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Sunday, September 13, 2015


Hello dear friends!  I hope you are have a lovely weekend.  Cooler weather has arrived and the fields are bathed in an amber and rosy light from the goldenrod and asters. Our Indian Summer has arrived!
It's so nice just to be outside after so many weeks of heat and humidity.    Ran and I  spent several hours this week weeding.  Oh my!  Wheelbarrow upon wheelbarrow of weeds.  We are also pulling the tomatoes and other plants and beginning the process of putting the garden to bed. Harvest time is such a busy and fulfilling time of year.


I wanted some grape jelly, it's my favorite flavor for peanut butter sandwiches, but our grapes didn't produce much this year, as the vines had to be cut back severely due to winter damage.  Fortunately, we have lots of wild grapes climbing up the fences in our yard.
In our area, there are bushels full to be had for free, if you care to look.  While it takes more work to make than regular Concord grape jelly, the effort is well worth it.  I actually prefer them, there is a tartness along with the sweet that's very refreshing.

Wild Grape Jelly

Wash and clean  3-5 lbs. (about a peck) of wild grapes.  Place the grapes in a large pot with a 1/2 C. water and boil. Strain the grapes through several layers of cheesecloth overnight.  Measure the juice to 3 1/2 C. juice (if you need, to add a little water to equal that amount.)  In a large pot boil the juice and  3 tablespoons of powdered pectin.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling add  5 1/4 C. sugar all at once. Bring mixture to boil.  Boil for 1-2 minutes until the jelly begins to sheet or a dab placed on a cold plate doesn't run.  (The more jams and jelly you make, the easier it will be to tell when jelly is set.) Sheeting is when the boiling jam doesn't run off the spoon, but falls off in a slower sheet.)  Pour jelly into sterilized jelly jars,  Fill to 1/4 inch from top.  Place previously simmered lids on.  Screw on the caps.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
We went to one of our favorite foraging areas today just too check on how the rose hips were coming.
There was also this beautiful crab apple tree, just dripping with beautiful fruit. Crabapples make the loveliest  jelly and wine.

Our neighbor lets us pick her crabapples, but this just shows you, what can be had for free if you keep you eyes open.  Just be careful to know what you are picking, many plant have poisonous look-alikes. Also know the area you are foraging from; you don't want anything that has been sprayed with insecticides.  And don't trespass!  We have a lot of state land and national forests in our area.


With the rising costs of groceries, it's important to keep yours open for deals.  This week we drove to the big city and I noticed that a smaller meat market had chicken leg quarters for $2.90  for 10 pounds!  Can you imagine buying 20 pounds of meat for under $6?  What a deal!  Unfortunately or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it, I didn't need any more chicken, having canned up a bunch earlier this year.  But all the things that could have been done with that chicken!.  Shredded for tacos and casseroles, the drumsticks oven fried, chicken soups and stews and at the end the bones thrown in a pot to make gallons of broth.   It was hard to pass it up!

Also, there were 50 pound bags of potatoes to be had for $7.  I've mentioned many a time that potatoes are good fillers for hungry growing children.  And they store well in a cool dark place.  We store ours from September until April with no problem.  The ones that start to develop eyes are set aside for next year's crop.  I also can up all the little ones because I cannot tolerate buying potatoes.  They see us through until the new crop comes in.

Between the foraged fruits and bargains, you could fill your larder for under $20, if you throw in a bag of sugar for making the jam.  All it takes is time and effort.


The cooler weather brings baking.  Today I made Tourtiers or French pork pie for my husband.  It's one of his favorites.
He cut a piece before I could get a picture.  It's a good way to stretch a half a pound of ground pork.  Also baked a mixed orchard fruit pie.
Not the loveliest of pictures.  Way-back-when, when we had to buy our fruit, I used to buy it at the reduced-for-quick-sale rack of the grocery store.  There was seldom enough of one kind of fruit, so I made a lot of these sort of pies, using a combination apples, peaches, pears and plums.  Whatever I could find.  No one ever complained!

I was just thinking the other day, how I used to have a batch of refrigerator potato rolls  ready for baking whenever needed. Fresh bread is always so good.  One way that we saved on groceries was to eat only one serving of meat, but let the kids fill up on all the breads and side dishes they wanted.  Anyway, as I said, I used to have a batch of these dough ready in the fridge fairly often.  The dough can stay refrigerated for up to five days.  One time I kept putting off baking them.  I smelled the dough and it certainly smelled yeasty, but thought nothing of it.  While they were baking the house smelled like a brewery!  Once we tasted them, our eyes began to water, the alcohol content from the yeast an sugar was so high!  Everyone had a good laugh about that!

Refrigerator Potato Rolls

1 pkg yeast
2/3 C. warm water
2/3 C. mashed potatoes (reserve 2/3 C. of the potato water)
1 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 C. sugar
2/3 C. shortening
4 1/2- 5 C. flour

In a large bowl, soften the yeast in the warm water.
Stir in potatoes, potato water 1 tbsp. sugar and the salt. Cover and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
Combine eggs, 2/3 C. sugar, and shortening.  Add to yeast mixture.  Beat in enough flour to make a moderately soft dough.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Or for several days until ready to use)
Punch down dough.  Turn out dough on a floured surface.  Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Divide into 24 rolls (you can use half and refrigerate the other half for another day). Place ona greased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes until golden brown.

I usually made these on Monday, Sunday being the day we had a big formal dinner with a roast and mashed potatoes.  I always made sure to make extra potatoes and keep the water when draining them.


So tomorrow is supposed to be the big Shemitah  day, where the stock market is supposed to crash according to Jonathon Cahn.  I asked for God to give me some discernment about this, and as soon as I did, I started to notice that Mr. Cahn started backpedaling on what he was saying. I'm sorry, but if someone has truly had a word from God, they don't backpedal.  Then I started studying it more intensely and all I can say is that while he is very good at noticing patterns, so are a lot of other people that do not claim to be prophets.  I have to say, that I am dubious of the entire Back to Hebrew Roots movement, for among many reasons, but mainly if the Jews are so wise to uncover all these "mysteries", why are they not wise enough to recognize Jesus as their Messiah?  Besides, God doesn't work with mysteries and mysticism, He plainly has given us the Playbook in the Scriptures. The other problem I have with it is that it relies on a lot of traditions and not upon scripture.  You can read what Jesus says about traditions in Mark 7 and John 8.   I'm  sorry I mentioned Mr. Cahn (I do not call him Rabbi because Jesus said that he is our only Rabbi) in a previous post.  I did not follow the scriptures and be a Berean,  testing what is said against the scriptures.

"For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
~Matthew 24:24

But I still believe that the economy is going to falter some day, mainly from what I understand about economics and politics.  In October the IMF will decide if China will share reserve status with the US. If they do, it will be devastating  to the value of our money.

I also believe that we are in the end of the Church Age. Not because of what some so-called prophets are say but  because of the reasons Jesus gave the Disciples in Mark 13 and the Revelation of John.  Just what has happened to the Pacific Ocean since the Fukushima disaster has me wondering if perhaps we are not to the point or will soon be, to where one third the oceans will be dead. (the second or third trumpet).  Anyway, just my thoughts on the matter.  Whatever the case, we do not need to fear, because when we see all these signs, we are to look up because our redemption  draws nigh! (Luke 21:28).  If you do not know the Lord, I would suggest you don't delay in doing so.  Buy a Bible and read it, ask a friend, ask a minister.

Anyway, so much for my preaching.  Suppose you wondered what I did this week to cut costs?


Harvested tomatoes, broccoli (amazing amount of off shoots from a few plants), peppers, eggplants, blackberries and some carrots.

Canned grape jelly and hot sauce.

Foraged for wild grapes.

Dyed some wool for a penny rug from some dye that I bought a garage sale for 10 cents (amazing to find just when I needed it and in the color that I needed)

Cut down the sunflowers and placed them on the garden fence for the birds. Free bird food.

Bought our own internet modem so we don't have to pay $10 a month to rent it.

Purchased a cheaper internet plan.

Ate most of our meals from the garden and pantry.

Finally!  It was cool enough to turn off the air conditioner  and the fans.  This ought to save a lot on the electricity bill!

Well, that's all folks!  Hope you have a splendid week!


Sunday, September 6, 2015


Hello dear friends!   So sorry to be away for so long, but have been busy doing this:
Not only the canning, but Ran and Jamie built  a pantry in our upstairs landing, which required a complete reorganization of the house.  The shelves are about ten feet long, five feet high and a foot and one half deep.  That's a lot of jars!  Ran calls it my grocery store.  When we put the last jar on the shelf, I held my breathe, lest all that weight cause the floor to give out.  So far, so good, these old houses are built like arks!  Finally, I can see what I have.  The little pantry under the stairs just wasn't doing a proper job.  Every time I went to get something off the shelf, jars would fall on my head.  One time, one conked me hard and I lost my sense of taste for about a month. (which is a easy way to diet, but I wouldn't recommend it) I guess that's better than going blind, though.  An old family friend, Lucille All, went blind when she bumped her head, so it's no laughing matter.  Anyway, as you can see, we won't want for food this year.  Just have to buy some milk, cheese, butter and coffee once in a great while.  We buy sugar, flour, shortening and oatmeal in bulk twice a year, just as the pioneers did.


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.
Frosted Jam Bars

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.
Got to love the bulk food stores!  We set the fats inside of our car to melt, to save on some of the electricity.
Just have to use the stove long enough to heat the grease to the proper temperature.  All of our equipment comes from garage sales.  Ran made the mold from scrap lumber.
The fancy molds came from a thrift store.  We also use rain water that we collect in washtubs around the yard.  Just be sure to strain it before using.  At the end of the day, it cost about $15 for ten pounds of  pure non-paraban soap.  I priced non-paraban soap in the store recently and they were asking over three dollars for one bar, so I think it pays to make your own.  Now, my grandparents made their own lye from wood ashes.  I haven't become that adventurous yet, but who knows? maybe one day.  In their day, soap cost nothing to make because they rendered their own lard from the hogs they butchered and made their own lye.  We really need to study the old ways of days gone by, people didn't waste anything.

Start Small

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."
~William Shakespeare~

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:

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

Canned apples.
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!