simple recipes here, I decided to share this one with you guys.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Homemade Pallet Spice Rack- DIY Makeover

I wrote in a previous post how many spices I use, and how the little bitty spice racks I see them selling all over doesn't hold nearly enough spices for me, and the few I've seen that seem somewhat large enough are extremely over priced. I was overjoyed when my husband made me a homemade spice rack made entirely out of pallet wood. It was beautiful and rustic and perfect and held so many spices....

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Learning How to Cook Like a True Korean

A friend of mine, Hannah, is a foodie just as I am, and a reader of this blog. When she went to Korea for a business trip, I have to say, I was just the slightest bit envious, since going to Korea one day is a dream of mine, in part because of my fascination with Korean cuisine. Just yesterday while grocery shopping, I met a Korean expat currently living in the city nearest me, and I got so excited about meeting her, because someone else would appreciate my love of all things Korean. 
Hannah told me that while she was in Korea she got to experience a side of Korean cuisine that most tourists don't get to experience- Korean real, home cooking, not the touristy stuff or the foods geared towards restaurant clientele, but every day cooking. I asked Hannah to write up about her experience as a guest post, because it sounded fascinating..

A few weeks ago I had a business trip to Seoul, South Korea. I was excited about the prospect of traveling to a part of the world I had never been to before, meeting new people and seeing new places, but I wasn't too excited about the food. I know Korean food is supposed to be amazing, and I have seen many Korean recipes here on Penny's blog, but I didn't think I'd be able to try much for myself because of my strict dietary requirements. Oh well, I thought, I can enjoy travel even without the food.

 The first day, everything went as planned. Together with friends we went to a food market, the food looked amazing, and I found a stand that sold roasted sweet potatoes- but a different variety than the one I know. I enjoyed the treat, even having two.

But as the days went on my frustration mounted. Finally, on the day before last, I asked a friend of a friend who is Korean-American, living currently in Seoul, if she knew of anyone who could give me a private vegetarian cooking class. She immediately invited me to spend the evening with herself and her parents, and promised me a cooking class with her mom, using only ingredients I could eat. So I set out in the subway from the center of the city to a quiet suburb, as many people in this huge city of 20 million do every day.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Our New Upcycled Guest Bed -- Completely Free and Very Easy!

When we were first married we lived in a two bedroom apartment, one room for us and one for guests. Then we had our first child and while he started off in our room, by a certain point he ended up getting the second bedroom, and we lost our guest bedroom.
When we moved to our smaller apartment nearly 6 years ago, we still had two bedrooms, but one was teeny tiny, and it got filled with two children, my two boys, while my daughters slept in our room.
I enjoy having guests, and one of the hardest things for me about our extra small space was our inability to host anyone - at first we didn't even have a couch in our very small living room/dining room/kitchen.
We managed to find a couch that fit our extra small dimensions and bought an Ikea Solsta couch that opened up into a bed! We could have guests at last, even if it meant them sleeping in our living room. Only the bed that opened up was extremely uncomfortable- two thirds of it was padded but the last third was just wood covered in fabric, not something I'd offer to a guest. We had children over (nephew and niece) who were short enough to fit on the soft 2/3 of the couch bed, but no sleep over adult guests.

One of the things that excited me most about our new and much more spacious house was that it had three bedrooms, one which became my office, but also is intended to double as a guest room. However. while I wanted a guest room for so long, with so many expenses involved in moving and setting up a bigger household and all the new furniture we needed, a guest bedroom just wasn't a priority from a financial perspective. And so, despite our larger home, we still didn't have accommodations for guests.
We do have a spare mattress that was fitting under the triple bunk bed in my kids room, for when my daughters want to sleep in separate beds, and when my little sister Lizzy asked to spend the weekend, I set up that mattress in the guest bedroom, which was OK to sleep on, but honestly, wasn't the nicest accommodations so I wouldn't feel comfortable inviting anyone else to sleep over with the room looking like that.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Homemade Pallet Trash Can

My husband loves building out of pallet wood. I've already shown a couple of projects my husband made out of pallet wood (sometimes with my help, but more often than not without). He likes building out of pallet wood because it's free, easy to find, and you end up with a nice rustic look, of which my husband is fond.
Quite a few times in the past I came home and found my husband with a ready made project built from pallets, waiting for me.

The other day, I came home from teaching a foraging class and saw my husband's latest project- a trash can, or as my South African husband would say, rubbish bin, made from pallet wood. I hadn't known this, but for a long time our garbage can was irritating my husband, as he finds the standard plastic one to be quite ugly, and not space efficient at all. The fact that trash cans are generally either round or trapezoidal makes them leave empty space at the sides, so you can fill up the trash bags less and need to take the garbage out more often.
The covers for most garbage cans tend to be swinging ones, which often get dirtied when you throw in the trash, since even once you pick them up they swing back into place. And at least with our previous one, the hole in which you need to place the garage sometimes isn't big enough, which meant that often when trying to empty the dust pan into the trash can, it didn't fit, and some stuff spilled out onto the floor.

And so, this pallet trash can.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Foraging Wild Swiss Chard or Sea Beet in my Backyard!

I love Swiss chard but it's not so cheap to buy locally. I mean it's not a fortune but it's more than I'd like to pay for a leafy green. In my home growing up we grew Swiss chard in our garden and enjoyed it. When married and in our first home, the one with a garden and chickens, my mom gave me some Swiss chard to transplant into my yard and it grew wonderfully giving us a regular supply of yummy greens. But then we moved and the Swiss chard was no more as we has no yard.

Image my excitement when I found out that there is a wild Swiss chard relative, the ancestor of beets and chard, called sea beet, growing locally! It pretty much looks identical to store bought Swiss chard, only growing in the wild. Though native to the coasts of Europe, Northern Africa, and Southern Asia, it now grows in many other parts of the world. It's scientific name, beta vulgaris maritima, meaning common beet sea references the fact that it's originally a coastal plant.

Unfortunately though, while it grows in other parts of my country in large quantities, in my city, I guess because we're not near the sea, I've only ever seen it in two different places. One of those places is near my husband's work, in the part of the  city that is nearest to my town... and that same plant has been growing there for years. But just one plant. I would go back and pick some and then come another time to pick some more. But that was the only place I could forage it. I wouldn't even tell anyone about that plant because I was afraid that  someone else would get there first and there's be nothing for me... I thought of it as 'my Swiss chard plant'.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Vietnamese Scallion Oil Recipe -- Mo Hanh -- Easy, Paleo, Vegan, Allergy Friendly

There has been a request for some super simple recipes here, which is why I'll share this one, even though it seems quite silly to me to share something so simple. But as people said when I shared my fried banana post, even if its not something complicated, it may be something that others wouldn't have thought to do, so why not share?

Last night I wanted to make a Korean style dinner, because I had leftover Korean cucumber salad, and ready fermented wild mustard, carrot, and fennel kimchi (which came out awesomely, by the way), and a bunch of wild salsify greens that I wanted to cook up. I figured that to go with the theme, I'd make them Korean style (recipe/method to come soon).
For lunch I had been super lazy and just threw a batch of chicken wings into the oven to roast, not even salting or spicing it whatsoever, just 100% plain. Recently I'd read about a scallion oil garnish that sounded good, so I threw together my own batch and topped the plain chicken wings with that. It was divine, and completed the Korean theme!

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Or so I thought...

Because when I tried to go back and find that recipe on Maangchi.com, my go to source for delicious Korean recipes, I couldn't find it. And then remembered that I had originally seen it on VietWorldKitchen.com, My chicken wings were Vietnamese then, not Korean. Though, cooking Korean foods a lot, and being familiar with their various commonly used ingredients and many of their recipes, I wouldn't be surprised to find scallion oil in a Korean kitchen, albeit with a different name than Mo Hanh.

Mo Hanh might have specific recipes in some places, but this is more a general idea than an exact recipe, because proportions don't matter so much.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reese's Flavored Chia Pudding Recipe- Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Dessert- Vegan, Paleo Option

Recently we had a guest over from Namibia, which was really cool. For those that don't know (I didn't until she was at our house), Namibia used to be called South West Africa and gained independence from South Africa only in 1990, and is has a very large Afrikaaner population, the Dutch descent people who also comprise a significant percentage of South Africa's white population. My husband is part Afrikaaner (my mother in law's mother) and part English (mother in law's father) (along with Greek and Lithuanian from his father's side), so having over an Afrikaaner and getting to learn more about their culture and language and history was pretty awesome. South African English and Afrikaaners have some similarities in terms of culture and some things very different (and I see that my mother in law is an equal mix of English and Afrikaaner in terms of personality and culture), but one thing they have in common is similar eating habits.
Which brings me to this post.

I grew up with cakes and cookies and other baked goods being our standard desserts. Mandelbrodt was one of the most common, oatmeal raisin cookies and marble cake too, not to mention brownies. Ever since we've been married, though, my husband constantly tells me "Why serve something heavy like that at the end of the meal? You just ate something filling- dessert should be something light, like ice cream or pudding or jelly (the South African word for jello)!"
Well, sometimes I take what my husband says into consideration, and make his style desserts. Other times I stick to mine. My versions of desserts are usually more easily made with pantry staples and quickly, whereas the light desserts usually take more work or have ingredients that I don't always have in the house.
When I knew this Afrikaaner guest was coming, I decided to go with the South African accepted type of dessert- something light, but I didn't have much time available to prepare something, and my kitchen wasn't full of many of the ingredients I would usually use to make such desserts. I thought and thought about what type of dessert to make, and came up with this one.

Chia seeds are in the sage family, and have a special property that makes them absorb tremendous amounts of water and swell up. You can grind them up and use them as a vegan egg substitute as you would ground flax seeds, or you can let the seeds swell up and make desserts or drinks based on that, such as this chia kombucha drink, as long as you don't mind the gelatinous texture of soaked chia seeds.

I used chia seeds to make this quick no fuss pudding. It did need some time to sit to let the chia seeds fully absorb the liquid, but actual hands on time to make it was very minimal. And it used only ingredients I had in the house.
This makes quite a large batch- feel free to halve it or quarter it or whatever.

I used peanut butter, since that was what I had available, but any nut or seed butter can be used for this, whether walnut, almond, cashew, hazelnut, sunflower seed butter, or tahini etc.... You can even use coconut milk or rice milk or regular milk in this, but then it won't have that Reese's chocolate peanut buttery taste that you can get when combining the chocolate with other nut or seed butters.
What I like about this recipe is its versatility, that you can use whatever sweetener or nut butter you prefer or have in the house, so I could make mine cheaply and vegan and refined sugar free by using jaggery syrup, but you can make it paleo by using nut butter, and as cheap as possible by using white sugar if you don't try to avoid it.
I topped mine with dragon fruit that I got super cheaply at the market because it was from the reduced rack, and coconut cream, but you can top it with whatever fruit you have available, or leave out the fruit if you want.

Not only is it a wonderful dessert that went over well with my family and with my guests, leftovers also made a great breakfast.

Reese's Flavored Chia Pudding Recipe- Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Dessert- Vegan, Paleo Option

Sunday, March 26, 2017

No Shame, a Little Guts, and a Lot of Free Food

Today I went to the market to meet with my friend Juli, who was coming with her kids, and she wanted me to show her around the market. My fridge was already full from the last time I was there and got so much food for very little money, but I did need some fruit, because all I had was citrus fruit. So I went with the goal of getting other non citrus fruit, and if I found anything free, then why not...

In the end, in the above picture, I got all that for free. And yes, you've got that right- that isn't just produce.
In fact, I would say today was one of my better hauls of free stuff, lots of "high brow" foods- chicken, beef, and produce that is generally sold very expensively. Specifically I got an extremely large amount of chicken skin and chicken frames, chicken bones (from drumsticks), beef bones, a very large amount of cardoons, en entire box of pink lady apples, and a few clementines, a tomato, a pepper, and an eggplant.

People see/hear that I got all this for free, and I generally get one of a few reactions.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sesame Baked Sweet Potatoes Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free

A while ago I discovered how delicious the various orange vegetables (sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, etc...) taste with a sweet soy sauce based sauce. Koreans make a dish like this, where sweet potatoes or pumpkins are braised in a sweet soy sauce mixture (gogoma jorim is what it is called when made with sweet potatoes), and I've made it like that a few times. Out of this world delicious. But the problem with such dishes is you have to stand by the stove constantly to make sure it doesn't burn, and to make sure that the veggies are fully cooked before you run out of liquid. Additionally, because of the mixing to prevent burning, the produce, especially if using softer things like pumpkin, starts falling apart and becoming mushy.

Inspired by my love of Korean cooking, and my knowledge of various jorim type recipes, I decided to make this sesame baked sweet potato recipe, which works just as well with pumpkin, butternut squash, and carrots, though the cooking time may vary, and it tasted so delicious. Its hands off, and because of its cooking method, burning isn't as likely and the produce doesn't fall apart.
I was debating whether or not I should call this teriyaki sweet potatoes because the taste is very much like that as well.

If you can't eat sesame seeds, or otherwise don't have them, you can leave them and the sesame oil off- the taste will be different, but still delicious.

Sesame Baked Sweet Potatoes Recipe- Paleo, Vegan

Preserving More Produce

I truly feel blessed whenever I get my hands on free produce. The other day, once my fridge was already mostly filled after my last nearly free "grocery shopping" trip, I was gifted with even more produce, in very large amounts.

It was predominantly extra large sweet potatoes, celery, and carrots, with a smaller amount but still significant quantities of clementines, beets, and purple onions.

I did not have room in my fridge to store all of that produce, and fortunately it was mostly in very good condition, so it was great for fermented produce. (When I get my produce from the reduced rack, unfortunately, it usually is not good enough quality to be used for fermentation- it'll likely mold if I attempt to ferment it, so when I have good quality produce, I am extra tempted to ferment what I can.)

I chopped up some beets and am fermenting them into beet kvass. a probiotic beet based drink.

I am making fermented Moroccan style carrots using this recipe (only with no oil, since I've since learned that it is a bad idea for fermented), and then I pickled celery three different ways. Once was stalks in brine with homemade Cajun seasoning. I thought that might taste extra awesome since celery is a standard ingredient in Cajun dishes. I made one of celery leaves seasoned like kimchi, with ginger, garlic, and got pepper flakes, and the other was just super simple, in brine with caraway seeds.

I dehydrated a bunch of produce as well, and am still dehydrating more. Celery leaves got dehydrated, separately from celery stalks. I dehydrated both cubed sweet potatoes and sliced sweet potatoes, and will be making more dehydrated sweet potato chips. I dehydrated cubed carrots and also sliced purple onions, which I will then use as a spice, and also grind to make onion powder.

Lastly, I cleaned out my freezer and found room to store some things there as well. 
A reader sent me instructions on how to make Indian masala in bulk to freeze, and while I haven't gotten around to doing that yet, the instructions included tips on putting one cup of the sauce in a ziplock bag, and then flattening it and freezing it that way, allowing you to break off as much as needed to use, instead of needing to defrost the entire thing at once. That inspired me to saute up a bunch of the purple onions, and freeze them in bags, flat, so I can break off what I need each time to use that. 

I chopped up celery and carrots too, and froze them separately, and I also froze a few bags of celery and carrots already combined, to be used as a soup base.

I still plan on dehydrating more carrots and sweet potatoes, but essentially it'll be more of the same of what I already did.

It's nice that by preserving this produce, I am able to lengthen its life so that once my fridge is no longer packed to the gills, I'll still be able to have and enjoy this produce.

I love food preservation!

Have you done any food preservation lately? What was it?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fried Green Bananas or Plantains Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Easy and Delicious

Occasionally when I lived in the US as a kid, my mom would come home with plantains, and we'd make fried green plantains. They were soft and sweet and delicious, but locally plantains are a fortune, when I can even find them, so fried green plantains are out.
Fortunately, fried green bananas taste very similarly, and can be made very cheaply.
I tend to buy bananas from the reduced rack, because even in season, their price rarely seems to get down very low, and especially considering the fact that a large percentage of the banana gets thrown away, making it cost even more per pound than it would appear at first. Buying from the reduced rack allows me to pay as little as possible for bananas, and most of the time reduced rack bananas are brown, mushy, and overripe, which work amazingly in dessert recipes and either eliminate completely or drastically reduce the need for sweeteners in recipes.
Sometimes, though, the bananas I buy cheaply are green, and aren't just being sold at the regular price, left to ripen, because they got nicked or similar, and therefore they won't necessarily ripen completely. When this happens, that's almost better, because green bananas can be made in recipes that call for green plantains, such as fried green plantains or bananas.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Paleo Update, and Insane Foraging and Extreme Frugal Food Shopping

I feel like those reading my blog for a while think I'm so inconsistent, and terrible with follow through, because I can't count how many times I said I'd do something... and then fell off the bandwagon. But I think that's life, and especially when there are a lot of things going on, its hard to keep doing what you'd intended on doing, even more so when those things are challenging.

Why am I bringing that up? Because Paleo. It wasn't that long ago that I wrote about having been off Paleo and how it made me exhausted, and that's why I was going back on...  Guess what? I did go back on Paleo and I did have much more energy, but then in the last two months I've been so insanely busy with everything related to my book, and life in general, that I went back to shortcuts in food preparation, and despite it being a relatively healthy diet (not counting the junk I was eating... though that wasn't too frequent), it was heavy on non Paleo foods like rice and lentils. This past week I've been crazy exhausted beyond belief, falling asleep every night at 8 or 9 pm, crashing. That is not me, and the last time I felt that perpetually exhausted was when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with Anneliese and eating gluten since that was all I could keep down, so I knew something was not right. (No, not pregnant.) People were trying to tell me that it was just that I ran myself down, that I've been working so hard with everything book related that I have to give my body time to recover, but I knew it wasn't just that.
I knew it was diet.

And so, I decided that I would go back to Paleo. I have to. Not half-heartedly this time. It isn't worth it. I may think I'm saving time and energy and money by making only one meal for the entire family, a non Paleo but frugal meal, and eat that together with the family, but if that means that I end up being more exhausted and having much less energy and sleeping 4 more hours every night, that's not much of a time saver- I may be spending less time on food prep but I have fewer hours in my day available period, because I'm wasting my time sleeping. (And yes, sleeping is a waste in this situation, because its not that my body actually needs those hours of sleep, but rather that I'm hurting my body and making it need to recover.) I end up wasting more time because then I have fewer hours available in my day...  
Even from a frugality perspective it isn't worthwhile, also because I know I can make Paleo meals extremely frugally (I have a post on that coming up very soon, I hope), And with less energy, I can just do the bare basics to take care of my home and my family and can't find any energy to work to make money, so even financially these "money saving" things set me back.

Since Friday I've been strictly Paleo once more. Its a night and day difference in terms of energy. Instead of feeling like a sluggish sloth who wants to catch as many winks as possible, I feel bursting with energy even after doing supposedly physically taxing things, and even at times like now when I am running on only 4 hours of sleep. When I'm sharing my Paleo meals, people are asking me how I find the time and energy to make such meals, but what they don't get is... I really can't afford not to. Its an investment into my health and well being that is really, really worthwhile. 

A few things happen, though, that make me slip and not end up sticking to Paleo. One of those is when everyone has a treat or special food to eat, and I just have plain and boring foods. I decided that I wasn't going to set myself up for failure, and I'd make sure to be prepared. When I made my family sushi (a super easy cheater sushi-post on that up soon-since I made this on Friday, when I still was running low on energy since my new regime's effect hadn't had a chance to kick in yet) I made sure to make myself a Paleo approved sushi plate, so I wouldn't be tempted to cheat. I made my daughter a birthday cake, and was able to hold myself back from eating that because I made myself a Paleo crumble and a Paleo cheesecake, so I wouldn't feel like I was missing out. In short, I can't just make nice things for everyone else and then do nothing nice for myself, and then expect myself to hold strong and not cheat. Whole 30 diets talk against this type of thing exactly, but if anything, this, more than anything, makes the case why incorporating SWYPO foods is a good technique to make Paleo a lifestyle that is sustainable in the long run.

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Another thing that makes me fall back to non Paleo eating is when my fridge is mostly empty, or at least without a lot of variety, and I have no back up Paleo approved foods in the pantry and I'm hungry. I have energy to cook two sets of meals when I can let my creativity run free and know I'll come up with some terrific foods, but when I don't have many options with which to prepare food. I get uninspired and then non Paleo food, even plain white rice, seems so good and tempting. 

I knew, therefore, that the first order of business if I wanted to do this properly and stick with it is to make sure my house is filled with plenty of varied produce (and animal protein, but that's for another trip). So yesterday I decided to fill my fridge frugally, and take the time to nourish my soul as well. 

I went to the city to stock up on produce, with the goal being to eventually head over to the open air market. Before that, though, I went to a nature reserve in the city, walking distance from my bus into town, with the goal of foraging some unique and special veggies. In my town. I can forage, but I'm a little bored of what we have here right now, and I can't find as much variety or things close together, and I knew this nature reserve was special. There's a stream in it, which meant there was a chance to get some watercress (not any other natural body of water remotely near my house that I can get to easily), but even if not, I knew there would be plenty of great things there that I could use to fill my fridge.

I didn't leave disappointed. While I struck out on the watercress (I found a tiny amount, which I left to grow), for the first time in my life (despite looking so many times, and sporadically finding a few stalks), I managed to find a large amount of wild asparagus. I adore asparagus, but it costs so much money locally (a bunch this size costs around $10) that I can't bring myself to buy it. Finding that asparagus just made my day!

Our Urban Homestead's Kitchen Today

I feel like a real homesteader, you know, those farm wives that are all self sufficient and do everything themselves from raising their own food to transforming it to something that will feed their family for long periods of time, etc... all entirely from scratch. Though we don't live on a farm, what we have is definitely a little suburban homestead, and today I homesteaded to an extreme.

It started off this morning when I went in to the city to refill my pantry that was getting bare. I foraged a bunch and got some great things, and then after that, went to the farmers market and got a bunch more things very frugally. Details on that will be in tomorrow's post hopefully...

But ever since I got home, I've been non stop taking care of all the produce that I brought home.

I first cleared off my counters enough so I could take pictures of my haul on the counters, and then had to clean out the refrigerator to make room for everything in it that I brought home. I took out the stuff that, unfortunately, I let spoil. Other leftovers I combined to make supper for the family (leftover rice and leftover lentil soup, with the addition of some tomato paste, became rice with lentil sauce, and I served that with cabbage salad made from a cabbage about to go off). I found a Paleo meat dish and had that for my supper (more on me and paleo vs my family, hopefully in tomorrow's post as well.)

I then sorted out my fridge and put like with like, and then found room to fit everything in my fridge that I bought. Well, almost. I took out some produce from my fridge that needed to be cooked or otherwise it would go bad...

I had some beets, radishes, fennel, and hot peppers.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Making Your Home Gluten Free- Without Breaking the Bank: Beginner's Guide to Going Gluten Free- Part 2

Gluten free corn tortillas I made from scratch
When my friend Daniella's son was diagnosed with Celiac, I told her I'd help her transition her son to going gluten free, with a series of posts on my blog, and I did part one-  the Beginners Guide to Going Gluten Free: What is Gluten and How to Avoid It, which did a very thorough job of explaining that aspect, but part two, the part that actually tells people how to make the transition... never got written. However, now another friend's kid is most likely going to be diagnosed with Celiac, so what better time than to put out part two of this guide.

So, you or someone you love has been diagnosed with either Celiac or gluten sensitivity, or otherwise told to avoid gluten by a medical professional. Generally when someone is told something like that, it is scary and overwhelming and people don't know where to start. On top of that, these diagnoses are nearly always are not temporary (though some say gluten sensitivity can be reduced via certain gut healing diets, but Celiac is not one of them), so it isn't just a temporary change people have to make, but a change that will be for the rest of their lives.
Nearly anyone "in the know" will tell you that gluten free diets are much more expensive than gluten diets. People who tell you otherwise are not comparing like with like. A processed food filled diet that contains gluten will be much cheaper than a gluten free processed food filled diet. An all natural made from scratch gluten diet will be much more affordable than a from scratch gluten free diet. Those who say going gluten free saves money or doesn't cost any more are only accurate if you switch from a processed food filled gluten diet to a more frugal, made from scratch, gluten free diet, but that isn't a fair comparison. I know that when my family switched to a gluten free diet for our family of six, most of the extremely frugal things that I did in the kitchen became much more expensive. Yes, our family size grew, but that doesn't account for the nearly doubling of our grocery budget. Gluten free living is expensive.
People often go to health food stores or health food aisles to find their gluten free items, which typically mark up the prices of their gluten free items.

But, I'm here to tell you that while it is expensive, there are ways to make a gluten free life less expensive than it would be otherwise, and without needing to shop in overpriced places catering to those gluten free. However, I'll admit that much of this takes a lot more work. Life is a trade-off though. In life you can typically save money, or save time, but saving both at the same time is much more rare. (Though I do have a post coming up on how to save money while very short on time.)

How To Make Your Home Gluten Free -- Without Breaking The Bank

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