Archive for the ‘frugal’ Category

Making Homemade Bread

For a long time creating the daily staple of bread had escaped my grasp. My homemade bread was only good for eating when it was warm and slathered with butter. The day I finally made a loaf of good eating bread…so good you could use it for sandwiches…I very excitedly called one of my friends and told her.  She’s been a good friend through the years and one of my role models for homemaking, so she would understand my excitement over bread.

She congratulated me and told me she didn’t start making good bread till she was in her 40’s either. I hope those of you reading this, figure it out way earlier than us. I’ve been trying to make a good loaf of bread for a long time. Years ago, I asked the same friend if she’d show me how to make homemade bread. She welcomed me, just warned me she didn’t use a recipe, and I watched in awe as she made a loaf of bread entirely by hand.

I wish I could say my homemade bread was made in the truly old fashioned way of doing every bit of it from scratch. No such luck, I take a shortcut. I do use freshly ground whole wheat flour to make my bread, but I use the bread machine to make the dough. It takes about 5 minutes to put the ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order listed. I hit the option for dough and wait an hour and 20 minutes for the next step. (On my machine-I use the 1 1/2lb. setting)

After the timer beeps, I take the dough out and knead it just a bit on my well floured kitchen table. Next, I shape it in a loaf and put it in a stoneware loaf pan greased with olive oil. I put it in upside down so the top gets greased too, then just pop it out and put it back in the right way. The pan is covered with a towel, allowed to rise for 30 min. in a warm place, and then finally baked at 350 degrees F. for 25 min.(my oven, original recipe says 30 min.).

Beautiful Homemade Bread

Beautiful Homemade Bread

A trick I started doing is to lightly cover the top of the loaf with foil the last ten minutes of cooking time, so the top doesn’t get so dark. My family likes a light top loaf. The recipe I use is one I found over at the Money Saving Mom website in a post titled Homemade Bread for Beginners. It’s a great recipe! I use sea salt for the salt and extra virgin olive oil for the oil in it. Also, I love to cook it in a stoneware loaf pan.

The key to cutting the bread for sandwiches is cover the pan with the towel for 5 min. after taking it out of oven. Next, take it out of the pan, place it on a plate, and cover with the towel till it’s cooled. This is the really hard part and we can’t always resist cutting a piece of warm bread off to have with butter right away. Lastly, use an electric knife to cut into slices, then put the bread in a bag. I just twist the top of the bag and pinch closed with a clothespin.

*The electric knife is probably not essential, but I’d say if you don’t have one and intend to make bread on a regular basis, it’s worth the investment. The one I use, we actually found years ago at a thrift store. It makes slicing bread so easy.*

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Apples, apples, apples…

It’s fall!  The leaves are a beautiful array of colors and apples are plentiful.  This means apples are usually on sale in most grocery stores and being the ever diligent budget minded person I am, I start thinking of ways to use them in our meals.  Besides snacking, there are numerous recipes using apples.  I found a couple of great recipes online and thought I’d share.  Both were easy to make and tasted wonderful!

As usual, even though most recipes are probably fine, I’ve gotta make some adjustments.  I’ll be sure to include the things I changed or found might work better.  This past Saturday, I made some delicious apple scones.  This is the first time I’ve made scones, but they turned out to be easy to make.  The recipe for Fresh Apple Cinnamon Scones can be found over at the King Arthur Flour site.

Instead of the all-purpose flour, I used fresh ground whole wheat flour.  I did not use cinnamon chips as I didn’t have any, so I just left those out and didn’t do a substitution.  The only other change to the recipe ingredients I did, was I used regular sugar to make the topping for sprinkling on the dough.  They still tasted good, but I think the coarse sugar would have made them look prettier.

Other than those few changes, I followed the rest of the recipe exactly.  The only thing I believe I’d do different next time would be to chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting it in wedges.  I think it would have made that step easier, because I found it a little difficult to slide the wedges apart so there was 1/2 inch in between each piece.  Everyone loved these and I even ate a couple another day with a glass of milk for breakfast.

The other thing I love is these can be frozen in dough form and baked when you’re ready.  I read about it in the comment section below the recipe.  The recipe makes two rounds, so you could always bake one and save the other for another day.  Freezing this recipe would make it real convenient to have something fresh baked for breakfast, dessert, or a tasty treat for surprise company.  Here are some pictures(you can see the bit of a mess I made pulling apart the wedges) :

Scone Dough Shaped in a Circle

Scone Dough Shaped in a Circle

Scone Dough Divided Into Wedges

Scone Dough Divided Into Wedges

Finished Scones Ready for Eating

Finished Scones Ready for Eating

Yesterday, I made a tasty and nutritious apple cranberry crisp.   I was a little hesitant about the recipe I found.  It is a light recipe and did not use butter, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to taste.  I’m a firm believer in using butter in baking, but as I was out of butter I decided to give it a try.  The recipe can be found over at My Recipes for the Apple-Cranberry Crisp.

Now for the changes, you knew they were coming. 🙂  I added 3/4 cup of crushed pineapple drained, which I mixed in with the other fruit.  I sprinkled a tablespoon of lemon juice over the apples after I cut them up.  Lastly, I sprinkled about 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground cinnamon on top.  The only reason I put the cinnamon on top is because I forgot to add it into the oat and brown sugar mix which gets sprinkled on top of the apple mix.

This recipe is another winner, despite my initial hesitations.  It tasted so good, I did not miss the butter.  The other plus of this recipe is it has a lot less sugar than crisp I have made in the past.  On the down side, this can make it a little more runnier than I’m used to.   I briefly thought about trying to add a little cornstarch next time, but then quickly dismissed the idea as this was so good there was nothing left after breakfast the next day.  I will make this again.

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

Hope you enjoy the recipes and get inspired to make something delicious with apples… 🙂

Garden Helpers…

There has been more rain and warmth, which is helping the garden to blossom.  The tomato plants are getting nice and tall with more flowers.  The other plants are growing taller as well, but not flowering just yet.  I can’t wait to be able to start eating some vegetables fresh from the garden. 

I usually go out first thing in the morning to look over the garden to see how it’s doing and make sure the deer or rabbits haven’t caused any damage.  I’m the early riser in the house, so it’s my chance for a bit of peace.  Our dog Savanna enjoys keeping me company and likes to wander about the garden as well. 

Gardening with Savanna

Gardening with Savanna

Yesterday evening it rained, but I managed to get a few gardening tasks done while it was still cool.  I put up a support for the cucumbers.  Next, my daughter and her boyfriend gave me a hand putting up the support for the green beans.  We barely made it, but managed to get done before the rain started.

Both supports were made from pieces of found fencing from previous gardening years.  We used pieces of twine to tie the sections of fencing to plastic stakes pressed in the ground.  The stakes are the black ones about 3 feet tall with a piece sticking out at the base above the spike, which is used to press your foot onto make it go into the ground.  We got them at the Tractor Supply store a couple of years ago.

The other thing we got done yesterday was to move the swing.  It’s under a nice tall tree for shade in the front yard and is in a good position for a nice view of the garden.  Love the swing!  No picture of the supports or the swing, I’ll have to post one another day, but here’s one of the largest squash plant in my garden. 

Squash

Squash

 

Saving Money by Couponing

Box o' coupons

Everything, including the cost of gas, seems to be rising.  Since unfortunately our income is not, I am attempting to do a better job of trying to save money.  Though I shall never manage to be one of those “extreme” coupon people, this week I did put forth a valiant effort to shop the sales and use coupons.

On Sunday I bought a newspaper and clipped coupons for items I know we use.  Later I went to two of my favorite sites to view the sales at various stores I shop at and see if there were any online coupons to print.  The two sites are http://www.southernsavers.com and http://thefrugalgirls.com.

I really love the Southern Savers site as I can check off the sale items I plan to buy at a store and the site creates a printable list.  I printed a list for each store I was planning to shop at and used a paperclip to attach the coupons to the corner of the sheet.  This method seems to keep things a bit more organized and easier to use.

My best shopping deal for the week were two non-food items at Staples, but were items we do use regularly.  I purchased a pack of copy paper and pack of photo paper, both which will end up free after rebates.  Another deal I was thrilled with, was to get several boxes of cereal for less than $1.60 per box.  This was one of those weeks there were not a whole lot of sensational coupons for items we use, but I will continue couponing and need to work on organizing the coupons for ease of sorting prior to shopping.