Magical Compost Tea

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:22 am on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You may be asking yourself why I am posting a bucket of muddy water on my blog. Ah, but that’s not mud, that’s compost tea.

I’ve written about the magic of compost before on here, and how amazing it is that you can take your kitchen waste and turn it into an fertilizer for your garden. This year, I’ve been taking the extra compost I have and making compost tea with it, and using it as an all-purpose liquid fertilizer for my plants.

Let me tell you: it works great. If you pour compost tea on a droopy plant, it will pick up within an hour of your applying it–that’s how powerful this stuff is. And it’s free and easy to make.

So how do you make it? Put a quart (4 cups) of compost in a 5 gallon bucket and fill that bucket with water. Let the bucket sit overnight so that the compost can “steep” into the water, thus the name compost “tea.” After that, transfer the compost tea to a watering can and water your plants as you would with any other liquid fertilizer.

Compost tea can be applied to any plant. It’s especially great if the plant is producing food and seems to need an extra boost of nutrition. It also helps sickly or struggling plants and is a great way to feed your container garden.

Also compost tea lets you make the most out of a small amount of compost. So if you don’t have room for a giant compost bin, don’t worry. Make what you can and then make compost tea with it. That way your plants can still benefit from the magic of compost.

Zucchini on Zucchini Raviolis

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:53 am on Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I made this recipe last night, and it was delicious. They are zucchini-stuffed raviolis topped with a roasted zucchini sauce. The recipe used five zucchinis, which is great since I have dozens of them right now from the garden.

In the following recipe, I used a pasta dough from Lidia’s Family Table, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. For the sauce, I modified a recipe from Real Simple Magazine.

You will need a pasta machine to make this recipe.

Here’s the whole thing from start to finish:

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

    2 eggs + 1 egg for sealing the ravioli
    2 cups flour
    3 Tablespoon water
    1/4 cup olive oil

For the Filling:

    2 medium zucchini
    1/4 cup mozzarella
    1/4 cup Parmesan
    1 clove garlic
    salt/pepper to taste


For the Sauce:

    3 small zucchini, sliced
    2 Tablespoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
    1/3 cup Parmesan
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    3 Tablespoon basil, chopped
    salt and pepper


Directions:

Make the Dough:

In a separate bowl, crack open two eggs and muddle with a fork. Add the olive oil and water to the eggs.

Sift 2 cups of flour into a mixer or bowl. Pour the egg mixture into the flour. Mix together for 1 minute on medium speed, or with a spoon or spatula, until you have a shaggy ball.

Knead the dough. I used a dough hook for my mixer and let it run for 3 minutes on medium until the dough became a shiny ball. Alternately, you can turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand.

Let the dough sit for an hour.

Make the Filling:

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients: zucchini, garlic, cheese, and salt/pepper. Taste to make sure it isn’t too sweet. If so, add more salt.

savvyhousekeeping homemade zucchini raviolis

Put the mixture in a strainer and push at it so that the extra liquid leaves the zucchini. It’s important to do this to avoid liquid-y ravioli. Leave the mixture sitting in the strainer until it’s time to use it so extra liquid can drain out.

Make the Raviolis:

Run the pasta through the pasta maker. Take your dough and divide it into four parts, then run it through each level of your pasta maker from the largest to the smallest.

savvyhousekeeping homemade zucchini raviolis

In the end, you have four large pasta noodles like you would use for lasagna. Now it’s time to make the raviolis.

Lay the noodle out on a floured surface. Cut off any jagged ends so that you are dealing with a large rectangle. Fold the noodle in half so that you have a crease down the center. Using a spoon, put about 1 Tbs of filling on the lower half of the noodle. Repeat so you have a row of filling laid out, like so:

savvyhousekeeping homemade zucchini raviolis

It’s time to close the ravioli. Crack the third egg into a bowl and muddle it. Using a pastry brush, “paint” the egg around the edges and in between the filling. This will hold the ravioli together. Here is a diagram of where I painted the egg:

Fold the noodle over. Working from back crease, gently push all the air out of the noodle around your filling. A lump should start to form.

Then, cut each ravioli off with a pizza cutter or knife:

Using a fork, press around the edge to seal each ravioli:

Repeat until you end up with about 30-40 raviolis. I held 12 zucchinis back for the meal. For the rest, I lay them flat on cookie sheets and put them in the freezer. Once they were frozen flat, I transferred them to plastic bags and stored them in the freezer for a quick gourmet meal any time I want.


Make the Sauce:

On the stove, bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the ravioli. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice up your other three zucchinis and crush the garlic. Drizzle with 2 tsp of cheese, the olive oil, the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper in a large baking pan. Put the whole thing in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, it looks like this:

savvyhousekeeping homemade zucchini ravioli

Using a slotted spoon, lower your ravioli into the boiling water. Let it boil for about 3-4 minutes. When they are done, the ravioli will float to the top of the water and change to a lighter color.

Remove from the ravioli from the water and gently toss with the zucchini mixture, the rest of the cheese, the basil, and a slight sprinkling of salt. Enjoy.

The resulting pasta is worth all that work. It is cheesy, light, a little spicy, and very zucchini-y. It is the kind of dish that makes you feel like you are eating at a fancy restaurant. Also, because you have frozen two-thirds of the ravioli, you can make more of this dish anytime you want. Oh, and it’s vegetarian and cheap to boot.

Cost of Dish: Flour: $.32; Eggs: $.75; Olive Oil: $.25; Cheese: $1; Zucchini, Basil, and Garlic: Free from the garden; Red pepper flakes: Free from a local pizza place; Water, Salt, and Pepper: So cheap, practically free.

Total Cost of Dish: $2.32.

It’s hard to tell the per-serving cost because I made more ravioli than I did sauce. However, pretending that the $2.32 is just for the ravioli–which it isn’t, because it includes the sauce (so it’s even cheaper)–it would be about $.39/serving.

Tips For Thrift Store Shopping

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:39 am on Monday, July 21, 2014

Yesterday, a friend asked me where to get an office chair. I told her I got it at a thrift store for $15. It’s black leather and in excellent shape.

She needed a chair too, so we went to the same store and she found a chair for $16. She wasn’t sure the chair was quite right, so we went to a big office supply chain and looked at the chairs. They had the exact same chair we saw in the thrift store for $50. She went back and bought the thrift store chair and saved herself $34.

On the same trip, I bought a hole puncher and a binder for $2.25, combined. The same thing at the office supply store would have cost $16, according to their website. That means I saved $13.75 by buying secondhand.

Thrift stores aren’t the only options for bargain hunting. Estate sales, yard sales, consignment stores, and even antique stores yield great deals all the time. But regardless of the places you secondhand shop, some basic procedures make shopping go smoother. Here are some tips:

Make a shopping list–I have a piece of paper in my wallet with a list of things I want for the house. Sample things on my list right now: A coffee table, nickel-plated hardware for the kitchen cabinets, a glass pitcher, vintage wall phone, and a rolling shelf to fit under my desk. The list also has dimensions for the furniture so I know how big it should be.

Put everything on the list–Lots of people look at secondhand shopping as just a way to get clothes or furniture, when thrift stores (and the like) are a great place to get everything from wrapping paper to frames to office supplies. If you want it, throw it on the list.

Be patient–The key to bargain shopping is to keep looking until the things you want show up. I just bought two never-used, restaurant-quality cookie sheets for $1.50 total. New they would have cost me $50. Great deal, right? The thing is, I’ve been looking for them for about 6 months. So I saved a whopping $48.50, but I had to wait 6 months. It’s a trade-off.

Carry a measuring tape–I cannot tell you how many times I have used that little measuring tape in my purse, not just for secondhand shopping but for life in general. Since I write down the dimensions of furniture I want on my list, it comes in extra handy at a thrift store.

Use your imagination–Could you take that ugly chandelier and spray paint it hot pink for your daughter’s bedroom? Maybe a golf caddy could be turned into a tool caddy for the garden? Or how about taking those old 1970s pepper mills and painting them an awesome shade of turquoise? It takes a little creativity to spot a diamond in the rough.

Don’t buy just because it’s cheap–A good deal turns to wasted money if you don’t need or want the item at hand. I had to learn this lesson about clothes. It turns out that if I don’t like some item of clothing, it doesn’t matter how cheap it is, I still won’t wear it. And nothing makes me feel dumber than buying something at a thrift store and then donating it again a few months later. So when in doubt, don’t buy it.

Book Shaped Dishes

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:56 am on Friday, July 18, 2014

I like these Book Shaped Dishes. I might not want a full set, but I love the cup:

Too bad that seemed to be the one piece you can’t buy. The rest of the plates range from $10 for a plate to $25 for a platter.

What To Do With Carrots: Pickle Them

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:42 am on Thursday, July 17, 2014

I seem to be having a bumper carrot year in my garden. No problem, I think I’ll pickle them.

I’ve never pickled carrots before, but it doesn’t look hard. Here’s some recipes I might try:

DILLY CARROT PICKLES

MOROCCAN-STYLE PICKLED CARROTS

PICKLED CARROT STICKS

PICKLED JALAPENOS AND CARROTS

Spray Painting A Chandelier

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 10:17 am on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I’m in the planning stages of a kitchen remodel, and I started thinking how much I dislike my dining room chandelier. I want to replace it, but my taste hovers in the expensive-to-outrageous range.

Maybe the solution is to spray paint the chandelier. It makes it look completely new.

For example, check this one out in pink.

Black.

Red.

Yellow.

It works for this kind of chandelier too.

I think I’m onto something here…

Caprese Appetizer Idea

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:16 am on Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I picked my first ripe tomatoes from the garden yesterday. That means it’s almost time for Caprese salads, one of my favorite dishes ever: fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and ripe (must be ripe!) tomatoes.

Here’s a way to serve Caprese salads to your guests as an appetizer: hollow out cherry or grape tomatoes, put the cheese inside, and stick on a toothpick, making a “Caprese pop.”

Here’s a post on how to do it.

To serve, you can put them on a plate, or put them in a glass, like so:

Refashioning Thrift Store Clothes

Filed under: Recycling — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:55 am on Monday, July 14, 2014

Check out Refashionista, a blog where Jillian takes ugly thrift store clothes and turns them into new outfits.

She even shows how she does it.

So far, she’s done about 700 new outfits from thrift store clothes. She even donates some of them to charity. Where not everything is my taste, some of her “refashions” are pretty cute.

I love it when people take ugly things and make them into something new.

5 Ways To Recycle A Dresser

Filed under: Recycling — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:57 am on Friday, July 11, 2014

Turn It Into A Desk

Or A TV Console

Hide The Printer In It.

Or The Cat Box.

Last But Not Least, Use It As A Bird Aviary.

DIY Chysanthemum Bookshelves

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:39 am on Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quite a focal point for a room: bookshelves that look like a chrysanthemum or a star.

When you look closer, it looks like it’s just a series of boxes that have been cleverly attached to the wall.

Wouldn’t that be an interesting DIY project…

« Previous PageNext Page »