Tess' Year of Experimentation 2022

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Tess' Year of Experimentation 2022

1Tess_W
Jan 4, 2022, 9:05 am

I've started this year with a 2022 Youtube Challenge of No Spend/Low Spend January/February. This is very simple and I should have done it sooner. The premise is to use absolutely everything in your freezer and pantry before buying something else. I inventoried said freezer and pantry and probably have enough on hand to do this for 4 months. (or more) I began on Jan 1. I am budgeting myself $10 a week for such things as milk, lettuce, a few fresh fruits. The first week I only spent $1.43 on a green pepper. Why am I doing this? The reasons are twofold: 1) use up what I have. My freezer in the basement needs to be defrosted (hasn't been for 10 years). There isn't much frost build up at all, but hubby (a retired appliance repairman) says it is time! 2) I spent too much $ at Christmas on food, mostly baking supplies as I baked for days. The honey-baked ham also cost $105. Using what you have is economical. I have had fun inventorying and making the menus. My husband is in agreement with this plan!

2mnleona
Jan 4, 2022, 9:13 am

I bought an extra turkey and will use it this summer so it is taking up a lot of space in my freezer. You have a good idea.

3mnleona
Jan 4, 2022, 9:16 am

I just read about your challenge on the December post. Hope you can do it.

4Tess_W
Jan 10, 2022, 8:56 am

So far, doing good!

Week 1 spent $1.39 on a green pepper
Week 2 spent .79 on a green pepper, $1.29 on 1/2 gallon 2% milk, $1.25 on a pack of hot dog buns (we are going to have coney dogs one night), spent .79 on a honeycrisp apple, total-$4.15

5MrsLee
Jan 11, 2022, 6:27 pm

>4 Tess_W: That's pretty good! My husband nearly burst a vein the other day when he looked at the grocery receipt and realized that the broccoli cost $4.00.

6Tess_W
Editado: Jan 14, 2022, 11:23 am

Week 3
Spent $1.29 on 1/2 gallon of milk,$3.67 on 1 spaghetti squash, 2.99 on 16 oz. of fresh spinach. Still below my $10 per week budgeted!

This week I made Italian wedding soup with everything from the pantry. I used frozen spinach, but do not like the soup near as well as when made with fresh spinach.

I cooked up a big chuck roast, enough for 3 dinners for 2 people. The first night we had the roast beef with potatoes and carrots. A few days later I made roast beef pie. Tonight I'm making beef and noodles and having them over mashed potatoes--will use up the last real potatoes I have left over from Christmas who have been silently chilling in the garage.

Today I picked up 24 mason jars for just $10 (8 oz). That's half price. I'm waiting for some canning job. My mother and sister got me a pressure canner for Christmas and I'm chomping at the bit!

Also picked up some tomato seeds and I'm going to try and start them, cucumbers, and zucchini in the house for planting in May.

7Tess_W
Jan 21, 2022, 5:54 am

The $10 I allowed myself for this week did not go to any fresh vegetables as the store had NOT one salad, lettuce, etc. Those shelves were completely bare! However, the store had a manager sales of 4 dozen large eggs for $5 so I bought just one case and a bunch of bananas for $1.58, so I'm still under my $10 for this week.

8Raspberrymocha
Editado: Jan 22, 2022, 3:56 pm

>7 Tess_W: I'm doing a pantry only challenge for January. I only shop once a month, so it's not too bad. However, for some stupid reason I ran out of onions. I had to go buy 12 lbs which should do me for the rest of the month. I've kept track of my meals. Only one repeat, as that was leftover Chicken and noodles. i have a 9x19 ft pantry that my late hubby had added onto my kitchen. It holds 3 full sized freezers and 2 fridges along one wall. My dry good are on the other. However, since there's no room left, my canning remains in the basement and my dehydrated and herbs are on kitchen shelves. I'm mad at myself for having to go to the store though, just due to a stupid error in judgment. Hopefully, next month I do better.

9Tess_W
Jan 23, 2022, 8:26 am

>8 Raspberrymocha: Good job! I wish I had a walk in pantry, but I don't and there is non logical place to add one on unless we take away space in the garage and hubby says NO! My freezer and canned goods are in the basement. After the January/February pantry challenge I'm going to purchase a food sealer. My mother got me a pressure canner for Christmas so I'm raring to go!

10thornton37814
Jan 31, 2022, 3:35 pm

>7 Tess_W: I ran into that this month too--no lettuce, no salad greens in bags, etc. Strange!

I love your challenge. I need to defrost my freezer too.

11Tess_W
Fev 19, 2022, 8:00 pm

I found on FB market place, 1/2 gallon Mason jars with lids. 6 for $15 and I snapped them up! You can't can with them (too large), but they are great for long term storage of things like rice, dried beans, flour, etc.

12MrsLee
Fev 20, 2022, 1:53 pm

>11 Tess_W: Nice deal! That is a great size for fermenting things like sauerkraut and kimchi.

13Tess_W
Editado: Mar 4, 2022, 10:33 pm

>12 MrsLee: ooooo I want to do sauerkraut this summer and then can it.

Today I canned 6 pints of carrots, 6 pints of ham, 7 quarts of pinto beans & ham. I bought an entire ham for $4.10 because it was the last one and it expired the next day. I brought it home, chopped it up, canned some of it, saved another 2 cups to put in something--hash or scalloped potatoes or whatever. Also saved 4 cups to make ham salad for my husband when he gets home on Sunday.

I'm continuing my pantry challenge until my freezer is empty! I rotate the stock--deep freeze in basement--I use food out of my refrigerator freezer. When a shelf is empty, I go to the deep freeze and replenish the fridge freezer shelf. My deep freeze needs defrosted. I think I can go for another 2-3 months (or more) before it is empty!

14mstrust
Mar 5, 2022, 11:04 am

Wow, you're really keeping up with your challenge! Great!
I'm starting to do my Spring baking, which is when I make all the stuff that goes into my deep freeze to last us through the summer. I don't bake in the summer.

15Tess_W
Mar 5, 2022, 10:05 pm

>14 mstrust: Great idea! I don't really fire up my oven too often in the summer, preferring to use the grill or the crockpot. What type of things do you bake for your freezer?

16mnleona
Mar 6, 2022, 9:06 am

>14 mstrust: and >15 Tess_W: I was a summer baker when I had my kids and we had a large family. I am not in the mood in the winter. I bake cupcakes for me and do freeze them.
Last year my rhubarb plants did not produce a lot. I usually cut and freeze them and do my baking later.
Do you bake and freeze cookies?

17mstrust
Mar 6, 2022, 4:18 pm

Most years I fill my freezer with lemon cookies and tea bread, because someone always gives me bags and bags of lemons from their trees. I got just one bag of lemons this year and their all gone now. So, I made a big tray of berry cookie bars and a tray of brownies so far. I may make zucchini bread and some cookies this week. Sometimes I squeeze fruit juice and freeze it to use in the summer.
I bake and freeze cookies all the time. Unfrosted cake layers too.

18thornton37814
Mar 6, 2022, 5:18 pm

I love lemon cookies!

19mnleona
Mar 7, 2022, 7:57 am

I see you are in Phoenix. We had friends who lived in Tucson and there were the lemon trees. How lucky you are.

20mstrust
Mar 7, 2022, 11:53 am

Yes, lots of citrus in the Spring. The orange trees will start to bloom soon and you can drive past certain neighborhoods that smell incredible.
I've pulled out butter and eggs to get to room temp. I bought a bag of ginger roots yesterday so I'll back something with them today, maybe use a bit grated into dinner too.

21Tess_W
Editado: Mar 23, 2022, 10:04 pm

I don't bake and freeze cookies. I have 7 grandchildren and they can devour several dozen in the same amount of minutes! I do make pumpkin and zucchini bread, though, and freeze, after I harvest them.

Still going strong on my pantry challenge. I never thought I could go for almost 3 months with buying nothing but lettuce and a weekly fruit. I'm going to extend this indefinitely until I get one freezer (I have 2) completely empty.

I planted seedlings today and got them under grow lights: 3 types of tomatoes, zucchini, cukes, basil, rosemary, thyme, and red peppers.

22thornton37814
Mar 25, 2022, 8:48 am

>21 Tess_W: I admire your freezer challenge.

23Tess_W
Mar 28, 2022, 11:12 pm

>22 thornton37814: TY!

7 days later I have sprouts of everything (see post 20) except bell peppers.

24thornton37814
Mar 29, 2022, 3:22 pm

>23 Tess_W: So nice things are growing!

25mstrust
Mar 29, 2022, 4:49 pm

I didn't have a bell pepper or even the start of one for over a month, but now I have several buds starting.
My plants have really taken a beating the last few days due to the erratic weather. The winds come suddenly and blow the pots over before I can move them, then we have a day of intense heat.

26Tess_W
Abr 21, 2022, 9:35 pm

Went antiquing with my mother over Easter weekend and the only things I bought were 2 older cookbooks--really they were magazines:

McCall's Casserole Cookbook 1972
Favorite Recipes for the Farm Kitchen 1960
and 1 pamphlet dated 1918 that had a recipe for bread, claiming to be Herbert Hoover's favorite. This was during WWI--he was the head of the U.S. Food Administration. The recipe calls for graham flour and wheat berries--which you mill yourself. I don't have a mill, but I have a hammer that might work. The bread is supposed to be dense and chewy. We shall see!

27Tess_W
Abr 21, 2022, 9:40 pm

Aldi's had chicken leg quarters on sale for $.49 per pound! I bought 20 lbs, cooked on low in roaster overnight, pulled meat off bones and canned the next day. 20 pints of chicken (which is enough for 40 meals for 2 people) and 6 quarts of chicken broth. One can did not seal, so we had chicken noodle soup for dinner!

28thornton37814
Abr 23, 2022, 7:13 pm

>26 Tess_W: I've seen personal mills for sale, but they are a little pricy for as infrequently as I'd use them.

>27 Tess_W: Sounds delicious.

29Tess_W
Editado: Maio 26, 2022, 3:40 am

Today I canned 8 pints of vegetable broth and 8 quarts of corned beef. We hardly ever eat corned beef (as in 4-5 times in the last 40 years!), but one of the groceries had them on sale for half price, so bought 3 and canned! The worst part was ridding them of that fat cap!

30Tess_W
Jun 7, 2022, 7:26 am

Bought a vintage cookbook at an antique store, Food that Really Schmecks; Mennonite Country Cooking, by Edna Staebler. Most of the recipes are heavy and will be probably be fare for autumn/winter cooking. Can't wait!

31mnleona
Jun 7, 2022, 8:52 am

I like to read these cookbooks from an area. My second son was born in 1960.

32thornton37814
Jun 7, 2022, 10:08 am

My favorite cookbooks are often the community or family cookbooks, even though they often lack photos of the recipes. I do love it when they include information about the community or family memories though!

33Sovay
Editado: Jun 9, 2022, 2:55 am

>1 Tess_W: That's a really good challenge and I should follow suit - however too much of what's in my store cupboard is rice, pasta, oatmeal, cous cous - carbs as far as the eye can see, which I stocked up on during Covid lockdowns to keep me going if I couldn't leave the house, but am now trying to cut down on for health reasons. Can't give them to food banks as the packets are open. Can't bear to waste them...

>26 Tess_W: WW1 food in the US sounds very hard work! I have one (reproduction) British cookery book from that era (the Great War Cookbook by May Byron) and have struggled to identify any recipe I want to cook and eat. WW2 cookery books tend to be very perky and upbeat about the challenges of rationing (annoyingly so, I suspect, to the average person trying to cope with full-time job, shortages, queues, plus all the stresses of war); the WW1 one however is suffused with gloom and anguish, not least at the idea of having to eat VEGETABLES!

34Tess_W
Jun 28, 2022, 12:37 am

Attempting to make own sauerkraut....probably won't do again because it's cheaper to buy an expensive brand than to buy your own cabbage. However, it's been 4 weeks and the cabbage isn't really kraut....I don't see those gas bubbles at the top. I followed the brine instructions. Any advice?

35MrsLee
Editado: Jun 29, 2022, 6:34 pm

>34 Tess_W: When I ferment kraut, I don't use a brine. I add a tablespoon or two of seasalt and massage it until it creates its own brine. Then I weight it down so all is under the brine. What temperature are you keeping it at? Fermenting goes slower in the cold.

36Tess_W
Jun 30, 2022, 7:27 am

> By brine, I meant sea salt and it's own juices. I've done what you have suggested and tomorrow it will be a month....It's at room temp, when is between 70-80 here.

37MrsLee
Jun 30, 2022, 11:48 am

>36 Tess_W: Huh, I don't know then. There are some fermentation groups on FB that might have advice. I'm a member of Wild Fermentation there. My kraut is usually done after a week.

Have you tasted it? You don't always see the bubbles. It shouldn't be bad if it doesn't smell wrong (funny thing to say about kraut!), or have evidence of mold or spoilage. Things like too much salt, or not enough can impair fermentation I think, but if you followed a recipe that shouldn't be an issue.

You reminded me, I have to go test my jar of pickles I started on Saturday.

38thornton37814
Jul 1, 2022, 2:55 pm

I'm not a huge fan of kraut. I really prefer just plain cooked cabbage.

39Tess_W
Editado: Ago 23, 2022, 10:48 pm

>37 MrsLee: My kraut was finally done on week 6--just took longer than I had anticipated. It's too tart for me, but my husband liked it. I had enough for 4 pint jars--one for the refrig/current eating and I canned 3 pints.

Preppers/homesteaders/canners, etc. are a big group on You Tube. I subscribe to about a dozen channels and this month a challenge was created called #everybitcounts. Before our big harvests in September (for most traditional crops), the challenge was to preserve something every day--whether it be by canning, freeze drying, freezing, or dehydrating. At this time of year the gardens are just starting to come in "little" bits, so this was very apropos. I have been able to come up with something everyday and I'm very pleased to say that thus far I have:
picked/bagged/frozen 2 pints of raspberries, 2 pints of blackberries
canned 7 pints of sweet cherries
canned a total of 28 pints of chicken--although I did this on different days (I bought at half price on the "best buy date"
canned 4 pints of sweet potatoes
canned 4 quarts of corned beef with potatoes and carrots
canned 2 pints of carrots
dehydrated 4 pounds of mushrooms
dehydrated about 8 pounds of green, red, and orange bell peppers
made baked apples, only enough for about 2 meals so I put them in tupperware in the fridge!
harvested and dried my rosemary (1 plant). Made about 1/2 bottle (spice sized) of herb.
made 8 loaves of zucchini bread, froze grated zucchini in muffin tins and then frozen in bulk in plastic bags to add to stews and casseroles. I used it for the first time tonight by adding to a chicken and rice casserole and it was wonderful!

I hope to have about a bushel of tomatoes to ripen over the next 2-3 days (but the nights are chilly) so I can can tomatoes and salsa. I hope to dehydrate some also to make tomato powder.

I have a new "toy" in the kitchen--and electric, digital canner. My stovetop with the jiggler is a 23 quart, the electronic one is only 9.5 quarts. The electronic one is a lot easier, however, it is only for small batches. I've also noticed that I'm getting some siphoning in the electronic canner that I don't normally get on the stovetop one. Will need to read owners guide more closely.

40MrsLee
Ago 24, 2022, 10:04 am

>39 Tess_W: Good work! I do find that I have to be careful not to preserve more than my husband and I can handle eating. The fact that I do not grow a garden helps, but since I make jellies and jams out of windfall fruits that others give me, the jars stack up. Happily, I always have a nice gift if I need one unexpectedly. Only one of my children is enthusiastic about the jelly and jam, the other two don't eat much of it, so I can't gift them with it at Christmas.

If you check my latest post you can see what I did with an elderberry gift from my brother. In spite of making all that I did, I still have 3 bags full of berries in the freezer. Making fruit-scrap vinegar is a nice way to preserve from the fruit one normally wouldn't can or cook with. It also makes nice gifts to those who cook. Making catsup or bbq sauce is another way to use up older frozen fruit or vegetables, and again, makes a nice gift.

41mstrust
Ago 24, 2022, 11:22 am

Wow, you've been so busy! It's great that you've found so much to do with your harvest. I have one ground cherry that seems to be forming fruit, ha!

42Tess_W
Ago 24, 2022, 3:54 pm

>40 MrsLee: I will also be giving homemade gifts this year.

>41 mstrust: Not sure what a ground cherry is!

43mnleona
Out 2, 2022, 1:28 pm

My granddaughter and her boyfriend brought me some honey from their bees. A nice treat. Homemade is always a great gift.

44Tess_W
Editado: Dez 6, 2022, 8:07 am

So I've made my Christmas cookie/candy list and on Saturday let the baking being: Mexican wedding balls, peanut butter fudge, chocolate fudge, turtles, Amish soda cracker toffee, graham cracker toffee, thumbprint cookies with 3 types of jam, snickerdoodles (requested by my eldest son--aged 45!), peanut brittle.

During Thanksgiving Meijer had sweet potatoes for 19 cents per pound. I bought a lot! We had our traditional Thanksgiving casserole. I decided to can the remaining. However, the canning community is divided as to whether to blanch the sweet potatoes before canning. I tried it both ways....don't blanch--they turn too soggy after 65 minutes of pressure canning! I have 4 pints of mushy sweet potatoes (which I will use for future casseroles) and 4 pints of nicer, more firm sweet potatoes.

I tried a new recipe for left over pumpkin and it was fabulous! My youngest grandchild thought it was mac n cheese! The recipe for Pumpkin/Sausage bake is here: https://scratchpantry.com/recipes/2021/5/sausage-pumpkin-pasta-bake

45mstrust
Dez 6, 2022, 10:51 am

Nice to see someone other than me who goes nuts with the holiday baking! I have six types of cookies down and I'll keep going.
Wow, 19 cents a pound! That's 1960's prices!

>41 mstrust: Ground cherries aren't that common. It's a short bush that produces yellow cherry-like berries wrapped in paper coverings, like tomatillos. They can be eaten raw or baked and canned like other berries.
Unfortunately, my berries didn't ripen enough and the whole plant died soon after. I'm trying again.

46MrsLee
Editado: Dez 6, 2022, 12:50 pm

>44 Tess_W: One of the best pies I ever had was a sweet potato pie. Maybe your mushy ones would work for that?

47Tess_W
Dez 6, 2022, 1:56 pm

>45 mstrust: TY for the info!
>46 MrsLee: Will probably do that, also!

48hfglen
Dez 6, 2022, 2:16 pm

>45 mstrust: That sounds like what we call a Cape Gooseberry (probably because it isn't a gooseberry and doesn't come from a cape).