Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Are you searching for an easy fish pond to put together? 

I had purchased a 2 foot high by 4 foot long galvanized stock tank from my local Tractor Supply store, and filled it with rocks and plants from a nearby creek. The goldfish were purchased for 10 cents apiece from a petstore. After the first month or so I stopped feeding the fish... 

2.5 years later, the tank is thriving with life! 

Goldfish are a specialty-bred fish from the carp family, so they're meant to eat from the wild - insects, tadpoles and mosquito larvae!

Stock Tank Goldfish pond with solar powered fountain

They can survive freezing temperatures by going into hibernation, which means they'll need less food. The plants (some) will die off, but their roots are intact and will resprout when the season warms.

To ensure fish not suffocate when water is freezing, you can break surface of ice to allow oxygen. Or pour hot water to melt the ice cap.

During sweltering temperatures when water levels are dropping, I just drag my waterhose to the tank and top it off with fresh water. That's it! 

Since my backyard is a certified wildlife habitat, this also helps with providing a water source for the bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife that enters our yard. 

For my front porch, I added a water fountain feature using a large galvanized tub, and installed an electric water pump. I also topped it off with a solar powered pump. These worked great, but I had a problem. Mosquitoes were reproducing in my fountain and robbing our joy!

Since my backyard pond proved successful, I purchased more goldfish and added them to my tub. This mini pond has no plants, but the mosquitoes and other insects have been keeping them alive for more than 6 months!

Again, these ponds are doing remarkably well with no water pump, or food added. Nature has provided everything the fish need and they are quadrupling in size. 

I live in the southern regions of Texas and cannot say this will work further north, but if you plan to have a stock tank pond, then I would use at least a 3 foot or higher tank so the fish can hibernate better. Also, when first establishing your tank, keep in mind that over feeding fish is worse than not feeding them at all. As long as insects, frogs, and mosquitoes are around, they'll be well provided for.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

5 Reasons to own an Electric Pressure Cooker


It's been a year since I've purchased my first Electric Pressure Cooker - with the beef stew recipe, and here's an update:

I will always own one and here's 5 good reasons! 

1.) SPEED - Whoever thought you could cook a pot roast dinner, or corned beef and potatoes, or a stew from scratch... in less than an hour!

2.) NO PLANS NEEDED - I've lost count how many times I've changed my mind on the menu because I forgot to set the roast out to thaw, or the chicken was a block of ice. Or I glanced at the clock and hubby will be home sooner than I thought. Not anymore! I just grab a few pieces of frozen chicken, quickly chop some carrots, celery, and potatoes, a dash of seasonings and voila - hot homemade chicken soup for lunch! 

3.) SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE - Unlike a stove top pressure cooker, this electric cooker does not need to be babysat. Just plug it in, set the timer and let this cooker do all of the work. Even after the beeper goes off, it will sit for hours in the pot- ready for mealtime!  

4.) EATING HEALTHIER -  Because of the convenience and ease of pressure cooking, we are eating more home cooked meals from scratch!

5.) SAVING MONEY - Due to the combination of cooking from scratch, convenience, speed, and lack of menu planning, we are eating out less and saving a ton! Doing the math, we've paid for this electric cooker by skipping a meal or two out, and staying home. Score! 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

HOMEMADE BEEF STEW - Electric Pressure Cooking

This Homemade Beef Stew is one of my family favorites! Last year, I broke down and purchased an Electric Pressure Cooker after hearing my mother rave about these amazing dishes she was cooking up that was taking very little time. Although I owned a regular stove top version of the pressure cooker (it was collecting dust in storage) I was intrigued at the idea of being able to PLUG-IN an electric cooker, stuff it full of raw meat/veggies and just literally walk away till dinner is hot and ready!

This cooker is such a TIME SAVER and I find myself cooking from it at least 3 or more times a week. I will always own one. Thank you, Mom!

So here's the recipe to one of our favorite dishes that takes less than 30 mintues...

                        Fast & Easy Homemade Beef Stew

INGREDIENTS:   Carrots, Potatoes, Onions, Celery

You can use either STEW MEAT already precut from the grocery store, or use your own meat (skirt steaks, Roasts, etc.) If the meat is prone to being tough, pressure cook it first till tenderized, and then cut into stew size and cook this recipe as a SOUP setting.

SPICES:  Salt, Pepper, Garlic... and if you want, also add a packet of Beef Stew seasoning mix. Sometimes, I'll add my own dehydrated onions to the batch.

After stew meat, spices, chopped celery and onions are in pot... I add WHOLE potatoes and carrots. Very little prep is needed as the cooker will tenderize these vegetables.

After ingredients are added, fill the pot with water to the FULL line, (or less if you prefer a thicker consistency)
Although there is a SOUP setting, I am using raw meat, so I'm selecting MEAT, and for TASTE (my cooker has a section where I can request extra tender for child/elderly which I prefer) I selected the highest setting, which means my cooker will take only 29 Minutes to cook the Beef Stew.

Although this recipe takes less than 30 mintues, it will still take the cooker a few minutes to build pressure, and after the timer goes off in 29 minutes, it will take an additional 5-10 minutes to decompress. The lid on the cooker has a safety feature where you can't accidentally remove lid before it's done decompressing.  What I especially love about this cooker is that prep time is very minimal and I can walk away when timer is set.

Since I pressure can a lot of food (which is different from pressure cooking) I have to babysit my stove top for hours on end till my home canning is complete. This electric pressure cooker is a luxury and has made life so much easier when trying to decide what to fix for dinner at the last minute. Who would have guessed that in less than half an hour (instead of several hours), you can have a pot roast with potatoes and vegetables waiting on the spur!

After cooker has depressurized, remove lid and stir contents, breaking apart the potatoes and carrots.

Dinner's ready!