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April 2017

Easter Ham for Breakfast

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Ham and eggs for breakfast, it's another dose of YUM!

Whether it's an Easter ham you made for yourself or leftovers from Mom or a restaurant, you've got a foundation for a great breakfast!

 This morning I opted for a quick ham fried rice.  I chopped up the leftover ham, some onion, fried up the rice (TIP:  Fried rice always turns out better when you use cooked rice that's been chilled in the fridge) and onion until it starts to get that crispy edge, then tossed in the ham and a couple lightly scrambled eggs.  Topped with a little American cheese and salted and peppered to taste and I created a scrumptious breakfast that only took about 10 minutes to prepare and cost around $1.

Re-purposed, delicious leftovers, you can't beat that with a stick!

Container Gardening

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

If you're into gardening, live in an apartment and like saving money growing your own veggies, keep reading.

That's exactly what my situation is.  I love to garden, but live in an apartment.  I don't let that stop me from gardening though because I value the ability to just walk out my door and harvest a few veggies for a salad or pick something for a fantastic side dish.  Food just doesn't get any fresher than that!  The bonus?  Saving a few bucks from what you would buy in a grocery store.

My apartment has a small patio, ground level, fenced in, it's asphalt.  Can you say "Container Garden?"  Yes, yes you can.  Container gardens can work in just about any small space that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day, whether it's a ground level place like mine, a 3rd floor balcony or an entryway stoop.

20170414_133623In my case, the fortune of having a fence means I can "Grow Up."  I've taken advantage of the fence and put up a trellis.  A trellis easily accommodates vine type veggies like tomatoes, pole beans and cucumbers in tight spaces, ergo, 'grow up' the trellis.  It maximizes what little 'garden area' you have to work with.

I call my patio the "Asphalt Garden."

Last year, the first year in my apartment, I put up my trellis, but simply placed my containers directly on the asphalt.  It was fine and growing great in the spring and early summer months, but once the three-digit temps of hot summer hit in July, my container garden started to suffer.  Extra watering helped, but it still wasn't enough to compensate for hot container bottoms sitting directly on the asphalt.  When temperatures go over the 100 degree mark, asphalt can get up to 140 degrees!  This makes for unhappy plant roots.

Enter, pallets.

20170414_111934Pallets are an easy and inexpensive way to elevate the containers on your hard surface.  Pallets are readily available just about anywhere a truck delivers something.  Go to a grocery store, lumber yard, flower shop, a mall.  Just about any of those kind of places would have no problem letting you have a pallet or two, or three, free for the taking!  All you need is a little time and a saw to break the pallets down and it sure beats going to a place like Lowe's or Home Depot and shelling out money for bricks or concrete blocks!

Pallets are even better than bricks you might buy at a place like Lowe's because bricks, being solid, don't dissipate heat coming from the asphalt nearly as efficiently as wood pallets do!  Pallets allow for air movement between boards, bricks don't....  The result is a far lower temp at the container bottom with pallets, which means less watering and happier plant roots.

20170414_111952You can break down pallets fairly simply with a saw, splitting them down the middle creating 'half pallets'.  No re-nailing necessary, 'half pallets' allow you to elevate your containers off the hard surface without taking up additional patio/balcony space.  The result is happier plants.

Having fresh veggies growing just outside your door is a simple pleasure.  Harvesting some greens for a salad or picking some green beans to go with that chicken dish, not only puts a smile of productive satisfaction on my face, but it saves me a trip and a few bucks to the grocery store to boot!

If you container garden, get some pallets!


Fried Rice, a budget staple

by Mike Thayer

Veggie stir fryIf you have some rice in the pantry and just about any kind of veggie and/or leftover meat in the fridge, you can create some rocking fried rice. 

Rice + meat + veggie + an egg = YUM!  And for pennies! 

Leftover steak?  Chop it up, make fried rice.  Leftover pork chop?  Chop it up, make fried rice.  Leftover chicken breast?  Chop it up, make fried rice.  Heck, got some lunch meat?  Chop it up, make fried rice!

There is no reason to pay the $$$ for Asian take out when you've got a decently stocked pantry, a few veggies on hand and some leftovers. 

The key to good stir fry of course, is to have all your ingredients chopped and ready to throw in the pan and knowing WHAT to throw in at what time and on some high heat.....  The beauty of this recipe is that you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand.  Be flexible with it.


  • One cup rice
  • Two cups water
  • One tab of butter
  • Tablespoon, vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces of leftover meat or fish
  • 5-6 baby carrots, sliced Julienne (like match sticks)
  • 4-5 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 green onions, rough chopped
  • Tablespoon, soy sauce
  • Tablespoon garlic powder
  • Tablespoon chicken boullion powder
  • teaspoon hot sauce (your favorite brand)
  • One egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Melt the tab of butter in a medium sauce pan, add the rice, half the garlic powder and chicken bouillon powder, saute for about a minute, then add the water.  Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 20 minutes.  While that rice is cooking, chop up the veggies and leftover meat.  A few minutes before the rice is done, fire up the wok or a large non-stick skillet on high heat.  Once the wok/skillet is hot, add the veggie oil.  Give it 30 seconds, then put in the carrots, mushrooms, meat and let those sizzle for about a minute.  Next, add half the rice and the remaining garlic powder, let sizzle for another minute, giving some of that rice a nice crispy 'edge.'  Next, add the green onion and stir fry for about another minute.  Add the rest of the rice and all remaining ingredients, stirring constantly, for about another minute.  The goal here is tender crisp vegetables and a lightly (but done) scrambled egg.  Salt and pepper to taste.

This is a very satisfying dish, both for the stomach and the wallet.  Enjoy!

TIP:  While this recipe calls for cooking the rice, cold, leftover rice is actually better to make fried rice with.  Using cold rice gives the grains a better texture, making for a better bite.