Archive | May, 2009

Chitlin’s & Other Frugal Ways to Use a Whole Chicken

chickenGuest post by my friend, Samara Root, a fellow whole foods enthusiast and my splitting partner on many bulk food products! Thanks dear for sharing with us!

I purchased 10 naturally-grown chickens last year from a local farm, and they were delicious! I have tried to use every part of the chicken to be frugal and reduce waste, but chicken skin was always gross to me and I threw it out. (And besides, isn’t that saturated fat terrible for you?). Recently I took my 4-month-old baby girl to visit my Grandpa in California. While there I observed my Grandma making Chitlin’s for him. I thought to myself, what a great way to use chicken skin! In this way, chicken skin releases all its oil and you have some great organic oil to use in frying eggs or any other savory dish (I pay about $40 a gallon for organic olive oil and organic coconut oil. Why throw away perfectly good organic chicken grease?).

UPDATE from the Readers: Aparantly, chiltin’s are more commonly known as the intestines of the pig.;) Fried chicken skin is often called cracklin’s. Sorry for the confusion! Just following what Grandma called them!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 39 }

Homemade Laundry Detergent, Charlies & Soap Nuts

washer-machineI have been exploring the world of various natural laundry detergents in my home after choosing to avoid borax in my cleaning, which is a common ingredient in homemade varieties. Most commercial detergents are filled with harsh chemicals and the natural alternatives often contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other ingredients that are now being debated over their safety. Most commerical detergents leave perfumes (cover scents), brighteners, and/or fabric softeners on your clothes to cover up the fact that the detergent really didn’t clean anything. These additives can easily cause skin irritations. I have found some frugal natural alternatives!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 254 }

In Season: Asparagus

asparagusAsparagus is one of the delightful vegetables in season right now and we are enjoying it in our home!


  • is high in vitamin K
  • is high in folate/folic acid (a birth defect fighter), so if you are pregnant or seeking to be, definitely add it to your list!
  • stimulates milk supply for you fellow nursing mothers
  • helps detoxify your system
  • good for your heart
  • has antioxidant agents
  • is good for health issues: arthritis, rheumatism & PMS

For more health benefits, read here.

I have never been a fan of this vegetable until this year when I suddenly had the urge to give it a try. I believe one of the keys to producing a good dish is not overcooking it till it is soggy. This is how it has been served to me in the past. Another key is grilling it! We have had several meals with grilled asparagus and it is delicious!

Continue Reading →

Comments { 32 }

Update: Homemade Baked Beans

picture-3Tis the season for fresh homemade baked beans to eat along with your burgers, hot dogs and the like! I have been experimenting with making a successful batch of baked beans to my liking and I have finally completed the recipe. Sorghum syrup and dry mustard are the two key ingredients in this recipe! Delicious! All naturally sweetened. Check out my updated recipe here.

Comments { 9 }

Multi-Purposing: Make every purchase count

One of my favorite ways to practice frugality is to creatively use one item to complete multiple tasks! Before making any household or kitchen purchase, one of the questions I ask myself is, can this item complete more than one task? Is this item convenient and be used frequently?

This is one reason I love my bosch mixer! It is a high powered blender, mixer, and bread machine (the kneading part, minus the actually baking) all in one! You can also purchase attachments, such as a food processor. Multi-purposing is one way I simplify in the kitchen.

Recently, I have been desirous of making my own fresh tea from various herbs and leaves. For example, I have good herbs on hand for making a mother’s milk tea, but just couldn’t get around to making it due to the lack of a proper straining tool. I looked into all the various steeping tools and gadgets I could use to strain and prepare my tea. Then it struck me. We already have simplified our coffee preparations by using a Bodum french press. The french press is frugal, small and compact (making it easy to store, taking up no counter space), is incredibly easy to prepare, and it makes the best coffee in my husband’s opinion (I don’t drink coffee so I wouldn’t know!). Couldn’t this same press make tea as well? Indeed! I was concerned that the flavor may affect the coffee taste next time around or vis versa, but in fact there was no affect on the taste whatsoever and it works beautifully for making delicious coffee and tea! Now I can make fresh tea in a matter of minutes. I can make larger batches and store the rest in my fridge for later enjoyment. Pour the tea leaves into the press, cover with boiling water, allow to steep for a few minutes, and then press the strainer down and enjoy!

Have you found any items that can complete more than one task? How do you practice multi-purposing?

That’s my frugal tip for today!

Comments { 26 }

Commune in the Mundane

picture-2Brother Lawrence, member of the barefooted Carmelite monks in Paris in the 1600s prayed: ‘Lord of all pots and pans and things…make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates! The time of business does not differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen…I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.’ (Story retold in Dorothy Patterson’s book, A Handbook for Ministers’ Wives)

Even amongst the mundane tasks of washing dishes, changing diapers, cleaning house, we can have sweet communion with God! These times are just as valuable a means of serving our Lord as the greatest mission work. Take heart today oh sisters and fill your soul with the presence of God! Don’t overlook the opportunities you have and moan over your lack of private devotional time. Take advantage of cultivating holy habits – linking every task with a spiritual focus. While cooking rice, pray for the countries that grow this crop. While filling up your tank with gas, pray for the Middle East. Even amongst the noise and clatter, you can find rest for your soul and be strengthened for the tasks ahead in addition to laboring in prayer for the furtherance of the kingdom. You have a valuable task!

“You are not defined by your husband’s work or even your own labor, as important as it may be; your identity and worth are not judged by personal skills or giftedness but by your intimate relationship to Christ. The passion in your heart will manifest itself in your position in the kingdom.” – Dorothy Patterson

Comments { 19 }

Spring Monthly Menu Plan

It is that time of year! Time to revamp and reorganize my menu plan with a new monthly menu plan for the spring and summer. I have definitely grown tired of our winter meals (all those yummy root vegetables have been growing old to my taste!) and eager to begin eating those lighter meals for the summer. I absolutely love just making two menu plans for the year, one for fall/winter, and one for spring/summer. Why do I like monthly menu planning?

Continue Reading →

Comments { 28 }

Gardening in Small Spaces

I am excited to begin gardening again this year on our back deck. Due to the limited space I have in our condo, I planted a container garden this last year. It worked out remarkably well and we enjoyed fresh tomatoes and green peppers and parsley throughout the summer. This year I am hoping to expand my garden a bit with a few more creative additions. Here are two ideas I have come across for small spaces:

gutter-gardening1. Gutter gardening

My sister-in-law passed on this article about gutter gardening. I was impressed with the creativity of this idea. With the simple installation of a gutter along your siding, you can grow an abundance of fresh greens of all varieties (as they do not require deep soil).

2. Upside down hanging garden

I also am intrigued by the idea of growing tomatoes upside down in a hanging basket.  This would hanging-tomatoessave alot of space. You can accomplish this very frugally by drilling holes in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket or hanging planting basket. Hanging tomatoes upside down has many benefits according to this article, “First, the air can circulate better so the plants have almost no disease problems. Second, the fruit doesn’t rot as quickly as that on the ground. And finally, some critters that eat tomatoes have trouble getting to the ripening fruit.” You can also check out a Topsy Turvy for this purpose as well - an easy step by step kit for growing upside down plants.

3. Shoe Organizer Herb Garden

Picture 2Check out this post about turning a shoe organizer into an herb garden! If you have a little hanging space on a balcony, railing, or wall, you could explore further with this simple addition.

I would love to hear if you have tried any of these methods? What was your results? Any tips to pass on to me?

Comments { 35 }

Filter out that chlorine!

picture-1Did you know that we absorb more chlorine by showering in chlorinated water than we do by drinking it? Unless you have a well, it is very likely that your water is chlorinated. Although chlorine is deemed “safe” and a highly effective disinfectant, it is toxic to breath and damages the skin and hair. If you have a problem with dry skin and/or dandruff, this is most likely the cause of the problem!

According to Renee Loux in Easy Green Living, “Under normal exposure chlorine is a gas, which is liquefied and then mixed with water to purify it. When chlorinated water (like in a hot, steamy shower), run through a faucet, or allowed to sit in a tub, much of the chlorine vaporizes into a gas. We absorb more chlorine by showering in chlorinated water than we do by drinking it.”

But chlorine is not the only cause for concern.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 37 }

Whole Grain Artisan Bread Book

I recently stumbled across a copy of Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads and was enthralled with all the wonderful recipes for making whole grain breads of all shapes and sizes. The cookbook includes detailed pictures, tips and tricks on how to make artisan breads, all from whole wheat and other whole grains! Pizza dough, pita bread, naan, and many others. Not only that, but this book includes soaking steps for most of the recipes! The funny thing is the author shares about the benefits of soaking your grains from a different unique angle altogether. These are his thoughts, which I found very facinating:

“The primary function of a soaker is to soften uncooked ground grains by soaking them first in water (or milk)…When grain is milled, it can no longer germinate because the grain has been crushed, destroying the embryo. However, when soaked it will still break down and release its sugar threads as the enymes go to work. So, while one purpose of soakers is to soften the grain, an equally important purpose is to release flavor and introduce enzyme activity. When added to dough, soakers, whether made with whole or milled grains, change the way the dough performs, usually sweetening it and creating a richer, more golden crust.”

So not only will soaking break down the phytates in the grain, making it more easily digestible, but it will also increase the sweetness and softness of your final product! I have definitely found this to be so! Although I probably would not follow the exact directions for soaking as described in this book, I have found several recipes I can not wait to try…all made entirely from whole grains! Bring on the whole wheat Challah and Naan!

Comments { 15 }