Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheap Eats

When my three boys make a trip to the grocery store with me, we answer the inevitable, "How do you feed them? They are huge!" often, multiple times. With Ben, my 14 year old hitting 6'4 and the other two only slightly behind, I often feel like I am living among giants with appetites to match. I have been hard pressed to devise homemade, less expensive ways to fill them up.
By far, our grocery bill is the largest bill we pay each month; often double our mortgage. In these tight times, it has become increasingly difficult to stretch those dollars into dinners.
One of the best investments I have made came in the form of a $2.00 Belgian waffle maker purchased last summer at a garage sale. Waffles and pancakes are great because they are cheap, filling, anytime meals.

They can be dressed up with fruit and whipped cream, they can be made in advance, frozen, heated in a microwave, and the mix can be stored ready in the refrigerator. Waffle makers are easy to use and kids can make their own. Replacing one meat and potatoes dinner per week with breakfast food can be a significant savings.

Here is an easy recipe for waffles:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients together, then add wet. I use a large brush to apply vegetable oil to my waffle iron..I have found this step necessary, others might not.

Great Buttermilk Pancake Recipe
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
5 cups buttermilk
5 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
5 teaspoons baking soda
1 pinch salt (optional)
5 tablespoons sugar

Again, mix dry ingredients together, then add dry in batches until desired consistency is acheived. Mix can be stored covered in fridge for one week.

Oven Pancake Recipe

3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). In a small bowl, mix together white sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
Place butter in a 9 inch cake pan and heat in the oven until melted. In a blender or food processor, whip eggs and milk. Pour in flour and beat until well combined. Pour batter into hot pan. Sprinkle on sugar and cinnamon.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Dust with confectioners' sugar; serve warm.

Here is a recipe for homemade Pancake Syrup:

3 Cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2tsp butter flavoring
1 tsp maple extract

Bring all to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves (a rolling boil). Turn
off burner, but leave pot on burner until bubbling stops.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Homemade Multi-purpose cleaning Recipe

This week in my quest to reduce spending and to feel like I am recovering some old, once common knowledge that has been almost lost, I found recipes and made great cleaning products. I have used them in the bathroom used by my three teenage sons (I rarely go in there unless I don full germ warfare protective gear and armed with a bristling arsenal of bleach-laden products). I made the vinegar, water and essential oil multi-use cleaner, took a deep breath and went in blasting.

I was impressed with the way the vinegar (odor greatly improved with essential rose oil...not my favorite, but the only essential oil I had ...I am on a quest to find a good source of inexpensive essential oil...I want lemongrass) seemed to neutralize the ...ahem....urine smell left by children who seem to make no attempt to aim and sometimes seem to begin peeing 5 feet from the john. I sprayed the walls and floor as well. I left it sit for about 10 minutes and after wiping, did a deep sniff test.... very nice.

The recipe couldn't be simpler:

Equal parts white vinegar and water...then 20-25 drops essential oil.

I mixed and put in a spray bottle.

Hard Times

Hard times, come again no more.
'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door.
Oh Hard times, come again no more

Stephen Foster