Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holiday Quick Breads

I don't make Christmas cookies any more now that my kids are adults.  I do make Christmas breads.  Very fast and much easier.

Aunt Evelyn's Zucchini Bread:

3 eggs.           1 1/2 cups sugar.           2/3 cup oil.           1 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp baking powder.            3 cups flour.           1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt.           1 tsp vanilla.            2 cups grated zucchini.  (I freeze grated zucchini in the summer when it's abundant and cheap.)

Mix all the ingredients together and mix well.  Makes 2 large or 3 smaller loaves.
Bake at 325 for about an hour.

Sharon's Pumpkin Bread:

3 cups sugar.           4 eggs.           1 tsp nutmeg.           1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt.            1cup oil.       1 cup pumpkin.       2/3 cup water
2 tsp baking soda.             3 cups flour

Mix all ingredients well.  Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Not Store Bought: For the Younger Set

Make your kids or grands some fun things to play with and be the super mom or grandma.

Play Dough:

3 cups flour.                   1 1/2 cups of salt.                   6 tsp.  cream of tartar
3 cups cool water.         3 tablespoons oil.                   food coloring or unsweetened                                                                                                 Koolaid for very vibrant colors

Mix the dry ingredients in a big saucepan.  Blend the liquids then combine with the dry ingredients.  Cook over medium heat, making sure you stir constantly.
Cook about 5minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat.  Knead until smooth.  Store in an airtight container.

Note:  This keeps well for up to a year.  If it gets sticky over time, knead in a little more flour.

Bubble Solution:

9 ounces water
1 ounce dishwashing liquid, name brand works best
1/2  ounce glycerin, available at drugstores

Mix and let sit at least a week before use.  For some reason, letting it sit makes it work better.

Finger Paint:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups cold water
Food coloring
Dishwashing liquid

Soak the gelatin in some warm water to cover.  In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch and sugar.  Add the cold water a little at a time and cook over low heat until everything is blended.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add the softened gelatin.
Divide the mixture to make different colors.
To the different colors add a Drop or two of dishwashing liquid then food coloring until you have the color you want.

You can store this in the refrigerator for about a month.

Sidewalk Chalk:

Plaster of Paris
Food coloring
Toilet paper tubes

Mix two parts plaster of Paris with one part water.  Mix in the color you want.  Pour into the tubes (make sure to have sealed the bottom opening with duct tape or such).  Let dry completely.  Drying may take a few days, depending on the humidity.  Remove from the tube and let the artwork begin.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

After Thanksgiving Soup

Want to know what you can do with all those turkey bones?  Make soup.

First, put the bones into a large pot and cover with water.  To the water add a small amount of vinegar to help draw out some calcium from the bones into the stock.  ( No, you won't be able to taste it.  Promise.)
Simmer the bones in the water for a half hour to an hour.
Remove the bones from the broth.  Don't throw away!
Cool the broth in the refrigerator until any fat comes to the surface and can be skimmed off.
Meanwhile, remove any remaining meat from the bones and set it aside for the soup.  Safely discard the bones.
Prep 2 ribs of celery, 3 carrots, 1 onion for the soup by chopping fine.

Place the vegetables into the cooled and skimmed broth, along with the meat you got off the bones.  Cook at a simmer until your vegetables are tender.
Now add 1 cup uncooked noodles or pasta and cook until the noodles/pasta is tender.  Seas with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pie Chart Economy

Pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving just isn't the same in my house without pumpkin pie.
If the same is true for you, don't buy one this year.  Try making one.
They are easy to make and you can save about 50% by making it yourself.

Pumpkin Pie:

1 pie crust, make your own or buy one.   You need a deep one.
2 eggs.         1 can of pumpkin.         3/4 cup brown sugar.         1/ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon.           1 tsp nutmeg.         1/2 tsp ginger.           1/4 tsp cloves
12 ounces evaporated milk

Blend all ingredients well.  Pour into the crust and put into a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake for 15 minutes then LOWER the temp to 350 and bake an additional 45 minutes.  When you can insert a knife into the center of the pie and it comes out clean the pie is done.

If you don't have pumpkin, substitute mashed winter squash, sweet potatoes, or carrots.  The spices will make it taste the way you want it to taste.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 1-15: Buying and Eating

Allotment of $369.30 for the month.
Cushion of $422.10.
Total available of $791.40.

What we ate:
Meatloaf from the freezer, roasted butternut squash, noodles with broccoli and Parmesan cheese; leftovers; beef stew from freezer, applesauce, bread; homemade pepperoni, onion, and olive pizza with stove popped popcorn; popcorn shrimp, roasted squash, Dauphin potatoes, garlic bread; leftover pork from the freezer, corn on the cob, mashed cauliflower; leftovers; Macaroni and cheese; mushu pork with spicy Asian noodles and salad; chili and cheese nachos; pepperoni pizza and chips( we got it free on Veteran's Day);  hot chicken salad, spinach salad, roasted squash;  shepherd's pie from the freezer and spinach salad; leftover hot chicken salad and squash with green salad;  pasta with pesto and sausage, bruchetta;

What we bought:

Aldi:  raisins, aged white cheddar, white cheddar with cranberries, shredded Parmesan, Brie, whole berry cranberries (3), maraschino cherries (2), prosciutto and mozzarella roll, butter (3), Bavaria, smoked salmon, stuffed olives (2), cottage cheese, pretzels (2), French baguette. $ 45.33
As you can guess, I have started to purchase treats for the holidays.  :)

Tops:  butter, chobani yogurt (2), cake mix, Turkey breast (7.2 lbs.), butterscotch morsels, Sargento string cheese (2), Barilla pasta, wet cat food (4), popcorn shrimp (32 oz. )  $31.49

Giant Eagle:  cereal (3), Snapple tea (free), gala apple's. $5.95

Bread Store:  Monk's rye bread, Monk's pumpkin spice bread, Thomas' onion bagels  $2.52

Aldi:  butter (4), sugar (2), eggs (2), green onions. $13.41

Price Rite:  Pam, baking soda, instant coffee, olives, lentils, split peas, mushrooms, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, Apple's, cheeses (6), cream cheese (3)  $34.78

Tops:  tortilla chips, pretzels (2), chips (2), onions (2lb), potatoes (3lbs), carrots (1lb), brownie mix, cream mushroom soup, fresh organic herb blend, beef broth, Chuck roast (4lbs), Italian bread, 12 pack of water, 48 oz. vegetable oil  $17.68
This included an 11% Veteran's Day discount.
Also reflects a buy a Chuck roast and get some items free promotion.

Aldi:  brown sugar. $0.99

Christmas Tree Shop:  nutmeg, chili powder, syrups for coffee (3), cookies for Mike (4)  $4.92
This reflects a 25% Veteran's Day discount.

Meals Out:

Taco Bell with Mike:  2 free tacos and Mike got a bean and rice burrito and a drink  $2.12
Dinner before theater:  7.00
Lunch with Angela:  $11.31
Veteran's Day breakfast with Mike:  $14.16
Veteran's Day lunch with Mike:  $8.50
Lunch with Angela:  $12.45

We spent $173.57 on groceries and $55.54 on meals out.  That totaled $229.11.
We therefore have $ 140.19 of the allotment for the rest of the month.  We will be into our cushion.  No problem. That's what it's there for.

Monday, November 13, 2017

This and That

Getting Stains Out:

I have been using this stain remover for over twenty years.  It rarely fails me.  If you are going to have to discard something because of a stain, what have you got to lose?  I keep it in a sealable container between uses.  Then I don't have to waste it or remake it for every stain.

Stain Remover:
1 cup powdered dishwasher detergent
1 cup powdered Clorox II

Dissolve in hot water ( I use a kitty litter container.)
Soak the stained item(s) overnight.
Launder as usual.

Buy Them Identical:

For all the sock wearers in your family, buy them several pairs of identical socks.  No need to match them up.  Just put them in the sock drawer.  Whatever two socks they grab will automatically match.
 When a sock wears out or gets lost, keep the good one.  It will find a different mate.
Want some variety?  Pick two or three colors to buy.  Just make sure you buy multiple pairs of each color.  (Don't buy navy and black.  They are too hard to tell apart.)
Save frustration, time and money.

Want a Neater Looking House?

Put into action the following:  items in a container automatically look neater than items strewn all over a surface.
Have a large attractive basket for mail so it doesn't just get dropped onto the first flat surface inside the door.
Dirty dishes gathered in the sink look better than scattered all over the kitchen.
Dirty clothes in a laundry basket don't look as bad as dirty clothes all over the floor.
You get the idea.

Just a Drop:

Condition your hair frugally.
 Wash your hair as normal.  Towel dry.  Put 1 DROP of conditioner in your hand.  Rub through your hair and style as usual.

Need to Shave Your Legs?

Use hair conditioner to prep your legs and soften the hair.  Remember, a little goes a long way.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

How to Save the Most you Can

1.  Buy it cheaper.
2.  Make it last longer.
3.  Use it less.

Save with each option.
Combine two and save more.
Do all three and maximize your savings.

1.  Buy it cheaper.
     Sales.  Salvage groceries.  Thrift stores.  Discount stores.

2.  Make it last longer.
     Use less. Use less frequently.  Repair instead of replacing.

3.  Use it less.
     Can you use something else in its place sometimes?  Can you do without completely sometimes?

An hypothetical:

Buying it cheaper saves you $10.00.
Making it last longer saves you another $50.00.
Using less also saves you yet another $50.00.

If you can buy it cheaper and make it last longer you can save $60.00.

If you can do all three, you can save $110.00.  Not bad at all.

For example, you buy a great pair of dress shoes on sale and save $10.00.

To make them last longer, you only wear them at work.  You wear an older pair to and from work to take the wear and tear of driving, rainy days, and snow covered parking lots.

 Your shoes now last a year longer and you save $50 by not having to replace your shoes every year.

To use them less, you alternate between two pairs of dress shoes so that each can dry out between wears (feet sweat) and each pair has a day to be cleaned and polished as necessary.

 Consequently, each pair lasts an additional year. That saves you another $50 per pair.

 $110 saved.  Now that was easy, wasn't it?

(Oh, and that $50 per pair was just for the example.  Good shoes can COST.)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Stretching Ground Meat

Mixing in non meat items with the meat can save you $$$.

To every pound of ground meat I am about to use or put into the freezer I add two large grated carrots, one large grated potato and one large grated onion.  I then add 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs or oatmeal.  The resulting mixture is then divided into thirds and each third is used in recipes calling for one pound of hamburger.

I have cut the cost of my ground beef by almost 66%.  The vegetables add flavor and moistness.  The soft bread crumbs or oatmeal adds bulk and substance.  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October 25-31: Buying and Eating

Coming into the home stretch of the month, we had $2.14 of the original monthly allotment of $381.61 left.  Then we would be into our cushion of $480.19.  Below is how it played out.

What we bought:

CSA (the last one):  grapes, Apple's, red peppers, cucumber, potatoes, corn, butternut squash, turban squash, gourds, Indian corn. $12

Giant Eagle:  frozen hash browns (2.75 lbs)  99 cents. (for cheesy potatoes during the holidays)

Tops:  goldfish crackers (3), Apple cider (gal.)  $2.49 (Mike loves goldfish)

Aldi:  sugar (20 lbs), feta, bleu cheese, parmesan, avocados (4), butter, pecans (pie during the holidays), canola spray.  $25.85

Country Fair:  salami (~1 lb)  $3.03

Save a Lot:  pork sausage (4)  $3.96

Giant Eagle:  frozen pizza (3)  (will be used for easy/quick meals), Life cereal  $3.96

Total groceries:  $52.28

What we ate:
  leftover stack enchiladas from the freezer, corn on the cob, fried green beans, mint brownies;  spaghetti squash with butternut pasta sauce and garbanzo beans, garlic bread, steamed broccoli;  homemade veggie burgers, sauteed mushrooms and onions, homemade French fries, cucumber salad;  roasted chicken with acorn squash, Dijon roasted cauliflower and cucumber salad;  vegetarian cottage pie using some of the vegie burger mix),,  yogurt, Parmesan supper bread;  Italian beans and rice soup (gathering up some fragments from the freezer), bread pudding (more freezer fragments); southern bbq (made from the meat picked off the chicken carcass after I made broth)

Meals Out:

Breakfast with Ginger, Amy and Cindy. $7.95
Total:  $7.95

Grand Total for the week:  $60.23

Amount of cushion needed:  $58.09.  New cushion balance:  $422.10