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.

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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.

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.

Pantry cooking: Spicy Adzuki Bean Chili with Chicken

I didn’t feel like cooking much today so I went ‘shopping’ in my pantry and this is what I came up with a spicy chili with a dollop of home made yogurt.

1 quart home canned tomatoes
1 quart home canned Adzuki Beans (Black Beans or other beans you have on stock will work too)
3/4 quart home canned chicken
1 pint home canned corn
2 medium onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil (like olive or sunflower oil)
1 handful dehydrated tomatoessalt, pepper and chili powder to taste

In a frying pan heat the oil and add the onions. Stir the onions until they are caramelized then add the garlic. Then empty all your canning jars in the frying pan and add the dehydrated tomatoes. Simmer until ready on a low heat. Add salt, pepper and chili to taste.

We ate it today with a dollop of home made yogurt, but tomorrow we will eat it as a filling on soft tortillas. Very easy recipe but also pretty tasty!

Pantry Cooking: Where the West meets the Orient Carrot Soup

I try to eat as local as I can. I moved to this town almost 2 years ago. There is a lot of farming of potatoes, carrots, onions and wheat. All are good storage items. I buy in bulk from the farmers. During my years at the university, I spend during the summers, at least 3 months abroad, mostly in the southern parts of Europe and the Middle East. There I learned a lot about herbs we don’t know here and my interest in cooking with all kind of herbs was a fact. Nowadays I make sure I have a good supply of herbs in stock. I also have a lot of herbs from the Asian continent, which I buy at the oriental supermarkets which you can find in most big cities here. Herbs are a fantastic addition for spicing up simple recipes. In this recipe I use a mixture called Garam Masala, which you can use to give your dishes a curry flavor. Make sure you fry the Garam Masala in some oil to bring out their flavors even more.

Where the West meets the Orient Carrot Soup is a very easy but delicious carrot soup. Wonderful as lunch but also a super easy and fast dinner.

1 quart home canned carrots + one quart of water
2 medium onions, minced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon of Garam Masala (a yellow curry mix you can buy at most oriental supermarkets)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil (olive, sunflower or any other neutral oil)

Heat the oil in a frying pan and mix in the onions until they are caramelized. At the garlic and the Garam Masala and keep stirring so the mixture will not burn. Add the carrots and water. Keep stirring until the water boils. Then put the heat on low. The soup is ready when the carrots are soft. Puree the soup in your mixer and serve with some sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Food Preservation: Onion, Garlic and Ginger Sambal

chilli peppers hot sauceSambal is a delicious chili based sauce which is normally used as a condiment.  Sambals are popular in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, parts of the Philippines and Sri Lanka. This type of hot sauce is also popular in the Netherlands and Suriname through the Indonesian influences.  Typically it is made from different type of chili peppers. Often the sambal is made fresh and eaten directly with the meal, but some are made to be kept for several weeks in the fridge. You can find all kind sambals: made with fruits, vegetables or even fish. It can be extremely spicy or just mildly spiced. In my family we LOVE to make sambals and like to experiment with them. Here is one of our favorite recipe. We eat sambal with almost every meal, but also on our cheese sandwich to spice up our meals.

onions and peppers (2)

Ingredients:
11 red lomboks (red chillies, you can use what ever kind of chillies you prever)
100 gram fresh ginger
12 shallots (but I used regular onions with good results too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons oil (I like to use a neutral flavored one like sunflower oil)

Cut all your ingredients in very small pieces. Heat up the oil in an heavy skillet and cook the ingredients for about 5 minutes. Poor the mixture in little, sterilized jars. You can reuse jars for this. Screw on the lid and put them upside down on a towel. After it cooled down, label and date the jars. You can put the jars in the fridge and it will keep for several weeks.

Pantry Cooking: Black Bean Taco’s

Black Bean Taco Filling

  • 1 can black beans drained (when I am out of cans I use an equal amount of cooked black beans but I have also used other beans as well)
  • 3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curcuma
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (if not in season I use a bottled version)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Fry the onions and the garlic until light brown in some olive oil, add all the spices (chili powder, cumin and curcuma) and stir some more. Combine black beans  and  lime juice in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

Fill your Taco’s with the black bean mixture and top with some fresh tomatos, sour cream and grated hard cheese.