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Container Plants – Your Easter Egg Search is Over

Making new plants from cuttings was a subject of a previous post.  Containers can become very heavy if they are 100% soil filled.  How to avoid backstrain from the usual garden chores?  Follow the Easter Bunny’s trail and use plastic eggs as pot liners.  Now is the time to get them cheap, marked down 50-75%.  They are reusable and store easily.  The two-piece plastic eggs also are favorite toys of the scrounge cats.

Plastic eggs line bottom of pot

Yeah, I know my potting bench is a mess.  The coleus have rooted and so are ready for a container.

Rooted cuttings

Roots are visible

Inserting into potting soil

Finished container

The coleus will fill the bare spots within a month.  Lightweight, well drained containers with do it yourself plants.  Got the egg packages at $0.13, marked down from $1.20.  Perfect scrounge!

Taco Soup the Scroungelady Way – After 5PM and a PBR

Taco soup ingredients

It’s 4:45 PM and I have no idea what I’ll prepare for dinner. This is scrounging: starting point was  ground beef taken from freezer to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.  Checked the pantry and fridge for potential ingredients.  Here it is: half can of diced tomatoes, canned beans, frozen corn.  What did it become?  Next I scrolled through my collection of scanned recipes and there it was – Taco Soup from a Penzeys catalog.  I’m not proud, I’ll take recipes anywhere I find them.

Penzeys Taco Soup

Penzeys Taco Soup



What did I do to the recipe? Because I had 8 oz ground beef, the recipe ingredients were halved.  Diced onion (1/2 cup) and two minced garlic cloves were added to the beef while browning.  Ground cumin (1/2 teaspoon) was mixed in towards the end of cooking the meat.  No fat draining was necessary.  Pinto beans were used because I didn’t have black beans (and so what).  Frozen corn was used in place of canned (I’m not a big fan of canned veggies like corn).  Other than juggling the ingredients, the recipe was followed as written. We used sour cream and hot sauce as accompaniments.  It made three servings; dinner for us and enough for Mr. Mike’s lunch the next day.

It’s OK to change things around according to what you have – often the result is better than the original.

Penzey’s Taco Seasoning is mixed from paprika, salt, onions, lactose, dextrose, corn flour, tomato powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, black pepper, cocoa powder, allspice.  FYI lactose is milk sugar and is the least sweet of the simple sugars.  Dextrose (a natural sweetener) often is made from rice.  I think any packaged taco seasoning would work.  Seasoning mix available at:

Taco seasoning mix package

Soup with sour cream "garnish"

My apologies for sporadic postings.  I’m having to adjust my schedule to early morning work hours, so there’s less time for evening posts.  It’ll work out – less than one month to the end of school!


Diet Apps and School Lunch

Diets – a word that gives food lovers pause.  My state has an adult obesity rate of 32%, the highest in the US.  Diets have proliferated as obesity rates climb.  Do diets really work?  Well, in the short term, yes.  However, maintenance is very difficult because obesity is a multifaceted issue.  What follows is a link  to evaluation of weight loss apps you might find helpful.  I’m not the food police, but there is so much misinformation floating around that sharing some science-based advice is in order.


The article is from Food & Nutrition Magazine, a publication of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly ADA).  Yeah, I’m a member of the Academy but NOT a member of the food police!  Any nutrition info in this blog is science-based ‘cuz I follow AND’s code of ethics.  Food and cooking is both art and science but most of all it is fun.

On today’s menu in Oak Grove Elementary: beef stew/rice, cabbage, broccoli with cheese sauce, chef salad, mandarin chicken salad, whole wheat rolls, bread sticks with marinara sauce, chocolate pudding, oranges, fruit cocktail, and of course milk. With the exception of the bread sticks/marinara sauce, all items were prepared from scratch.  We lunch ladies cook, serve, clean (including floors), and pull trash.  I do sleep well at night!

For more info on the Academy, go to

Eat your veggies

Thanks for all the nice comments.  I’m no techie so it takes me a while to figure out widgets and such.

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Post-Flood Update

Floodwaters have receded however the cleanup continues.  More rain over the past week has delayed picking up debris in brushy areas.  The brush and vines I cut before the flood have washed downstream – who says _____ rolls downhill?

Floodwater below the concrete pad under our house

Looking southwest toward the creek

Note water line on shop

Scrounge cat 3 taking a break from cleanup


What to do with cabbage ’til St. Pat’s Day returns: Irish-Bohunk Cabbage

Cabbage love is shared by Northerners and Southerners alike.  We may disagree on politics, who’s number one in college football, and guns but we do like our green cabbage.  Stuffed, fried, in soup, and just plain ol’ boiled it is on the national menu.  A few years ago I had lunch at a buffet restaurant in Vidalia, LA.  Boiled cabbage practically needed its’ own staff to replenish the supply!! The cook was vague about her special cabbage recipe, so it’s a good excuse for a bike ride to The Killer’s old stomping grounds.  By the way, he just married for the 7th time.Cabbage is plentiful and cheap around these parts now, which is perfect for us scrounging people.  The following is a Southern Bohunk casserole which honors our shared Irish roots and my bohunk father.

Since last week I’ve been a substitute lunch lady at elementary school’s child nutrition program – back in my mass quantity groove!  Feeding 1,500 hungry young’uns breakfast and lunch has me falling asleep easily at night!

Irish-Bohunk Cabbage (serves 2)

1 lb green cabbage, 1″ slices

1 to 1/2 cup chopped onion, to your taste

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt or celery salt (I use Penzeys celery salt)

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons Polish seasoning (I use Penzeys), made from salt, black & white pepper, sugar, coriander, garlic, mustard, marjoram, mace, and savory

6-8 oz lean ground beef (80/20 is fine)

8 oz stewed or crushed tomatoes

Splash of balsamic vinegar added with tomatoes, optional

1/4 cup shredded cheese ( your choice, optional)

Cook the meat, onions, green pepper and garlic in a 12″ skillet until the meat is browned (slight crust) and vegetables are tender.  Drain any accumulated fat.

While the meat cooks, put the sliced cabbage in a 2 quart covered casserole and microwave about 5-7 minutes on high until the cabbage is softened but not mushy.  There is no need to add water.

Reduce the skillet’s heat to low and add the spices and tomatoes to the meat mixture. Stir while the mixture reduces slightly, 1-2 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat.

Take about half the cabbage from the casserole; set on a plate (or casserole lid; I am lazy about washing dishes).  Place half the meat mixture on the cabbage in the casserole.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese (if using).  Put remainder of cabbage on the meat, then layer the rest of the meat mixture on the cabbage.  Add 2 tablespoons cheese (if using).  Cover casserole and return to the microwave and cook for about 10 minutes on high.  Let set covered for about 2-3 minutes.  Be careful when removing the lid – there will be lots of steam (and steam burns are no fun, believe me).  Enjoy with beer (Guinness or PBR suggested) and crusty bread.


Onions and peppers chopped in 1/2″ pieces.  Crush garlic to release allicin before chopping


Browning ground beef and vegetables

Cabbage and ground beef layers

Plated cabbage casserole

Spices and Shoes – You Can’t Have Too Many

I have a thing for spices, sort of like a thing for shoes (yeah, I like shoes).  The spice collection now occupies a kitchen cabinet and is creeping into another one.  Penzeys catalog descriptions make even sumac berries appealing.  If you haven’t checked them out, the address is (No, I am not related to Penzeys nor do I have no stock in the company)

Spices have been used for thousands of years as flavorings and preservatives.  More recently health benefits are linked to spices such as tumeric and cinnamon.  I learned that spice mixtures such as the one described in the article below (Food & Nutrition link) mitigate the effects of grilling – you know, the cancer potential from eating grilled foods.  Well, don’t let the food police scare you off – enjoy cookout season and try a new spice combination.  I’m going to try the Moroccan Sliders – try them and let me know if you like them.

Food&NutritionMag_Spring_2012_not your mothers spice

Penzeys includes recipes in their catalog

BPA in your Cinnamon Detox? Pink Slime Encroaching on Your Beetle-Colored Frappucino? Avoid the Snack Tax and Read Food Scrounge News

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'82 and '07 Triumphs

Coleus Emerges from Winter Doldrums – How to Recycle Plants for a Cheap Spring

Although the temperatures have been in the 80s this past week, April means Spring is here.  After cleaning up flood debris, now it is time to move housebound plants to the outdoors.  Last fall I rooted cuttings from the coleus in the hanging baskets.  The cuttings grew to small plants over the winter, however by March the coleus were getting leggy.  Even south facing windows don’t provide adequate light for growth, the plants just hang on til warmer weather arrives.  Once outdoors, the coleus respond to the sunlight.  It’s time to make new plants from the winter survivors.

coleus and potting mix

Coleus, potting mix, and toad. He liked the airy, damp mixture of vermiculite, perlite, and spagnum moss.

Make sure the potting mix is damp before inserting the cuttings.

Leggy coleus - just hangin' on for Spring

Trimming coleus - only two or three leaf pairs are needed for cuttings. Remove leaves at the "joint"


Cut at leaf joint. Roots will grow from the joint.


The final shot is a completed six pack.  I am the scroungelady, so I recycle packs from garden centers.  Keep the potting mix moist and place the pots/packs where they’ll get morning sun.  These are part shade coleus.  Plants should root in two weeks.  Then pot up the new plants in containers.  I like to use them in hanging baskets or large planters.  Begonia cuttings in a future post.


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