Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kitchen Confessions

I am Jenny. And I confess — I do NOT make bread, yogurt,  mozzarella, ricotta or pesto!

I said in response to a comment on the last pantry post I did (two days ago) that I feel guilty for not making our bread & yogurt.

I’ve heard mozzarella is easy too, and then I found the post below. It isn’t easy, it’s drop-dead simple!

My vague memory is that you can make ricotta from the mozzarella’s whey, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, we use a LOT of mozzarella in the summer: mozzarella, pesto & tomato sandwiches. YUM!

So now I have something else to be guilty I don’t make. I suppose while I’m at it, I’ll add sour dough starter too.

Less stuff management, more cooking! (Cooking & eating are sooo much more fun than cataloging books and stuff or cleaning!)

If I’m going to produce all the other ingredients it the sandwich (bread, tomatoes & mozzarella) I suppose I should make the pesto too? I’ve never grown enough basil to be able to make pesto. I grow about 3 plants yearly, which gives us fresh in summer and I dry enough to keep from buying supermarket sawdust in the winter. But I don’t grow enough to make pesto.

I wonder how many plants I’d have to have? I regularly have all the other ingredients on hand, I think: virgin olive oil, good salt, parmesan, garlic and pine nuts, just not sufficient basil.

I found a recipe for pesto. It includes: basil, olive oil, pine nuts, salt, garlic, parmesan cheese, romano cheese, and butter. If I rated the recipe (the way I do) for self-sufficiency, right now it would be: 1/1/6 [or 1 item I grow/produce regularly now (garlic), 1 I could grow or produce (basil) and 6 I need to purchase].

So, I should NOT make pesto. It’s not worth the effort if what I grow & produce (or could) aren’t at least 1/2 of the ingredients. Pesto just got put on the permanent buy list, unless we get a cow or goat.

First I need to make yogurt, then bread, then maybe mozzarella, and maybe ricotta or maybe I’ll make a sour dough starter and make sour dough bread instead and then mozzarella? Or maybe I’ll just keep buying everything?

I’d love to stop finding more food stuffs that I SHOULD make and don’t, so I can stop feeling guilty. But at least I can buy pesto with a clear conscience – thanks for listening!

The Problem & Blessing of Sisters!

For whatever reason, for years, I kept trying to be adopted so to speak by any family but my own. My counselor & I are agreed that part of the reason that the house purging goes in fits & starts is that I’m not just purging the stuff, but grieving the family — the family I’ve never had.

Since my traumatic event is losing my mother at 3, sisters or quasi-sisters were an obvious substitute.

The quasi-sister closest in age and distance to me was the abuser’s daughter, and it wasn’t until years later that I realized the abuser had done with her daughter what she’d also done to me. That is compare me over and over again, with her daughter, who was apparently my superior in every way. Her daughter told me something that made me see that the woman had pitted us against each other, so we couldn’t find mutual comfort, while calling us “sisters” or saying we were like sisters.

I have a half-sister, who wasn’t raised with me. She’s older and deals with her inferiority complex by an attitude of assumed superiority, something endemic in my family (the attitude of superiority in or about whatever they’re good at). She’s passive-aggressive. She says things that are double-edged, that is they could be very loving, but the tone and delivery says otherwise. She also has no interest in talking to you if she isn’t controlling the situation. I guess it’s too dangerous? The fastest way to get this woman off the phone is to talk about something she can’t play one-upmanship with you about. It makes it very tedious to deal with her. There’s no relationship or connection possible there, as it’s just performance art. I can be an audience and applaud, I can be a victim (so she can be superior) or I can opt out, which is what I’ve done.

I’ve also got an in-law, close in age to my half sister. She has her own tragic tale, but part of it is that she lived on the street for a while and survived by being absolutely fearless (apparently). When she’s mad at you or in your direction this manifests itself. She’s  an emotional steam-roller, there’s no room for you, your opinions, or your feelings. I’ve been flattened by her three times,  three times more than I should have. Abuse starts with the attitude that there’s no room for anyone else’s opinion or feelings, that whatever they’ve done is completely at fault. All traits which are manifested by this woman when she’s being an emotional steamroller. I don’t need to be abused, been there, done that.

Then there’s the women friends who over the years have told me  I was their “sister.” Here’s two examples:  One of them told someone I was disgusting in front of me, but expected me when we connected on FB to be buddies and walk down memory lane (Hello??? Like talking into a dead phone isn’t it?) Another said I was an adopted member of her family, had  a problem with her kid, I stayed up all night trying to figure a solution to the problem, when I (finally) reached her the next day she said, “Oh yeah, we fixed that hours ago. Why were you worried?” So much for being a part of the family! 😀

I decided I just wanted too much. I wanted something like  a “real” family and didn’t have one. It set it me up over and over to be hurt, and no one was worth that.  I wrote them all out of my life, the abuser’s daughter disappeared. She maybe dead or not — I don’t know.

But there’s my SIL from my marriage. She and I are sisters. Various & sundry life things are happening these days, both to her immediate family and to us. There’s a commitment  to try and help each other, to listen and be supportive. It’s completely unique in my life and I treasure it. I got off the phone last night and looked at my husband and said, “I’ve got a sister!” and he sort of agreed, puzzled. I’ve had one for the all the years we’ve been married. Huh?

I was scared of my husband’s family for years. (There are a lot more of them than there are in my family!) For obvious reasons, I didn’t want more relatives to deal with, the ones I had were bad enough.

But life gives you blessings in ways you never see coming. Thanks sis!


What’s in Your Pantry or

food storage? I just found a write-up from someone who figures out how to make mixes to save money. I get that.

What I don’t get is why the mixes at all? I have an almost complete copy of a book of all-natural mixes I got  more than 20 years ago. (I typed it!) I rarely make the recipes, but if I want to, the recipes for both the mixes and foods are available. What typing nearly an entire book in my enamored-with-mixes-stage (EWM) taught me was that 1) having the ingredients available is even more frugal and space-saving than making up mixes  2) I almost never really loved whatever mix or recipe someone else came up with and 3) having mixes on hand isn’t important enough for me to make them!

My “win” from the EWM was learning to mix up my own brown sugar, as needed. No more bricks in the fridge! These days I don’t even remember the proportions. I think it’s 1 tablespoon molasses to 1/2C white sugar, or maybe that makes light brown sugar. I really don’t remember. What I do is take 1/2C white sugar, put it in a small bowl. Add 1 Tbsp molasses, mix thoroughly. If you need 1/2C and it’s the right color, you’re all set. If you need 1C, do it again. Light brown sugar I add 1 teaspoon the the 1/2C white sugar, then add more, as needed. (3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon btw).

Mixes I do use? Dr Oetker white cake mix. I HATE most American cake mixes, they taste like flour laced with chemicals. Ug! I could mix up my own, but I make maybe (?) two cakes a year, so I buy the mix. While it’s still warm, top it with ganache or fudge sauce. Yummy!

I use Jiffy cornbread mix. We’ve made cornbread from scratch, but most of the cornmeal here is used in pancakes, not cornbread!

I also use Zatarians and other rice mixes, although except for maybe Zatarian’s dirty rice, I’ll probably stop buying these. I have a LOT of rice and using rice mixes doesn’t use it up!

Apparently, I use mixes for starchy foods. But mostly I use the stuff in such small quantities it really isn’t worth my time to make a mix. I use more rice mixes than anything else, and at that, we probably only eat 1 a month on average.

I used to buy fudge sauce, but since I’ve started making ganache, I probably won’t buy that any more. I have 1 jar left, but I also have 1  cake mix too, so that will take care of both of those!

Do you buy mixes? Use them regularly? Make your own?

Yesterday I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner? I had the end of 1 lb ground beef (cooked), a green pepper, etc. and decided that I’d make a chili casserole, except, well, I didn’t. I did made chili with the meat, pepper, onion, pinto beans (I like them better than kidney beans.) a can of Mexicorn and a can of chopped chilis. (I’m trying to use most of the canned and frozen stuff to make room for vegetables from the garden.) DH made up a package of Jiffy cornbread. And that was dinner.

Did it use prefab foods? Certainly! The canned chilis, beans, and corn as well as the cornbread mix. In a perfect world, I’d probably can my own chilis & beans, but I don’t. I freeze green beans every year, but don’t can anything, beans or chilis. And because of GMO issues, I’m not buying corn anymore, not corn oil, not frozen corn, corn starch, or corn meal, unless I can find it GMO free. I’ve got some corn starch and a small container of corn meal, but when the canned Mexicorn, etc. is gone, that’ s it. No more canned corn either.

A pressure cooker is on my long-term “want” list. If/when I get one, I’ll likely pressure can beans, but until then, I’ll just buy Bush’s.  And maybe I’ll plant some pinto beans this year, just to see how that goes? I’d much rather grow my own than buy them!

Also, I have some old seed corn I’ll try and grow. It’s an heirloom corn. The seed is old, so I don’t know if any of it will come up, but I can try!

New target!

2013 target smaller May 20 copyFor those of you who don’t know, each section of the target complete (gold or silver) is 250 items out, which means that each 1/2 circle is 1,000 pieces gone! To keep on schedule (I haven’t) I need to get rid of approx. 1,000 pieces monthly, as my goal for 2013 is 12078 items.


The total gone

last weekend is 182. That includes all the things I donated and the stuff I sold, with all the things I bought subtracted. The numbers worked out like this:

At the flea market I sold 3 books and a camera.
I bought 2 typesetters’ drawers, a jar, 2 benches.

At the bookstore, I sold 5 books, and bought 2.

I donated 5 items to the thrift shop.

I donated 181 books.

Today I sold 4 pieces.

The next sale I’ll go buy things is the 27th. The next flea market where I’ll go sell is the following Sunday. In the meantime I get to get things ready, again.

Lot gone, but not the way I’d like it~

I sold 3 books and a camera yesterday. I bought 2 typesetters drawers and a jar. Then I donated about 192 pieces (I’m still not done with the count) at a thrift shop, at the market bin (I filled it to capacity, left a box on the floor then went to the public library for the last 2 boxes!) I went to the bookstore, who bought the 5 books I’d left the other day, and bought 2. Went back to the fairgrounds and bought 2 benches I wanted, but couldn’t fit in the car with all the other stuff.

I’m pretty sure I donated more than 200 items yesterday. I made my table rent and a little besides, but certainly didn’t make a profit. I spent  3 days cataloging things to sell < $30 worth of merchandise. Next time I think two or three things will change: 1)I’ll sort the books by broad catrgories 2)I’ll take more antiques and 3)I’ll put myself in the middle of the aisle instead of the front and 4)I’ll make it less “book heavy” (or obviously so).

Was it worth it? No! I should have gone to the church rummage sale instead, I at least would make $ on the stuff I got instead of selling very few items, and all of it at a loss, sigh.

Will I do it again? Yes. But I’ll change things!

The next flea market is the first Sunday of next month — about another week from now. I’ll do the same thing, that is, I’ll catalog a bunch o’ books & other stuff. Almost everything that doesn’t sell will be donated. I wonder how fast I can catalog approx. 200 more items?


Zero Day!

Okay, one of my favorite thrift shops has been having a sale, so I’ve been buying a lot o’ stuff, mostly for resale. It’s Brimfield week, so the sales are few & far between. The two together make a not great week. In six days I got rid of 33 pieces. But in the same period I bought 33 pieces.

I couldn’t have done that deliberately if I’d worked hard at it!

The rest of the sorting, etc. is on hold for 2 reasons: 1)the flea market I’m doing Saturday and 2)my knee is still not completely well. I’m cataloging books for the flea market, and took all the stuff I bought today to the booths. Almost everything I bought yesterday was priced and put out for sale today too. I also left a pile of books at the bookstore, and put 3 more books out for sale there too.

I’m not slacking off, I’m just doing other things!