Archive for the ‘Frugal’ Category

Frugal Yoga

About three months ago I started practicing yoga on a regular basis.  Naturaly I didn’t want to spend any extra money on classes, nore do I have the time to take a class out of the home, but a friend pointed out to me that on the PBS2 channel there are several yoga programs that come on early in the morning. I’ve been looking to start some kind of regular physical practice so I thought I’d try it, and I’ve become a big fan of “Priscilla’s Yoga Stretches”.  Her programs are easy to follow and she’s very keen on not hurting yourself and not being intimidated. Her  Yoga program is like the “Slow Foods” movement’s version of exercise! I’ve also found on Netflix Instant Play several yoga programs for specific topics, like relaxation, aches and pains, strength and flexability.  You can also find yoga DVDs at the library. I really enjoy it because it feels good, physicaly and spiritualy. If you have alot of muscular aches and pains, you can also use yoga to reduce your dependency on pain medicine.  Why reach for the advill when you can use a few positions to loosen up your muscles all by your self? After all, reducing health care costs begins at home, right?   I look forward to yoga  every morning and I hope to can keep with it. When I’m as old as Pricilla, I want to look as good and feel as good as she does!


Home Made Fruit Leather

Greetings! I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time. The summer got away from me,  and so did my garden.  It’s a shameful mess right now.  I am so looking forward to cooler weather this fall. That said, I have been making apple butter and fruit leather from my apples and I did harvest about 9 lbs of green grapes, dispite the dry weather. The chickens are growing up, I sold 4 pullets at $10 a piece to a friend at church.  We are getting ready to butcher our extra roosters, several of which were donated to us, as we live in the county and are alowed to raise them.  So without further delay, here is my fruit leather recipe, which is way better than “fruit” roll ups:

1)Fill your biggest stock pot half way with apples. (Peal and core them if you don’t have a foley food mill.) Fill the stock pot the rest of the way up with any other fruit you like. If you use all apples, you will have to add apple juice to it so that it doesn’t burn, apples just don’t have enough moisture. Give it a good stir and keep an eye on the temperature. It should only take 20 minutes or so to get soft. Mash it with a potato masher a little. 

2) If you didn’t peal the apples or if there are any other large seeds you want to remove, set up your foley food mill over the crockpot. Mill all the fruit, set your crock pot on low with the lid off. Cook for 8-12 hours. Feed all the peals and seeds to the chickens, or compost pile.

3)Taste your fuit/apple butter. Add sweetner to taste. Add cinnimon to taste. Honey is excellent in this recipe! I also like “Apple Pie Spice Mix” and “Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix”.

 4) Set your oven to warm/120 degrees. Wrap your cookie sheets with plastic wrap. Wax paper will not work!! Spoon some fuit butter on the plastic wrap, and spread out so it’s no more than 1/4 in thick. Place it in the oven with the door open a little, so moisture will excape. Every few hours rotate the trays, if you have more than one. Cook about 8-12 hours, until the fuit is dry and leathery.

 5) Peal the fruit from the plastic and set it on a cookie rack to dry on the counter. When it’s fully dry, powder it with corn starch. Roll it up or slice it into bite sized pieces and store in a zip lock bag in a dry cool place. 

 You can “cheat” by starting with store bought apple sause and start directly in the crockpot with any other fruit you want. You might want to run the whole fruits through a blender if you want a smooth consistency.  And please, if you do buy store applesause, get no sugar added! The whole point is to avoid high fructose corn syrup.

 If you want to cut costs, plant your own apple tree and berry bushes. Or buy fruit “seconds” at a farmer’s market. “Seconds” are the fruits that are over ripe, or just blemished. Sometimes you can get the seconds for free! I made my first batch with free second plums that I dropped in a bag and froze to make the fruit butter/leather several weeks later.

Easy Peasy Frugal Double Roast Chickens

Lots of families, in a pinch buy rotisserie chickens from the store already cooked, and it is a much better option than fast food, but you can roast your own chickens at home very simply if you plan ahead.  First you have to have  a roasting pan with a lid,  so that you can easily roast two chickens at one time (one inside the lid),  which saves time and energy.  (Two birds with one stove, I mean stone! LOL)  You will also need about 5 minutes to prepare the chicken, and about 1 hour and 10 minutes to cook the chicken.  If your chicken is frozen (keep two in the extra freezer in case you have friends over) you will need to take them out of the freezer and leave it on the counter in a pan (or in a cold oven in case you have pets ) the night before (and the entire next day) you plan to cook it.  (Yes, I know this isn’t how we should thaw out chicken, but it does work. Instruct the first person to get home to cook them, or at least put them back in the fridge if they are totally thawed.) You will also need cooking spray, salt and pepper, and an empty sink.

  1. Spray the inside of the lid and base of the roasting pan. Also spray any racks, but they aren’t really necessary. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Unwrap and rinse your birds, most chickens don’t have any organ meat packed inside, like a turkey does.
  3. Put your birds in the pan breast up, spray with cooking spray (faster than applying butter) and put a dash of salt and pepper over the top to taste.  Optional: some like to put a pealed whole onion inside the bird, but it’s not required.
  4. Put your birds in the center most rack on the oven, and cook for 30 minutes. Then turn the heat to 375 for 40 minutes.   When it’s done, cut into the space between the thigh and body and if the juices aren’t pink, it’s done.

Now you have 1 hour and ten minutes to work on side dishes! I mashed potatoes and gravy with a salad are a favorite in my family!

Why is this a frugal recipe? For one, whole chickens are the cheapest way to buy chicken. Locally I can get whole birds for $0.88 a lb. Two, you are cooking two at once, so you spend less money on electricity or gas.  You can use one roaster to cook two birds, so that saves money too.  And you have lots of left overs! Don’t for get to pop the carcass in the freezer to make chicken stock at a later date!


Giving Up Angel Food Ministries

Julian helping me in the kitchen

Julian helping me in the kitchen...

It’s been two months since I’ve ordered food from AFM.  When I first quit my job to stay home with my son Julian and raise some chickens, I was freaked out about money. We started buying food from Angel Food Ministries, and it’s been a big help! But since then, I’ve done enough comparison shopping to know where to find the best deals  (around here, Sam’s Club)  and we just don’t want to eat the processed foods anymore.  We have been eating most of our vegetables from Provident Organic Farms CSA or from our

Vincent learning to Vaccume

"I love vaccuming!" said Vincent! No really that's what he said!

own garden, and this year from “Sharron’s Natural Gardens”.  The Processed foods that come with AFM  taste so salty that we can’t  really eat them!  Also their cuts of chicken come so badly mangled that they are only good for making soup.  One good thing about living on the Eastern Shore is that chicken is very cheap! Until we have our new “Chicken Tractor” (a portable coop) built and we can raise more of our own meat, we will be taking advantage of the $0.88 a lb roasters at Sams Club, and the $0.95 a lb chicken thighs.  We are also considering raising our own pigs.  I’ve begun reading “Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs”.   The nice thing about being a part of the Transitional Movement is that over night progress is not expected…. and I’m proud to say that in this time of “economic re-evaluation” (aka Resession) we have been eating more local home cooked organic foods than we ever have in our entire lives!

eBooks vs New Books vs Used Books

I’ve been following the new ebook devices a little bit, hearing about it mostly on NPR and PBS. I’m not the type to jump on new technology.  Charlie Rose had a great interview discussing how the iPad will affect Kindle sales and the publishing companies.  Competition is always good for business, as far as the devices go, but as an avid use of I’m wondering how will eBooks (for any device) will impact the trade and sale of used books?  With fewer copies being printed, I think it will be harder to find used books in the future. Maybe the value of used books will increase?  I hesitate to purchase eBooks at all, because you can’t loan them to friends, as far as I can tell, and you can’t trade them or resell them. Or am I wrong?  On the other hand, using fewer trees is always a good thing…

Barter and Trade In the Internet Age

Barter and trade are a pretty quaint way of getting the things you need or want or getting rid of your surplus. (Like my eggs.)  Here are some websites designed to facilitate the barter and trade of goods and services. Not all have a local focus but some can be organized for a local focus.

PaperBackSwap I’ve been a member of this site for several years and love it! I’ve gotten rid of many books I wanted to read. It’s not locally focused, and you do have to spend money on mailing out your books, but to request a book is free to you. You earn book credits when your requester marks your book as received. Costs are kept down by using media mail. And it’s not just for paper back books, its for any book, including audio books, which cost 2 credits. Recently they have added the sale of books where you can use your credits to lower the price.  If your the kind of person who is terrible at returning library books, this is a great alternative, if  you don’t mind the postage.  Oh, and just to let you know, it’s USA only, sorry! The same people also run DVD Swap and CD Swap. This is a neat site where people can trade in groups for just about anything! Mostly crafty people use it to make works of art of all kinds to swap.  I’ve done some hand made post card swaps, and crocheted item swaps.  Some people swap things in their crafting stash that they don’t want anymore. Some swaps are very specific and some are as vague, but all members have a profile that includes their preferences: things they collect, wish lists, and things they don’t like.  It’s a typical practice to send extra goodies in with the required swap items.  This site does have potential for local community building because you can form private swaps and private groups, based on a region. Once you join a swap, the site organizes and matches swap partners, and keeps a rating system to let people who when people are dishonest and join a swap without sending out their items. Of course you can avoid this by having private swaps and private groups. I think it would be fun for a large extended family spread all over the country to make a private group and exchange holiday gifts, one partner per family member, with a cost limit on the gift exchange.  The possibilities are really endless with this extremely flexible system.

Babysitter Exchange I just found this site and I love it! You can create communities of local people you know to exchange babysitting with. You start with a certian number of tokens and use them to “pay” for requested services, like babysitting, pet sitting, house sitting, carpooling and other errands.  Groups of 5 or less are free. Larger groups have a paid premium membership. You can also have multiple communities, so if some friend live to the north, and some to the south, you can organize separate groups, though members in the middle can belong to both.  I’m always hurting for some childcare, and looking for someone to watch my chickens when we are away, so I’m really looking forward to using this service.

FreeCycle This is an email list where people can give just about anything away, as long as it’s free. You can also post “wanted” adds. It’s organized locally and the receiver picks up the item, no mailing.  The premise is that we should reuse old things instead of filling up our landfills.  If you hating getting a ton of irrelevant mail, you might not like this group, but you can always choose the no mail option and just read posts at the web site.



Good For You Banana Bread

With all this snow, my seven year old son Vincent has been home with me more than usual, and the other day I taught him to make Banana Bread, which we all love.  I thought maybe my readers might enjoy the recipe as well! I wanted to provide a picture of the bread, but this very morning Vincent was eating the last piece!

Good For You Banana Bread

  • 1 cup Sucralose sweetner
  • 1/3 cup of butter softened (or a trans fat free margarine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 2 or 3)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Grease bottom of 2 small loaf pans and bake for 35 minutes. Or grease one large loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes.

By eliminating the sugar and adding in the whole wheat, this recipe is good enough for dessert or breakfast. If you have to have something like “icing” try a slice with some vanilla yogurt poured over the top.  Bananas freeze well, so next time you have one that’s going spotty, peel it and freeze until you have enough to make the bread. This bread also freezes well. You can make up a bunch of little loafs, and cut them in half and wrap individually for lunches on the go.  Be sure to pull it out of the freezer the night before to let it thaw.

Speaking of thaw….I can’t wait for this snow to go away! How about you?