Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Snow--Again! Time for Soup

I am trying hard not to complain about the snow that has been coming down all day. At least it isn't sticking. . . much. . . yet. hahaha I try to remind myself that every snowstorm we get puts more water in the mountains, to supply our needs in the summer. So I am making my home cosy, warm, and inviting by baking bread and making homemade soup. I had part of a leftover roasted chicken, so I simmered the carcass with water, a little salt, and chunks of carrot, onion, and celery. I added just a dash of vinegar. It helps leach a little calcium out of the bones for added nutrition, and you don't taste it in the final soup. After simmering for a couple of hours, I strain the solids out of the broth. I add fresh, chopped carrots, onion, and celery, and cook until tender (the veggies simmered with the bones don't have much flavor left). When the veggies are tender, I add seasonings, leftover cooked veggies I have stuck in the freezer for just such an occasion, and the bits of meat I have pulled off the bones. Then I add a few fine noodles. The result is a big pot of soup for just pennies, and making use of a few things that might otherwise been thrown away.

I am remembering a conversation with another young mother years ago. We had similar sized families, and seemed to eat similar type meals. She spent considerably more money on groceries than I did. As we compared our habits, the main difference I could see is that when a meal was over at her house, she put any leftover food straight in the trash can. I tried to make the best use of leftovers as I could. I was amazed at the difference it made in the compared food budgets. All these years later, it is still a motivating story to me. I find it takes very little effort to make use of many of my leftovers to stretch my food budget, and I happily make the effort.

My latest project aimed at stretching our food budget has been making pots of soup to use for lunches. About once a week I take leftovers and maybe a bit of meat, and make a nice pot of soup. Since my DH is home most days now, I needed to provide a lunch for him. He was used to taking those microwavable pop-top can/bowls of soup to work for his lunches. (His idea, not mine, lol He refused to take anything to work that needed to be returned home, and liked that the soup could just sit there until he decided he wanted it.) I decided that if I made soup once a week, we could have soup or leftovers from dinner for our lunches, and it would be much cheaper than trying to keep a lot of sandwich meats on hand. It has worked out extremely well. If I happen to run out of leftover bits of veggies for our soups, I also have diced veggies from the garden that I dried last summer, and the garden will be producing in a couple of months. This is a habit I intend to keep.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Garden Time

I have been waiting to start planting my garden. First of all, the weather has not been too wonderful. What can I say, I am a wimp! Rain, snow, and cold will keep me in the house where it is dry and warm. Secondly, my DH grew up on a small farm. He has a farmer's mentality. He wants to do things the way his father did them. So he wants my garden beds tilled every spring. There are just a few complications, however. Such as, where we live now has a small yard, so we put in raised garden beds. They are tricky to till with our big tiller. And, he hasn't actually gotten outside to do any tilling yet this year. Between looking for a job, and doing people's taxes, he is busy. We are grateful for the taxes, because it is income for us. But I learned years ago not to expect him to do a thing in the garden before April 15th. When we moved to this house 6 1/2 years ago, he declared his independence, he wanted to be done with gardening forever! I, however, love having fresh, sun-warmed veggies all summer long. So we agreed, he would build me some raised garden beds, and I would take care of them. The farmer in him kicks in and he insists you have to till before you plant. I tried to wait for him to till, I really did. But the end of March was coming up, and it would soon be too late to plant peas. So I went out yesterday, while it was nice enough weather for a wimp, and I stirred up the dirt with my handy little weed hound gadget. And I planted my peas. And a bag of onion sets. And they will taste every bit as wonderful as they would have if he had actually tilled the garden beds for me. We will both enjoy them thoroughly. . . once he forgets that they weren't tilled first.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My first blog

I have been thinking about starting a blog for a while now. The technology has always scared me, but I am going to be brave and try it. My husband lost his job on Jan. 28, 2010. It was a complete surprise to us, we always thought his job was very secure. There were just too many budget cuts this year, and his boss decided to eliminate his job. He was given a letter to that effect, asked to turn in his keys and ID, and told to go home and not come back. We were in complete and utter shock. I was in a panic for the first month at least. I have thought about our situation a lot. We have spent years preparing ourselves for "something". We have worked very hard to be debt free, and we have a good food storage put by. I grow a garden and can, freeze, or dehydrate what we don't eat. We live a fairly frugal lifestyle. While this situation is difficult for us, I don't want to dwell on the negative. I want to focus on the things we do that help us through this situation. Thus the title, Sufficient for Our Needs. The subtitle might be, A Celebration of Frugal Living. I have spent years learning and practicing frugal living, and now it is time to share some of my ideas with others.