Ran has been warding off a cold by making a tea of pine needles and rosehip syrup . To make the tea, just steep the chopped up needles from a red pine tree (the red pine has two needles) in boiling water. Strain and drink.
HOW TO FEED STEAK TO A CROWD
We rarely eat meat, and even more rarely eat red meat, but every once in a great while, my body tells me I need some. I can't explain it except to say that I start to feel very fragile. It's taken me almost half a century to become attuned to my body; I abused it for many years eating processed foods and sweets, but one of the greatest benefits of our thrifty self-sufficient lifestyle is becoming more healthy via all the organic and wholesome foods we now grow and eat. Also, now that we can't afford to run off to the doctor whenever we feel ill, we've had to study natural and alternative remedies. Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that my body was telling me that I needed some red meat (probably iron). Fortunately our local butcher had a cheap cut of steak on sale that was cheaper than hamburger, so I made this:
a few rashers of bacon, diced
4-6 med. potatoes, sliced
3-4 carrots, sliced
3 medium onions, sliced
1 lb. round steak (or any other cheap steak) cut into strips
1 C. beef broth
In a Dutch oven or large cooking pot, layer bacon, steak, onions, carrots and potatoes Sprinkle each layer with salt and pepper. Pour broth over top. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until meat is cooked through and carrots and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.
This is one of the old recipes from the 1920s or 30s, back when there were boarding houses. People weren't supposed to cook in their rooms, but often they'd sneak in a hot plate to make soups and dishes such as this. Where have all the boardinghouses gone? I think in these days, when people are really struggling, it would be a perfect solution for the young single working poor. Guess we've all become too independent. BTW, I think some cabbage would be good in this too (plus add more filling). Probably wasn't included in the recipe because the smell would have alerted the boardinghouse owner.
When we were out for our Christmas walk, we discovered a pile of lumber that was been thrown out at a home undergoing renovations. Well, Merry Christmas! Beautiful old pine boards and pretty trim, some 16 feet long. We have so much fun making cupboards, such as the one I wrote about here, and shelves from salvaged materials. We also keep all the nice hardwood boards from free pallets. Our garage is getting full. So many possibilities! At the very least, we can always burn it for heat, but that would be a shame. We only half-jokingly remark that we have almost enough free wood to build a house. More and more we talk of selling this place and building further away from everything. Someplace where we can have a well and keep a few chickens and bees. We always see windows and doors being thrown out, not to mention beautiful old porcelain sinks (the old-fashioned kind with the built-in drainboards). I bet if we put our thinking caps on, we could build a very nice little cabin very cheaply with salvaged materials. That's when you know you are a true thrifter; when you see a home in somebody else' junk pile!
Speaking of salvaging, my dear friend Mary, gave me a large bag of Ralph Lauren woolen samples from an upholstery shop.(She also gave me four skeins of that very expensive Madeline Tosh merino yarn that she found at a thrift store for 99cents each, but more about that another day).
Such beautiful woolen pieces! There are several samples that are large enough to make the front of a vest or maybe pillows, I haven't decided yet. With the smaller pieces, I'm making another penny rug.
This time in quieter tones. I might make a table runner in the same manner as I made my woolen quilt that I made earlier this year or perhaps pillows. So many ideas! Anyway, one of the life lessons I've learned from Mary is that it doesn't hurt to ask. What's the worst that could happen? Perhaps you know of an upholstery shop that would be glad to give you their samples that they are getting rid of?
I also knitted this cap for Ran, using this free pattern from Lion Brand yarns and Red Heart fleck yarn.
I call it the cosmic brownie hat, after those Little Debbie brownies. It's chocolate brown with colored sprinkles. Jamie and I can't eat dairy so we freeze them in the summer for a special frozen treat.
Another thing that I always do after Christmas is to cut up the Christmas cards that we receive into small rectangles and glue a piece of plain white paper on the back. Then punch a small hole on the top and tie on a ribbon. These I use for next year's gift tags.
WHAT I BOUGHT AT THE AFTER-CHRISTMAS SALES
The after-Christmas sales are great for getting wrap and decorations for next year, fortunately I didn't need any. But I did need wrap and ribbons for other occasions, so I found some very non-Christmasy wrap in silver and some spools of ribbon that were not red or green. I also bought those nice white gift boxes and packages of tissue paper that makes hand knit or sewn items look special when giving them as presents. Besides that I found some little stocking stuffers to put away for the shoe box Christmas charity next year. In the past, I've bought the plain solid chocolate (the ones shaped like Santa, reindeer, etc.) and chopped them up for baking with throughout the year. Cheaper than chips! I also have purchased Christmas cacti and repotted them in pretty pots for next year's gift giving. I was unsuccessful in finding any battery powered twinkle lights, which was my main mission. Oh well! I guess I've gotten along this far without them!
THRIFTY THING WE DID THIS WEEK
Attended a free showing of It's a Wonderful Life
Bought wrap and ribbons at the after-Christmas sale.
My son in Wisconsin sent us a gift box of assorted meats from a well-known Wisconsin meat packer and another son gave us some of his home raised turkey and lamb so we are all "meated" up for the next several months.
Started a penny rug from free woolen samples.
The fruit market is closing down for the winter and they had some great sales. I bought bags of chocolate chips for 99 cents a bag! So I bought six bags, enough for the entire year. They also had bags of shredded cheese for 99 cents, which I froze.
We ate soup this week using the small ham that was included in my son's gift. That lasted for several days. The rest of the ingredients came from the pantry and cold storage.
Salvaged a large pile of lumber.
Foraged red pine needles for a home remedy.
Took advantage of Ebay's no-fee listing to sell five items on Ebay.
Skyped with long distance relatives.
Made macaroni and cheese with all the leftovers in the cheesekeep, the remaining cream cheese and sour cream from holiday baking. It made a very rich dish, but now we can enter the new year with a clean and healthy slate.
In spite of it being the Christmas week, we did pretty much what we do all year long; heat with wood, hang our clothes to dry, bake our own bread, eat from the fruit cellar and pantry, etc.
Well, this has been quite a year, with the birth of a granddaughter, friendships made and other rekindled, and new knowledge learned. There have been some financial setbacks, but that's small potatoes in comparison to all that we have gained. We are looking forward to the new year, once again to face a clean slate. One of the biggest blessings of this year has been the support of you dear friends. May you go into the new year confidently and joyfully.