to do-list week 14 – 2014

This week to do-list:
* Onions, I need to do something with the onions because they are going to sprout

* It has been extreme warm for this time of year so my green cabbages are almost going into seed. I will dehydrate them

* I need to make a double portion of the Mix and Match Granola

* Re-organize canning jars

* Pull weeds

* Plant broad beans under mini green houses (made from 1/2 liter bottles)

* Plant some lettuce and spinach

* Wax cheeses which have formed a thin crust

* Write a letter to my parents who are abroad and make them a nice surprise parcel

* Make a start with my translation assignment

Frugal savings week 13 – 2014

I haven’t done much this week because I have been under the weather and been in bed for most of the days this week. I did, of course baked my breads and made all the lunches and meals from scratch. Our favorite meal this week was falafal from scratch with tahini  and yogurt garlic sauce.

I didn’t go to get milk and make cheese. I had prepared everything for making some Camembert cheese but figured I should focus on getting better instead of making more cheese. I did do something in the cheese making area: I have been reading up about storing cheese and how to make cheese caves. I am getting better and better in making cheese and I sure want to keep on going. The prices of milk went up, while I haven’t been ‘looking’. In the store the milk is now 60 euro cent per liter. I still pay 40 euro cent at the farmer (for the most fresh and raw milk). There is always a next week to start make some cheese again.

I always have potatoes, onions and garlic in the shed, but spring came early and they need to be eaten soon because they start to sprout. This time I dehydrated grated potatoes which are very convenient to make a Swiss dish called rösti. The sprouted garlic I planted in my green house (tent). I know you get bigger bulbs when you plant the garlic before the winter, but I have sprouted bulbs now and don’t want to waste them. It will be a nice experiment. I will deal with the onions next week.

I have mended some clothes again. Second hand clothes are seriously more prone to small holes or missing  so I frequently have to repair the clothes. I was very lucky because my sister gave me a lot of clothes for my smallest daughter. Her clothes are always the most special and original.

We went to the thrift store and the children picked out some clothes which they liked. It is nice to buy second hand clothes: you can find such a lovely clothes. My oldest daughter found a short, black cardigan with a draped front. It was from a designer’s brand from Amsterdam. It is expensive when you have to buy retail, but we bought it for 2.50 euro. It seriously had never been worn or washed!

What I did start this week is trying to fix the old wooden floor in the living room. It is very nice old wood but the wood is dried out a lot. The floor had also a lot of paint stains on it and I tried to get most of it off with a heat gun. I had some vegetable oil and I am rubbing the oil into the wood. It looks a bit strange now, but hopefully when the oil penetrates the wood it will get more nice.

My shovel broke last week so I decided to buy a quality one this time. It is a special shovel for clay ground. Quite expensive 39 euros but I hope it works better then the other one I bought.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will go to a neighbor who is Colombian and we are going to learn how to make 2 Colombian dishes. I am looking forward to that.

Not much this week… Hopefully next week will be more fruitful.

Mix and Match Granola Recipe

We love home made granola. We eat crunchy granola in the morning, but also as a snack. This is a recipe we use for a very long time and it is a family favorite. You can use the ingredients you want and have on hand or what is in season. It is healthy and very easy to make.

Mix and Match home made Granola

4 cups cups oats
½ cup sugar of choice
¼ cup of honey
1 ½ cup nuts or seeds
¼ cup of oil (we use a neutral flavored oil like sunflower oil)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon, pumpkin spices or any spice of your choice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, apricots, apples, dates, banana’s etc.)

Preheat the oven on 160 degrees Celsius. Mix in a large bowl the oats, nuts and seeds, sugar, salt and spices. Heat in a small pan the oil, honey and mix in the vanilla extract. Pour this heated mixture into the dry ingredients. Put the well mixed mixture in a baking pan. Bake the mix and match granola 30-35 minutes in the oven until they are golden brown. Stir the mixture every 10 minutes so it will not easily burn. You can keep this granola for about 2 weeks in an airtight container or jar.

Frugal Savings week 12 – 2014

This was a busy week, I spend a lot of time outside of the house but did manage to make every dinner from home and pack lunches and snacks for school and work, all home made. I didn’t buy any groceries this week, we had everything canned, in the  freezer and some in the garden. We had home made cheese and eggs from our 2 chickens. I never thought we would have enough eggs to feed a family of 3 with only 2 chickens.

The meals I made from food storage was Indonesian food (eggs in a coconut sauce, green beans sajoer and a chicken dish). We had enough for 2 days. They always say that spicy Indonesian food is best the day after, because all the spices will taste better after a night of marinating. We had huevo rancheros for dinner but my oldest is in a “I am not eating eggs from a chicken I know”, so she had a sad looking tortilla. We had a pasta dish with home made tomato sauce and a home made fries and apple sauce. Not the healthiest meal, but something the children really like. I also need to finish the potatoes I have in storage and making fries is a good way to use them.

I bought 20 liter raw milk from the farmer and made another wheel of Gouda cheese in my wooden cheese mold I bough for only 3 euro. I calculated that my raw milk Gouda cheese cost 2,50 euro per kilo. Normally a quality cheese starts with 10 euro per kilo. I also made yogurt in small jars so I can take them to work.

Another visit to the thrift store was fruitful: I bought a pinkish, woolen blanket for my daughter: it was only 1 euro! I am not fond of pink, but this shade is a bit more pink/purple. My daughter loved it, way better then the standard yellow we have now. Her room is the coldest room in the house and she needs extra blankets during winter time. I got an heavy, steel water bowl for my dog for 0.50 cents. And for my daughter a wooden spice rack with those glass spice jars for 2 euro. I will paint the wooden rack in a fresh colour and she can use it for her collection of beads.

I cut the hair of my children, which is always a good saving. I bought one of those real hairdresser  scissors and cutting with those scissors makes all the difference.

The sprouted garlic I planted in my green house (the tent). I know you get bigger bulbs when you plant the garlic before the winter, but I have sprouted bulbs now and don’t want to waste them. It will be a nice experiment. I started strawberries, peppers and some flowers in the green house. I planted 5 strawberry plants I had saved from last year and I planted 2 apple trees, a pear and a plum tree.

I  finished my article for a magazine about oats and cooking with oats and made pictures for it. I am writing for a magazine which is about being happy with little means. I write about food, food strategics and cooking from scratch with  food storage.

Frugal Savings week 11 – 2014

Last week I got a 20 liters of raw milk and made Neufchatel and hard cheese… I thought. The hard cheese mixture was too acidified and clabbered milk was the result. The only thing left to do was to make ricotta cheese. That was a lot of ricotta cheese, so this week we have been eating a lot of dishes with ricotta. Cannelloni with ricotta and spinach, 4 sweet ricotta cheese cake with mandarin (simply put in some of spicy mandarin jam I made a couple of months ago). I will freeze the cakes in 1 portion size so the children can take them with them to school. I made calzone with Swiss chart and ricotta, frittata with ricotta and wraps filled with ricotta. Lot’s of ricotta that was, but experimenting was really fun.

I bought some herbs for my small herb table and planted them.

I also bought berry bushes to be planted later.

I made some of the onion, garlic and ginger pepper sambal (you can find the recipe here: )

I repaired (again) some clothes.

Someone gave me 2 boxes with 29 Weck jars from 1/2 liter. I am so happy with them, they are the ‘older’ model then you can buy now in the stores. It does look that these are stronger then the ones you can buy now, which are made in China. Not in Germany, where they originally were made.

Photo: Someone brought me 29 1/2 liter weck canning jars. They are the 'older' model and still made in Germany. They make them in China now, have more greenish glass and are poorer quality then these. She didnt want anything for them so im going to make a soap-spoil-yourself- package for her.

Soups: Rutabaga and Pumpkin Soup

Spicy Cream of Rutabaga and Pumpkin Soup

The rutabaga, swede (from Swedish turnip) turnip, yellow turnip, or neep  is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between cabbage and turnip. The roots are prepared for human food in a variety of ways, and the leaves can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. The roots and tops are also used as winter feed for livestock. Rutabaga has an earthy flavor and its taste is somewhat unusual. We love Rutabaga soup, plain or combined with pumpkin which gives a milder flavor and tones down the earthy kohlrabi.

2 chilies, you can use dried chilies as well
1 onion, in cubes
500 grams Rutabaga, diced
500 grams Pumpkin, diced
3 Tbsp oil (sunflower or olive oil)
Bay leaf
½ to ¾ cup heavy cream or to taste
Freshly ground pepper & salt to taste

In a heavy bottom stockpot sweat the onions in 3 Tbsp of oil until softened. Add the Rutabaga and Pumpkin stirring until they are well covered with oil. .

Add the water or stock and add the chilies  and bay leaf. Simmer until the Rutabaga and Pumpkin are soft. Let the soup cool a little bit and take the bay leaf out. Mix the soup in a blender. Pour back in the stockpot and season to taste. Before serving, stir in some cream to taste. Enjoy with some fresh bread.

Pantry cooking: Spicy Adzuki Bean Chili with Chicken

I didn’t feel like cooking much today so I went ‘shopping’ in my pantry and this is what I came up with a spicy chili with a dollop of home made yogurt.

1 quart home canned tomatoes
1 quart home canned Adzuki Beans (Black Beans or other beans you have on stock will work too)
3/4 quart home canned chicken
1 pint home canned corn
2 medium onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil (like olive or sunflower oil)
1 handful dehydrated tomatoessalt, pepper and chili powder to taste

In a frying pan heat the oil and add the onions. Stir the onions until they are caramelized then add the garlic. Then empty all your canning jars in the frying pan and add the dehydrated tomatoes. Simmer until ready on a low heat. Add salt, pepper and chili to taste.

We ate it today with a dollop of home made yogurt, but tomorrow we will eat it as a filling on soft tortillas. Very easy recipe but also pretty tasty!

Pantry Cooking: Where the West meets the Orient Carrot Soup

I try to eat as local as I can. I moved to this town almost 2 years ago. There is a lot of farming of potatoes, carrots, onions and wheat. All are good storage items. I buy in bulk from the farmers. During my years at the university, I spend during the summers, at least 3 months abroad, mostly in the southern parts of Europe and the Middle East. There I learned a lot about herbs we don’t know here and my interest in cooking with all kind of herbs was a fact. Nowadays I make sure I have a good supply of herbs in stock. I also have a lot of herbs from the Asian continent, which I buy at the oriental supermarkets which you can find in most big cities here. Herbs are a fantastic addition for spicing up simple recipes. In this recipe I use a mixture called Garam Masala, which you can use to give your dishes a curry flavor. Make sure you fry the Garam Masala in some oil to bring out their flavors even more.

Where the West meets the Orient Carrot Soup is a very easy but delicious carrot soup. Wonderful as lunch but also a super easy and fast dinner.

1 quart home canned carrots + one quart of water
2 medium onions, minced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon of Garam Masala (a yellow curry mix you can buy at most oriental supermarkets)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil (olive, sunflower or any other neutral oil)

Heat the oil in a frying pan and mix in the onions until they are caramelized. At the garlic and the Garam Masala and keep stirring so the mixture will not burn. Add the carrots and water. Keep stirring until the water boils. Then put the heat on low. The soup is ready when the carrots are soft. Puree the soup in your mixer and serve with some sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Frugal savings week 10 – 2014

The weeks pass by so fast, I don´t get done what I want to.Sometimes maintaining what you have going are taking more time, so not a lot of spare time to start new projects.

I continued with reviving my water kefir. No luck yet but perhaps with some more patience I will be able to make some lovely water kefir soon.

The cast iron Dutch oven I seasoned last time turned out very well, but I was not happy with the cast iron waffle iron. I started to reseason that one again.

I ordered some milk kefir and kombucha and started new batches. I started the kefir with store bought milk and it was ready in 1 day. I went to the farmer and got 20 liters of raw milk this time and made Neufchatel cheese (farmer’s cheese) and hard cheese (Gouda type cheese). I also made kefir from the raw milk, which has a lovely, rich flavor.

I baked Dutch pancakes because we had a friend of my youngest over and I baked rye sourdough bread with walnuts. I used up some of the whey I had from the cheese making.

I had some luck with my findings in the thrift store: I found a stainless steel frying pan from BK. Normally those pans are pretty expensive here. This one was obviously not used often and brought it home for only 2,50 euro’s.
I found 2 small canning jars: one weck and one parfait for only 0,25 eurcent a piece. We eat a lot of canned goods right now, but I do want to keep some empty jars in storage so I can can when the opportunity is there.
I also found a very old cheese mould for a small cheese for only 1,50 euro’s. I need to make a top to be able to actually use the cheese, but that will not be a very difficult job (I think).
I also brought home a very nice summer skirt for myself and a dress for my oldest, they were only 2,25 euro each.

Someone heard that I am a canner and she gave me her old canning jars. I think I have a total of 25 different sized jars. I am very happy with them. There were even 4 weck jars from 1.5 liter, which are rarely found. Two of them I can’t use because they are chipped but I use them for storage.

I planted again some broad beans because the other seeds aren’t doing well. Those were old seeds but I did want to try the

Frugal Savings week 9 – 2014

This week I focused on the start of my small garden. I put together the green house I bought last week and got my cold frame started. The seeds i have started indoors are doing very well. Especially the rocket lettuce. It was really nice to work in the garden in between the rain showers. When I am in the garden, I let the 2 chickens walk free. They love to be around me because I give them the best worms in the garden…

I had  kilo of china beans put them into portions and put them in the freezer for later use.

I made a new starter for sourdough. I love sourdough but sometimes don’t take the time to bake the bread. When you make a sourdough after a couple of days of feeding you pour off about half of the sourdough. Then you start feeding what was left. But I don’t like to waist the part that I poured off so I used that in small sourdough pancakes. It is a very simple recipe: 4 cups of flour with 1 cup of sourdough and 1 cup of the sourdough. Then mix in some baking powder, salt and 2 eggs. I made it in the morning and let it rest on the counter. At lunch I made the pancakes and they are really nice. If you want to bake thinner pancakes, simply half the cups (2 in stead of 4) of flour.

I still had some water kefir grains but there was no life in the bottle anymore. I am trying to ‘revive’ them, but until now it doesn’t seem they are going to do so… I did order some milk kefir grains and a kombucha mother. It would be nice to make some home made fizzy drinks again.

I had quite some fennel bulbs which I love. I made them into a salty souper mix. I use that to make my soups. You know I love soups for lunch. I try to take soups with me to work and this week I made kohlrabi-pumpkin soup, creamy coconut-cauliflower soup and cabbage whey soup.

I got another 10 liters raw milk from the farmer and made fresh farmer cheese and buttermilk. Last week I also made some fresh, soft cheese and I loved to take it with me to work with some home made green Tabasco sauce and homemade rye/wheat bread.
Besides the fresh cheese I also made some buttermilk.

Last year I bought 2 cast iron pans at flea markets. One is just a small Dutch oven but missing the handle. Another one is a very old waffle iron. I think it misses its cast which they put on the wood stove. I think it will be alright to use on the gas stove now, but I am not sure. I bought the first pan for 3 euro’s and the waffle iron for 5 euro’s. Not too expensive so I was willing to take the risk with the buy. Both pans were a bit rusty so last week I spend one evening scrubbing and re-seasoning with some help of the oven. The Dutch oven turned out beautifully, but the waffle iron needed another treatment.