Sunday, December 30, 2012

Joining a Pantry Challenge

W already made the comment that we needed to do a pantry challenge.  When I saw this post on Good Cheap Eats, I knew I wanted to join in. 

My goals are to use what we have and cut my grocery spending.  I did some stocking up over the holidays and am paying for it now.  We have plenty of food on hand and are in no danger of going hungry or even feeling deprived.  It will involve some cooking from scratch.  I will still pick up a few fresh foods.  Otherwise I will use what we have.

Are you planning to eat from the pantry to start the new year?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Furry Friday




Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Gift - Cinnamon Roasted Pecans

I have a few people on my gift list that like to give a food gift each year.  This year I adjusted the recipe here.  The original recipe called for almonds.  I have pecan trees in my yard which means I have an abundance of free pecans.  I substituted pecans for the almonds.  I used 4 cups instead of the 3 1/2 cups.  I found that it reduced the amount of wasted sugar.  I made a double batch of cinnamon roasted pecans.

A couple of years ago I picked up some cute holiday themed Chinese takeout boxes.  I think I paid 9 cents each for them.  They have been sitting in a plastic tote waiting to be used.  I lined each one with a piece of waxed paper. 

I filled each box with pecans, signed the gift tag, and they were ready to go. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bell Gift Tags

I am making an effort to use my Cricut more and have decided to jump in on this week's challenge from the Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog.  The challenge is Bells Are Ringing.  I used the Very Merry Tags cartridge to make some bell gift tags.  I used some scrap paper and leftover ribbon so it was a very frugal project and even better than buying gift tags!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Handmade Christmas Gifts

My family has lots of little girls in it.  This year I learned to knit using circle looms.  I decided to make some knitted gifts.  First I made knitted hats in two sizes based on the ages of the girls.

Here is a close up of one of the hats.  I should say a big thank you to hubby W for making the flowers for me.

The older girls are getting matching knitted scarves in the same pink yarn.  The younger girls are getting leggings made from knee high socks.  I used this tutorial.  It was really quite easy.  I think they turned out cute.

I used two and a third skeins of yarn (less than $10) to make six hats and two scarves. The knee high socks were $2 a pair.  I would have paid at least $10 each to buy similar hats.  Making these items was definitely worth my time and helped stretch my budget.   

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reader Question - Waterbath

Reader Dan asked the following question:  can someone explain the jars in a waterbath stage? ive never heard of this and i make a lot of jams

Technically any recipe that is canned needs to be heated either by waterbath or pressure canning.  This is to heat what is inside the jar and kill and bacteria.  I admit to occasionally using what is called the open kettle method meaning I do not process the jars at all.  I should point out that this method is unsafe and should never be used

Waterbath and pressure canning are very different.  Only fruit or jams should be waterbath canned.  Meats and vegetables should be pressure canned.  You can read more about the differences here.  Waterbath canning involves completely submerging the jars in a pot of boiling water for a set amount of time.

While I like to live on the edge, I have started waterbath canning my jams/jellies.  The main reason is that I now use a low sugar pectin.  Sugar can help prevent bacteria growth.  Using less sugar in a recipe means there is a greater chance of bacteria growth.  It is simple to do, and I figure it is just an added precaution. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Wonderful Kitchen Tool

I should warn you ahead of time that this pictures in this post are a bit mixed up.  I took some one day and the rest another day so they do not match. 

This is my favorite new kitchen tool:  an apple peeler, corer, slicer.  It took me minutes to peel, core, and slice an eight pound bag of apples.  It was so easy I did three 8 pound bags of apples.

It was not all just for the fun of using the machine.  Those apple slices went into the dehydrator and become dried apple slices.  They are yummy for snacking and delicious in my morning oatmeal.

With the apple slices I was left with piles and piles of apple peels and cores.  W was insistent that I do something constructive the "leftovers".  I piled them all in a pot with a bit of water.

Once they cooked down I strained out the apple juice to make jelly.  Here is where the mixed up pictures come in.  These are Granny Smith apple leftovers but the picture shows jelly made with Red Delicious leftovers. 

The now cooked and mushy apple leftovers went to the chickens who found them to still be quite tasty.  This was a no-waste project.   Sure I could have tossed the peels and cores straight into the compost pile, but I would have missed out  on the middle man - yummy apple jelly.  Every bit of the apple was used and enjoyed!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Greenhouse Update

Oh my, I can hardly believe over a month has flown by since my last post.  It is past time for an update of what is going on in the greenhouse. 
When I posted last it was practically empty.  We had a night of below freezing temperatures a couple of weeks ago.  I moved my plants into the greenhouse.  The tomato plant you see near the left hand side looks sad, but it has quite a few tomatoes.  I am crossing my fingers that they will grow a bit and ripen.
On the other side of the greenhouse are lots of  pineapple plants, the lettuce, and a few ferns and other flowers.

Remember that container of dirt that I planted lettuce seeds in about a month ago..... Here is it.  This picture was taken after I had clipped a bowl full of lettuce.  I have missed homegrown organic lettuce.  The never ending fresh lettuce in the middle of winter is one of my favorite benefits of a greenhouse. 
The pineapple on one of the larger plants is growing well.  We should be eating fresh pineapple in a month or so.  (I do not know why the picture rotated itself.)
Some of the cuttings I took are showing signs of life.  I hope this means they are growing roots as well.  I am trying to be patient and will check them at the end of this month.
This biggest surprise to me what how quickly the dwarf lemon tree has grown.  I should have put it in the greenhouse a month or so sooner.  It went from looking okay to being covered in little bloom buds.  I can hardly wait until they open.  It seems like that happened overnight!