Saturday, August 31, 2013

Life is on hold for now...

I would love to be able to impart some tip I learned or antic I attempted, but for now I am holding down the fort.  My husband and two sons have left to go to Fla.  They are due home today.  I can't wait to see them, but the reunion is bittersweet.  You see he left last week to go and say his final goodbyes to his mom.  He wanted to get there to spend time with her before it was too late and allow the grandsons to see her as well.  I am so glad he had that opportunity.  My heart hurts for him and his siblings.  I am a daughter in law and so I have no clue what they are going through; facing the possible loss of both parents in a 6 month time period.  It is hard enough, I imagine, losing a parent, but both....I can't imagine what that must feel like.  My husband returns home for now and the next trip he and I take to Florida will be to attend the funeral.  It is a sad day.  I wish I could have gone with him, but finances wouldn't allow it. 


Always composed; I never saw her lose her cool.  She is the quintessential lady.  When my husband (before he was my husband) and I first moved in together (yes when we were heathens lol.); we tried to keep it from her because we thought she would disapprove.  His parents were in a different state so it should be easy right?  No.  The first time I met her was after we had moved in together.  We went to see them for Christmas.  Anyway, she knew.  I think she knew right off.  She never said a word  about it.  She just asked me if I had a nativity scene.  I said I did.  She said it was nice to know her son had one now.  Nothing else.  That was all, but we knew then the jig was up.  SO I guess it wasn't surprise when we told her I was expecting a few months later.  Before we were married.  Still composed, supportive, loving, kind.  We married very soon after.  LOL.  She was there when Einstein was born.  I was out of it so didn't realize it until the next day when she thanked me for letting her stay.  Surprise!   I regret that I had a little chip on my shoulder then.  I was immature and expected judgment and so projected it from her.  She never gave me judgment, just love, kindness, and support.  Over the years we would have long phone conversations, or talks while we were visiting.  I realized long time ago that she always accepted me as family and for that I am eternally grateful.  About 10 ish years ago she started ending her phone conversations with "I Love You".  It was and still is one of my favorite memories.

She loved her children, and grandchildren.  She loved family.  She is truly the matriarch of her family.  She has experienced joy and pain through her 89 years, and she has handled it all with grace and poise.  While no one lives a perfect life, and I know she made mistakes as well.  But the woman I knew in the past 20 years has inspired me.  I will be forever grateful for the influence she had on me to help make me into the woman I am today. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Butterscotch Granola (I know YUM! Right?)

Ooooo tried a recipe today.  One of my own design thank you very much!  I just started playing around with my main recipe and here is what I came up with.

Butterscotch Granola

5 cups quick cooking oats(Or whatever variety of grains you would choose; oats, wheat germ, rice flour, barley, coconut, etc.  Make your largest contribution be oats and then just add extra of the other grains to make 5 cups)

1 ts cinnamon
dash salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavored extract

Butter a large cookie sheet.  In it place  your grains, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix well.  Put aside.  In a sauce pan melt the butter.  Add in the sugar, honey, vanilla, and butter extract.  Heat just until melted well and sugar is dissolved.  Pour syrup mixture over your grains.  Mix with a spoon as much as you can,  but then go thru it with your hands to make sure it is really well incorporated (Wash hands first please!).  Spread out evenly on the cookie sheet and bake in a 350 oven for 10 mins.  Take the cookie sheet out and stir thoroughly then put back in the oven for 5 min.  Take from oven but don't stir.  Let it cool where it sits.  Once cool you can store it in an airtight container.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aint Technology grand!

Nope, not talkin about the latest IPod or Galaxy gizmo.  You'll have to see my dad or Rubic for that one.  According to my youngest son, Technology is the answer to everything.  I am a pioneering soul.  My heart longs for all things canning, gardening, sewing, farming, and anything else of the self sufficiency nature.  I am not a hopeless romantic thinking of the "good ole days" as if they were a utopian ideal.  They weren't; by a long shot.  Many people died of diseases or injuries which could be easily fixed or prevented today.  There was, though, a strong work ethic.  A higher percentage of families were intact.   We were less sedentary.  I mean really, you could eat a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits, with butter, whole milk, etc , and work it off before lunch.  Hey, I have my priorities.  That sounds pretty good. 
What I am talking about is medical technology.  It has been brought home to me in capital letters how great medical advancements have been.  My daughter would not be here.  She was born by C Section.  My middle son would have died of "Fever" as an infant.  Cancer could have killed my dad.  When you think about it, we have come a long way....medically.  I, myself, have been sick in recent days.  Nothing earth shattering:  UTI, and Thrush.  Not life threatening, but certainly miserable.  Having to let something like that run its course would have been awful and possible fatal.  YUCK..  But thanks to the wonderful invention of antibiotics and anti fungal meds , what would have been really bad turned out to be misery in the short term.  Still bad until the meds, but better and better almost immediately.  I received my meds on Friday and by Saturday morning I was all better except a headache and a few other minor symptoms that were gone before the end of the day.  So HURRAH for medical advancement. 
Now...uh..ever heard of irony?  Murphy's Law?  Yea.  I began writing this particular blog entry over the weekend after I was feeling better and life was good.  It is now 3 am Tuesday morning and once again I am dealing with an illness.  A virus.  Still taking my meds from before, so a virus is all that is left right?  My Son in Law had this particular virus over the weekend.  Silly me drove up to their house and invited him to our house so I could help him while Diva was at work. He made sure he had my number in case (we live very close), but preferred to stay home. I was very careful to not touch him or anything else in the house.  The one thing I did touch was the door knob, but I kept that hand in a tight fist until I got home (not my driving hand anyway) and could wash my hands.  So apparently this little gem is airborne....Fun.  It is one of those creepy crud viruses with the sneezes, headaches, body aches, nausea and all that goes with it.  Kinda like Flu but without the fever.  Oh Joy. 
Aint that a hoot!  (Sigh) so anyway, I still rather like this day and age of medical advancement.  Now if we could just mix that with "The Good Ole Days", things would be juuuust right.  You guys have a great day and stay well.  I' going back to bed. night? or morning?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Busy, Busy Busy

Just wanted to check in here to let you guys know I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  I am just ridiculously busy this past week.  Who am I kidding.  I have been busy for a month now.  But anyway; Tuesday was spent making grape juice.  Not too shabby for the day.  I ended up with 13 qt jars of concentrate.  Each jar will make a 2 quart pitcher of grape juice.  The juice is really good, but tart.  Jimmy, the gentleman who gave me the grapes, encouraged me to take a lot of green, unripe ones.  "Oh yea you want some green ones especially if you are making grape juice".  Ummhmm.  Well we did.  I still didn't think we took too many, but we took enough to make some seriously tart juice.  I ended up having to add sugar to the juice so now it is just tart like cran-grape drink.  The guys like it.  I am having to keep them from opening my jars of juice.  I had one quart I left un-canned and we mixed it up to see how it would do and to make sure I had the recipe right.  It was a big hit.  Jimmy says I can go back and get more grapes this weekend.  So it looks like this Tuesday will be another grape juice making session. 
I had baking to do yesterday morning and then it was outside to get into the garden.  Once outside I noticed an ominous cloud on the horizon and it was a race against the rain to get tomatoes in. We have had so much rain, my tomatoes are splitting so I was out there grabbing any tomato with just the slightest bit of color to bring in out of the rain.  While I still have another row to pick , I am disappointed in the large number of tomatoes I have had to toss. Still, I ended up with enough tomatoes to cover a bath towel (I lay a clean bath towel on my kitchen counter then lay my tomatoes on that), plus enough to cook to make about 2 qts of sauce.  I have been making sauce, but not canning it.  I have been putting it in a container in the freezer until I have enough to fill the canner.  Well I have enough now so I am planning on canning tomato sauce this afternoon.  I also need to pick that other row.
I have another bed of corn to pick sooner rather than later, and I harvested my first "Free" watermelon" on Friday.  SWEET!  Not only sweet to the taste buds, but seriously I have not had to plant a watermelon seed in about 4 years.  This watermelon and the other 3 still left are from volunteers.
I would like to say everything has been doing well, but that isn't the case.  While I did get enough green beans to do about 23qts, that isn't near what I am used to putting  up.  Re-plants aren't doing well either because the Mexican bean beetles are getting them.  It stayed dry long enough for the seeds to break thru the ground, but now that they are old enough to spray, I can't because of rain.  So these plants might be a write off.  In addition to that I got no peaches from my trees.  Frustrating.  Between the late freeze that zapped some blooms (but not all) and the rain which has kept me from being able to all, my peaches are gone.  So once winter is in full swing, those trees are getting pruned big time and I will try again next year. 
One thing I am realizing is that there is a reason the recommendation for putting up a harvest is to put up 2 years worth.  You want to have enough so if you have a bad garden on year, you can ride out the bad season and try again next year.  Well as far as beans go, I hope I have enough  to make it til next years harvest.  Would not want to be paying the going price for canned beans these days.  I am also thinking I am not going to have enough tomatoes to do BBQ sauce or salsa. 

So anyway, That is the garden update to date.  I have to say I am getting ready for fall and a slower pace.  That is until the holidays.  Seriously!  Holidays are 4 mths away!  YIKES!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I love a frugal challange!

So yea, yours truly made a major faux pa this pay period.  Yea, I forgot to add in not 1 but two credit card payments!  In other words both payments of our only two credit cards.  One is open and one closed.  Thank the Lord I found it!  I was recording transactions from my grocery shopping trip and was feeling veeery smug knowing I had used only $287of the $400 I had budgeted.  Then I realize I had forgotten to subtract the two cc payments from our account.  WOOPS!  Well, everything turned out OK in the end.  I would like to say it was no big deal, but I would be lying.  It took what was left of my grocery money, as well as most of what we had in savings (Which wasn't much since we had to pay for a regulator for our cars power window last pay period SURPRISE!).  I am happy that we still have a little (very) in savings, but we are not touching it.  We pretend it isn't there.  (Sound of whistling..."What savings?").So now we are in a "No spend" phase for the next two weeks. 

I write about this, not to air my laundry, but to provide a point.  We knew going into this pay period it was already going to be tight.  I don't get paid days off.  I took an extra day off to help my daughter after the birth of my second grandson. 

Because of that knowledge, I was already going into my grocery shopping trip with the idea of spending only what I had to.  If I could make it, it didn't get purchased.  As a result, I had that left over money for sales later.  I was able to keep my grocery budget down even lower, and be able to take the loss of grocery money "reserves" because A) I keep a pantry.  Anything I already had at home, I didn't buy unless I was almost out.  B)  I am able to make a large variety of items normally bought at the store.  I made two exceptions to my tightfisted grocery shopping trip.  We like chips with our lunches, and, not knowing the outcome of my homemade yogurt, I bought some flavored yogurt. 

Now comes the fun part.... the prep.  Yesterday was a busy day.  I started early mainly cause I woke up early with my mind racing.  So I got up and got started.  I made hamburger buns, hotdog buns, two loaves of bread, 2 batches of homemade mayo; one for sandwiches and one for homemade ranch dressing  er..a.... plus the Ranch dressing(from scratch, no mix).  I also put up two quarts of tomato sauce and froze a lot of corn on  the cobb.  On the docket for Tuesday and Wed (my days off),are Pancake syrup, Bagels, English muffins, Shake and Bake mix and Whole wheat tortillas.  This morning it is banana bread from two bananas a little over ripe.  Once I do a cost analysis on the mayo and ranch dressing I will post it on here.  If you want the recipe, you can find it at  Look under the kitchen tab and she has lots of great recipes.

My point is this.  It is so much easier to face these surprise obstacles if you area already prepared for Murphys Law.  I am glad we were able to weather this without adding to our credit card bill, or losing sleep.  It is a better way to live.  Definitely.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Oops! I forgot this great yogurt recipe

So your kids like Trix yogurt so it doesn't work for you to make yogurt.  Weeeelllll let me tell ya, I have a recipe for a Trix like custard yogurt you can make cheap and the kiddies will love!

Trix style custard yogurt

1 pkg flavored Jello (or the generic equivalent)
1 cup water
3 cups plain yogurt
1/3 cup sugar

Boil your water and add the Jello, and sugar.  Mix well.  Fold in the yogurt until well incorporated and smooth.  Chill to set.

TIP:  If you don't want  to use the Jello, you can use 1 cup juice concentrate (like grape or juicy juice) and a pkg of unflavored gelatin instead of the Jello and water. 

I did it!!!! Yogurt How to's. Its easier than you think

Many years I have attempted yogurt and have been successful in as much as you would cook with it, but never made yogurt I could just eat straight out of the jar.  Most of the time it was kinda runny and or thin.  I would us it instead of buttermilk in biscuits, cornbread, etc.  I bought a yogurt maker last summer, and while it is nice having one, it isn't necessary for successful yogurt making. My yogurt was still the same consistency as before.  So in frustration and ready to give up I went to the internet to get the answer.  So without further adieu, here is how I did it.


4 cups of milk (I have used dry; reconstituted, whole, or 2%)
1 6 oz container of store bought plain yogurt (Make sure it has active cultures. I like Dannon or Stonyfield farms.  Once you make your first batch of yogurt, you can set aside some to be your culture next time and you wont have to buy any, SAVINGS!
1/3 cup of sugar (gives the bacteria something to eat)

So first of all you want to heat your milk up to 180 and keep it there for 30 min.  This alters the makeup of the milk to make it more receptive to the culture.  About half way thru the 30 minutes, you need to prep whatever container you are going to use.  I have little 6 Oz glass jars in my yogurt maker, but a glass Mason Jar or any glass jar capable of holding 1qt yogurt; 2 pint jars work as well.  Make sure these are clean and then totally submerge them in water and boil them.  I boiled them about 15 min.  This kills off any unseen germies that could attack the good bacteria. When the 30 minutes is up, remove the milk from the heat and let cool to 110. This won't take long.  When it has cooled to the 110, add your culture.  Mix it well.  Wait a few minutes and mix it again just to make sure the culture is evenly distributed.  Pour the mixture into your now sterilized container.  If you have a yogurt maker, Kudos.  Set it up and off you go.  But like I said before they are not necessary.   I used to take a Playmate cooler (Any cooler will work, but keep it small), fill up a couple of pint jars with very hot water and put them and the yogurt in.  Then I would put hand towels all round.  I once saw a lady who very shrewdly inserted a light bulb into the lid of a Styrofoam cooler and used that as a heat source.  The idea is to incubate your yogurt keeping the temp above 80 degrees but not so hot that it kills the bacteria.  Once it is set up, leave it for about 4 hours.  Check it out and if it has set up, then refrigerate.  You can let it sit for up to 8 hours, but the longer it sits the more tangy it will be.  It will set up more in the fridge.  Mistakes in yogurt making are still great for a substitute for buttermilk, so give it a try.  It is something that is not very labor intensive.  My cost analysis for this initial batch, culture included, is 32 oz for 1.49 and that is because I used a greek yogurt culture and they are more expensive.  Now that I have made my yogurt and therefore my culture for the next time, my cost for 32 oz of yogurt will be .68.  Compare that to the cost of a 32 oz container of yogurt on sale at the store.  The cheapest I have seen is a sale price of $1.99.  Even buying the more expensive yogurt for a culture still put me cheaper than store bought.


Big FYI here.  You can make your own greek yogurt by simply straining your homemade yogurt.  The whey that is drained off is a great source of protein and it also aids indigestion.  You can add it to biscuits, corn bread, quick breads muffins, etc.  If you are making oatmeal, put your oats in the bowl the night before with 2 TBS of Whey and the water to cook them with  let it soak overnight then cook it up the next morning. A good resource for using the whey is the book " Nourishing Traditions"  by Sally Fallon.


Got some cheese cloth or  other type cloth that will allow you to strain off even more?  Put your yogurt in the cheese cloth and hang it up over a bowl ( of course) to catch the whey.  Once all the liquid has drained off you will have yogurt cheese.  Use it like cream cheese.  You can add fresh herbs to it and have some awesome spread. 

So what are you waiting for!  Go for it!