Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trim the Budget: Sandwiches.. again..



I know I have done a “trim the budget” on making economical sandwiches in the past. Anyone who missed that blog post can find it here: http://homesteadinghomemaker.blogspot.com/2010/03/trim-budget-sandwiches.html  
But I have a new sandwich for today… A Ham Sandwich.. which is not that new, but I was pretty excited by my latest stash of sandwich meat in the freezer.. which of course was ham..

I bought a 6lb ham from Costco.




I cut off about 2lbs to use for sandwiches. I ran this through my food processor until I had small pieces (not ground up, just chopped small).



I put one cup of this meat into each freezer bag. One cup will make about 4 sandwiches is what hubby takes to work each week (one sandwich a day times 4 days). When I was done I had enough sandwich meat for 8 weeks.. not, bad… :)


One of the cups of ham I put in a small bowl to make into sandwich meat for this weeks lunch. I chopped up a bit of onion and added that and some mayo to the my lunch meat..

 

Yum…



Then it was time to make his sandwich. I had leftover hamburger buns that I had made from a sloppy joe dinner. I use my oatmeal dinner roll recipe for the hamburger buns and you can find it here: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/wwoatdinnerrolls.htm  I get 16 buns from that recipe. I toasted the bread, spread a bit of may on it and add some swiss cheese..


Then the sandwich filling….



Then a tomato slice and lettuce (from my garden :) and my sandwich was done….




Hubs said it was very yummy….



A couple of weeks ago I cooked a roast beef and ended up with 5 weeks of sandwich meat from that, this coming week I will cook up a large chicken and should end up with about 5 weeks.. and added to my now 7 weeks of ham lunch meat.. I think by the time I am done with that I won’t be having to think about my hubby’s lunch meat stock in the freezer until next year… haa.. haa…
 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday on the Homestead: IE, Hair Clips, Red Tomatoes, etc..

Wow.. the title of this sounds a bit disjointed! :) Well it is.. but they are a few things that have come to my attention in the last couple of days.


IE.. It is official.. I hugely DISLIKE Internet Explorer. It freezes on me and shuts down and restarts at will, it does not display some pages correctly, at times can take literally forever to load a page or completely abort the operation altogether, and other various annoyances that I could name, but won’t .. because if you use IE you most likely already experience some of this.. So after a lot of urging by my kids I made the switch to Firefox.. I tried Google Chrome and it was not bad, but Firefox has won. I think it took me so long because I just don’t like a lot of change in life.. I work more efficiently when I do familiar things repeatedly each time (like opening up IE when I turn on my computer in the morning). But there is a point where it is a way more inefficient use of my time to fight with something. So now I am a Firefox user and won’t be going back to IE! Any other Firefox users out there?  :)


I went into town yesterday and after a few cool days I guess I was just not thinking about the fact it was supposed to be in the 90’s. I have long hair and halfway through my shopping day I was feeling pretty hot.. Looked through my purse only to find I did not bother to bring hair clips.. had to stop and buy some.. little things like this bug me. I have this tote bag that I always pack before I go into town. I pack up things I might need for the day (like a bottle of water and some hair clips). So when I forget to do this little bit of pre planning I get frustrated with myself when I have to purchase stuff that I have sitting at home already. Just a reminder to myself to go through my mental “town checklist” the next time I leave.

Well it happened.. I went down to water the garden and there it was.. my first red tomato! There is hope! I may get tomatoes before the weather turns too cool. As I was looking through some canning books I was reminded that it will take about 30lbs of tomatoes for 7 quart jars of spaghetti sauce.. I was hoping to get about 25 or so quarts.. so I am figuring I will need about 120lbs of tomatoes.. we will see if this happens..

Today’s to-do list includes taking my son Jacob for his 6th and final drive with the driving school. If he passes the drive.. he is done! Then as far as I am concerned he still needs a few more hours of practice before getting his license. But at least the end is in sight and my three times to town a week trips will be done.

Then I have garden work to do when I come home. The weeds need some picking! Plus there is dinner to get made for the family.. thinking it should be something like bbq burgers since it is going to be another hot day..

That is all from my Homestead today.. Hope you have a great Wednesday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Making Homemade Egg Rolls


I love egg rolls. Awhile back I started making them myself and found out how easy they are to make. They are a bit time consuming but then again any food made one piece at a time is a consumer of time :).

The one prepackaged product I do buy for these egg rolls is the wrappers. I am sure if I worked on it I could figure out how to make them, but that seems way more time consuming than I am willing to go!

I can’t say these egg rolls rank up there with extremely healthy food, but I like to think they are healthier than what I could get in a restaurant (and way less expensive!).

First I make the filling for the egg rolls. Now this is the part that some may not like.. I don’t really have measurements…….

I usually start with one head of cabbage. But even that is a little tricky.. is it a big head or small or medium, etc.. I just buy what the grocer is selling. This time the head seemed medium but pretty dense. I also had about half a head of purple cabbage in the fridge that I added to this. Slice all the cabbage up in very small slices. I use my food processor for this job.

One large onion - I grate the onion up with my food processor

Several carrots, grated

Meat – this is optional. I have done it without meat before. In the photos here I am using some chicken and a little shrimp. I cut the chicken up into small pieces and then put it in my food processor for a few seconds to really get the pieces small. With the shrimp I just cut them up as small as I could.

Spices: I use soy sauce and oyster sauce (or fish sauce would work too, I’ve used either). You can buy the oyster (or fish) sauce in the Asian department of most grocery stores or at an Asian grocery store.

Egg Roll Wrappers – you will find these in the produce department of many grocery stores. If you don’t then try an Asian grocery store.

You begin by preparing all the veggies and mixing them together in one big bowl. I admit that I was making a LOT of egg rolls so.. yea, it is a lot of filling….



Then I put it all the veggies in a big pan with a bit of olive oil and cook it all up. When it has finished cooking I put it back in my big mixing bowl.


Then I cook up the meat with a little olive oil...




And add this to the veggies. I mix all of this together well and add my sauces.


I tend to go for less seasoned rather than overly seasoned. I usually put in twice as much soy sauce as oyster sauce. So I would start with 2T soy sauce and 1T oyster sauce and then taste and go from there. Add the sauces to the mixture:


Once I have my filling ready to go it is time to start making the egg rolls. I get out my package of wraps (I used two for this batch)


I lay them on a plate like a diamond. I also get a small glass of water for sealing them.



I put about 2T, kind of heaping in the center of each wrap.





I dip my fingers into the water and spread some on the edges of the wrap





 

Then I take the bottom of the diamond and fold it up.. adding more water if I need to so it seals




Then fold in the sides






Now I roll the bottom upward and fold the top down and seal with a little more water..






I lay these out on a large jelly roll pan, but any plate or cookie sheet would work. You don’t want them touching each other because they will stick together. After I have one layer on the pan then I put a layer of plastic wrap over them and stack the second layer on top.. I repeat for however many rows I need..


Now it is time to cook them up! I get out my large cast iron frying pan and heat up some coconut oil. I wait till the oil is quite hot. Then I add as many egg rolls to the pan as I can. I let them cook up for a couple of minutes or less. If your oil is hot enough it does not take long for them to get browned and cooked..


Then I carefully flip them over to cook on the other side.



I stack them on a large platter in the oven to keep warm. I work my way through all of them until I am done!!


My family loves these and I usually serve them with orange chicken and chow mien (a recipe for another day :)

 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Updates and Books

With green beans behind me now I patiently await the arrival of red tomatoes. I have tons of green ones so the question I have now is will they turn red before the weather turns too cool. I am hoping so because I have been nurturing these plants since the middle of March and I really want to see them all turned into spaghetti sauce!! :) I also have almost 200 corn plants as well that I am hoping will add up to a lot of corn on the cob in my freezer.

Here are some updated pics of my garden: 







 







































 I sure have done better in years past on the weeding, but this summer has kind of taken on a life of its own… teaching two kids to drive, heading into town three days a week for drivers ed, and having my honey gone a lot (he is currently remodeling one of our rentals and it needed everything replaced and redone. He spends just about as much time working on this as he does working his regular job) and this means that I am keeping the wheels turning here at home almost solo or so it seems :)… and there is always so much to keep on top of and get done. 



 One of blessings we are experiencing this summer is that our son Jacob is putting his 16 year old teenage boy talents, skills and energy to work to help us out. Normally Tobin spends the summer bringing in wood from around our property for the winter. We need around 6 cords but have made it on less with a mild winter. Tobin got started with this project prior to us finding out we would have a vacancy and a total change of plans for the summer. Since then Jacob (who always has helped dad in the past) has taken over the job. He heads out on the tractor with the chainsaw and brings in the wood. Then he cuts it up and stacks it in the wood shelter. So far he is about 2/3rds of the way done. There is nothing like real, useful, and necessary work to give a kid purpose in life and he seems to be enjoying the process and the knowledge that he is providing our family with something valuable and much needed! 
































On another note, my daughter Emily arrived back home last Monday!! We were so happy to have her back. She had been in So. California for 6 weeks staying with some wonderful friends. She came back tanned, excited about life and figuring out the next direction she wants to go. She came back home to take a mid-term test otherwise I think she might has stayed longer! LOL.. She really liked it in California. Besides working on her school work she did some volunteer work at an art center with kids and for the local city hall doing office work. Now she has a couple other “irons in the fire” and is ready to see what life holds for her next… aside from finishing the last 2 ½ classes for her degree.

Books
I know I have mentioned it before but I love to read fiction. I like non fiction too, but for me the best relaxation and vegging out comes when I pick up a book and get lost in the story.


My book tastes seem to run to cozy mysteries (think “Murder She Wrote” type stories), and forensic mysteries/thrillers (Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs are two of my most favorite authors), and plain ol “gum shoe” type stuff (think Perry Mason of days gone by).


I recently found a series of books that I have been enjoying quite a bit (and so has my daughter Leanne who is reading them as quick as I am finishing them! LOL ). They take place in a fictional town called Alpine Washington. Well that really hits home of course (however Alpine is outside of Seattle in the story, and I am quite a bit south of this) however, I have had fun reading the names of places that are familiar to me. These books would fit in the cozy mystery category. If you like this type of book you might want to check out the Emma Lord Mystery Series by Mary Daheim.

That is all from the Homestead today!! Hope you are having a great weekend..

Friday, August 20, 2010

Green Beans Again and Again..

In the last week I was able to get all my green beans picked and processed. Well, there are still a few growing but those will be used for eating now. The rest have been canned up. I got two more really good size pickings.

Here was the second picking along with my cheerful helpers who helped me to snap them…



I made a second batch of 3 Bean Salad and again got 12 quarts (technically it was 6 quarts and 12 pints worth).



Then I did the third picking last Tuesday…



While this picking was not as big as the last ones it still yielded me 11 quarts of canned beans..



I am happy that I am off to such a productive start to my canning season. I am
hopeful that tomatoes will be next. My 35 tomato plants are loaded with lots of
tomatoes, but for now they are pretty much all green.. so the question is, will
the warm summer weather hang around here long enough for my tomatoes to ripen? We will see… :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Canning Green Beans… and Cloth Napkins..

Green Beans
Early this week I was weeding and watering my garden and realized that my green beans were ready for their first picking. On Wednesday my boys and I went down to the garden in the morning and did our first picking. I was really shocked at how much I got! I have one row planted (a pretty long row at that).. and here is what we had after I got them all washed up and ready to be snapped…
























My husbands request every year is 3 Bean Salad (http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/3beansalad.htm ). He loves it, and so do I. My kids are not crazy about it, but that just means more for him and me! LOL.. Before going down to the garden to pick beans I got my red beans and garbonzo beans cooked up and all my veggies prepared. Then Sierra and Isaac and I put on some zippy music and sat down to start snapping the beans. When that was done I made up the 3 bean salad. I ended up with 12 quarts of it. I still had tons of beans left so I canned up those too.. and ended up with 14 quarts of canned beans and enough still left for dinner. It was one very long, but oh so productive day….





















Cloth Napkins
Well green beans from my garden and cloth napkins have nothing to do with each other, other than the fact that they are both part of a frugal life on my homestead.. But while I was taking a picture of my green beans on my dining room table I also took a picture of my little basket of cloth napkins (the basket, by the way, is from the Philippines, it was a gift to me from my sweet daughter in law)..















I absolutely love cloth napkins! I made my first bunch of them a few years ago. Since then I have made more as sometimes they are like socks.. you just never actually know what on earth happened to them.. ha, haa.. :) But regardless they are one of the best investments of time and money I have made to save money.

My little basket of napkins sits on my table ready to be used at each meal. I have a small basket on a shelf in my laundry room where we put the used ones and I wash them a couple times a week. I originally purchased much of the fabric for them from Walmart. Now that Walmart does not sell fabric I buy it at JoAnn’s. Even with the higher amount I pay for the fabric (gone are my $1 a yard fabric deals.. sigh..) I still find this to be a frugal thing to do. I can make 16 napkins from 1 ¼ yards of fabric.

I have some napkins that are several years old and still doing their job. I don’t buy paper napkins anymore (well not for our daily household use, I buy about 1 package from Costco every year and half or so and use them for spreading oil on my cast iron pans mostly) and at the rate my family goes through napkins every day it has saved me LOTS… If you want to see how I make them you can find the web page I made on this here: http://thefamilyhomestead.com/clothnapkins.htm

That is all for now from my homestead! Hope you are having a great week!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday on the Homestead

Today promises a wonderful day at home!  I have been in town both Monday and Tuesday so I am looking forward to today.  

I have a few orders to pack up and get to the post office and some household chores to do and with the help of my two youngest children we are going to tackle some weeds in the garden this afternoon.  As I was weeding the other day I thought to myself..  isn’t it funny, I have to nurture and take great care with my veggie plants, protecting them, feeding them and helping them along while the weeds (if left to themselves would destroy the garden) need no help at all to cause havoc..  I had to laugh a bit..  vegetable plants and weeds really paint some interesting life pictures.  They could be compared to our own lives or  raising children (nurturing and protecting) and the weeds themselves can be compared to sin in our life (if left to themselves the weeds destroy, with diligence the weeds are destroyed)..  Aww the quiet moments to think when doing tasks such as weeding!  ~smile~ 

Menu Planning
I have not been too good at menu planning lately.  We have had a several things come up that have made our life quite busy and dinner seems to be an afterthought.  I even forgot to post a July Menu Calendar and had several people email me to remind me.. LOL..  So I finally got that posted a couple weeks ago as well as the August (you can find my menu planning calendars here: http://thefamilyhomestead.com/menuplanningcalendars.htm .  One thing on my to-do list today is to get that menu calendar filled out!  When life gets the busiest that is when you really NEED to be working with a good plan.

Now to come up with a few new and interesting meal ideas.  I actually am not a real fan of variety and trying new things in the kitchen.  Not because I don’t like doing that (I do!) but because doing what I know and am familiar with is way more efficient for my time and money. When I repeat a lot of the meals we eat I know what to shop for and what I need to do.

All that to say when life gets busy it is not the time for me to play around in the kitchen too much..  but a little is in order to keep things interesting.  I always love finding some good tasting, frugal, healthy meal combination!  That is a hard category to fit food into nowadays! If I come up with anything real yummy I will share it with you! :)

So far tonight’s menu is pizza.  I have not made homemade pizza in several weeks and my son Jacob requested it and tonight seems like a good night for it.  



Printing Coupons On Line
Does anyone do this?  I just recently tried it out.  I had to download a little coupon printing program which took about 10 seconds and then printed my coupon.  Typically I really honestly don’t find a lot of stuff that I want when I look through coupons.   I don’t buy pre packaged foods and it seems like there are a ton of those coupons out there.  I don’t buy things like napkins, paper towels, Kleenex, etc..  So often it is a waste of my time to coupon shop. 

However the other day I found a great coupon on line that gave me $5.00 off some Scrubbing Bubbles (I would give the link but the coupon expired)..  The product cost $6.44 from Walmart and I used my coupon.  I was pretty pleased with what I got for $1.44.  Because I make several of my own cleaners often those types coupons don’t apply either, but gee.. $5.00 off was just a deal I could not pass up.  But I started using Scrubbing Bubbles for my bathroom tub and I am amazed at what a fantastic job it’s doing.  

Now I have a couple more coupons I printed from Targets website this morning so we will see if I actually remember to use them when I go shopping.. LOL..  a Coupon Queen I will never be..  :)

That’s all from the Homestead today.. hope you all have a great Wednesday!