Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fun in the kitchen

  Sometimes it's funny how you start a day with a plan and then you end up going in a totally different direction.  I had planned on weeding and thinning the fall garden and cleaning up the fading perennials out front since the Nazi homeowner's association sent a letter to inform us that we had too many weeds.  My DW and I went to Meijers first thing and boy did we score some produce deals.  We found potatoes at five pounds for $1 to start with.  We then found cabbage on sale for $.39 a pound.  I haven't see it that cheap for a while.  We hit the produce clearance rack just as they were putting out heads of cauliflower and boxes of spinach.  They had flats of strawberries too but we're still flush with strawberry rhubard jam from our own patch earlier this summer.  We ended up grabbing three heads of cauliflower and three pounds of spinach.  When we got home, we started with baking a batch of my mom's recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies, yum!  We then moved onto our first effort at sauerkraut.  Kraut is so cheap to buy but it was fun to see how it's made anyway.  We used a cookbook that we bought in a Mennonite bulk food store in Minnesota.

The recipes are simple and it's broken up by individual types of veggies.  We've used it a lot and it hasn't steered us wrong yet.  We chopped up a big head of cabbage and got almost three pounds.

We then started layering the slaw into an old bean pot and sprinkling it with canning salt.  I couldn't find our kraut masher even though I know we have one.  I think it ended up in one of the boxes that went out to the homestead this summer.  We ended up using a broad wooden spoon, adapt and overcome!

It was kind of neat watching the slaw go down and the juice come up.  We kept pounding until the juice covered the cabbage.

I took a little taste and you could tell something was already happening to it...interesting.  We took the book's advice and partially filled a ziploc with water to act as a weight to push down the cabbage below the juice and to make something of a seal against the walls of the pot to keep air out, anaerobic yeasties you know.

I'll let you know how it comes out in about four weeks.  After the kraut we tackled pickling the three heads of cauliflower, yum again!  We went with the sweet pickle recipe from the book and ended up with six pints.

My DW wiping down the mouths of the jars before putting on the lids and popping them into the water bath.

Ten minutes of processing later, we pulled them out and listened to the pops.  I think that's so cool!

  We've gotten pretty good at timing when they put the produce and meat clearance items out at the local grocery stores.  There's nothing wrong with the stuff.  It's just hitting its "sell by" date in a day or two.  We figure that we can eat it, freeze it, or can it right away and save a pile of cash.  Our food budget is also helped by the fact that my DW is a true maestro of couponing.  When she first started a couple of years back, she bought a lot of stuff that nobody would or could eat along with the good stuff (sorry baby, those free microwave brownies were horrendous).  Now she's honed her coupon skills down to a keen edge and we spend a fraction of the marked prices at the grocery store.  I don't know how other people get by, paying regular cost.  As an experiment in frugality and to get a feel for how much it's going to cost out at the homestead, we're seeing if we can run a household of five people and a cat and dog on $100 a week.  This includes both food for us and gas for the vehicles but not utilities since the farm is off-grid.  It's week number one so we'll see how long we can make it happen.  We live pretty cheap to start with so I guess we're just trying to quantify what it actually takes.

1 comment:

  1. Sauerkraut...yuck. Is it just the salt and giving the little guys time to work their magic that makes it?

    It is kind of fun playing with this kind of stuff though. I'm currently sitting here waiting for my first loaf of sourdough to finish baking. I made the starter for it last week, cross your fingers that it won't kill me. Smells good so far.