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 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

 

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.

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.