Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We have opened our gifts and are now relaxing with coffee and breakfast snacks.  Things will be low key today as the entire family are suffering from chest and head colds.  Enjoy your time with family.

God bless,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Frugal Simple Christmas

We are having a frugal, simple Christmas this year.  We have gone easy on gift buying with most of the purchases being for the children in the family.  Our family will gather together on Christmas Eve afternoon at my brother-in-laws house for a few hours, leaving time for church or relaxing around the house in the evening.

Our outside lights are all LED this year to help save on electricity use and bills.  It is also nice because you can hook many more strings together, rather than the three string limit on traditional lights.  We like to decorate the outside of our house as a way to share Christmas with our neighbors.

Inside our decorations are at a minimum.  We probably only put out a fourth of our decorations.  Our live tree from Lowes is smaller this year, so we only used our most special decorations on it.  Then a few table top items were placed throughout the house.  As we age and DD leaves home I envision us moving to a table top tree.

I also like to use bowls and vases that I already have filled with pine cones or ornaments as decorations on tables.  If the bowl is large, fill the bottom with a crumpled up plastic bag, then place the cones or decorations over the top.  Take a clear glass vase and fill it with a string of white LED lights, which are available in battery powered.

For the first time in twenty years I did not send out Christmas cards.  I will probably do it again next year, but I was not looking forward to it and I was feeling pressured.  I may break it up by sending out cards a few at a time for other occasions during next year.

Strangely enough no one in the family has expressed disappointment at our pared down preparations.  I think that it has been a relief for all of us to have less expectations or demands made on us.  Christmas is supposed to be about our faith and family, not about a perfectly decorated home or meeting the expectations of others.

God bless,

Sunday, December 16, 2012

More Free Books For Christmas

Rather than keep listing books one by one I'll share my method for getting free books from Amazon.  In the Amazon search box type in "free kindle books"  this will bring up a list of over four hundred free books.  Everything from classics to not very good books or the wonderful books that authors offer for free to get their readers interested in a series.

If you want to narrow your search down try searching for "free kindle books romance" or "free kindle books mystery".  You get the idea.

Take the time this holiday season to relax with a book that didn't strain your budget.  Hey, if it's lousy you can always delete it without a care.

God bless,

P.S. Oh, and don't forget the library.  Ours not only offers traditional books and dvds, but has an increasing amount of ebooks available.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Books For Christmas

I have become a great fan of Kindle books, but not the books that cost as much as a paperback.  Being frugal I look for the books that cost less than $3 and I prefer to look for free books.  Some authors of series will offer the first book in their series for free as a tool to interest readers in the full series.

One of my favorite free offers has been the book Blood Ties by JD Nixon.  It is the first book in a police procedural/romance series based in Queensland, Australia.  The main character is a woman police officer working in a small town department.

For my more conservative readers, there is some physical violence and, not graphic, sex mentioned.  There is also a great deal of humor, which is a requirement for me at this time of year.  If you are a conservative Christian I suggest that you skip this book.

Please enjoy.

God bless,

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Coffee

I love making this coffee during the holidays.  It is a real treat and my reward after a day of Christmas shopping, baking or decorating.

The best coffee ever is made with a pour over.  Basically it is a very slow version of drip coffee.  It can be made by the cup or using a pour over pot.

Chemex Coffee Maker

 Your basic tools for a one cup pour over are:  nice big cup,  top of cup drip coffee maker, strong ground coffee, electric kettle, #2 filters, eggnog and sweetened whipped topping.  I prefer the Horizon lowfat eggnog for this.

 Gather your tools and let's get started.  I love my electric kettle, but any method of boiling water will do.

Add a generous amount of ground coffee to the filter.  It has to be strong coffee because you are now going to fill the cup 1/3 full of eggnog.

Slowly drizzle boiling water into the coffee being sure to get all of the coffee on the sides wet.  Go slow, if you add too much water it will drip through quickly and result in weak coffee.

You Should See Foam (Crema) Form On Top

Once the cup is full add a dollop of whipped topping to float on the top of the coffee.

Enjoy this coffee with my favorite Australian cookie, the Tim Tam.  They are made in the United States by Pepperidge Farm only at Christmas time and are available at Target in the holiday food section.  Stock up, they are good.

God bless,

Friday, November 30, 2012

Clean Refrigerator Pasta

Or perhaps it should be named Clean Your Refrigerator Pasta.  A friend of mine gave me this idea.  At the end of every week she uses up all of her leftover vegetables by making a simple pasta dish with lots of olive oil and garlic.

Add a good amount of olive oil to a pan, bring up to medium heat and add vegetables (cut to same size) and minced garlic.  Cook at a low/medium heat until soft, then salt and pepper to taste.  We have fresh basil and oregano in our garden, so I added some at the end.

We had leftover tomatoes, yellow squash and mushrooms the day I made this dish.  It is also good with a combination of vegetables and beans.  I made vermicelli, saved a cup of pasta water, poured the cooked, drained pasta into the sauce pan, tossed and added a dash of pasta water to loosen the sauce.  Everyone loved it and my daughter reheated some for lunch the next day.  Nothing wasted with this dish!

God bless,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is the United States Thanksgiving.  I am so thankful for my dear family and friends, and that God has blessed us with a safe home, good food and love.

We will be having the traditional dinner of roast turkey, cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, gravy, sweet and sour red cabbage, mashed white potatoes, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and blueberry pie (for pumpkin pie haters).  I'm going to spend the rest of today cooking in preparation; the kitchen already smells great.

Here is my cranberry sauce recipe:

2 bags fresh cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. finely grated orange rind
1 1/2 cups of white sugar or more to taste
pinch of salt

Cook cranberries, orange juice and rind over medium heat, covered, until berries pop open.  Add sugar and salt and cook until sugar is completely dissolved and sauce is thickened.  Pour into sterilized canning jars and refrigerate.

What to do with leftover cranberry sauce?  Mix it with leftover sweetened whipped cream and finely chopped pecans.  Pour into small bowls and refrigerate.  Makes a nice, fast dessert.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

God bless,

Removing Old Wallpaper

You haven't heard from me for a week because we have been busy every day stripping 55 year old wallpaper from our kitchen walls.  There were two layers of wallpaper to remove, the original from 1955 (when house was built) and the paper that I put up about 20 years ago (blush).  The original wallpaper was the old fashioned paper kind and had been placed right over the plaster without any barrier.

Original Wallpaper On Plaster

 First we gathered our tools:  a Tiger wallpaper scorer, various scrapers, Dif enzyme remover, garden sprayer, and sponges.

Basic Tools

The Dif was mixed in the sprayer with HOT water.  We scored the top layer of vinyl wallpaper with the Tiger tool, then sprayed on the Dif solution.  Oh, previous to this we had taped up plastic to protect our wood cabinets.  We waited, we sprayed again, repeat.  Finally we were able to scrap off the vinyl paper and it went fairly easily.

Then we went after the old paper.  Followed the same procedure an waited for the paper to soften, but only small pieces came off.  So, we scored it again, sprayed again and we began to have success.  To say this was a laborious task would be an understatement.  We literally worked inch by inch, respraying as needed.  It took us three days to get down to a bare wall.  After removing the wallpaper we used the sponges soaked with hot, soapy water to wash off any residual paste.

Bare Plaster

 After the wallpaper was removed we primed with a stain covering, latex primer, then we painted with a latex, semi-gloss paint.  A high-gloss, latex trim paint in a slightly lighter color was painted on the trim.

It took us a week of full time work to get this done, but I am thrilled with the results.  Just having clean, uncluttered, painted walls has given the kitchen a more up to-date-feeling.  Compared to hiring a painting company to do the work the money we saved was considerable.

Finished Wall

God bless,

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day 2012: What Can You Do To Help?

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day and, even though I am Mennonite and am nonviolent, I do believe that we need to provide emotional and physical support to the men and women that serve in the military.  We put flags on graves in national cemeteries and attend ceremonies honoring the fallen, all of which are appreciated and give comfort to the families of the fallen, but we can do something now, today to help a member of the military.

Operation Gratitude has a number of volunteer opportunities to help make a service person's life a little more pleasant or easier.  It can be as simple as being a letter writer or putting together boxes containing essentials.  How long does it take to write a letter?  Anyone can give up a 1/2 hour a week to help another person.

Coming from a military family (yes, the irony is not lost on me) I know how important a helping hand can be to our soldiers and their families.  Remember their needs on days not designated for remembrance and honor, but every day of our lives.

God bless,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


See I am using my "yelly" letters.  If you are a United Stateser today is your day to have a say in who runs this country for the next four years.

Think about the privilege we have living in a country where men and women can choose their leaders.  What would it be like to live in a country where you couldn't vote because of your sex, race, or religion?  Or to never have any say in your country's policy making.

We are so fortunate and all we need to do is get our fannies to our local poling place and take control of our future.  It only took me twenty minutes to go through the whole process.

So, get out there and VOTE!

God bless,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Buying Amish Food (Getting My Fix)

Now that I am (mostly) mobile again, yesterday I decided to treat myself to some Amish foods.  Fortunately for me, we have a small store in my city that imports food and other products in from Amish country in Pennsylvania.

The Amish Country Store is in a quaint little wood house with a small barn-like extension off of the back.  There is a Farm All Cub tractor in the yard, along with flowers, children's wagons and baskets.

When you walk inside there are worn, creaky wood floors and simple displays fill with food, drink and crafts.  Walk into the the barn area and there is a deli counter filled with meats and cheeses, refrigerators fill with other foods and a selection of pickles.

I do a lot of my Christmas stocking stuffer shopping in this store.  They always have unique candies and things that I remember from my childhood.  It is definitely a trip down memory lane.

Yesterday I bought a half sandwich for lunch, Kunzler sweet bologna, cheese curds, and Groff's smoked bacon.  Oh, and a birch beer to wash it all down.  Today I'll make myself a BLT for lunch using this special bacon (and save the drippings for pork and sauerkraut next week).

I should be good for another week or two; until I need another trip to my childhood via my taste buds.

God bless,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Dog Ate My Homework And I Have A Pew Injury

Once again I am sorry for not posting in a long while.  This has not been a good year for me when it comes to medical issues.  Now, only one of the above statements is true and since I don't have a dog you can easily figure out which one.

Last Saturday evening I was sitting in church when, all of a sudden, my back went out.  Yep, I really did get a pew injury.

I have been laying on my hot pad, reading for the past few days.  My back is slowly getting better and I hope to have posts ready next week.  Fall is here and I am looking forward to pumpkins and cooler weather.

God bless,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Protecting Plants From Frost

Here in West Central Florida we can garden through Fall and Winter, but we need to be ready to protect our gardens from occasional frosts.  There are just a few simple rules to follow when covering plants to prevent freeze damage.

Do not use plastic to cover your plants.  You will still get areas of freeze damage where the plastic touches the plants, plus it does not provide high quality insulation.

Avoid Plastic 

Do use fabric to cover plants.  You will get good protection from frost and wind damage.  I use old sheets and can easily find mismatched pieces for a dollar at thrift stores.

Make sure that the fabric cover touches the ground all around the plant.  Any gaps will allow freezing to take place under the fabric.  You can anchor the fabric using stakes made from old metal clothes hangers.  Just cut off a section, then bend it into a U shape.

Cover Touching Ground

Remove the covers after daytime temperatures go above freezing.  Why protect plants from freezing just to have them die from heat exhaustion?

Don't get lazy and think that skipping one night won't make a difference.  It only takes an hour or two of freezing weather to kill a plant.

God bless,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Graceful Envelope Contest

This contest is a competition for calligraphers and artist to see who can create the prettiest envelope.  It is sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers and The Washington Calligraphers Guild.  There are different categories according to grade for children and an adult competition.

I think that this would be a great contest for an art class or home schooled students.  No prizes are rewarded, but the winners do receive a certificate.

To see the decorated envelopes from 2012 or to get information on the 2013 contest go to the Washington Calligraphers Guild website.

I love to see art work anywhere I can and these envelopes are truly art gallery worthy.

God bless,

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Burlap Rice Bag Pillows

I love to find new uses for those interesting items that sometimes find their way into our lives.  We eat a large amount of rice in our family, so I buy basmati rice in bulk.  Several times the basmati came packaged in plastic inside a zipped burlap bag.

The graphics on these bags are striking and attractive in a rustic way.  When I look at them and see how they are constructed with a zipper at one end, I think of a decorative pillow case.  Just insert an inexpensive pillow form, zip and you have a modern, casual throw pillow.

Can't you just see these in a casual, outdoor setting?  It reminds me that our grandparents would never have thrown a bag like this away.  They would have found some way to have made good use of it.  Think of the undergarments that were made of the printed portion of feed sacks.  I've heard of several instances where a woman was embarrassed when she realized that the printing showed through her dress fabric.  Nothing like being a walking advertisement for chicken feed.

I can also see this bag being cut up and turned into scrubbing pads or used as a carryall bag.  Just use your imaginations!

God bless,

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Carefully Hidden Vegetables Sloppy Joes

Here is a fast and sneaky (veggie wise) Sloppy Joe recipe that children like:

1 lb. ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 medium onion chopped
Any leftover, cooked vegetables, chopped to a fine consistency
3/4 cup V8 juice or tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
white rolls/buns

Cook meat, onions and vegetables in a skillet until the beef is browned and the onion is translucent.  Spoon off any excess fat.  If you use turkey or chicken add a couple tablespoons of oil to skillet before browning.  Stir in the juice/tomato sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and heat through.  Serve on the buns.

This is a quick, tasty meal with nicely camouflaged vegetables for our picky eaters.  Enjoy!

God bless,

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Easy Pot Roast

I love pot roast, but sometimes I am not in the mood for all of the prep work before it is put on to cook. I am talking about browning the meat and vegetables.  So I have come up with a simple way to get a tender, browned pot roast that is cooked in the crock pot.

Lightly oil your crock pot, then place in your roast.  Surround the roast with vegetables cut into uniform sizes, for even cooking.  Now sprinkle dry French onion soup mix over the top of the roast and vegetables.  Pour in water to about half way up the roast.  Steam from the cooking will keep the top of the roast moist.

I set my crock pot on high for six hours.  If you are going to cook it longer I would suggest the low setting.

After the roast is done I mixed two to three heaping tablespoons with water, then stirred this into the juices in the pot.  I let it cook covered, on low for another half an hour to thicken the juice into a gravy. The pot roast, vegetables and gravy were served over rice.  The roast was tender and tasty.

God bless,

Dooryard Garden: Fall Cleanup and Planting

The front dooryard garden took a beating this summer since I couldn't get out to keep it cleaned up or plant my usual summer flowers and herbs.  We had a pretty rainy summer and what I call witch grass took over.  DH took over the clean up a week ago and started with the planting for which I am very grateful.

Witch Grass

Our dooryard garden is right outside the front door and is usually planted with Florida native perennials, seasonal annuals, herbs and sometimes vegetables.  It also has our two lemongrass plants.  It is the garden that anyone passing our house sees.  It is very visible.

DH planted (from seed) basil, cilantro, and oregano.  He trimmed back the lemongrass and perennials and began planting some fall mums.  It's looking a little sparse right now, but will fill in soon.  We need to go to one of our County parks to get some free mulch.

One of the major tasks that I am in charge of is maintaining the micro irrigation system.  DH  told me that some of the sprinkler heads weren't working, so we spent part of a morning testing the system.  Most of the nonworking heads were clogged with a bit of dirt and were easily cleaned out with an unbent paper clip.  A couple of them are just worn out and need to be replaced.

We have two kinds of sprinkler heads in this micro irrigation system.  The older kind are fairly complicated with filters and shut off valves.  These tend to need alot of attention to keep them working. The newer kind, and the one I hope to completely transition to, are made by Rainbird.  They have no moving parts, are very basic and take almost no maintenance to keep them going.

Older Sprinklers

Newer, Simple Sprinklers

If we lived in a cold climate I would be cleaning up dead debris and heavily mulching the garden, paying extra attention to the perennials.  But, we live in Florida, so we are just starting our Fall gardening season.  I look forward to Fall and will keep you posted on how the gardens are doing.

God bless,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Frugal Kitchen: Burrito Casserole

This is an easy casserole that uses foods that I usually have stored in my freezer and pantry.  It takes 15 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of bake time.

Burrito Casserole

1 can pinto beans
1 can tomatoes with chilies
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package shredded mexican cheeses (8oz.)
1 package flour tortillas

In each tortilla place a couple of spoonfuls of beans, tomatoes and cheese.  Roll into a burrito and place in a greased casserole pan.  Completely fill pan with burritos.  Some people use the inexpensive frozen burritos in order to skip this step, but it can get expensive.  Mix soup mix, juice from tomatoes and sour cream together in a bowl.  Pour over the burritos to cover.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.  Cover with foil, bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes.

Add meat in your burritos if you wish.  It would be a good way to use leftover meat from previous meals.  Garnish with sour creme and some salsa if serving to guests.

My daughter, the famously picky eater, looked at me and said that this was good.  Be still my heart.

God bless,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Homemade Bath Salts

This is another frugal Christmas gift idea.  Today I was given some fresh rosemary and I decided to make an invigorating herbal bath salt.

Find a decorative jar (found mine at Target), fresh herbs, essential oil (optional), vitamin E oil (could also use almond oil, olive oil or jojoba oil) and epsom salts.

Basic Ingredients

Place a cup of epsom salts in jar or bowl.  Finely chop your herbs to release their essential oils.  Today I am using rosemary which some people are sensitive to, so I recommend testing this herb on your inner elbow to make sure it won't irritate your skin.

Mix the chopped herb into the epsom salts.

This mixture smelled nice and strong to me so I chose to not add the essential oil.  If it is not fragrant then I would add 10-20 drops of essential oil.  Since I did not add essential oil I decided to add a heaping teaspoon of vitamin E oil.

Stir and stir again until the oil is mixed throughout the salt.  It will all come together, just keep working at it.  At this point it is ready to use as a bath salt.  If you want to turn it into a salt scrub add more oil (olive, almond or jojoba) until it reaches a scrub consistency.

I like to add a pretty shell collected off of our local beach to use as a scoop.

The lid of the jar can be labeled and decorated if you wish.  Get creative and enjoy!

God bless,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Processing Peaches

It is peach time and it's so easy to peel peaches for cooking and canning if you follow a simple process. This method works beautifully on tomatoes too.

Set up your work area with a large pot of boiling (unsalted) water and a bowl filled with water and ice cubes.

 Place peaches in boiling water for only a minute or two.

Immediately move peaches to the bowl of ice water.

This process has loosed the skin on the peaches so they can easily be slipped off with a paring knife.

Now your peaches can be canned using your favorite recipe or refrigerated for future use.  If you plan on the latter make sure you treat the peaches with either citric acid (Fruit Fresh is one brand) or sugar.  If you don't treat them they will deteriorate rapidly.

Enjoy the summer bounty!

God bless,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Knit Dishcloths For Christmas Gifts

One of the ways to save money at Christmas time is to make your gifts.  I like to make these homemade gifts not just pretty, but functional too.  For the last couple of years I have been knitting dishcloths using the patterns from the Monthly Dishcloths Yahoo Group.

Twice a month guest knitting instructors post the instructions for a patterned dishcloth.  Ten rows are given each day for a week.  It is easy to complete ten rows a day and fun to see what the completed pattern looks like at the end (you are never given a photo to look at in the beginning so it is a surprise).

These dishcloths are made with an inexpensive cotton yarn, so they are frugal and useful.  The multitude of colors available allows you to match someone's kitchen colors easily.

Get started now and you can get seven or eight clothes made in time for Christmas.  If you want to be more elaborate include the dishcloths in a basket with other kitchen items you have picked up on sale.

God bless,

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shingles and Apology To Readers

Please forgive my recent lack of posts, but I recently came down with a case of the shingles.  This is truly one of the most unpleasant, painful and disfiguring diseases that I have ever experienced.  My insurance had refused to pay for the vaccine six months ago "because I wasn't old enough" and now I have to suffer for their decision.

I hope that in another week or two (usually lasts three to four weeks) I will be back to my normal routine of one to two posts a week.

If any of you have had shingles and know of some home remedies to make recovery easier please let me know.

God bless,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Start Planning For A Debt Free Christmas

It's pretty disturbing to see Christmas in some of the hobby stores this early, but it is definitely not to early to start planning for a debt free holiday.  Remaining debt free takes planning and planning takes time, so let's get started.

If you are going to give homemade gifts you probably should have started crafting back in January, but you should be able to make some simple gifts if you start right now.  People love to get simple, but beautiful gifts such as knitted or crocheted towels, wash cloths, and hot pads.  How about sewing covers for sewing machines, or small kitchen appliances.  Use your favorite craft and get started.  The exception would be food gifts; those should be made right before mailing or gifting.

Start setting aside money with which to buy gifts.  Look at your budget to see what you can do without and put that money out of sight.  If you can have the money taken directly from your paycheck for deposit in a Christmas account.

Layaway has become popular again during this recession.  Most big box stores are doing layaway, but may not allow you to start until mid October.  They do charge a fee for this service, but it is usually small.

Do your shopping ahead of time on paper.  In other words, create a spreadsheet listing the gifts for each person and what they will cost.  Does it equal the amount of money you are saving?  If it doesn't then it is time to save more or buy less.  Stick to this list when you are shopping.  Impulse buying is the debt creator.

Watch for sales.  September is the time to buy toys, bicycles and small electronics.  October is a good month for clothing and November is back to electronics sales.  Home appliances are usually on sale in December.  Also, start buying your baking supplies when they go on sale.

The holidays can be stressful, but nothing beats the stress you feel when you open that first post holiday credit card bill.  Be frugal by planning, saving, and taking advantage of layaway and sales.

God bless,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Returning Amazon Kindle Books

There are several authors that I enjoy that only self publish their books, so I purchase their books on Amazon and read them on my Kindle app.

I do take the reader ratings in consideration when buying Kindle books, but sometimes those ratings don't reflect the true quality of the book.  Fortunately, Amazon has a liberal return policy for their Kindle books.

You have seven days to return a book for a full refund.  Log into Amazon, go to My Account, Manage Your Kindle.  A list of all of your purchased Kindle books will come up.  Open the drop down list and choose the refund selection.  Another drop down list will ask the reason you are requesting a refund.  Confirm that you do want a refund and your credit card will be credited.

There is no reason to pay for a book that is of poor quality when purchasing an Amazon Kindle book.  But be honest, don't request refunds on books you have enjoyed.

God bless,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Frugal Panini Press

Living in the land of the great Cuban sandwich there are times when I really need a panini press.  But being frugal I don't like the idea of spending money on a one use item.  A kitchen full of doodads that can't multi-function just doesn't work for me.

So, here is my two cast iron pan panini press:

Preheat both pans on the stove, place your sandwich in the larger pan and place smaller pan on top.  This works beautifully, not only on sandwiches, but try it on a butterflied chicken to quicken the cooking process.

Keep on trying new (actually old) ways to use what we have in the kitchen, without spending money on an appliance that will sit in the cabinet most of the time.

Cuban Sandwich Recipe:

sliced ham
sliced roast pork
sliced Swiss cheese
dill pickles
Cuban bread

Assemble sandwich, then press between two heated cast iron pans.  Delicious!

God bless,

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Pancakes With Fresh Fruit

An easy summer supper was served here last night:  pancakes with fresh fruit.  Standing over a griddle is not fun in the heat, but pancakes for three people can be cooked quickly without overheating the kitchen.

We found some nice peaches the other day, so I peeled and sliced them and mixed them with a tablespoon of sugar.  These were left out in a bowl at room temperature to make some juices.

I used a basic pancake recipe from my handy dandy Joy Of Cooking (my copy is 31 years old).  The cooked pancakes were served topped with the sliced peaches and juice.  Maple syrup was served on the side for those that wanted extra sweetening.

Keep your left over pancakes in the refrigerator.  They heat up well in the microwave (15 seconds on high per pancake) and toaster.  An easy supper and next day breakfast.

God bless,

Out Of Grandma's Kitchen: Johnnycake Pan

Our favorite pan to use for pancakes is a cast iron Johnnycake pan that belonged to my great grandma.  What differentiates a Johnnycake pan from a griddle is the lip on the edge of the Johnnycake pan.  This held the sometimes watery batter from dripping off the edge into the fire or onto the stove.

The original Johnnycake was a basic mix of cornmeal, water and salt.  It was mixed into a wet batter and poured into the pan to cook, resulting in a thin, crisp on the edges, pancake.  Some people also call Johnnycakes by the name hoe cakes.  The story is that people would cook these cakes on the flat edge of a hoe for want of another pan.

Here is a Johnnycake recipe from the Joy Of Cooking:

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups milk

Cook cornmeal with salt in boiling water about 10 minutes.  Add cornmeal slowly to boiling water to avoid lumps. Add butter and milk after taking off of the heat.  Stir to make a batter.  Drop one tablespoon full at a time onto a hot, greased griddle.  Cook on low just like you would a pancake.

Recipes that you see with flour and baking powder added are really for cornmeal pancakes, not Johnnycakes.  In the old days in the southeastern United States flour was hard to come by, but cornmeal was readily available.

See The Lip On Edge Of Pan
It's fun to cook on a pan that is not only a family piece, but a piece of our American history.  It keeps me in touch with my forbearers that might only have a bag of cornmeal to get by on.

God bless,

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Quinoa and Eggs

My great grandma was a farm wife.  She woke at 4:00 in the morning to fix breakfast for her family and the farm hands, cleaned up and immediately began cooking dinner for everyone.  These two meals were served outside on picnic tables, under the trees.  After cleaning up once again, she took a nap, then cleaned her house.

Farm wives were not responsible for feeding the hands supper.  Only family was served and it was done informally in the kitchen.  Needless to say, after a hard day of work, supper was not an elaborate meal.  Exhausted people don't feel like eating big meals.

Supper consisted of leftovers from the earlier meals.  Cornbread crumbled in a bowl with buttermilk.  Cold meat and bread.  Or everything thrown into a pot with water to make a soup.

In keeping with this tradition I am trying to serve my family simple, light meals during the summer.  This evening I served Tru Roots Sprouted Rice and Quinoa steamed with carrots, with a fried egg on top.  I put a dollop of an olive relish on top, but it would be good with just soy sauce.  We also enjoy just a fried egg on top of plain rice.

I am trying to get away from serving white rice.  My brother and sis in law serve quinoa on a regular basis.  After reading that it provides more protein than most grains and since it has a nice, nutty flavor I have decided to substitute quinoa for the rice.

Keep it simple, keep it plain.  It will be healthier and your family will be happy with supper as long as it is tasty and filling.

God bless,