Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just the beginning of Canning Season

Here is the view of my kitchen during canning season. I had awoke in the early morning dawn to can tomatoes and to get a jump start before my sweet cheeks awoke from their slumber. Before starting my second batch, I took a moment and looked around my kitchen and saw my first batch of tomatoes cooling and the empty jars lined up waiting to be filled with more nourishing food. When... pure joy and happiness warmed my heart. I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple photos, so I can look back on the moment that gave me such joy for my hard work I had been enduring for the love of my family. I can't wait to taste those tomatoes this Winter and savor the flavor of love and joy.
My kitchen is the heart of my home.

Menu Plan This week

Breakfasts: Cereal, Oatmeal, Pancakes, French Toast, Bagels

Lunches: Sandwiches, Salads, Soup, Leftovers,

Sunday - French Bread Pepperoni Pizza
Monday - Vegetable Beef Soup and Sandwiches
Tuesday - Steak, Potatoes, Green Beans and Cottage Cheese
Wednesday - Cacciatore Stoup with Meatballs (Rachael Ray Recipe)
Thursday - Pork Chops, Stuffing, Cream of Corn, Apple Sauce
Friday - Potato Soup and Crusty Bread
Saturday - Dan's Spanish Rice

Grocery Budget and Menu Planning

This week I officially started my Menu Planning. I want to restrict myself on my grocery budget since, we spend way too much. I am scared to really know the dollar amount. In my budget I am allowing $100 a week for my family of five. My goal is to spend as little of that $100 a week as I can and whatever I don't spend on groceries I get to put that money into our vacation fund for December. We plan to go to Leavenworth, Washington for their Christmas Festival, German style.

Since I have been stocking up my pantry, my freezer and my stockpile in the garage, I probably will only need to purchase perishables like milk, eggs, fresh produce and some bread, etc. I have been canning, drying sliced fruits, and preparing quick fix freezer meals. It has been a lot of work in the kitchen and little sleep some nights but it sure will pay off this Winter. With the economy the way it has been heading I feel that this Winter and possibly Spring will be quite tight on the budget. I have been preparing for this for some time and hope that I have acquired enough of the necessities as we will need. I may sound like a squirrel stockpiling for Winter, but I would rather be prepared for any hurdle that may head our way.

I plan on getting back to homemade food from scratch and not store bought/commercially made if at all possible. I will start baking some of our bread, making my own pie crusts, pizza dough, granola bars etc.. I intend on being more frugal in other areas in our home and budget too. Menu planning will help keep me on track and help simplify my budget, meals and inspire me to think before I purchase.

I hope that you are inspired too, to think ahead for Winter and Spring and get your home, pantry and freezer stocked.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Under the Weather

Sorry for not posting in a week. I have not been feeling up to par and have been taking care of one of my little sweet cheeks, who has been under the weather too. I am starting to feel better. New posts coming soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Frugal Recipes

My dear friend Jen called me today to ask me and my other dear friends to bring a few frugal recipes to our Friday morning coffee gathering to exchange. She wants to menu plan for two weeks and needs some new recipes that are cheap to make on the budget and tastes good.

Can any of you inspire her with some of your frugal recipes for her family? Much appreciated.

Homemade Baby Food

Homemade baby food is so easy to make and less expensive for your budget. This happens to be pears that I did one day a few months ago. Now, since my little sweet cheek is 9 months old, I am combining veggies with protein like chicken and turkey and adding brown rice. I love these trays with lids so I can stack them in the freezer. You can use a hand held immersion blender, the magic bullet or a baby food mill to puree to the consistency that you need for your sweet cheeks.

When the baby food is frozen solid I just pop them out of the trays and put them in Ziploc bags and label them. It is really simple to do and I know how fresh and nutritious the food is. I have to confess, I do have organic baby food in jars on hand when we are traveling for convenience.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Heirloom Tomato and Bocconcini Mozzarella Salad

This is one of the recipes that I made with those wonderful heirloom tomatoes that I found at my local farmer's market. Each bite was bursting with fresh flavors.

Heirloom Tomato and Bocconcini Mozzarella Salad

Variety of fresh heirloom tomatoes or any tangy tomato variety (sliced in quarters)
3 balls of fresh baby bocconcini mozzarella (sliced)
1/4 cup of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
the juice of one tomato
a drizzle of basalmic vinegar
2 garlic cloves (minced)
salt and pepper to taste

Toss together to coat and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Calling all cooks

All good cooks need the proper tools in the kitchen to make cooking and baking simple, fun and easy. Even if you are an amateur chef, good tools make cooking an ease. Over the last twelve years I have purchased Pampered Chef products and my kitchen and motor home are filled with them.

The new Fall products and catalog are now available. I am hosting a Kitchen Show and would like to invite you to shop online from the comfort of your home or kitchen. Go here to do your shopping for yourself or for Christmas gifts and stocking stuffer's. Yes, Christmas is just around the corner.... If you spend over $60 you get a free gift. This months gift is the meat chopper tool.

All shopping must be done by Friday, September 19th as I am closing my show on the 20th. If you want to view the catalog and/or shop online, click on Order Products it will ask you for a host name. The correct spelling of my name is Angela Koch.

Happy Shopping and Cooking!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cooking with Friends

The last two days my friend Misty and I have been in my kitchen canning and freezing fruit. I showed her how to make no sugar added apple sauce sweetened with 100% apple juice. She was busy slicing her peaches and putting them on giant trays and freezing them and making zucchini chocolate chip bread. It was really good.

I made marinara sauce, a few more apple pie fillings, five quart bags of diced apples for apple cake, two loaves of apple walnut bread and canned quarts of fresh tomatoes. I still have to make more peach pie fillings tonight after my sweet cheeks go to bed. It has been a busy few days but it will be so worth it this winter. My freezer is filled with colorful fruits and veggies, pies, sauces, bread etc...

Today I treated her for lunch. I made us an heirloom tomato and bocconcini mozzarella salad on baby lettuces drizzled with a homemade tomato, balsamic vinaigrette and garlic dressing. It was just delicious. She had brought over her grandma's vintage aprons and recipes to show me. It makes me wonder how many fabulous dishes her grandma made wearing those handmade aprons. We had such a good time in the kitchen together. It is fun cooking with friends.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This weeks Farmers Market Find

Today my friend Misty and I took our kids for a nice sunny stroll down to our local Farmer's Market in Creswell. Todays finds were a loaf of Honey Oat Bread, a loaf of Whole Wheat Bread, Heirloom tomatoes, plums, a large bag of mixed salad greens and a carmelized onion tart. The Farmers Market will be closed for the season at the end of this month. It will be sad. I enjoy my weekly adventure and the fresh produce and recipes that I create from them.

However I will still be able to purchase my delicious baked goods this Winter. If anyone else is interested please e-mail Julie Furrer with your orders at Julie's Baked Goods. She can be reached at her e-mail jubugme@gmail.com Thanks Julie! The honey oat bread smeared with honey butter was so good and the carmelized onion tart was delish.

Pie Baking Day for Frozen Pie Filling

Step by step instructions for pie baking day for your frozen pie filling.

Make your homemade pie crust and roll out or cheat and use the store bought kind.
Roll pie crust onto your rolling pin and place over and into your pie pan.
Place your frozen pie filling that you made earlier. DO NOT THAW (I happened to use one of my blackberry pie fillings I made) If you are using cooking cutters to vent now is the time to do them.
Roll second pie crust onto rolling pin and place on top of pie filling.
Crimp edges of pie crust and place cut outs on top crust, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with 1 tsp sugar.
Bake and let cool on cooling rack. Slice into pie when completely cool (4-6 hours) and serve with vanilla ice cream. Yummo!

Frozen Apple Pie Filling

Frozen Apple Pie Filling

6-7 baking apples sliced or 6 cups ( I use Gravenstein)
2 T Minute Tapioca granules
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Put fruit, tapioca, sugars and both spices in large bowl. Mix together, let stand 15 minutes.
Line pie plate or disposable aluminum cake pan (that will drop into pie plate perfectly after frozen) with wax paper.
Pour pie filling mixture into lined pan.
Let freeze several hours or overnight until frozen solid.
Remove from wax paper.
Wrap in saran wrap and place in Ziploc bag and label or place in food saver and vacuum seal and place back in freezer.
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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Coffee Gathering - Part 2

So let me tell you about the frenzy that took place on Friday at our first Coffee Gathering this Fall. Well... while we were all talking about recipes and freezing food for winter. I opened my freezer and showed the girls my frozen pie filling that I had made the night before. A Gravenstein Apple and a Fresh Peach. When they saw them they were amazed. All you have to do is set it into a pie crust and bake. I told them what inspired me to do it (I had watched it on the Food Network Channel with Alton Brown on Good Eats). Searching online I found another recipe for Fresh Peach by Paula Deen, who is another one of my favorite cooking chefs on the F.N. Then I looked at the back of my box of Instant Tapioca pudding mix and found similar recipes for more types of fruit pies. So far I have 6 apple, 3 peach and 5 blackberry in the freezer.

Well by that afternoon I had three of the women run to a local farms fruit stand in Creswell and purchase fruit. One of them even had apple trees and blackberries on her property so she made them dirt cheap. A few of them even mentioned it to more women in our church and what we all had been up to. My pastor's wife told me this morning when I arrived at church that she had heard all the hubbub about my pie filling and homemaking inspirations that I had started. It has been a lot of fun spreading inspirations and seeing how much fun we all are having.

The Recipe, how to steps and rating will follow after I make my first homemade pie crust and bake a pie tonight.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Morning Coffee Gathering - Part I

On Friday Mornings several mothers from Church gather at my home for coffee and breakfast. With their little sweet cheeks in tote. We have anywhere from a half dozen to a dozen infants to preschoolers playing sweetly. We don't meet on Fridays during the Summer months, only during the school year. However many of the same families do go group camping together, take the kids to the park during the week and have BBQ's over the Summer. So we do stay connected in other types of activities.

Today was our first Coffee Gathering since Summer has ended. Boy were we excited to get together and visit. I think that we all were looking forward to it. We have a very strong bond with one another and we keep each other spiritually connected and focused.

Today we discussed our prayer chain and the healing that is needed in the lives of those who are struggling health wise, physically and mentally with their extreme situations. Our hearts go out to those in need of healing and prayer. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. Luke 12:31

We also caught up on some of the things that are going on in our lives, how our children were doing since school has started, homeschooling, etc..... We also took turns looking at catalogs from Pampered Chef, Tupperware and Lia Sophia Jewelery (there is always a party going on).

The subject of food, recipes and freezing food for winter came up (when doesn't food come up?) Then the simplest thing was said... then an inspiration took off into a frenzy...

**Stay tuned for Part II

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Domestic Diva

I purchased these two sets of "Glovelys" for the domestic diva, the other day at Ross for $2.99 a pair. Aren't they just too cute. The packaging says Glamorous gloves for everday chores. I intend to use the pink pair for sanitizing and scouring the bathroom etc... The blue pair I plan on using in my garden. They are nice and long so soap, water, and dirt doesn't drip or get on your wrists and forearm. They came in other patterns and colors too.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Granny Annie's Cream of Corn Recipe

Granny Annie's Cream of Corn Recipe

40 ears of corn
1 1/2 pounds of butter, melted
2 pints of half and half

Husk and clean corn.
Preheat Oven to 200 degrees.
Remove/Cut corn from the cobb and place in dutch oven or roaster pan.
Scrape each ear for juice (Very important step do not skip).
Add butter and half & half to corn.

Place in oven for about two hours. Let Cool-in ice bath.
Ladle in freezer containers and freeze.

Thaw, reheat and warm slowly.
Salt and pepper to taste just before serving.

I enjoy my Grammy's Cream of Corn Recipe. It is really delicious and it tastes nothing like the tin can cream of corn that you get at the grocery store. Now is the time to go out and pick some fresh, sweet corn before it is gone for the season. I picked 65 ears of corn at a local farm. J&M Farms on Seavey Loop charged only $2.50 a dozen (U-Pick). This year I froze them in three cup containers and it made 13 containers, so that's about 39 cups yielded. Yummo!
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Tip of the Day

I bought one of those corn cutter fandangle things from my local Bi-mart and I tried to cut the first ear of corn and I just about threw it across the room. It didn't work and it was a bit dangerous to use. So I researched online how to cut corn off of the cob (the easiest way) and this is what I found and tried it. I got out my bundt pan and the sharpest knife I had and placed the ear of corn in the flute and started cutting. It worked wonderfully and the majority of the corn fell inside the pan. However my corn was very juicy and it squirted all over my wall, tile and kitchen aid mixer. Note to self... put up flour sack towels over kitchen gear before cutting next time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Momma's going out

Tonight was girls night out and four of my dear friends and I went out for a little bargain shopping and late night dinner. First stop was to Value Village thrift store for their Labor Day Sale of 50% off everything in the store. I got there a little after 7pm which was even better because green tags were 70% off, from 7-9 PM.

I am picky on items and they must be in very good condition (like new) in order for me to purchase them. I was on the prowl for winter clothes for my two little sweet cheeks. Looking for size 2t /3t and 9m/12m. I came home with two bags stuffed full for less than $27.00 I saved about $40.00, not bad. Well my guess would be I actually saved almost $200.00 That's if I would have purchased them brand new at the department stores.

I found some darling dresses, dress shirts, sweater vests, slacks, denim jeans, corduroy skirts and swim suits for both of my sweet cheeks. Some items were brand new with tags still on them. Really good quality clothes and nice brands like Carters, The Children's Place, Baby Gap, and Old Navy. I even found a nice (Karen Scott) red casual wear knit jacket for myself.

Last stop was Dinner at Applebee's for their late night special, 1/2 price appetizers. What fun, I sure enjoyed our girl talk and laughter. Every stay at home mom needs a night out with the girls once in a while to keep our sanity. Thanks Dear Hubby for encouraging me to go and have fun and for taking care of our sweet cheeks. There are left overs in the fridge.

Creswell Farmer's Market Find

Here are a few items that I purchased at my local Farmer's Market in town. The pea pods and eggplant went into a chicken stir fry. The tomatoes and jalapenos made a wonderful salsa. The garlic and cheese loaf was heavenly. Last but not least was the Whole Wheat Sourdough smothered with a little butter and lots of local honey was just delish.

On the search for Home Decor sites

I am on the search for Home Decor blogs or websites. Does anyone have any sources that they would like to share with me. I am out of the "country phase" and have sold or given away my collection. I am in a funk and don't know what or where to begin. I am tired of looking at my bare walls and open space of missing furniture. I need some inspiration....