Saturday, October 25, 2014

~Mini Pumpkin Pie~

My daughter and I made a trek to a farm last week to get apples, and a pie pumpkin made its way home with us as well (also: 1/2 bushel of butternut & acorn squashes, and a gallon of apple cider). The pumpkin, being a PIE pumpkin, was much desired. And I knew I'd just better make that pie, and quickly, or I'd be hearing about it till I did!

I used Libby's recipe, works like a charm every time.

I had some extra pie crust, so I gave it to my daughter and she formed it into a little tart pan. Then the mini pie baked along with the pie, for about 20 minutes. My daughter was super delighted to eat it after lunch!

Oh? Here's a little tidbit about my family: pumpkin pie without whipped cream isn't as good as pumpkin pie with whipped cream. We didn't have whipped cream so there was some disappointment over that. But the pie was good! Next time we have pumpkin pie I'll make sure to have whipping cream on hand.

Friday, October 24, 2014


One reason I wanted to cut my grocery spending was so that I could use my money for other things besides groceries. It turns out that most of what I've spent the resulting extra money on (so far) has been food to preserve. Like these olives.

I got the idea to cure my own olives sometime last year. It was already too late to order them, so I filed the idea away for this year. I found a company to order from, and waited for my box to arrive.

I should have taken pictures, but I got a large flat-rate box crammed full of olives. I did expect them to be packed in something but they were just loose in the box. A friend was over when I was sorting through them and she pulled up a chair and helped me sort. There were a few bad ones, and then we separated the blemished ones from the "perfect" ones. I decided to water cure the less imperfect olives and to brine the nicest olives.

I didn't know how many olives I was going to get - how many olives would 17 pounds be, anyhow? Turns out they filled up 6 half-gallon jars!

I am following the instructions here to water cure and brine. It has been three weeks since I started these so the water cured olives should be ready in another few weeks and the three on the right? Yeah, it will be another 5+ months for those! I had to change out the brine yesterday and I tasted one (because, if they have another 5 months to go, they're going to taste awesome, right? Ha.). Still very bitter. Every once in a while I taste the water cured olives. They are slowly losing their bitterness. They're still bitter - but they are tasting more like olives. I haven't been faithful at changing out the water every day, so it might take longer for them to cure than the instructions say.

I'm looking forward to olives. A lot of olives. Good thing they will keep for a year!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

~$50 Grocery Challenge~

I haven't been very good at blogging my grocery trips, but I will tell you that I've been very committed to only spending $50 per week on groceries. I am considering bringing the number up to $60 however. Our garden is pulled and we no longer have the benefit of fresh vegetables! I don't want to compromise our health for a challenge, you know? I will see what I can do over the next few weeks, and then I'll go from there.

I discovered something earth-shattering last week, and put it into play this week. Are you ready?


Why did I never think of this? When I'm being super careful (which is every shopping trip so I'll stay at $50), I will write the price next to each item on my list. Then I have to find a quiet corner of the store (there is no such place in Aldi!) and add everything up. I was reading a blog post on using cash for groceries, and a commenter said that she uses tally marks to make sure she doesn't go over her budget.

I gave it a whirl last week, and it was very accurate! To give an example:

$1.19 - one tally mark
$2.50 - two tally marks plus another one to compensate for the $.50 and $.19
$.75 - one tally mark

I will be sure to employ this method from here on out! I remember my mom had a little device when I was young, that looked like a shopping cart. It was basically the same idea, only you clicked a counter (I think) to keep track. Or maybe I had a dream about that. Haha.

Monday, October 06, 2014

~Pumpkin Bread~

There's a little story that accompanies this recipe. Somewhere in the first year or two of our marriage, I made pumpkin bread from my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook. Kevin ate it, then said, "This was good. But you should get my mom's recipe. She has a really good recipe." Um, OK. My pride wounded, I sweetly said, "NO. I'll never ask your mom for her pumpkin bread. I just won't ever make pumpkin bread again!!!" I wish I were kidding.

A year or two later, I swallowed my pride and called Kevin's mom. She kindly passed her recipe on to me and I've been happily making it ever since! It's the best! So moist and spicy and pumpkiny. Delicious!

I made it on Saturday night for a fellowship we were having on Sunday night. It keeps well, and tasted just as good or even better one night later! I realized I'd never shared the recipe on my blog, so here you go, the recipe for "I swallowed my pride pumpkin bread!":

1 large can pumpkin puree (29 oz.)
4 cups sugar
1 cup oil
5 cups flour
4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. clove (I use 1/2 tsp.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350*F. Oil small five small loaf pans (3x6 inches) and cut wax paper (or parchment paper) to fit bottom of pan, place in bottom of pan.

Mix pumpkin, sugar and oil. Sift remaining ingredients together, and work into pumpkin mixture.

Divide batter evenly into loaf pans and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Notes: I never add the walnuts. I like walnuts just fine, but I don't like the texture of them in baked goods. It's up to you whether you put them in or not. :-) I bought pans specifically for this recipe, but you can also bake in two regular loaf pans, you'll just need to watch them after 50 minutes.