Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Frugal Equals Green

"The Frugal Repast", Emile Friant

I'm a SAHM, stay at home mom.  I'm told too often how "lucky" I am to "be able" to do this.  While I do indeed feel blessed to have the best job in the world, luck certainly had not a thing to do with it. 

It has been a choice each and every day since my firstborn was two years old.  Each shopping trip involved choices to not buy chips and soda.  Each summer was spent with children playing in the yard instead of community education leagues.  Sports were with school teams, music sung at church and school.  We have made do with what we have, done without that which isn't so necessary, and rediscovered old-fashioned entertainment such as picnics and homemade iced tea or lemonade.

I have taken an interest in books about home economy, most of them quite dated.  It's exciting to see the new "green" movement, although many of us are reminded of Dad's too-often patched old jeans and Grandma's pantyhose tying up her tomatoes.  Oh, how many of us could go on here to write our own books on how to be "green!" 

But alas, it is something that wasn't taught to our generation, and along with the bombardment of advertising igniting the "gimmes," we've instead succumbed to becoming throwers and spenders.  And do we excel in this!  Oh yes, me too.  I will admit a weakness here.

The Encyclopedia of Household Hints and Dollar Stretchers
by Michael Gore, © 1957

This is one of the books I've found, and the first from which I will be including the first installments of "Frugal Equals Green."

SAVE YOUR BACON FAT  I know that some of you cringe at this frugal hint, others of you are drooling.  Read on, then be your own judge.  From one package I get two weeks' use for a family of six people.  I simply cool a bit, then pour into a clean glass jar with a cover and store in the fridge.  I use just a tad when sauteing onions and/or garlic.  I use it when frying eggs.  I use a bit when making a white sauce.  Also, think peas, cabbage, cornbread, Brussels sprouts, and reheating meats or beans.  Not too long ago, homemakers would've been aghast at our wastefulness!  It's can't-be-beat flavor and saves on expensive butter.

CUT ACROSS THE GRAIN  Many of us didn't grow up cooking with our mothers and so did not benefit from age old kitchen wisdom.  This is one simple lesson I learned a bit too late for my preference, but one that can turn your chuck to sirloin with the proper knowledge.  Cutting across the grain of any meat is the way to serve it tender.  Add a savory sauce or gravy and you'll be sure to get rave reviews!

FISH HEADS  Ah, yes, leave them on.  For those of you lucky enough to have your men, big or little, bring your dinner home on a line (big or little), here is your secret to delectable, flaky success.  First, salt your fingers a bit to help prevent them slipping around.  Leaving the heads on the fish prevents them drying out and seals in their flavor and juices.  At 350ºF bake 11-19 min/lb. for the bigger guys, and 1.5 - 2 min/oz for the little fellas.

SAVE TRIMMED VEG  What to do with all the vegetables you're tossing out? (Besides composting for your own summer garden veg, of course.)   They may not make the grade for your table, but they still contain precious nutrients!  Trim off the ends and soiled bits, then use for a nice vegetable stock.  Freeze this and cook with your next poultry bones.  You're ready for a fantastic soup.  And never knew you were such a good cook!

WARM EGG WHITES  Another reminder for us, egg whites fluff up so much nicer when they're room temperature.

OILY RAGS  Here's a practical way to use up lots of those rags you've been hording.  Soak up a rag in oil and wrap your cutting tools while storing.  This is a wonderful way to keep them clean, rust-free and sharp, and extend their life!

SOAP YOUR NAILS  Keep a bar of soap handy in the garage for those projects that use up old wood.  Driving the nails into the soap helps to prevent the wood splitting, which saves a trip to the lumber yard!

FILL DEEP HOLES  Too often we find our beautiful furniture as banged up after family life as ourselves.  Fixing them is similar.  Mix sawdust with spar varnish and fill.  Sand smooth when dry.

LAWN SAVER  Consider placing a large, flat stone into the ground beneath your rain spout.  This reduces erosion by distributing rainwater evenly over a larger area.  Be sure it's place rather into the ground so your mower may pass over with ease.

COOKING OIL REMOVES PAINT  First, rub your hands with cooking oil.  Then, wash with soap and water.  This won't dry or injure the skin, as with turpentine.

Thanks to
~The Encyclopedia of Household Hints and Dollar Stretchers by Michael Gore, © 1957


About Me

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As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!