28 April 2023

Pesto Made with Carrot Tops

Don't throw out leafy green carrot tops. Use them to make a tasty pesto sauce perfect for topping pasta or as a dip.

An abundant carrot harvest this year has given me a lot of carrot tops. I've thrown them away in the past, always wondering if there was something I use them for.

There is! Carrot tops are edible; you could add them to a salad if you wanted. 

Woman holds a bunch of green carrot tops in front of her with words Pesto Made with Carrot Tops to the left and road to self reliance dot com in the lower right.

What I prefer to do is use them to make pesto. I make a big batch and freeze so I can have pesto to eat all year.

Pesto is traditionally made with basil, and if you have fresh basil, you can use it along with the carrot tops. The first time I made it, I did a mix of the two, but in Florida the seasons for carrots and basil don't overlap much.

Ingredients for Carrot Top Pesto

  • Carrot Tops (and basil if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup Nuts for each cup of carrot tops (Pinenuts are traditional for pesto, but I use less expensive walnuts. Pecans are also good. If you have an abundance of a nut, try it.)
  • Salt to taste
  • Garlic to taste (a clove can be chopped up with everything else; fresh garlic bothers my stomach, so I use garlic powder)
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil for each cup of carrot tops
  • Hard cheese such as Parmesean or romano to taste

To Make the Pesto

  1. Remove the leafy parts of the carrot tops from the larger stems. Wash and drain. Pat dry to remove as much water as possible.
  2. Put nuts in the bowl of a large food processor and pulse to chop up. Add in as many of the carrot tops as will fit, then pulse to break up. Scrape the bowl of the processor, and add more carrot tops. Pulse several times. If using fresh garlic, add it now.
  3. Once everything is finely chopped, add the salt, lemon juice, and garlic powder (if not using fresh garlic).
  4. Turn the processor on high and let it run. Through the tube, slowly add the olive oil, a few tablespoons at a time. Check the consistency and add more oil. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. 
  5. Continue processing, adding oil a few tablespoons at a time, until reaching desired consistency.
  6. If you are going to eat the pesto immediately, add the cheese now, and process to distribute it. Serve over warm pasta. If you are going to freeze the pesto for later use, do not add cheese, and follow steps below.

To Freeze the Pesto

  1. I use an old ice cube tray, and fill each compartment with the pesto. 
  2. Place it in the freezer until frozen, several hours or overnight. 
  3. To remove from tray, run a dull knife (such as a table knife) around the edge of each cube to help release it, and store in a freezer bag until needed.

To Use Frozen Pesto

  1. When ready to use, pull out the number of cubes needed. (I find 3-4 work good for one serving). 
  2. Put in a pan over low heat. 
  3. As they thaw, stir and add more olive oil if needed. 
  4. When heated through, stir in grated hard cheese of your choice. Serve over warm pasta, or use as a dip.
Click below to watch the video of me making pesto with carrot tops.

Want More Ideas for Cooking with Scraps?

Don't throw out what you can use! You can find more recipes and ideas in the Cooking with Scraps label.

07 April 2023

Grow Your Own Sprouts and Always Have Fresh Greens

Sprouts are easy to grow on your kitchen countertop and can be ready in less than a week. Here’s how I do it.

Do you live in a climate where it is hard to grow lettuce? For me, in zone 9b in Florida, I can grow lettuce in the late fall and through winter, but the rest of the year, it is too hot.

Yet I want fresh greens to put on sandwiches and add to salads. I also want to produce more of my food and rely less on grocery stores.

I have found growing sprouts on my kitchen counter to be a great alternative. They are quick to produce, require little space, and are cost. 

This post contains affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase, I may receive a small amount of compensation at no additional cost to you.

Watch Video

Here's the video of my process for sprouting seeds. Supplies and instructions are below.


  1. Sprouting Seeds (I've purchased from Sprout People and from Mountain Rose Herbs with great results)
  2. Glass jar - I use a pint size
  3. Cover for the jar that lets you drain water – you can use cheesecloth and rubber band it around the top, which is what I did initially. However, it is messy, and the cheesecloth quickly wears out. I purchased a set of three from Sprout People and have found them to be a great help. You can easily change the screen from the smallest to larger holes to let the water drain effectively as the sprouts grow

To Sprout:

Put 1 tablespoon of sprouting seeds in the jar. If you have a larger jar, you can use more seeds and make more sprouts; however, be sure you will use them all before they go bad – mine last about 10 to 12 days in the refrigerator.

Cover seeds with plenty of water. You want to be sure they get completely wet.

Stir to be sure all seeds are wet.

Cover with a lid that will let you drain and let sit in a darker place on a counter for 8-12 hours. Different seeds have different soak times, so check the package or do an internet search for optimal soak times. I like to start mine in the evening and let them soak overnight.

Drain off the water. You may want to turn it upside down on a dish drainer to let the most of the water drain out.

Set the sprouts on the counter out of direct light.

About every 12 hours, add water to the jar and swirl it around to be sure all seeds are wet. Drain.

Continue with this until most of the seeds have sprouted and filled the jar. This will vary depending on the type of seed and the temperature of your home. Mine are ready a day or so earlier in summer than winter.

Remove from the jar and put in a container in the refrigerator.

How to Use Sprouts

  1. Put them on sandwiches. When it is too hot to grow lettuce, these are a great replacement. 
  2. Add them to salads.
  3. Mixed them into egg salad for a bit of crunch and flavor.
  4. Eat them out of hand as a snack.

10 January 2023

Setting Up My First GreenStalk Garden

Interested in a GreenStalk Garden? Here is how I set up and what I planted in my first GreenStalk.

A GreenStalk Garden can be a great way to increase your growing area even in a small space. My garden is on my patio, and while I've expanded to include a couple of raised beds, a GreenStalk lets me add more.

You can watch the video of the entire set-up, or read below for how I set mine up.

Setting up your GreenStalk is easy, but there are a few tips I learned while setting mine up.

This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click the link and make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Included with your GreenStalk are instructions. They are not complicated, but be sure and read through them carefully.

How to Set Up Your GreenStalk Garden

After unboxing your GreenStalk, be sure you place it on a firm and level area. This was a mistake I made. The area I put it in is filled with lava rock. I leveled the rock as much as I could, then placed a concrete paver on it. It seemed sturdy and level, but when I put the base on it, I found it wasn't. First, the paver wasn't large enough for the entire base to sit on, and second, it wasn't level.

My husband realized the problem and took out the lava rocks, put down two pavers, and firmly tamped it in place. (Thanks, honey!!) When I set the base on it, I realized how much better it was.

The GreenStalk doesn't come with a base, and you do not need one. There are three bases to choose from: a spinner, a roller, and a spinner with rollers. I knew I needed to be able to spin my around making it easier to tend to in limited space, and so all sides can get some sun during the winter. I wasn't going to be able to roll mine, so didn't need that type of base. Think about where you are going to put yours and decide what you need.

If you have a base, a drainage tube will be included in your box. Go ahead and put that in, then set the base in place. 

Assemble the GreenStalk Garden Tiers

To assemble the GreenStalk, take one tier and put it on the base if you have one. Fill with potting soil. As the instructions say, fill it completely. When you think it is full, add some more. 

Then take one of the grey disks and place it on top of the tier. The disks are the water reservoir for each level, and small holes are near the edge to drip the water into the soil below. Line the holes up with each pocket of the tier. 

Get another tier and put it on top of the first one. NOTE: Be sure the tier locks into place with the one below. It may not completely lock into place until you fill it with soil, so be sure and check after you fill it.

Fill with soil and place the grey disk. Be sure everything is lined up properly, then add the next tier.

Repeat until all tiers are in place, then place the reservoir on top, again locking it in place with the tier below.

Pour water into the top reservoir. Continue adding until it runs out of the drainage tube.

Your Greenstalk Garden is now ready to plant.

Two reminders: 

  1. Be sure your GreenStalk is set on a firm and level area 
  2. Make sure each tier locks in place.

Get Your Own GreenStalk Garden

Interested in your own GreenStalk? If you go to GreenStalk Gardens through this link, you will get $10 off your order of at least $75. 

Happy growing!

02 January 2023

Cut Up Old Clothes for Rags

Don't throw out old clothes that can no longer be worn. Repurpose them into rags that can be used a variety of ways.

I try to wear things as long as I can. I mend tears and remove or cover stains. I make alterations or turn them into something else. But the day will come when they are just too far gone to be wearable, even for dirty chores.

You may be tempted to throw them out, but don't! There is one more thing you can do with them - cut them up and use them as rags. Use them to wipe up messy spills, to wipe dirty hands, and to clean with.

Here is how I cut up an old sleeveless t-shirt and an old pair of shorts.

*Bonus - be sure and save any trim and fastenings you can. If there are buttons or metal zippers, cut them out and save with your sewing supplies.

Cut Up an Old T Shirt

Before cutting, decide how large you want your pieces to be. Maybe you want a really large piece and cut down one side to open it up. Maybe, like me, you like smaller pieces, so you cut more. 

Watch the video to see how I cut up one shirt (and see how I can repurpose the banding around the neckline and sleeves).

Cup Up Old Shorts

This also works for jeans or trousers, as well as shorts. Decide how large you want your rags to be before you begin cutting.

Remove any fastenings or trim you want to keep. Buttons and metal zippers can be reused on another sewing project.

This video shows you how I did mine.

Using The Rags

Anytime you think of reaching for a paper towel, consider if one of your rags would work. I keep a large stack in the kitchen for wiping up spills, and I find them a great way to clean grease and oil from cast iron pans. When the rags get dirty, they are easy to wash and reuse until they completely fall apart.