Monday, October 21, 2013

Last of the summer harvest (frost advisory for tonight)

Clockwise and spiralwise (is that a word?), starting with the pile of three, upper left:
Green, ripening to a deep oxblood red sweet pepper, that has such a rich, flavour that it's simply indescribable. I keep opening the dehydrator and popping some chunks into my mouth. There's a reason you are not seeing a pile of them, I had to beat the hubbin off with a stick to be able to let them get ripe enough to seed save them. They are called Sweet Chocolate and it's kind of true.
Next up Ancho Pablomas, these babies are HOT HOT HOT and have a smoky flavour without having seen a smoker, which is a good thing, because I don't have one :( ...yet.
Black Hungarians, medium hot, with a sweet lead in that slowly builds up to a nice, warm crescendo with practically no burn. Probably my favourite hot pepper and not just because they are black, ripening to a deep, rich red :) on nice, compact plants and look lovely.
Black Hungarians, last years open pollination, it worked :).
Sweet little pepperlings, don't know what they are called, but they are really, really sweet, the candy of peppers, and simply adorable on the plant. Upright habit, and you can't really see it here, they go from a creamy white to purple to orange to deep red and are probably the most ornamental peppers I've ever planted.
I call the next set jalapeno looking sweet peppers, they are very flavourful, sweet and mild with no heat at all, very nice, they are from seeds I saved from a pack of sweet peppers from Sams Club if you would believe it. Experiment: successful, so far, let's see what happens next year :D
Then we have White Bullnose, they ripen from a creamy white through purple streaks to a deep red and the flavour changes from buttery to this very rich paprika flavour I've never experienced in a fresh pepper.
Purple peppers that are white on the inside, want to say they are purple beauty, but could be wrong, open pollination from last year, seed from one lone survivor of the drought, and the taste is completely worth the effort of nursing that one through :)
Basic green pepper, except these are a heirloom variety (Emerald Giant, didn't quite make it to red) as well, and I can tell the difference. The pepper flavour is complex, there is a sweetness to these that I have never tasted in a commercial pepper and they are more fragrant than anything I could buy at the store.
Then black jalapenos, they pack a punch and again, the complex flavour is worth dealing with the heirloom for this one, it was a new one for us this year and we'll be planting it again along with all of the varieties you see here. I will be trying a few other ones next year, just to add a bit more variety to the pepper game, but ultimately I want there to be 10 to 12 varieties.

I'm saving the seeds out of all of these, and for peppers that's easy to do: cut open the pepper, take out the seeds and dry them until a seed breaks when bent, then store them away, I keep my hoard in jars in the freezer :D. Make sure you lable your seeds well throughout the entire process, or you might wind up like me, calling your seed packs 'pretty little pepperlings' ;)

We've gone from this

 to this. Fall is well and truly here.

That's all I got for now,
Happy Pinching

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quickie update, gratuitous dinner pic and an announcement

First things first: I have reactivated my Etsy store, as of this writing I have a grand total of three items listed (impressive, no?), the link is here, in case you want to check out my handiwork. I'm still working on the picture taking thing, so I'm not real happy with that. Moving on.

That's what I have been working on, mostly.

I also boiled some potatoes, let them cool enough to peel them (this counts as a break around here because I do it while watching TV), then shredded them, mixed in some seasonings (chili powder and powdered onion, FANCY!) and some cheese sauce (about a cup of milk to three cups of shredded cheese, heated until pour-able), cut up some hot dogs (don't judge) and threw that concoction into the oven at 350 for a half hour.

There was a third pan...

I think that the whole shebang is giving us 24 portions for less than $10 ($3 for the potatoes, $1 for the hotdogs and $4 for the cheese, give or take a few), and it's my favourite kind of dish, the one dish meal :D

Here's what happened in my kitchen yesterday: Potatoes were cut up, blanched and then set to dehydrate for fries later, I'll finish that post when they come out of the dehydrator.
And I made this:

That's 6 lbs of ground beef, two quarts of beans, homecanned of course, about a half gallon of cut up onions, a bit of home baked bread turned breadcrumbs, and about 18 eggs. With the application of 350 degrees and about 30 minutes we are left with this, much more appetizing looking result:

There's actually 4 more pans of this. 72 servings. I'll take it for under $20 and about 2 hours of actual work, if I consider the cutting of the onions and the mixing of the meat and other ingredients. Pack that up with a side of salad of some sort and both the hubbin and I are quite happy for lunch. That reminds me, time to put the last lettuce seeds in the ground. Never done. ;)

The other non-homesteading thing I have been working on is my facebook page for this blog (is that circular reasoning?) and the Etsy store, It only took me 5 months to hit that button, so no procrastination here...

That's all I got for now,
Happy Pinching

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Braindump post that is only marginally related to homesteading

I love to be creative. 
I sew, I experiment with how I cook (no, really?), I make things from scratch, I try to build things out of what I have on hand, rather than buy something (I always feel like I am taking the easy way out when I do that), I sometimes work with training my cats to do stupid cat tricks, in short, my inner science geek comes out to play and I do physics and math and psychology and physiology and geometry in my kitchen and sewing room and the back yard. And that's before I start to pull the ceiling panels out of the RV (ask me about how much I love the rain we've been having) and try to figure out what kind of engine is in that beast so I can fiddle with it and keep it running. 

But I digress.

I have been incredibly slackful about something that I really want to do for a while now. And every time I gear up for it something shiny comes along and I let it fall by the wayside and skip off into the newest and most improved sunset.

That thing is my etsy store. I have one. I have listed items in the past, I have made sales there. I have stuff ready to go. So why isn't it up and being maintained? Because I get sidetracked like a fruitfly with ADHD, that's why. Well, no more.

I will have inventory listed and items in the works by October 18, 2013. That is my pledge to myself. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pressure canning dry beans - My no-soak, no-pre-cook method

This is what a lot of my recipes look like. Thorough, no?

OK, it's that time of year, where I still refuse to turn on the furnace, still have the windows open all day and night and the thermostat reads in the low 60s for most of the day. I've taken out the sweaters and there's two comforters on the bed.


Only problem is, I went down to the basement and lo, there were no more canned beans. Only dry. A lot of dry. I hate cooking with dry beans, it takes forever and it's really rather tedious.

So while I was down there I grabbed a few jars of dry beans (I don't leave them in the bag they come in) and the pressure canner. OK, it actually took three trips, it's how I get my exercise.

WARNING: This is not the USDA recommended method, it is how *I* can dry beans. I find it to be easy, simple and effective. I can see no way in which it would be bad or not work if you follow these instructions, it produces what is to me a firmer and better end product than the recommended version of soak, cook, then can, which makes for (again, to me) soggy, mushy beans. If you do not feel comfortable canning beans this way or if you prefer your beans softer than this, please refer to the USDA guidelines, even with soaking, cooking and then canning beans you will save money and time and have a product that is healthier than commercial canned goods with additives you don't want or BPA in the can.

Here's the procedure:

Assemble: Beans (any kind of dry beans will work, in this instance I am using navy beans and chick peas), clean jars and lids and rings, pressure canner (you must not water bath can this, beans are a low acid food and will not be safe to eat if water bath canned), water, seasonings if you are so inclined, lid lifter, jar lifter, a few towels and a clean cloth.

Check your canner for functionality (nothing lodged in the vents, seal is supple, it's clean), this is different for every canner, so please follow manufacturers recommendations.

Put your jars into the dishwasher and run the drying cycle (I have mentioned that I am lazy, right?) or, if you don't have a dishwasher, put them into a sink of hot water. This is just to warm up your already clean jars.

Set your lids in a pot of water on the stove to simmer.

Sort and rinse beans (however many you are going to can,). I measure them before I rinse them and then again as I put them in the jars. Use a bit of vinegar in the rinse water if you are so inclined, I do to make sure they are clean.


sorting and rinsing the pre-measured beans

Let the beans drip dry while you line up however many jars you are planning on canning. Make sure jars are clean. It doesn't matter if you use wide mouth or regular mouth, I tend to use wide mouth because they are easier to get the beans out of when we use them, but as you can see, either works. Make sure to check your jars for cracks and chips, especially around the rim.

My canner takes 7 quart jars

Put about 3 inches of room temperature water into your pressure canner and set the bottom into it. Do not turn on the heat yet.

Fill each jar with either a half cup (for pints) or just slightly less than a cup (for quarts, seriously, like 3 beans less than a full cup) of rinsed beans. Add your seasonings (salt, onions, garlic, pepper, chili powder, up to you, I add a bit of salt, usually)

One tsp of salt per quart is all I add

Top off with room temperature water (I use filtered for this, because it will be what we eat) until there is an inch of headspace left.

Needs a bit more water (actually, the bottom of the ridge on the jar is an inch, but to make sure it's right I measure with the blue thingy that has a name I cannot recall right now)

Dip your clean cloth into the water you are simmering the lids in (careful, this is really hot) and wipe the rims of the jars clean with it.

It's a lid...uhm...magnet

Using your lid lifter, set your lids on the jars and finger tighten the rings. Finger tight means nicely tight, but not so tight that you are straining.

Place the jars in your pressure canner.

Once the canner is filled to capacity, close the lid and turn on the heat.

When you have vented steam for a solid ten minutes, put the weight on the vent and let the pressure build up.

This might be the best $10 I ever spent. It's an adjustable weight 5, 10 and 15lbs

When the pressure reads 10lbs*, start the timer (75 min for pints, 90 min for quarts)  and then keep the pressure at that level.

With the 10lb weight rocking and the pressure gauge reading at a solid 10lbs it's time to start the timer. 90 minutes for the quarts I'm doing 

Any adjustments you make to the temperature must be gradual, large drops in pressure will affect your product, you may lose moisture and the jars might not seal or even break.

When your timer goes off, turn off the heat and let the pressure normalize on its own. While that is going on,

Notice how the pop up button on the right is down, the pressure is down and the black safety valve is flat, that's what you wait for before taking the weight off and opening the canner. And be careful of the hot steam that is still in there.

Arrange a towel on your counter away from drafts, so that you can

set your jars on the towel when you lift them out of the canner to cool for about 24 hours.

The rings only look like they are on there sideways :) Also, I underfilled the jars a bit, not a big deal.

Wait for the ping.

In case you are wondering, YES, I'm a dork.

After a few hours you can check if the jars have sealed, tapping on the top is my preferred method, a sealed jar will sound a nice, high note, an unsealed jar will sound dull. Final test is trying to lift the jar by the lid if it sounded dull. And I tend to err on the side of caution and put the ones I am not sure about in the fridge for immediate consumption or the freezer for later (another reason to use wide mouth jars, they can be frozen).

Quick before they all seal:
Sound test of a different kind

Take the rings off for storage! Always take the ring off for storage of canned goods.
Crud accumulated under the ring can cause mold and rusting and if the ring is on and the jar didn't seal right it can hold the lid in place while the contents ferment and then re-seal, and that's the kind of thing that can (will and has) kill people. Don't eat canned goods that have the rings still on. Not worth it.

Voila, canned beans. With ingredients you can pronounce. And really quite easy to do.

Quick bit of math:

One pound of beans runs anywhere between $0.89 and $2.49 around here, I don't buy them at more than about a dollar on principle, but in the interest of fairness, let's say one pound costs $1.50.

That pound will fill 3 quart jars (plus a half pint), so that's less than $0.50 in beans

Throw in the $0.06 for the two gallons of water I will use to process and fill the jars and the $0.11 for the stove usage and we have a total of $1.67 for three quart jars of beans for a whopping $0.56 for a large can of beans. If you can beat that price, do it. Stock up. Bring me some.

Realistically, because I buy beans for less than a dollar a pound I don't spend more than $0.31 per quart jar or $0.15 per pint of home canned beans. It's completely worth it for us, especially if I consider that I mostly can in the colder months, so there is a marginal gain in frugality because I am heating up the house while doing it. More math than I care to do, but the thought sure makes me feel all virtuous ;) <snicker>

One last thought: This method lets me throw in a quart or a pint of beans at the last minute when I am processing something else and have room in the canner. That doesn't lower the price of the beans any, but it does mean I am not running a partial load, so to speak. An hour and a half of the gas stove running costs me about $0.11 whether there is something in the pot or not.

That's all I got for now.
Happy Pinching

*At sea level, if you live at a higher elevation, please adjust your pressure accordingly

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Conserving Water for fun and profit

This is a more in depth follow up to this post.

I mentioned that we spent about $100 on a low flow toilet and shower head.

The toilet was because the original one installed in our house was a custom made item, that after over 50 years of absolutely no maintenance whatsoever gave up the ghost and leaked. From everywhere. And getting custom seals to fix the pink abomination* would have been more expensive than buying the basic model at local home improvement warehouse for all of $80 plus taxes and installing it, which we did ourselves and it was EASY.

The new toilet is a low flow model that uses 1.4 gallons per flush. Our old model used 9 gallons per flush. We pay $0.02969 (that's 3 cent) per gallon of water, so that's a total savings of $0.225644 or 22cent per flush.

The new toilet saves us more than a dollar a day in water.

We are actually really upset that we didn't change it out years ago. (staves off descend into the shouldacouldawouldas by focusing on the fact that we have now done it and it's over)

The low flow showerhead (which I actually bought with points from the credit card, but I'll count the cost for this exercise) took us from 2.8 gallons per minute of shower to 1.5 gallons per minute of shower. That's a savings of $0.038597 per minute of shower time, which at Pinch Manor pretty much adds up to at least $1.16 a day. Hey, we drink cheap coffee, we get to take looooong showers.** Your luxury allowances may vary :D

So with those $100 we are saving probably to the tune of $2.25 on an average day, which means that that investment will amortize in 44.44 days, or in a little more than a month.

I'll take it.

The point of this little exercise? Those pennies add up. And up and up. An average savings of $2 a day means that we are at this point (it's been over a month since we installed these) saving about $60 dollars a month or about $720 a year, give or take a few dollars. That is something that will show itself over the next few months in our water/gas bill which I have already adjusted down a bit (we were at $115 for those two, $85 now).

And the new showerhead, while having a lower flow, means that neither hubbin nor I have run out of hot water (40 gallons last a lot longer now) while contemplating life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the shower. This is a win for us.

Next water related projects we are saving up for: On demand water heater so we can pinch a few pennies out of the gas bill and a reverse osmosis water filtration system for our drinking water (not a savings in money, but in health)

That's all I got for now,
Happy Pinching

*our bathroom is the kind of pink that always puts me in mind of someone who has kidney failure and a really bad sunburn, not a pretty colour.

**at least until we can afford a hot tub, which you will know, because there will be water stains on this page

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Looking forward and planning for saving

We got our water/gas bill today and it made me ecstatic (with one exception, but that's a rant that doesn't belong here).

Yup. Building up the cushion for Winter, when I know our bill will be higher than our self-calculated monthly budget of $85 a month.

In case you are thinking of putting yourself on a monthly budget that is administered by the company that delivers your utilities, DON'T. Our self calculated monthly budget (one years worth of bills added up and divided by 12, plus a little bit) is about 20% less than the company calculated budget and I have never had to pay extra, quite the contrary, I can usually skip a month, which comes in handy in the summer when we go on vacation.

Here's how I get to have utility bills that tell me to not pay them:

How the heck is there already cat fur on this bill?

See the CR? That means credit. and yes, I overpaid our budget last month by a whopping $15, because I anticipate a rather cold, harsh Winter and want to go in with a solid, cushiony, thick layer of credit, so I don't panic about the cost of turning the heat up to 67degrees and don't feel like an utter failure for not starting up the fireplace each and every day. I tend to do that in months where the hubbin gets three paychecks, and bank the rest of that 'extra' money. It's a great way to build up some savings without feeling it if you can budget like we do.

If you look at the comparison chart the company provides (and it's accurate, I keep the bills and have checked) you will see that our consumption is almost half of what it was. We installed a low flow toilet and a low flow shower head to match our HE washing machine and dishwasher. That is the part that I have been waiting for, a full month of using them. I LOVE IT. An investment of just under $100, $80 of which was the toilet we had to replace or dig an outhouse (not happening)  and according to this bill that will pay for itself in less than half a year. WOOT.

The Pinch Manor budget is based on part of the hubbins income alone, and on 24 pay-periods, rather than the 26 he actually gets. We have the luxury (and we know it's a luxury) to have access to more funds when we need them, because we both work and our income is more than we spend. That last part is really the key. Spend less than you make, bank the rest or pay down on debt or invest it somehow (more on that in a little bit).

What you see on this bill is what I do with all our utilities. I have figured out what our average consumption is and I overpay that by a little bit (basically I round up to the next $5 increment). It took us a while to get there, and I started with just one of the bills and slowly built up a cushion. Now we are at the point where we basically don't pay utilities for July and August, and that's an extra roughly $600 I get to play with over those two months. And it's not hurting us over the rest of the year. You may find different ways to build in cushions for yourself, this is working for us.

Here's our budget:

CC for items listed as incl., I use the points to buy stuff 362.00
fuel incl $90
Cell phones incl $40
Groc incl $180
Amazon Prime incl $7
Magic Jack incl $5
Pet expenses incl $40
gas/water 85.00
electric 85.00
Cable 96.00
Insurance 70.00
Mortgage 730.00
other stuff/squish factor 30.00
Total Bills 1,458.00
Yearly expenses 17,496.00

Yes, we have cable. And cell phones. And Amazon Prime. And pets that cost money that we account for in the budget. How frivolous ;)

The line items you are looking for that are not here are clothing, entertainment and travel. You're right, they are not there.

Clothing:  I work from home, so my clothing expenses are microscopic to begin with and both myself and the hubbin are perfectly content with mostly wearing second hand items, augmented by some nice, classic pieces that serve us for years so we can actually cover our clothing expenses by sticking them in with our budget. No need to buy a new pair of shoes every week to be at the top of the fashion pyramid. We invest (told you we'd get back there) in quality. Costs more up front, true, but $300 spent on a good pair of boots that last for a decade or more and can be repaired is so much better than the accumulation of $35 boots bought instead. And because I view shopping as a sport and am rather competitive, I find some of those classic pieces for a few bucks.

Entertainment: Actually, it's sort of in there, because we have cable and hubbin goes and sees movies at the theatre every now and then. What you are not seeing is a line item for the fun things we do, because if we don't have the money for it we don't do it. It's that simple. Where I squeeze most of the money for this is actually our grocery budget. I allocate $180, but I beat that budget on a regular basis (I did mention I am competitive, right) and squirrel the leftovers away to have fun with. I augment these funds with money I make from side jobs, so not our regular income, which is fully allocated, but little things like selling books on e-bay or doing a custom job for someone.

Travel: This is something we love to do, and it's also something we don't budget for, on purpose. It's what we save for, part of why we pinch dead presidents and our joy in life. It's not part of the budget. It is, for us, the REASON for the budget. When we both generate and income, or when we have an influx of money, we do not adjust our budget upward, we put that 'extra' either toward paying off debts, retirement savings (if it's a long term thing) or we use it to go someplace or do something on our bucket list. In the last few years that's been our one summer vacation.

For some people the reason to budget is because they have to make ends meet, which is actually how we started down this path, for some it's to send their kids to college, or a myriad of other reasons that are all their own and that's how it should be. For us being able to do what we want is the reason we are sticking with a budget that I have been told over and over cannot work for anyone.

I might be slightly contrary, I love it when people tell me something I am doing ever day of my life is something that can't be done. ;) Actually, that is quite possibly the greatest motivator for me, the fairly constant reminder to stick to being frugal and to continually look for more ways to squeeze a few more bucks out somewhere. I get quotes for car insurance every 6 months, we switched our cell phone providers and refinanced the house twice in one year, we call the cable company every six months like clockwork to see if there is a deal to be had, and we watch our credit debt like a hawk with OCD. It's a lot of little things that keep us on track and I find satisfaction in being able to do it. And that's kind of the key to doing it long term. You have to have a passion for it.

And you have to work together and compromise... The wailing and gnashing of teeth when I cancelled cable was causing strife and so we got it back. It's completely worth the $1152 a year to have a happy hubbin. It would be a bargain at twice the price. Just not sure I would be able to stick to 'below US $17,500 at that point, though, there's probably not enough fat left to trim... mmmmh.

That's all I got for now,
Happy Pinching

Friday, October 4, 2013

How do we eat well on a food budget that is less than a dollar per person, per meal

One of the things I try to keep in mind when going grocery shopping is to try to keep the cost of the raw materials of food I purchase under $1 per pound.

Now, that's not what I pay for the meats we eat (unless I find a really, really good deal), so I have to make up for it with other items.

There are still some things I don't grow for a variety of reasons (the cole crops hate our garden, except for kohlrabi, no clue why), so I buy them in season and put them up or only eat them when they are in season and available fresh and locally sourced. Nothing wrong with that. It REALLY makes a difference in both price and quality, so it's the ever elusive win-win I look for in all things.

I also buy my staples in bulk, so flour, rice, beans, rolled oats and barley in 25lb or 50lb bags, straight from the grainmill in some instances. 50lbs of rolled oats for $18 really stretches the budget a whole lot, 'cause that's half a years worth of weekday breakfasts with only the addition of fruit or cinnamon and a little bit of sweetener (homemade maple syrup from our own tree, usually, and that is free, because I cook it down over a fire in the back yard while holding off the neighbours with a pitchfork) thrown in.

Quick bit of math: 2 people, 5 breakfasts each every week, that's 260 (3 oz, which is about a cup dry measure) portions that cost just under $0.08 each. Even if I used Evian (which I don't, spell it backwards, do!) and with purchased flavourings , I'd still have a breakfast that gets us going for under $0.30 each. Not a bad start to the frugal day.

Now this hypothetical (actually, more typical here at Pinch Manor than one might think) day goes on to include a sandwich for lunch, call that another $0.80, because I am feeling generous and we are left with a whopping $1.90 each or $3.80 for the two of us for dinner.

3.80 won't buy you a whole chicken for dinner, but it will buy you a dozen eggs, some potatoes and other veggies, for a filling, protein rich meal with leftovers for another two meals (check here for what I'm talking about) and money to put toward tomorrow so you can buy a whole chicken and make a few meals out of that (I'll do a full on post about how to stretch a chicken later, promise).

The Swiss Chard plant that has been keeping us in leaves and stalks since May

one of our five 12x4 raised beds, Tomatoes, peppers, nasturtiums, watermelon (already harvested and YUMMY) and bunching onions. 

And it didn't take me all day in the kitchen to do it, either.

Rolled oats take a bit longer and are slightly more chewy if made with the boiling water we already have heated up for our morning coffee (under $0.20 for the whole carafe), but we both like it that way, so that's a few seconds extra, the sandwich takes minimal time (you knew that) and dinner ($0.42 per serving) took about a half hour to prep, time in the oven another hour and a half and we ate by 7:30. for a grand total of...

wait for it...

$3.24 for the two of us, out of a budget of $6.00, which leaves us with $2.76 to carry over to tomorrow to give us $8.76 for the day. $0.60 for breakfast, $0.20 for the coffee, $0.84 for lunch, which will be leftover dinner from last night and we have $7.12 for dinner. Now THAT will buy a whole chicken.

It's doable. It's not lobster, caviar (yick) and champagne (why would you?) every night, but it's good, wholesome, hearty food that tastes as good as you make it and has exactly the ingredients I put in it.

One more thing: I don't talk about our beverages much. It's because we drink water or tea or lemonade, the occasional soda is a treat and we mostly brew our own alcohol and recently we started making our own sodas, as well, so it's pennies. Especially when we glean an entire tree worth of pears, juice them, then use the leftovers to make compote and vinegar.

That's all I got for now.
Happy Pinching

Thursday, October 3, 2013

HEY, what smells good? Could that be nameless item of a food-type variety?

Looks good, too, and smells simply divine, but then I might be biased...

What we have here is

one dozen eggs, beaten into complete submission ($1.32 because I get them in bulk)

8 medium potatoes (free-ish, grown from ones I would have thrown out because they had gone all soft and sprouty, which is *SO* a word)

a few leaves of chard (definitely free, because I've been harvesting that one head of chard since May, so that one seed has DEFINITELY paid for itself)

some onion greens I cut off the bunching onions that are finally popping in the garden (slackers and let's call it free, the onion bulbs are still there, after all)

a few leaves of herby yumyum out of the garden, two kinds of Basil and some strawberry spinach that self seeded itself in a pot (Not entirely free, I did buy one of the Basils as a microscopic little plantling, so call it $0.05 for the 4 leaves I plucked off that one)

Spices and home made ranch mix (call it $0.50, even though it's probably closer to a few cent)
-a few pinches of black pepper, a few of ground fine oregano, a sprinkling or 5 of ground garlic, basically seasoned to taste and in our case to repel vampires, it is October...

an hour and a half in the oven, so maybe another half a buck? ($0.50 but it's probably much closer to the national average of $0.11)

at least 6 meals for $2.37, let's be fair and amortize the cast iron enameled crock and the miscellaneous items I am counting as practically free and call it an even $2.50, which is still only $0.42 per meal, and that's if we absolutely gorge ourselves. There's a lot of food in that pot, and it's really quite filling.

Calling it a win. Especially because those potatoes were in danger of following their 'parents' in becoming soft and sprouty (we've had this argument, it's completely a word, trust me), so this is actually mostly a braggathon about using something up that was in danger of going over to the dark side.

I don't have a name for this dish, because let's face it, not only did I make it with stuff I had laying around, I also probably will never re-create it exactly like this ever again. It's kind of how I cook.

The basic underlying principle here is that you take some eggs, season them up in a way that you know will appeal to your palate (if you've never done that, go easy, you can always add more, taking out is a bit more difficult), then beat them like they cut you off in traffic, add some cut up potatoes (the smaller the pieces the faster this will cook), some other veggies you have on hand (chard, peppers, onions, green beans, zucchini, asparagus, you get the idea), cut those up into manageable pieces and stir the whole thing, then pop in the oven at 350 for an hour and a half, or less, depending on how deep your dish is (mine is pretty deep and it's kinda full) until the potatoes are tender and the egg has set, a toothpick is rather helpful in determining this. No eggy goo and goes in nice and easy: It's ready to devour, which trust me, you will want to :)

That's all I got for now.
Happy Pinching

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Things found in the basement closet we didn't expect and couldn't immediately identify...

Can YOU???

How about now?

Yup. That's Potatoes.

Neither one of us wants to admit to sticking them in the closet, but between us we have definitely figured out that whoever put them there and then put a box of empty canning jars on top of them (finger pointing is still happening, but since it worked out in a weird, cool way I might take credit ;) ) did so in early fall of 2011.

I'm gonna let that sink in for a moment. It's OK, I'll wait.

Yes, your math is correct, that's about two years ago. We're pretty awed, actually. I mean holy macaroni, that's two years of sitting there.

I THOUGHT last year that I was missing some of my seed potatoes. I just figured that they had been eaten or something. I do know that this years seed potatoes are going straight into that closet.

To quote a movie I have liked since it first came out: Nature will find a way.

That's some staying power right there.

We're planting these babies tomorrow and we will be coddling and nurturing them through the winter (I'm thinking the window next to my desk with a grow lamp). I NEED those genes to perpetuate themselves in my garden, so I can eat their offspring for many, many years to come.

Two years of sitting in my basement in a closet, under another box, with no light, no water, limited airflow and these things are alive and going. Can you tell I'm pretty amazed?

Also, apparently we have a pretty good root cellar environment going on there. This makes me happy.

And not to be forgotten: Hubbin pulled out that box of quart sized canning jars, just in time for this years potato harvest (these guys second cousins? How does that work?), so what doesn't go into the (apparently magical and conceivably linked to Narnia) basement closet will be dried, then stored in jars. Want to know how, check here.

K, that's all I got for now.
Happy Pinching.