Shop Local

I love shopping local. There’s nothing better than buying fresh veggies from a local farmer. Or, getting your eggs and chicken straight from the pasture. There is just a special bond that reminds me of life in China. I am so thankful that the “Go Local” movement has continued to gain popularity in Houston, TX. It started in Austin (after really taking the Nation by storm on the West coast). But, recently in the last few years it has continued to gain popularity here in Houston.

Houston Farmers Market

One of the important things to my family and I is making sure to support local businesses. Whether this is in our groceries, doctors, etc. We just personally don’t like being a “number” of the big guys. Now, I know what you’re saying – local guys are just too expensive. It’s totally true, they are more expensive than the local guys. Economies of scale, yada yada yada.


I get this and I get that it can make things more difficult to afford. But, come on – think about all the documentaries and evidence that is now showing that the meat, veggies, eggs, milk, etc. that the giants like HEB, Kroger, Walmart, et. al. are selling is actually killing us! I mean, that is scary! And why does it hurt us? Well, economies of scale! The big corporations have share holders to please and if they can’t sell anymore products (because they are already in all of the stores) then there really is only way to increase their profit margins…lower costs.


And how do they lower costs? By mass producing stuff and cutting corners. Well, if you cut one corner you may not notice it. Cut two corners and it still may be apparent. But, just like when you’re aiming a bow and arrow – by the time you reach the target even if you’re just a little bit off at the beginning you’ll completely miss the target! That’s how we get cows that are producing milk that isn’t really milk but just white chemical fluid. Or beef that is artificially injected with red dye to make it look appetizing. Ick!


So yes, shopping local is more expensive but the long term costs are way worse!


best mommy makeover surgeon houstonThe importance of going local in Houston isn’t just for groceries. The same “economies of scale” are used in your doctors, construction companies, everything! I mean – would you want to use a plastic surgeon that works for a huge company that wants him to get in and out of the surgery room as fast as possible because the longer he spends in there the more it costs them? No way! You want a surgeon that is going to take care of you. If you’re getting a Mommy Makeover in Houston then you better get a local doctor that is going to take as much time as is needed to make sure you are healthy, safe, and will recover well. Cutting costs on something important like that is crazy!






Here’s a report on why you shouldn’t try to save a buck and use “geo-arbitrage” to save on surgery. Super interesting!


best houston foundation repair contractorI remember when my Husband and I were first looking for foundation repair Houston we called out some of the “big guys” but I could tell the contractor didn’t really know what he was doing! He just had a checklist of things to check and questions to ask. But, every house is different right? I mean, yes there are some standard things to look for – but, every case is different and it’s important to take that into account! I mean Houston foundations are all different based on the soil that is underneath them, so it’s important to make sure you get a pro out there. We ended up finding a local company that actually was cheaper then the big guys and did a fantastic job. No more sticking doors, cracked drywall, or unlevel floors. It’s awesome and we got that result just for going local!





Okay – rant over – but going local is something I’m really passionate about. Houston is filled with awesome small businesses and it’s a shame to not be their customers just because you want to save a buck or because you’re more comfortable with a big company. Check out the small guys and you’ll be amazed at the service and quality you’ll get!

Delicious Chinese Veggies Grown in Houston

houston tatsoi

It seems like every week I see a story in the news that talks about how Americans don’t eat enough vegetables. Speaking as someone who grew up in China, I have a difficult time understanding how this can be. Maybe it’s because there’s such an emphasis on meat in the U.S. while it’s just the opposite in China. I’m used to having as many as three or four different veggies at pretty nearly every meal.

It’s a practice I continued with even when I settled in the Houston area. In fact, people living in this part of Texas are really fortunate to have a subtropical climate. This means that unlike in other parts of the state, we can grow delicious Chinese vegetables here year round. That’s good news for me. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t add my own tatsoi or snow peas to the dinner table.

If you’d like to grow your own Chinese vegetables, it’s important to understand that there are cold season varieties and summer varieties. Knowing when to plant each can make all the difference. A winter garden in Houston should be started around October, although I’ve had friends who have started in November or December and done just fine. I recommend using a raised garden bed for growing veggies. This keeps the soil from becoming compacted and it also prevents it from washing away should there be a sudden rainstorm. A raised garden bed also ensures good drainage, an important factor for many Chinese vegetables.

Several favorites come to mind when I picture my winter garden. Daikon radish is a root vegetable that is extremely versatile in the kitchen and very popular among the Chinese. I’ve used it in everything from soups and stews to rice cakes. Tatsoi is another must-have. This green, leafy vegetable has a mild and delicious flavor that’s just right for salads. I also love kohlrabi. It’s wonderful when cooked in a soup or stew, but it also makes a refreshing alternative to potato chips. You can peel and slice young plants, then serve them with dip. They are so much healthier than chips, and they taste amazing.
Make a delicious stir fry for your family with your delicious veggies. Gordon Ramsay has great tips on how to do this, check out his video instructions:

houston amranth veggie
In the spring it’s time to turn to summer vegetables. I swear by edible amaranth. Our hot Houston summers are ideal for this fast growing plant. Another proven winner is yard-long beans. After harvesting, they can be stir fried with garlic for a delicious side dish. I’ve also had very good results with sweet potato leaf. This isn’t the underground potato that Americans are accustomed to. Instead, this is a leafy green vegetable that’s packed with chlorophyll. It’s so good for you, and it truly enhances any dish.

Houston’s unique climate makes it a great place for growing Chinese vegetables that wouldn’t fare as well in other parts of Texas. Keep in mind that there are cool season and summer veggies, and be sure to plant them at the right time for best results. Many nurseries in Houston sell seeds that can get you started with your own Chinese vegetable garden. Seeds can also be ordered online. Alternatively, it can be really helpful to find a neighbor who’s already growing Chinese veggies. They can provide cuttings and advice. Good fortune as you discover wonderful vegetables from the Far East.