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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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 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

 

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.