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 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.

Frugal Savings Week 15 – 2014

In the perfect world I would be dancing and singing while doing my chores without any flaws, mistakes or bad luck. Unfortunately I don’t live in such a world. But I do like to sing while I do my chores, dancing only on occasion. Last Saturday when I published the Frugal Savings posts I went to the supermarket to get some strawberries because I knew they were on sale that day. When I came at the counter the strawberries where priced down to 45 euro cents per pound. I bought 45 kilos for 40 euros. I started immediately with dehydrating but I wasn’t able to dehydrate all the boxes because the strawberries where in a worse state then I could see in the shops. Terrible waste but I was able to manage to get most of the strawberries done. They will be fantastic as a snack or in our granola.

breakfast dehydrated strawberries

Home made dehydrated strawberry granola on raw milk yogurt

Every Friday I get my 20 liters raw milk straight from the farmer and did my normal routine. I skimmed of the milk and put the cream in the kitchen aid (yes I cheat) and make butter. But for some reason the cream didn’t turn into butter. I probably I should have let the cream sour a bit more and then make the butter. But I didn’t and ended up with a weird fluid with very small parts of yellow butter in it. I threw it out.
Then I made my cheese. I wanted to make a hard Gouda cheese. I was almost ready to put the cheese in the mold then something came up and I had to leave the cheese. When I returned the cheese was too cold to be pressed. I had a big pan full of crumbly cheese parts. I just put it into a plastic container and into the fridge. I made pizza today and crumbled on the crumbles and the pizza turned out very tasty.

I bought quite a lot of vegetable plants at a nursery, some plants which I wasn’t able to plant but I wanted to eat this or next year. We love artichokes so I bought some. I also bought some rhubarb, my other one died last winter.

I had a bake session: rye whey bread, 5 spice sweet bread, whole wheat plum newtons, granola with our dehydrated strawberries and a lemon, Rosemary and yogurt cake.

This Saturday we went to a flea market (again… the season started and I love flea markets). I bought a couple of kilo of home spun wool for 2 euro. I think it will be enough for a sweater for myself. I love the colour of home spun wool. We bought some books, even a new Gordon Ramsey cookbook. A total of 11 books for 3 euros (the new Ramsey book included!). My youngest bought a bead loom for 20 cents. We bought 2 bird cages for a total of 5 euros. The children have now a small parakeet and they are very happy with their little friend.

five spice sweet bread

the house smelled wonderful after baking this five spice sweet bread

It was a strange week with a lot of unexpected things. Let’s see what next week will bring!

handspun wool

Hand spun wool on the flea market for only 2 euro

 

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: https://greenpioneerwoman.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/food-preservation-onion-garlic-and-ginger-sambal/ )

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.