Build A Bean Teepee

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:10 am on Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Here’s a great idea for springtime: Build A Bean Teepee for the kids.

What an awesome–and useful–fort.

The idea is to tie poles together in a teepee shape and then grow beans up the side of each pole. By mid-summer it should be covered with beans.

Here’s a more detailed tutorial on how to make a bean teepee.

This would look especially awesome with red beans, like these.

Lemon Cake

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:12 am on Tuesday, April 22, 2014

savvyhousekeeping lemon cake pound strawberry ice cream

Here’s a good, reliable lemon cake. It is somewhat like a pound cake, only lighter, and softer, and more lemon-y.

This is a very versatile cake. You can freeze it. You can eat it with coffee in the morning. You could bake it in cake pans and top it with chocolate icing. Or, as I did this weekend, you can top it with homemade strawberry ice cream and feed it to your guests, like so:

savvyhousekeeping lemon cake pound strawberry ice cream

Lemon Cake
(makes 2 9″X5″ cakes)


    1 c butter, softened
    3 c sugar
    5 eggs, separated
    3 Tbs lemon juice
    4 c flour
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 c milk
    powdered sugar


Separate the eggs. Beat egg yokes until thick and lemon colored.

Cream the butter. Gradually add sugar to the butter, beating well. Add the egg yolk to the butter and sugar. Then add in the lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. Add alternately with the milk, stirring well after each addition, until you get a thick lemon-y batter.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. With a spatula or spoon, carefully fold the egg white into the batter until they are integrated.

Pour the batter into two 9″X5″ pans. Bake a 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes, until you can insert a knife and it comes out mostly clean. (Over-cooking the cake will dry it out.)

Dust the top with powdered sugar. Wait until it cools and enjoy.

5 Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:03 am on Monday, April 21, 2014

[Birds As Art]

Rather than put up a hummingbird feeder, why not plant some flowers to attract hummingbirds instead? In my yard they come twice a year, once when the neighbor’s honeysuckles bloom and again with my citrus plants are in bloom. I am thinking of adding some more flowers to entice these awesome little birds at other times of the year too.

Here are five flowers that attract hummingbirds in the garden:

savvyhousekeeping flowers that attract hummingbirds columbine fuschia butterfly bush trumpet vine

Bee Balm: As I’ve talked about before on here, bee balm is an edible, medicinal herb that not only attracts bees to the garden, it attracts hummingbirds too.

[Bruce N. Goren]

Butterfly Bush. This large bush is loved by hummingbirds as well as butterflies. It’s beautiful when it’s blooming, somewhat similar to lilacs, but I find it rather scraggly when it’s not in bloom.

[North Carolina Native Plant Society]

Trumpet Vines. A gorgeous vine with dramatic flowers that look like trumpets. It grows throughout the United States and does well in sun and partial shade. The downside is that it is poisonous.

savvyhousekeeping flowers that attract hummingbird propogate fuschia

Fuchsia. I’ve talks about fuchsias before as one of the easiest plants to propagate. Apparently, they are also loved by hummingbirds.

[Andy's Ontario Wildflowers]

Columbine. Columbines are native throughout the United States, grow in many types of soil, and are drought tolerant. In addition to being weirdly lovely, they also bring in hummingbirds–especially red columbine.

What flowers in your garden attract hummingbirds?

Happy Easter 2014!

Filed under: News — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:04 am on Sunday, April 20, 2014

[The Telegraph]

Happy Easter!

Bee Balm

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:21 am on Saturday, April 19, 2014

I read somewhere that the more functions a plant has in your garden, the more useful it is. If you fill your garden with multi-use plants, there’s more of a chance that your garden will work together as a natural system.

What do I mean by functions? Let’s take a look at bee balm, a plant I’m putting in the front flower bed this spring. Bee balm is a perennial herb. It is:

* Attractive to beneficial insects–As you can tell by the name, bees love bee balm. They even sleep under its leaves.

* Beautiful–Bee Balm adds visual pleasure to the garden.

* Edible–The leaves can flavor food and the flowers are a lovely addition to a salad.

* Medicinal–According to this site, bee balm can help in the “treatment of colds, … headaches, gastric disorders, reduce low fevers and soothe sore throat, [and] relieve flatulence, nausea, menstrual pain, and insomnia.” Wow.

[How Stuff Works]

So, four functions, one plant. Sounds like a deal to me.

Cheese Carrots For Easter

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:55 am on Friday, April 18, 2014

Another great Easter appetizer: Cheese Carrots. They are a mix of cheeses shaped into “carrots” and topped with parsley. Serve them with crackers and people will get the idea.

Colorful Deviled Eggs For Easter

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:50 am on Thursday, April 17, 2014

Here’s a cute Easter appetizer: Colorful Deviled Eggs. The trick is to soak the whites of the hard-boiled eggs in food coloring.

From Grocery Bag To Easter Basket

Filed under: Recycling — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:45 am on Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I was looking at Easter baskets and thinking how I just don’t need one more useless thing hanging around my house that I will have to store or donate or throw out.

That’s why I like this tutorial on how to make a basket from a grocery bag. It looks like a little bit of work, but the end result is pretty–plus, it can be recycled when you’re done.

The Income Tax Cocktail

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:00 am on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It’s tax day. Boo! No one has ever liked that, even back in the 1920s when they made up The Income Tax Cocktail. This variation on the Bronx Cocktail uses gin, two kinds of vermouth, and fresh-squeezed orange juice to help ease the pain of dealing with all those tax forms.

Did you know that income tax was established in the United States because of prohibition? When alcohol was banned, politicians didn’t want to lose the money they made by taxing liquor, so they instituted the income tax to make up for it. So not only were people in the 1920s denied alcohol, they were taxed on their income for the very first time. And of course a few years later, alcohol was re-legalized and now we are taxed on both our incomes and alcohol.

No one said Uncle Sam is fair, I guess. Anyway, whether you want to celebrate a refund or drink away the sorrow of having to pay, The Income Tax Cocktail should do just fine.

This recipe is inspired by the classic Savoy Cocktail Book. Here it is:

The Income Tax
(makes one cocktail)


    1 1/2 oz gin
    1/4 oz dry vermouth
    1/4 oz sweet vermouth
    1 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
    1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
    Orange twist for garnish


Pour all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake thoroughly and drain into a glass. Garnish with the orange peel. Enjoy!

How To Roast A Duck

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:36 am on Monday, April 14, 2014

I was trying to take a good picture of this duck, but my battery died, so this is the best I got. Nevertheless, it was perfectly cooked with crispy skin on the outside and moist meat on the inside.

Some people are intimidated by cooking duck, if for no other reason than people are no longer exposed to meats that used to be common in the U.S. (rabbit, lamb, etc.), and so they seem exotic and difficult. But have no fear, duck is extremely easy to cook. It is a lot like roasting a chicken. And, like a chicken, all the parts of a duck are useful. You can use the bones, giblets, and neck to make broth and you can use the fat to make duck confit.

The main difference between a duck and a chicken is that duck has a layer of fat around its body that a chicken doesn’t have. That means you have to take more time to cook the duck–in this case, 4 hours–and you have to get the duck to release the fat while cooking. I did this by pricking the duck so that as it slowly roasted at a low temperature, the fat released from the bird and the skin became crispy. I also cooked the duck upside down so that as the pan filled with fat, the skin cooked in it, adding to the crispiness. At the end, I turned the duck over so that the skin on the breast could finish browning in the oven.

Here’s the recipe:

How To Roast A Duck


    1 5-7 lbs duck


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Wash the raw duck and pat dry. Remove the neck and giblets from the duck and freeze for broth. (Sometimes you will have to cut the neck off the duck–get a cleaver and chop it off, then freeze as normal.)

Rub the inside and outside of the duck with salt.

With a knife or skewer, prick the duck all over so that it will release fat while cooking. Hold the knife parallel to the duck and shallowly insert into the fat, being careful not to go all the way through to the meat.

Place the duck breast-side down in a large pan. Put in the oven and roast for about 3 hours, checking periodically to make sure it is releasing the fat. If not, prick a few more times.

After 3 hours, turn the duck over so that it is breast-side-up and increase the heat in the oven to 350 degrees. Cook for another 45 minutes or until the skin is nice and crispy and the internal temperature is 170-180 degrees.

Remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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