Saturday, June 28, 2014

I'm 'jammin'

  Finally!  After several failed attempts to make mulberry jelly or jam, I finally found a recipe that works -- freezer jam!

   Followed the directions from the box of pectin.  Easy-peasy (well, except for stemming and crushing 6 cups of mulberries). 

    Nice to have something with the actual consistency of jam.   

    I put a tablespoon of raspberry flavoring in with the fruit ... it's OK, but next time I'll just stick to pure fruit.

    Now I have to find a place in the freezer for 3 jars of jam ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ack .... there went the eggplant!

    I have had problems off and on this growing season with rabbits (and possibly squirrels) getting into my porch and front garden plants.

    I looked at the front garden today and realized something had eaten my last eggplant and cabbage plant!   Not only did it eat the leaves, it dug up the rest of the plants. And this is after I doused it with ground cayenne pepper. (Great, a rabbit that likes spicy food!)

    In the meantime, it bit off part of a potted geranium and dug up and ate three marigolds.   (I'll say this, the critter is eating a balanced diet .... though I thought rabbits didn't like marigolds.)

    I pulled out a large plant stand and put the geraniums (hopefully) out of reach.

    I'm  not sure why my garden is so tasty ... there's a large mulberry tree and some honeysuckle in the back yard to munch on.   I'm especially puzzled about the eggplant. I grew a huge plant there last year without any problems.

     I'll find something else to plant ... and figure out a means to fence it off, somehow.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday dinner

   Took the whole chicken we bought on sale and popped it into the Nesco roaster.   Rubbed it down with a package of marinade mix  (Baja Citrus, I believe).
   Took the whole contraption out to the front porch (where there's an electrical outlet) and let it cook for 2 hours.
     The result: A very juicy roast chicken (and a great smelling front porch.)  Served with the leftover pasta and cabbage-carrot dish from a previous meal.  Topped it off with mulberry pie.

   Naptime ...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How's that again?

         While buying cat litter  ....

         There were two signs above the pallet holding the bags.  One read: 2 for $10. Save 98 cents.
  This was right next to the sign that said:  $4.99.

 (What kind of math is this? I pay $10 instead of $9.98 and somehow save 98 cents?)

        Pointed this out to a clerk, who saw the same problem.  She walked us to the checkout counter and told the cashier to ring the bags up at $4.99.

         "But they ring up at $5," the cashier said after waving the scanner at them.

         "No, the sign says they're $4.99."

          "Just two of them, or all of them?"

          "All  of them."

          I'm still scratching my head at this one ...

Monday, June 16, 2014

A garden oops

      We had a cold spell just after I planted my pots of oregano and basil, and after a couple of weeks I realized that the basil had never come up.  So, since I had another packet of seeds, I replanted.

     (You get an idea of where I'm going with this, don't you?)

      Yep,  when the "oregano" grew large enough so I could recognize it, I realized that somehow, the pots had been switched. (Had already lost the markers during a storm).  The basil had come up.    So had the basil I'd planted in the other pot.

     So it appears I'll have a bumper crop of basil this year.  Ah, well, it dries nicely. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What $10 will buy

 One of the supermarkets here has a monthly rewards program: spend a predetermined amount in a category and get $ off your next order.  Last month I spent the required amount in pet food (a slam dunk) and garden (another slam dunk), giving me $10 off my next order. 

      So, what to buy?   I decided to see how far $10 could go in stocking my freezer.  One item, I decided, would be a splurge: ground beef.  (My late mother would be horrified to hear that I consider this a splurge item now. Not that I'm thrilled, either.)

    So I check ground beef prices.  $2.99 a pound, but the packages were large, well past my $10 self-imposed limit.  Regular ground chuck was nearly $5 a pound.   Gulp.   I finally settled on a pound of ground round from the butcher's counter at $3.19 a pound on sale. (actual cost, $3.29)

    What next?  Ground turkey was a possibility, but we were stocked with markdowns from another store. DH had suggested ground sausage, but I wasn't thrilled about $3.50 a pound.  Pork shoulder at $1.89 a pound looked promising, but the packages were large, and would have put me over my limit.  
I peeked at the deli counter.  When did lunch meat get to nearly $6 a pound? Thanks, I'll get it at Aldi. 

I finally settled on skinless, boneless chicken thighs, at $1.99 a pound on sale.   A just under 3.5 pound package cost $6.81.   
My total: $10.10.   Not bad -- that will make quite a few meals. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stretching: food edition

How we've been trying to stretch those food dollars here at the casa de chaos this past week ... cause my grocery bills certainly aren't going down....

  1. Not our food, but ...  had to switch foods for Senior Gal because it was upsetting her tummy.  Unfortunately, that left half a bag of kibble.  Since I put the food in smaller containers, I now dump a scoop or two in her younger siblings food mix.  They're OK with it.  Did the same thing with a cat food sample that came in the mail.
  2. Stretching produce:   The garden right now is coming in handy ... I'm able to stretch out our salads with a nice array of microgreens. Hoping the tomatoes come in soon.
  3. More produce:   Trying to use up some fresh carrots, so I'm cooking them with the frozen peas for side dishes.  The fresh cabbage has been going into soups and stir fries.
  4. Bread:  Any stale slices go into the fridge to be made into salad croutons. We same the crumbs too, in a bag in the freezer. (Homemade bread is very crumbly, I find.)  When we get a small bag full, it goes into meatballs, or as breading.
  5. Using what's in season.  Here, that's now mulberries.  I juice them for salad dressing, and will be making a batch of freezer jam. (that's an experiment, so stay tuned). There also will be cobbler and plenty of muffins and or quick bread. (And forgot to mention a batch of mulberry applesauce -- using up berries and apples!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A big, big turkey

    Promised I'd mention this ...

    Came across a great deal while shopping:  whole frozen turkeys at 49 cents a pound.   Luckily, there was room in the freezer at home ;)

    Things were pretty busy at checkout:  We were in a hurry, the clerk was slammed ... something didn't seem quite right when she gave me the total.

    I was right.  When I got  home and looked at the receipt, I realized I'd been charged the original price ... but at the rate of 49 cents per pound for a 40+ pound turkey!   (I know that wouldn't fit in my freezer, let alone my oven, LOL!)

   So I went back to the store with my receipt, and a photo of the price tag on the turkey.   We all had a good laugh, and they refunded the difference.

 I'm still trying to imagine what a turkey that big would look like ???

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Garden report ... almost done

   We have a garden extension!!!

   When last we chatted, I mentioned that we needed 1,100 pounds of dirt.  I was wrong.  We needed 3,300 pounds.   And it all fit, too.

    Anyway, that  settled it.  We had to get a bulk delivery. With a bit of shopping, we found a smaller landscaping company that charged about $10 less per cubic yard that the other companies. That helped offset the delivery costs.

    We used the free compost our city offers to mix into the soil, and a rewards card to buy wood mulch for the top.

    Unfortunately, we had a casualty .. me.   Messed up my back and shoulders moving that dirt around, so the planting is going very slowly. But we're getting there...