Sunday, September 23, 2012

Busy but rewarding days

It has been a busy couple of days.  Yesterday we decided to go ahead and make the drive to go to Sam's and get our membership again.  It has been eight or nine years since we last had one.  A big part of that reason is the drive it takes to go there.  But when Beloved and I talked about it again, we decided that we are near one as often as once a month sometimes and when we aren't it is at least once every two months.  So we decided to do it.  So we went and shopped and bought many of the things I don't usually get cheaper with coupons.  I also bought the big cans of diced tomato and tomato sauce for chili.

When we got home, I threw beans in the pressure cooker and cooked five pounds of hamburger and two pounds of sausage and filled my 18 quart roaster to the brim with chili!  We are eating on it today, and Beloved took some on the road with him for dinner tonight.  Now I am canning!  I have seven quarts in the pressure cooker right now.  Then I am going to do pints.  I will do more pints than quarts, some for Beloved to take in the semi, and some for when the kids are wanting to grab themselves a quick meal on a busy day.  A quart is about the right serving for one person.  The pints I will use when there is more than one of us for chili spatting or chili dogs or such.  I really don't like hot dogs, but every now and then the family asks for chili dogs and since it is a quick and easy meal, I give in sometimes and make them.  After church tonight, I have to run to the close little town to get more pint canning jars.  When I asked Erica to grab me some she came back with one and said "sorry mom this is it".  Oh my how did that happen?

Next time I go, I will be likely be looking for something else that I can make up and can, because the meat prices do seem better than the grocery here for the quality of meat.  I really enjoy having some things canned for nights like tonight when we have church or another function.  It really is a time saver.  I am getting low on canned chicken, and since it is the soup time of year, I want to get some more of that done up also.  Makes a quick yummy chicken soup.  When I can chicken for soup, I always cut up the chicken to fit in the jar, throw it in on the bone (with as little skin as possible), throw in a carrot and a stalk of celery for helping the flavor of the broth and can it like that.  It is so easy to drain into the stock pot and then debone the chicken for a quick soup starter!

I remember when I first started thinking about starting to can.  I remembered doing it as a child and I was kind of scared of it because mom always used to tell me to stay away from the pressure canner.  But they are so much safer now with the safety valve.  I can't imagine going back to not canning things myself!  Of course there was an expense when I started, due to the fact I started with no canning jars had to buy quite a few, but that expense has lessened now that I am reusing the jars, some of them have been used many times now.  Now my main expense is lids.  That will be going down more and more, because as I have the extra funds I am going to be ordering more of the re-useable lids.  I did a review on them HERE after I contacted the company and they were nice enough to send me a few to try and review.  I have had one small issue with them.  I have many times forgotten to loosen them just a tad before I put them in the canner, and then they don't seal.  But as I get more of them and use them more often, I am sure it will become a habit for me. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The fun parts of a simple life

There are many challenges to trying to learn to live a more simple life, but those challenges can also be the most fun!  There are many experiments in trying to become more simple.  Last night I tried yet another one of these.  It was a simple one, yet a new one.  I made Beloved tomato soup from scratch for the first time!  Now I don't really care for tomato soup, so I don't really eat it.  However, Beloved thought that soup and grilled cheese sounded good now that it is getting cooler.  So instead of running to the store to buy a can, I did what I would do with chicken noodle soup or a stew, I looked into making it from scratch.  It was so simple, that I was afraid it wouldn't be any good!  But Beloved really liked it and wants me to keep doing it that way.  It wasn't quite as easy as opening a can and adding water and heating it up, but almost.  The only harder part being the amount of stirring involved but that isn't a big deal at all. 

The weather is getting cooler, however I can still use the clothesline.  I will use it until it just gets to cold to go out and hang laundry.  Sometimes it isn't the cold that stops me, but sometimes there is snow and I don't want to trudge through that either.  So I am glad I can still use the clothesline.  It saves money and resources.

Erica's progress report came from school today and I am very proud of her!  I was a little worried that her grades would drop now that she has three advanced classes.  Of course they wouldn't have been horrible but I was afraid my "A" student would have a big drop to "B's".  It wouldn't have been the end of the world, but it would have discouraged her some.  I was glad to see she has all "A"s" except for her Algebra that is a B.  I am so happy for her and she is pleased also, and that is the really important part, because she is proving to herself that an extra challenge is sometimes worth it.  Not to mention that for her Algebra, she is now well ahead of most in her class for math, and it is a high school course so she will get a math credit for high school if she finishes successfully.  I have no reason at this point to think that won't happen!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Soap making and product review!

Well after using a bar of the first batch of soap I made a few months ago, Beloved and I agree, that we like it, it just didn't suds enough for us.  After some more research, I found that the hemp oil can lower suds and I used what was probably to much of it.  I did it for the other properties it gives soap, but that was the side effect.  So today I made my second batch and omitted the hemp oil completely.  It will of course be at least eight weeks before we can try it, and really the longer it sets the better.  But I think this batch will suds better, I just hope it does what I am wanting for skin!  I hoping to get a recipe we love so I can make a batch big enough to last awhile and to give some as gifts.

I posted before that I am a part of BZZAgent.  They send me products or coupons for products and then I tell people what I honestly think of that product.  I am not to try to sell the product.  In the case of this product, that is a good thing!  This time I tried the Progresso Recipe Starters.  They sent me the mushroom one.  Last night, I was completely at odds of what to make for dinner for Erica and I since we were the only ones here.  So I looked at the can and decided we would try it. I used one of the recipes on the can for stroganoff.  It called for steak, I had ground turkey so I used that.  I had the sour cream and all that to go with it so I thought why not.  It was a quick and easy meal.  But it lacked very much in flavor.  Even Erica thought it was very bland.  I then tried some green onion on mine, that wasn't what it was missing.  It lacked in mushrooms, so if I had them I would have added some but that still wouldn't have given it what it seemed to be missing.  I am thinking this could be a good product IF one could figure out what it was it needed, but I just can't put my finger on it.   I really think that for now, this is not something I will be buying, I will stick to my old standby, mushroom soup instead.