Monday, January 18, 2016

Make Hot Chocolate From Scratch

MMmmm... cold weather, hot chocolate. The two just go to together, but even if we don't have cold weather, a cup of creamy hot chocolate is satisfying to the point of making us feel guilty!

On the side of Hershey's powdered baking cocoa used to be a recipe that we used long before there was any such thing as hot chocolate mix or "instant" hot chocolate. It's simple and not hard at all, and, like most from scratch foods and drinks, it tastes better than the premade variety.

It goes like this:

  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar (start with a little less and add more to suit yourself when it's done)
  • Pinch of salt.
  • Quart of milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix these ingredients in a large saucepan and add about a quarter to a third cup of hot water to dissolve the sugar and mix the chocolate in. Bring this to a boil and boil a couple of minutes, then add the milk all at once and heat thoroughly. Add the vanilla just before serving. Yield: 4 cups.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Frugal Living and Food

I've been writing about frugal living on the internet for around 20 years, and since the cost of food is one of the few expenses that are under our control, I have written about that often.

Some of those articles are still floating around the internet, so I'd like to share some of them with you:

Tomatoes: Keeping Beyond Canning

Self Sufficient, Food Wise

Brand Name Mania 

Dehydrating Food (Extremely Frugal)

Stock Up On Free Food

Save on Groceries by Using Less Meat

Saturday, January 2, 2016

How to Keep From Wasting Fresh Vegetables

Those fresh vegetables look so good in the store! Probably because of well thought out marketing, like lighting and display, and it works even on those of us who think we're hardened against marketing ploys.

It's easy enough to buy more than we can eat before it goes bad, so it makes sense to find a way to keep them. Some vegetables are easier than others to preserve. For instance, lettuce doesn't freeze, dehydrate or can well.

However, keeping carrots for  long time in the refrigerator is easy. Rinse them and let them drain. They should be moist but not wet. Put them in a plastic bag with a good closure and put them in the vegetable drawer. I have kept carrots for months like this. They can also be frozen or canned if you have enough to make it worthwhile.

Celery keeps fairly well, but don't close it up in a bag. A little moisture to the root end of a bunch seems to help. Some people say wrapping it in aluminum foil will make it last longer, but I haven't had much luck with that method.

What else? If you buy things like green beans, peas. Brussels sprouts and so on, it's best to freeze them within a few days. They go bad quickly. Blanching them will keep their flavor and texture better. There are lists and tables of blanching times for most vegetables and fruits, but I have found that two minutes for small things like peas and three minutes for larger pieces like Brussels sprouts do the trick. It's not an exact science.

There are far too many vegetables to address all in one post, but it's not hard to look up whatever you have to see what is the best way to preserve it. Not wasting the food you have is one of the best basic food saving ideas there is!