Things I want to save to remember from “Modern Pioneering” by Georgia Pellegrini

One of the thirteen books I checked out of the library today was Georgia Pellegrini’s “Modern Pioneering”. It’s one of those almost Pinterest-y books that reads like a cross between a personal journal and a women’s magazine. Definite contract to the new edition of “The Two Income Trap” by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi.

I was reminded by this book that I could dehydrate my own figs/apples/pineapples and make my own strawberry/wine fruit leather. A friend’s father kindly sent us home with home-dehydrated homegrown figs and strawberries. Now I’m thinking maybe, just maybe, we need a fig tree in the front yard.

Also, red currants and hazelnut. And rugosa roses, for their beautiful and useful rose hips.

I’ve been feeling anxious about finances lately–it happens from time to time with me, and lately it’s been serious–but I find that if I get out to the library and work on plans for debt repayment and the future, I get over it much quicker. Due to some seriously strange events at work, I’m also going to have a chunk of overtime on the next check. That should help with paying things off.

The same garden-loving friend is working on a meal plan for those with a low income. I’ll be working on mine too. Our family of 3 had a US$100 budget for food this week, and I spent just under US$94. I still need to buy dishwasher tablets for our machine, but it will end up under US$100 regardless.

Herb Syrup:
1/2 cup rosemary, or 1 cup other herbs
2 cups sugar
3 cups water

Bring 3 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Remove pan from heat and add herbs. Cover and let them steep for 3 hours to strongly infuse the water.
Strain the liquid into a medium non-reactive saucepan. Add sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar completely.
Boil to thicken, without stirring, for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Let syrup cool to room temperature and bottle the syrup. It will store well in the refrigerator for three months.

Smoked Salts:
1/2 cup salt
1 cup wood chips

Line bottom of a wok or wide, deep pot with aluminum foil and place 1 cup of wood chips on top
Lay another piece of foil gently above it, leaving plenty of air. Pour your salt evenly on the sruface  and place the lid on the pot.
Turn the burner on medium heat and let the salt smoke for 20 minutes. You may want to turn your stove vents on, though it won’t become overwhelmingly smoky. If the smoke seems too intense, turn down the heat.
After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and leavet he covered pot as-is for 5 minutes to let the smoke subside. Remove lid and top piece of foil. Pour salt into a storage jar with a lid to keep by the stove.

A frivolous expense that saves me money

You know how when you’re looking for tips on how to pay off debt and save money, people *always* put in something like: “Make your own coffee instead of spending on lattes as the cafe”?

Yeah, I hate that tip. Not because I spend tons of money at corner cafes. In the last 90 days I’ve spent maybe $45 on coffee when I’ve been out. (Fast food, on the other hand…ugh. That’s a hole in the budget.) When you consider I have to do non-dairy milk and I enjoy flavors in my coffee, buy the biggest size, and tip well, I think I’ve been out for coffee about 7 times in the last 90 days.

I hate the “make your own coffee” thing because, well–my coffee wasn’t coming out as well. Even using Gevalia and filtered water. Even adding a pinch of cinnamon and/or cloves. Even adding flavored syrups–at $6 a bottle, even though they last quite a while, it just wasn’t the same. Something was missing.

Since I’m the only coffee drinker in the half heathen household, I purchased an inexpensive Bella espresso machine from Target a few years back. That $40 has more than paid for itself since I can now make coffee at home easily for one person, but the coffee was still missing that “something” that I just couldn’t put my finger on. So I kept buying coffee out sometimes, up until recently.

On a whim, I purchased a flavored non-dairy liquid creamer at the grocery store. International Delight Hazelnut coffee creamer, in fact. It’s a frivolous expense when you consider our tight grocery budget. But if I put a full tablespoon into my coffee, I’m not tempted to go out for coffee. Literally the frivolous $2.50 I spent on creamer is saving us some money.¬† (Okay…okay…I may have bought the pumpkin spice creamer the next week. But I’ve only gone out and purchased prepared coffee drinks once since then! Once!)

I know, I know–sweetened liquid fat isn’t all that healthy. But when compared to hundreds of calories consumed and hundreds of dollars spent, a 35 calorie tablespoon of non-dairy flavored creamer daily isn’t that bad.