Saturday, January 24, 2015

Flavored coffee creamer recipe

Hah!  I knew that would get your attention.

Little back story, this is a blog after all.  Up until about 4 years ago, I was never a big coffee drinker.  I tried a cup now and then, but never finished it.  Never really cared for it.  Then we had a really brutal (for us) winter.  With the cold temps outside and a chill in the house (and not wanting to turn the heat up), Dh and I, followed by our oldest son, began drinking coffee both in the morning and at night.  Dh always was a coffee drinker so no change for him there.  I have to say, though, my transition to coffee drinker was aided by a good sale paired with coupons on flavored coffee creamers.  Now I can drink it with or without flavored creamers.  In other words I have to have my coffee each day.  Not black though.  Ugh!  Never been able to do that.  Anyway, we still like flavored creamers but don't buy them often due to expense.  So enter a homemade version.  HAZAAAA!

 You can google "homemade coffee creamer" and get many recipes.  Some organic, some using raw honey, ground nuts, vanilla beans, etc.  All seem to have about the same base: 1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk and 1 3/4 cups milk preferably whole milk.  Store bought sweetened condensed milk can be pricey so the savings using that for homemade creamer would be small over just buying creamer when on a good sale at the store.  Especially when you factor in the fact that you are making your own.  Making coffee creamer isn't that time consuming, but you want the best return on your investment.  So here is the answer.

Make your own sweetened condensed milk!

 Don't have that recipe?  We fear not!  Here tis:

Sweetened Condensed milk

1 cup dry milk powder
2/3 cup of sugar
3 TBS butter or margarine melted
1/2 cup boiling water

The recipe says you can blend until smooth, but I mixed mine really quick in a quart size mason jar with a whisk (love whisks! the unsung heroes of the kitchen).

So after you have your sweetened condensed milk ready, and it will still be warm, which you want.   Now for your

Flavored coffee creamer:

Sweetened condensed milk (what you just made)
1/3 cup additional sugar
1 3/4 cups milk preferably whole (cause it will be creamier)
1 Tbs vanilla extract - you can go nuts at this point.  Season it in whatever way you want. This is how you make your creamer your own.  You can use extracts of different flavors, or coffee syrups, spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.

You are gonna mix all this up in the order I have listed it.  There is a method to my madness.  The sugar added to the still warm homemade sweetened condensed milk will allow it to dissolve easier.  Now if you choose to use a powdered spice like cinnamon or Cocoa powder, adding them before the milk will also allow them to dissolve better.  Syrups and extracts can be added whenever.

This recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups of creamer.  You can reduce the fat by using low fat milk and making your condensed milk without the butter/margarine, but what fun is there in that!  Just kidding.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Feeling like a spring day

Seriously it is in the sixties with the sun shining and it is Jan 17th.  To add to that I have 5 pints and 14 half pints of sauerkraut on the counter after canning them this morning, and we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon outside merging the two coops with the one run.   Since I was outside anyway, I decided to get as much of a Vitamin D boost as I could so was outside in a sleeveless top.  Hmm might have gotten a little tan.  All went well with the upgrade and move until one of the younger hens got out of her old run.  She wasn't too hard to catch.  I don't think she is afraid of us.  Garris, the oldest rooster, and I had a get to know each other moment.  I had to move them by hand to their side of the run.  Since I had him in my arms, much to his chagrin, I sat and petted him and talked to him.  He let me.  Didn't argue too much.  Then I put him back in his side of the run.  Once we had both roosters in the one run with a divider between them, it was kinda comical to see them show out for each other.  I have to say if it came to it, our youngest rooster Sambo ( a compromise name for Rubics "Sam" and my "Bocephus") would probably win.  He out weighs Garris and is a few inches taller.   There he is in the picture below.

  Basically They each have their own coop, and half the run.  The run is 40 sq total and so there is plenty of room for them.  Plus each coop is 16 sq ft.  We got a chuckle earlier when one red hen and one white hen were pecking at each other through the dividing netting.  Garris tried to stop the red hen and she gave him an angry look and pecked him hard.  It shocked him.  He left her alone.  Sambo on the other hand simply walked between his lady white hen and the netting and she walked away from the netting.  We know who has their ladies in line.   Poor Garris is old and hen pecked apparently.

Oooo!  I almost forgot.  I wanted to post pics of my new sewing area.  I so feel like Miss Thing in that I have a designated sewing area now.  DH likes the fact that I can keep him company while he watches His football games.  So here tis

So anyway, That's what is going on in my neck of the woods.  I'm glad to have this taste of spring since I'm pretty sure there are still some rainy, cold, yuck days ahead.  But then when the weather turns bad.   I'll sew!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Here it comes, the insanity creeping back in......

Now that Christmas is past and a new year has begun, my thoughts turn again to.......gardening.  I know, seriously, it feels like I have just finished up last years garden.  Well in a way I did just cause I have those cabbages I picked a couple of weeks ago, still fermenting making sauerkraut on the counter.  I plan on canning said kraut next weekend.  I found Brats marked down at the store yesterday so hubby is happy and waiting on the kraut to get finished.  I know what we are having for dinner next weekend.  But I digress.  Anyway, now is the time when I start planning things out.  What goes where, when to plant, and how much I will plant.  I feel the need to be ultra organized this  year due to working more hours in my job.  But then I always want to be organized when it comes to gardening.  I never am.  Lets just say the garden has a mind of its own and I am there to manage the chaos.  Like herding cats.

Indoors, I am trying to balance the need for convenience with the need to watch pennies.  Yesterday I bought packages of individual packs of baked potato chips for convenience weekday mornings packing lunches.  Now in my frugal defense, Ounce to Ounce it ended up being cheaper than buying the bigger bags of chips and packaging them myself.   I also bought canned drinks; cheaper than buying them at work or school.  Home brewed tea doesn't travel as well.  So everyone knows the drinks are for lunches only and the tea is for home.  I did draw the line at prepackaged cookies.  I came home and made a batch of 100% whole wheat low fat choc chip cookies and packaged them myself in snack bags.  It made enough for the week so I should only have to  make a batch once a week.  Those are also for lunches only.  Want the recipe?  Well I just so happen to have it on hand.  Here ya go:

Whole Wheat Choc Chip cookies

1 stick butter
1/2 cup plain non fat yogurt
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 ts vanilla
2 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup choc chips (chopped up if you can)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Melt your butter and add the yogurt, sugars, egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  Ina separate bowl mix up you flour, salt and soda.  Add that to your butter/sugar mixture.  Mix well.  Add in your choc chips.  Drop by tablespoonfuls on to a cookie sheet.  Dip a glass or other flat usable object into flour and press down the cookie just til flat.  Bake 10 min @ 350 degrees.  Remove from oven.  I mashed mine flat again gently once more as they cooled, but you don't have to if you don't want to.  Makes 40.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A time for every purpose under heaven

Hello everyone!  It has been an interesting day here in the frugal maven haven.  Not such a haven today with what had to be done, but interesting none the less.  We finally were able to get the last two roosters in the freezer.  Well that is one will go in the freezer and the other to my nephew as payment for fixing my computer.  Our Friend "J" and his grand daughter came over to the house to help and we were glad to have them.  We got about half way thru the process of butchering the roosters.  The fire had gone out from under my pot of hot water (need that for removing feathers) so we had to re-light it and wait for it to heat up again to finish things up.  So DH and "J" went to look at the ahem toilet in the guys bathroom (no man's land) cause it was leaking.  I finished up removing the feathers while they were otherwise engaged and I was coming into the house to finish dressing out the birds (it was pouring down rain).  As I come in the door carrying the two birds, I hear a commotion and find out the valve on the toilet had come off and water was going every where.  Dh has to run outside and turn off the water.  Yay!  No water so now how will I get these birds finished.  Well long story short the water wasn't off too long and I was able to get them finished (thanks guys).  All in all a productive albeit odd day.

I have some thoughts on butchering chickens.  Not fun.  It is a sad, sticky, yucky, messy job.  No part of it is attractive except the fact that you get meat out of it.  But there's nothing I can do about it.  If I am choosing to raise birds and hatch eggs, I will get roosters sometimes.  I don't know if you know this, you probably do, but Roosters don't lay eggs.  So now that we have that clear, I can say with confidence that I will have roosters in my future which need to be disposed of.

Problem I now have is time.  I have lost another 12 hours a week to my job,  Benefits of that are, but the disadvantages are some of that money will go to pay for things I can no longer do at home. Add to hours lost to work and I am losing hours to my sons going to school,  That is a worth while trade off.  More than worth while.  It is my most important job right now.  So now there comes a time when I am having to re-think what I do and don't do here at home.  I haven't decided yet what will stay or go, but one thing I have thought of is a way to cut back some on having roosters in the flock.  This means I may buy chicks already sexed in order to keep the rooster level down.  I am trying to figure if that is worth the extra cost.  Still in a thought process.  Butchering chickens is a time consuming process; at least for us as newbies.  We will see.  For right now as I have time, things will remain the same, but I am in the slow time of year for me, so things are apt to change.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Wow!  I can not believe we are already at 2015.  The saying is true "once you're over the hill you pick up speed".

New Years has never really been an "event" for me.  It is more of an after thought.  If I'm up for some other reason I'll go ahead a watch the ball drop.  More often than not I sleep though it.  This year is one of the years I was up.  Not purposefully, but because my DH and I were watching a really Good movie (Silver Linings Playbook).  It ended around 11:30 and I remembered I had cinnamon roll dough that needed to be converted to cinnamon rolls for morning.  So we ended up watching the ball drop.  The guys were still awake so a few minutes before midnight, we asked them if they wanted to watch.  They came out, we watched the ball drop, hugged and kissed each other, and toasted the new year.  Then bed time.  That's it.  Someone in the neighborhood was shooting off fire works, but it sounded more like incoming artillery.  Our pit bull is a little jittery with loud noises so she ended up laying on the floor next to our bed last night.

So do I have a new years resolution?  Not really.  I am tired of all the rich food so I will be going back to healthier eating.  I did hear an interesting idea yesterday though.  The concept is to look back over the last year and all that happened.  Then think hard about a word to use through the rest of the year.  I would love to say the concept was my own idea, but it wasn't.  It was a co-workers idea.  We will call her "Blondie".  She came up with this concept may years ago at a hospital in Florida.  The concept was popular.  She goes by this concept every year.  The word has to be an action word.  A word that requires something from you.  The architect of this word concept uses the example of her first word.  She says she was a single mom, in a rut, didn't go out, didn't do much except go to work and go home.  Her word was "Dare".  It wasn't a concept that started immediately, just when the opportunities presented themselves, she "dared" herself to accept the challenge.  As a result she met her husband, learned new things, etc.  So during the course of our conversation, another co-worker (we will call her "energizer")  came up with a word for herself.  She told me I needed to come up one of my own.  I had no clue.  That is until I was talking to DH on the way home.  I was explaining to him how I am wanting to take better care of myself.  Do more for me.  Nothing drastic, just little things like getting my hair cut by a professional, or allowing myself to buy something without feeling like I have to justify it(seriously when you feel the need to justify buying new under garments......).  Then the word dawned on me; "Confident".   I want to do things that make me feel more confident about myself.  Not just hair style, or nice looking (not expensive) clothes (tired of looking or feeling frumpy at home and work), but things like increasing confidence  in my abilities or decisions.  I also want to increase my confidence in God's provision and protection.  To know that He is in control even when I feel like my life is out of control.  I know He is in control in my head, but many times I want to take issues out of His hands and try to work it out myself.  I know  increasing my confidence in my abilities and increasing my confidence in God's ability may seem in conflict, but they really aren't.  There is a line where I end and God takes over.  I need to know that line, let go, and let God take over.

Now full disclosure here.  Things are going to be changing here next week.  I will go from 20 hours a week to 32 a week.  It will mean somethings I do here will be limited, but the boys are men now and will be in school while DH and I are at work.  So no one will be here to make a mess (I hope)They are good to help out now as is DH.  As a result of an increase in pay, things like getting a hair cut professionally won't be a big hit.  It is a weird concept having my hair cut professionally.  I haven't done that in 8 years.  I want something easy to fix but snazzy.  We will see.

So that is all for now.  I have droned on long enough.  So anyway, you guys have a Happy New Year in what ever way suits you!