Category Archives: cooking

Growing Vitamin C…Growing Roses For Your Health

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     In order to growing food frugally, it’s important to think about how much the inputs are costing you versus the benefits you are receiving.  For me, the cost/benefit ratio of buying organic food in a supermarket has never been high enough to justify doing so.

 

     Among the investments I’m making this year to the edible landscaping are old fashioned roses that have the added benefit of producing hips.  Rose hips were used in England during world war II as a source of vitamin C.  Oranges and lemons were difficult to find or afford during the war years. I’ve read that boy scouts were asked by the government to collected rose hips to be made into a syrup which was bottled and used medicinally.

 

     The current recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C for men is 90 mg per day and for women: 75 mg per day.  Your body can’t store vitamin C so it’s important to ingest some every day.  According to the NYTimes, this important vitamin is needed :

 

… to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.     

 

     I’m looking at ordering “Dortmund” or “Hansa” roses to scramble up my trellis and shade my house in the summer.  Their rose hips, with between 1700 to 2000 mgs.of vitamin C, outpace  citrus fruits in terms of vitamin C production. Hips also contain vitamins A, D and E, anti-oxidents and flavinoids.

 

     Here is some further information from the American Rose Society regarding the healthful hips:

 

“Fresh hips from R. canina were used as a diuretic, as a coolant, and a mild astringent. Both leaves and hips were used for infusions or tea. The hips from R. pomifera were made into preserves and also into a drink. It was very popular in certain areas of Austria and Bavaria. R. roxburghii hips were used by the Chinese to aid against indigestion and the Ainu in Japan ate the hips of R. rugosa.”

 

     My plan is to use the hips in tea in the winter to give us a boost in vitamin C—thus keeping us healthier and keeping us warmer while we set our thermostat lower.

 

     If you try this at home: please remember to check that harmful sprays were not used on the roses. Since I garden organically, this is not a problem.

 

     In sum, I hope to have most of our nutritional needs provided for on the property before we retire. That’s my little bit of insurance and reassurance come what may. One of the best ways to be frugal is to be healthy.

 

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Pantry and Freezer Challenge

     After Christmas, I try to eat out of the freezer and pantry so we have very little grocery expense.  It makes it easy to pay off credit cards that we used to buy holiday gifts.  We keep a budget and do all our shopping with credit cards that we pay off each month so we incur no interest expense. (see previous post about “loan” being our f-word).

     Another reason to do this is to make room for filling the freezer and pantry again with homegrown items.  It ensures that we are not wasting food by throwing away items that are past their due.

   Some of the things we have eaten this week include sesame chicken noodles made with frozen whole wheat noodles, one large frozen grilled chicken breast and a splash of peanut sauce.  I’ll try to post my frugal version of this recipe later. Since I live in outer Podunk, I have to make due with terribly mundane grocery products so I will post a recipe for this using what I can get locally.

Sesame Chicken Noodles

   I save the last couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in the jar for making this dish. I almost always have cooked noodles and chicken on hand in the freezer for quick meals.  To the jar of peanut butter I add 1/4 cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sugar, a little hot sauce (I like Tiger Brand) and a little water. I microwave this on defrost (so the plastic doesn’t melt and just enough for the peanut butter to unstick to the sides of the jar) and shake the jar like mad. Pour this over the leftover noodles, add diced, cooked chicken. If you have planted onion tops in the garden, go looking for them now and add them to your dish! Wa La!

     I’ve been enjoying some free roasted herb turnips from the garden. I peel and cook the turnips they aren’t hard anymore, then toss with a little olive oil, paprika, salt pepper, garlic powder and basil and roast under the broiler until they are a little browned. Yum!

     Since I noticed that there are several packages of veggies that were at the back of the freezer from year’s past I cooked them up in a stir fry. To the frozen broccoli and greenbeans, I added sliced onions and carrots leftover steak.  I mix up homemade teriyaki sauce and keep it in the fridge so I can quickly make stir fry anytime I want.  I’ll try to post that later…

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Dollar a day Eating Plan

A couple of California teachers ate food costing only $1/day for a month to prove it could be done. You can read about their project here

The wife is a vegan, so there was no meat involved in their diet. But, if you think about it, most of the world eats little meat. For years I could average $1 per meal per person in my household. This is mainly because we grow much of our food. This saves more than the grocery bill because there isn’t the fuel cost to get to and from the grocery store (we live far from a store). In the last year, however, it has been difficult to achieve dollar meals.

I bring this to your attention, because I’m sure there are teachers who are caught in financial straits in these economic times who might be able to glean some information from their experience. What do you do to save on the grocery bill?

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Fifteen Frugal Things I do

 

1.   I buy in bulk when I can and store things like dried beans in my pantry.  I put a bay leaf in the container to keep out the pantry moths.

 

2.   I freeze bags of beans, flour, cornmeal, cereal, etc. in the freezer before storing to kill any pantry moths that may be already in the packaging. I don’t mean to gross you out, but that is how you bring them into the house.

 

3.   If I find pantry moths in dried beans, I don’t throw them out. I freeze for a day, then put aside for planting in the garden. Yes, dried beans are just seeds that will grow plants.

 

4.   I try not to use paper towels very much. Clothes that are too worn for donation are cut in to rags and stored in those cloth containers that are sold for keeping plastic bags ( I made my own).  The buttons, snaps, elastic and zippers are removed and stored for future use.  I store the buttons in an blue antique canning jar and use it as a decoration.  No buying $5 buttons because you want to keep a shirt.

 

5.   We eat what is in season or what is growing in our garden.  For this reason, I am always adding perennial vegetables and fruits so that there is always something to eat here. By the time we retire, I want this to be our Garden of Eden.

 

6.   If potatoes aren’t currently growing in our garden and are very high cost in the stores (as they are now) we eat a lot of pasta and rice.  I google recipes that use the ingredients I have.

 

7.   I save all bacon grease and use this for seasoning cast iron.  With cooking oil so high, this has saved much money.  I’m even using it instead of oil or margarine to flavor dishes.  I believe the benefits of natural products like butter or grease are better than those for man-made products like margarine or partially hydrogenated oils. (but that’s a whole ‘nother essay!) No, I’m not overweight, don’t have diabetes or high cholesterol.

 

8.   Speaking of cast iron—I’m a big fan. All of mine has been found at yard sales and thrift stores. Usually it looks rusted, and I have cleaned them up and seasoned them and they work great. Once seasoned, you don’t have to use oil to keep things from sticking. I use my pans to make stir fry several times a week. I don’t allow any “nonstick” pans in my home after reading about EPA’s studies. Did you know that pet birds often die when these pans are used in the same room? That’s enough evidence for me that they are not worth their “non-stickiness”.

 

9.   Another reason I use cast iron is to add iron into our diets. It’s one of the best ways to do it. It’s free and a better way to get iron.

 

10.    Because we eat a very healthy diet that includes freshly picked fruits and vegetables, we don’t buy vitamins. Nutritionists will tell you that nature has made the vitamins in our food in the most appropriate way for us to absorb the nutrients. No pill is better than eating fruits and vegetables.

 

11.   Unless the skin is thick and unsightly, I don’t peel potatoes. Mostly we grow our own and these have thin skins so it’s not a problem. Why do I do this?  Because many of the nutrients of potatoes are found in the skins (see # 10 above.)

 

12.    When bananas get a little brown (or a lot brown!) I pop them in the freezer (whole) and defrost later to add to muffins and other dishes. Why throw away nutrients?

 

13.    We must haul our own garbage, so it makes you think twice (or three times) about your carbon footprint, as they say.  All paper products are recycled at home. Even the glossy colored paper is reused—that goes in the bottom of my refrigerator vegetable drawers topped with a paper towel. This makes it easy to clean up messy things that have leaked.

 

14.   I only buy plain yogurt and we flavor it as we use it with fruit, jam, or cinnamon and sugar. In this way, we eat a lot less preservatives and sugar. Store bought flavored yogurt is WAY too sweet.  Also, we are able to use the yogurt in place of sour cream—way healthier. Yogurt is important to the health of your gut.  You don’t need to buy the more expensive “probiotic” brands. Any yogurt with active culture will do. If antibiotics make your tummy feel badly, have some yogurt to restore the good bacteria that the antibiotics destroyed (while killing the bad bacteria.)

 

15.   Last but not least, we put our hot water heaters on a timer so that we are not heating it through the night. This has saved us a lot of money over the years. Hot water is approximately 40% of your electric bill, so it’s a significant savings! The water stays hot for an hour or so after it’s turned off. Ours turns off at 10p.m. and turns on at 6a.m.. We turn it totally off when we are away for more than a day.

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