Category Archives: Art of Making Do

Jams, Christmas present ideas, Cooking, gardening, Planting, Harvesting, Sewing, self help, Money saving tips, Jellies,freezing food, canning, pickles, rags, houses, repairs,

Early Spring Planting

Spring may be coming early this year. Once the soil is thawed, till the soil to get it ready for planting. Compost can be added to the soil at this time and tilled into the soil. Early spring is the time to plant peas, cabbage, onions, broccoli, spinach and kohlrabi. As far back as colonial times, Pennsylvania Germans set a goal of planting their peas by March17.

Spring is not the time to plant lettuce, tomatoes or peppers outside. They can be started indoors to be planted outdoors after the threat of frost has passed.

If you need to magnify the money in your food budget, plant a garden. Many people do not realize how many vegetables can be planted before the threat of frost has passed. Onions are planted now and harvested in July if you haven’t already picked them all by then. Once onions start growing you pick them as soon as you think they are big enough.

Peas need support once they start growing. Many people plant their peas near a fence. The fence could be one used to enclose a garden or a fence erected temporarily just to support the peas while they are growing.

All your cabbage and it’s relatives can be planted as soon as the ground is able to be tilled. If you walk into your garden and mud sticks to your shoes in big clumps then the soil is too wet. Wait a few more days and try again.

My favorite saying is you never know what you can do until you try, so get outside and discover what you can grow.

Vegetable Beef Soup

More and more people are returning to their roots. This recipe is a contribution from a friend, MaryClaire Threston. Her mother, Mary Threston created this recipe many years ago. Her suggestions include using only chuck roast; the pre-cut cubes you can buy at the grocery store are too tough.

You are going to need a large pot for this recipe!

4-5 pounds of chuck roast- cubed
4-5 parsnips
4-5 carrots
4-5 stalks of celery
1 large onion- peeled and diced
2 quarts of crushed, canned tomatoes or stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup sugar
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Brown the cubed meat in hot oil using a frying pan. Transfer browned meat to soup pot. Add a quart of water and simmer while preparing vegetables. Wash the parsnips, onions, carrots, and celery. Chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces. If the tomatoes are not crushed, then dice them into small pieces also.

Add the vegetables including the tomatoes to the simmering beef cubes. Add the sugar and salt at this time. Simmer for one hour. Taste before serving to see if the soup needs more salt. Remember salt is one of the most important ingredients of soup!

Enjoy good, healthy inexpensive eating and God bless! You can use caramelized onions which may cause the soup to have a smoother flavor.

Do not Throw Away Old Sheets: Recycle Them Instead

Do you have old sheets with one or more holes in them?

I keep old sheets to help me with cleaning jobs. I recently spring cleaned a cabinet which I had not cleaned for awhile. I had just two weeks before, cleaned the counter below the cabinet. I did not desire to clean the counter again after I cleaned the cabinet. I took an old clean sheet and placed it over the objects on the counter. I filled my cleaning bucket with hot water and some veg oil soap and placed the bucket on the table. I removed everything off the top shelf of the cabinet and wiped it off and set it on the table. I wiped off the shelf, the back of the cabinet, the sides of the cabinet above the shelf, the front of the door of the cabinet, and the inside of the door of the cabinet. I made sure to carefully wipe each surface to remove all the dust and oil that had collected on the cabinet doors.

The next part of the task involves looking at each item I removed from the cabinet to decide if we still need it and how to arrange the items so they can all fit back on the shelf. I repeat this process until the whole cabinet is clean and organized.

After the whole cabinet is finished, I carefully rolled up the sheet in order to keep all the dust bunnies and tiny scraps of paper within the sheet. I gathered the sheet, took it outside and shook it. I put the sheet in the wash while being very pleased I did not have to clean the counter again!

Another task I use old sheets for is cleaning out a floor level cabinet. For instance if I clean out the cabinet in which I keep my pots and pans. I place a clean, old sheet on the floor. Remove all the pots and pans from the cabinet and place them on the sheet. I move the sheet with all the receptacles out of the way, and proceed to wash the entire interior of the cabinet. I also wash the cabinet doors: inside and out. Push the sheet back over to the cabinet and carefully replace the pots and pans neatly.

Old sheets also help with cleaning a closet. I do not always have time to clean a complete storage space like a closet at once. Before Christmas I cleaned the entire bottom of a closet. I took out all the clothes. I removed everything from the floor, then I washed the walls and vacuumed the carpet in the bottom. I sorted the clothes. Threw some clothing away. Replaced everything in an organized fashion. Now, when I clean the top shelf of the closet, I will put a clean sheet or two over the clothes pole to keep the dust off the clean organized section of the closet so I do not have to start over.

Do not stop trying to keep your home clean even if you do not have time to do a whole job like a closet at once. Keep persevering! When your house is neater, you feel better about yourself. Whether your home is messy or neat, God still loves you very much! May you prosper as your soul prospers!!!

Large Rags Reap Greater Riches

Do you have a comforter in which the stuffing has moved and it is lumpy? How about a bedspread that is threadbare in places? What can you do with them other than throw them away?

You can use old bedspreads, comforters, and quilts as drop cloths. A drop cloth is some type of material that you place on the floor when you are painting or working with something messy. Drop cloths are usually made of plastic and can tear easily when walked on repeatedly. The old bedclothes do not rip unless the fabric is totally ruined, in that case the bed covering should be thrown away immediately!

We recently treated many boards to be used to create shelves for a library. We placed a plethora of old bedspreads and comforters under each of the boards in order to catch the wood conditioner, stain, and varnish that was accidentally dropped while we worked. After the project was complete, we hung the old bed clothes on the line to air out. After the smell dissipated, we simply folded the large rags and put them back on the shelf to wait for the next project.

By using old bed clothes for drop cloths, you keep the material out of the land fill a little longer. You save money by not having to buy drop cloths. The rag drop cloths should be more durable than what you can buy at the store and last longer. Reusing those large worn out bed coverings saves you money which means you reap greater riches!

Thanksgiving Day Leftover Turkey

Have you used most of the meat from your turkey?  Have you enjoyed many bites of succulent fowl? There is still value in that turkey carcass, so do not throw it away yet.

After you have eaten Thanksgiving dinner and after you have gotten most of the meat off to make ‘Turkey-a-la King’ or whatever dish you make with leftover turkey, there is still value in that bird. Get out your soup pot and place in it all that is left: the bones, the tiny pieces of meat and the cooked juices on the bottom of the pan. Cover it all with water or to within two inches of the top of the pot, if it sticks out of the pot. Put a lid on the pot and turn on the heat. If the lid does not fit, just turn on the heat, soon it will cook down and fit. Let the mixture simmer. There are two benefits to this process. One is you will be adding moisture to the cool, dry air. The second is you will be getting the nutrition and nourishment that is left in your turkey.

The bones will cook down. Any leftover meat will be rejuvenated. After the bones have cooked down, remove some of the bones and set them aside. Put the pot in the refrigerator to cool.

After the pot has cooled, the white fat will have collected on top. Carefully scrape off the fat and either discard it or you could add it to your pet’s food for a treat. After removing the fat, strain the broth you made. If the broth has gelled, that is awesome because that means you have gotten the nutrition out of the bones. Good job!

Pick the bones out of the broth. Return the meat to the broth and add vegetables to make a soup. In order to not waste a particle of that leftover turkey, if you have bushes in your yard, dig a hole and bury the remaining bones, tendons and cartilage. The remains will slowly break down over time to add calcium and other nutrients to the soil. We bury our leftover bones by our fruit trees. Remember diligence is man’s precious possession!(Proverbs 12:27)

Abundance of Autumn Apples

Autumn is the time to enjoy cider while watching the colorful leaves falling. Soon winter will be here. Are you prepared?

One way our family prepares for winter is to dehydrate apples. The Pennsylvania Germans call it schnitz. Drying apples in the dehydrator is one way to preserve apples for the winter. If you do not have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate them in the oven at a low temperature. Be sure to watch the oven. You could keep apples in a basket in the cellar for the winter, but if one goes bad they could all start to rot. Another drawback to eating whole apples in the freezing weather, is you will have a mushy mess if you leave one in your vehicle and it freezes.

In contrast dehydrated apples can be left in a vehicle overnight and in the morning the apple pieces will taste fine, because they do not freeze. Dehydrated apples that are kept in an airtight container will last for many months even more than a year. Dehydrated apples can be rehydrated to make applesauce and apple pies. Schnitz also consumes less space than regular apples. Be wise and do not eat too many at a time because the dried apples have more calories per ounce than regular apples. Schnitz is a healthy treat the whole family can enjoy.

Marvelous Melon Marmalade

Do you have an abundance of cantaloupe?

One way to save some of that sweet goodness to enjoy during the winter is to make some melon marmalade. This recipe is an inexpensive way to preserve the summer bounty of cantaloupe. There is no pectin needed, which makes it less expensive to make than other jams. As anything worthwhile, this recipe takes some time to complete.

Melon Marmalade

16 cups of cubed Cantaloupe or other orange-fleshed melon

3/4 cup of lemon juice (bottled or fresh)

4 cups of sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

7 one cup jelly jars with lids and rings

In a large pot(6 quarts or larger), place the cubed melon. Pour the sugar and lemon juice over the melon and let it sit for an hour. While the melon is sitting, collect enough jars to contain six or seven cups of the marmalade. Place the jars into a different large pot big enough to hold them and cover them with cold water.

After the hour has passed, turn the heat up to medium high and begin to cook down the cantaloupe mixture stirring continuously. After you have cooked the mixture for about forty minutes, turn on the heat under the jars. Once the jars come to a boil, reduce the heat but keep them boiling for ten minutes then turn to the lowest setting until the cantaloupe marmalade is finished. Add your lids at this time.

When the cantaloupe mixture is thickened so it looks like thick applesauce, turn off the heat. Stir into the mixture a teaspoon and a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg. If there is any foam, scrape the foam off and discard it. Place a jar funnel into a hot empty jar just removed from the pot of water. Scoop up some of the melon marmalade with a ladle and fill the jars to within a half inch of the top. Wipe the tops of the filled jars and place a lid on each one. Tighten on a ring to each jar. Replace jars back into the pot of hot water. Allow jars to cool in pot of water until they are room temperature. After they are cooled, wipe each jar and mark it with the words Marvelous Melon Marmalade and write the date on the lid as well. Put away in a dark cabinet or on a shelf away from sunlight.

Pick Your Own Food

Last winter I paid $10.00 for a bag of frozen blueberries. Because I did not get my kids and myself to the blueberry patch last summer, I had to pay ten dollars for berries! At the local patch where I usually pick, the blueberries are $1.10 per pound. A pound of blueberries is approximately a quart. I encourage everyone to get to your local growers this spring and summer to pick to your hearts content.

Try to harvest and preserve enough for one year. Blueberries are so easy to preserve. You pick the blueberries. You rinse the berries in cold water. You bag them in quart freezer bags and put them in the freezer.

In our area you can pick by yourself: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, cherries, and pumpkins. Explore what is available in your area and then bring in the harvest. Preserve the food and then give yourself a pat on the back for being prepared!!

Food picked fresh at a local grower whether you pick it yourself or they pick it for you is so much healthier for you. Picking food together as a family will draw your family closer together. Remind your children that we are doing this task together to be healthier, to save money, and to spend time together. Your kids may not appreciate it now, but someday they will. Proverbs 6:6-8 reads, “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.”

How to Plant a Bush

Whether more people are looking for organically grown food, or if a greater number of people are looking to grow their own food to be less dependent on the grocery store, there is a trend beginning. People are growing more of their own food! Growing and eating your own food is rewarding!

If you are growing your own food and you desire currants, red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or cherries, you are going to need to know how to plant a bush. All of these fruits grow on bushes or on canes.

First select a place to plant your bush where it will not get easily run over by being too close to the road or the driveway. Select a place with good drainage in your yard where water does not pond(puddles are not formed there after a rain) and where there is plenty of sunshine. Save the bones from any meat you eat for a week or two.

Next, dig a hole that you estimate will be big enough. After the hole is dug, go to the store and buy the bush you want. After you bring home the bush, lay it on top of a garbage bag or small tarp near the hole you dug. Remove the pot or packaging from the root ball. Now, carefully spread out the roots so that they are not tangled together and are all pointing in the opposite direction of the stem on the bush. Measure the roots. Measure the hole you dug. You want the hole you dug to be about eight inches deeper than the longest root of the bush. You want the hole to be two times as wide as the width of the roots. You may need to widen the hole you dug or make it deeper at this point.

Place in the bottom of the hole, the saved bones. It does not matter if the bones are cooked or raw. On top of the bones, place in the hole any leftover coffe grounds you have, a half inch layer on top of the bones is adequate. Do you have a compost pile? On top of the coffe grounds, shovel in about 8 inches worth of compost. You can buy compost if you do not have your own. Move the bush to the edge of the hole and allow the roots to fall into the hole, but keep the stem out of the hole. Fill the hole with cold water using buckets of water. You want to fill the hole quickly with water not let the water trickle in with a hose. Allow the water to drain from the hole.

Once the water has drained, either have someone hold the bush for you or support the bush with a stake. Make sure the bush is in the middle of the hole and the roots are untangled. Start shoveling the dirt in around the roots. For every three shovels of regular dirt, add a shovel full of compost if you have it. Continue filling in the dirt until the hole is filled. Water the bush again. Put a few stakes around it until people get accustomed to it being there. Water the bush at least once a week for about a month so that the bush does not get stressed and starts to grow. Depending on the maturity of the bush, you may enjoy your own fresh grown fruit this summer or in a few summers. Proverbs13:11 says, “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase.”(NKJV)

Tilling Time

Spring is here. Time to rototill or turn the earth by hand in your garden. If you planted peas around March 17, they should have sprouted by now and be about six inches high. Onions should be growing now. You can plant: cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and beets now.

If you want to enjoy fresh, organic vegetables this summer, now is the time to prepare your garden. As with almost anything in life, preparation is important to success! You can turn the soil in your garden. You can take the composted material from your compost pile and add it to the soil. Then turn the soil again.

Have your soil tested from your garden. If it is too acidic, add some lime from the gardening center. If the soil is too basic, add ferrous sulfate to your soil. Composted manure is great to add to any soil. If you grow many tomatoes, you may want to add gypsum. Gypsum adds calcium to the soil for which tomatoes have a high requirement.

Turning the soil in your garden is useful in killing weeds also. “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!” Prepare your garden now, to enjoy a bountiful harvest later!