Monday, January 30, 2012

Dinner from the Garden

 We tried two new things in our garden last year one was Kohlrabi. I didn't really know much about kohlrabi and I had never tried it, so it was our experiment and this was my first time cooking it. I contemplated looking for a recipe online, but then I thought, no, I would just go for it with the idea I already had brewing in my head.  So I peeled and julienned it and of course tasted it raw. It tastes a lot like green cabbage and brocolli stems, but has the texture of an apple. Delicious.

Kohlrabi, I have learned is very rich in Vitamin C and also contains good amounts of the B Vitamins. It is high in fiber and of course is fat and cholesterol free.

 The second new item in our garden this past year was Rutabaga. We first tried this yummy veggie last year when I found an amazing Italian soup recipe that called for it.  It is delightful! I also peeled and julienned this rutabaga from our garden.

Rutabaga is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. They are free of fat and cholesterol and are an excellent source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese.

 From our garden I also harvested a bunch of brocolli, some carrots and a handful of snow peas. Here they are all chopped up. The dish I decided to make with all of these yummy veggies was a simple stir fry served over hot rice.

 I decided to add chicken to my dish, so I also cut up 3 small chicken breasts, which I stir fried in about a Tb. of olive oil. Once my chicken was cooked through I added in my carrots, kohlrabi, and rutabaga, put a lid on my pan and let them steam until they were about halfway done. Then I threw in the broccoli and snow peas and allowed them to steam until tender. Then I added a can of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and baby corns and allowed them to heat through.  Yum, doesn't it look delicious?

While my veggies where steaming I made my 
sauce. Here is the recipe:
 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Tb. Cornstarch
1 Tb. Oyster Sauce
1 Tb. Hoisin Sauce
2 Tb. Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Sugar
Whisk together and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 tsp. of Sesame  Oil. Now just stir your yummy sauce into your veggies.

The finished product. It was so delicious and I was so happy to have harvested the majority of the veggies from my garden. The kohlrabi and rutabaga where great additions to this dish. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Seed Selection

How to choose the best seeds for your location.

I love to browse through the seed catalogs, I have about a dozen sent to me each winter. It is fun to look at all of the varieties and colors. What will work best for you in your climate zone? That is the tough question and often times it will depend on your specific soil. So where to start.

  • Talk to your gardening neighbors about what they have success with & failures too.
  • Find a local garden club
  • Talk to a local Master Gardener.
  • Try to find local blogs or websites.
  • Visit your local nursery (not big box store) seek their advice.
  • Visit your farmers market, find the varieties they are growing near you
Ultimately after you narrow down some good candidates try them out. It is wise to plant multiple varieties to see what works in your personal garden. Also if you have the room try different areas in your garden, playing with shaded areas etc.

When we moved here (East Texas zone 7a/8b) we were told by allot of people that gardens do not do well here...We dug in and planted. We had some things languish and die and others thrive but overall we have had great success. Sometimes you have to just try and ignore what people say.

We like to try out new things every year and see how they go. But we always have our old standbys that we know will work and produce for us. I have a great wife that keeps me in line along the way (beyond just picking up the catalogs I leave here and there). I think that if I bought something every time I found something cool or neat we would have a huge box of various seeds and no room to plant them.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

One of the big expenses we always have at the store is cleaners and detergents.  So we went on a quest to find out how to make our own. We have been using homemade laundry detergent for awhile now. It is easy to make, works well, and saves a ton of money! Here is the recipe we use:

Shopping List
1 - "Arm & Hammer" Super Washing Soda 55 Oz.
1 - 76 oz. Box Borax
1- 10 pk of 4.5 oz. Ivory Bar Soap or Zote

1 Bar Grated Soap
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Washing Soda

I use a large cottage cheese container to mix and store my detergent in. I start by adding the borax and washing soda and then I grate the soap in.  I like to grate the soap small so it gets more evenly distributed throughout the detergent.  There is plenty of room left in my container so I can just snap the lid on and shake it up, but you can also combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up with a spoon if you like.

The best part about it is you only need to use 1 TB. per washload so it lasts a long time.  This detergent also produces very few suds so you can use it in your HE washer. I have an HE washer and I use it all the time with no problem.

About Our Blog

We are Jacob and Shaun-ta'. We have been married for 7 & 1/2 years and have 3 sweet children. We have been truly blessed throughout our marriage. God has seen us through many wonderful years. We like most young married couples with young families have had our struggles. We have never had a lot of money and most times just barely scrape by trying to make ends meet.
Shaun-ta' has always been very frugal, always on the hunt for good deal, even as a teenager. As a stay at home mom she has become even more focused on finding new ways to save money and make those hard earned dollars really stretch. She loves all things domestic, including cooking, baking, crafting, and sewing, and she strives to utilize each of these talents in our home to the fullest.
Jacob works as a home energy rater and over the years as he has learned and become increasingly knowledgeable in this area, he has become very passionate about it. He loves helping people build healthy energy efficient houses and helping people reduce their energy cost/usage in their existing homes.
We both love and enjoying gardening and love growing new things. There is something so satisfying in reaping the benefits of your labors and there is no better way to truly see something through from start to finish than planting a seed in the ground. It also provides us with the most inexpensive way to provide good, healthy, organic, food for our family. Right now we live on less than a quarter of an acre so we have become very creative in the ways that we garden, trying to squeeze a lot into a little. We have learned so much and love trying new techniques and ideas. Jacob has become very interested in permaculture and permaculture techniques. He has been studying and expanding his knowledge of this and we have been implementing these ideas as we have built our gardens. We hope one day to have some more land where we can grow much more and also have some animals.
We love to learn new things and have a great desire to become more and more self sufficient in all aspects of our lives. We know that we have been counseled by prophets of God to live our lives as providently as possible and to prepare ourselves for the ups and downs of We have been counseled to have a 3 month supply of foods that we normally eat (including drinking water), financial reserves, a long-term supply of basic food items, a supply of medication and first aid items, as well as clothing and bedding. We should also prepare ourselves for emergency situations by having 72 hour kits ready and updated. We know that these things are important as we have had to rely on financial reserves and food storage in past years to see us through the lean times.
We have been truly blessed as we have done our best to follow this counsel. We are not perfect in it, not even close, we have so much work to do in these areas, but we have such a great desire to live providently.
Several months ago we felt prompted to start this blog as a way of documenting our journey. We really wanted a place to allow our creative juices to flow and to be able to share all the amazing things we are learning with others as well as glean knowledge from those who would read our blog. A few weeks after the idea to start the blog came to us, Shaun-ta' was asked to be the Provident Living Leader in our church. She was so excited about the opportunity to share the wealth of knowledge that we have been focused on gaining. She also knew of God's great love for her and was reminded of how well He knows us personally. We truly know that as we strive to do those things that God asks of us He blesses us and provides a way for us to accomplish those things.
God has asked us to live providently, become self reliant and to live the Word of Wisdom. We have been inspired to strive to accomplish these things and hope you will too in whatever ways the spirit prompts you to do so.