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Monday, June 8, 2015

SWEET BRIAR COTTAGE JOURNAL: HOW DO YOU DO?

Hello dear friends!  Hope you are enjoying your June days!  I'm always astounded that the flowers know to bloom, even if the weather isn't very June-like.  We are enjoying lupines, columbine, the last of the lilacs and irises.
Can you believe that all of these irises came from dividing a clump that was about 2 1/2 feet square?  They were really packed in there!  Dividing plants is a thrifty way to landscape your yard.  On the shady side of our house we have filled in the yard with hosta lilies , ferns and lily of the valley that all have come from just a few plants.  It's a very peaceful area, unfortunately  with my lack of photography skills, I have never been able to capture it's true beauty. 

In the vegetable garden, we are harvesting lettuce, spinach, mustard greens and herbs. 
This is the making for a Spanakopita; spinach, chives, oregano and wild leeks.  By the way, I discovered that puff pastry dough is easier to work with than layering phyllo dough.  Still gives you a nice flaky crust.  Our little store didn't have frozen phyllo dough but it did have puff pastry dough.  Go figure!

Also canned stewed rhubarb.
Had to make sure it was well labeled as it looks a lot like asparagus.  It will be good for breakfast with a piece of toast  this winter.  I got the recipe from a state extension website.  **sigh**  The instructions are so silly!   They instructions are so detailed, they even instruct you on how to wash your hands!   Really!   If you don't know to wash your hands before preparing food, perhaps you shouldn't be doing it!

We've been living simply for almost forty years, long before it was fashionable.  As a matter of fact people thought we were quite odd with our canning- wash on the line- gardening lifestyle in the conspicuous consumption era of the eighties.  One friend told us she liked coming to our house because it was like going to a living museum!  One of the questions we have heard time and again is how do you feed all those boys so cheaply?

How To Feed Teenage Boys Without Breaking The Bank

1. Carbohydrates are good!  I know that today, carbs are taboo, but growing active boys need a lot of calories.  They also need  something that sticks to the bones.  Oatmeal is probably one of the thriftiest breakfasts that you can make.  You'd break the bank, buying enough meat to satisfy a growing boy, but you can fill them up with lots of rice, noodles and potatoes.  We grow our own potatoes, but around here, you can buy a 50 pound bag of potatoes for $8 in the fall.  How far does $8 get you in the meat department?

2.  Speaking of carbohydrates, we've found that eating it in the whole grain form is more filling than the refined forms.  So go for brown rice, whole wheat bread and noodles.

3.  A protein is a protein, is a protein.  Meat doesn't have to be the only source of protein.  Beans are cheaper.  Most boys love Mexican food, which can easily be made with beans.  To get a complete protein you need to combine beans with a whole grain.  Which shouldn't be a problem, if you are filling them up with carbs!

4.  Turkey is not just for Thanksgiving.  We bought a turkey almost every month.  It was the cheapest meat around.  Plus we got gallons of broth from the carcasses.  We even skimmed the fat off the top of and made brownies with them.  There was nothing left of those birds except the quack.  Because of the bird flu outbreak, I've read that turkey prices will be rising, so while the are still cheap, I'd buy a few if I had a freezer.  But there's always some form of meat that is on sale.  Lately, I've seen hams selling quite inexpensively.  Large pork roasts are often inexpensive, you can substitute it for beef in stews and soups. Those boxes of bacon ends an pieces are wonderful!  Just a little bacon can add so much flavor to baked beans and soups. 

5.  Check out unusual food sources.  I know that some of the foreign food marts have much cheaper prices on spices and grains.  We used to visit the bakery outlets quite often, back then.  Stores like Big Lots often have some great buys.  Shop with an open mind.  We recently bought some unknown brand coffee at Big Lots for $2.50 a pound!  It was good!  So we went back and bought six months worth and froze it.  BTW, we have very limited freezer spaces, so we reserve the space for deals on butter, coffee, cheese and berries from our garden.  Everything else either gets canned or dehydrated.

6.  Limit milk.  A lot of friends bemoan that their teenage sons can drink a gallon of milk a day. You can limit milk it to just meals.  We kept a jug of ice water in the fridge for quenching thirsts.

7.  Keep the cookie jar filled!  In hard times, it is always good to have comfort foods to help you feel less deprived.  Cookies don't have to be expensive  things with nuts and chocolates.  Many old-fashioned recipe can be made with basic pantry staples, like  sugar cookies, gingersnaps and oatmeal cookies.

8.  Keep the fridge stocked with inexpensive snacks.  I make up pasta salads, cut up celery sticks and carrots, and homemade yogurt.  They make nicer, healthier, and cheaper snacks than bags of potato and tortilla chips.

9.  Popcorn makes an inexpensive snack.  If you pop it yourself (not the microwave type) popcorn is cheap, filling and a good source of fiber.  We experiment with different seasonings to give us variety.

10.  Mainly remember food is just food.  It's purpose is to nourish you.  Try to get as much nutrients out of meals as you can.  Grate carrots and celery into hamburger.  Instead of meat, add more beans to soups and casseroles.  Buy food in it's most natural form.  Don't fuss with unusual ingredients.  Find recipes that use basic pantry staples.  Buy fruits and vegetables in season, or better yet, grow your own.  If you find a deal, find a way to preserve it. 

Thrifty Things We Did This Week

Harvested spinach, lettuce, herbs, asparagus, rhubarb and beets from the garden

Planted 24 Chinese cabbages from seeds that we received as a free sample.

Son Jamie, bought a video game at a garage sale for $1 that he knew was a rare one.  He traded it at a game store for $80 store credit.

Painted a bench with leftover trim paint from the shed.

Re-used the screen door hardware  from an old screen door on a new screen door.

Bought mushrooms at the reduced-for-quick-sale rack and dried them in a pan in the car. Used no energy.

Also car-dried herbs form our garden.

Used the rinse water and water from the canner to water plants.

Harvested and canned rhubarb.

And as always, ate from the garden, hung laundry on the line, ate from the pantry, etc.

Well, that's it for this week!  Hope you all a lovely week ahead of you!

Jane






14 comments:

  1. Hi Jane! That is a lot of info! You truly have a "newsletter" going here. I was just remembering how moms would boil eggs (hard-boiled eggs) and keep them in the fridge for a quick snack! So much healthier back then when we didn't have processed food! I forget how to eat at times! It helps to see how you fed your boys. It is amazing how well your garden is growing in such a short amount of time after having that hard/late-going winter! Andrea

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    1. Hi Andrea! It really is amazing how well the garden is growing. The cold hasn't bothered it a bit, in fact I'd say it's thriving. That is, all except anything that grows on a perennial vine. I think it was the wind more than the cold that did them in.

      Boiled eggs are a good snack. My mom used to keep a big bowl of egg salad in the fridge to make sandwiches with when we wanted a snack.. I forgot all about that until you mentioned it. We never had snacks like we have now days back then. Potato chips were a very special treat and usually were only a single serving size. I always remember my dad making a slice a bread spread with peanut butter in the evening. I wonder what the price of eggs will be with the government destroying so many birds due to the avian flu? Right now we can buy eggs pretty cheap. Eggs, along with firewood, are one of the cottage industries in this area.

      I do have a newsletter going here, I guess. Whatever I can do to help people learn thrift. If it helps one person save one dollar it will be worth it!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  2. HI! I heard eggs will be going up in price. Thunderstorming here right now! Bye! Andrea

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    1. Just heard on the news that bird flu has hit Michigan. Wonder how it will effect the small local egg sellers.

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  3. Great tips on feeding teenage boys, now that my son Joe will be working full time at the hardware store this summer, I'm sure he'll be even hungrier than normal! I love the idea of cooking a whole turkey, my mother in law, who raised three boys did that and still makes that when all the family comes over, definitely an inexpensive way to feed a crowd! How cool that your son found a rare video game and made such a profit, I will have to tell my kids to keep their eyes peeled at garage sales, they are both into video games too. I love it when I can fill out my garden with divided plants, in my garden its the succulents that grow so well, I can dig some up anytime I need to fill a spot. :) Have a great week! :)

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    1. Hi April! We always say that if Jamie could wheel and deal like he does with video games, he'd be a billionaire. We have some hen and chicks that we are hoping will fill in a spot that is so dry and hot. So far they are the only thing that will grow there. Hope your son has fun working at the hardware store!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  4. dear jane,
    wow... your irises looks very pretty,love the blue colour.the canned rhubarb looks really like the asparagus.great job of canning front. i freeze a lot of my rhubarb and harvested a few black currants.
    thanks for all the wonderful tips and information,i love your weekly journal.
    have a nice week my friend,
    bear hugs regina

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    1. Hi Regina! It seems like irises are the one plant everyone shares with us. That's ok, they are pretty, especially when grown en mass. If my freezer wasn't the size of a shoebox, I'd freeze my rhubarb too. It was a lot of work to can! Hope you have a nice week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. As always Jane, i leave encouraged by all your wisdom. Thank you dear lady for sharing :}

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    1. You are the sweetest, Mari!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Hello Jane,
    I just discovered your blog over on Regina's and came over for a peep. I'm learning lots from you...That's interesting that wholegrains are more filling. Thanks for sharing all this useful information.
    debby

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    1. Hi Debby! Regina is a dear friend. Yes, the more fiber, the more filling. Thank you for your kind comments, it's always nice to get some positive encouragement!

      Jane

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  7. Dear Jane,

    It's nice to see that irises are still around in your neck of the woods. They disappear so fast around here in the rain! Yours certainly are thriving, as is your vegetable garden, I see. :)

    Thank you for the birthday wishes for Audrey, and for your continuing friendship. I always love your creative and thrifty ideas!

    Love,

    Marqueta

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    1. Hi Marqueta! Yeh, irises and hollyhocks melt like tissue paper in the rain.

      Although we have never met, I feel that we are kindred spirits! Only the best wishes for you, dear friend!

      Hugs
      Jane

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