RECIPE FROM THE PANTRY
Since I can finally get a good idea of what I have, I noticed that I have a lot of jams and jellies. I just can't resist making them in the spring when the fruit ripens. I also found my favorite recipe for jam bars while reorganizing, torn from my own handwritten receipt book and stuck to the back of a drawer. It's an old-fashioned economical recipe that is simple to make and one of our favorites.
1/2 C. butter, melted
1/2 C. corn or cane syrup (we use Lyle's Golden Cane syrup)
1 beaten egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 C. jam (any flavor)
Stir in syrup into butter in a medium bowl. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
Spread half of the batter in a greased 8" square pan. Spoon jam over batter. Carefully cover jam with remaining batter.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the top is set. Frost while warm with powdered sugar icing. ( confectioners' sugar combined with a bit of milk to make a thin frosting)
Economical Soap Making
We made soap this week. I won't explain how it's done, because there are many books and videos that can better explain it, than I, but I will tell you ways that we cut the costs. First, when I can meat, we cut off all the fat and render it outside our on rocket stove. That keeps the grease and the heat out of the house. This gives us several pints of fat. We feed the cracklins to the stray cats. We supplement it with coconut oil that we buy at the bulk food store at $12.72 for 1 gallon.
People always tell me that they want to be thrifty and simplify their life, like we do, but I always caution them to start small. Just as when you learn to cook, you don't start out making a seven course meal or when you learn to knit, you start with a dishcloth or a simple garter stitch scarf before moving on to socks and mittens, lest you become discouraged by the whole thing. Becoming frugal is best done in small steps. I'm always reading about "no-spending" challenges on other blogs. While the concept sounds good, what do you learn from it? As soon as the challenge is over, the people go back to spending. Hurrah! We can spend again! It's better to take baby steps and master them, then move on to the next lesson. First set up a budget, a realistic budget, live within it a while, then cut back some more. Become comfortable with less and cut back some more. Learn a skill, such as soap making, master it, then move on to another skill that is needed for self-sufficiency. One day you'll discover that you are a maven of thrift.
Quote of the Week
"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."
Don't Buy It, Make It
I've been canning a lot of chili this year from fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onions from the garden. If you have never tasted chili made with all fresh ingredients, you are missing out! You can make our own chili powder, and it's especially economical because we dry and use our own herbs. We make our own paprika by drying paprika peppers in the dehydrator, then grinding them into a powder, ditto for garlic and onion powder. Here's the recipe for homemade chili powder:
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
Combine. It's a matter of taste on how much you use, I'd say start with about a tablespoonful then add more if you like your chili spicier. Save the rest for another day. I've found that add just a bit of sugar to chili really makes the flavors pop. Canned chili can have a flat flavor, but is easily remedied by adding more chili powder or taco seasoning when you open the jars.
Thrifty Things We Did This Week
Built a pantry in the upstairs landing.
Refinished a chair that we purchased at a garage sale for $5.
Bought the stripper to refinish the chair at the the thrift store for $1.50 a quart.
Ate out of the garden.
Mended a pair of Ran's jeans.
Dried tomatoes and peppers.
Harvested tomatoes, peppers, broccoli (we never cut them down, the offshoots have produced quite a bit of broccoli) and blackberries.
Worked on a penny rug with wool purchased from thrifted wool.
Got rid of our cable since the "free" offer ended.
Planted saved seeds from the hollyhocks.
Neighbor Sandy gave us four yucca plants that we will be passing along to our daughter-in-law.
Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead!