Saturday, June 11, 2011

One of those Days (several in a row)

The last few days have been rather hectic, my allergies have been giving me fits, my classwork has been interesting to say the least, and to top it all off I have wanted to scream at the significant other almost every time i have seen him.  This does not make for a calm atmosphere.  Meditation has helped but only until I step back to reality and see him again, or see popcorn scattered across the living room floor. 

The other day I was reading through some forums on Budget101, and came across a conversation on laundry and one way to eliminate fabric softener. Well needless to say, I was very interested.  While I love having laundry that smells wonderful out of the washer and a few days later as I step into the closet, I do not however, enjoy doubling the cost of detergent because the softener costs as much as detergent.  The discussion in particular was about using vinegar.  While vinegar won't make your laundry smell sweet, it will however, make it very soft. Just add 1/4 cup to the fabric softener ball, or however you would normally add softener.  I used it on our living room throws and was very pleasantly surprised, they didn't even smell slightly vinegary.

For dinner tonight, since I was in such a lovely adoring mood towards my family, we had BLT's, I was going through the freezer taking inventory ( grocery shopping next week for the month) and saw that we had about 7 lbs of bacon stored in 1 lb packages.  I cooked 3 in the oven, and have over half left for bacon and cheddar muffins, pre-cooked bacon, bacon bits for a salad, or whatever knowing my kids it will be used as a snack, just pop a piece in the microwave for a few seconds and munch.  Either way the homemade bread and bacon, lettuce and tomatoes went marvelously together.

I am currently baking batter wheat bread well making, its not in the oven yet.  As soon as it is in the pans, I will mix up a batter for a autumn breakfast bread.  Oats, raisins, maple flavoring, with a touch of honey for sweetness.  That's breakfast in the morning since he significant other said he wasn't worried about breakfast because he knew I wasn't going to be up to make them anything.  SO I will cook it tonight.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lazy Days

I was supposed to be up and make the hubby something for breakfast and a lunch to go, but I didn't wake till around 9 am, I was supposed to be at the gym at 9 am this morning, but that didn't work out either.  So my being lazy put my entire schedule off today.  Now there are about 4 loads of laundry waiting on me, a kitchen to be cleaned after the kids made their breakfast of buttered cinnamon raisin toast and lunch of toasted turkey and cheese sammy's.  I will never understand how they can destroy the kitchen with such simply tasks. Floors to be mopped, clothes to be folded and put away and what-nots to be dusted.  Some of this may very well wait a day or so to happen.
 Tonight I am cooking chicken and dumplings with sweet peas and corn bread.  Its a weekday so no dessert, I have found that if I only make dessert on Sunday for dinner that it makes Sunday dinner more special and the rest of the week a bit easier.

Tonight's meal is a very quick fix meal and simple, yet one of those comfort foods that just makes a body feel all warm inside.  The peas are frozen and can be steamed in the microwave for a few minutes then tossed with a bit of butter.  Corn bread is made from a make your own copycat mix of a Jiffy Mix Cornbread.  The chicken and dumplings are a simple matter of pulling out 2 bags of already cooked and shredded leg quarter meat that was frozen last month.  Adding that to my roaster oven along with some homemade cream of --- soup mix and chicken stock , again frozen last month, once its all boiling nice then mixing up another copy cat recipe this time for biscuits and dropping the dumplings into the roaster with the chicken and broth by the spoonful, letting it all simmer for about 20 minutes and dinner is done.

Here are the three copy cat recipes that have made my life a million times easier.

Use in place of canned cream soups in casseroles or as a base for soups.

2 cups powdered nonfat milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup (or less) instant vegetable bouillon
2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 tsp. basil leaves
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. pepper

Measure ingredients into a ziploc bag, seal and shake to combine

To substitute 1 can condensed soup.:

Combine 1/3 cup of dry mix & 1 1/4 cups of cold water in saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened. Add to casserole as you would canned soup.

2 cup Vegetable shortening
9 cup All-purpose flour -- sifted
1 tbsp Salt
1/4 cup Double acting baking Powder*
Blend all ingredients thoroughly store in tightly covered container. To prevent bugs, freeze for 24 hours. Use in recipes calling for Quick mix/ Bisquick.

2 1/4
cups Bake It All mix
cup milk

  1. 1 Heat oven to 450ºF. Stir ingredients until soft dough forms.
  2. 2 Turn onto surface dusted with  Bake It All mix. Knead 10 times. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut with 2 1/2-inch cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. 3 Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

New Experiences

Years ago, I had the chance to spend a length of time living with my grandmother Laney.  Before this, I had lived a typical suburban lifestyle for the most part, except that my parents did grown a garden to provide fresh veggies to freeze and cucumbers for my mom’s famous (family only) sweet pickles.  We bought the majority of our food, we bought all of our clothes, and we lived in a nice suburb outside a large college town.  Then I went to my gram’s home.
Grams lived on a 40 acre “farm”  with a large garden, chickens, and hogs, and ducks, just to name a few of the things she raised.  That does not include the hunted wildlife, or the slithering creatures that made me never want to step foot outside the house.  To say I was in culture shock would be putting it mildly, but in the following months, I learned a great deal about the person I wanted to become.  I have only recently discovered just how much I learned about that person.  This is the story of the trials and successes of learning to be that person. 

Now I am almost 40 with two grown children and 2 more that want to be grown.  In this time of economic struggle, I have found that all those canning sessions and lectures about not wasting from grams are coming in rather handy.  The kids think it is great that I make all the foods that they love but we suddenly never had around the house anymore.  We live in a small apartment, not a lot of storage space and even less room for a garden or chickens.  Luckily, for me, there is a small closet sized pantry in the kitchen and while the kitchen is not a large farm sized kitchen, it is at least workable with moderate storage space.  So now, the task of planning and putting into action a frugal lifestyle into action begins. 

I did not even know that people lived this way till one day while surfing the net I came across a website, Budget101.  I devoured the site for days reading everything I could find.  Recipes galore, suggestions for more frugal ways of life; I was amazed.  I started trying to implement some of the suggestions, cutting back our grocery budget by extreme planning.  And I do mean extreme.  I was loving it, my husband thought I was insane, but like all of my other past “hobbies” he just nodded and let me do my thing. 

Now we have menus for every week breakfast lunch dinner and snacks.  Even planning who does chores and when they do them.  I try to shop for a month at a time, because I plan for a month at a time.  By doing this I can spend approximately $75 a week on groceries.  That is cutting my grocery bill by more than 50%, which I never thought would happen. 
The slow cooker / over sized counter top roaster has become my best kitchen friend, along with my new hand crank pasta maker.  However, the savior of it all is the freezer.  We have a small chest deep freezer.  I am able to store meats, veggies, homemade breads, and all sorts of homemade snacks, leftovers, and cooking mixes in the freezer.  It is a simple matter of pulling something out and using it.  We no longer use box meals at all, it’s a great feeling to know what you are feeding your family, and to know that it cost less than half of what you would have paid for it if bought prepackaged.

I will be posting tips, tricks and recipes that I have gathered along the way soon.