The Beginner’s Guide to Using Drip Irrigation in your Container Garden. It’s EASY!

The Beginner's Guide to Using Drip Irrigation in Container Gardens. It's Easy!For years, I avoided using drip irrigation because it seemed entirely too complicated and expensive.  My garden suffered…and died, died, died. Year after year, I would attempt to go on vacation in July by trying different systems such as cotton wicks plunged into 5-gallon buckets of water or flooding plants before leaving by using all types of stakes that attached to 2-liter bottles. I finally caved and decided that I had to either try drip irrigation or stop buying plants altogether. Within  minutes of receiving my first kit, I realized that I should have started much sooner. Drip irrigation is SO EASY and it saves oodles of time and aggravation!  While there are some reasonable costs involved, there are also many savings. For starters, plants live instead of dying!  That means fewer plants to purchase.  Furthermore, less water is needed since hydration is provided directly to the roots without wetting the foliage.

Where to buy.  I started with a container garden drip irrigation kit and that is likely best for any beginner because it has everything that you need to get started, including some 1/4″ tubing. I have used both the Raindrip Automatic Container and Hanging Baskets Kit and the Irrigation Direct Drip Irrigation Kit for Container Gardening on Patios & Decks .  I found it best to start with a small kit to see if it was something that I indeed wanted to use.  Once I decided to expand my container garden even more and even use drip irrigation in my flower beds, I began ordering the additional parts that I needed directly from Irrigation Direct.  However, I have also seen drip irrigation supplies at local retailers such as Orscheln’s, Menard’s, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.

Specifications.  On the Irrigation Direct website, they list the flow rate per hour needed to water each size of kit offered.  For instance, their large drip irrigation kit for containers would water an estimated 60 emitters at a max flow rate of only 30 gallons per hour.  If your spigot would fill a five-gallon bucket at least six times in an hour, you are good to go!  Some large containers may require two or more emitters.  It should also be noted that, to have adequate water pressure, you cannot have a continuous line of tubing longer than 50 feet.

Connect to the faucet spigot.  You will start by hooking up the following items to the faucet spigot in this order:

  1. backflow preventer
  2. inline filter
  3. pressure regulator
  4. barbed adapter

drip irrigation from spigot labeledBarbed adapter connects to the tubing which carries the water out to your plants.

Add an emitter to each container.  You then just cut a piece of that tubing near each plant, insert a Tee, and then attach another piece of tubing which is connected to an emitter that drips into your pot.  SO EASY!

5 steps drip irrigation

Which timer should you buy?  Some kits include a timer, but after trying several different timers, I have found the Orbit Programmable Timers to be the most reliable and easiest to use. You can buy them with one, two, or three outlets. I started with the single-outlet timer which watered a lot of containers, but I eventually expanded so much that I needed two outlets to accommodate two different watering zones.  More recently, I added a third outlet to accommodate a few containers that require very little water.  With that said, I think it likely that a single outlet would meet the needs of most gardeners.

Setting the Timer.  You will turn the dial counterclockwise to set the current time, a start time, duration, and frequency for each outlet.  The plus and minus buttons are used to make these desired adjustments.    If you buy a two- or three-outlet timer, the arrows are used to choose which outlet you are programming.  All timers also have a manual option that can be used to turn on the water without waiting for the desired time.

orbit timer connected to drip irrigation

How much water?  Depending on the outdoor temperature, I set the timer to water 1-2 times per day for 10-20 minutes per cycle.  If we receive a fair bit of rain, I simply push the rain-delay button on the timer and watering is delayed for 24 hours.

Fall Maintenance.  Every fall, I cut off the tubing from the barbed adapter and bring everything that connects the spigot to the tubing inside, all in one piece.  This includes the timer.

Spring Maintenance.  In the spring, I insert fresh batteries into the timer and then switch out the old washer for a new one before hooking the timer to the spigot.  You may also need a new barbed adapter to attach the tubing.  Then, I turn everything on and walk the lines to make sure each emitter is still working.  Invariably, a few emitters will need replacing or a tube needs reattaching.

Using drip irrigation has increased my gardening success and enjoyment immeasurably.  To read about some fun and creative ways to use drip irrigation, please see 6 Creative Uses for Drip Irrigation.

Happy Gardening!

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Creating Travel Scrapbooks on the Road

I have boxes and boxes of vacation photos and memorabilia that I always plan to put in a scrapbook someday when I have the time.  On trips in more recent years, I have promised myself that I would translate my digital photos into a beautiful Shutterfly album as soon as I returned home.  It really shouldn’t be that hard to preserve our memories in these ways but somehow life always gets in the way once we return home.   That is why, when I saw a Pinterest photo of a school box with enough supplies to create a scrapbook while still on the road, I knew that I had to try it!  I immediately created my own portable scrapbook studio in a small pencil box.  Unfortunately, my motto in life sometimes seems to be

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.  

That is why, before long, I had instead purchased a larger, deeper box with adjustable compartments (14 x 9.1 x 2.8 inches) and my kit looked like this:

Portable Scrapbook Supply Organizer Kit for Road Trips and other Travel

Supplies.  Does one really need all of these supplies to make a travel scrapbook on the road?  Not even close!  All that is really needed is a book or binder with paper and a pencil box with scissors, adhesive, and a pen or marker.  Still, I had a lot of fun having all these extras. Here is a list of what I took in my portable scrapbooking studio.

EPSON MFP imageWhere to buy.  Most of the items on this list can be found at hobby stores such as Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s, and Michael’s.  However, I also found some items at Amazon, Wal-mart, or Etsy.  While searching for travel journals on Pinterest, I saw the cutest “You are Here” stamp.  I looked absolutely everywhere for a similar one, but they were completely sold out.  I was thrilled that the nice folks at Simon’s Stamps were able to custom make a similar one for me for a reasonable price.

Binder.  After looking at some different Smash Books and Scrapbooks, I ultimately decided to go with this customizable 3-ring binder that I ordered on zazzle.com.  I then used a three-hole punch to punch holes in some Kraft paper cardstock to use as the pages.

binder.JPG

I actually found that I was able to be much less of a perfectionist creating this book than I am creating more formal scrapbook or Shutterfly albums.  I didn’t work on the book everyday, I would just catch up whenever I felt like it, sometimes that was in the hotel if my husband  was watching something that did not interest me.  Mostly, though, I worked on the road which was a nice distraction since we were sometimes on the road for several hours per day.

first page

My biggest splurge was definitely this Instax printer which was a birthday gift from my husband.  I initially wanted this completely adorable pink Instax camera, partially because it is the PERFECT shade of pink.  In the end, I decided to go with the printer instead because it is a lot smaller.  Plus, when you take a photo with the Instax camera, that is the photo that you are going to get, good or bad.  The printer gives you the option to choose a photo from your iPhone and even edit it before printing, if you want.  I had an instant camera in the 1980s, I wanted every shot to be good and choosing the printer helped me to do that.

instax
Instax printer, cord and film in a pencil box

You need to have a Wi-Fi connection, so I always printed my photos in the hotel at night.  It is actually quite simple to use.  You will need to download the Instax Share app onto your phone and insert the batteries and film into the printer.  Here is how to print a photo from your phone:

  1.  Crop/edit the photo that you want to print and save it on your phone before opening the Instax app.
  2. Turn on your Instax printer.
  3.  On your phone, choose Settings->Wi-Fi and choose Instax when it comes up under “Choose a Network”.  You will need to repeat this anytime the printer has turned off, even briefly.
  4. Open the Instax Share app on your iPhone.
  5. Select, “Choose from Photos”
  6. Select the photo that you want to print
  7. If preferred, choose edit to rotate the photo, edit text or apply filters (optional)
  8. Select Connect and Print.

The phone will tell you how much film you have left.  The power shuts off pretty quickly after printing.  The quality is fairly good, but not perfect, it definitely has that old retro vibe, as you can see in the upper right of this layout.

Maryland

 

The washi tape came in handy for a variety of purposes, but I especially loved using it to make pockets with a half piece of cardstock.

Jamestowne

My husband was not happy about my decision to buy a selfie-stick, but we usually come back from vacations with almost no photos of the two of us together.  It’s important to me to have photos like that because the memories are the best part of a vacation!

Cape Cod

I brought along a manila envelope and, as we visited different places, I would put brochures, maps, and  other scraps into it until I could cut them up and glue them onto the pages.

blue ridge mountains

I was going for an old-fashioned, retro vibe in this book, so I found a lot of old blank postcard printables on-line before we left and printed them on cardstock to use as journaling cards.  To go with them, I searched google images for retro postcards of the places we would be visiting and then printed those out to use on my pages.  I also like the look of these a lot more than the overpriced postcards that we found in shops along the way.

I probably should have spent more time journaling, but these postcards that I wrote out were more journaling than I have ever taken the time to do on a vacation, so this was an accomplishment for me! If you are reading these journals, you might want to know that I am a genealogy nut and we were stopping at some of our ancestors graves along the way.  Or, as my husband joked, visiting my “dead kin”.

Connecticut

I also had fun using my “You are here” stamp, old school embossing label maker, and the fun embellishments that I brought along to enhance each page.Lexington

I hope that you found some ideas to help you preserve your memories, even while you are in the midst of making them!  Happy travels!

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How to Prepare for (Almost) Anything on Your Road Trip

My husband and I spent three glorious weeks driving up the coast from Virginia to Maine last summer.  Before we left, I spent a lot of time thinking about potential problems that might arise and how we could avoid or solve those problems.  Having been on some shorter road trips in the past, I knew how inconvenient it can be when you need something on the road and must track down a place to buy it.  Since we would be changing hotels almost every night, I also didn’t want to be dragging a lot of luggage into our hotel every night.  For that reason, I decided to bring as many useful items as would fit in a small space and could stay in our Ford Escape.  I bought a set of plastic school pencil boxes for $1/each at a dollar store and the 3 plastic drawer cart made by Sterilite for about $10 at Wal-Mart.  The dimensions of this cart are 14.50 x 12.63 x 24.00 inches, so all of the items listed below fit into a little over two square feet. We used it without the wheels, it fit perfectly in the back of our SUV (without blocking our view), and there it stayed for the duration of our trip.  Once we returned home, I put it in our storage room and it is ready to go on our next adventure.

I found that I could fit up to five pencil boxes in each drawer and each pencil box held a lot!

uploaded oct 2015 154

As you can see, I used one pencil box just for sunscreen (body and face) and bug repellent.  Also, in this drawer were items categorized as Problem Solvers, Laundry, First Aid, and Office.

Problem Solvers.  My goal was to include items that could be useful in a variety of circumstances that might arise.  Fortunately, we only needed about half of these items, but I was glad to have them all along, just in case.  We could have fit even more into this pencil case, had we wanted to.

Problem Solvers

Laundry.  Not wanting to pack three weeks worth of clothing, I knew that we would need to do laundry at least twice, but I didn’t want to cart around a bunch of liquid detergent, fabric softener, and static guard.  Luckily, I already had these 3-in-1  Purex laundry sheets that I had purchased on Amazon a few years earlier when we were needing to do laundry between a conference in Seattle and a cruise to Alaska.  We only use these for travel since they are a little pricey, a little over a dollar a load, but I think it is more than worth it to not mess with liquid detergent and the rest while traveling.  I really like the Purex, but if you cannot find those, you might try WashEZE.  I also saved quarters in an empty mini-M&M package.  It was the perfect size!  We used everything on this list at some point during our trip.

Laundry with list

Don’t accidents always happen while on vacation?  That is why I put more thought into our first-aid kit than anything else.  The one thing I almost left behind was this compression bandage because it took some doing to get everything on this list to fit into that little pencil box and I wasn’t sure that big compression bandage deserved so much real estate.  Turns out, that was the one item I needed most.  On our VERY FIRST night on the road, I tripped and broke my elbow in downtown Nashville. What are the odds?  We didn’t know it was a break until we returned home.  I initially thought it was just a sprain and so did the doctor at the Urgent Care that we went to the day after I was hurt.  He was impressed that I had immediately done RICE:  Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate.  This was possible because the kit was in our car and not in our hotel room, so we were able to easily access the compression bandage, advil, and a Ziploc baggie, which the nice bartender filled with ice for me. I was able to fulfill my dream of listening to live music at the Station Inn for a little while before we headed back to the hotel where I took advantage of another item in my first-aid kit…a prescription-strength pain killer from my recent surgery.

I used old medicine bottles for some supplies, one for cotton and Q-tips and one for rubber gloves.  I also made a splinter kit out of a little matchbox.  It had a needle and some matches to disinfect the needle.  Come to think of it, that might not be best way to handle splinters, but that’s how we all did it when I was growing  up.

I also put small portions of several medications in tiny Ziploc-style bags and stored them in an old Altoids tin.  I had purchased the bags previously in the jewelry-making department at Hobby Lobby, one of my many abandoned hobbies.  Medications were included that would treat pain, stiff muscles, allergies, diarrhea, gas, nausea, and motion sickness.

I also had a list of our current medications and another paper that had first-aid instructions.  It was from these instructions that I was reminded to do RICE.

First Aid Kit canva

I knew we would want to send some postcards to family and friends during our trip and also that we would be dealing with all the maps, brochures and other paperwork that piles up when you are sightseeing.  I put some of these smaller items in a plastic soap container that we had never used before.  The mini tape measure came in handy when we stopped to look at antiques a couple of times.  The highlighter helped us mark places where we wanted to visit and the permanent marker was used several times to label items.The office

Everything listed so far fit in only ONE drawer in the Sterlite 3-drawer cart.  Can you believe it?  Luckily, I don’t have much to say about the remaining two drawers, so try to hang in there with me for a few more minutes.

One of the other drawers was my mini-kitchen on the road.  We wanted to spend our money on experiences on the road and that meant having some picnics and avoiding spending a lot on beverages.  We brought some reusable Copco coffee mugs and Copco tumblers.  Having a little bottle of dish soap meant that I could wash these out each night at the hotel.  Every morning, we would fill our tumblers and a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with ice at the hotel.  We also saved by filling our mugs with coffee each morning at the free breakfast.  We kept our tumblers full at water fountains and from our stash of beverages that we brought along and replenished along the way.  It was fun to pick up regional beverages at local grocery stores for a reasonable price.

One of my favorite finds was this nifty little Japanese knife with wood sheath which only cost about $7.  This was handy in preparing a wide range of items, but especially cutting up fruits, vegetables, and cheese.  The Swiss Army Knife also came in handy, especially when we decided that we needed wine!  I brought our reusable string grocery bags for more than groceries because they hold a lot and take up very little space.

Kitchen with list

The final drawer held cleaning supplies for a variety of situations, but especially for the many bathrooms used along the way!  Speaking of public bathrooms, have you heard of the Charmin Sit-or-Squat app?  It was a lifesaver and we found  a lot of humor in labeling bathrooms a Sit or a Squat based on their cleanliness.

Cleaning 2

In addition to the pencil box, the cleaning drawer included a thin bath towel, paper towels, and wet wipes.

Cleaning

Having this cart in the back of our SUV was a huge help because we didn’t need to unload it every night and we could easily access needed items on a daily basis.  I hope you find this information useful.  Happy traveling on your adventure!

Please click below for a free printable list of all items mentioned above, plus everything else that we fit into our Ford Escape:

Packing Car Preparing Extended Road Trip.jpg

Pack and Prepare for almost anything on your extended road trip.Prepare for Road Trip Kitchen Cleaning Household first aid problem solvers laundry office (1)

 
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Magical Lights in the Fairy Garden

Make a little magic using solar LED twinkle lights in your fairy garden. Instructions and recommended plants are included.

 

I enjoy growing flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit, but my favorite yearly project is always my fairy garden.  One year, I was installing solar twinkle lights over an arbor and I thought it might be pretty if I could do the same to the arbor in my fairy garden.arbor at night

PREPARATION

Here is a list of the materials you need

Large container with drainage holes (e.g., half whisky barrel, wheelbarrow, tub)

Potting soil with fertilizer

Drip irrigation kit (optional)

Structures (e.g., arbor, gazebo, house)

Decorative elements (e.g., furniture, decorative stakes, fencing)

Plants

Garden staples

Solar LED wire lights

I initially started with solar lights that looked a lot like the lights you might use at Christmas.  This year, I found these Amir solar LED wire lights on Amazon and they worked SO much better.  I recommend this brand because another brand that I bought stopped working after a couple of weeks, but the Amir have been going strong for several weeks now.  The ones that I bought had 100 lights on the string.  That may seem like a lot, but I thought it was just right.   Here is what they look like when they first arrive:

image2

Once you have all of your materials, fill the container with potting soil until it is just a few inches below the top. You will fill it to the top later when you are almost done.  Lay out all of the larger structures and plants until you have a general idea of where you want everything to be. You will then need to move some items in and out while you install the irrigation and lighting.

IRRIGATION

It is not required, but if you live somewhere hot and dry like me, you might need to water as much as twice a day unless you are using a drip system.  I use drip irrigation on a timer for all of my containers, and I first started with this Drip Irrigation Kit for Containers  which is quite easy to use.  This kit would water several containers, not just your fairy garden.  For more information about drip irrigation, please see The Beginner’s Guide to Using Drip Irrigation in your Container Garden.

With that said, drip irrigation is a must if you want to successfully grow plants in miniature containers like these in a hot climate.  I insert an emitter directly into the bottom of the planters and urns.  This takes some fiddling around to get it right.  I also arrange one emitter such that it will drip into the little pond and therefore stay full of water all summer.  Garden staples are helpful in getting the drip irrigation installed if you want to do some of these extras.  For more information on this, see 6 Creative Uses for Drip Irrigation .

LIGHTING

Install the solar string lights starting  at the end nearest the solar panel.  Unfortunately, the lights are kind of far apart, so it is sometimes necessary to twist or loop the wire around so that the lights are closer together.  I like using the lights in a way that you cannot see a continuous string of lights.  Instead, some are hidden under plants or gravel such that the lighting appears to start and stop in different places. This year, I added solar light strings over a “patio”, which is really an old mosaic stepping stone.

When I’m done, any leftover lights are placed in the house so it looks like the fairies are at home.

PLANTING

Place your plants a little above the soil line, remember that you will add the rest of the soil later.

I especially like alyssum (pink) and lobelia (bright blue) because I can buy them quite reasonably at a flat sale every year.  These light blue ageratum are also nice, but only when they are planted towards the very back because they get tall.

Garden 2013 (9)

Some kind of miniature tree is also a nice addition. My favorite is this mini variegated olive.P1030816

I use Wire Vine over the arbor (left) and Isotoma Laurentia (right) which has tiny little blue flowers.  These two plants are great because they often come back after a mild winter.

If you want a vegetable garden, simply break the tips off the branches of succulents and place them in the soil to mimic tiny cabbages.  They will eventually take root, needing only a little water.

cabbage crop

Lastly, I use some premium annuals such as Baby’s Tears (left) or Leptinella (center) which looks like tiny fern plants.  I also like Irish moss (right) because it looks so much like grass.  

To learn more about fairy garden plants, visit fairygardening.com

DECORATE

Once the plants are planted, add a couple inches of soil to the top covering the drip irrigation and solar lighting.  Add some rocks for decorations or paths.  Here is a path made of expanded shale.

P1030798

Add fun little extras (e.g., furniture, fencing, decorative stakes, etc). I have a lot of trouble restraining myself on this step.  I really tend to junk it up!  For me, that is part of the fun.

MAINTAIN

Keep the garden watered and cut plants back by half when they get tall or scraggly, which is what happened here..

2014-05-26 09.17.11-3

I hope that you enjoy creating your own magical fairy garden!

Make a little magic using solar wire LED twinkle lights in your fairy garden. Instructions and recommended plants are also included.

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Simple Stir-Fry Suppers

 

Simple stir-fry suppers 2

I fell in love with Asian food the first time that I ate it. And by first time, I am not referring to the canned chow mein that moms like mine served in the 1970s. No, I fell in love with real Asian cooking at the homey Asian restaurants I could not afford to visit very often during my years as a poverty-stricken university student. So, I decided that I would make my own. How hard could it be? I added chicken, a ton of different vegetables at once, and doused the pan with stroke-inducing amounts of soy sauce before eating the whole mushy mess over Minute Rice. Let’s just say, it was a bit disappointing.

Once I finally learned how to properly make a stir-fry, I realized that it is not so hard once you understand some very basic steps.  Once you master those basic steps, the options for a successful dinner are endless. We have a stir-fry at least once a week and every one is at least a little different than the last. Additionally, stir-fry is a fairly healthy cooking method of cooking. It can be accomplished with minimal fat and you can include a large portion of vegetables in your final dish.  This post is not a recipe for stir-fry, but rather a general description of the method, so that you can pull together a stir-fry from ingredients that you have on hand.  Here are some ingredients to keep on hand:

Stir Fry Ingredient List
Some ingredients that are useful when concocting a stir-fry.

A stir-fry also does not require any special equipment. I recall a college classmate who was from Asia laughing at the idea of using a wok. She said that she just used a large skillet. You will also need a knife, cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, and a wooden spoon.

If you are going to make rice or noodles with your stir-fry, start preparing that first because you want it to be done before your stir fry. As long as you drain the noodles or keep the rice covered and off-heat, they will not be ruined while you finish your stir-fry.  Your stir-fry, however, will be ruined if you are waiting for your starch to cook before you eat it. One final note, I beg you to use a delicious rice like basmati or jasmine, or at least brown rice.  I deeply regret all the years that I wasted eating tasteless Minute rice.  I stock up on a large bag of basmati rice at the Asian market about an hour from where we live, but I have also seen these rices at our small Wal-mart.

Step 1. Prepare all of your ingredients BEFORE you start cooking. Once you start cooking, things move quickly and you will not have time to quickly chop some more vegetables without ruining what you already have in the pan. You can choose from a lot of different proteins, but our favorites are chicken breast, shrimp, steak, pork chops, and tofu. All of these will brown best if you dry them out with some paper towels before cooking. You will also want to chop up your vegetables into bite-sized pieces. This is probably the most tedious part of preparing a stir-fry, but there are lots of options to avoid this. For instance, you can buy pre-cut vegetables in the produce, salad bar, or frozen section of your supermarket. There are even some canned options to keep on hand like water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and baby corn.  One of my favorite strategies is to buy vegetables that are already bite-sized, like sugar snap peas. It is usually best to use only 2-3 types of vegetables.

Be sure to go ahead and mix your sauce at this time, as well.  Please see the end of this post if you need a sauce recipe.

Step 2. Heat 1 TB canola oil over medium high heat. Watch this very carefully and add your protein IMMEDIATELY when you see a tiny bit of smoke coming off the pan. You need to add right away when this happens because letting your oil smoke for too long could lead to a fire. It’s important to have a really hot pan, however, if you are going to get a nice sear on your protein.  Once you add the protein, wait at least a couple of minutes before stirring; it is ready to stir when it isn’t sticking to the pan too much. Then, stir every 1-2 minutes until the protein is just cooked. You will then need to remove the protein from the pan to keep it from being overcooked and to give the vegetables a chance to cook evenly. I skipped this step for years because I didn’t want to dirty another plate, but that was a big mistake. Now, I just use one of the plates that we will be using for dinner.

Step 3. Heat another 1 TB canola oil until you see it shimmer in the pan and then add your vegetables. This part can get a little tricky because you don’t want to add all of your types of vegetables at once. If you do, then some will be overcooked and some will be undercooked. There are also individual differences in how crisp people like their vegetables, but hopefully this chart will be a good starting point.

How long should I stir-fry vegetables before adding a sauce

Step 4. Use your wooden spoon to create a well in the middle of the vegetables. Add 1 tsp. canola oil or sesame oil and then immediately add your aromatics. Aromatics include garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and the white part of scallions. If you aren’t sure how much to use of each aromatic, I recommend about 1 TB minced garlic, 1 tsp minced ginger, 2-3 scallion whites, and/or a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Mash this mixture around in the well for about 30-seconds-1 minute until the ingredients become aromatic (see what I did there?). Then, mix all of the vegetables in with the aromatics.

Step 5. Give your sauce a quick stir, making sure the cornstarch is incorporated. Then, add the sauce and protein into the pan. Stir for about 1-2 minutes, just until the sauce slightly thickens.

If desired, you can add a garnish such as chopped scallion greens, bean sprouts, herbs, nuts, or seeds to your final dish.

Do you need a sauce recipe? There are so many interesting and complex sauces out there, that I almost hate to share this one because it is quite basic.  However, it is a good sauce to start with because it is versatile, and has just a few easy-to-find ingredients.

  • 1 cup chicken broth (Better than Bouillon soup starter is an acceptable substitute)
  • 1 heaping TB cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup soy
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • 1 TB rice vinegar

Kicking it up a notch:

  • Use peanut oil, instead of canola since it tolerates a higher temperature.
  • Use sauce recipes with more interesting ingredients like rice cooking wine (e.g., sake, mirin), oyster sauce, fish sauce, curry powder or paste, coconut milk, hoisin, or chili sauce.
  • Learn how to “velvet” your protein with cornstarch and egg white.