Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Update on DS's consumer experiment

Here's an update on my sister's "live off you food storage" experiment.
Enjoy, how are you all doing?
We have been very blessed, although I do not shop for groceries out of my budget, we are on WIC for milk, eggs, cheese and some cereal, plus I go to our foodbank once a week. I got 4 bushels of apples last week, I just finished putting them all up.
I got 13 more quarts of applesauce and about 15 or so pints of apple butter, and then froze 3 qts of it, because I ran out of jars. We'll eat those up first. I'm trying not to have too much in my freezer in case the power goes out again for a week.
Here's Sis's update:

Hi All,

Maybe this is Provident Living Practice.

Here’s my confessions. A couple of people asked if I were going to buy gas, or Christmas. I thought I’d better define my parameters for this experiment. All I’m really trying to do is not go grocery or household shopping. We have a couple of roasts, about 20 lbs of hamburger, 5 pounds of sausage, half a dozen packages of chicken (in various parts and pieces) and some fish and salmon. I have frozen and canned vegetables. Since our family is smaller and our children are still under 10, we don’t’ eat as much as some families would. For us so far, it’s just the same, maybe a little better, because I’m trying to plan meals and not be so impulsive. We are buying gas, of course, but I’m trying to drive around less. If you stay at home, you need less fuel. I realized about mid-week that there was a zip lock bag of old salad in the vegetable drawer and I was sad that it had gotten brown because I couldn’t go buy more salad. This is making me realize how wasteful I’ve been in the past.

Monday I went to our local grocery store two times to pick up a prescription I’d ordered on Saturday. I just recently have been able to get a 3 month supply of my prescriptions, so I wanted to do that before we started non-shopping. But on Saturday, they didn’t have 90 pills—so I went Monday to pick up. But, the pharmacist had an emergency and the pharmacy was closed. Finally, Tuesday I was able to pick up my pills. Then on Wednesday, DH asked me if I’d pick up a prescription for him. So, I went back again. But, I only walked through the store to the pharmacy. In the past when I’ve gone to pick up a prescription, I’ve always picked up something else—just because I was in the store and sometimes because the kids were with me and they wanted a snack. It was a good reminder of how easy it is to impulse shop. Plus, even though I was trying to plan ahead on the prescriptions, I didn’t plan far enough in advance.

I actually had to buy something today. A friend asked me to bring her crock pot home from an event on Saturday and bring it to her later, which I was happy to do. I did and dropped it in my garage yesterday. So, today I bought a new crockpot. I realized that emergencies (minor though this was) happen and you need to be prepared with some cash.

I made a chicken casserole with stuffing; we’ve had taco soup; everyone loved the rigatoni casserole sprinkled with cheese. For breakfast we’ve had French toast, cooked oatmeal, and cold cereal (that will end soon.)

I’ve mixed milk half and half with Morning Moo. It’s actually very good. I can’t tell the difference. I think I have another week of mixed milk and then we’ll be drinking Morning Moo all the time.

I had a big package of cheese sticks frozen in the freezer and have gotten a new set of 12 out when the old ones are gone. We’re eating them much faster that I thought.

I did get a haircut on Friday, but I justified it by saying that I’d actually made the appointment a week before I began the experiment; Friday was just the first day that would fit my schedule.
(End of update)

How are you doing in your experiments? Post and let me know.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Cleanup

After I saw that the sugary lava flow was not moving any further, I trudged up the stairs to where Hubby was studying. I slunk over to the bed and, with head hanging down, I told him I had destroyed the kitchen.
He hugged and assured me that it would be all right, we went down stairs to survey the damage. I was met again with the terrible sight. Hubs said not to despair, and went to get the spackle knife-paint scraper thing from the garage. He started chipping away at the objects on the counter and I set the pot to soak in the sink. I lifted the spoon and thought it looked like sticky tar. (It would probably be useful for protecting the roof if we ever needed a little patching.)
I was able to get the drips off the floor without any damage except for a small bubble in the linoleum which you can only feel if you are scrubbing the floor down on your hands and knees; as if I ever have time to do that, I’ll never feel it! I was pretty impressed at that, I thought for sure the sugar-lava would have melted right through the floor, I did have the foresight to throw a cup full of cold water on the spill before my teary outburst, maybe that helped.
DH was scraping away at the diamond-hard mess on top of the counter, he had managed to loosen the cemented objects without casualty, and even salvaged my Pampered Chef hot pad that had so bravely covered my countertop. It performed beautifully. The counter under the pan was fine, and under the obsidian-like puddle, the counter was only a bit orange. At least there was no burnt countertop, as I feared. (It is nearly brand new and I’d like a few more years out of it before I need to do a complete kitchen remodel.)
As he scraped, the chips flew like little Pele’s tears, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, I’m sure if it had been her kitchen she would have been crying over this mess as well. Bear scraped and chipped, chipped and scraped, I tried to keep the kids out of the “free hard candy-mess!” It was on our shoes, stuck to the front of my apron, even in my hair. Chels didn’t want anything to do with the offensive tasting stuff, “candy isn’t that good,” she decided and went back to her book.
I snapped off the cupboard door from it’s hinges and laid it on top of the other counter and began to tackle the new igneous rock formation that had dribbled down it’s front. (It’s called Pele’s hair, just in case you wondered.) To quote Wikipedia: “Pele's hair: a geological term for volcanic glass threads or fibers formed when small particles of molten material are thrown into the air and spun out by the wind into long hair-like strands.” Well, there was no wind, but I think the term can still apply. I used the “melt-and-gently-scrape-with-a-plastic-spatula” method of disaster cleanup. (I’m sure that FEMA has specific cleanup protocols for this but I’m not trained in that area. Aparantly, I’m not trained very well in the area of cooking protocols either!) It was returned to it’s natural state pretty quickly, Pele hadn’t damaged the door, and the MAG-SWAPS method was working. I pulled the drawer out and started on it. This took a little longer to soften up the quartz-like goop, it had been closer to the top of the volcano’s crater stock pot and thus got more of the glop. Eventually, it was cleaned up too, I even managed to remove the sticky finger prints from endless openings and shuttings with little grubby hands.
Dear Hubby had finished the initial pass with the paint scraper and was working on the cleanup of the obsidian-crystals. He swept them up with the little broom and dust pan. We decided to throw the whole mess into the compost bin to attract more bugs into our yard. (Did I just type that?) Well, we hoped for “beneficial-bugs” anyway, whatever those are… After his clean sweep he gave it a once over with warm soapy water and there was no stains, no burns, nothing!! I couldn’t believe it, I was sure I had ruined it all and God protected my kitchen from Mount Vesuvius-Minor.
The floors all got a sweep and a scrub, and then I moved the furniture and shampooed the carpets, I had planned to do it after canning season was through, I guess this is a fitting way to finish it. I am keeping a log of things canned, time spent, and cost, I’m not sure how to write the entry for the apple butter. All I have to say to whomever I give my home canned gifts to this Christmas, you had better appreciate it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Molten Lava-or How NOT to Make Apple Butter

A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I had finished all of my canning. Well, the bug hit me again as I strolled through the grocery store. APPLES!! I hadn’t done any apples! No applesauce, apple butter, apple pie filling, apple rings, spiced apples, NOTHING! I scooted Sweet Boy over in the cart and loaded in a full bushel box of apples. (Now he had a seat instead of the “ouchie-wire” cart.)

Back at home I scoured through all my files for the delicious caramelized-sugar apple butter recipe that Gram and I made back when I lived in the mid-west. I couldn’t find it anywhere, looked all over the Internet too; I only found recipes that had real caramels added. I couldn’t can that, caramels have milk in them, so although the flavor may have been right, the recipe certainly wasn’t. I gave up my search and called Mom. She remembered it, but although didn’t have the recipe; she said that I should just be able to “caramelize” the sugar in a regular recipe and add it to create the caramel flavor.

Armed with this new knowledge, I carefully measured out my applesauce and discovered I had enough for a triple batch of apple butter, which called for 12 cups of sugar. I thought that if I caramelized half of the sugar and added the rest “raw” that would give it the flavor I was seeking. I dug out my heavy cast iron Le Creuset stockpot for the job, knowing that it could create a mess in the pan and I didn’t want to have a difficult time cleaning up my new Wolfgang Puck cookware. I got out several hot pads to protect my countertop when I removed it from the heat; caramelizing sugar takes a great deal of attention so it does not go past the point of no return and burn.

Everything was ready so I measured 6 cups of sugar into the pot and turned on the heat and started carefully stirring. It took awhile to get that much sugar heated and then it started to melt. I stirred and stirred and once it was all browned, there were a few lumps so I kept it on the heat just a few more seconds. Then all of a sudden, it grew into a molten-lava inferno. I quickly removed it from the heat to the waiting hot pad on the counter. It wouldn’t stop expanding. Like a volcano, it erupted its molten-sweetness over the boundaries of the stockpot and down the sides, flooding over the hot pad and across the counter like a lava-flow, cementing everything in it’s path to it’s final resting place. I panicked, but I was helpless to stop the searing-slow moving sugar-flow.

I watched; sickened by the prospect of ruined counters, burned floor and the hours I would spend cleaning up the mess; as it oozed and spread dark sticky drips to the floor. The air was thick with the smell of burnt sugar and the smoke hung dark and heavy. I sat down on the floor and cried. There was nothing else to do but watch as it destroyed my kitchen like the Roman city of Pompeii in the wake of Mount Vesuvius.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Consumer Experiment

My sister "Silver" and her family have decided to try an experiment—living on their food storage only, from now until Christmas. She has been very industrious to “put up” and can lots of things this summer and fall. She made this decision when she was looking at all her neat rows of canned goods. (I must admit that I sit in the garage on our swing which we brought in for the winter and admire my shelves too.)

I think this is a fantastic idea! Of course that is one of the reasons why we store for the future, to use in the event of an emergency. So if we have not planned ahead and purchased everything that we need in that event, how do we know if we have been wise in our preparation?

King Solomon said, in Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.”

So I offer a small “online challenge”: Can you live on what you have stored up? I’m going to try. Report here to my blog what you have done, how long it has worked for you and what lessons you have learned through the process. I’ll let you know how I’m doing and what is up with my sister’s challenge as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wanda died last week

I was reading Proverbs chapter 31 the other day and was thinking, oh yeah, if I had servant girls, I could get all that done in one day too. Because the proverbs 31 woman had maidservants and I didn’t, I named my appliances so that I could feel like I had “servant girls” working for me too. I have Drucilla the dryer, Christine the crock-pot, Minnie, the microwave, Denise the dishwasher, (sorry my Dear Friend!) Olivia Oven, Brenda blender, and poor old Wanda the washing machine.
My original Wanda, (17 years old) died last year, and was replaced amazingly enough by a lady of the same name. She is not new working for me, but had a one-year warranty, as she has had some operations in the past to fix this or that. She worked fine for me up until about 3 months ago when during her spin cycle there came a terrible screeching noise. I ran and shut her off and waited. I had a full load of laundry in the tub, sopping wet. How was I to get it all spun out if I didn’t just run it? So I did, ignored the screaming and finished the load. I ran the next load on a different cycle, permanent press instead of regular and low and behold she was working again. So I just shrugged it off as a fluke, temperamentally speaking. She was working again, so all was right with the world. Fast forward to last week.
I was washing bedding, two mattress covers and one blanket. I thought that I had washed them this way before; they were all white and needed bleach, so I thought they would be perfect in the load together, wrong. When the load was done, they were still sopping wet, they had been spun, but it wasn’t enough to get out all the water. I ran the load again, same thing! Ugh! What was I to do; I can’t afford another repair, another huge expense!
I walked the load over to the neighbor, who had said I could use her machine if ever I needed it, (I think this qualifies.) Sure no problem says she and promises to return them when they are done. Meanwhile, a few days later, I got to thinking, well, the load did spin, just not enough to get all the water out, well, I’m just going to use the darned ol’ machine until she gives out entirely. So, I loaded her basket up again and cranked it up. Perfect load, just fine. I did another, just the same, nearly dry clothes, she was working again!! God had healed Wanda! It wasn’t until later that I discovered that my neighbor couldn’t get the “white bedding” load to finish either, she tried everything, finally had to split them up and wash the offending blanket separately.
So I guess Wanda didn’t die after all, and there is a moral here, if you want your servant girls to work hard for you, you’d better give them their proper portions, blankets together and mattress covers separately.
Proverbs 31:15
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

BooBoo is stuffed

Babies are funny! I love the way their little minds work. BooBoo (18 months) does the cutest things and you can almost see the wheels churning inside his little head. Lately he has been stuffing things down the front of his shirt, like he was trying to save them for later. He walks around looking like he has elephantitis, clanking and rattling as he moves. Every once in a while, something will fall clear through his jammies or his sweats and he’ll act all surprised. It cracks me up, like he didn’t know it was there?
The school kids just walked in the door, gotta go do the “Mom” thing now.

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