Frugal Savings until now -2015

Life has been extremely busy at the moment. I work 4 days  and go to school every friday. Even though I work more hours I don’t have more money to spend. So still continuing with trying to make as much as I can myself: bread, cookies, cakes, meals from scratch, home brought lunches etc.

That is quite a challenge: I had to refind my daily routines which was not an easy task but I am getting there. I get up at 5 in the morning and start my day and chores. Here is a list of the things I did do myself the last weeks and saved some money along the way:

* Made marinated dried tomatoes from home dehydrated tomatoes

* Dehydrated breadcrumbs from leftover bread, lovely over any cheesy bake or casserole in the oven. It gives nice crunch.

* Not really a saving but I made an extra shelf next to my fridge where I keep my 20 kilo of wheat. There was some empty space that I didn’t use so I created a space to put some of my big cast iron pans. I have this extremely small kitchen for someone with a lot of kitchen utensils.

* I made some extra shelves for my books. At the moment a lot of people get rid of their books and I can buy new ones for 50 eurocent or 1 euro per book. Lot’s of very good and informative books. I found one yesterday on Tuscany cooking.

* I have dealt with the pumpkins from last years harvest, dehydrated the flesh and grind them in the kitchen machine. Now I can add the powder in breads and cakes.

pompoenpumpkins before dehydration

* Last weekend I got some extra spare time so I went to the local farmer and got 30 liters of milk. I made fresh cheese, yogurt and ricotta.

* I have sorted through all the seeds I have and made a planning for this year’s garden. I hope to be able to sow some seeds this week.

* We made date-coconut balls for snacks.

* Some one gave me 8 Leifheit canning jars which are difficult to find here. I am almost done with organizing my canning jars in the shed.

* We redid the pantry so we could see what kind of products need to be used up soon. I put them on a shelf so I can plan my meals with those products. I don’t like throwing away things. On an average every Dutch person throws out 50 kilo of food per year. I am sure we don’t throw out that much food per person.

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Another month just passed.. reasons why I still can

More then a month ago I posted my last post. I work 4.5 days per week and I have been canning a LOT! I leave home at 7 and come back at 5.30. Making dinner, doing the dishes, some other house chores and then checking if the children were still on (school) track: helping with packing their books and other stuff for the day after. Then back to canning and dehydrating. I have to say I am glad most part is just done. When you do much food preservation at one point you really think ‘why am I doing this to myself?’. When that point hit you, you know that it is almost finished as well. The last jars are the ‘most difficult’ jars. The last jars I canned were stewed pears in elderberry syrup and pickled cauliflower.

In between I did three crates full of beans my friend gives me every year for free, I bought 25 kilo of hard pears (to make the stewed pears), 10 celery roots, 4 bunches I pressure canned, 5 I dehydrated, 10 cauliflowers I put up in a mild pickled water.

Last week my parents came over to help me out with organizing the jars, cleaning them. We anchored the open shelving closet to the wall so the heavy jars will not fall on the ground. We will be good, very good this winter.

Also I can add another year to my age. I will write more about the presents I got but this is such a nice one: Beetroots! I still have to do something with them, but will make a start this weekend.

kroten

Canning beetroots.

I worked hard the last weeks, didn’t sleep much, but we have lots of beautiful meals during the winter.

Frugal Savings Week 34 – 2014

Sometimes you plan something and it doesn’t work out as you thought it would. I ordered a lot of jars in the beginning of August, thinking they would arrive the end of August. The company of which I ordered, told me I would receive the jars last week. Unfortunately they didn’t keep up their word. But I had already my 90 kilos of organic tomatoes ordered. What to do? I gave some to my mom and sis and kept 60 kilos.

I got the tomatoes and the tomato grower was so nice to give me some ripe and some not so ripe tomatoes. I made 22x 1/2 liter jars of tomato juice. I love taking that with me to work so I made those first. Then I made quarts of tomato juice and I made a couple of liters of hot curry ketchup and roasted ketchup. We love to put that on everything from rice/bean burgers to grilled cheese sandwiches.

I splurged a bit this week and I bought a tomato strainer, finally, after so many years. I am almost done with the tomatoes but what a lot of work that was!

I bought 10 kilo colored carrots 10 euro which I will dehydrate, 20 kilo white grapes 1.80 per kilo (a total of 36 euros) I already dehydrated. We love to eat them as a snack with some raw nuts. I cut up 5 bunches of coriander, bagged it with some olive oil and put it in the freezer. I also bought 20 kilo wild peaches for 24 euro which I shall can in a honey syrup (that is our favorite syrup to can in).

I have been more tired then normal because I am cycling to work now: 25 kilometers back and forth. So getting myself to work at night is a bit difficult. But until now the weather has been wonderful (only one day of heavy rain and I arrived at work soaked). I got my old cassette walkman out of my treasure hunting basket (I put there what I picked up for not a lot of money at flea markets). I bought this Phillips one for only 50 euro cent. Now i can listen to some old cassettes. I want to brush up my Arabic a bit so I am listening to my very old tapes. How much fun is that when I cycle my way home through the polders!

walkman

Remember these?

Frugal Savings Week 33 -2014

I am still in a full time canning motion: I canned chickpeas (20x 0,5 liter jars), mixed beans (8x 0,75 liter jars) and red kidney beans (10x 0,5 liter jars). When I went to the supermarket for some small groceries and then I saw them…. strawberries on sale! 1 kilo for 1 euro. I bought 25 kilo. 15 kilo I just canned in a light syrup and I made rose-scented strawberry syrup, strawberry-balsamic vinegar and strawberry butter. Canning is such a  wonderful hobby: it is so nice to experiment with food and ‘cook’ up something nice.

canning week 32-33From the strawberry fruit scraps I did a small experiment and made a batch of fruit scrap vinegar. I am wondering how this is going work. The pineapple scrap vinegar turns out great, I made pear and apple scrap vinegar with success in the past before, so I don’t see why this would work. When it doesn’t work out as I hope it will, I can always use the vinegar as a cleaning product. Nothing goes to waste. I like that…

We picked elderberries but there wasn’t a lot left. The weather here has been strange and everything is about 3 weeks early. So I think I missed most of the elderberry season. No elderberry wine this year. What I did pick, I dehydrated. So I can use them in pastry during the winter.

My neighbor gave me another 3 overgrown zucchinis. I found a wonderful recipe to make canned zucchini bread which I am going to try. I know it is not USDA approved, so I will not give the recipe. He also gave me some pumpkins and I when I have more time I will can the pumpkin cubed. I like to have smaller portions of pumpkin on hand.

I bought 60 kilo of organic tomatoes. Unfortunately my jar order didn’t came in yet. So I got a bit less then tomatoes then I wanted and I have 3 boxes that are ripe and ready to can and some less ripe tomatoes so I can can those when the jars come in next week. .

My sis and mom came over for a couple of days and we made pontack sauce (an elderberry sauce), a new sloe gin batch and we made the rest of the zucchinis into a zucchini pickle. My sis went to the supermarket and she saw a sale which she thought I would like: blueberries 3 euro per kilo. She bought what was still on the shelves: 9 kilo. We made 34 jars of blueberries in honey-vanilla syrup and had left some blueberries for blueberry yogurt muffins for Sunday’s breakfast. We had a quite busy couple of days but it was a wonderful time.

This week, I have to go to work again and my children are going back to school. Life is going to turn back to normal? We’ll see, perhaps some canning a long the way.

 

Frugal Savings Week 32 -2014

We returned home and my niece joined us for the last 2 weeks of the holiday. I managed to put all my groceries away and finished with my pantry inventory list. I decided that I needed some more tomato sauce (we use for pizza’s and pasta’s) so I placed an order for 90 kilo tomatoes at the local organic grower. I will pick it up next week. My mom and sis are coming so we will be canning all together.

My niece is a bit of a picky eater but she is brave enough to try the food  I make. I am trying to make up for the strange things she sometimes is served, with other home made goodies she does like.
I made salad with pickled green beans and tomatoes from the garden. She isn’t fund of tomatoes but she did like these tomatoes and also in combination with the salad.
I made stewed pear pie (from canned pears in elderberry syrup), buckwheat pancakes with the rest of the stewed pears, zucchini soup with corn bread (made from home grind corns I dehydrated myself). A while back I bought a German electric wheat grinder. This grinder can grind oily and harder kernels then my other grain mill which is grinding with stones. The smell and taste was incredible so different then bought corn meal. We had bean burgers with salad and fries.
I baked sweet potatoes in the oven and we ate that with feta cheese, home made dried tomatoes in olive oil, olives and oregano and fresh parsley from the garden.
Of course we had home made pizza: the girls like it mostly simple: home made tomato sauce, pesto, olives, mozzarella and grated home made cheese.

My niece and my youngest daughter have been picking the last blackberries. We made some more blackberry-apple leathers. We rolled them up and my niece is taking some home with her. When I told her they were all hers and she doesn’t have to share with her brothers and sister because she picked the berries so religiously every day and helped with making the leathers. She was very happy. Normally I wouldn’t say that but she is going to high school this year and an healthy snack policy is in place. The amount of blackberries-apple mush wasn’t enough to fill 2 dehydrators so I made some extra apricot-strawberry-thyme fruit leathers. I also made some gooseberry fruit leathers. They are wonderful and will be lovely snacks.

We also went out to gather elderberries. I am making pontack sauce and some elderberry tincture for my mom.

I dehydrated the papayas I bought and also dehydrated the small black papaya seeds. I had some extra figs from my sister’s garden and I dehydrated them in slices.

The hot sauce I started last week is now fermenting away and I will can the sauce next week.

The pine apple vinegar I started before I went on a holiday is really going well. I hope to be able to bottle them soon.

The peppermint I harvested before our holiday and hang drying is put away in bags so we can make easy teas this winter. Also I like to sprinkle some dried peppermint in my red lentil soup.

Hamburger meat was on sale and I bought 4 kilo. That is how much I can can in one evening. I don’t have room in my refrigerator nor in my 3 freezer drawers.
I spend 20 euros for 4 kilo of meat and I have 10 pint jars. The costs of one jar is 2 euro’s. I make small meat balls and I love to add a lot of oregano so it tastes a bit like kofte.

We picked some small wild plums and made that into juice and then used the juice to make wild plum syrup. We use syrups to mix it with water and have a lovely fruity drink.

wild plums 2We picked nettles to make some tea so my niece can take that home as well. I also picked some wild pears, not much because most of the pears are too high to pick. I made an Indian chutney from the pears. I love to spice up simple food with lovely pickles, chutneys and relishes.
My neighbor gave me 2 more zucchinis and when life gives you zucchinis, you make cucumber pickle, of course. That means that I used the zucchinis in stead of cucumbers when making my cucumber pickle recipe and they turned out lovely! I really like to eat all kind of pickles, chutneys, relishes and piccalilli on home made bread with some butter. No need for anything else.

I buy potatoes at a farmers house, whose girl happens to be my youngest daughter’s BFF (that is what they call each other). I ordered 50 kilo’s for my sister, 20 kilo for my mom and I bought 20 kilos for myself. We pay 30 euro cent per kilo at the moment.

I placed another big, big order of canning jars (Weck jars only this time) to be able to can more. I am not sure what will happen with the prices next year. I did notice that prices secretly going up: they just put less in a bag and put on a higher price. So I like to can as much as I can when the prices are low. A friend will bring me a garbage bag (!) full of green beans, so I will be canning a LOT of green beans.

Frugal Savings Week 30 Part 2 -2014

Who would have thought that I did a lot more savings this week. My mom loves to can and preserve food as well. So my mom and I canned more then I expected: everyday a little bit.

We made string beans in salt, limoncello, lemon jelly (from the lemons that were left from the limoncello making). We canned fig jam, whole figs and wild plums in honey-vanilla syrup. We made her figs in port wine.

I showed her how to make granola and made my mom a batch and I made a banana bread from not-so-good-but-good-enough-for-banana-bread-bananas. My dad wanted to throw them out but I managed to stop him and made them this bread, they never ate.

I bought honey, that will last us a whole year, 20 kilo’s of oats, a lot of herbs and spices, soya beans, all kind of legumes, 6 packages of tortilla and bought 10 blocks of tofu which I dehydrated. I also stocked up on brown sugar which is difficult to get where I live.

I also bought a big jar especially for making vinegar at the thrift store and I got a lot of fun cooking books.

It was a good week stocking up for a long winter ahead!

 

Frugal Savings Week 29 – 2014

I am getting more accustomed with balancing my new out-the-house-work and homework, so I got quite some things done this week.

I made a start with my blackberry vinegar, which I made with home made white wine vinegar. I hope to make about 5 liters so I can give this vinegar as gift to family and friends. I get up really early in the morning and pick the blackberries which are ripe. It is not much yet but enough for making a liter of vinegar at the time.

I started vin de noix, a sweet wine made from green walnuts. It is not a cheap home made wine but it is fun to make. I made it with one liter vodka (13 euro), 1 kilo sugar (0.90 euro) and wine (2.33 for 1 liter) and I need 5 liters. The total amount of vin de noix will be approximately 7 liter. The costs per liter are 3.50 euro. That is when I count the most expensive ingredient: the vodka. I am lucky that my mom gives me 1 or 2 liters in exchange for some elderberry tincture and some blackthorn cordial. I think she wants a bottle of 2 of the wine port as well.

I got 4 (!) old jute postal bags and I will make them into a new slipcover for my couch. I already got 2 more so I think I will have enough. I will wash them and get started soon, I hope.

There were 2 small bags with potatoes left and I did can them. I love home canned potatoes because they are so versatile and convenient when I come home after work and want an healthy meal without being in the kitchen for 1 hour or more. I use them to make garlicky potato soup, oven roasted rosemary potatoes just to name somethings.

It is quite warm here so a lot of fruit and vegetables are not keeping up that well. I had about 2 kilo´s tomatoes left and I made 2 jars of 500 ml of roasted tomato ketchup. Better then throwing the tomatoes away!

Another thing I experimented with is eggplant. I bought some eggplants when they were on sale. I cut them into 1/4 inch slices and sprinkled them generously with salt and put them in my fruit press. I pressed the eggplants for a couple of days and tightened the press twice a day. When there was almost no water left, I got the eggplants out of the press and peeled them of each other. I put the slices in a large jar and topped it with home made wine vinegar. After a couple of days I put them in their final jar and put them on olive oil. This is an Italian way of preserving eggplants. It brightens up your salads!

Finally finished with the ‘last’ onions and made another batch of onion marmalade. It is so nice I spoon it on everything, well, almost everything.

Next couple of weeks I will be quite busy with inventory of my home canned food and knowing what I still have to can. I make a list with what I still have on the shelves and what I think I need. With that list it is easy to look for sales. For example: we like canned green beans so I always want at least 60 jars in the pantry, approximately 1 per week and a couple extra jars. I know that I am already low on jars, so I will order some more this week.