Monday, March 21, 2011

The Eventual Millionaire blog

After reading a short yahoo news article on how a family got rid of $70,000 of debt, I noticed that the lady had a website where she talks about things step by step.
The website didn't work, so I searched her name on blogspot and she's here. It is after all, free.
To check out how they did it, go to www.eventualmillionaire.blogspot.com
Have a frugal day!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Check this frugal website out

I found a good frugal website by accident. Go to www.simpletonsolutions.com
The newsletters are fun and it looks like the books may be good reads too, although I haven't checked them out from the library yet.
One title intrigued me: The Grocery Garden, How Busy People can grow Cheap Food.
I wonder if there's mention of herbs in there.
I'll check it out next month and let you know.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Final posts on herbs

Just in case I haven't gotten to what you'd like to know on herbs, here is the outline for the rest of the class I taught (and some things I learned that I didn't have time to teach):

  • Transplanting
  • Harvesting, Storing and Drying herbs
  • Lavender - the ultimate herb
  • Recipes to use Lavender (skin care, toner, moisturizer, sunburn help, ice cream, butter, tea, and ginger snaps.
  • Edible flowers - identification, do & don'ts, other tips
  • Recipes for Edible flowers
  • The long awaited Pesto recipe

Don't know when I'll get to all these, so I thought I'd let you know what is coming next.

Get outside and enjoy that sunshine!

Easy ways to try flavors

There are four easy ways to try out different herbs: butters or cream cheeses, potatoes, roasted chicken and salad dressings.

Herbal butter or cream cheese: Mix 1 T of finely chopped fresh herbs to 1/2 cup margarine, butter, cottage cheese, low fat yogurt or cream cheese. Let it set for at least an hour to blend the flavor; then taste test on a plain cracker or Melba round.

Roasted Potatoes: Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with olive oil. Cover the entire bottom of the skillet with a single layer of your chosen herb (sage, rosemary, dill or thyme are good). Sprinkle with sea salt. Place small halved new potatoes, cut side down, over the surface so the pan is crowded but there is only a single layer. Bake at 400-450 until the potatoes are done. The insides of the potatoes turn creamy and the herb fries crisp in the oil.

Use your favorite recipe for roasted chicken and try different herbs on different parts of the bird. When you eat the chicken, overlap some of the herbs in each mouthful to see what you like best for combinations. If you're not the experimental type, Rosemary & Sage work well with lemon.

Salad dressings are a wonderful place to try herbs out on an unsuspecting family. Buttermilk dressings need parsley, onion, garlic, dill - depending on your recipe.
There are many varieties of herb dressings at www.oldfashionedliving.com/hdressings.html
or go to your favorite cookbook - chances there are good recipes there too.

I know a great blog with recipes that use many herbs too. It's at www.pantryliving.blogspot.com
I love the way she shows photos and step by step instructions. Using fresh produce and good varieties of all sorts of foods makes this blog a must for anyone who likes to cook. Check out the following four recipes to use your herbs: falafel, lemon basil salad dressing (listed with the Ruth's Chris Chopped Salad), hearty lentil soup and chicken pesto.

Have fun. It's easy to search for things to do with your herbs.

You'll find these recipes - many of them - on the websites I listed in an earlier post.

I'm really not teasing you about this, but I will post my recipe for pesto VERY soon.

Basic Hints for Cooking with Herbs

Many people have one thing in mind if they grow herbs - cooking with them. Here are some tips when doing so:
  • Use sparingly to enhance flavors.
  • Use different parts of the herb in preparation - roots, stems, leaves, flowers - all have different uses.
  • Be careful in combining herbs- especially when experimenting. Some flavors do not belong together.
  • Recognize there is a distinctive taste with specific relationships to different foods.
  • Grind or chop fresh herbs right before using - this releases the flavor.
  • Use 3-4 times the amount of fresh herbs to replace dried or powdered herbs in the recipe.
  • Use a small amount of strong herbs until you are use to the flavor and how much you like.
  • Heat releases the flavors and aromas.
  • Extended cooking times reduces the flavoring of herbs, so add fresh herbs to soups and stews about 45 minutes before completing cooking time.
  • When using herbs for refrigerated foods (dips, cheese, veggies, dressings) add the fresh herbs several hours or overnight before using. The only exception to this is basil - putting it in overnight or longer will make your dish bitter.

Well-drained soil

When planting herbs, you'll often come to the phrase "well-drained soil."

You need to pay attention to the soil you'll be placing your herbs in - whether transplanting or placing seeds directly in the soil. Be sure that water moves through the soil easily rather than pooling up around the roots of the plants. Pay attention to your soil in wet conditions before you plant there. For example, see if it puddles after a hard rain or drenching. Add more compost and mix well at least 12 inches down and check again or don't plant there.

Websites on Herbs and their uses

Here are the websites that I gave to those who came to my class on herbs:
Basic info & newsletter: www.ann-mccormick.com/
Identification: www.herbies-herbs.com/pages/herbuses-4.html
Planting for Butterflies & Bees: www.ehow.com/how_2098987_plant-herbs-bees.html
http://botanical.com/site/column_susun/susun_growgarden.html
www.gardensablaze.com/BackyardHabitat/BackyardBees.html
www.tropicalpermaculture.com/growing-cilantro.html
Cooking: http://culinaryherbguide.com/usingherbsincooking.html
www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/ingredients-herbs/
www.lavenderfarms.net/hoodriverlander/HoodRiverLavenderRecipes.html
www.myhomeideas.com/outdoor-living/gardening/9-essential-herbs-10000001037512/
www.eatingwell.com/recipes/cream_of_mushroom_barley_soup.html

There's a lot to see on these pages.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Many sources; Be wise

I hope you noticed that I listed three different websites to check out the benefits of the three herbs I handed out in my class. These three sites will give you a lot of information on many different herbs.
Of course, there's no end to information on the web, but it's nice to have someone else narrow things down for you sometimes.
I would caution anyone looking for relief from medical difficulties. Consult your doctor if you have a headache or pain or anything else that doesn't go away in a few days.
Herbal remedies are wonderful and I use some of them, but they do not take the place of medical advice.
Don't forget that herbal remedies can interfere or block over the counter or prescribed medicines you are also taking. Talk to your pharmacist to see if there are any complications that may arise if you decide to take, for example, an herbal tea with your arthritis medication.
Make wise decisions - someone is counting on you to do your best to take care of yourself.

Delicious Dill

Wow! This herb has everything. This is the third herb I'm highlighting because it's the last of the three I gave away. Now don't you wish you had been in my class? :)
Dill, just like Cilantro, gives you different benefits from its leaves and seeds. Rich in dietary fibers and eugenol, it helps to control cholesterol and diabetes. The essential oil eugenol has been used "as a local anti-septic." Dill oil (made from the seeds) has been used as a disinfectant and sedative. Full of Vitamin C and A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, beta-carotene, copper, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium - you can almost throw away your multi-vitamin pills if you start using dill in your diet regularly. One thing we do to keep it as a regular part of our diet is to always put it in our scrambled eggs. We use about 1 1/2 tsp of dill with 6 eggs, 1/4 c. milk, salt & pepper.
See www.nutrition-and-you.com/dill-weed.html for more info. It shows you just how much of each vitamin and mineral (daily percentage) when you add dill to your diet. For example, 100 grams of dill gives you 257% of your needed Vitamin A.

Benefits of Basil

The second plant I gave out yesterday is sweet basil. Over the years I have planted many types of basil. I particularly like opal basil which gives a lovely purple color to Alfredo sauce. I've never grown enough to use it in my pesto, but basil a favorite ingredient for pesto. The health benefits of basil are HUGE. It is rich in flavanoids and is effective in preventing cell damage from both radiation and oxygen. It also inhibits bacterial growth - including making your salads safer to eat when you add basil to your salad dressing. Basil also has anti-inflammatory properties - good for those with arthritis. Vitamin K, iron, calcium, Vitamin A, manganese, magnesium, Vitamin C, and potassium are some of the vitamins and minerals found in this super herb. "It is good for the heart, because it helps to prevent building up in the arteries and fights free radicals. The magnesium helps blood vessels to relax which increases blood circulation."
Check it out at www.indepthinfo.com/basil/health.shtml
And you thought you just got a pot of dirt with a few seedlings.
Enjoy!

Cilantro and Coriander

Did you know that Cilantro and Coriander all come from the same plant? Cilantro is the leaf portion and Coriander are the seeds. Cilantro is also called Chinese parsley. Check out more information at www.tropicalpermaculture.com/growing-cilantro.html
Cilantro is an annual herb. You can collect the seeds at the end of the season and keep them for next year. This makes growing an annual herb much less expensive.
Cilantro is most commonly used in Mexican dishes. There are many benefits from using this herb. You can check out all thirteen listed at www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/13-health-benefits-of-coriander-seeds-and-cilantro-leaves.html
Three benefits listed are: good source of iron, protects against salmonella bacteria, and is an anti-inflammatory that many alleviate symptoms of arthritis.
This herb is one of three herbs that I handed out in a pot to those who came to my class this weekend. The seedlings are still small; probably too small to tell which is which. Wait for another week and you'll be able to tell which is which.

Planting for Bees and Butterflies

Even if you never pick or use any of your herbs, if you have garden crops that need pollination (zucchini, squash, pumpkins, cantaloupe, etc.), you'll benefit from planting certain kinds of herbs. Bees will be attracted to your garden. Did I see you squirm a bit? Really, bees are great to have around. With real honey bees around, you'll have less wasps. Bees don't sting you unless you act really aggressively towards them OR if you look and smell like a flower. While you and your children are outside, try not to smell too much like a flower (perfume, strong soaps, bubble bath) and don't wear bright colors. That will help.

Go to these websites for some good ideas:
http://www.ask.com/web?q=what+plants+attract+butterflies&askid=9997e180-c456-4167-8759-d7cf1acc78f3-0-us_gsb&kv=sdb&gc=0&dqi=&qsrc=999&o=2469&l=dir

http://www.ask.com/web?q=Flowers+That+Attract+Bees&o=2469&l=dir&qsrc=466

http://botanical.com/site/column_susun/susun_growgarden.html

There are some underscores in there that are hard to see, so copy and paste it to get to the right address.

I can tell you right now the wonderful varieties that have brought bees into my garden (and we love them for the great cantaloupe we get every year): Basil, Lemon Balm, Dill, Lavender, Parsley, Thyme, Sage and Mint.
Other varieties suggested are: Bee Balm, Catnip, Cornflower, Echinacea, Goldenrod, Horehound, Hyssop, and Feverfew. I don't know much about these herbs and what climates they like. I guess I have some more to learn.

Another way to attract the bees is to keep them interested and add a few annual herbs each year. By mixing it up, you in essence are adding to your restaurant's desert menu. Regular customers like that.

A third component is to keep a variety of herbs that bloom all season. That keeps the bees coming longer. There are many varieties of bees. Some like certain herbs and others like different ones.

If you plant mint, you MUST put it in a CONTAINER. Do not let that mint get roots in your regular garden area, or you might as well become a mint farmer and throw out all of the rest of your plants. It's much worse than thinking you should plant that whole package of zucchini seeds.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Herbs that work in my Garden

Over the years, I've changed my herb garden around quite a bit. There are, however, some favorites for me. These are tried and true. Perhaps some of these will be easy for you too. The #1 best, easiest and prettiest herb I've ever used is sage. I've got three varieties of it at the moment, but have used all of these varieties successfully - Broad leaf Sage, Golden Sage, Clary Sage (green), Purple Sage, and Tricolor Sage. Another favorite is Oregano. It can be used in so many dishes. I especially like it in my recipe for Pesto. I'll share that later. Garlic Chives, English Thyme and French Lavender are other staples. Parsley and Garlic are very useful too, although they take a little more effort than the perennials.
The annual herbs I love are cilantro, purple (opal) basil, dill, and summer savory. The summer savory grows best when placed to the west of an established plant so it doesn't get the harsh sun. All of these annual herbs have the best chance if they are started 8 weeks early inside (mid-March).

Herbs 101 part 3

Basic Requirements for growing Herbs:
Most herbs prefer well-drained soil.
Although many herbs like a lot more, they need at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight.
A good balanced fertilizer is fine.
Some can tolerate dry conditions and poor soils once they are established.
They are great companions to flowers and shrubs (depending of course on how much sun they get).
For harder soils, mix in 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 natural soil, and 1/3 manure. Mix it well and then plant.
If you notice the plants are getting too much sun, add mulch around the established plants (at least 4" high). This will decrease the water evaporation and get your plants looking much better.

Herbs 101 part 2

Getting started is always the hardest part. Once you're into a project like growing herbs, I think it's rewarding and fulfilling - even if the only thing you do is look at and smell them.
Decide on where you want to plant your herbs. Go to a local nursery and look at what is available. Many times, good nurseries will only have plants that will actually grow in your climate. Imagine that. I know, weird.
Start with some basics like Oregano, Lavender, Chives, Parsley, Sage, Basil, Thyme, Mint, Garlic. Think about what you'll actually use in cooking. Don't do more than 2 annual and 4 perennial to start with. Once you've decided on what to plant, look at how tall it will be and organize your space accordingly. You'll want the taller plants at the back so they don't shade other smaller herbs.
One warning - beware of anything in the mint family (catnip included) - it will SPREAD and takeover. The easiest thing to do with these is to keep them in a pot - even if that pot sits in the middle of your herb garden outside (mine does). This will keep those roots from going crazy on you.
Okay - you've chosen your spot, your plants and your line-up. Now, you'll want to be sure the soil is ready for your seeds or plants. See the next section (part 3) for basic growing requirements.

Herb Websites I Like

Two great websites I've found on herbs are:
www.culinaryherbguide.com and www.ann-mccormick.com/
The first gives you great descriptions of herbs and basic info on how to use them. The second is the home page for a lady in Texas who loves herbs and calls herself "the Herb 'n Cowgirl" - quite clever, I think. She's got books out, does a monthly e-mail newsletter (to which I subscribe), and is quite active in radio spots and newspaper columns, etc. I love her personality and no-nonsense attitude. Enjoy checking these out!

Herbs 101 part 1

I've been asked to teach an herb class this weekend and so you have the benefit of getting all of the information right here too.
First of all, herbs fit right into the frugal friend category since adding herbs from your own garden is much more economical than going to the store and buying them. There are a handful of herbs that are used in many dishes we make.
Some of the herbs are annual (they last for the season and then don't come back) and others are perennial (keep coming back over and over). There are even a few that are biannual (last two years) - like parsley.
Even the annual herbs can be quite affordable, however. All you need to do is learn how to let the plant "go to seed" at the end of its life and then collect and preserve the seeds to be planted again in the spring.
The beauty of herbs is that you can have an herb garden practically anywhere that gets at least a little sun. if you don't have room in a garden, you can put them in pots and keep them on a balcony, porch, or inside.
Have I convinced you yet to get herbbie?

Find all your Frugal Friends info right here now!




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