The Complete Tightwad Gazette

tightwadOur financial situation has changed quite a bit over the last several years.  We’ve had to tighten our belts, loosen them a bit, tighten them again, and just when we thought things were getting better we had to tighten more.

I’ve pulled out The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn to re-read.  It’s a compilation of the bygone newsletter The Tightwad Gazette.  The book is a bit outdated, and while everything she presents in her book may not apply, the book itself can be a good read to find ideas to apply to your situation and put you into the frugal mind set to come up with your own ideas. It’s one of the books I think everyone could benefit from reading.

Amy’s personality made being frugal fun, not drudgery.  Her wisdom and experience really helps you refocus the way you see things.  One of the things I like about this book is all the creative ideas for repurposing.  I have to be careful, I have a tendency to save everything thinking it could be useful one day. lol

The book also has recipes.  Here is a recipe we like from The Complete Tightwad Gazette for Bean-Bacon Chowder (just in time for fall!) I make my own versions of this quite a bit.

Bean-Bacon Chowder

6 slices bacon, cut up
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
2 medium potatoes, peeled
1/4 tsp crushed dried thyme
1 22-oz jar of baked beans or substitute homemade
1/4 cup snipped parsley

Cook bacon and onion in a saucepan until bacon is lightly browned and onion is tender. Blend in flour. Add milk; cook and stir until bubbly. Dice potatoes; add with thyme, 1 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes or till the potatoes are done. Stir in beans and heat through. Top with parsley. Serves six.

Genesis 41:35-36 – And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.

Recipe: Pancakes from Scratch

pancakerecipe1aMy grandmother’s cookbook. Even though the copyright is 1946 (the year before my mother was born) I use it often.  The pages are a bit brittle and yellowed, the cover is loose…but it is always the first place I look for recipes.

THIS is my main pancake recipe.  So versatile, I switch it up using fruit, seasonings, make it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  We actually have these more for dinner than breakfast.  By request.  Hubby loves pancakes. I also use almond or coconut milk since I’m not supposed to have dairy and I use honey instead of sugar.  And pancakes pancakes1aare frugal too.

Honestly, homemade pancakes don’t take much longer to make than boxed pancakes and taste so much better in my humble opinion.  And the fresher your ingredients, the better they taste.  And did I mention they are frugal?

Here is the recipe for you:

pancakes2aSWEET MILK GRIDDLE CAKES

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon melted shortening

Mix and sift flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.  Add milk, well-beaten egg, and shortening and mix well.  Drop by tablespoons on a hot griddle, greased well, and brown on both sides.  Serve hot with marmalade or honey.

I’d love to hear about your favorite pancake recipe, and if you try this one, I’d love to hear how you like it.  Until next time…grace and peace!

John 6:47-50 
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.  This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.

Recipe: Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkinseedsWe don’t carve up pumpkins faces for Halloween but we do enjoy pumpkin recipes like pumpkin pie in the fall and at holidays. I bought pumpkins that I will be turning into pumpkin puree and put into the freezer.  I’m hoping to get this done today.  One of the great things for me about pumpkins is all the pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are one of the most nutritious and flavorful seeds around, and a fun, frugal snack. Roasted pumpkin seeds are not just great to snack on by themselves, but I also like to toss them into salads and even stir fries too.

Wash seeds and remove remaining pumpkin stuff from them. My grandmother always soaked the seeds over night in salted water. I don’t. lol Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread seeds on a cookie sheet sprayed lightly with oil, sprinkle with a little salt if desired, and place in the oven for about 30-45 minutes or until dried and lightly browned. Stir several times while they bake. Don’t over bake the seeds.

Another recipe is to coat the seeds in melted butter or oil before baking.

You can season the seeds with any kind of your favorite seasonings. I really just like the lightly salted ones…but hubby likes them spicy hot…so I’ll coat some in his favorite hot sauce before I bake them. Seeds will keep for a couple weeks or so in an air tight container…but ours never last that long.

Recipe: Pumpkin Bread

2014-10-08pumpkinsa

Baking local grown pumpkins to make puree.

I’m not a fan of pumpkin spiced everything.   I do, however, like homemade pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. My Aunt who recently passed away mid September gave everyone pumpkin and banana breads every Christmas.  I looked forward to that every year.  Quite a few years ago when we were going through some hard times and money was tight, I took that idea and started baking Christmas gifts including pumpkin bread. I even shared my homemade honey wheat bread and Amish white bread with my Aunt at our family Christmas. But pumpkin bread is one of my favorites and is a favorite of several in our family. Here is the recipe I use.  It isn’t my Aunt’s recipe, never as good as hers because of all the love she put into it, but this is my favorite recipe to use and it makes delicious bread.  It makes three loaves and I think it tastes even better when you use fresh pumpkin puree.  It isn’t hard and you don’t have to use pie pumpkins.  You can use any good pumpkin.  Just cut it in half, clean out the pumpkin guts, and bake in a 350 F oven until tender.  A knife will go through it easily.  Scoop out the pumpkin, let it drain for a while in a cheese cloth lined colander, then freeze.  I freeze mine in 1 cup portions.  I’d love to hear what you think if you try this recipe, or if you make your own puree.

Ingredients

3 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups white sugar
6 eggs
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour three 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.

In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves then stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to one hour. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.

Recipe: My Granola

OK…I really don’t have a real recipe.

I typically use whatever I have and just mix it together. But I do have a ratio I go by.  I have found that 8 cups dry ingredients to about 1 cup wet ingredients works the best. But you can play around with the ratio and find what works the best for you.

For dry ingredients I usually start with at least 3-4 cups of rolled oats. Don’t use quick or instant oats…they don’t work well for granola. From there you can add dry ingredients like your favorite chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans etc.; favorite seeds like sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, ground flax etc.; coconut (I use unsweetened); wheat germ etc., you could even add cereal like rice krispies if you like. Add more oats if needed.  For wet ingredients I like to use honey, maple syrup and/or molasses with a teaspoon of vanilla (or your could use almond extract), and a generous pinch of salt. You can add a 1/4-1/2 tsp. of your favorite spices like cinnamon (it is easy to over spice, so less is more to start!)  1/4 cup of your one cup of  wet ingredients should include your favorite oil (or you could use butter if you like). Coconut oil is my favorite for granola.

Mix together all your ingredients and bake on a large cookie sheet or other baking pan. I use a big roasting pan. The lower oven temperatures work the best…about 250-300F. Bake about an 1 hour until granola is lightly browned, mixing every 10-15 minutes or so.  Let it sit for a while in the oven to cool.

Once your granola is cooled you can add about 2 cups of your favorite dried fruit like raisins, apples, cranberries, etc. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks…if it lasts that long!

Do you make your own homemade granola?  If you do, I’d love to hear how you make yours.  And if you’re trying it out for the first time, I’d love to hear how it comes out!

Recipe: Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

ggma

Our birthdays were a few days apart so we celebrated together…she even wore our homemade birthday hats! I adored her and she remains one of my favorite people of all time.

Grandma was a wonderful baker and I was glad to have been able to spend time with her when I was younger.  I got my love of cooking and baking from her.  While I don’t have the frosting recipe she used, I do have her cake recipe.

Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Chocolate Frosting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter and flour two 8″ x 1 1/2″ round cake pans.  Line the bottoms with wax paper.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups of water.  Bring to boil over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; then pour into a large bowl.  Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until melted and slightly cooled.  Stir in vanilla.  Beat eggs into chocolate mixture at medium speed until combined.  Add dry ingredients all at once and beat at medium speed until smooth.  Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until top springs back when pressed lightly and toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cakes in pans for 25 minutes then invert onto rack to cool completely.  Set one cake right side up on a plate.  Spread 1/3 of frosting evenly over cake.  Top with second layer and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Recipe: Basic Brown Rice

brown riceI have been using brown rice for a long time with much trial and error. It is so much healthier than white rice and isn’t any harder to make. The World’s Healthiest Foods website says “The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3 and iron.” One cup of brown rice has 3 1/2 grams of fiber while the same amount of white rice has less than one gram of fiber. We all need from 25 to 38 grams of fiber in our diet everyday.

I buy my brown rice in bulk 25 lbs. at a time.  We eat a lot of rice and this will typically last us about 6 months.  If you are looking at long term storage of rice, brown rice wouldn’t be a good choice.  Brown rice has healthy, essential oils that cause it to become rancid quickly.  The shelf life is about 6 months.  My favorite place to store brown rice is in the freezer which gives you an additional 6 months.  But we usually finish it off before then.  While it is possible to store it longer in mylar with oxygen absorbers, it may give you up to two years.  Keep in mind, you don’t know how long that brown rice has been in storage before you get it.  Again, white rice would be a much better choice for long term storage.  Oh, and putting it in the freezer for a couple days after you buy it also helps keep those little bugs under control.

I have found for me the perfect recipe is 1 cup of uncooked rice to three cups of water/broth. Others recommend anywhere from 2 1/4 to 1 3/4 water/broth. Trial and error, see what works best for you depending on your stove and your cookware. One cup of uncooked brown rice equals about 3 cups of cooked rice. Be sure to rinse your rice good before cooking.  Recently I have been soaking my rice overnight, I have found that changes the recipe to 1 cup soaked brown rice to two cups of water/broth.  It also changes the flavor some.  Oh, and don’t stir rice while it cooks, it will become mushy.

Another method I found for preparing brown rice came from the Food Network (I really like Alton Brown’s recipes). Instead of boiling the rice, it’s baked. I can’t wait to try this myself:

1 1/2 cups brown rice, medium or short grain
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the rice into an 8-inch square glass baking dish.

Bring the water, butter, and salt just to a boil in a kettle or covered saucepan. Once the water boils, pour it over the rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.