Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pantry Challenge #5 ...2015

My week started off so good, I was busy at home … my favorite place to be … getting things done, everything was going as scheduled … until mid week when everything started changing and my time at home came to a screeching halt! 

What happened … two funerals and an emergency call to take someone to the hospital that turned into an all day event.  As a result I didn’t get much done and those low-carb super bowl snacks I planned to cook, well, they didn’t happen either.  My husband was so sweet; it was his idea for us ‘not to worry about making any super bowl snacks.’  He said we could just have our normal after church Sunday night meal.  I love that man!

Before we get to what I got done this week please allow me to say thank you to everyone who purchases anything through the affiliate links on A Working Pantry.  When you make a purchase through a link you click on on A Working Pantry, I earn a small amount at no cost to you.  It does not add anything to the price of the item for the buyer.  I am feeling my way around trying to make a small income through blogging.  It was not my desire to turn my blogging into an income source but recent financial events have made us have to look at things differently.  Like I said, I am going slow, I don't know what I'm doing ... I'm reading and researching.  I do not want A Working Pantry to be full of pop-ups and advertisements.  I ask your prayers in this endeavor and I thank you for your support.

Let’s see  now, what did I got done this week before things started happening….

My to-do list from last time:  
Continue canning pinto beans?    Didn’t get done!
Get those collards out of the garden and into my pantry via canning!  Didn’t get done!

In addition:
We used the last of the orange juice in the refrigerator and I simply opened the freezer and removed a can of concentrate to let thaw and make into another jug of orange juice.  I am so thankful for our well-stocked pantry!
My husband found some coupon packets from last Sunday’s newspaper at the post office.  He brought them home to see if there were any we would use.  Some of the coupons had already been clipped but I was still able to get some that we can use.
I started a jar of ginger tincture. 
I added more newspaper to our compost bin.
I made up some more vitamin c capsules using this capsule machine and this vitamin c powder.  I knew I was getting close to running out but it was one of those things that I just kept putting off until a more convenient time … well, I ran out!  So, I stopped everything and made up some more … with it being cold and flu season and with me having ongoing respiratory issues I didn’t want to not be taking my vitamin c capsules.  Am I the only one that keeps putting off things that must be done until you can’t put them off any longer?
I earned enough Swagbucks for a $5 Amazon card and am well on my way to another one. 
I completed 2 Pinecone survey’s this week.    
I got this quiet book page all completed except for the little bit of handwork that needs to be done.

I’ve got another God is soooooooooo good update regarding our current situation.  Last week I told you that due to paying off one of our medical bills, we now had $20/month that we could budget for groceries each month.   Well, we received a reward offer … no strings attached … for being a loyal customer … in the mail from our cell phone company this week.  My husband called and sure enough there were no strings attached … it truly was a reward for being a loyal customer … what was the reward?  It was $20 off of our bill every month!  We’ll take that $20 and add it to our grocery budget every month. 
In addition I mailed in the last payment on two more medical bills which means beginning next month we’ll have $40 more to add to our grocery budget. Our grocery budget has now grown from $20/month to $80/month and we are praising God!   
I contacted our insurance company and was able to get our health insurance premium lowered $272/month starting in March.  The increase that went into effect the first of the year was over $400/month, getting it lowered $272 was an answer to prayer ... I did a dance of joy and thanked God profusely when I got off the phone. 
I’m not done … my husband was unexpectedly given a donation for conducting a funeral this week.  My husband is a minister and never charges for doing funerals and turns down offers of ‘payment’ when they are offered.  When he was offered ‘payment’ this time, as was his norm, he refused it.  The ‘giver’ wouldn’t accept his refusal and insisted that he take the ‘donation.’  Little did we know that the very next day we would need it while helping a 97 year old lady that needed us to take her to the emergency room.  God is so good and His provision is right on time, every time!  
So where do we stand in our financial crisis?  With the increase in our health insurance the first of January and with the loss of one of our sources of income, also effective the first of January ... we were facing an $863/month income change not in our favor.  With the $272/month health insurance adjustment and ... with the $60/month from making the final payments on 3 medical bills we've been paying on and ... with the $20/monthly reduction in our cell phone bill reward ... our $863 reversal is now a $501 reversal.  We continue to work and pray to offset this amount.
Here's hoping next week gives me some more of that wonderful time at home so I can get back to my pantry to-do list!

Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:
Continue canning pinto beans
Can collards

Make turmeric capsules

Now it’s your turn, what have you done to build up your pantry or live frugally?
I want to leave you with this thought ... when I looked into the faces of those I came into contact with this week who had lost their loved ones to death and saw the sadness and sorrow in their eyes, I was reminded all over again of what I try so hard to live.  People are more important than things, building a well-stocked pantry or anything material that we might find to fill our life with.   While I didn't get anything done this week toward adding to my pantry I did get to reach out to others in their time of need ... you just can't put a value on that!

I'm posting this a day early so I can have tomorrow evening to enjoy the super bowl with my husband.  I'll be watching the commercials and working on a hand stitching project while he gives me a play by play account of each thing that happens ... and we'll be enjoying our normal after church on Sunday night meal ...which is EMFH otherwise known as 'every man for himself' thanks to my wonderful husband.

Are you following along with my ‘This is Why!’ series.  The comments from the last entry, part 3, are fantastic!  If you haven’t read them, do yourself a favor and go do it right now!

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Q & A: Making Lemon Extract and Lemon Zest

I recently received the following question after a reader read this post ... 

You mentioned making lemon extract from lemon zest or peels. Could you share how you do this?
First I wash my lemons in the fruit/vegetable wash found in this post.
If you have a zester, zest your lemons.  If you don't have a zester, remove the juice from the lemons and thinly slice them.

 Be sure to remove the white portion underneath the skin.  This has the tendency to make your extract and zest bitter.

After the 'white' has been removed if I'm making lemon zest (or if you used a zester and zested your lemons) I dry the lemon peels/zest in a warm oven, let the sunshine dry it  outside if it's warm enough or in a dehydrator.  Once the lemon peel/zest is completely dry, if I zested the lemons, I let it cool completely and store it in a container,  It is ready for use.  If I did not use a zester, I chop the dried lemon peel using a food chopper and stored it in a container.  It is ready for use.

If I'm making lemon extract, I do not dry the lemon peel/zest but add it to a half-pint jar.  I fill the jar almost full and cover the contents with vodka.  I fill the jar almost full because I want a real lemony flavor.  I let it sit for 6 weeks shaking a couple times a week.  When the 6 weeks are up I strain out the lemon peel/zest and start using out of it as needed but I also continue to add fresh lemon peel/zest to it as I have it, straining out the old used up lemon about every 6 weeks.  Like I said I like a really strong lemon taste in my extract, if you don't then the continuous replenishing of lemon peel/zest is not necessary.  When my jar gets half used I start another half-pint.

I hope this is helpful!

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She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon orders.  I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay and it helps me keep my pantry well-stocked!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you. Thank you for your support through these means. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This is Why! part 3

Parts 1 and 2 can be found here.

Beginning with this entry and for the remainder of the series I’m going to be sharing with you some practical ways that I build and maintain my well-stocked pantry all the while eating from it daily.  These are all things I have done or am doing.

In this entry we’re going to concentrate on leftovers and how I use them to add to my pantry.  What! You didn’t know you could add to your pantry using leftovers …!
Let’s get started, shall we?

1.      I save the bones from fried, baked or from deboned chicken … both cooked and raw.  I add them to a freezer bag I keep in the freezer.  I even add the bones leftover from a meal we've eaten after the chicken has been eaten off the bones.  Don’t go ‘eeewwww’ … they’re going to be frozen, cooked, and pressure canned.  Nothing’s going to live through that!  When the bag of bones is full, I dump it out into a pot of water, add a little vinegar, raw garlic and onions and bring it to a gentle boil.  I let it boil gently for 2 – 3 hours then let it cool, strain out the bones and vegetables and pressure can it in quarts or pints.  I have also frozen it if there wasn’t enough for a canner full. By doing this I add nutrient rich chicken broth to my pantry. 

2.      I do the same thing with beef bones … both cooked and raw.   By doing this I add nutrient rich beef broth to my pantry.

3.      Before we leave broth, let me add that I also do this with raw vegetable peelings … I don’t add the vinegar though.   I make sure that I wash the vegetables really well with a vegetable wash.  This is the one that I make and use.  By doing this I add nutrient rich vegetable broth to my pantry.

4.     I make freezer convenience meals by filling up freezer/microwave trays like these with leftovers and adding them to the freezer part of my pantry.   I’ve even been known to cook extra so I could add a few freezer/convenience meals to my pantry.  I let them thaw in the refrigerator then pop them in the microwave to heat and then eat. 

5.     I keep an ongoing soup bag in my freezer.  Every morsel of food is precious when building up my pantry.  Not enough leftovers for another meal … only a tablespoon full left … no problem … I put it in a freezer container/bag and continue to add to it until the container is full, then use it to make a pot of soup or pot pie, or add to a casserole, etc.

6.     I use leftover raw vegetables from the garden … you know the ones that get too big such as cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, etc or that are left over from a big canning day … maybe I have a cup of raw green beans left. It’s not enough for another canning, not enough for a meal so I stick them in the dehydrator, dry them and then grind them up using a coffee/spice grinder like this one or a food processor/chopper like this one.   The end results are that I add the powdered green beans to my ongoing vegetable powder jar.  I do the same thing with tomato peelings.  I add all kinds of raw/dehydrated/ground up vegetables to my vegetable powder jar on an ongoing basis.  What do I use vegetable powder for?  I sneak small amounts into meatloaf, meatballs, casseroles, hamburger patties, soup, vegetable patties, etc.  Great nutrition from something that usually goes to waste.

7.     I use leftover peelings from lemons.  I wash lemons in the vegetable wash mentioned above.  I zest the lemons then either make lemon extract out of the zest or dehydrate the zest to add to my pantry as dried lemon zest.  I add two things, lemon extract and lemon zest to my pantry from the lemon peels.

8.     I use leftover orange peelings to make dried orange peel for use in recipes using the same method I use for lemons.  I add dried orange peel to my pantry from leftover orange peelings.

9.     I use leftover pieces of fruit to make fruit powder just like the vegetable powder in #6.  I use fruit powder in smoothies and fruit based deserts

10.  I make apple cider vinegar using leftover apple peelings.

11.   I make apple jelly from leftover apple peelings.

12.  I make peach jelly from leftover peach peelings.

13.  I make pear jelly from leftover pear peelings.

14.  When I fry bacon, I strain the leftover grease and put it in a freezer container to use for seasoning purposes.

15.   When I have just a little bit of buttermilk leftover from a cooking project I pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it.  When it is completely frozen, I pop it out and add it to a freezer container for later use.  When I get ready to use it I let it thaw in the refrigerator, stir it up and use as if it were fresh.

To sum it all up, from leftovers I add chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, freezer/convenience meals, lemon extract, lemon zest, orange peel, vegetable powder, fruit powder, apple cider vinegar, seasoning grease, buttermilk, jelly and bags of ingredients for making soup or casseroles.  Pretty good for leftovers, don’t you think?  

Okay it’s your turn, how do you use leftovers to add to your pantry?  Your comments are what will make this series more helpful so please share your wisdom.

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27
My other blog:  She Hath Done What She Could

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon orders.  I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you. Thank you for your support through these means. 

Q & A: Low Carb Super Bowl Snacks

Here's another request that came after I posted Pantry Challenge #4 ... 2015 ...

Request:  I would love it if you would share your low carb Super Bowl fare.

Answer:  After changing to a low-carb lifestyle 9 months ago, my husband and I mostly eliminated grains, pasta's, sugar and rice from our diets.  We  still enjoy the occasional splurge but for the most part those items are no longer in our diets so, with the upcoming Super Bowl this Sunday and with our limited budget, I needed to come up with snack foods that would fill both our diet restrictions and that could be made from things we have on hand.

Here's what we'll be enjoying after we get home from church while my husband watches the game and I watch the commercials:

These Buffalo Spiced Nuts ... I have pecans and peanuts on hand so that's what I'll use.

These Pecan Tassies ... So glad I have everything in my pantry to make these ... they look delicious!

These Nacho Meatballs ...  I'm pretty sure these are going to be a big hit!

A Super Bowl 'watching' is not complete without chips and dip so I'll take some Joseph's Bread, cut it into small wedges, place it on microwavable plate covered with parchment paper and 'bake' them for 60 seconds in the microwave.  They come out crisp and dip able.  For the dip part I'll make up a guacamole dip using frozen avocado from the freezer part of my pantry.

That's what we'll be having, what low-carb things are you having for your Super Bowl fare?

Come follow A Working Pantry on Facebook HERE.
      You can also follow me ... on Pinterest!

She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon orders.  I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay and it helps me keep my pantry well-stocked!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you. Thank you for your support through these means. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Q & A: Canning Pinto Beans

I recently received the following request from a reader …

Request:  I wish you would share your recipe for canning beans.

Answer:  Here’s what I do:

1.        Wash beans and drain.

2.      Add washed beans to a big pot and put 3 times as much water as you have beans.  For 7 quarts of beans I use between 6 – 7 cups of dried beans.

3.      Bring pot of water and beans to a boil and let boil for 3 minutes.

4.      Turn heat off, put a lid on the pot and let sit overnight.

5.      Wash and sterilize jars and get lids and rings ready for use.

6.      Fill each jar ¾ full of beans.

7.      Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart (1/2 teaspoon salt for pints).  Here’s where I add any optional things like cayenne pepper and/or seasoning meat.

8.     Fill each jar to within 1 inch of top of jar with liquid from pot … finish with water if not enough liquid from pot.  (I always have to add additional water.)

9.      Remove air bubbles, clean rim of jars, add lid and ring.

10.  Place in pressure canner and process at 10 lbs of pressure for 90 minutes.  (For pints process at 10 lbs pressure for 75 minutes.)  (Consult a reputable canning book for pressure poundage for canning in your altitude as it may be different than mine.)

11.   Remove from canner and let sit for 24 hours.

12.  Remove ring, wash outside of jar, label and sit on pantry shelf.

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A Working Pantry
She looketh well to the ways of her household … Proverbs 31:27

My other blog:  She Hath Done What She Could

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate link when placing your Amazon
orders.  I earn a small percentage that doesn't increase what you pay and
it helps me keep my pantry well-stocked!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.  This means that if you 
click on the link and place an order, etc I earn a small fee at no increased cost to you.
Thank you for your support through these means. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pantry Challenge #4 ... 2015
I have been amazed at the response to my new series This is Why!”  I never dreamed that so many would be interested in a summation of what I do to keep a well-stocked pantry.  “This is Why!” is a summation of what I do … each week’s pantry challenge here on A Working Pantry is the day to day living of that summation.  It is my prayer that one will compliment the other and that many will be blessed by what they read.  Look for part 3 of “This is Why!” on Wednesday and don’t forget to share with others about it!

Okay, so what did I get done this week?

My to-do list from last time:  
Continue canning pinto beans.  Done!   I added 7 more quarts to my pantry and there’s still more beans in that bag.  We are now at 39 quarts from this one 25 lb bag and it’s still not empty! 
Can collards.  Didn’t get done!  Must get to this task this week … Must!  Must!  Must! 

Bargain shop to restock my pantry.  Done!  Here’s what we purchased with our unexpected blessing from last week:  we found more of the Libby’s pumpkin, 29 oz cans for $.91/3 cans and purchased several more cans of it; we purchased peanut butter; a gallon jar of Mt. Olive whole pickles; pecan halves; peanuts; meat (beef and pork); cheese; cooking spray; toilet paper; dishwasher powder and paper towels.

In addition:
Our chickens are finally starting to come out of their molting!  It sure seems like they’ve been molting a lot longer this year than others.  In years passed we didn’t completely stop getting eggs during their molting season … this year we did.  Our chickens are 2 years old and I was seriously considering sending them all to my pantry via the pressure canner … until they started laying again!!!!
I started saving egg shells to add to the soil for when I plant tomatoes in the spring.  I’m letting them dry in the green house and will crush them when I get enough at a time to make it worthwhile.  I hope to have a bucket full of crushed egg shells by the time I need them.  The egg shells will add calcium to the soil which helps prevent blossom end rot.  I also like to add a banana peel to the soil for added potassium. 
I printed off this and this free Christmas cross stitch patterns.  I want to make these up into miniature pillows that can either be hung on the tree as ornaments, on garland, on a door wreath, as part of a centerpiece or to fill a basket for display purposes.  The possibilities are endless and I have plenty of cross stitch supplies on hand to complete these and many more cross stitch patterns.
I earned enough Swagbucks for a $5 Amazon card.   One of my daughters shared some things with me that she was doing to earn Swagbucks that I wasn’t doing.   I hope to increase my earnings in this area with her tips.
I completed a Pinecone survey. 
I washed up 3 of these glass candy jars to store fabric scraps in to make the string quilt I mentioned last week. 

I am really enjoying Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup which is where I’ve spent most of my ‘other than the Bible’ reading time this week.

I’m staying on target with my read through the Bible in a year daily readings!  YEAH!!!!

I had a request to stitch up another little apron for a little girl that we claim as our ‘local granddaughter’ … they are not related to us in any way, we love them … 'they' as in a little girl and a little boy … yes, they are twins … and they love us. Anyway the little girl asked for an apron … for her and for her brother.  I told her I would make one with ruffles for her and one without ruffles for her brother.  My sewing to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer.  Must get these projects done before gardening and yard work season gets here!  We really need to have a’ BIGGER than previous years’ garden this year.

I stitched up these two quiet book pages.  Aren’t they cute?  I have several more different pages to do!

I was digging around in my embroidery supplies and found this little cutie.  I stitched this up several … and I do mean several … years ago but never did anything with it.  I’ll turn it into a miniature pillow to add to the other ones I’m working on.  It's approximately 3 inches on all sides.

It’s time!  Time to start thinking about the garden we’ll plant this year, time to decide what to plant, where we’re going to plant it and when to plant it.  It’s time for the 2015 gardening season to begin for us!

Here’s something I didn’t do:
 I didn’t linger over ‘sale offers’ that landed in my inbox this week … I hit the delete button as soon as I recognized what they were.   If I give in to temptation to spend money not budgeted then that means a bill is not going to get paid and we don’t even want to think about going there!!!!!

Here are some questions I received 
Question:  Can lemon juice be canned?

Answer:  Yes, I’ve never canned it but, Jackie Clay from Backwoods Home Blog/Magazine gives the following instructions here: 

Can lemon juice be canned?

Yes, you can home can lemon juice, just like you can any other kind of juice. Simply dump it into a stainless steel or enameled kettle (lemon juice is acid and reacts with aluminum and iron), heat it till it just simmers, then ladle it out into hot, sterilized jars.

Fill to within 1/2" of the top and process pints and quarts in a boiling water bath canner for
15 minutes (either pints or quarts). — Jackie

Question: Can you re-can black olives?

Answer:  Yes, I’ve done it several times.  You will need to pressure can them for 60 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure in pints or half-pints … and in case you’re wondering, I’ve never had them to turn out mushy!
Upcoming Menu Challenge: Super Bowl Sunday snacks using what we have on hand.  In previous years we've had money to purchase 'extra's' for Super Bowl Sunday, but not this year. However, we're not going to 'do nothing' so over the next week or so my challenge is to come up with low-carb snacks, without buying anything, that we can munch on after we get home from church that Sunday night.  My husband will watch the game, I will watch the commercials and keep the finger foods served up!  It's our tradition and one we look forward to every year!

Here’s my pantry to-d0 list for next week:
Continue canning pinto beans?  I’m beginning to wonder just how many quarts of canned pinto beans you can get out of a 25 lb. bag!!!! 

Get those collards out of the garden and into my pantry via canning!

Now it’s your turn, what have you done to build up your pantry or live frugally? 

A Working Pantry

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This post linked to:  From the Farm Blog Hop; So Much at Home
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