Easy Peasy Hummingbird Nectar

Hummingbirds are beautiful creatures and fun to watch but I don’t like having to boil the nectar. From what I have read it is important to cook it so that any bacteria that might be present in the water is killed.  I know you can buy it already made but the frugal person in me won’t allow that.  Fortunately, I came up with an easier way to make it.  All you need is water, sugar, and a handy dandy coffee maker.

A common ratio of water to sugar is 4:1.  For my feeders I pour 2 cups water into the coffee maker and place 1/2 cup sugar in the glass carafe.  Turn on the coffee maker and it will do the rest.  Once the water has dripped into the carafe simply stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Let it cool and pour it into a clean feeder.  That’s it.  Easy Peasy.

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Now I know the coffee pot does not boil the water but it does heat it to steaming.  I have had hummers at the feeders all summer so not boiling the water doesn’t seem to be an issue.

As a side note…Do not add red food coloring to the water. There is some evidence that it can cause birth defects in the babies.

 

 

Mulching the Garden for Free

Bermuda grass in my flower beds is relentless.  I hate to admit it but the last few years it was so out of control I was embarrassed for anyone to see my flower beds.  This year I was determined to get rid of it or at least get it under control.  I prefer not to use the commonly used spray to eradicate Bermuda grass for reasons I won’t go into here but it was the only way I was going to stand a chance.

First, I used garden scissors to cut huge amounts of the offensive grass out of the beds so I could at least see the ground that it was covering.  Second, I sprayed the base of the grass as close to the ground as I could get it.  The final and very important step was to cover the ground with thick layers of mulch.

Here is were the frugal part comes in.  I had a load of wood chips delivered for free from a tree trimming company that was looking for a dump site.  I also acquired several bags of pine needles from a friend.  (Best part about that was I didn’t even have to rake and bag them myself.)  Additionally I picked up all the pine cones I could find and obtained a few pieces of used brick that was going to the dump from a construction site.

The pine needles and pine cones were used in one section of the flower bed.  The wood chips were used in another.  I partially buried sections of brick amongst the wood chips for a decorative effect and while the Bermuda grass might manage to come up through all that mulch,  I dare it to come up through that brick.

I have to admit there is still some grass in my flower beds but for the first time in several years I can enjoy my flower beds instead of feeling disgust at how bad they looked.  As an added benefit the mulch also helps hold in moisture which results in a less frequent need to water.

Thanks for reading.  Have a frugal day.

 

 

Almost Free Basil Plants

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I plant basil every summer. Not just for culinary uses but for its medicinal value.  A little research on the internet about basil will reveal that it has properties that help draw venom out of bites and stings but that a blog is for another day.

Since I usually don’t get around to planting basil seeds in the spring I end up buying a   plant at the local home and garden store.  This year there happened to be three plants in the planter instead of one.  So being the frugal person I am I gently divided the roots of the three plants and replanted them into separate planters.  And presto I now have three basils plants for the price of one.

Once the plants reached full size I took several cuttings and put them in water for a week or two to root.  Once each plant had a fair amount of roots I transferred them to planters to give away.  At this point I have lost track of how many plants I got from the one that I bought.  I have shared with friends and at the end of the summer plan to take one of the smaller ones I rooted and bring it indoors for the winter.  If all goes according to plan I won’t have to buy one next spring.

Thanks for reading. Have a frugal day.

Foraging for Dinner

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I love being able to go outside and “pick supper”.  Selection varies from night to night and season to season but it sure beats going to the  grocery store.  You can’t get much fresher than “just picked”.  Last night we had fresh picked asparagus sautéed in butter with mushrooms and carrots along with a salad filled with freshly picked lettuce.  No pictures of that though we ate it all up before I thought about it.

Tonight we had crappie caught by my Dad out of our pond, wild onions which were great in the hushpuppies and an infusion of peppermint tea. All organic, chemical free and loaded with nutrients.  Wild onions are full of minerals and peppermint has many known health benefits including improving digestion.

I spent the afternoon digging up garlic and onion chives as well as peppermint to plant in containers so that I can have fresh herbs indoors next winter.  The chives are fabulous  in salads and on baked potatoes.  The peppermint tea is useful for helping fight off  winter colds.  My tomatoes, bell cayenne, jalopeno, and habanero peppers are ready to plant as soon as the weather cooperates.  I couldn’t resist planting a few cucumber seeds but I brought them inside to germinate.  A few days head start will allow me to have fresh cucumbers just a little bit earlier.

Hopefully I have inspired you to start growing your own food if you aren’t already doing so.  Let me know how it goes.

 

 

Sugar free Chocolate Kefir Smoothie

DSC_2341_1707.JPGI usually just use fruit in my milk kefir smoothies but on the weekend it is nice to do something out of the ordinary and have a special treat.  A while back I adapted a chocolate smoothie recipe and made it with milk kefir.  It was okay but nothing special.  Today a friend was asking for smoothie recipes that her kids would be more willing to drink so I drug out the recipe and tweaked it.  So here is the new and improved recipe and it is pretty tasty if I do say so myself.  This recipe is for two servings.

  • 1 C milk kefir
  • 1 banana
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 t cocoa

Place all ingredients in a glass jar and blend with a stick blender and blend until smooth.  Serve in your favorite glass and enjoy.  It can also be blended in a food processer, Magic Bullet, Ninja, etc.  For a Mexican twist add 1/4 t cinnamon.  I like to add almond slivers and eat it with a spoon.

 

 

Fluffy Gluten Free Pancakes

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Fluffy Gluten Free Pancakes

  • 1 C rice flour
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 1 C milk
  • ¼ t salt
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 t tapioca starch

In a medium bowl mix egg, milk, and oil. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour dough onto hot, oiled griddle. Turn when batter is bubbly and set.   Makes 4-5 8” pancakes.

Easy Peasy Ranchero Soup

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Ranchero Soup is a cross between chili and vegetable soup and one of my favorite soups. It is a great choice for the frugally minded.   You can add a lot of left overs that will otherwise end up being thrown out.  When I made this one I used left over corn, home canned chili beans, lentils and left over broth in addition to the ground beef and a bag of mixed vegetables.  The end result was it cost next to nothing and tasted great.

Now about that left over broth. Whenever I cook vegetables I freeze the left over broth.  I also add that handful of vegetables that is too small to do anything else with.   I keep quart containers in the freezer and just keep adding left over broth and vegetables until it is full.  No need to worry about what type of vegetable broth it is. Just mix them all together.    I do the same with left over beef and chicken broth, however, I do keep them separate from each other.

This is the basic recipe but anyone that knows me knows that for me recipes are guidelines and I tend to deviate from the basic recipe a little every time I fix something.

Ranchero Soup

Brown 1 # ground beef, season with cumin, onion powder and chili powder Sautee ½ C diced onions with meat after browning is complete.

Add meat and onions to

  • 2 cans Ranch Style or Chili Beans
  • 1 package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 6 C chicken or beef broth
  • ¼ c chopped celery
  • 1 to 1 ½ t cumin
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 ½ t chili powder 

Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes