Saturday, October 25, 2014

Huge Batch of Applesauce

I had a mountain of apples to can last week and kept putting it off because it was a huge job.  It was just about 100 pounds altogether.

We started at 5PM and all the girls were helping. 

This was our most common set-up: 2 youngest washed and passed apples to me, I cut apples and filled pots, 2 oldest took turns grinding apples as each pot was soft enough.

The two youngest also filled the dishwasher with jars to be sanitized.  One unloaded the jars from a box and rolled them to her sister to be put into the dishwasher.  They were having a great time.

Even a 4 year old can make applesauce!  She was so excited to be up so late!  This was about 9:30 pm.  They were such good little helpers I let them stay up as long as they kept a good attitude. 

We listened to worship, the Frozen soundtrack, and classical hits while we worked.  One girlie took a round of photos.  Here I am in a rare photo appearance. 

My kitchen is a huge mess after canning this much applesauce.  This is the trivet where the hot pots of cooked apples sit while being loaded into the grinder.

This is one burner on my poor stove.  The apple juices just make a huge mess.  Bleh.

But the finished product is always pretty impressive.  We made 42 quarts! 

Our total for the year is now just over 100 quarts.  We went through that by February last year so I'm hoping to get to make even more - depends on if I get any more apples for free or affordable enough.

Love, Katie

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dishwasher Bliss

Oh sweet friends, I wanted to share my extreme thankfulness for my amazing dishwasher.  It was given to us by a friend when our old one was having some trouble.  She saw a post on Facebook where I was asking for ideas on what might be wrong with our dishwasher and remembered it several weeks later when she ran across this industrial dishwasher that was being freely given. 

Let me display it's power to you: 

And look at these sparkling dishes!  I never would have put actual bits of food in my old dishwasher.  It was more of a dish sanitizer than I dish washer I now realize.  I am continually grateful for this gift.  Just feeling blessed today.

Love, Katie

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Making the Most of a Whole Chicken

I bought a whole organic chicken a few weeks ago and had big plans to post about how to use it efficiently and waste nothing.  This would have been a great post IMHO if I hadn't totally (but accidently)  wasted a bunch of the chicken!  Here's the story:

First I cut up the whole chicken.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much meat there was on it.  I had heard that organic chickens were smaller and in my head that translated to skinnier.  But there was plenty of meat on these bones.  In fact, it was so big I couldn't even fit one of the breasts in my pan and I cut the second breast into smaller pieces to make it fit.  Here's the chicken in the oven.

You can almost always make a nice broth or stock if you boil bones and bits.  So I put the neck, the  bone from cutting up the breast, and other bits into a pot.  I also had every intention of putting the bones from my family's dinner plates in there.

That second breast I cut into strips to bake.  I had just heard a great MOPS speaker who shared about clean foods and giving your kids a protein, vegetable, and fruit and/or carb for their packed lunches.  I thought some homemade chicken fingers might work for my kids since they used to like chicken nuggets.  Those are long gone due to the GF eating.

Well, I popped those chicken breasts into the still warm oven and set a timer.  I was rushing out of the house when I saw the timer was at 4 minutes and made a mental note to call my husband on my drive and remind him to pull the chicken out.  My mental note failed and the dinging timer failed to notify DH. Two hours later I was proudly telling some girlfriends about my chicken achievement when I gasped and realized a whole, beautiful, expensive breast was probably still in the oven.  One friend said, "It'll be chicken jerky."  The other friend said, "I hope not.  Organic chicken is like gold."  I couldn't agree with both more. 
chicken jerky
While I was very sad about the wasted breast I thought I'd still try and make the most of the rest of the chicken.  DH had helpfully had the kids clear their places, but again he didn't know I'd wanted to save the bones so I had less to flavor the stock.  There was also a lot of leftover chicken so I waited another two days to make stock so I could add the bones from leftovers.  I ending up packing lunches with just meat cut off  the bones and the kids ate it much more easily that way.  I didn't realize I'd been raising a pack of snobs who won't eat meat off a bone.  Time to break that habit!

Eventually, I cooked the bones in a pot with water just covering them.  I let it simmer overnight and in the morning I had some nice, flavorful juices.  Here's the 4 cup container it filled. 

I decided to try and make more broth with the boiled bones.  I left the meat bits and broke open the bones when I put it all in a baking pan.  Again, I filled the pan with water and broiled it on high for about 25 minutes. 

View inside the oven.

I was attempting this second broth on a busy morning and turned off the oven when I thought the liquid looked (and smelled) good.  Then I promptly forgot about it in the oven until the next day!  Darn!  I had to thow it all away. 

So my 'using the whole chicken' post is kind of a failure, but I will try again and hopefully won't have so many chicken calamities!  I went ahead and told my pathetic story so you all would know I am so very human and make all sorts of kitchen mistakes as I go. 

Next time I'll also show you how to cut up a chicken.  I had to remind myself how to do it with this bird as it had been so long since I'd used a whole chicken this way.

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Friends of the Library Sale

I scored some deals over the weekend at the library of all places!  The shelves near the entrance were full of books I was really excited to see several American Girl items.  I was even more delighted when I saw the prices!

$0.50 - Tallchief - true story of Native American ballerina
$0.25 - American Girl Pencil Play - word games, puzzles, mazes
$0.50 - The Royal Diaries - Eleanor
$0.25 - American Girl Meet Josefina
$0.25 - American Girl Josefina Learns a Lesson
$0.25 - A Little Princess (classic)
$0.25 - American Girl Yoga
$0.50 - American Girl Kaya and the River Girl

I'm most excited about the small books that will easily fit in Christmas stockings!  Yay for stocking stuffers at bargain prices! 

Love, Katie

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Gluten Free Menu Plan

I'm so tired of our limited meals - I need some recipe rejuvenation. Maybe I'll find time this week for some research.

Monday - turkey, carrot sticks
Tuesday - mac & cheese pie
Wednesday - nachos
Thursday - pizza
Friday - finger food lunch
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - with family

Monday - beef & broccoli
Tuesday - pork chops
Wednesday - sausages
Thursday - skillet (eggs/sausage/cheese/potatoes/bell peppers)
Friday - dinner out
Saturday - some sort of soup
Sunday - popcorn & smoothies

To buy: potatoes (have been wanting to buy organic, but haven't found them & didn't want to go to Whole Foods)


Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 Groceries Week 42 - $114.29

This week I really wanted to limit my spending because the last few weeks were so big! 

I also had a friend mention something this week about how much time I spend grocery shopping and I thought I should clear up any misunderstandings the might be lingering.  I'm super-busy and I don't have time to grocery shop constantly.  Many of my shopping trips are squeezed in 15 or 20 minutes when I'm between errands or already out for an appointment.  I'm typically not making special trips or spending much time at this.

This was a quick visit to Fred Meyer at 10PM on a Monday night.  I had just left my accountability group and thought I'd swing by on my way home to get butter.  I didn't buy it because it was ridiculously priced, but found some other great stuff instead: An organic chicken, 4 lbs of apples for $2.00 and some tomatoes on the vine.  I spent about 20 minutes in the store and spent $12.43.

On Tuesday I dashed into Albertsons with 3 girls while the 4th was at speech therapy.  We were in the store less than 15 minutes.  I picked up frozen corn, some grapes, and this amazing markdown meat.  It's bone-in grilling steak that were on sale B1G1 and had peelie stickers.  I found two of similar size and paid $5.38 total for over 3 pounds.  With grapes & corn I spent $11.67.
Costco - dashed into Costco for a couple things on Wednesday after a visit to the pumpkin patch.  My aunt & uncle came with us, so they fed the girls half-slices of Costco pizza while I ran in for butter and  string cheese.  I could not believe how the price of butter has increased!  A year ago I spent $8.99 on the Costco pack and thought it was expensive, but this week I paid $12.99!!!  The string cheese was also $12.99 so I spent $25.98 at Costco. 
QFC - Later wednesday I stopped at QFC after DD#1's ballet class.  We just milled around looking for clearance deals and I found a lot:  4 bagels for $0.99 ( a kid splurge), 2 lb bags of apples for $0.99 each, 8 oz. fresh mozzarella for $0.99 each (yummo!), a whoopee pie/cookie thing for DH $0.99 (also a kid-prompted purchase), yami plain yogurt $1.79 each, a greek yogurt for $0.39 and 2 deli pizzas for $2.99 each.  The most exciting purchase was not on clearance, but on sale.  A 7 oz  pack of pepperoni for $1.50 which I thought might be cheaper than the Dollar Store.  Sure enough, I looked when I got home and my usual purchase at the Dollar Store is $1.00 for 3 oz.  So this pepperoni was a great sale price.  I spent $17.39 at QFC.
I went back to QFC when I was running errands Saturday.  We were out of milk and I was planning to pick up that pepperoni again.  I found lots of other clearance deals include $1.99 for 1# chubs of sausage, $2.39 for 1# packages of turkey lunchmeat, $1.79 for plain Yami yogurt, $0.39 for a greek yogurt cup, 6 mandarin oranges for $0.99, and 3 big apples for $0.99.  I also got some fresh pears.  I spent $33.95 in total.
Milk was $12.87
Week 42 Total: $114.29
2014 Year-to-date Total: $3,656.80
Weekly 2014 Average: $87.07

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Small Batch of Applesauce

Last week we made a small batch of applesauce.  A friend had given us a bag of apples that were picked before we left for our 2 week vacation.  Then, the apples were in our fridge for another 2 weeks before I managed to process them in applesauce.

Here is about half the apples.  I had them stored in my fridge in big Tupperware so I could still stack stuff on top of the bins.

Lots of hot 'sauce.

For a small batch I don't bother with the water bath canner.  I just freeze these guys and save the cost of the lids needed when pressure canning.
Next up I have about 100 pounds of apples still waiting for me in the garage.  They are newer so could wait longer to be processed.  Plus, it's kind of daunting . . .
Love, Katie

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Emergency Fund Update

We have been trying to restore our emergency fund for about a year.   Last fall we replaced our family vehicle using the emergency fund because our old Suburban was really dying.  And then we had a car accident and we had to replace our commuter vehicle.  We quickly depleted our emergency fund, you can read about it here, and have been working at replacing it since then. 

We had saved 13% heading into summer, but had to use most of it for a big car repair (hello transmission!).  We would have been able to save more, but we are paying for DH to fly and visit his dad every month and we've paid about $600 twice for the whole family to go visit so the girls could see Grandpa.  So the saving had been going slow.

We were counting on a fall bonus to boost our emergency fund and then the hot water heater went out.  After covering that expense I'm happy to report our emergency fund is at 51%!  It feels so good just have a little cushion.   

Love, Katie