Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Frugal Kitchen: Kimchee

Have you noticed that I have been on a Korean food kick lately.  I was inspired when we went to a Korean restaurant for my husband's birthday.  Loved the food!


There are as many kimchee recipes as there are cooks in the world.  Most people think of the strong, hot, fishy winter kimchee when they hear the name, but there are many light summer kimchees that are more attractive to the western palate.


1 lb. Chinese cabbage
1 lb. white radish (Daikon)
3 Tbsp. salt (non iodized please)
2 Tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
5 scallions, cut into fine rounds (include the green part)
1 tsp. cayenne (original recipe called for 1 Tbsp., don't go there)
1 tsp. sugar

Cut cabbage in half lengthwise, then cut into 2 inch slices.  Peel radish, cut in half, then slice into 1/8 inch slices.  In a large container or bowl put 5 cups water, 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. salt and mix until salt dissolves.  Add cabbage and radish to this water, make sure they are submerged and loosely cover.  Let the cabbage soak for 12 hours.  Turn vegetable over several times.

Put the ginger, garlic, scallions, cayenne, sugar and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl and mix well. 

Remove cabbage and radish from soaking liquid, but retain the liquid.  Put cabbage and radish in bowl with seasonings and mix well.

Pack cabbage mixture into quart jars.  Pour the retained salt water over the vegetables to cover, but leave 1 inch of headspace.  Cover the jars loosely with a cloth for 3 to 7 days.  Taste occasionally until it has reached a sourness that you enjoy.  Then cover with lids and refrigerate.

I love this kimchee.  I serve it as a side dish with meat dishes, sandwiches and I eat it wish my morning eggs.  This is a great starter kimchee if you are new to the dish.  Enjoy!

God bless,

P.S.  I adapted this recipe from one in Madhur Jaffrey's book World of the East Vegetarian Cooking.

The Frugal Kitchen: Poor Man's Bulgogi

This recipe is a good imitation of the traditional Korean bulgogi.  It literally takes only as long to make as a pot of rice.


1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh, grated ginger
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef
2 green onions, thinly sliced  (add a third if you want garnish)
Cooked rice

Whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper flakes and ginger, set aside.  Heat vegetable oil in a skillet, heat garlic for about one minute, then add ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain fat.  Stir in the soy sauce mixture and green onions.  Simmer until heated through or rice is done.  Serve over rice, garnished with additional green onion.

I got the idea for this recipe from  Strange name, but the recipes are interesting looking.

This dish makes 3 - 4 servings and would be excellent served with a cucumber salad.

God bless,

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Good Reads: Artifact

Artifact (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, #1)Artifact by Gigi Pandian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was not only finely written and edited, but it was loads of fun to read. The characters were well developed and the locations so well described I could see them in my mind. I suddenly want to visit Scotland and eat kippers.

The main character, Jaya, was my favorite kind of heroine: intelligent, professional, attractive, and independent. She is surrounded by men that want to be with her, but she determines her own fate.

Each plot in this series is a treasure hunt. In this book the treasure is antique Indian jewels hidden in a Pict archeological dig. There is an array of interesting secondary characters and I am sure that some of them will be in future books in the series.

While Artifact is a mystery there is also history and romance. It works well as a stand alone novel, but the ending leads nicely into the next book.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

This book is due to be released on August 6th.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Good Reads: The Ambitious Card

The Ambitious Card (An Eli Marks Mystery, #1)The Ambitious Card by John Gaspard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first saw that I would be reading a book in which the main character, Eli, is a magician, lives in the same building as his elderly uncle and is divorced I was a bit leery. Before I had even finished the first chapter I had fallen in love with Eli. He is intelligent, sensitive, witty and, suddenly, the main suspect in a series of murders.

The secondary characters are well developed and eclectic. The reader gets to meet magicians, psychics, skeptics, an ex-wife prosecutor and her homicide detective husband.

The murder mystery plot is well written, fast paced and exciting. I enjoyed the descriptions of magic tricks and the debunking of psychic phenomena that were included. A developing romance was a nice addition to the story.

I highly recommend The Ambitious Card and I look forward to reading more books in the Eli Marks mystery series.

ARC provided by Henery Press via Netgalley.  This book will be released on August 20, 2013.

Emergency Preparedness: Cooking

It's all very fine and good for you to have stored all that dried food, but how will you cook it?  It is smart to keep a good supply of foods that don't require cooking, but research shows that people in emergency situations will not eat enough food if it is unfamiliar or unpalatable.  Cooking a meal once a day or every other day will ensure that an adequate amount of food is consumed and will improve your family's morale.

I have a gas grill with a side burner that I can wheel into the garage if a storm is going to hit.  With it I have two full containers of propane on hand.  This is an easy way to grill or cook in a skillet.

Baking is another issue.  It is difficult to get good results on a grill.  Fry bread and flat breads can be done in a skillet or directly on the grill, but traditional quick breads would be difficult.

Also, slow cooked meals such as stews or soups would use up a large amount of propane.  A good option for baking, stews and soups is a solar cooker.

You can buy solar cookers, but they are pricey and this type of cooker can be made at home.  There are instructions for more complex cookers at Mother Earth News and other homesteading sites, but there is a very simple cooker that you can make.  Involve your children and make it an educational experience (plus it's fun).

You will need two boxes; one should be small enough to fit into the larger one.  Paint the outside of the larger box a flat black and line the inside of the lid flaps with foil (shiny side out).  Remove the lid flaps from the smaller box and line the inside with foil.  Lay insulation in the bottom of the large box, then fit the smaller box into it.  Now insulate the areas between the small and large box (you can even use newspaper for this).  Scrounge up a piece of transparent plexiglass or glass to lay over the top of the small box when you are cooking.

When you are using the solar cooker you should use black cookware.  Simply paint the outside of thrift store pans a flat black.  Tilt the cooker to face the sun by propping it with a brick or piece of wood and adjust the box flaps to direct the sun's heat toward the pans.  Adjust as necessary during the cooking process.

How long it will take for your baked goods to cook will depend on where you live, time of year and the weather conditions.  Just visually check them for doneness.  Don't keep opening the lid.  Stews and soups can just be kept in the cooker all day.

I think this would be a great homeschool project.  Some people dust off their solar cookers to use during the summer to keep their homes from heating up from the oven.  Versatile and so easy.

God bless,

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Frugal Kitchen: Kombucha Part 2

After seven days it is time to taste test your Kombucha.  Slip a straw past the SCOBY to see if the Kombucha has reached the sourness you desire.  While I sometimes drink Kombucha that is so sour it almost tastes like vinegar, I prefer an equal amount of sweet and sour flavor.

If you like the way it tastes it is time to bottle.  Using glass or stainless steel bottles (I save glass bottles from other beverages) you need to wash them well in a hot water and vinegar solution.  Also wash the funnel you will be using.

Remove the SCOBY to a bowl with two cups of Kombucha.  Hey look, there should be a baby SCOBY in your brewing container.  Save the baby in a glass jar with enough Kombucha to cover and place in a dark place with a cloth or coffee filter cover.  Should something happen to your main SCOBY (mold, fruit flies) the babies will be your backup.

Fill your bottles with the Kombucha and seal with screw top lids.  If you want to develop carbonation fill the bottles a close to the top as possible.  Now place the bottles on an absorbent towel in a place away from light and cover with another towel.  Let the bottled Kombucha ferment for three or four days.  Vent the lids daily or the gas build up could cause a bottle to explode.  After three or four days place the bottles in the refrigerator.

If you want to add flavoring to the Kombucha place spices, herbs or fruit juice to the bottles before the last fermenting.  Since I use a tea that has flavor already in it I skip this step.

Your Kombucha is now ready to drink.  I suggest you start out with 4 ounces a day and build your way up to a glass or two a day.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Emergency Preparedness: The Toilet

When I worked for the county one of my favorite brochures that Emergency Management had on display was the one on making a portable toilet.  When storms hit not only will you lose your water supply, but with the electricity out all of the sewer lift stations will stop working.  No lift stations = no working toilets.

Making an emergency toilet is super easy.  All you will need is a five gallon bucket, toilet seat from one of your bathrooms, large trash bag and kitty litter.  Place the bag inside the bucket, pour in several inches of kitty litter, then place the seat on top.  Periodically throughout the day pour a bit more kitty litter in to cover fresh waste.

Every couple of days replace the bag.  Put the well sealed, used bag away from the house and water supplies.

Where my family comes from up in Illinois everyone I knew had kept the old outhouses on their property in good repair.  You just never knew when you might need it!

God bless,

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Good Reads: Lowcountry Bombshell

Lowcountry Bombshell (A Liz Talbot Mystery, #2)Lowcountry Bombshell by Susan M. Boyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a well written, well rounded female detective novel. The heroine is working on a case involving a Marilyn Monroe look alike that believes her life is in danger. Throw in a ghostly best friend, eccentric relatives, wild hogs, and a couple of determined romantic interests and this book becomes as amusing as the mystery is interesting.

Even though this is the second book in a series it works well as a stand alone. There were some proof reading errors, but I was reading an ARC, so they may have been corrected in the final version.

I think that anyone who enjoys strong independent heroines, mysteries and southern humor will definitely enjoy Lowcountry Bombshell.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Frugal Kitchen: Kombucha Part 1

I have recently begun to have a glass of Kombucha, a fermented tea, once a day.  It provides probiotics, B vitamins and is filling, cutting down my cravings for snack foods.  Unfortunately, Kombucha is expensive when purchased at the health food store, so I (in true Frugal Mennonite fashion) decided to start brewing my own.

Kombucha is a mildly fermented product, much like kefir and kraut.  It has the same health benefits.  For more information I would suggest the Kombucha Kamp website.  It is run by the Kombucha Mama herself and is where I obtained the basic recipe and starter culture.

I found two Anchor Hocking 1 gallon containers at Target for less than six dollars.  I washed them well with vinegar to clean them.  The Kombucha Mama doesn't recommend washing your containers with soap as it can leave a residue that will harm the cultures.  I had already received my SCOBY, starter culture, before I started this process.

Boil four cups of water, add to one container and, using four tea bags, brew your favorite type of tea.  Some people swear by strong black tea and others like flavored herb teas.  I used Constant Comment classic, my favorite.

After brewing the tea, remove the tea bags and stir in 1 cup of white sugar.  Stir until dissolved.

Get out your packaged SCOBY, which contains both the bacterial and yeast cultures needed to make Kombucha.

Fill the container with a non chlorinated, bottled water until about three inches from the top.  Slip the SCOBY and packaged liquid into your tea.

Cover the container with a clean cotton cloth, secure with a rubber band and store out of the sunlight in an area where it will not be disturbed.

Kombucha can take five to seven days to culture.  Just leave it alone for that period of time.  Part two of this post will cover the taste test and bottling process.  Stay tuned for more !

God bless,