Category Archives: Frugal Living

A Powerhouse, Nutrient Rich Carrot Soup

Hello Lovelies,

With Fall in full swing and temperatures dropping fast, we have embarked upon…Soup Season! Yummy, delicious, warming, thick, creamy, good for the soul soups.  I had numerous carrots in the fridge that needed to be used and I already have plenty of canned chunky carrots.  I canned 11 lbs last year and truly do not need anymore.  With all of the homemade broth we make, carrots are still a staple on our grocery list.  Even with all of the planning in the world, somehow we always end up with something leftover, something missed, or something forgotten. Seeming there was a good bunch of carrots left and I was getting the itch for some soup, what better way to use them up than putting the two together.  I did can this recipe for use throughout the winter season and got about 5 pints and 1 half pint plus our dinner.  This recipe is absolutely delicious!

You will need:

  • A bunch of washed carrots with skins on, chopped in chunks
  • Water
  • A small bunch of celery
  • A few garlic gloves minced
  • 1 Large diced onion
  • Butter
  • Chicken bouillion
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Stick blender or regular blender

Wash the carrots thoroughly and keep the skins on.  In the skin there are an enormous amount of good vitamins and medicinal properties, so we don’t want to throw that way. Dice the carrots into chunks. This soup simmers for about 30-40 minutes so thicker chunks are perfectly fine as you will puree them later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large pot, combine carrots and water as well as the rest of your ingredients.  Spices and herbs are purely on personal taste and I rarely use measurements.  Be sure to taste as you go and remember that the taste will change as the soup simmers.  Flavors will develop and mingle creating a very nice rich, slightly spicy flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

The herbs and spices within this soup were chosen on purpose.  Fall and Winter seasons come with nasty colds and the dreaded flu.  By using certain herbs and spices, you can create a powerhouse soup that has many health benefits further aiding your symptoms.

  • Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Red pepper flakes are full of capsaicin and have strong analgesic, and pain-relieving qualities and is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Garlic can combat the common cold and boosts the immune system.  It is very rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.
  • Ginger is very good for helping with nausea, reducing muscle pain and soreness, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Carrot is full of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, vitamin B8, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese.
  • Rosemary can aid in bad breath, stimulates blood flow, anti-inflammatory, and is slightly diuretic.

Much of this information is available online and is much more in depth.  I’m not a healthcare professional, but in our homestead we do use foods for their benefit. Always, as with anything, do your own research.

After your soup has simmered, let it cool.  It was still warm to the touch when it was pureed because we use a stick blender.  If you are using a glass blender, please let it cool down completely.  Blending hot food can pop the top of the blender and you will get a nice carrot facial.  Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Some add milk or cream, but it truly isn’t needed because this soup is very creamy on its own.  Milk or any dairy causes phlegm and mucus and defeats the purpose of this soup.  If you choose to can this soup, process at for 20 minutes for pints with a pressure canner.

Total Cost: A bag of carrots $.99 plus pantry staples for a small batch.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!!

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How to Make a Chaste Berry Tincture

Hello Lovelies,

DISCLAIMER:  I have a few male readers, so if you are male, this post isn’t for you.  Sorry guys 😉

Often times women have female issues, whether it be balancing, or even some support.   In researching, I have found the amazing Chaste Berry.  It is said to be great for PMS, PMDD, PCOS, and numerous other ailments and symptoms.  Chase Berry goes by a few names, but one common name is Vitex, which is popular among those trying to conceive.  I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional, so please do some research before trying. In my case, I bought the Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine which you can find on Amazon. It is a fantastic book and very informative!

Per the American Family Physician website at www.aafp.org,  Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus), or monk’s pepper, is the fruit of the chaste tree. It is native to western Asia and southwestern Europe, and is now common in the southeastern United States.  It has been used for more than 2,500 years to treat a variety of conditions. In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, it was used for many gynecologic conditions.

With our homesteading venture, we have made many changes to how we live and heal ourselves.  People often tackle a few changes but are those changes really worth the trouble if you only change a few things?  It is like exercising everyday expecting big results and not changing your diet.  It is counter intuitive. Recently, we have made the decision to add Herbalism to our skill set.  An act of producing your own medicine for common ailments such as colds, flu, burns, and wounds to name a few.

Out of all of the ways to use Chaste Berry, I chose to make a tincture.  An herbal extract of the berry.  Chaste Berry tinctures do not work overnight.  They must be taken over a period of time.  A tincture is an alcoholic infusion which extracts medicinal properties of plants, herbs, roots, berries, and flowers, basically the entire plant. Any part of that plant can be used and may be used for different uses.

Here is what you will need:

  • Glass pint jar with a lid
  • Whole Organic Dried Chaste Berry
  • 90 or 100 Proof Vodka (some use Brandy)

With a mortar and pestal, grind the berries coarsely to expose as much surface area as you can.  This makes sure that all of the goodness of the berry is extracted. Fill the jar half way with the berries and fill the jar up with Vodka.  As it sits, you may have to top off with more Vodka because the berries will reconstitute and absorb the alcohol.

 

Shake well and store in a cool, dark place upside down. Let sit for 2-3 weeks, then strain the berries.  Put the berries in a food processor and puree them.  This ensures that you are getting every possible property out of the berry.  Add back in your jar and let sit for another 2-3 weeks.  Then strain and compost the berries.  For my own purposes, I use 1 tbs twice a day in the morning and at night.

Herbs, berries, and roots can be found at the Bulk Herb Store or any natural health store.  I am not sponsored in any way, this is where I got a lot of the herbs and berries that we use. In natural food stores, I found they were kept over by the bulk spice section and not within the supplement section.

Total Cost:  Estimated $6.25

For the books I have purchased and the many methods of herbal extraction please visit the Herbalism Page.

Quick, Cheap, & Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

Hello Lovelies,

Tonight, I wanted something different.  And by different I mean something Babydoll won’t eat.  He is very anti mushrooms and well…I love them!  I had some large caps that needed to be eaten so I decided on the fly to make stuffed mushrooms.  They were absolutely delish! You can use whatever ingredients you wish.  This dish is completely versatile so use what you have and improvise!

You Will Need:

-2 good size Portobello mushroom caps

-1/4 cup chive cream cheese

-2 tbsp Parmesan cheese

-1 tsp minced garlic

-1 piece of toasted bread (in my case leftover grilled burger buns)

-1 tsp butter

-Seasonings to taste (I used thyme and rosemary)

-Salt and pepper

In a small pan, drizzle a little olive oil.  Saute herbs and garlic until browned lightly.  Add a small pat of butter with a splash of water and scrape the bottom of the pan getting all those herbs to release their oils.  Add toasted bread in small pieces and stir until all the oil and butter is soaked in the bread mixture.  Lastly, dice the stems of the mushrooms and cook for a minute or two.  I waste nothing so I add stems.  It is good flavor! 

In a baking dish, spray with PAM or coat with oil so the mushrooms do not stick.  Fill each cap with your bread mixture and spread evenly.  

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and Parmesan. Mix to combine.  Spread cheese mixture over the bread mixture and top with a sprinkle of more Parmesan.

Be sure to put a splash of water on the bottom of the baking dish so the mushrooms become tender. Cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

This was so yummy and took less than 25 minutes to make.  It is great way to use what’s left in the fridge and play with different flavors.  I have a lot of freshly dehydrated herbs from my garden, so I used rosemary and thyme.  You can mix up different herbs and use different flavored cream cheeses to make a unique variation of stuffed mushrooms every time.  My caps were rather large so cooking times will vary. When you don’t really feel like cooking a huge meal, this is perfect.  It is a great meat substitute and cooks rather quickly.

This serves two people.

Enjoy!

Fall Madness, Projects, and Cleanup

Hello Lovelies,

I haven’t written in what feels like an eternity!  A lot has been going on here at our little homestead and a few projects are in full swing.  I’m pretty much the only one who does most of our homesteading and among daily research, I’m always adding to the “to do” list.  Needless to say, Babydoll has been a trooper!  Did I mention that I work a 9-5 job too?? Amidst all of the chaos, Fall is here!  I love everything about Fall and even though Texas doesn’t have the beautifully colored leaves or the crisp, fireplace aroma in the air, I’ve come to enjoy the little things. From the seasonal food, the Yankee Candles I have an addiction too, down to the way the air smells.  Being born and raised in New England, I love the smallest things about the season and it just makes me happy.  It also makes the perfect season for projects!

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So much has changed over the past month or two.  Babydoll changed jobs and went back into the oilfield. After all, we have a future homestead to save for! With this decision, some big projects were left on hold.  I don’t think I will ever get used to him being away for weeks on end, but that is the life we chose.  For the first time in our lives, we have goals.  Those goals are at the forefront of our minds in everything we set out to do and or purchase.  Having that common ground is what makes a homestead successful.  Many times you hear about families that homestead where it is very one-sided.  We have been blessed with a common mindset and it makes things much easier.  With more free time on my part lately,  many projects are able to get started nonetheless.

The Garden: The garden needed some attention such as harvesting, getting plants to grow, weeding, and transitioning from Summer to Fall plantings. The garden was coming along perfect when all of a sudden, we had no more fruit! It was as if “POOF!” they were gone. With a fenced in backyard, I couldn’t figure out what was eating them.  It ended up being squirrels and baby rabbits. We came up with a quick remedy of stapling chicken wire around the perimeter of the raised bed and covering the top with a bird cover mesh.  This did the trick nicely although made it tricky to harvest and weed.  After tackling this twice, it finally worked and we now have fruit! Now if only the butterflies would leave my brussel sprouts alone.

Harvest: Our harvest was much smaller than anticipated, but when compared to all of our mistakes in the past, we finally have more of a grasp on it.  Jalapenos and green bell peppers were what we got the most of.  Our tomato plants were falling over and really big, however didn’t produce much because by the time we caged the bed, it was already September.  Besides cooking with our harvest and the fact that it was small, we also made flavored vinegar’s, as well as used other techniques such as pickling, fermenting and dehydrating.

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Greenhouse: We desperately needed a greenhouse not only for seed starting, but to grow plants over the winter in an effort to grow year round.  In Texas, summers are hot and winters are cold, but they are still doable.  In researching greenhouses, we definitely have one in mind for our future homestead, but for now we’ve decided to opt for a smaller one in the meantime.  It wasn’t that expensive at around $30 shipped, so it was affordable because we are still learning.  We then needed to create a space for seed starting and growing winter plants.  To do this, we reused what we already had.  This is the best kind of shopping and saves a ton of money.  Reusing things such as tables and bins, made it easy to create a potting table and an old bin now used for amending soil.  Our seed order has been placed  from Baker Creek and now we wait.  I apologize for the dark pictures.  They were taken inside of a garage, but you get the idea.

Compost: Our compost that was started late last year and is just about broken down.  We used grass clippings, shredded paper from our shredder, and kitchen scraps such as food, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags.  It is such a beautiful dark brown color.  This will help get seeds get started for spring.  A new bin has been started and will take another year to break down.  We just don’t have the space to create the compost pile we are hoping for, but this does the trick.

Cooking:  Food storage has been on the agenda most of this year.  Buying in bulk, growing what we can, and saving what we can , further enabled us to grow our canned food stock.  This year, we added fermented food like Kombucha, sour dough starter, vinegar, carrots, pickles, and sauerkraut.  We are still not where we need to be, but next year will be even more than this year.

It has been quite a busy start to the season and so much more to accomplish with the holidays coming.  It feel like an endless process, but it is so very rewarding.

What goals and projects have you set for Fall?  I’d love to hear about what you have going.  Inspire me! and who knows, you may inspire someone else!

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Easy Smokin! Nothing Tastes Better Than Food That’s Smoked

Here is an easy, frugal way to smoke your food that won’t break the budget.

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Smoking food can be costly especially if you purchase those big bulky smokers. We lack available patio space and it really is not a good idea to put something that heats up on a grassy area. It not only kills the grass (which I hope happens because grass is useless, but don’t tell my husband that!) but it can start a fire. We went the frugal way instead to not only save money but space as well. This works in a pinch and takes less than 5 minutes to make and in less than 10 minutes…you’ll be smokin!

Here is What You Will Need

  • Aluminum foil

  • Small wood chips or shavings

Tear off a piece of aluminum foil about 12 inches long. Fold the aluminum foil in half to get a 6 inch piece. Now, fold a seam on 3 sides pressing tightly leaving one side open for filling with wood chips or shavings. Fill the open end with wood chips about half way. Any more than that and you risk the packet opening or not smoking properly.  Trust me. Fold a seam on that side to close your packet. Lay the packet flat on the counter and using a knife, gently poke a slit which will act like a vent. Place on the hottest corner of your grill and let the grill heat up. After about 5-10 minutes, smoke will be coming out of the vent and you are on your way to deliciousness. This doesn’t last very long, so I don’t recommend using this technique with expensive large pieces of meat such as brisket or a roast. But this works wonders with wings, chicken tenders, fish, veggies, or burgers. Make sure you don’t peek too much or you will let the smoke escape.

Smokers can cost hundreds of dollars and if you are like our family, this is a once in awhile thing. To us, an expensive smoker isn’t really such a frugal purchase. By buying a small bag of wood chips or shavings, you will spend around $3-$4 per bag lasting you as often as you use it. Aluminum foil is a pantry staple and most have this on hand. This not only saves money, but also time and space. Perfect for a balcony grill or small patio. If your grill is larger or if you are smoking a lot of meat, you can make more than one pouch or make it larger to suit your needs. Once done, simply let the packet cool off completely and toss. Seeming these chips are heated and may contain drippings or food particles, they are not suitable for composting. 

Wood chips or shavings come in a variety of flavors and sizes. You can find flavors such as walnut, pecan, pear, apple, hickory, or mesquite to name a few.

Total Cost Breakdown

Bag of wood chips or shavings $3-$4 per bag

Smoker between $40 to more than a few hundred dollars

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Let’s Get Social!

Everyone is on social media these days and often people are pressed for time. All blog posts automatically upload to our Facebook page. Our page also includes posts that you won’t find on our blog. Spontaneous projects, impromptu meals, and everyday happenings. Don’t forget to share the love!

Questions Lead to Knowledge

Everyone is frugal in their own way. This is how we’ve learned everything we know. From blogs! There is a plethora of knowledge among the blogging community. Learn from those around you, those who inspire you, and those with a common goal. Feel free to open discussion on posts, ask questions, and let’s have some fun ;P

DISCLAIMER: Being frugal generally means not spending money or pinching pennies. Our goals do not include a fancy camera or lighting. All content and pictures are ours created with a cell phone, natural or indoor lighting, and around our own homestead. If you would like to use an image or post, simply ask and give us credit. Easy peasy!