Friday, April 10, 2009

Frugal but Good, Friday Happenings...

I can't believe I've been missing for a week already! Time does fly, it seems, and no jet lag! A mulitude of Frugal Fridays have passed and the last of the grocery bags for Lent have gone to the local food pantry. My heart smiles, remembering..the new awareness, the decision, the action, the outcome...a more peaceful heart. As usual, Frugal Friday find me the Valley. We have sunshine, but very chilly temperatures. Here's the view on Good Friday, April 10, 2009. The squarish vehicle is parked, but the black one is passing on the state highway that runs through the Valley, old Hwy 29. The snow is gone, but not forgotten. Spring has been known to surprise us, one more time *VBS*
 For this Frugal Friday, I decided to share a bit of an old favorite book. I'm not sure if this one can still be found. Probably used and it would be worth your while to pick it up if you are one who wonders "how to do that". It was published in 1974 the first time. It's from Bantum Press, and my edition is from 1977. Almost anything you would want to do, for yourself, from delivering babies of all sorts to any kind of garden, home, schooling,recipe or old timey skill is covered in this book. It was considered the Homesteaders Bible back in my day...LOL. What I'm going to share today is about BUTTERMILK. A strange topic I know. But....what I didn't know was that you can keep your own buttermilk going at home, much as you would sour dough. Here's what Carla has to say about buttermilk. "Cultured buttermilk is skim milk that has been cultured with bacteria in much the same way yogurt is cultured. It is let stand for 12 to 14 hours after the culture has been introduced. Then it is stirred to break up the mass, that's why it doesn't have a yogurt like consistancy. Then to make it look churned, they take and spray butter fat into the buttermilk. The tiny flecks of butter make you a believer." "The butter fat added is about 1 - 2 %."
For homemade buttermilk, mix 1 quart of skim milk with 1/2 cup or so of commercial buttermilk in a GLASS container. You can keep the culture going until it gets contaminated. The same procedure works for yogurt, she says. Now it never occurred to me I could keep buttermilk going, but what the heck? A person wouldn't be out that much if it didn't work, and the idea of having it in the frig when needed is very tempting indeed.
 My second frugal friday tidbit looks a bit strange, I know. Over the years, I've baked thousands of cookies, thousands and thousands. With 5 kids, a DH and my Dad living in the house, cookies went pretty fast *VBS* Sometime early in my baking years, the problem arose, what to put the cookies on when removing them from the hot pan. My Mom had us using wax paper, but of course, it had to be purchased, and sometimes left you wondering if it came off on the cookies. Paper towels stick to the cookies, and the wire racks that are good for muffins or bread, slice into the bottom of cookies. I hit upon the idea of using a brown paper grocery bag. Cut open along the sides and flattened out, it worked well, was cost effective, and easy to dispose of. But that was then, and this is now. Brown paper bags are much harder to come by. I use cloth bags for groceries rather than plastic, and the few plastic ones I get do double and triple duty. A few months back I was baking cooking for grandsons, who were arriving shortly. Nothing says "Grandma" like a nice warm chocolate chip cookie *VBS*. BUT....I had nothing to cool the cookies on...what to do, what to do? Then I spied my small stack of flattened cracker and cereal boxes by the bookcase. In an instant I thought, "why not?". I cut one open, spread it on the countertop, gray side up(advertising down) and in a flash it was holding those hot cookies! And it worked fine. There is no reason to think the inside of the cereal box would be unsanitary, so why not? The cardboard can still be recycled, a little grease can't be any worse than the ink printing on the front...right?
 And last but not least, the progress on crocheted rug. The larger one is there for conparison. The new one grows steadily larger. It seems darker and somehow brighter than the previous one. Each one seems to be unique unto itself.
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LizBeth said...

Finn, I was wondering this morning where you had gone. Glad to see you pop up on the dashboard this evening. I have to go get supper started, but I will be back in a little while to read through your post. Yes, I'm a Carla Emery fan, too. Liz

scrappy quilter said...

I was wondering where you were too and had planned on sending you an e-mail. So glad you're back. I too am a Carla Emery fan. I'd love to find that book. Hope you have a wonderful Easter friend. Hugs..

LizBeth said...

Got everybody settled down and supper dispersed. We are trying to confuse our big dog who needs to lose weight, so we all spread out around the house . . . . . . .and it's a long story, but he has these big brown eyes that just beg at the table, but we must say no or he has to take pills to suppress his appetite.

Okay, about the buttermilk. Do you put yours in the frig when you start it or keep it in your cabinet? Which works best? For how long? How will I know if it is spoiled? I thought buttermilk just smells spoiled naturally.

What is the secret to keeping circles flat? I'm not good at that, so I just crochet in squares and rectangles and don't worry about it. But sometimes a circle would be nice.

And if you don't mind one more question, what do you do with the flattened cracker and cereal boxes? I hate to waste them, but I don't have enough legitimate uses for them, and I don't want to get overrun with clutter. Or bugs.

A friend from our "Former Life" was a retired farmer. She used to give me a half cake just about every time I went to see her. Chocolate with pecans on top. She would pull it out of the freezer wrapped in the waxed liner from a large box of cereal. She didn't waste a thing.

Please excuse the length, but you touched on several things that made me curious.

Oh, does the 74/77 edition of Carla's book have much that the newer ones don't? I have the next to the most recent, the 9th? I think. Haven't come close to having it all read, but I pick it up for potatoes and recipes when something is ready in the garden.

Thanks, Finn! Peace, Liz

Sew Create It - Jane said...

Great tip for the cereal boxes...I'll have to try that one.

Love the rugs!

Julie in the Barn said...

Hi Finn, Good to have you back. I'm finally getting started on a rug using your tutorial. Until recently I had a stack of old Mother Earth News mags I had saved from my "back to the land" phase. Your book reminds me all the little tidbits I learned from them. I'm not a big lover of buttermilk but I do use it in baking. I have a can of powdered buttermilk that I keep on hand and it doesn't spoil! Thanks for the cookie cooling cracker box idea. I, too, use brown bags and get so few anymore.

Susan said...

What a great recycling tip! I'll bet empty boxes would also be good for draining bacon, etc. after frying, though I don't do much frying, in the interests of not "going to waist."

I've been making quilt backs for four completed tops, and now have more salvages for my rug. Thanks for all your good ideas!

Libby said...

I love buttermilk! I'm the only one in the house that will drink it - but they do love pancakes, biscuits and other baked goods made with it. I usually always have some on hand. You know how I love to do things myself, so I must give this a try. I'd love to keep buttermilk going in the fridge all the time . . . another thing to make my heart sing *s*
I used to use paper sacks for cooling cookies, too. I have a precious few sacks stashed away in a cabinet just for this purpose. With my little family, I only need the extra space when the holidays come around . . . . but when the sacks run out, I'll remember the box trick - it's brilliant!
Happy Easter, Finn!

Cher said...

love your tips Finn, always a new one for me to file away. love how your rug is coming along. I still plan on making one, and maybe this will be the year at long last. They are so wonderful looking.

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

Our favorite uses for those sturdy brown paper bags was bookcovers! Mom also used them for cookie sheets - I haven't seen those bags in a long time and now our grocery store charges 5 cents for those awful, tiny, flimsy plastic ones that you only can put 3 things in or they get a hole!

I will have to experiment with this buttermilk idea, thank you! I already make bread every week so always have sourdough starter on hand. My favorite chocolate cake calls for buttermilk and we only can buy large containers of it.
Cheers! Evelyn

Granny Lyn said...

When I was growing up, it was a sin to throw away a bag of any kind,,,bread bags were the best,,,we used them for every thing from wrapping leftovers to boot liners, we even used them over socks when we lost our mittens,,,when my Nanny died, she had 67 of them stuffed in her cabinet. She was the Queen of Frugal!!

thanks for the good tips and the good memories, my friend!

julieQ said...

I must tell you...our cookie cloth is fabous throughout the family! Each batch of cookies is set out on the "cookie cloth", which is an old, clean dishtowel, the flour sack type. It is then put through the wash each is stained and old looking, but works great! I have used the same one for a really long time.

nannergirl said...

Thanks for the tip Finn. I love your Frugal Fridays. And your beautiful rug makes me think of the one my Nana had under her dining room table. I spent a whole lot of time playing on that rug :)

Jean said...

Hello Finn... good to see/hear/read you! Guess I need to get back at some more frugel reading! I have Carla's book... before it got published! Well... I mean the way I have it is when she was self publishing... she printed it herself on a mimograph machine! My mom bought copies of it for my brother and I and one for her/dad to have... just in case we needed to do some of the things that are in the book. I have used it over the years and it's great! So interesting to read about it again! I saw one last year while helping out at our local Church Deseret Industries. I should have gone back to buy it but I totally forgot when I was on my way home.
Your rugs such are bright and fun.