Free E-books of the week-1

Who doesn’t like free? Here’s this week’s picks for free e-books.

Christian Romance

Daughter Brides Culdee Creek

Historical Romance novels praised by Lori Copeland and Robin Lee Hatcher

Child of the Mist

The 1st book in a Highland Trilogy of love. I personally enjoyed it!

From A Distance

Another great read!

Gardening
How to Grow Your Own Potatoes!

Potato Gardening for Complete Idiots

Cookbooks

The Whitehouse Cookbook (1887) Cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner-Giving, Table Etiquette, Care of the Sick, Health Suggestions, Facts … Cyclopedia of Information for the Home

Hope you enjoy!

Sweet and Spicy Irish Sauce

My husband and I love going to this Irish (chain) restaurant near us. The food is fantastic!

However the price, not so much in our budget. When

you are trying to save money it’s important to make it as painless as possible.

One of my favorite tips is to find/ create copy cat recipes, serve them on our best dishes or outside for an al fresco meal.

Small touches like that, flowers (that you’ve picked!), or candles can make a huge difference!

So here’s is a favorite of ours, serve over grilled, baked, or fried chicken.

Sweet and Spicy Irish Sauce

1 stick of butter

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2.5 Tb honey

.5- 1 Tb green Tabasco sauce * the amount depends on how spicy you want it!

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1. Melt the butter on medium heat. When completely melted add the rest of ingredients. Whisk to incorporate. Turn on low and simmer until ready to pour on cooked chicken.

Enjoy!

This post participates in:

Prairie Homestead Barn Hop
Morristribe Blog Hop
Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
Pennywise Platter

$$$ saving tips

Ok, so by now there are about a million posts out in the blogosphere about how to save money at the grocery store.

Yeah. This is not one of those posts…

If you aren’t open to thinking outside the concrete maze. Or the card board box.

This post probably isn’t for you….then again, maybe it should be.

By now you’re extreme couponed to death. I know the grocery stores are!

Ha! My local grocery store is now putting limitations on coupons.

I guess they got tired of owing people money! ROFL

And it’s not new news that you can purchase meat on clearance that needs to be frozen,

same with veggies and fruit. Yes, even those bananas that are turning brown.

Throw them in the freezer (peeled, wrapped, and then sealed in your vehicle of choice)

Then when you want a smoothie, throw that bad boy in there! No need for ice or really

sweetener for that matter. It defies logic, but for some reason bananas are sweeter when frozen!

Any who, back to what I was saying…. this is not one of those posts.

Here’s my tips:

1. Become a farmer. Uh, well maybe not really. But I venture to guess that most people have a window that gets some sunlight. A few small pots and some seeds can get you started. Oh and don’t forget the water! Depending on space and sunlight there are a variety of things that you can grow. If you don’t have a ton of space, but are very excited to get started check out pinterest. There are a lot of great ideas to maximize space to grow food indoors.  Say what? You’ve never grown anything before? Not even in elementary school for earth day? Oh well. Start with something simple, say a herb or even lettuce. I highly recommend butter crunch for lettuce, oregano, or thyme for herbs. I’ve killed a lot of stuff over the years and those seemed to have held up well despite the blunders that I have made while learning. This coming from the girl who grew up in a family where a vegetable garden was the norm. If I wanted a snack, I went out back for berries, or to the front yard for apples. Yeah. I still killed stuff despite my “experience”. Enough about me, back to you. The nice things about the butter crunch lettuce is that if you leave say an inch on the plant when you cut it, it’ll grow more. But keep up on cutting it so that it doesn’t go to seed.

What does go to seed mean? Basically the plants at the end of its life cycle and is going to “reproduce” by providing more seeds. It’ll send up a tall(ish) shoot (on lettuce) and flower. The flower thing is the same for herbs btw. You don’t want to eat it once it has done that, tastes very bitter. blech! Even if you can’t use it right away, don’t throw it away! Give it to someone else 🙂 Which leads to…

2.  Be a good steward. All right, I’ve got the first point down pat. Don’t believe me? Scroll back up! That pic at the beginning was all produce that I grew! But back to reality. I may grow all that stuff, but I’m not necessarily a good steward of it. So according to some article on Yahoo!, yes Yahoo! Americans are terrible about throwing their food away. This is where I. AM. GUILTY! Sigh. Ever since reading that article I have been *trying* to do better. Hold on a minute…….

Sorry ’bout that! Thinking about that article reminded me I picked a bunch of basil today to make/ freeze pesto. Had to take care of it before I needed to toss it 😉

Try to be very deliberate about what you purchase or grow. Make sure it is something that you will eat quickly or stores well. Found the deal of the century on onions? Chop those suckers up (don’t cry on me now!) and portion it out to freeze. Veggies looking like they are almost on their last leg? Don’t look at me all crazy.  You know what I mean, those ones that were hiding in the back of the fridge that you forgot about 😉 Don’t throw them out, make a soup! Bought chicken breasts in a pack of 5 but there are only 4 in your family? Cook them all and immediately put up the largest. Sweet mother of pearl, I have been able to take 1  large chicken breast  and turned it into shredded chicken tacos for my entire family too many times to count! Actually it’s one of my family’s favorite meals 🙂

3. Prep not plan. I know the big push is to meal plan. Sorry not going to happen. At least not for me, I’m not a meal planner. I may be a sahm, but I’ve got 3 little kids and I home school the oldest. Anyone that has had children knows stuff comes up. It’s getting close to dinner time, I’ve started getting things together. Then WAAAAHHHHH! Little fruit decides it’s milky time, and she likes milky time. It takes her a while, not because she’s a slow eater, but because she eats so much! Or middle fruit didn’t tell me he needed to go potty, so now he needs to be changed. Big fruit decides to pick a fight with middle fruit. Screaming and yelling then ensues. I have to put down a now crying little fruit (who wants her milky back) to stop the argument between big and middle fruit, before there is blood…er juice.

You get the picture, life happens. You just gotta learn to roll with it. In a matter of minutes or hours your meal plan goes flying out the window because something happens. Keeping a well stocked pantry and freezer can help with that. Buying items that use frequently in bulk can help with this. Some other good ideas is to have pre-cooked rice or beans in your freezer. It’s much cheaper for you to buy these dry and cook them yourself, then freeze. Although if you are not one of those people, you by all means can buy the rice that way in the freezer section and can beans. Keeping items on hand that you can quickly throw together with the few spare minutes you have is key. Go through the recipes you have under your belt. Which ones do you make well? Which ones take the least amount of time? Make sure you keep the ingredients always in stock at your home. Try to do any prep work that might save you time, i.e. frozen chopped onions, cooked rice, etc.

The last and quickest way to keep from picking up the phone for pizza, is to make sure you have completely cooked meals in your freezer. Making chili this week? Double the recipe and freeze it. Grilling chicken? Well you get the idea. In a pinch I have been known to fall back on scrambled eggs, pb&j, or pasta. I try not to make a habit of it, so when it does happen I refuse to feel guilty.

4. Get out of that concrete maze! Farmer’s markets are a great resource. 1st of all, the longer a fruit or veggie sits before it gets to you, the less nutrition and flavor it has. Local farmer’s market (not all but most) consist of produce that was grown near you. Most of which was probably picked that morning or the day before. You may discover you have a love of carrots. I’ll never forget the day I served big fruit a raw carrot from our garden. She thought it was cooked because she hates raw carrots. This carrot was good! So it had to be cooked! It took a while to convince her that it wasn’t. Her question…why don’t all carrots taste like this? Good point! There’s the obvious: different varieties of carrots. However nothing beats a carrot just pulled from the ground or a tomato just plucked from the vine. The flavor is incredible! My hubby hates apples bought from the store. He claims that they must suck all the flavor out of them before they hit the store. Why and how the stores does this he doesn’t know, but he wants his apples from the local orchards. Which means eating seasonally, that also helps lower costs. Do you realize that the tomato you bought in Decemeber doesn’t grow here in winter? It had to be shipped (typically) from another country. Before it was ready to be picked? Also that because it isn’t local that is why it is so expensive?

Another benefit of farmer’s markets? The people and the wealth of knowledge. Don’t know what to do with those little ity bity green cabbage like things called brussel sprouts? Chances are the farmer can give you several good recipes to try. After all they more than likely eat what they grow! See an unusual fruit or veggie? Farmers love to share that kind of thing. If it’s something that can be eaten raw, they may even give you a small one to try right there. At the end of the day markets will start marking down their produce. Typically stuff that they don’t think will sell well the next day. You can save a lot of money this way! Now please note not all markets allow their sellers to do this, why I don’t know. So try to contact whomever is in charge of organizing it before you go. I’d hate to see you get your hopes up for nothing.

5. Go directly to the source. So by now you are (hopefully) getting excited about checking out your local farmers market. Your taste buds are tingling in anticipation that they will finally know what foods are supposed to taste like! How about taking it a step further….go to the source. If you have a deep freezer, or have room for one (space and budget wise) you may want to consider this. While your mouth is doing a happy dance over all the new produce, there is another world waiting for it to discover! Do your research, get to know the farmers. Some of them also offer meat and dairy products. While I haven’t found the dairy products cheaper, the meat can be. This is where your deep freeze comes in handy.

Wow! A lot of beef huh? To be precise it’s a 1/4 of a cow. Which will keep my family well fed for the year. How much does it cost? Well there are a lot of factors that figure into that. Location, conventional vs. organic, grass-fed vs. grain fed etc. This beef is organic and grass-fed. So it’ll be more $$ but it still beats buying organic grass-fed from the store. Where I live 1/lb of this ground beef would go for $6. I got every cut for $4/lb, every cut (yes that includes sirloin, new york strip, and filet mignon). So with that kind of savings on organic grass-fed you can imagine the kind of savings for conventional, since it’s always costs less. 1/4 cow too much of an investment? Find someone to go in with you to split the beef and the cost.  Just please, please research the source if you decide to go this route.

Don’t know where to start? Check out www.localharvest.org

More tips coming soon! What are some ways that your family tries to save?

Apple-Cranberry Walnut Salad

This almost didn’t make the post as my son kept trying to steal it off the plate 🙂

Last year a friend came over with this salad.

It was wonderfully simple and I had to re-create it! Then one day I

was completely out of an ingredient, so I made a substitution. My family loved

it even more! And so I continue to make it this way. As always, I am itching to

revamp it again, but here is take 1 🙂

Apple-Cranberry Walnut Salad

3– 4 large apples

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 Tb honey

1. Remove core of the apples and then slice them up.

2. Place apple, cranberries, walnuts in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the mixture and toss.

3. Add cinnamon and toss again. Finally add the honey and toss 1 last time 🙂

See, Easy Peasy! You want to make sure to add the lemon, cinnamon, and honey

in the order. That allows the lemon juice to adhere to the apples to prevent browning.

If you add the honey before the cinnamon, then the cinnamon tends to get clumpy.

By any chance you have leftovers of this wonderful dish (which unless I hoard it, never happens)

it is wonderful served in oatmeal the next morning for breakfast! I have also been

tinkering with the idea of serving it warm over pancakes (yum!)

This post participates in the following:

 Morristribe-Homesteader-Blog-Carnival
Prairie Homestead Barn Hop
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter

Cucumber Salad with Dilly Ranch Dressing

Please forgive my pictures. Sometimes in life you just have to go with what you’ve got!

I love cucumbers, which is a good thing since I have an over-abundance of them in my garden 🙂

This is a little somethin’ somethin’ that I threw together at the last-minute, and it was a hit!

My dd who claims she hates cucumbers, couldn’t get enough!

Cucumber Salad 

2 4 in cucumbers peeled

1 Tb red onion diced

2 Tb (approx.) Dilly Ranch Dressing- recipe below

1. Roughly chop the cucumbers in a medium dice. Place the onion and cucumber in a bowl and toss.

2. Add enough dressing to coat cucumber/ onion mixture. Serve immediately or chill covered in the fridge until ready to eat.

I hope you enjoy this simple creamy goodness!

Dilly Ranch Dressing

1.5 Tb of mayonnaise (preferably homemade)

4 Tb of  creme fraiche

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1/2 tsp of dried dill weed

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

fresh cracked pepper

1/8 tsp of cumin

1. Combine all ingredients, taste and adjust salt/ pepper to your preference. Use right away or chill in the fridge (covered) until ready to use.