It wouldn't be a holiday without us having a project going and this one is no different than any other. We're remodeling our kitchen. It all started with a big ugly chip in the sink. We couldn't find another sink the same size, so we had to replace the countertop, which meant we had to tear out the stone backsplash, which snowballed into removing the wallpaper. Then we contracted a case of the "might-as-wells" and decided we might as well replace the flooring, while we had everything removed from the kitchen. By the end the only things left standing were the faucet and the cupboards. There's a long-standing joke in our village that to reach Port Austin, you must drive to the end of the Earth then drive ten more miles and you'll arrive here, and today we learned just how true it is; we needed a simple two-dollar piece of plumbing to finish installing the sink, but had to make a one-hundred and thirty-six trip to the big city to get it.
It wasn't a very good year for the wild grapes, but we uncovered enough to make a batch of wild grape jelly. We grow two kind of of domesticated grapes: Gewurztraminer, a sweet variety .
grape juice. Grape juice, more peaches and potatoes, and perhaps pumpkins are all I have left to do this year, then I can put my canners away for a while.
The other day I had the "pleasure" of standing in line behind a woman that must have watched one too many episodes of Extreme Couponers. It took three-quarters of an hour for her to check out as she had a coupon or a matching-price-from-a-competitor for almost every item in her cart, which was filled to overflowing. In the end, she was quite pleased with herself as she watched the total drop from over $1200 to around $700. She turned towards me as she left, grinned and exclaimed "not bad!". Guess she thought I'd be impressed. To be honest, I think if my grocery bill ever totaled $700, I'd probably faint dead away, or expect that I'd have enough food to last half the year. I so wanted to pull her aside and explain to her that she could have saved even more money if instead of Lunchables, she had bought a box of store-brand crackers and a chunk of cheese and packaged them in a reusable plastic container from the dollar store. Instead of those packages of juice boxes, she could have bought frozen juice concentrate and reconstituted it herself with her own tap water and put that into a thermos that she could have bought at a garage sale. Instead of lunchmeat at $8/lb, she could have bought two roasting chickens and made more sandwiches and the bones could have been made into soup that again could have went off to school in a thermos. Instead of those little cups of fruit, why not just fruit? You know? From the produce section? I think I could have whittled her grocery bill down to approximately $200 without using a single coupon. Sigh! Sometimes it's hard to bite your tongue when you're a master of thrift. Ha!
BAKING FROM THE PANTRY
Well, school days are here again and it's always nice to have a little something sweet in the old lunch pail. Here's a recipe that's as old as the hills, for a simple moist brownie that's a real kid and husband pleaser.
1 C. butter
2 C. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 C. cocoa
2 C. flour
dash of salt
1/2 C. chopped nuts (optional)
Beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the cocoa, salt and flour until just combined. Fold in the nuts. Put into a greased 13 X 9 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until just done. Hint: Brownies should always be just a tad bit underbaked if you want fudgey ones.
Once cooled, frost.
1/4 butter, softened
1/4 C. milk
1/4 C. cocoa
3 C. Confectioners sugar
Beat together all ingredients until smooth.
A STITCH IN TIME SAVES NINE
Since the kitchen is in shambles, I have had time to do some other chores besides canning, cooking and washing dishes. Time to get caught up on mending. Ran tore a rent in his favorite jacket so I darned that. Darning is an old-fashioned skill, seldom used today in our throw-away society, but I like to give it a turn from time to time, just to keep the art alive.
To darn a sweater, you run long lines of yarn (hopefully matching) the length of the hole, catching the loops of the unraveled yarn. Then it's simply a matter of weaving the yarn over and under that yarn you just sewed lengthwise, crosswise like weaving a basket. For cloth, put a piece of material behind the hole if it's a large one, and then weave it the same as for knits. catching some of the backing fabric as you weave and tucking in the little frayed edges as you weave the thread. Here's the end results:
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Harvested grapes, peaches, blackberries and peppers.
Foraged wild grapes.
Made them into jelly.
Stopped at the grocery outlet and bought 2 pounds of Hersheys cocoa for $1/lb. Also bought a pound of loose tea for 45 cents/lb. Gotta love those scratch and dent grocers!
Bought a gallon of paint for the kitchen at a garage sale for $1.
Bought a years supply of canning lids at the bulk food store. They're around 7 cents a lid as opposed to the 12 or 13 cents a lid if you buy those packages of 12.
A neighbor gave us enough soup for 2 days as a thank you for all the produce we've been giving her this year.
Canned mostarda di frutta made from our own apples, peaches and pears.
Darned Ran's jacket and a pair of shorts.
Ran made up a batch of grape wine.
Bought a dozen canning jars at a garage sale for $3. I ran out! There were some very interesting ones. Only a canner can understand the excitement of discovering a new style of canning jars. Ha!
I finally found a black top that is both modest and pretty at the thrift store and a basic brown cardigan. Two things that have been on my shopping list for over a year. One was Banana Republic and the other was Lands End brand. Total of $6 for both.
Knitting a pair of tweed wrist warmers from my tweed stash and a free pattern found on line.
Well, that's another week at the old Zempel boarding house! I hope all of you are safe and enjoying your holiday weekend!