Friday, February 18, 2011

No More Waffling

I'm not a fan of waffles.  I can't tell you why, maybe it's what we put on top of them.  They're served with syrup and sticky, sugary condiments.  I never feel very well after eating them.  To me that's not a meal, it's a waste of calories that are better off spent on chocolate (which, as it turns out, is not a waste). 

But they are popular and I can imagine my minority status.  Today my eyebrows were raised in inspiration as I happened upon Jeff Smith's "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American."  After his basic waffle recipe he introduces ideas such as peanut-butter waffles, cornmeal waffles, and bacon waffles.  Okay, I'm interested.  These are starting to approach nourishment status.

His Peanut-Butter Waffles just have 4Tbsp hot water mixed into 4Tbsp creamy peanut butter.  Then simply stir into your basic waffle batter.  Wouldn't these be nice with bananas or fresh fruit?  Mmm, flavor!  And a little extra protein.

The Cornmeal Waffles he describes as "a bit crunchy and very American."  Well, I like crunchy so found these appealing.  Just add 1/2 cup cornmeal to the basic waffle batter.  Apparently these are popular in New England.  I'll bet they're perfect with a side of oyster stew.  Perhaps these will go well as a side for a savory meal.  Ooh, this is getting better.

Of course, the best is saved for last: Bacon Waffles.  Place one or two slices on top of the batter that you've just poured into your iron.  I'll likely chop the bacon into bits in order to stretch it, after all it's more a flavor than a protein.  But it would look prettier as a strip cooked right into your waffle, wouldn't ya say?  And now, don't these sound like something  you could blissfully sink your teeth into.

What are some of your waffle favorites?  Share your ideas and recipes in the comment box below.  If you've tried these ideas, share your thoughts.  I can't wait to have a "Waffle Night" now.

Shelter Gives Life - A Zone 4 Gardener Discoveres a Zone 5 Niche

I'm a northern gardener living in what we gardeners call zone 4.  I've even learned that parts of my yard are zone 5, or even warmer!  Not really uncommon, but my own serendipitous discovery first occurred in the late 90's. 

I had placed an order for some perennials from a company that sent you free plants if your purchase met a prescribed minimum amount.  While it seems a handy way to purge their overstock, it's not generally an effective strategy when your target audience is from multiple zones.
I wasn't after the free goods, in this case an incredibly gorgeous Peruvian lily meant for zones 7-10.  That is very far from my back yard.  In fact, isn't that tropical?  Well, it would be for this Scandinavian-blooded northerner.  When it arrived with my other plants, I planted it on the east side of my home.  I figured we might as well enjoy one summer.  That delicate-looking lily came back for three summers!
 You see, up here our winds rarely blow from the east.  Nestled up next to the house it was sheltered and protected from any wind at all.  There's probably a wonderful story of it's own in there, but listening to the blustery February wind howling outside my window as I type these words, it's a very lovely memory by itself.  I long to get my hands back into the cool, black earth.  Picking weeds sounds like a joy.  Now, what did I do with that Burpees catalogue?

Don't overlook a warmer zone that you may have tucked somewhere on your homestead!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Remedies From 1910

c. 1910
The following "remedies" come straight from the book pictured above.  Most are ludicrous, a few plausible, none prescribed today.  All are entertaining, even humerous for us today and a part of our heritage and ancestry.  You may remember some of your own "old family remedies."  Feel free to share them in the comment box below.  I'd love to hear from you!

Remedy for Poison:

Kill a chicken and, while warm, cut open and lay upon wound, entrails and all, and it will draw out the poison.

Bruised plantain leaves.  (Actually, this plant has long been known for it's healing properties throughout the "old world," since well before Shakespeare)

Baking Soda
Lime (aka calcium oxide)
Olive Oil
Witch Hazel

Remedy for Burn:

Wood Soot and Fresh Lard

Castile Soap
Baking Soda
Cosmoline (rust-preventative)
Lime Water & Linseed Oil
Egg White
Alum, Lard, & Egg Whites
Scraped Potato
Alcohol (for carbolic acid burn)
Olive Oil and Camphor Gum
Egg White Froth and Lard

Remedy for Blister:

Cabbage Leaves
Beeswax and Sweet Oil

Remedy for Wounds:

Tobacco and Salt
Onions and Salt
Salt and Lamp Oil
Lemon Juice
Sage and Honey
Black Tea
Wood Ash
Brown Sugar
Sole Leather
Gun Powder
Salt Pork
Chloroform Liniment
Smoke from Live Coals
Copperas (iron sulfate) and Alum

Remedy for Hiccoughs:

"Boyling saltpetre"

Nitre (potassium nitrate, or saltpeter)
Chewing While Pressing Fingers in Ear
Vinegar and Sugar
Lemon Juice and Sugar
Mustard, Ginger, or Soda in Hot Water
Drink Through a Towel
Drink Water
Placing Two Fingers Together as Close as Possible without Touching
Baking Soda in Water

"Frugal Zealot" Economy

The Tightwad Gazette : Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative LifestyleAuthor: Amy Dacyczyn

Some of you may remember this book.  Amy Dacyczyn was interviewed on many television talk shows in the 1990's for her sometimes wise, sometimes absurd frugal ways.  I list a few here for you that I find practical for my own home economy.

PICKLE JUICE  Yes, we do actually save pickle juice.  Have done for years!  My kids, in fact, think this is normal.  My husband and kids are very fond of "Virgin Marys" and often have contests between them to see who makes the best-tasting.  You may, of course, use yours for a "Bloody Mary," if you're able to keep it on-hand long enough.  You'll find pickle juice to be indispensable for salad dressings, marinades, and pickled eggs, which are the best for tuna salad.  Just be sure to boil them first.

TOILET PAPER TUBES  These are a good way to organize your electrical cords.  They even give you a nice surface on which to record the length of cord.

DRIED-OUT BREAD  Don't ya just hate to find that half-gone bag of bread tucked way back behind the cutting boards?  How long has it been there?  The kids won't eat it now.  You don't want it.  But with all those preservatives it hasn't turned green.  Well therein lies your blessing, friend!  Lay it out on the counter for a few hours, both sides, then make crumbs out of it in your food processor or blender.  You know how perfect this will be for meatloaf and meatballs, but think of mixing with a bit of butter or bacon fat then with cheese or seasoning and tossing atop your next casserole before baking. 

CARROT PEELS, ONION SKINS, & CELERY LEAVES  If you've ever watched the cooking shows on PBS, you may know who the Frugal Gourmet is.  His name is Jeff Smith and I, for one, miss his shows.  Amy includes his advise in her book (much like my previous blog post about trimmed veg) about using these when cooking up turkey or chicken bones for soup stock.  I include it here as it is more detailed about giving examples of "Trimmed Veg."

FISH CAN COOKIE CUTTER  At first I thought this was one of her "absurd" ideas, but then I realized 1. How sturdy these would be compared to many store-bought cutters, and 2. How many shapes one is unable to find in the store.  I think it worth a mention.

HOT COCOA  Here, Amy has included a handy comparison:
Consider Swiss Miss and Carnation provide 4% of the USDA of calcium, as well as being remarkably more expensive.  Amy's "Tightwad Hot Cocoa Mix" provides 22% of the USDA of calcium at a fraction of the cost.  Try it and see for yourself!

1/3 cup dry milk
1 tsp. cocoa
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup hot water

Create your own mix packets for ease.  Make them pretty for gifts.  Go ahead, mommies, be impressed with your good prudence!

1/2 cup ammonia
1/3 cup vinegar
2 Tbsp baking soda
1 gal. water

Keep stored in a clean gallon jug, ready to refill your squirt bottle.  Write the recipe on the jug with Sharpie.

3 cups sugar
3 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp butter flavoring
1 tsp maple extract

Bring it all to a rolling boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Turn the burner off, leaving the pot on until the bubbling stops.

AQUARIUM WATER  This is something in which I was particularly interested because I keep houseplants and a garden.  I'm learning that this is a natural plant fertilizer.  Fish waste is a natural organic compound.  Many of the same compounds being dumped are precisely what we purchase in-store to fertilize our plants.  Mind, however , not to use it when medicating your fish.

ONION BAGS  Yup, pretty cheap.  But then who needs to know?  You don't ever need to buy a box of Brillo again.  Tie'em up and scrub away.  You'll always get a new one before this gets too worn.

HOMEMADE SHAKE'N BAKE  This recipe equal 20 store packets at 25% the cost.
4 cups flour
4 cups cracker meal
4 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3 Tbsp paprika
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix and store in tightly covered container indefinitely in refrigerator.

STAIN RECIPE  Amy tells us this is from a woman who owned a used children's clothing store.  Need she say more?

1 cup powdered Cascade
1 cup powdered Clorox II
5 gallons HOT water

Soak overnight.  Launder as usual.  This is not for delicate or non-colorfast fabrics.  This works best for food stains.

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

You Can Cook Beans

I was making the Heinz bean recipe yesterday and as I was getting started I remembered how, when I was first married, I hadn't a clue how to cook dried beans.  They're nutricious, economical, diverse and easier than we credit them.  Legumes (leg-yooms); including beans, peas, and lentils, are high in fiber and when served with a grain, potato, or other such carbohydrate, you have a complete protein!  Yes, folks, complete as in beef, chicken or fish.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I am impressed with the humble legume.

You'll want to start by cleaning your beans.  They're produce and, like berries or nuts, you'll find the occassional debris.

Beans are thirsty and soak up a lot of water.  Use a large pot and fill generously with water.  You cannot use too much water, but I will admit that I've burnt my share of bean batches.  Learn from me here, use lots of water!  Go ahead and cook the whole bag while you're at it, beans freeze wonderfully. 
Most varieties are cooked in two boils with a rest period between.  Pictured are navy beans and, like most, need 1 hr. for their first boil.  Set a timer and don't wander too far.  Keep an eye on them to be sure your beans are always covered with water.

Above is what they look like after their first boil.  Now go ahead, cover them and let them rest for an hour.  This makes for a good laundry day.  Also a great time to give your poor houseplants some much-needed attention.  As I've mentioned, you'll need to stay nearby.

After their rest, boil again.  Here is where the different varieties show their individuality.  Some only need half an hour, others I've had to boil for two hours.  Just be sure to keep the water-line above your beans, stir periodically, and taste for doneness.  They're ready when they're tender but not mushy, as in the photo below. 
Now it's time for your delectable recipe!  Happy cooking!

About Me

My photo
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!