Gardening

The Cook’s Herb Garden

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Bookshare, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Herbs | 28 comments

The Cook’s Herb Garden

The Cook’s Herb Garden is another DK book that I’m delighted to share with you. Now is the perfect time to prepare the summer’s herb garden and this book is filled with step-by-step pictorial instructions for choosing, growing, harvesting, storing and using herbs. Herbs are probably the easiest plants to grow since they really don’t like a lot of fussing. Most grow best in a 50-50 well-draining mix of sand and soil, require regular watering and an occasional feed of liquid fertilizer in summer. That’s it, couldn’t be easier. Images below from: The Cook’s Herb Garden – copyright 2016 Dorling Kindersley Inc – used with permission and with thanks.  The Cook’s Herb Garden – Everyday Essentials: While basic growing, harvesting and cooking instructions are attached to each herb listed in the comprehensive herb catalogue, everyone of those topics is described in greater detail further on in the book.  One of the things I really like about the section on using herbs is the recipe section. There are some super recipes that I haven’t heard of before but can’t wait to try: Cream of Herb Soup; Watercress Butter; Chimichurri (Argentinian Meat Sauce); Black Currant Cordial; Mixed Herb Pesto, shown below; plus many more. Suggestions for using the Everyday Essential Herbs shown in planter: Cilantro: Use fresh, chopped leaves in salads, with coconut, citrus, avocado, fish and meat. The dried seeds are spicy, sweet and mildly orange-flavored – use them in Indian and Asian dishes. Thyme: Add to any savory dish or use to flavor poultry, pork, and fish dishes; add to stuffings and vegetables. Flat-Leaf Parsley: Both the stems and leaves can be added to a multitude of savory dishes; from omelets to stews to baked fish. Sage: Chop very fine and use in small amounts. Add toward the end of cooking to risotto and pork, veal and venison dishes; pick a stem for bouquet garni; use dried leaves for stuffing, poultry, fish, potatoes and carrots; use flowers to make summer teas. Purple Basil: Basil is best known for use with tomatoes. Basil’s flavor intensifies when cooked. For a more subtle taste use it raw or add it at the end of cooking. For more ways to use basil check out Basil does it all Oregano: Oregano’s pungent, spicy flavor gives a unique lift to Mediterranean ingredients and dishes – pizza, pasta, fish, meat beans, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Mixed Herb Pesto recipe, from The Cook’s Herb Garden, uses basil, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, and garlic – all herbs that you can easily grow yourself. Toss the pesto with pasta, stir it into rice or use as salad dressing (whisk 1Tbsp. balsamic vinegar or lemon juice into 3-4 Tbsp. pesto.) Serves 2 Prep 15 MINS Cook 20 MINS 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped basil 2 tsp. coarsely chopped oregano 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley 2 garlic cloves Coarse sea salt 1 ¾ oz (50g) Parmesan cheese, grated 3-3 ½ oz (90-100ml) fruity olive oil Freshly ground black pepper 10 oz (300g) dried pasta 1 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional) Put the herbs in a large mortar, reserving 1 Tbsp. to finish. Smash the garlic with the flat of a knife, peel and add to the mortar. Sprinkle in a little salt. Pound down onto the mixture until it is mushy. Add the Parmesan a little at a time and beat vigorously to blend. Slowly beat in the olive oil until you have a thick coarse paste, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. of the cooking...

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Earth Day Awareness Leads April Sales

Posted by on Mar 28, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living | 30 comments

Earth Day Awareness Leads April Sales

Earth Day, which this year falls on April 22, sets the stage for month-long sales of energy-savers and conservation products. This makes it an excellent time to find great bargains on anything ‘environmental’, including garden and landscape items of all kinds. Look for great savings on: Energy Saver Products: Energy Star Appliances:  Air Conditions, Ceiling Fans, Microwave, Refrigerator, Toaster Oven, Washer/Dryer, Water Heater Energy Saver Devices: Power Bars, Night Lights, Thermostats Other Energy Savers: LED lights, Solar Phone/Tablet Chargers, Solar Yard Lights **** Earth Day Activities – Conservation: Many Conservation Groups will be offering trees and plants for sale to promote Earth Day Activities. You may need to pre-order to get the best deals. If you can’t find any Conservation Groups in your area, call your Municipal Office and they should be able to help out. **** Patio, Lawn and Garden: Clearance of last year’s models which need to go before the new models arrive. This could mean some really great prices for the consumer on: Barbecues and Accessories Lawnmowers and other Garden Equipment Patio Furniture Planters Composters ****     Spring Cleaning Supplies: Vacuum Cleaners Cleaning Supplies – in keeping with Earth Day, look for EcoLogo, Green Seal or EPA Safer Choice or  Make Your Own Paint and Wallpaper, Home Improvement Products Organizing Products   **** To stay with the environmental theme of the month, April Sales will also include Organic Foods and Soybean Products. Other Food Items: Eggs and Olive Oil Produce: Asparagus, Broccoli, Rhubarb, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes. Avocado, Citrus Fruit, Kiwi, Lemons, Pineapples. Earth Day, April 22,  does prompt some really great bargains, but it is also the day when everyone is asked to participate in an ‘Act of Green”.  Let’s celebrate Earth Day – plant a tree, clean a roadside, turn off the lights, or contribute in any other way that matters to you. Make it fun and think of the environmental benefits – totally Win, Win. Talk to you again next week, Lenie If you enjoyed this post – others will too. Please share. Would love to have you follow me on Pinterest  or  Twitter or browse my Etsy Store        ...

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Vegetable Gardens for Small Space Gardeners

Posted by on Feb 14, 2016 in Bookshare, Gardening | 34 comments

Vegetable Gardens for Small Space Gardeners

With small suburban lots and condo living having become the norm, there are many people who feel they don’t have space for vegetable gardens. It’s not that they wouldn’t like to grow some of their own herbs and vegies, they just don’t see how they can. Well, guess what? Vegetable gardens are not only possible in the smallest spaces, done right they can add a lot of visual interest to their surroundings. I recently discovered this DK Book at the Library – Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet. This 255 page book is basically a step-by-step pictorial guide showing in detail how one or more small vegetable gardens can be placed in, on or against all kinds of unusual spots. No doubt you’ve heard it said “A picture’s worth a thousand words”. Looking at the images below, don’t you agree that they show what can be done better than any words could? The only thing I did was add a bit of supporting information and a few helpful suggestions. All Photos below from: Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet – copyright 2016 Dorling Kindersley Ltd – used with permission and with thanks.  Vegetable Gardens for Small Spaces: Anyone having access to a wall will be able to use the wall-mounted planting pockets to grow herbs and salad greens. The one shown is hung from a bamboo pole to avoid drilling a lot of holes in the wall. It’s easy to see that this unit can be placed against any wall – house, garage, garden fence, etc. Consider filling one with herbs and salad greens, then hanging it outside the kitchen door, convenient for picking salad fixin’s when you need them. The unit shown above contains: Thyme, rosemary, sage, viola, chives, strawberries and Microgreens The Microgreens post, which was written for indoor growing, can easily be adapted to outdoors. Just plant the seeds in the pockets and cover with vermiculite. Don’t let them dry out. Instead of harvesting at 2-3 inches, I would let them grow to 4-6 inches, before cutting them.  Companion planting is one of the better things you can do, both for the garden and for the environment. Here’s a very simplified description of how it works. Peas and beans add nitrogen to the soil which helps flowers grow bigger and better. Flowers return the favour by attracting pollinators needed for proper vegetable growth. Chamomile increases the fragrance of aromatic plants attracting even more pollinators. Pollinators plus the fragrance put out by different plants deter pests. No effort required but by using companion planting methods you save work for yourself and do the garden and the environment a world of good. As shown above, companion planting works as well in pots as it does in window-boxes, flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, or combinations. I love the idea of using reclaimed or recycled materials to grow food. Doesn’t that sound just so ‘green’? It wouldn’t be hard to find materials for the above unit at yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, or possibly even in your own garage. It is simple to put together and doesn’t require tools. What I really like about it is that it can be placed anywhere – on the deck, patio, balcony, tucked in a corner of the backyard, placed in full sun, part shade or protected from wind. This is another great idea for growing ‘frequent harvesting’ produce like salad greens and herbs since it can be placed wherever it is handiest.  It’s not only the standard herbs and vegetables that can be grown in small spaces. Apples,...

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Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 49 comments

Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

This is the time of year when herbs really come into their own and I consider myself fortunate to be able to harvest them straight from my garden. But it’s not necessary to have a backyard garden to benefit from the bounty. Right now you’ll find a great selection of the freshest herbs at the best prices at Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and even Supermarkets. Herbs are the most useful plants. For the longest time we thought using herbs was to add a basil leaf to tomato soup or to sprinkle chives on a baked potato. We have now become much more aware and accepting of herbs contribution to healthy living. Many of the herbs we use everyday have multiple uses – culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal. In this post I’m sharing just a few of the many ways to use Basil, Chives, Dill and Parsley. If you have no allergic reaction when using herbs in cooking or drinking, you should be fine using them for FIRST AID or cosmetic purposes. Unless you are trained to do so, NEVER use herbs to replace medical diagnosis or treatment. FOUR EVERYDAY HERBS. BASIL. This is one of the herbs that everyone knows and loves. It’s a pretty plant that grows equally well in the flower bed, the window box, the vegetable/herb garden or indoors during the winter. It’s also a must have plant for the pollinator garden. It is one of the most versatile plants with many uses – culinary, beverage, medicinal, cosmetic and even as insect repellant. Culinary Uses: Try basil with beans; pasta; chicken; fish; meatloaf; Italian cooking of all kinds; anything with tomato; and of course, to make pesto or boursin. More Uses: I wrote an earlier post about basil and rather than repeat the information, I’m simply adding the link: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHIVES. We grow garlic chives that have the pretty purple flower balls like little lollipops that the bees go crazy about. They are extremely easy to grow, indoors or out, and act as an aphid repellant (unfortunately not as eliminator) for our roses. Chives are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Culinary Uses: Chives are great added to butters, cheese dishes, dips, eggs/omelets, potatoes, salads, sauces, seafood, soups and vegetables. We enjoy the mild taste so much that we have completely replaced green onions with chives. Medicinal Uses: Chives are loaded with vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, Vitamin A and C and a host of other nutrients. Because of the high Vitamin C content, chives give chicken soup an extra boost when dealing with a cold. Added to a broth, soup or stew they are used to ease digestive problems; treat anemia; and as food for sick or convalescing patients. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DILL:  There was a time when we made gallons of pickles and relishes and used lots of dill. We don’t bother with that anymore and also no longer bother growing dill. (The dill shown above is store bought.) But I still know enough about using it to share. Dill is used most often for culinary purposes but it has some excellent medicinal qualities. It contains many important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and C plus iron and calcium. Culinary Uses: Eggs, poultry, salads, potato salad, and as a sauce (recipe below) for fish, especially salmon. Dill Sauce: 1 cup yogurt 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped 1 Tbsp. lemon juice Dash of Worcestershire sauce Directions: Blend all the ingredients together. Serve with fish, delightful over salmon. Medicinal Uses: Dill is a centuries old herb...

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Lavender: Health Benefits and Uses

Posted by on May 3, 2015 in Gardening, Health, Herbs, Lavender | 36 comments

Lavender: Health Benefits and Uses

Lavender is my very favourite herb, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who’s been following my blog for a while. I’ve used it in all kinds of ways, from sachets tucked inside my pillow case, to lavender vinegar for a hair rinse, to a soothing lavender-oatmeal bath (how-to at the bottom of this post), and more. When I found out about the pollinators declining, I decided to enlarge my lavender garden to attract more bees and butterflies. But is seems that my decisions never fly solo – each one leads to another one. In this case, the decision to learn more about lavender’s many health benefits. It was believed in ancient times that adding lavender to baths added not only a pleasant scent, but also purified the body and spirit. We now know that lavender, when inhaled, produces a calming, sedative effect, which makes it easy to understand why the ancients held those beliefs. Note: Where it refers to lavender essential oil, it means pure essential oil, not the synthetic stuff found in pharmacies and other retail outlets. That oil doesn’t have any healing properties. Lavender oil is very strong and incorrect use can damage the skin. For home use it is recommended that lavender oil be mixed with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, to alleviate risk. Start small – 2 drops of lavender oil to 1/2 tsp. coconut oil. Where below it states lavender oil, before applying it to skin remember to mix it with the carrier oil. Lavender and aromatherapy: The reason lavender promotes relaxation is because it slows the activity of the nervous system.  The more relaxed we are, the better we feel and the more able to fight off headaches, depression, nervous disorders and exhaustion. The right amount of sleep is needed to maintain good physical and mental health. Lavender can often help achieve the relaxation necessary for a good night’s sleep. In one sleep study of the elderly, it was found that putting a few drops of lavender essential oil on their pillows often increased sleep regularity without the need for stronger sleep aids. Placing a lavender sachet inside the pillow case works as well. Lavender and the digestive system: Lavender (a member of the mint family) is of great benefit to the digestive system. Lavender tea can relieve indigestion, nausea, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also improve the appetite. To make the tea: Pour one cup of freshly boiled water over a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers. Cover and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink. Do not use the essential oil. It is toxic if taken internally. Lavender and skin ailments: Holistic doctors treat skin ailments such as acne, fungal infections, wounds and eczema with lavender essential oil. To do so at home, use the lavender oil mixed with the coconut oil. Lavender and pain: Acupuncturists and chiropractors often use lavender oil when treating patients – a massage with essential oil has been proven to reduce joint pain. (A warm lavender/oatmeal bath can also help – directions below.) Lavender is currently being studied for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is already known that the  essential oil can be used as an effective natural antiseptic to treat minor cuts and scrapes. Never pour essential oil on an open wound. Lavender and circulation: Lavender improves blood circulation which of course has many positive benefits. including: Decreased risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis; Important in diabetes management; Fewer leg cramps. Lavender and other benefits: Massage with essential oil can improve concentration, learning, reduce anxiety and level out mood disturbances....

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WD-40: Product with a Fan Club

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Product Information | 63 comments

WD-40: Product with a Fan Club

WD-40 is another great multi-use product that started out as a rust preventative solvent and de-greaser for the aerospace program. Through the ingenuity of its users, it now lists more than 2,000 uses. It even has its own Fan Club. According to the Duct Tape guys “You only need two tools in life, Duct Tape and WD-40.  If it’s not stuck and it’s supposed to be, Duct Tape it.  If it’s stuck and it’s not supposed to be, WD-40 it.” Here you will find only 50 of what I considered the most practical uses. Remember, these uses have been sent in by users of the product. Though I can testify to some of the uses myself – stopping squeaks, loosening wheels, lubricating things, removing gunk when replacing faucets – obviously I haven’t tried them all so can’t testify to their effectiveness. 25 WD-40 Uses for the Home: Removes tea stains from counter-tops Removes gunk when replacing faucets Cleans mildew from refrigerator gasket Lubricates spray arm in dishwasher Spray down drain throat to remove scum Keeps garbage disposal from rusting Removes coffee stains from floor tiles Cleans and protects underside of cast iron skillets Removes rust from cookie tins Cleans silver serving trays Lubricates folding parts of ironing board Removes starch residue from sole plate on iron Cleans metal bed frame Helps remove caked on dirt and grime from furniture rails Lubricates springs on garbage can foot pedal Spray on trash can lids to keep messes from sticking Removes calcium deposits from dehumidifier Lubricates heat register vent levers Unsticks painted radiator valves Lubricates and protects air conditioner blades Stops squeaks everywhere Spray on glass objects that are stuck together without breaking Cleans remote control Makes deadbolt locks work better Prevents kitty-doo from sticking to electric cat box rakes. 25 WD-40 Uses for the Yard: Loosens rusted wheels on lawnmowers Frees locking nut on lawnmower blades Spray on lawnmower pull cord when stuck Lubricates external pivots on lawnmowers Protects outside of cast iron brake drum on riding lawnmowers Lubricates zippers on lawnmower grass catcher bags Drives out moisture on electrical contacts on weed-eater Keeps line from binding on string trimmer spools Spray on rototiller blades to prevent rust during off season Protects exposed metal parts of snow blower Cleans and protects pruning shears Protects hand trowels from corrosion Prevent rakes from rusting Helps keep wooden handles on garden tools from splintering Cleans and protects bed of wheelbarrow Keeps snow from sticking to snow shovels Penetrates frozen mailbox doors Prevents corrosion of outdoor light fixtures  Prevents rust on metal patio chairs Lubricates runners on porch glider Helps remove road salt from car locks Lubricates hydraulic rams on slideout of 5th wheel Removes tar from automobile tires, bumpers and chrome Spray top of bird feeder to make squirrels slide off Cleans doggie-doo from tennis shoes Some other interesting facts about WD-40: Lady Liberty owes her continued good looks to WD-40 A bus driver in Asia used WD-40 to remove a python, which had coiled itself around the undercarriage of his bus Police officers used WD-40 to remove a naked burglar trapped in an air conditioning vent It was fun going through the many WD-40 uses to find the ones that I felt would be most practical and helpful. But check out the WD-40 site yourself – it’s a fun read. Anyone wanting to check out all 2,000 can click on the link  http://wd40.com/uses-tips http://wd40.com/cool-stuff/myths-legends-fun-facts Talk to you again next week, Lenie Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with WD-40 in any way and will receive no compensation of any kind for this...

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