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Thursday, April 20, 2023

Purging, Prioritizing, and Parsimony: AKA Thrifty Thursday

 Hello dear friends!  Hope you are well and safe.  I used to feel I needed to address each and every tragedy that was happening in the world, but it seems so many horrible things are happening to so many people worldwide, that I can't keep up. My news source doesn't even mention a lot of tragedies that would have been headlines for days just a few short years ago. We are living in crazy times my dear friends!  That is why I just hope that you are well and safe.  Even in my own quiet life, I was thinking nothing happened since my last post and then I remembered we had a trip to the emergency room, a court hearing and a tornado watch in those few weeks!  

Well, we had a few days in the upper 70s and lower 80s, followed by two days of snow. I was watching a little robin outside of my kitchen window while washing dishes and he was just standing there staring at the snow on the ground in disgust.  I think I could read his mind.  He looked pretty perturbed. Ha!  But the warm days made the daffodils bloom.

And we harvested the first of the asparagus.
And a few days in the eighties reminded me that I really hate summer.  I know that the warmer weather is necessary for the garden to grow and that is necessary for our lifestyle, but it only took two days for me to long for the quiet days along the fireside. I've noticed that most people that enjoy summer spend most of their days inside their air-conditioned homes or lazing about beaches and golf courses. To me, summer means days of work, often from sunrise to sunset.  And the noise!  Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, motorcycles, and sirens. Most people have seasonal depression in winter. I would have to be different. Ha!

In order to cut down on some of the work, I been purging and prioritizing my garden. I cut down several rose bushes, they are just too fussy.  And Ran dug up my herb garden.  We will still have an herb garden, but it will just be in practical straight lines in a rectangular plot instead of anything fancy. Sometimes practical has to take priority over pretty. Last fall Ran pruned my hydrangeas, and they don't look like they are coming back to life.  Can't say I'd be heartbroken if they didn't.   If they don't, we will replace them with something practical and evergreen. And easy to care for!

In The House

We are still trying to make room in our freezer, so we've been having some rather unusual meals.  Each day, we just grab something out of the freezer and try to figure out a meal from it combined with what needs using-up in the refrigerator.  We've also been going through our pantry and trying to use all the things that have been sitting there too long, or that were purchased to make a specific meal that we have long forgotten about.  One day we will have Mexican food, the next Asian and the following German. It's a good thing we have cast-iron stomachs!

We did have a wonderful meal for Easter, however.  I bought a leg of lamb for a price I haven't seen in years.  The rest of the meal was typical "Jane" thrifty, however, with the remainder of our root-cellared  potatoes and winter squash roasted and we had banana cake made from bananas that needed using up for dessert.   I had forgotten all about this recipe.  It was the one recipe that people most requested, way back in the olden days before the internet, when people used to swap recipes instead of googling them:

1890 Banana Cake

1/2 C. butter
1 1/4 C. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 C. sour cream
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 C. mashed bananas
1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 C. chopped nuts

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla and bananas; beat mixture well.
Add flour, salt and baking soda; combine well.  Stir in nuts.
Pour into a lightly greased 9 X 13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.   Especially good if frosted with a cream cheese frosting.

It's very important to use very ripe, brown bananas when baking with this cake.  And sometimes, if I have it, I will use a 1/2 tsp of banana extract.  As with all my cake recipes, this makes a very moist "country" cake.

While cleaning out the freezer, I found quite a few bags of cranberries, so I canned six jars of relish and eight jars of cranberry catsup.  We love our homemade grape catsup, so I thought I'd give cranberry a try.  It's a winner.  Weren't cranberries inexpensive this year?  I also had bags and bags of pecans in the freezer, so I canned pecan pie filling.  I love having pie fillings on hand, it makes for a quick and easy dessert.  Just toss the filing into a lightly greased pan and make a quick crumble like the topping in this apple crisp and bake it up while dinner is being served.  Although, I must confess that more than likely I just use the recipe on the side of the Jiffy yellow cake mix for a quick dessert.

Fruit Magic

1 pkg. Jiffy yellow cake mix
1 can pie filling (21 oz.)
1/2 C. chopped nuts (optional)
1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Select your favorite pie filling and spread into an ungreased 8" square pan. Combine cake mix and nuts. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of pie filling. Bake 45-50 minutes.  (I think I bake mine less, about a half hour, just until the top is lightly browned and the filling is hot and bubbling.)

Even someone that doesn't know how to bake can handle that recipe! It's a good "starter" recipe for children. Did I ever tell you the story of my first attempt at baking?  I was five-years old.  I had a gotten a cute little recipe booklet from the grocery store for free.  It was a tie-in for the Wizard of Oz, which yearly airing around Easter time, was a big event for us kiddies back in the early 60s. Anyway, I informed my mother that I was going to bake some cookies and back then children were pretty much ignored and unsupervised, my mother just said something like "That's nice".  So off to the kitchen I went!  At five, I could read but I hadn't gotten to fractions in school, so when the recipe called for 3-4ths cups of brown sugar, I figured it meant 3 to 4 cups of brown sugar! Well, you can imagine how the cookies turned out!  They ended up more like peanut brittle and were quite a chore to scrape off the cookie sheets.  But they weren't wasted, my sister's boyfriend ate them all.  After the first batch, my mother finally came into the kitchen and discovered what I was up to and sent me out to play while she tossed the batter. You'd think that first foray into baking would have discouraged me, but after learning fractions (ha!) I became quite the little baker, winning many a blue-ribbon at various fairs.  By the time I was ten, my father preferred my baking to my mother's (not the accomplishment that one might think) and I became the chief baker in the family.


Whenever someone asks me what I've been up to, I always answer, "cleaning out the freezer or cleaning out the attic" You'd think that one day it would come to an end!  I keep all my crafting items in the attic and my fabric stash is immense.  My problem is that I love fabric, particularity the pretty reproduction fabrics put out by quilting companies. I can't bear to waste a scrap.  So, I began this scrap quilt last winter.
I was thinking of making a quilt for our bed, which is a two-hundred-year-old rope bed and an odd size, but quickly into the project I decided that it was too busy for my taste.  So, I tucked it away and forgot about it. It was a shame, since I only had about five more squares to finish it into a nice lap-sized quilt.  Guilt got the better of me and I had to take it out and finish it.  I am glad to have it behind me, so I can get on to something more enjoyable.   While I was quilting and quilting (did I mention I hate quilting?) Ran kept me company by whittling these two adorable spoons: 

The larger spoon is a coffee measure, the tiger maple came from our firewood pile. And the little spoon is a little scuttle for salt. He used a dye I made from rose galls to stain the tiger maple piece.  I also used the rose galls to dye some cross stitch fabric for this picture on the left:
The little picture to the right is made from a scrap of fabric that was used in some strapping for an antique chair that I had saved.  We never waste anything! I used the oil some fancy olives were packed in to roast our asparagus in this week.  And to sauté some onions and peppers.  Rose gall dye, olive oil from a jar of olives, old upholstery used as cross stitch fabric, may seem like carrying thrift to extremes and some might think it is downright miserly, but to me, it is a fun adventure.  

So that is it for this Thrifty Thursday.  Stay safe and stay thrifty!