Baked Goodies – Holiday Necessities!

Yum! Overwhelmed with the need to bake goodies, my mouth watering and stomach growling, I poured over incredibly tasty looking goodies in magazine slicks. I thumbed through cookbooks. I just couldn’t work on the ever-growing, never-ending “To Do” ” list!

Several wonderful things popped out at me. I raced to the pantry. Well, I’m missing some major ingredients for each of those goodies. Hummmm. I wonder if I can do it? Would it be possible for me to actually – GASP – improvise? Me? The OCD, do it by the book, can’t cook a lick girl?

What have I got to lose?

Alright! I’ll improvise. The Substitutions book Mom gave me one Christmas promptly plopped onto the countertop. The Better Homes and Gardens old cookbook flopped open. Improvising on goodies. The worst that can happen would be that whatever came out would not fall under the category of “goodie” and would fill the trash can. Ok – so I know that’s NOT the worst thing that can happen. After all, I’m the one whose smoke alarm would go off within two minutes of me at the stove; then the stove actually caught on fire; the attic had burned insulation and scorch marks; and we won’t even discuss past gastrointestinal failures and culinary impotence.

So, here came the goodies. The first was Candied Citrus Peel. Candied Citrus peal made with grapefruit and orange peelings. They turned out great! My co-workers are eating them up! They turned out like jellied candies but much better for you. DSCN0331 By the way, it turns out that my little camera has this great feature called “food.” If that option is chosen, the resulting photo looks like it could be in a Magazine!)

Next, I attempted Lime Curd from the juice of the limes that I had saved. Worked really well all things considered. I added some green food coloring to make it look Limey. From this recipe, I had one – just ONE – egg white. What kind of Holiday goodies or goody can I make with ONE egg white?

Meringue! Oh yes! But real meringues take 3 egg whites. Isn’t this what improvisation is all about? Using what you have? In goes the ceramic bowl to the fridge and the whisk to the freezer to get cool.

Yes – you, too, can do the impossible of making meringues using one medium egg white and 1/3 of the recipe (try coming up with 1/3 of a pinch of salt) for the rest and a Whisk! WHISK?? I certainly got my workout using a whisk to make this goodie! Wow. Of course people had to use whisks before electric beaters; anything that my ancestors did, I am sure that I can do, too. So I did and came up with five little meringues which will hold my lime curd. These are great goodies!

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Mom’s Cobbler. My FAVORITE goodie of hers. OK – so I LOVE all of her recipes. But this one is so incredibly easy. In it went. Into a deep baking dish rather than the usual over-large pie pan. It was great (or IS great! I’ve just started eating on it).

Yep – there is “gonna be a HOT time in the old” house tonight! Give these goodies a try! The citrus peel would make great Christmas presents.

Cents-able Saving: Jump-start Your Savings Ability

Saving dollars may be difficult, but saving cents is fairly easy. I hope to give you some simple cents-able saving ideas to jump-start your savings ability.

Cents + able + saving = doable.

It may be a play on word, but it’s the only math that works for me.

Here’s something to think about. Have you ever noticed how your grandparents seemed to have an innate savings ability? How did they do it? They had or have less than we do, yet were able to save up for emergencies and retirement.

Some of their savings ability came through the following:

  • Recycling and Reusing. They lived through the Great War and the Great Depression.They were the REAL recyclers! We do not come close. Absolutely everything was used, nothing thrown away. If it was broken, it was fixed. Purchases were made carefully and with lasting value in mind. If there was no cash for something, it wasn’t purchased; “making do or doing without” were they bywords.
  • Saving. Hoarding, actually, in a good way. Every cent possible was saved. “Saving for a rainy day” was the standard, not the exception. Coin jars were part of the household. Pennies were not disdained.
  • Fixing. If it was broken, it was fixed – by themselves if possible or with help from neighbors or family; there was no money for hiring it done. It was expected that one would take care of and treat with respect those things one had or was given. Stewardship.

So what about our savings ability? How can we come up with some cents-able ways to jump-start our savings ability?

You CAN save all your cents! Besides taking up the ways (listed above) of our grandparents, here are some of my cents-able saving ideas that worked for me to help jump-start your own savings jar:

1)      Pick up the change. Yep, if there’s a penny (or any other denomination) on the ground, pick it up.  “See a Penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck.” It then goes into the rainy day jar.

2)      Purse/Wallet change. Empty out your purse, wallet, car, couch, pockets, briefcase, and other possible locations that may contain loose change (or dollars) and put in your savings jar. Do this on the first day of the new pay period before beginning to use the new paycheck.

3)      Pay period left-over change. When I carried cash, I would keep out a certain amount to use until the next pay period. With the new pay period, my leftover change (or dollars) went immediately into the jar. I started “from scratch” each pay period.

4)      Aluminum can change. Collect aluminum cans. Crush. Bag. Take to recycle place and get paid for it. I’ve cleaned up areas, recycled, and got money for the rainy day jar.

5)      Weekly amount in the jar. Put a specific amount in the jar each week or just make a point of putting something in the jar each week.

Try it and let me know how it goes!  If you have some cents-able savings ideas that work for you, would you share them with us?

I hope to hear from you soon!

Donna

Donna’s Domiciliary Dollars – Saving in the Kitchen

Donna’s Domiciliary Dollars – Saving dollars in the Kitchen
I abhor shopping. When I finally go out to shop, the cashier almost ALWAYS comments about my large family and dozen or so cats. I smile and give a brief lesson on the benefits of shopping only once every six to eight weeks – except for perishables. If I had a large house, I would convert one room to a super-pantry with at least one extra-large freezer (with emergency generator), in hopes that I could further reduce my store visits.

1) Make a list. Write down what you need or want and stick to it. If you have a list and limited funds, those fabulous temptations are not so attractive!

2) Read labels and price tags. You might be surprised. Some products contain less than others, some have ingredients to avoid, and your trusted ones have changed or added ingredients that you avoid. Check prices carefully, especially sale items. Sometimes, they really aren’t (see #3).

3) Buy family size or in bulk of anything that you use or eat often. Usually, the price is better per ounce/pound/item than smaller portions. Note the word “usually.” Read the labels, pricing, and amount. On occasion, it is cheaper to buy the smaller product. For example: 12 pound bag of sugar is on sale for $10.50. The 4 pound bag of sugar is $2.75. It’s cheaper to purchase 3 four pound bags ($8.25) than the 12 pounder.

4) Invest in Containers.

a) Freezer bags/containers. Separate (clean/prepare) such things like meat into one serving containers and put in the freezer.

b) Glass jars. Large wide mouth glass jars are great for storing dry goods. Sugar will last about forever in glass (put wax paper across top before screwing on the lid). Re-use mayonnaise, instant tea, and other glass jars to store: pasta, rice, sugar, dry mixes, popcorn, and pretty much anything else.

c) “Cook for a day; eat for a week” routine. Use one day to cook your purchases, place in freezer containers, and you have ready to go meals. Big batches of meatballs or bacon are great when you freeze and take out just enough for one meal. If you freeze things like casseroles, you will have the ability to be “instant in season and out of season” for special needs (e.g. funerals, unexpected guests, illnesses, those who can’t get out). NOTE: undercook anything with pasta so that when re-heated, they aren’t that nasty over-soft stuff.

5) Buy on sale. Besides saving money, I overstock on my most used products. This serves to get me through lean times, to lengthen times between shopping visits, or (and better) to have it on hand if someone has a need.

6) Buy with coupons. A friend has this mastered. She buys only when a product is on sale AND she has a coupon. She gets amazing deals!

7) Save gas. Don’t spend your day store-hopping for savings. Prepare your itinerary in advance, choose the store that has the most savings and stay there. Store-hopping wastes your gas and time, causing you to lose more than you save.

8) Buy from a ministry or co-op. If you do a little research, you may find some food ministries or community food co-ops that can help you stretch your food dollars. I have found once such ministry here in the South called OneHarvest.com. Once a month, order from their available food boxes. Pick up your order on delivery day at the partner site of your choice (at the time listed). It’s a huge help!

9) Freeze your food. It’s amazing what you can freeze! Besides vegetables and meats, try butter, flour, bread, shredded cheese, preserves, and milk. Double-bag your butter and flour for extra protection. Super-cold milk, once thawed (or semi-thawed), is the best! After it has completely thawed, shake well to re-mix milk/water. When freezing anything, make sure that there is at least an inch between the product and the lid for expansion.

10) Can your food. YEARS ago, everyone in our family did this. We would harvest from our gardens and spend one full day or week in canning. It was hot and tiring, but infinitely rewarding. Recently, my mom’s friend described one of her groups. These ladies get together once a week and spend the time canning. They purchase whatever is on sale at the store and spend the day canning – all of them. They are prepared for famine! Especially intriguing are their canned meat, pies, and cheese. I never knew that you could CAN those things!

11) Left-overs. Do NOT waste food! This is a hand-me-down tip. When you have a spoonful or two of left- overs (like veggies), pour into a freezer container. Keep the container in the freezer and add to it when you have these left-overs. When full, you have stock to make a stew or soup. Other types of left-overs can be placed into a “TV dinner” freezer container for those grab-and-go days.

12) Make a budget, Pay your bills first, then buy groceries. I was raised to tithe first, pay on all debts second, and buy groceries with whatever’s left. We did not have a lot but we never went hungry and, most importantly, never received past due statements nor had debt collectors call. EVER. If you had integrity – you paid your bills, first. Years ago, that philosophy was tested when I worked at place that paid me once a month, at the END of a month. Talk about budgeting! It worked; I survived. That’s when I really learned the value of a budget and shopping only every 6 weeks.

13) Make your own stuff. Household things that you can make for less than buying pre-made include: cleaners, laundry detergent, mouthwash, lotions….. Oh lots of stuff which I will talk about another time 

I know there must be other things you can do. What ideas do you have? Will you share them?
See ya next time!
Donna