Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pantry Challenge #34 ... 2014

Before we delve into what I've gotten done this week, I want to take some time and clarify some misconceptions that some seem to have about my pantry. 

First, it seems that some are under the impression that we have a big house with lots of room  … we don’t!  We live in a small 925 square foot house … we don’t have a basement or a root cellar that could be used for food storage either.  Yes, I would like to have either of those things, but I don’t and I’m not going to let the lack of them stand in my way of having a well-stocked pantry.

Second, I don’t have an official pantry room, my pantry is scattered throughout our small house in creative ways.  I utilize a closet we turned into a pantry, baskets that not only work for d├ęcor but also as storage, I keep our cabinets de-cluttered and utilize their space to the fullest.  We have one upright freezer and another small chest freezer that was given to us.  I use book cases, popcorn tins, tubs under the bed and in the closet for pantry storage.  I utilize every possible space without making everything look cluttered and unkept.  I don’t like clutter and piles of things sitting around so I get creative in ways to store my pantry items.  My husband says I can pack more into a house than anyone he has ever seen!   I consider that a compliment, especially when what I’m packing in is our pantry! 

And third, we eat out of our pantry daily!  We don’t just keep adding to our pantry without ever taking anything from it.  My pantry is our store and we shop from it for our meals and other things we use each and every day.  In order to keep my pantry well-stocked I grow a garden, watch sales, shop frugally, glean, preserve food, swap and when necessary, make do with what I have.

So, if you’re using any of the excuses I’ve given above for not having a well-stocked pantry, stop!  You don’t have to have a big house and lots of room in order to have and keep a well-stocked pantry … I don’t!   Your home doesn’t have to be cluttered and piled with pantry items … mine isn’t!  What you do have to have though is knowledge, a willingness to learn, a willingness to work and a willingness to think outside the box.

So what did I do this past week to restock my pantry … let’s start with …

My to-do list from last time:  

 Continue canning pinto beans … Done!  I added 7 quarts to the already 11 that I canned last week.   Thus far I’ve canned 18 quarts from the 25 lb bag and it’s not even half empty! 

Our power went out last night right in the middle of canning the pinto beans.  It was too late to start the canner again by the time the power came back on so I put the jars of beans in the refrigerator overnight, put new lids on and processed them for the full 90 minutes this afternoon.

Grind up another bag of pecans and add them to the jar I keep in my refrigerator all the time.  Done!  I now have 2 quart jars of ground up/chopped pecans in my refrigerator waiting for use.

In Addition ….

We were in Food Lion one day and as is our custom checked the meat counter.  We found lamb on clearance at about half price.  The lamb was going out of date the next day so my husband asked the meat manager if they would go any lower on the price.  At first the meat manager wouldn’t budge, but then he decided that if we would buy several he would discount them more.  We purchased 3 semi-boneless legs of lamb for $2.81/lb.  Regular price was $6.99/lb.  We brought the lamb home and set to work cutting it up, marinating and packaging it.   We added 10 packages marinated, seasoned lamb ready for skewering to the freezer part of our pantry.

I keep a jar of garlic olive oil in refrigerator all the time.  After my husband used most all of it for marinating the lamb, I needed to make some more.  Here’s how I do it … Take a one quart wide mouthed jar and fill it ¼ - ½ full of whole peeled garlic cloves.  Then fill the jar up to the neck with olive oil. Put a lid on the jar and sit it in the refrigerator to let it do its thing.  It’ll be ready for use in 2 – 3 weeks and will last a long time in the refrigerator.

We use this garlic oil for cooking, marinating and for earaches … earaches?  Yes, earaches … take out a small amount of garlic oil, warm it and drop it into the ear canal.  If there is any kind of bacterial issue going on, several applications of garlic oil over a period of time will help clear it up.  Disclaimer:   I am not a doctor, I’m only sharing what works for us, please consult a physician before trying this remedy and of course, if you are allergic to garlic or olive oil, don’t use this method at all!

Nothing went to waste with those leg of lambs, after my husband removed the meat from the bones I added them along with water, a little vinegar and some garlic in a crock pot and let it all simmer for 24 – 48 hours.  I strained it up and canned 9 pints of healthy bone broth.  (We gave what was left of the bones to the dogs!)

We had $9 in Rapid Rewards from Walgreens that we earned on Black Friday last week.  We stopped in at Walgreens on the way to church on Wednesday and picked up 3 cans of salmon which costs us $1.09 out of pocket and left the store with $4 in Rapid Rewards still yet to use.

We stopped in at Walmart on the same evening and found large plastic bags of over ripe bananas for $.25 each bag.  We bought 6 bags!   Each bag probably held 4 -5 lbs of bananas each.  That’s a lot of bananas!!!!  What did I do with that many over ripe bananas?  I peeled them, sliced them, filled snack bags with them, put the snack bags inside a quart size freezer bag and froze them.  I added 118 snack bags of banana slices to the freezer part of my pantry.  I’ll use them in smoothies.  Each snack bag will make one smoothie!

My husband got a phone call one day from a neighbor.  The neighbor had been fishing and wanted to know if my husband would clean and dress the catfish he had caught for half of them.  The answer was yes!  We actually wound up with more than half and got 5  packages for our freezer plus enough for a meal.

That same day my husband brought home a large bag of sweet potatoes that he had been given by another neighbor.  They had already cured and were ready for use.  I washed them, partially baked them, let them cool and then froze them.  When we’re ready to use them I can either finish baking them and eat as baked sweet potatoes; slice them, fry them and make gravy to go over them; cut them into French fries and finish cooking them; cut them into wedges, season them up and cook them or finish cooking them and mash them up to use in casseroles.  I added 25 various sized sweet potatoes to my freezer.

As you can see the Lord has blessed us abundantly this week in our pantry re-stocking!

The specific area of my pantry that I’m focusing on restocking for the months of November and December is baking supplies.  This time of year most stores run sales on their baking supplies, so it’s a good time to do some replenishing.   Here are the items I will be watching sales for:

Butter

Sugar-free chocolate chips … added 4 bags

Coconut oil … added 2 jars

Olive Oil

In other news:

I worked some more on getting the Christmas decorations completed using what we have.  I have just a few minor things to complete and then we’ll be all set to enjoy them through the holiday season.

We’re continuing to work on our Christmas puzzle a few pieces at a time … and having fun in the process!
 
When our power went out last night we grabbed our battery operated emergency lanterns, lit candles and settled down to wait it out.  Keeping plenty of batteries and candles on hand for an emergency like that is yet another area of my pantry that I diligently keep watch over.
 
Two years ago my husband and I had accepted the fact that, according to doctors, we would never be grandparents. We had accepted that it was just not part of God's plan for us and were moving on with our lives. One morning this week our third grandchild was born! With God all things are possible and we are praising Him for yet another gift that we thought we would never have.

Here are some things I didn’t do …

I did not do any cyber Monday shopping.  My inbox was flooded with great deals all day long, and I was able to resist them all without much effort until one came along that I really wanted to take advantage of.  In fact, I even went so far as to fill out the shopping cart on the site … I was going to get free shipping and greatly discounted prices … as has become my custom I walked away from the computer for a while to let the deal rest in my mind … 30 minutes later, I still wanted it … 1 hour later I still wanted it but I was beginning to question whether it was a need or a want … 2 hours later I still wanted it but knew that it was not a need … 3 hours later I deleted the shopping cart and clicked out of the site.  I don’t always deny myself things that I want, but there are times when I do.  Someday I will own those items, but this is not the right time financially and that’s okay.  Sometimes being a responsible adult means we need to say ‘no’ to ourselves.  Just because we have funds to purchase something at a given time, doesn’t mean we should.  Sometimes there is a bigger picture involved that will have much larger dividends in the future when we do the best financial thing.

Here are some questions I received this week …

Question: I am interested in knowing what you do with, and how you use ground up pecans? 

My answer:  I grind up pecan halves using a small cheap 'old as the hill's electric food chopper that I've had for years and years. It still works so I'm not in a hurry to replace it. We use the ground up pecans in waffles, pancakes, in baking and as an ingredient in toppings.

Question:  What do you do with ground up pork skins?

My answer:  For health reasons, my husband and I eat low-carb.  If you know anything about carbs you’ll know that breads are loaded with them so when a recipe calls for bread crumbs we substitute ground up pork skins which have little to no carbs depending on the kind you use.

Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:

Continue canning pinto beans

Re-can two #10 cans of tomato sauce

Now it’s your turn, what pantry related and/or frugal things have you done since we last talked?

 
Patsi  a.k.a. grandmommie pat

 
 

 
This post linked to:  Simple Saturdays Blog Hop; From the Farm Blog Hop; Home Sweet Home
 
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