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.

Box It Up

At the end of the school year, people that homeschool take all their relevant materials to their evaluator. The students get evaluated. The evaluations get turned into the school district.

Previously I left all the school materials sitting on the shelf, while waiting for the reply from the school district. Have they have approved the work that was done? The school district can challenge the evaluation if they desire, then you need proof of all your work.

New revelation: box the materials you are not going to take to the evaluators. As you are going through the schoolwork, select the materials for the evaluator. The rest of the papers and completed workbooks go into a box. Put the box away in a closet. As soon you receive the letter from the school district with their approval, throw away the box with all the schoolwork in it. This way you go through the materials once and once your evaluations are over, you are finished with the exception of throwing away the box. You can enjoy your summer without the job of sorting last school years papers hanging over your head.

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!

Rainy Day Wash Lines

Years ago most homes had a rainy day wash line in the cellar. A rainy day wash line is twine strung back and forth across a section of the cellar on which you can hang your wash to dry. The wash line can be used when it is raining or snowing or just too cold for the wash to dry outside.

A rainy day wash line can save you money by giving you a place in inclement weather to dry your wash for free. Get up in the morning do a load of wash, hang it on your rainy day wash line, by the time you get home from work, the wash will be dry. You have saved the cost of running the dryer!

I also use my rainy day wash line for hanging waffle knits that tend to shrink in the dryer, and delicate items like dress clothes. Also clothes with nylon in them, for instance pants made with rip stop fabric, will last longer if you hang them to dry. If you only need to wash one load a day, you could eliminate using the dryer altogether with a little planning and discipline. I must admit, when I wash a load of white socks, even in the summer, I use the dryer. Focus on saving money by using the dryer less, not necessarily eliminating dryer usage.

Making Broth

Making your own broth in the winter is a great way to get an inexpensive but very nutritious meal. You start with a piece of raw meat with bones in it such as: a whole chicken, bone in ham, bone in roast of beef, or bone in roast of venison. Simmering a bone in water for  a couple hours take the nutrition stored in the bone and marrow and puts it into the broth you are making. Any kind of edible meat with bones in it should work.

You take the piece of meat you have selected and put it into a large pot. Cover the meat with water and put it on the stove to cook. You can add salt at this time for spice: kosher salt, seasoned salt, or pepper. Save the herbs for later in this process. Start with your heat around medium high and then as the water starts to bubble turn it down to keep it from a hard boil. If your burner is large you may have to turn it off for ten minutes to let it cool and then resume cooking. You can also use the crock pot to make broth. This stage of making the broth is finished when the meat is loose or falls off the bone when you poke at the meat with a fork. The pot needs to be put in a cool place like the refrigerator. If it is cool outside(below 40 degrees) you can put it in an unheated room. Allow the broth to cool thoroughly.

You have made a good broth when after the mixture is cooled, the water is gelled. Next scrape off any fat that has congealed on the surface of your mixture. Remove meat and bones from the pot leaving the gelatinous substance in the pot. Much of the nutrition is in the broth and is also easily digestible, so do not waste it. Cut the meat off the bones. Cut the meat into bite size pieces and return them to the pot. (Discard the bones or plant them near a bush about a foot deep.) Now is the time to complete your soup if you are almost ready for supper. If you are not ready to make supper yet, simply return the broth with the meat to the cooling place. You can also freeze the meat and broth for a later time. Another advantage to making broth in the winter is adding moisture to the dry air. Be sure to put the money you saved in a safe place.

To make soup, add vegetables, herbs and spices to taste, simmer until hot and serve! Happy soup making!!

Lobster Bisque-Inexpensively

Today instead of a tip for frugal living, I am going to give you a recipe. The recipe is something special for the holidays but inexpensively made. I have not made lobster bisque before today, but have enjoyed it at some local restaurants. My husband says this recipe is as good what we have eaten at restaurants. After the holidays you can usually find imitation lobster and imitation crab on sale which makes this recipe frugal.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages imitation lobster
  • 4 tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 1 small onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 cups homemade tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried or frozen thyme
  • 4 cups venison broth
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups half and half

Chop celery, onions, and garlic into small pieces. Add 4 tablespoons butter or oil to soup pot. Heat oil or melt butter in pot and add in celery and onions. Cook them until tender for about five to six minutes. Then add the garlic, cook for about three more minutes or until you can smell the garlic.

Add the flour to the celery mixture while mixing constantly. (If you have ever made turkey a-la-king with leftover turkey meat, the technique is the same.) You can easily burn the contents of the pot at this point, so do not walk away. Heat for two more minutes.

Slowly add the venison broth and keep stirring until all the pieces of the mixture are floating. Add the salt, pepper, dried thyme and then the tomato sauce. ( I used leftover sauce with venison meat already in it.) Next, add the imitation lobster. Bring the soup to a simmer and simmer for ten minutes while stirring slowly.

After the soup has simmered ten minutes, turn off the heat and set up your blender. Pour some of the soup into the blender and puree it. Place the pureed soup in another pot and puree the rest in the blender. Return all soup to the first pot. While slowly stirring and with the heat on low, add the butter. After the butter melts, add the heavy whipping cream and the half and half.  Shut off the heat and serve it warm. Saltine crackers went well with it.

I hope you enjoy this meal.

 

 

Christmas Frugality

Christmas is over for most families unless you celebrate Russian Christmas or have celebrations with extended family yet to be enjoyed. Christmas comes every year on December 25. Getting ready for Christmas can be very expensive.

One way to greatly reduce the cost of next Christmas is to go shopping the week after Christmas. Don’t shop for more stuff for yourself. Buy your wrapping paper, your Christmas cards, and even decorations that are not perishable right now!

Next year you are going to wrap gifts, you are going to send cards, and you are going to decorate. Now, when those items are 50 to 75% off, is the time to buy. Next year you will have to pay full price for all those items. Sometimes you can buy cards for a dollar a box as opposed to $16.00 per box. Wrapping paper can be purchased for $2.00 per roll.

The money you save can be applied to your mortgage or used to pay down a credit card. Proverbs 22:7 reads, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”  Pay extra on your mortgage so you can go from being the servant to being rich!! Merry Christmas!

Fancy or a Fixer Upper?

A few decades ago, many young Americans looking for their first house were interested in finding a “fixer upper.” A house that needed some work, but could be improved by working to repair it on the weekends. We recently had our house appraised. The appraiser told me that today’s buyers are looking for houses with what she called “bling!”
She said, “Most people want to buy houses with everything in perfect order and many nice extras like a refrigerator with an ice dispenser.” Does the modern young American want a house solely to show off what their money can buy?
What about the personal satisfaction one derives from having painted a room with the colors you, yourself selected? What about your personal creative experience when you decorate a room using your own unique ideas?
Not only will buying a house that needs work save you money, but you will become a better person as you work hard and make some sacrifices by fixing up your own home.