Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sweet & Spicy Pickles

Once upon a time, there was a dill pickle. The dill pickle was always comfortable being a dill, but had aspirations to be more than just a condiment on top of grilled burger.

It had dreams of topping egg salad.

And in a perfect world, just being eaten straight out of the jar.

A couple of years ago, my in-laws decided to pull us out of our dill pickle comfort zone. Initially, I declined to try one of their newly discovered pickles, but after hearing the "ooohs and ahhhs" of my Mister, I relented.

Since then, not a day has gone by that we've been without having these dill pickle converts in our fridge.

This is by far the easiest "canning" recipe I have ever used. It requires no canning and uses dill pickles that can be picked up at Walmart for just a couple of dollars. Within 3 days, what once was dill is now sweet & spicy.

It's magic.

~Sweet & Spicy Pickles~

I had these on hand, but prefer the Vlasic from Walmart.

~The Players~
1/2 gallon kosher dill pickles
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2-1 cup sliced, canned jalapenos
4 cups organic sugar
1/2 gallon jar with a tight-fitting lid

Drain the dill pickles in a colander for about 2 hours.

Cut pickles into 1/4" slices.  Put into a half-gallon jar.

Shake the jar to help settle the pickle chips. In order, add jalapenos, sugar, then the vinegar. You may need to add the sugar slowly and allow it time to fall down into the jar. I used a butter knife to create little "canals" for the sugar to drop into. Do not add the vinegar until all of the sugar is in the jar though.

After the vinegar is added, cover top of jar with plastic wrap before screwing the lid down tight.

Turn the jar upside down and set in a pie plate. (Just in case the jar leaks!)

Flip the jar 2-3 times a day for 3 days. The sugar will dissolve and you will be left with a sweet pickle that has a little "kick" to it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some egg salad to make!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chicken Tamale Pie

As most people know, I'm a huge fan of Bob's Redmill. Okay, I'm a fan of Bob too, but I don't want to come across as "stalker-ish", so I try to control that admiration as much as possible.

Can't have Bob calling the authorities now, can I?

Even though the Redmill is a mere hour away from us, I still stock up like I'm waiting for Armageddon. Or the Zombie Apocalypse. Or something equally as epic.

Needless to say, I have at least 500#'s of grain in my possession. Of those 500 pounds, at least 20 different grains are unidentifiable. In my rush to fill bags at the bulk bins, sometimes I forget to write the contents next to the bulk bin number.

This makes cooking a true adventure.

It also leaves me making comments like, "Eat at your own risk." Or, "This is a test~I'll give $5 to the first one who can identify the grain/spice. Yes, I already know what it is, but I want to know if you know what it is!"

Now you know, I'm a big, fat liar.

One of the grains that I was finally able to identify was polenta. Funny thing, I actually bough a 25# bag of the stuff, poured it into a large storage container, and stuffed it to the back of the closet. But, don't you grind your own cornmeal? Why yes, I do. My grainmill only does a fine grind, so the course grind of the polenta kind of threw me off. Since I've only made polenta from scratch once, and from a marked bag, it took awhile to identify this little surprise.

I actually thought for a brief moment that someone, and by someone I mean other than me, had dumped the chicken feed into the kitchen storage bin!

So, what does one do with 25#'s of polenta? Well, I'm sure I don't know, but if Chicken Tamale Pie is a way to use it up, we'll be having this quite often.

And that makes my children very happy to have a momma who is obsessed with everything Redmill.

~Chicken Tamale Pie~

A Bob's Redmill Original (with a little "tweaking" by yours truly!)

~The Players~
2-1/2 t. sea salt, divided
1 cup dry polenta (medium-grind cornmeal)
1 Tb. butter
1 Tb. olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 sweet orange pepper, diced (can use green if you prefer)
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. ground cumin
1 Tb. chili powder
1/4 t. dried oregano
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned, diced tomatoes (I used home-canned)
1/2-3/4 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (or a combination of both)
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. and grease a 9-inch pie dish.

In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water and 2 teaspoons sea salt to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal, whisking to prevent clumping. Lower the heat and continue cooking and stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Spread 2/3 of the corn mush across the bottom and up the sides of the buttered pie dish and set aside. Keep the rest of the mush warm by placing a lid on saucepan.

Sorry about the lighting~I make no claims to fame with my photography skills. Or lack of.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and bell peppers; cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken, garlic, cumin, chili powder, remaining 1/2 t. sea salt, oregano, and pepper and cook until meat is done, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and reduce heat to simmer, cooking uncovered for about 5 minutes, or until liquid has reduced some.

Spoon the filling into the pie dish, spreading evenly.

Top with an even layer of the remaining mush and sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.


*It is very important to let the pie rest for 10 minutes before cutting. The pie needs a chance to set up a little before cutting. Unless you like your pie in a bowl...☺

Monday, June 27, 2011

Menu Plan 6/27

I wasn't going to make a meal plan this week. My plan was to wing it using the pantry and freezers for inspiration.

This morning, my inspiration failed me.

Blame it on the weather. Blame it on the obnoxious guinea fowl making nighttime noises. Blame it on the hot flashes. Blame it on Rio.

Isn't there a movie called, "Blame it on Rio"?

It must be Rio's fault.

Wherever the fault lies, the lack of plan left me in complete panic mode. Then I popped my thumb in my mouth and tried to find my happy place.

When that didn't work, I went back to what I know. Planning.

So, after careful consideration, and a thumb-sucking intervention by my children, here's what's cookin' this week...

~Monday~(Coupon shopping day)
Grilled hot dogs, baked beans, chips (kid's choice)

Cheese & Chive Omelette's
Spaghetti & Meatballs, Caesar Salad

Toast w/ cream cheese, Yogurt Smoothies

Sourdough Pancakes, spiced pears
Fried deer steak, Sweet potato fries, Broccoli salad



Granola w/ blueberries
Juicy Grilled Burgers, Salmon Dip, tortilla chips

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peeps & Chocolate

They're here....

We've been invaded by chickens.

At least, I think they're chickens.

They look more like "Peeps".

We brought home twenty-five Cornish X chicks that will eventually grow into 25 very lovely chicken dinners.

But right now I can't think about how delicious Buttermilk Fried Chicken and biscuits will taste.

Or how many gallons of broth I'll get from the leftover bits.

All I really want to think about is how cute those 25 lil' Peepers are.

Especially the one that thinks he's a duck. I may name him Daffy and build him a pond.

Leave it to the kindly people at the farm store to keep things in perspective for me though.

This is the box that the Peeps came home in.


While I was picking up my Peeps, I overheard one of the farmgirls say something about chocolate. Of course, I had to investigate.

Because it was chocolate.

Meet Hershey and Nestle. They are Chocolate turkeys.

Thanks to the farm store for keepin' it real.

This post is linked to The Barn Hop.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Country Folk and Their "Issues"

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Dear Mr. Mailman,

     Maybe you and I got off on the wrong foot. I know that sometimes I forget to stand my outgoing mail up in the box, or fail to raise the flag, or even inform you of my up-coming vacation plans. I understand the spot you are in working for the federal government and all, but out here in the country, mailboxes share the responsibility of delivering goods to us. You are part of the USPS. We country folk are part of the JBNDS, or the "Just Being Neighborly Delivery System".

     In the summer, a mailbox doubles as a neighborhood delivery system, sans the postage. A large enough box can hold a couple of dozen farm fresh chicken eggs or a basketful of sun-ripened tomatoes. It can hold the still warm-from-the-oven cinnamon rolls that the neighbor placed in the box as payment for the honey she received the day before. It's a convenient place to leave a note for the farmer who is in the middle of haying his fields, and a mailbox is just the right size to hold a  bouquet of dandelions that a 10 year old boy might want to surprise his momma with.

     In the winter, a mailbox is great way to dole out those last minute Christmas cards. And it keeps the fancy government "decorations" off the front so one can actually enjoy the pretty stickers that the kids decorated the envelopes with. Of course, the no-postage cards usually have a tray of home-baked Christmas cookies attached to them, and really, it's the only way to guarantee a before-Christmas delivery what with the last minute rushing and all. (It also shaves a little time off your already busy schedule!)

     I realize that mailboxes were only meant to house mail that has gone through the proper channels. But out here in the country, a mailbox is like a big, metal present just waiting to be opened. See, we're pretty excited to see a truck or tractor pull up next to the mailbox. Us country folk know that it is unlikely we'll run to the box, only to discover our neighbors have left us with bills or late notices for the 'lectricity. It's just as unlikely that they'll have dropped off their junk mail for us to plunder through. The anticipation of what goodie might be waiting is almost too much to bear as we make the long walk to the box.

    I understand that to city folk, leaving something other than mail in the box might be considered a criminal act. And having seen those teensy, tiny wall-mounted boxes, one would be hard-pressed to fit anything other than a couple of envelopes into them anyway. I'm supposin' it might leave a mess if the wrong thing were to be stuffed in there, hence the reason to impose such rules regarding the contents of said box. But I don't live in the city. Nor do I have a teensy, tiny wall-mounted mailbox. I have an extra large box, to hold an extra large amount of tomatoes, and I purchased it with my Mister's very own money.

     As a citizen of this here country, I appreciate it when criminals are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But, I don't think you are aware of what constitutes a criminal offense out here. A teenager taking a baseball bat to my mailbox would be considered a criminal act. A person using the mailbox as a dumping ground for his/her empty Starbucks cup, would be a criminal act in my book. And as any up-standing, true-blue, country person will tell you, it is downright criminal for anyone to leave their extra zucchini's in a neighbor's mailbox. It just ain't considered neighborly at all! Real country folk know to leave extra zucchini's inside a stranger's parked car at the grocery store (and RUN!) anyway! I will support you prosecuting those dastardly zucchini dumpers as far as the law will allow!

     What I don't consider a criminal act is when the paperman, of whose job is a lot like yours (minus the health benefits and 401K), places my newspaper inside my mailbox, while it's raining.

     We country folk just call that being kind.

     But because we appreciate you Mr. Mailman, we have listened. And we have conformed. Maybe not willingly, but it is done.

You may not know this Mr. Mailman, but gone are the days when the local newspaper provided a box for the paper. Also gone, is the ability to purchase a box from the local hardware store. So, Mr. Mailman, we built our own country kind of paperbox from a drain pipe, a cap, 2 screws, and leftover spray paint. For free.

I understand the rivalry between delivery systems, but since the mail vs. paper dilemma is now resolved,  I'd really appreciate it if you could just scoot the mail towards the back of the mailbox tomorrow.

This farmgirl is expecting a delivery of honey from the JBNDS and I'd hate to get honey on my mail.

Sincerely, Me

P.S. If you find a steaming cup of cocoa in the mailbox on our first snowy day of winter, that's for you Mr. Mailman. But maybe we should just keep that between us.☺

This post is linked to Farmgirl Fridays.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Extreme Couponing~Part 2

So now that you've started clipping coupons, what's next?

Do you just wander around aimlessly through the stores, grabbing each and every item that you have a coupon for? Do you maximize your purchases by buying the maximum limit number of items, or do you just purchase one of everything? Do you buy 5 different brands of toilet paper, knowing that your family will only use Brand X or apple juice for kids who prefer orange? Or do you stock up on items that you currently don't need (i.e. denture cream), but may need a few, or 20 years down the road? What do you do with all the coupons that you may not use? And where do you put everything once you get home?

Making the decision to coupon doesn't just require dedication and hours of research. Although an important aspect of couponing is just that, there is much more required of you.


 The quality of having or showing discernment or good judgement...

Nobody needs 42 bottles of Nyquil, or 80 tubes of Crest. And while looking into the pantry and seeing 50 boxes of macaroni might seem like a good thing, in actuality it's not. (Unless of course you are planning to donate those items to your local food bank or homeless shelter~then by all means grab those goodies!)

Extreme couponing can cross the line into extreme hoarding very quickly. While I'm an advocate of preparedness and keeping the pantry full, I find it very disturbing to see people stockpile items that they have no intention of ever using or have enough time to use, just because they have a coupon for it. And moving a child into the basement so his room can be turned into another stockpile room, is a good sign that the couponing has turned the corner.

Besides it can really mess a kid up.

So, in the interest of saving money, here are a few tips that I have learned/am learning.

1. Read the fine print on your coupons when making a plan. Some coupons are not subject to doubling, or require the purchase of other items to be redeemable.

2. Only redeem coupons that you and your family will actually use. If you don't use sleep aids, don't purchase them! You are not saving money if you're spending it on useless items.

3. Double the largest coupons. In my town, we have a store that has "double" coupons. When used with a manufacturer coupon of at least 50 cents, they increase the savings another 50 cents (maximum). While they're not true double coupons, another 50 cents can take a $1.50 savings up to an even $2.

4. Do your research before leaving the house. Have a list for each store and the in-store sales going on to match up with your manufacturers coupons.

5. Preload, via the Internet, any "club cards" you may have. Often times there are more online coupons for card members than the advertisements show. And it keeps you from having to clip and keep track of the weekly store coupons.

6. Stick to what you know on the larger ticket items. If your family will only use one brand of laundry soap, don't waste your time or money trying to change their minds. If, however, you can pick up a pound of butter for $0.55, but it's not your usual brand, a $0.55 price tag is a good time to experiment.

7. Visit online coupon websites to print coupons from your own computer. Check with the stores  before shopping to make sure they accept computer-printed coupons. I once spent an hour loading my cart with groceries from these coupons, only to find at checkout that this particular store didn't accept them. Talk about a big, fat waste of time!

8. Organize a coupon exchange with friends. Everyone wanting to participate, clips as many coupons as they can during the month, then gets together and trades the coupons that they can't use. I have several "feminine product" coupons that I can't use (no equipment and my girls aren't interested in these), but someone will be excited to get them. I've been invited to my first one later this month, so I'll let you know how it goes!

9. Check expiration dates. Never buy 80 boxes of cereal at once, unless you have 40 children...and if you do, GOD. BLESS. YOU....but for the rest of us, the cereal will become stale before it's even opened. The same rule applies to any over-the-counter medications.

10. Take advantage of clearance items. Sometimes stores need to get rid of a product quickly because of overstocking, label changes, or it's being discontinued. This is where great savings can happen. But only if it's a product that you will use! Otherwise it's like burning money.

11. Pair up with a friend to maximize savings. Some coupons will require you to purchase multiples of an item before the savings can begin, so partner up and then split it up later.

I've noticed that on the show "Extreme Couponing", shoppers can get very creative with their organizing of coupons. While it may make sense to carry around a 3-inch, 3-ring binder to some, for me it's not practical. I bring a clipboard with my notes attached, a pen, and business-sized envelopes for my coupons. Currently, I have 4 different envelopes; 2 with store names on them for their weekly coupons, 1 with manufacturer's coupons, and 1 for all of the coupons I plan on using that day. I bring them all though, just in case I've missed something or visit a store on the spur of the moment. (It happens!)

Just know that there is no right or wrong way to coupon. Some people are more successful at it than others (*ahem...that would be me.), but any savings is better than none, especially if you remember to only purchase those items that you will use now, or in the near future.

One last thing.

12. Be courteous. It takes a little longer to go through a check stand with coupons and not everyone is as thrilled as you are about your little stack of gold. Especially the mom with the crying baby. Or the elderly gentleman whose wife is waiting in the car. And for goodness sake, be aware of your surroundings when perusing the aisles. It will do you no good to save a few pennies at the check stand if you have to pay for someones physical therapy from a drive-by couponing mishap.

It could happen.☺

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gratituesday~My College Graduate

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Valerie who loved adventure.

Valerie and Melissa

She loved her family.

A trip to the zoo~2007
She eventually fell in love and married Jake.
Jake returning from Iraq.
But Valerie also loved to learn. After 17 years of homeschool academia, she went on to learn some more. From teachers who knew more than how to dissect a frog, or how to diagram a sentence. Knew more about paper writing, mathematical equations, and sociological issues.  People who didn't know that Valerie once read through the letter "I" in the most popular series by Britannica. People who didn't know how seriously Valerie took her college classes or how many hours she actually spent studying for each one. People who didn't know that Valerie loved adventure, her family, or her Jake. People who knew only one thing.
Graduating with honors and two degrees, they knew that Valerie was going to make one heck of an amazing nurse.
Just as her first teachers knew all those years ago.
Two generations of RN's

Congratulations to the newest nurse in the family, Valerie D., RN!

"Train up a child in the way the way he should go and when he is old, he shall not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
This post is linked to Heavenly Homemakers Gratituesdays.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quiche Lorraine

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

Before sitting down to plan out our meals for the week, I do a quick inventory of the refrigerators, pantry, and freezers to keep our grocery costs low. Of course, reading other's blogs with their tempting recipes usually adds extras to the list, but I try to start with a base of items already in the house. For instance, we bought an old hamburger cow a couple of years ago, so many of our meals were planned around ground beef. Another year, we had a seemingly endless supply of canned tomatoes, so I learned every way possible to use canned tomatoes.

This time of year finds us eating a lot of egg dishes. In fact, we currently have so many eggs, the chickens have become my nemesis of sorts. I'm sure they're mocking me every time another hen lays an egg. Our refrigerator has become a target and the chickens seem to be backing up and shooting the eggs straight into it!

That explains all the cackling going on in the henhouse.

This week, my grocery list consisted of two items; fresh cilantro and dried cherries.


Because right at this moment, eggs are my life.

One of our favorite ways to use eggs is in a dish called, "Quiche Lorraine". I'm sure I don't know Lorraine, but if I ever meet her, she can expect a big hug from this Momma hen! This recipe has become a new staple in our home and by using different meats and cheeses, it's like having a new dish every time!

~Quiche Lorraine~
 (Low carb)

~The Players~
6 whole eggs
4 Tb. half & half
Tabasco sauce, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
coconut oil or butter, to grease muffin tin
1/4 cup Swiss, mozzarella, cheddar, or any favorite cheese
3 green onions, chopped
8 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped, or 1/2 cup ham, pancetta, or cooked sausage

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk the eggs, half & half, and Tabasco until combined. Add the cheese and onion; season with salt & pepper. Grease a 12-muffin tin with coconut oil or butter. Divide meat into each muffin cup and top with the egg mixture.

Bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle of the quiche comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I double the recipe and use the leftovers in sandwiches, or wrapped in tortillas.

Do you have an abundance of eggs from over-achieving backyard hens? Other than sellling them, giving them away, or sneaking them into guests' cars, what are you doing with your extra eggs?

This post is linked to The Barnyard Hop.

Menu Plan~6/19

I have a confession to make.

With the craziness of last week's 2 graduation ceremonies and a graduation barbecue/party, I sort of fell off the low-carb wagon.

Because there was cake.

With fudge filling.

I cannot be held responsible for anything that happens when someone brings out a cake with fudge filling.

It was sabotage.

Before I fell of the proverbial wagon, I did pretty well with the plan. Here are some highlights before the fall.

Quiche Lorraine (Recipe this week)

This wasn't on the plan, but since the chickens are practically lining up at the fridge to shoot their eggs directly into the cartons, eggs became the go-to breakfast of the week~just so we could close the refrigerator doors.

Tomato, Cheese, and Onion Omelette's w/ Sweet & Spicy Tabasco and Creme Fraiche

Hazelnut Quinoa Salad with Creamy Strawberry Dressing

This week we'll be repeating a couple of recipes since I got a little carried away when making the sauces. Currently we have an extra pint of Peanut Sauce and a pint of Creamy Strawberry Dressing in the fridge.

I blame the busyness of life.

And the cake.

Here's what's cooking this week...

Homemade soaked granola
Salmon Patties & Kim's Tartar Sauce, Broccoli Salad, Sourdough bread

Roasted Red Pepper & Cheese Omelette's

Yogurt Smoothies, Ezekiel toast w/ peanut butter

Quiche Lorraine
Lemon Scallop Linguine (brown rice pasta) (new), Caesar Salad

Sourdough Pancakes

Dried Cherry Scones (new)
Chicken Tamale Pie (new), Green salad w/ Ranch dressing

Scrambled eggs & elk sausage


This post is linked to Menu Mondays at Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Frugal Friday~Extreme Couponing, Part 1

One of my newest obsessions, in a growing list of many, is extreme couponing. I had heard about the show on TLC, but didn't really have a desire to sit down and watch crazy people using scissors in an obsessive-compulsive sort of way.

Silly me.

Thanks to an unexpected rain shower and below normal temperatures, my Mister and I spent a cozy afternoon with a fire, a cup of organic decaf, and the remote control. Of course, the remote became obsolete once we stumbled onto the show, "Extreme Couponing". Do you know how long a marathon actually equates to on television? About 7 hours. It was not one of our finer moments.

We did however learn a very valuable skill. No, it is not how to use scissors while rummaging through someone else's recyclables. (While a valuable skill to be sure, it does us country folk no good to rummage around in other people's firestarters; it could get us shot.) We learned that with the right coupons, a little research, and a whole lot of prep time, we too could save thousand of dollars from our grocery bill.

Thousands you say?

Example: One lady purchased over $3,000.00 worth of groceries. Her final bill with coupons, rebates, and a loaded club card was $9.10. Did you hear me? $9.10!!!! Not only did she stock her own food pantry, but she also donated a hefty amount to her local food bank. Another family, over a period of time, was able to pay off their mortgage and pay cash for brand new vehicles with the money that they had saved. Yet another couple, who are empty-nesters, use their savings to go on elaborate vacations every year!

After being a sceptic for so long, I have to say, I'm hooked.

Now, because I'm a newbie at this, my savings were not what they could be in the future. Apparently, one needs to be diligent about clipping coupons and building a stash. But, for a first-timer, I did good. (Insert goofy giggle.)

I only have one problem with people who extreme coupon. Just because a person has a coupon for something doesn't mean they need to buy it~especially if it is something he/she would never use! One lady had over 40 boxes of cat food and had never owned a cat in her life. So, while clipping coupons, I made sure to only clip those that would benefit our family. That said, I did buy a few things that I normally wouldn't buy, like boxed macaroni & cheese, movie-sized boxes of Whoppers & Reese's Pieces, laundry detergent, and packages of pasta.

In the spirit of justification, here's my reasoning:

1. Boxed mac & cheese is an easy meal that the kids can prepare if my Mister & I have a date night. I don't have to worry about them burning the house down, and because it's not the norm for them, it makes a fun treat. It also makes date night a little more spontaneous since I don't have to worry about planning something before we can leave.

2. Movie theater candy makes family stay-at-home-movie-night a little more special. For us to take the 7 of us to the movies, the tickets alone would cost us almost $65.00. Add in popcorn and a drink, and we're looking at a movie viewing experience of well over $100! No movie is worth that. Ever.

3. Laundry detergent~I make our own laundry soap for home use, but sometimes I forget to make the soap in time. Store-bought soap also travels a little easier during vacation travel!

4. Packaged pasta~Usually we use brown rice or sprouted wheat pastas, but during the summer, I'm not particular. With all of the potlucks, picnics, and camping, boxed pasta is fine, just as long as we use the healthy stuff the rest of the year.

While these are not our normal, they do store well, are great for traveling, and save us money.

Because I plan on taking a fabulous trip someday.

So how did my first extreme couponing trip go? I came home with...

*10 barbecue sauces (no corn syrup!)
10 packages mac & cheese
1 dijon mustard (large jar)
1 bag of dog treats
1 dishwasher detergent
1 rinse aid (for cleaning out the dishwasher)
2-100 oz. liquid laundry detergents
*4-1.5 quarts key lime sherbet
4 bags of frozen hashbrowns (for camping)
2 Father's Day cards
*2 sun tea glass jars
*1 hanging flower basket
10 movie-sized boxes of candy
10 packages of various pastas
*4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 lb. butter
4 bottles of loratidine for allergies (36 count)
3- (44 count) packages of feminine products
1 hair mousse
1 jar no-sugar pasta sauce
1 balsamic vinegar
60 double rolls of toilet paper (the good stuff!)
*4-2 liter bottle of soda
*2 bags of Sunchips
*6 organic limes
*4 organic lemons

$312.51~total amount of goods purchased
$240.82~total amount of money spent
Savings of: $71.69

(I also earned a $.20/gallon gas discount at one store, and a $.10/gallon discount at another.)

So, maybe my first trip wouldn't be considered extreme, but for us, I've never saved that much just by clipping coupons, loading the store cards with in-store sales, and keeping an eye out for buy 1, get 1 free deals. The items with * next to them are products we purchased for our daughter's graduation party, so without those the total spent would've been about $80.00 less with the same savings. 

I guess there's always next time!☺ 

Are you extreme couponing? Do you have any special tips to share? I would love to learn more!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coconut Curry Peanut Sauce

Warning: If you suffer from a peanut allergy, please avert your eyes now. I cannot be held responsible for any computer screen licking that may come from continuing with this post. Of course, I wouldn't blame you if you did.

Of all the flavors in the world, or at least in my neck of the world, peanut is my favorite. And chocolate. Especially chocolate and peanut butter together. And coconut. And lime. Oh, and I can't leave out blueberries. Okay, maybe I should begin again....

Peanuts, coconut milk, lime, and curry equals the state of eternal happiness, otherwise known as nirvana. (I'm not Buddhist, I looked it up.) It also equals low carb, so there is no guilt. Unless of course you add chocolate and blueberries, but that would just be weird. For 1/4 cup serving, there are only 6 carbs. And even though most of my favorite flavors are in this sauce, I didn't use an entire 1/4 cup. I showed great restraint with my meal.

I used a scant 1/4 cup.

I have absolutely no idea where this recipe originally came from, but I know that it was quickly jotted down in one of my trusty notebooks by yours truly. I'm currently on my fourth notebook of miscellaneous recipes.

At some point, my organizational skills are going to have to be reevaluated.

For now though, I'm going to have some more peanut sauce and dream about chocolate-covered blueberries.☺

~Coconut Curry Peanut Sauce~
(A Low Carb Recipe)

~The Players~
3 Tb. coconut oil
2 Tb. Red Thai Curry Paste (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. ground cumin
3/4 cup skinless, unsalted peanuts
1 can coconut milk (not light!)
1 packet of stevia or the equivalent of liquid stevia
Juice and zest of 1 lime
3/4 t. sea salt

Grind peanuts in a food processor until dry and crumbly, but not a peanut butter consistency. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in skillet; add curry paste and fry on medium heat until fragrant, but do not let it burn.

After about 30 seconds, add the spices and cook briefly to release flavor. Add coconut milk, peanuts, and stevia and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook a few minutes until slightly thickened.

Season with lime juice, zest and sea salt.

Drizzle over chicken, serve as a dipping sauce, or serve it over rice.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gardens, Guineas, and Tractors

What a crazy, busy week we've had!

Wait a minute. I've said that before. Let me rephrase that statement...

What another crazy, busy week we've had! Again!

The sun brought heat to the party, so the garden is up and running. Actually, it's currently trying to outrun the weeds that have seemed to have overtaken the potato patch, but it's green, so it counts. My Mister was concerned about his pasty-skinned family baking in the sun, so he erected an awning to protect us. I love that man!

Must be break time.

Kentucky Wonder Green Beans

First-time apples on the tree!
The dandelion wine finally finished fermenting and we were able to "rack" it.

I'm unclear as to how it got the name of "racking", but for my Mister, it brought back memories of high school when he had to siphon gas from the lawnmower to put in his gas tank.

Now we wait for the wine to settle again before we'll bottle, cork, and age it.

Recycled wine bottles

Well, it's official. Tilly-mook was NOT "with calf". However, while she was happily noshing on some wet cob, the AI man was altering the course of her life forever.

Tilly didn't seem to mind, but personally, I found the whole process rather disturbing.

In retrospect, I should've provided the viewing audience with blindfolds.

"Did he say, 'Next'?"

If you've never had the pleasure of listening to a guinea fowl make a ruckus, let me enlighten you. A guinea fowl who senses danger, makes a noise that can only be described as nails-on-a-chalkboard-while-chewing-Styrofoam-as-bamboo-rods-are-being-shoved-into-both-ears-with-the-dentist-pulling-every-tooth-from-the-mouth-without-anesthetic-while-giving-birth-to-an-800-pound-child-sideways.

And, the danger doesn't have to be real danger. Guinea fowl make a lot of assumptions. So, I was a little distressed (to say the least!) to find this...

Good grief~she's an overachiever!

Thankfully, a project that my Mister & I have been working on is finally finished.

Meet The Country Kitchen.

A traveling salad buffet for the chicks and roos!

Of course, the tractor isn't limited to just chickens.
Soon the turkey poults will be grazing on grass and grubs.

Please don't tell the guinea fowl!

Next up for the tractor is 25 meat chicks due to arrive in a week.

I guess we'd better get started on a second tractor!

This post is linked The Barnyard Hop.