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.

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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.

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.

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.

Frugal savings week 7 – 2014

It was quite a busy week and spent a lot of time outside the house. But I did manage to still do something selfsufficientish:

* I made another 3 pillow cases from fabric I already had.

* I started (but not finished yet) a small lunch bag from leftover fabric from the pillow covers I made last week. The fabric has such a lovely pattern, I didn’t want to throw it out.

* Some one gave me a LOT of spring onions, I dehydrated most of them and I made a spring onion savory pie.

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* I started with my small vegetable garden and planted broad beans, lavender and rocket lettuce indoors.

* I mended again a couple of clothes. I started with a small cardigan from my oldest but after I mended one small whole, I found another one and another one and so on. I decided to not go on and told my oldest. She said she didn’t want to throw out the cardigan, she will be making some barbie clothes out of it. An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess.

* I cut some fabrics from my stash for future quilts (just preparation before I start sewing the quilts).

* I baked all my bread, this week it was sunflower bread and a banana, honey and almond bread.

* I took warm soups in my thermos to work and also small canning jars with tutti frutti. We snacked on dehydrated fruits.

* I reorganized the kitchen cabinets because I want to make my mornings more easy to be able to bake and make breakfast.

* I refilled my working stock with the stock i have in plastic buckets. So I can keep on baking during the busy weeks I have.

* I started a new batch of alfalfa sprouts and mixed sprouts.