RSS

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Aggghhhhhh!!!

**edit to add** I think I was overreacting as I eat "normally" and am fine. **end edit**

Oh no! I am almost 99% certain that I have Celiac Disease. I have suspected it for a long time but this past weekend pretty much confirmed it. I have to avoid many of the foods I love so that I will no longer be in agony. Up to this point, I could live with many of the symptoms that I had, but the pain and feeling like I'm going to die, I can't live with. Food, no matter how yummy, isn't worth it.

Thankfully there is tons and tons of great info online about living a gluten free lifestyle. I have been reading all day. My eyes are tired and my brain hurts but it will be worth it. Since I'm used to low carb diets, it should be pretty easy since I can have some of my tempting foods like corn, potato and rice as well as a ton of other things. It will take me a while to get into the swing of things and it will be hard watching the family eat things that I can't. I need to look at the positive. It may not be forever. There is still tons of stuff I can have. I will not be deprived and I will be healthier and should hopefully lose weight as my body is healed.

So what is my gluten free day looking like so far? I had an apple for breakfast and a couple of chocolates (a no-no, but they didn't bother me). For lunch I had a couple of eggs, a big salad and I tried to make a corn tortilla but it didn't turn out. It was still good. The kids keep waving things I can't have under my nose but remembering the pain makes it easy to avoid.

Which would you rather have:



Oh yeah, we spent some money on groceries yesterday. $6.97 at the Fruit and Veg for apples, grapes, a cucumber, a pepper, some potatoes and something else I can't remember (we didn't get large quantities of anything). I'm going to have to start going there more often. We also spent $11.46 at Bulk Barn for some chia seeds, spelt flakes (which I can't have :( ), dates, millet and other things I can't remember. We also bought chips, $8 worth. So we spent $26.43 and there will probably be more since I need lots more fruits and veggies if I'm going to do this!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Saturday Savings!

Sometimes things just seem to go a little too well. I am starting to wonder when the bad luck will come as it seems for the last few months we've had tons of good fortune (well, we've had some but it seems trivial in comparison).

I was all set to go to M&M Meat Shops as I have a gift card and they had some things I wanted to get. They also had a scratch and save event today where you could save up to 50% off. I had a feeling I may get it, but I didn't get my hopes up. So we go, get a couple of boxes of meatballs and some hamburgers. She handed over a stack of scratch cards and I ask Shaylee to pick one. Well, she picked three so I almost picked the top one but decided to go with the bottom one. I used my gift card to scratch it and saw a 5, then a 0 then I realized that I won 50% off! Oh my gosh!! For a non-gambler that's like winning the jackpot, lol! Mark says "What else can we get!!" So we get more meatballs and hamburgers plus a huge box of chicken breasts and a big bag of spicy curly fries. We ended up paying only $10.46 after the gift card, whoo hoo! Then we spent the day wishing we had got more stuff. There are so many things I'd love to try but it's so expensive. I was also sooo grateful we had the freezer space! A month ago we couldn't of done that.

So that accounts for $10.46 of our grocery spending, lol! It will go a long way.

Yesterday's amount was another flat of strawberries and 5 packs of shredded cheese.

$4.99 of today's grocery money come from grapes, a bag of pickling cukes, a red pepper and turnip from Dayton Fruit and Vegetable. The remaining $30.16 is from the South End Red and White where I got 3 small packs of top sirloin steak (yum!), a few pounds of lean ground beef, 2 small black forest hams, 2 packs of pizza pepperoni, a case of 24 pepperoni sticks, a big bag of chips and 2 cans of pop for the park. I think I'm forgetting something as well. You can often get a ton of great deals on meat from the Red and White. The Dayton didn't have much, but I'm kicking myself for not buying the 20kg bag of flour they had for $23. I'm holding out for the Speerville co-op.

So that's where our grocery money has gone.

Right now I'm dehydrating strawberries and the house smells so nice! I'm also freezing whole berries. I'm not doing any more jam, lol! I may make some all-fruit roll ups though. Of course I can always do that with frozen berries when I can get cheap apples since I'm getting pretty tired of working with strawberries.

Earlier I made a big pot of chili for lunch and I assembled a lasagna which we will have for supper tomorrow. I was going to cook it, but didn't want to smell it all day. The leftovers for both will make their way to the freezer for future meals.

I guess I should get a menu plan done up for the next week. I'm fasting right now (from food, not water) so although I can't eat, I'll fill my thoughts of what we'll be nourished with next week. There was a great article in the Ensign (a magazine my church puts out) about healthy eating. I would like to try harder. I also need to try harder to stick to my menu plans! I'm going to try to minimize my shopping this week. I am going to stick to one day for shopping and do it all in one day and try not to buy so much. We're so blessed to have so much that we should be ok for a while ;)

Menu Plan for Week Starting July 6th:
Sunday:
Lunch: Chili and biscuits
Supper: Lasagna and salad

Monday:
Lunch: Soup and Sandwiches
Supper: Baked ham, green or yellow beans, sauteed cabbage, baked potato and baby carrots

Tuesday:
Lunch: Rice and stir fry
Supper: Hamburgers and salad

Wednesday:
Lunch: Spaghetti and meatballs
Supper: bean burritos or tacos, salad and other raw veggies

Thursday:
Lunch: Fries (baked homemade or curly), baby carrots, cukes, turnip sticks
Supper: Haddock chowder (kids will probably have tomato), garlic biscuits

Friday:
Lunch: Leftovers or something else (running out of ideas, lol!)
Supper: Hamburger helper (kids fave), cukes and another veggie

Saturday:
Lunch: Falfel, rice, steamed California veggies
Supper: Homemade Pizza

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Blessings Flow!

I don't know if I wrote about my pressure cooker desire. I want one so bad! I spent days scouring the internet for one and checked all the stores in town. I was even ready to send off $300 to a crappy website that wouldn't even load or show the shopping cart to get one but just couldn't justify spending sooooo much money. That's basically when I decided to get the freezer.

Well, we have a friend who is moving away and she ~gave~ Veronica her pressure canner. Can you believe it? GAVE! And I can use it when I want, whoo hoo!! I also found out there are several ladies at church who have them and probably don't use them. I'm in canning heaven! Last night all the things I could can were dancing in my head; pumpkin, squash, beans, peas, meat, soups and on and on. I can't wait! I'm defiantly going to need more jars, lol!

I also found out earlier this week that I can use the grain mill at church any time I want. No one uses it anymore so it's basically free access! Of course I'll let people know I have it in case anyone wants to use it, but it has not been touched in the 11+ years I have been going to church.

This morning I labeled and boxed up most of the jam after checking the seals and taking the rings off (only one didn't seal, but I think it was the jar). Here is a great site for free labels (you can even type your info onto them and print them off). I want to put little circles of fabric with ribbon on them to make them look homey :)

Later today I plan to do some freezer cooking. Mark can never find anything to take to work and there are plenty of days that I don't feel like cooking and want something easy. I am going to make lasagna if I have noodles. If not, I am going to make Mexican lasagna. Can't remember if I posted that recipe or not but I will when I make it. I also want to make chili, tortillas, and lots of dough. I may freeze some pre-made pizzas, pizza pockets and maybe some plain dough as well. We sometimes like garlic fingers too :). I posted a donair sauce recipe below.

I just got off the phone with Veronica. Strawberries are $1.99 a quart at a local Fruit and Vegetable stand! I'm going to get another flat, whoo hoo! I think these I will mostly cut up to freeze and dehydrate some of them since they make a nice snack. This way we can have good cheap berries all year (although nothing compares to the taste of fresh).

Yesterday I made some unbaked cookies. The kids LOVE these. Ethan couldn't stop eating them, lol! They're great for chocolate cravings since they're so quick to make, even though they aren't the healthiest but when you really want chocolate, you don't care! BTW, I've heard these called many names but I always think of them as "Frogs". I don't call them that because the kids look at me funny and it may be offensive without my knowing it :o

Unbaked Cookies

1-1.5 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter/margarine
1/2 c. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the above ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from stove. Add in 3-4 cups of oatmeal. Drop on lined cookie sheets or put in muffin tins (this is what I do). Keep in fridge.

--------------

Alternate SUPER-THICK Sauce Recipe (confirmed to be excellent)

* 2/3 cup canned sweetened condensed milk
* 1/4 cup white vinegar
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Follow the same instructions as above, except that you really need to stir for a long time to get the condensed milk and vinigar mixed properly. Do not be alarmed. Stirring this recipe for a long time will not make it thin. Leave set for a few minutes and you will be able to turn the bowl upside down and none of it will pour out.

This is the best donair sauce ever! It is my favorite, but we don't always have sweetened condensed milk on hand. I can't find the recipe I was using but this makes a good substitute for the milk:

MAKE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK

Commercial sweetened condensed milk is made by evaporating a mixture of whole milk and sugar until a creamy, thick consistency, much like that of honey, is achieved. It is used in pies, candies, frosting, and ice creams to add extra richness. Now you can make sweetened condensed milk at home using nonfat dry milk solids. This recipe yields about the same amount as 1 (14 oz.) can of the commercial type and can be made for a fraction of the cost. Preparation is suprisingly easy. You can make it in an instant in your blender and keep a supply stored in the refrigerator until needed. 2/3 c. sugar 1/3 c. boiling water 4 tbsp. melted butter

Combine all ingredients in container of electric blender; process until smooth. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Yield: about 1 1/4 cups.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Marshmallows

I have been wanting to make homemade marshmallows. I found a recipe I want to try but I don't know when I will, so I will post a recipe until I get a chance:


Homemade Marshmallows

Recipe created by Martha Stewart

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar (for dusting)

Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let it stand 30 minutes.

Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.

Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.

With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.

Generously dust an 8 x 12-inch glass baking pan with confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out.

--------------------------------

Here's one for Strawberry Marshmallows (and other variations):

Strawberry Marshmallows


4 envelopes gelatin
1/2 c strawberry puree (frozen is actually better than fresh unless you have access to very flavorful local strawberries)
1-1/4 c water
3 c sugar
1-1/4 c light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp orange flower water (optional)
powdered sugar and potato starch for dusting


Line a sheet pan with a 1" rim with aluminum foil. coat the foil with vegetable oil or non-stick spray. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment.

Mix the strawberry puree, orange flower water (if using) and 1/2 cup of the water in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the gelatin over to soften.

Put the sugar, corn syrup, remaining 3/4 cup water and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until it reaches the soft-ball stage (234-240 F).

With the mixer at full speed, pour all of the hot syrup slowly down the side of the bowl. Be careful as the mixture is very liquid and hot at this point and some may splash out of the bowl - use a splash guard if you have one. whip until the mixture is very fluffy and stiff, about 8-10 minutes. pour mixture into the foil-lined pan and smooth with an oiled offset spatula so that it's level with the top of the rim (it won't completely fill the pan). Allow the mixture to sit, uncovered at room temp for 10 to 12 hours.

Mix equal parts powdered sugar and potato starch and sift generously over the rested marshmallow slab. Turn it out onto a cutting board or counter, peel off foil and dust with more sugar/starch mixture. Slice with a thin-bladed oiled knife or oiled cookie cutters. Dip all cut edges in sugar/starch mixture and shake off excess. Marshmallows will keep several weeks at room temp in an air-tight container.

Variation - Chocolate Marshmallows:

Replace strawberry puree and initial 1/2 cup of water in mixing bowl with 1/2 cup of cocoa disolved in 1/2 cup boiling water in a separate bowl. Soften gelatine in an additional 1/4 cup cold water in mixing bowl. Add cocoa mixture to mixing bowl and procede with recipe as above. This will produce a marshmallow with a strong chocolate flavor, but somewhat denser than the strawberry version. To get a lighter texture as well as a lighter chocolate flavor, reduce cocoa to 1/4 cup.

Variation - Vanilla Marshmallows:

Replace strawberry puree and initial 1/2 cup of water in mixing bowl with 3/4 cup water and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or the seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans.


-------------------------------

Since I don't keep corn syrup on hand, I will use this to substitute for it:

Simple Syrup- Light Corn Syrup Substitute

Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Instructions:
1. Combine ingredients.
2. Over medium heat, bring to full boil.
3. Boil for one minute, or until all sugar particles are dissolved.
4. Transfer mixture into airtight refrigerator container.
5. Use to replace corn syrup in recipes or to sweeten iced tea or other beverages.

----------------------

I haven't been doing too well with sticking to our meal plan. That seems to happen often when I create one. I end up switching things around or I get tired and make something easy. I want to make more of an effort in the future though.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Jam Is Made!!

Whew! Nearly 40 jars of varying sizes all containing home canned cooked jam :). It is sooooooo good! Oh my goodness! I was going to make more freezer jam but the cooked was so much better, richer and divine that I decided to make it all cooked.

I didn't realize how much work it was going to be, lol! I have never made so many of any preserves at one time. It was 6 batches of jam, almost the whole flat of berries (there is still one quart left over). I had to have the fan blowing at the stove or the smoke detector would of been going off constantly.

I have to say that one of my most favorite parts of canning is when you take the jars out and the lids pop, confirming the seal. With one batch they all popped as soon as I took them out, lol! It was a wonderful sound :)

Here are some pictures of my jamming day:

Everything ready and set to go. I could sure use an extra few feet of cupboard space!



My first batch getting ready to go in the canner.


Ready to take the plunge!


Making jam is hot work!


The beautiful results of all my hard work!



Grocery shopping for today. I should not be allowed into Superstore! I cannot walk in without buying tons of stuff I didn't mean to. I was going to go, get 4 boxes of pectin and get out. I ended up spending almost $30 :o. I got 2 bottles Classico Alfredo sauce ($1.99 each; Mark is tired of tomato based sauces), 3-4pk of pre and probiotic yogurt drinks (99 cents each; Shaylee LOVES these! They're usually $2.49), 4 packs of400g shredded cheese ($2.99 each, regularly $5.00!), a turnip (84 cents), some ginger root (20 cents), a sweet onion (37 cents), a tub of mixed melons (half off, so $1.75), tray of mushrooms (half off at 99 cents), a package of donuts (1.60, it was half off) plus the 4 boxes of pectin I went in for in the first place, which were 99 cents each. Sigh. I have to add $28.79 to my total. I also sent Mark back in for 5 more boxes of pectin. I wasn't going back, lol!!

And then there is Bulk Barn. I was planning for this though. We got a little more than 5lbs sultana raisins ($9.18), half a pound of chili powder ($2.08), a pound of black turtle beans (81 cents; I want to try to sprout them), 1lbs raw hulled sunflower seeds (99 cents, for sprouting), 75 cents worth of Montreal Steak Spice, 44 cents worth of dill weed, 1.35lbs of honey ($3.39) a pound of licorice all sorts (2.37; for when dad comes over , if they last that long, lol!), 4 Jolly Rancher candies (26 cents) and some blue gummy sharks (1.01) for a grand total of $21.79, bringing today's total up to $55.54. I wasn't planning on the candy, but the rest is good. It's so easy to pick up stuff and the kids always want a treat.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Whew!


Happy Canada Day!

Today I bought a flat of strawberries, 12 big quarts, yum! So nice and fresh. Then I spent more than two hours tonight cutting them up and hulling them (I actually only cut up 7 quarts as I was getting so tired that I ended up just hulling the rest for the time being). I forgot how much work it was to prep the berries but then I've never had more than a few quarts before (although I used to help mom, I think. She may remember differently ;) ).

I got my canning stuff out and I am going to get up bright and early to make jam! That's not my stuff at the top. My pot is big and white, enamel coated steel, but I would prefer stainless steel. I guess it all works the same and there's no point in whining about getting a new one. I had one but didn't have a cover. Oh well!

I am going to keep a running total this month on what we spend on food. I think it will be helpful in deciding what we should budget and to see what we're buying. Plus if people see what we buy, I may be a little more careful, lol! I will keep the running total in the sidebar if I can figure out how to do it.

July 1st: $30.53 for strawberries and a slushie.