Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Last Call of Summer

Hello Friends,
And a Merry day to you! What a beautiful, lovely sunny day we are enjoying here today. The sun has shone brightly and steadily for the second day in a row, with a gentle breeze tickling the trees, frolicking around bare feet and chubby cheeks. Drinking in the beauty of the lush grass and green leaves, knowing by the coolness in the air, all too soon Summer will fade away and in will rush Fall. How deliciously comfortable the weather is now, like a precious little gift with a fancy bow and my name on the tag. I shall gather my loved ones, merrily tie heart-strings and fully embrace this last bit of summer. Enjoy your day friends, I hope it is beautiful wherever you are~

Friday, August 20, 2010

Donut Holes

This is the third recipe of Jonni McCoy's, and the last for some time, that I'm blogging about. I returned the book yesterday, but not before taking a can of biscuits (the small, cheap variety), halving each one, frying them very quickly, for mere seconds on each side in very hot oil. I removed them to a paper toweled plate, then dipped and rolled in a bowl of cinnamon sugar. In no time at all we had a delicious and completely addicting snack for the whole family, 12 servings in all for $3. Not too shabby at .25 per serving, eh? I have to say, good as these were, it's not something I plan on making very often if at all. They seriously sent the kids into cravings, and myself. Not. Good.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day of School Time Capsule

Last week I found a paper amongst my photos that was unprotected, unthinkably. It had a tear in the side and was quite old. It was a finger paint handprint with a poem about leaving handprints on the walls and growing up when my daughter was about five-ish.....she is now EIGHTEEN!!! My heart ached so bad for a minute, then I quickly snatched up this treasure and put it in an album. What an unbelievable gift to have this now, and how sad I am that I do not know if I have them for every child or not. If I have even one from my 15 y.o. or 12 y.o. and I cannot be sure, I may not. Then I came upon a very very SWEET sheet that Monica posted on her blog, First day of school time capsule!! I am so glad she shared this find with her readers. How sweet this will be in years to come, for them as well as myself!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Miserly meal number two

Last night I made Jonni's baked chicken nugget recipe (page 102). Let me just tell you they were the BEST nuggets I EVER had!! So tasty and moist. The secret lies in the coating in mayo before the bread crumb mixture. I didn't measure any spices, just dumped in per my usual style. WOW At first the kids weren't too excited, guess they didn't have the look they expected nuggets to have. However it was love at first bite and every child ate them.

I used 2.5 lbs. of chicken breast to feed 7, and I am guesstimating it cost .72 per 4 oz. serving. Jonni's 2002 price was .67 so that's not too shabby for 8 years later. I actually got my chicken breast for a steal at 1.78/lb during peak grilling season. YEAH!

I also fried up some homemade french fries using 4 huge yukon gold potatoes. Prob. not the best potatoes for frying but they were very good!

So for 1.47 per plate, dinner was served.

I also threw in some green beans with margarine and almond slivers on top to round out the meal. Still under $2.00 each plate with the fancy green beans.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Miserly meal number one

Tonight's menu is Jam chicken and oven roasted vegetables right out of Jonni McCoy's Miserly Meals. Also, I am making a beer bread to go along with it. This beer bread I had a good year or maybe even TWO *gasp!* It's still sealed and perfectly good, so I mixed it up and popped it in the oven. It looks GREAT!! The beer was even free because our landlord (the guy, not the wife...LOL) gave us 4 bottles last night because he didn't like these. They are from Great Lakes brewing Co. and honestly, I tasted some, it's kind of perfect for the bread hopefully ;-) I am not really counting the bread toward the cost of this meal since I have had it for so long.

For the Jam chicken on Page 80, Jonni says it's .66 cents for a 1/4 lb. serving. This was in 2002, however, my guesstimate for today based on my shopping is .88, which is not too shabby at all!

As for the oven-roasted veggies on page 72, .57 per 3/4 Cup serving is the winning number. According to my experience, it is more like $1.00, which we have to admit, is pretty decent.

I said I wasn't going to mention the beer bread, but for curiosity's sake (watch out cat!) the total batch is $4, with 14 servings, coming out to slightly over .25 per serving, (and no I am not obsessive) including the beer as if we had bought it. Honestly, WHO are they kidding??? This really is going to be 7 servings, so let's call it .50.

Here is a pretty little plate for a hungry tummy, for the grand total of $2.38. Of course, we are feeding seven, but when you put it that way, it sure puts things in perspective. Also, since the beer bread was free, we could just call it $1.88. WOW.

My thoughts on Stepping Heavenward

I received my very own copy of Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss a couple of days ago, it arrived very shortly after ordering, which I was happy for! I started reading large portions right from the start, it was very captivating. I could identify with a lot of what "Katy" wrestled with coming to faith, as I had experienced myself.

An example of the aforementioned, is when Katy wanted to "do something big for God", and she was gently counseled by Dr. Cabot to "do everything you do for Him who has loved you and given Himself for you." --page 37

Another favorite is when she was so disappointed and harsh with herself and realizes her love, how it is so imperfect and so selfish, and in her own estimation, not worth her giving nor God's accepting. When she shared that with Dr. Cabot he painted a word picture for her, of a "little infant caressing its mother, would you have me say to it, "You selfish child, how dare you pretend to caress your mother that way? You are quite unable to appreciate her character, you love her merely because she loves you, treats you kindly? ...You are as yet but a babe in Christ. You love your God and Saviour because He first loved you. The time will come when the character of your love will become changed into one which sees and feels the beauty and the perfection of its object, and if you could be assured that He no longer looked on your with favor, you would still cling to Him with devoted affection".--P 38 To me this was powerful, and simple. Sometimes what can be difficult to grasp, can be made so simple with analogies, and I suspect that's why Christ favored parables in His teachings as well. How wise! and reassuring!

When Katy thought she should give up her pleasures of this world, for fear they may take her from her God she was counseled to go on singing. Her power of entertaining and gratifying her friends was given by God, but to "pray without ceasing, that you may sing from pure benevolence and not from pure self-love". I think that is an issue a lot of people must struggle with, and what a sound bit of advice given.--p. 48 It takes time and growth to find that balance, and I have not found it yet to be sure.

I love how it is made clear on p. 58 that the work of making one Holy is His work, not the individuals, and yet the individual must avoid laying hindrances in His way, and to exercise faith in Him as he is just as willing and able to give sanctification as He was to give redemption. How powerful, how true, and yet how easy to forget!! I have to remind myself of this very often as a fairly new Christian. I am finding this book very edifying and reassuring.

I find it amusing and at once sweet how she once dreaded Ernest, and later comes to love him so! His faults just melt away before her very eyes. ;-) I am relieved and so happy that her engagement to Charles came to an end with purity intact. The way she asserts her belonging to God above all and not wanting to become absorbed in marital love to the point of losing that shows her real heart for God. Also, it is frustrating to see how she longs for her husband, and him having no clue, choosing to confide in his sister and leave his wife alone so much of the time. And yet, when it is all brought out in the open in honest communication, no matter how difficult, mutual understanding is found and love is deepened.

Oh how much she wanted her lonely mother to move into her new home with her new husband and she, and how quickly that was thwarted. How well it was that she had a godly mother reminding her that it was God that had chosen to send her this trial, of father-in-law and sister-in-law coming into her home at the very start of her married life. How wise to remember that God is in control of all, and truly it is easy to see her mama's eyes were fixed on Him. What a godly example to follow in! As a reader, we can see points of Katy's character being challenged and molded, indeed often painful, as she is chiseled in her sanctification during these many trials.

There is much more that has touched me, as her attending the death of the woman and offering the last prayer before her passing out of this life into the next. How her eyes were opened to her husband's work as a ministry alongside sickly and dying people who need him.

I will close here for now. I am a little less than halfway into the book. I very much look forward to my reading time! Thank you Marqueta for suggesting this book, and hosting this month. =) Eager to hear your thoughts soon~

update: 8/6--
To hear how worn out and overwhelmed dear Katy is, in keeping up with all her domestic duties, I have to say it is exactly how I felt while homeschooling last year. I could be very sharp and short, yet hated myself for it; by years end I was ready to give up, and yet I could not be at peace with that decision. Wondering how it will work out with this book.....

update: 8/7--
I have finished this charming book. I went from feeling kinship with young Katy, understanding so many of her common yet difficult struggles within herself, to yearning for the type of mentor she came to find herself visiting and gleaning nuggets of wisdom from. Over time, I came to see the picture of 'iron sharpening iron' throughout her life, first as she sought wisdom from others, had many trying experiences that deepened her faith, and later as she passed doses of wisdom onto those with less experience than herself. What a beautiful picture as her faith comes full circle, and it was not lost on me that her writings, remain a sort of mentor still for those who read today.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

~Adventures in Sourdough~

**note: I have attempted sourdough in the past, using rye flour and it was soooo slow to become active, and sooo slow when rising to make bread that it came out smaller than I would have liked and waaaay too super sour. This time I am using whole wheat flour, and documenting the process.**

This morning, I began a batch of sourdough starter using GNOWFGLINS eCourse. I have a button for it on my left sidebar if you are interested. The great thing about this paid course is that they have a "pay as you can" policy. Therefore it is up to your discretion how much and when you pay. Each month you pay there is a free "gift" video for a new recipe. Mine today was sourdough bread bites. A sweet cinnamon, raisin, nut bread cut into snack size bars, made from sourdough starter. She said you could make it savory if you prefer by adding different spices and such. UM!

Day One, August 3rd, 9:30am:
I simply cleaned out one of my remaining 4 C mason jars, added 1/4 cup Chlorine free water. By the way, all it takes to remove chlorine from water is to let it sit at room temp for a couple days and the chlorine will dissipate and it will be ready to use. I used Poland Spring water, and it has set awhile so we should be golden, I hope!

Next I added 3/8 Cup of whole wheat flour. Simply use 1/4 cup, use one full scoop and then a half scoop. Mix well with a non-reactive utensil (I use the wooden handle to a silicone spatula personally because it works so well), cover loosely with saran wrap, set in a warm yet undisturbed, safe spot in your kitchen and you are on your way! I didn't take a picture, but I will update as I go through the process.

Feeding: Same day, August 3rd, 11:15pm, 13 hours after starting, I gave the starter a feeding before heading to bed. I added 1/4 C. poland spring water, stirred well, added 3/8 C soft whole wheat flour, stirred again and covered back up. Back to its corner it went.

This morning 8/4: Well 24 hours after beginning this starter, there are signs of life already! I am so pleased!! How rewarding to see your labors cooperate with you and produce something before your very eyes. I will be feeding my starter again in about an hour but first I took a couple shots to share with you my 24 hour old starter.

From now on when the starter is fed, we will remove half of the starter, to discard, and continue feeding as usual. It may seem wasteful but this is necessary until the starter is well established. Also, I change the container every couple of days so that I can clean them throughly. They get gross pretty fast. I change back and forth between a mason jar and a glass mix/pour bowl with measurements on it (thanks pampered chef--one of the 3 items I own and love by that company).

update-8/5/10--9:00AM: I forgot to feed my starter before bed!! This morning I saw a thin layer of hooch!! I stirred it in and then fed the starter. I think it's already very active from the looks/smell of it. I am so surprised how easy the experience is this time, with the whole wheat flour!!

Continue removing half, and then feeding your starter, stirring very well to incorporate air into your mixture before covering and setting aside for 12 hours. After about a week of a good process of bubbling, rising, receding and feeding you are ready to use your sourdough in some recipes.

Now that the starter has done it's thing for a good week, with bubbling, rising, receding and feeding, I am ready to utilize my starter to make some sourdough pancakes!

Rather than discarding half of my starter, I am going to add to it to double it. In the evening before bed I add 1/2 Cup of Poland Spring water and 3/4 Cup of whole wheat flour, stirring vigorously. Cover and place back in safe, quiet, warm corner. In 12 hours it will be ready for breakfast time!!

Once I use it for the pancakes, I will feed it again and continue in the Sourdough routine.

Sourdough pancakes and carmelized bananas


* 1 Cups sourdough starter
* 3 Cups soft whole wheat flour
* 3 Cups milk (nonfat dried is what I used, reconstituted)

Leave out at room temperature, covered overnight (12 hours max)

In the morning, mix batter well. In a separate bowl beat 2 eggs, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt. Gently mix into the pancake batter, but do NOT beat.

Ladel into hot skillet by 1/4 Cups. Cook until brown on bottom side, crispy on edges, and bubbles on top. Then flip and allow to cook on other side.

When pancakes are done, melt butter in skillet. Slice bananas and carmelize in butter. When hot and browned, top the pancakes with them. Add maple syrup and ENJOY!!!

These babies came out way too thin for my liking, and a bit rubbery when cutting. I usually use an old fashioned recipe and they are SO thick and FLUFFY. Lovely! However I wanted to add the health benefits of soaking, which is why I wanted to try sourdough. These had mixed reviews. Hubby and eldest son ate with no complaints. Younger sons didn't want to eat them. I would prob. also add a sweetener to the batter. There was just the right amt. of sourdough tanginess on a good note! When I figure it all out, I'll update this post.
This is my starter today, 8/9/10, 14 hours after being fed:

It's definitely doing it's thing....

....and now it's stored in a new home

I have noticed that my old-fashioned pancake recipe calls for baking powder, whereas this sourdough one called for baking soda. I'm going to give it an old try with the baking powder and see if that makes any difference.....stay tuned!
August 10th, 8:11AM--

This morning I had at it again, this time replacing the 2 tsp of baking soda with 2 TBSP of baking powder. I also used 2% store bought milk, and added 4 TBSP of sugar. Today's sourdough pancakes were a bit more fluffy and not rubbery so I will definitely remain with the baking powder! They also take a tad bit longer to cook through the centers. They had just the right amount of tanginess, any more and I wouldn't like it. I lathered them with a LOT of syrup for the boys because they are just NOT used to anything like that and I would rather give them a little extra sugar than have them refuse it. It worked. They ate them up and I know they had a super healthy breakfast with soaked grains. WOO HOO!

If you are the type who only uses your starter once a week, you can keep it in the fridge and simply pull it out, bring to room temp, and feed the day before you plan to use it. If you use it often, keep caring for it as you have been. Now that I have a well established starter, and made my first successful recipe, I guess that means this post closes! Stay tuned for other sourdough recipes to come as I make them.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

~Eating well while saving~

In order to meet our closing costs for our new home in less than two month's time, and an unexpected bank fee to lock in our rate due NOW, we are tightening our budget belts! This means being as frugal as possible, and eating cheap!! Our food budget is where we can save the most money since we really don't spend a lot on anything else, save gas for the car and household bills which we can't do much to change. We will continue conserving resources like we always do, and I am already not driving much as I need a brake job.

The meals I have chosen for the coming week are coming from 3 resources:

-Not Just Beans by Tawra Kellam

-Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy

-More-with-less cookbook


Sourdough pancakes

Quiche Lorraine

Peanut butter toast

fried egg sandwich

Simple omelette

basic muffins with jam


Pasta E. Fagioli soup with bread

tuna florentine

chicken turnovers

peanut butter & jelly/grilled cheese

hot dog w/mac and cheese

fried bologna sandwich with carrot stix

sheala's ham and noodles with peas


Jam chicken and potato salad


boston chicken with honey dijon vegetables

meatballs and spaghetti

baked chicken nuggets and oven roasted vegetables

chinese beef with egg noodles

meatloaf with green beans and coleslaw

homemade pepperoni pizza


banana smoothie

Orange jubilee

chocolate frosties

strawberry milk

easy donuts


zucchini bread

shoofly pie

I have chosen a lot of desserts and snacks. Normally we do not even have desserts, only once in a while. Yet, when we have very frugal menus and less free fruit around ($$) I try to have extra cheap treats so no one feels deprived.

Since I have a stock of meat in supply and some pantry items, this week we can get by with a minimal shopping list which should be less than $95ish for groceries to feed the 7 of us, which is great because all I have is $100.00.

Shopping List

peaches (if on sale)
tomatoes (only if on sale)

red bell peppers
green onions
small cabbage

2 boxes mac and cheese
1 pk egg noodles

granulated sugar
soft whole wheat flour

1pk hot dogs
turkey pepperoni
chicken bologna
3-1/2 ground beef
1-3/4 lb cheap cubed beef

cans of small biscuits



4 frozen O.J.
large bag of ice

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

~Adventures in Cheap Eating~

Well I have taken some time to peruse the Miserly Meals book I grabbed from the library yesterday. There are quite a few meals that sound good and agreeable to a typical family. After reviewing this book, I am looking for my own copy, and just entered it into my wish list on If I have no luck, I will probably buy a used copy from Amazon. I seem to have found this book at just the right time now that we need to come up lots-o-cash for the closing costs. We have some seller concession, though not the amount we were trying to get, so still need quite a chunk of change. WHEW.........

Here is the list of meals I have decided to try first:

--banana smoothies 3/4 cup serving @ .57 ea.

--oven roasted vegetables--1/2 Cup @ .30

--Jam chicken--1/4 C @ .66

--calzones--1 calzone @.34

--Boston Chicken--1/4 lb @.75

--Basic freezer meatballs--6 meatballs @.24

--Broccoli Beef--1 C @.64

--Baked chicken nuggets--1/4 lb @ .67

--meatloaf--6 oz @ .37

--honey chicken--1/4 lb @ .75

As I make each recipe, I'll update and show *actual* cost for the recipes today.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Looking Ahead

Today I took the boys and Felicia to the library. I came back super excited. I found 3 books to bring home, two that were a great find.

1-Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy

This book's copyright is 2002 and it claims each recipe comes in at .75 cents per serving or less. That certainly catches my attention! Even if the prices have doubled to 1.50 per serving now in 2010, that is still a good deal so I am looking forward to a few new ideas. I have read articles and such by Jonni McCoy in the past and gleaned a few ideas that were quite helpful back in the day. I don't necessarily buy into the "healthy" aspect, because my views on nutrition have been changing over the last couple years, yet in a pinch it is handy for cheap home cooked meals. Resources like this I have *always* appreciated in my adult years. I do plan on getting back to someNourishing Traditionsways of cooking once we get settled in the new house.

I am going to make some of the recipes in this book while we are still living here, and try to use up my pantry as much as possible in these next 3-1/2 weeks before moving to our new home. I'll plan to blog about what I cook up, and try like the dickens to remember my camera! Yeah, my poor camera with the dead flash....also meaning I need to cook while there is still enough sun to snap a shot by a window!!

2-The second book I am excited about is The Frugal Gardener How to haveMore GardenforLess Money (A Rodale Organic Gardening Book)

This book is jam packed with tons of great tips from how/where to get cheap plants, saving your own seeds, to building a simple fan trellis of your own. I am super excited about adding a little flower garden to the front of our new house, and I have never had experience that was positive from flowers the one year I tried them. This book is going to come in so handy! I know I definitely want peonies, dahlias and coneflowers. I would LOVE a blueberry bush and lilacs, and strawberries, and the list could go on and on! Now, off to research what will go well with those. Daffodils will be nice to see in the spring time, long before the summer flowers bloom.

The last book I checked out was Cottage Gardens, for some landscape ideas, just think, nice landscape of easy flowers and bushes means less mowing. haha! Off to devour some books now! Stay tuned for the cooking cheap experiments. Until next time, enjoy the rest of summer while you can~

This is my canvas:
I want to rip these shrubs out and replace with beautiful flowering peonies and dahlias!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

FREE Audio Books!!

Who doesn't love a good refreshing or challenging read? Even better, who doesn't love a FREE read? You can get yours here at Books should be free.