Hello dear friends! Happy October! This is my second attempt at writing this post, I was fairly far along in writing it, when my finger slipped and hit a button and the entire thing disappeared! Did anyone else's blog list disappear this week? Oh my computer woes! Anywhoo, we're having a beautiful Autumn day today. It's what I call a Benediction day, you can feel God's face shining down on you and giving you peace.
And peace is what I need, as I read about what is going on in the world economic-wise. As of October 1st, the Chinese Yuan is now a reserve currency. (If you are unaware of the significance of this, you can read my post about the meaning of the petro or reserve currency which explains it pretty easily.) Deutsche Bank is teetering. Just before the elections in November, the Federal Reserve will vote on and probably raise the interest rate and many of you recall that the stock market dropped like a stone the last time they tried to raise it forcing them to rescind the action. And oh yes, we've been riding the biggest bubble of all, the stock market bubble, for far too long, which will make the tech and housing bubbles look like child's play in comparison. All of which makes for a rather gloomy forecast for the near future. Just saying, that it doesn't hurt to have some bags of beans and rice stocked in the pantry and some cash hid under the mattress. You'll have to decide for yourself what to do, but I do know that no one was ever hurt from having some extra food stashed away. You can always eat if nothing happens.
Yet through all the gloom, it was one of the happiest times of my life. So much of what I learned about thrift stems from that period. I have to laugh now at some of the measures I took to put food on the table back then. I remember making a soup with one pork chop. I boiled the meat to make the broth, added the vegetables, then took the meat out and reused it to make another batch. Now that is extreme tightwaddery! And I won't mention the many, many meals of potato pancakes. When times are really hard, there are only three main concerns for your money; food, shelter and transportation to work. And I dare say, many times food was given up in favor of gasoline and rent.
So what's to be done about hard times? First give up everything but the essentials. You know, you really don't need a fancy schmancy phone. I still manage to communicate with others with my cheap little pay-as-you-go phone and MagicJack. You can still create happy memories for the children without spending money on vacations and elaborate parties. You don't need cable TV. I live without it, and still manage to know what's going on in the world. When you get down to just the basics, figure out how to cut down on them. Right now, I'd be scouring the thrift stores and estate sales looking for good woolen blankets, so I could cut my heating bill this winter. I'd stock up on beans, rice, potatoes and flour. I'd be searching the internet for recipes for meals made from inexpensive ingredients. Oh! And by the way, when you find those recipes, copy them. Who knows if you'll be able to afford the internet in the future. Back in the day, I made a simple notebook of recipes from the pantry, culled from sources such as the Grit and Cappers (back when they were good magazines), old church cookbooks, and family and friends. I still turn to that booklet when the budget is tight. Many of the recipes that I write in my Recipes From the Pantry posts are pulled from those pages. Use the internet while you have it, to learn how to do things for yourself, such as; haircutting, sewing, food storage, foraging etc. YouTube is a gold mine, there are so many tutorials on it.
But most importantly, strengthen your faith. To quote Abraham Lincoln, "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day." The best lesson I learned from that time period was, as a Christian, I was to live in this world and not be of it. I'm sure the other major faiths have a similar outlook. That is why I can be content and joyful, in adversity. Things such as a big house, fashion, the latest gadget, a new car, etc. are only ephemeral things, my treasure is not in this life. This is going to sound very strange, but from a very young age, I felt that when it comes to thriftiness, God has whispered in my ear and told me to pay attention. That is why, since my first memories, I have been studying how people lived through hard times. When older family members spoke of the Great Depression, I listened. I read novels such as The Grapes of Wrath and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn like textbooks, studying how the characters survived. I've read and still prefer to read biographies and autobiographies of people that suffered through wars and famines. And pioneer tales also. Anything to squeeze one more bit of knowledge out of the pages. And I can tell you the two main concerns were always food and shelter. So if the economy takes a tumble that would be my main focus. Just always remember others have lived through times of trouble and you are just as strong as they are, you'll get through them also.
Even in the hardest of times, there is joy. Hard times can either bring people closer or pull them apart. One of the ways to draw family closer is by creating your own traditions. We have a few Autumn traditions here, one is that we get out our Fall decorated mugs. They are just cheap mugs that we bought at the dollar store, but every year we look forward to the first cool day, to bring out the Fall mugs. The other tradition is that we hold our own Oktoberfest on the first Sunday in October. I always serve Alsatian pork roast made form our homemade sauerkraut and dress the table in our finest. Pork is always cheap this time of year. I bought a lovely sirloin roast from Aldi's for $1.99 a pound. Never having bought meat from them before, I was impressed. It was one of the most tender roasts I've ever had.
As a side dish we had one of our Australian Butter squashes. This is a new variety to us this year and we'll definitely be growing them next year. They are a squash-haters squash, very mildly flavored. Except for leeks and some flowers, our vegetable garden is now put to bed for the winter. While out cleaning and tilling, Ran discovered a cluster of grapes that I had missed when I was harvesting them for juice. It was just enough to make three little grape tarts, which we had for dessert. I wrote the recipe in a reply to Vickie, but thought you might like to have it also:
Concord Grape Pie
Unbaked pie shell
4 1/2 C. Concord grapes
1 C. sugar
1/4 C. flour
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
streusal (recipe follows)
Wash grapes and remove skins by pinching at end opposite stem. Reserve skins
pulp in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook a few minutes until pulp
is soft. Push pulp through a strainer to remove the seeds.
the pulp and skins. Stir in the flour, sugar, salt and lemon juice.
Pour into the crust. Top with streusel and bake at 425 degrees for
35-40 minutes or until the fruit begins to bubble.
1/2 C. oatmeal,, 1/2 C. brown sugar, 1/4 C. flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
Cut in 1/4 C. butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the pie.
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Made vegetarian chili from the last of the tomatoes and peppers before we pulled them. This made a huge pot, enough for three days of meals. And it cost us nothing as everything came from the garden.
Ran cut Jamie's hair.
Our friend Mary brought us a bunch of fruit. Has anyone heard of cotton candy grapes? They were wonderfully sweet.
A thrift store in the area had a sale on all their clothing for 99 cents. I found several skirts and a few tops to put away for next Summer, which I really needed. My Summer clothes are deplorable.
Bought a 10 pound head of cabbage for $1.49. The price was the same no matter what size of head you picked, so I picked the biggest. Will make sauerkraut from it this week.
Made up some spaghetti sauce from the last culled tomatoes. Froze it as there wasn't enough to bother canning.
Saved the seeds from the Australian Butter Squash.
Started knitting a hat from my never ending yarn stash. I'm hoping it will be enough, otherwise I'm going to have to get creative!
Made grape tarts from the last of the Concords.
Ran made some spoons from the free black walnut wood our neighbor gave us.
So that's it for another week at the old Zempel boarding house! I hope that you all have a wonderful golden Fall week!