I’m feeling pretty darn proud of myself. In the last month, I have given Martha Stewart a run for her money. I have canned pear jelly and homemade salsa. I have frozen chicken stock and tomato juice. I have made my own barbeque sauce. I have broken down chicken legs and thighs and baked multiple loaves of homemade bread. And last night I recreated a soup that I had at a friend’s house and fell in love with. Yep- I rock.
Really, the truth is that I don’t rock. Really, I’m a cheapskate. I make salsa because I can turn $10 worth of raw ingredients into multiple jars of salsa. And we eat multiple jars of salsa. I figure that we save on average $15-20+ every time I make salsa. I made the barbeque sauce because I forgot to put it on my grocery list and I had a bunch of ketchup from a good coupon deal. I break down chicken legs and thighs because they are about 75 cents a pound at Meijer and you can’t beat that price. But, it’s difficult to get the leg/thigh combo into a pan and if I split it up I can make multiple meals out of it. See? Cheapskate.
I only canned the pears because the Ranger has a couple of trees in his backyard and I hated to see them go to waste. Mrs. Ranger can only preserve so much with the babies around- plus her full time job. And I don’t have a job (a paid one, anyway) so it’s easier for me to do it. However, the canning is one thing that I think I would do even if it wasn’t cheaper or to save the fruit from going bad. A couple of years ago, my grandparents had a bumper crop of tomatoes. My grandmother has put her time into canning over the years and refuses to do it anymore. So, I decided to give it a shot. My mom walked me through it, and my grandpa gave me his supplies. I will tell you, there is nothing cooler than using the ladle- THE ladle- that my grandpa and grandma used for years. It is the perfect size for dumping the exact amount in the jar, and they were so protective of it that it still has their name on it. You know you are special when you receive a gift like that. I smile every time I use it! When I see those jars lined up on the counter, I feel like I am part of some crazy inter-generational thing. I know that at least three generations have got to some point in the canning process and thought to themselves, “I’m freaking nuts for doing this, and I’m never doing it again!” only to find themselves thinking the same thing the next year. It’s like child birth- you forget how it is until you get into the middle of it again… I love knowing that I’m a part of a line of people who are all a little nuts, and have been for many, many years!
There are other reasons why I suddenly became Holly Homemaker. With all the allergies that I have, sometimes it is just easier to make things in my own kitchen. When I do , then I am 100% certain that the ingredients in whatever I am making are not cross-contaminated, are safe for me to eat, and can be pronounced. (Seriously, have you ever looked at the ingredients in store-bought chicken broth? What the heck is autolyzed yeast?!?) Not to mention, the things that are OK for me are often labeled “Vegan” or are made by some hoity-toity company that charges an arm and a leg. Trust me; being gluten-free isn’t cheap. Add the rest of it and your grocery bill can easily jump 30-50%. It kills me that my bread is $6, when I can often get the rest of the family’s bread in a 10 for $10 sale- and their bread is twice as big as mine! (Not to mention, it tastes better. What a rip!)
God’s timing is perfect. If I hadn’t had the FMLA issues with my maternity leave that forced me to quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom, there is no way that I would be able to make the things that I do. My lack of a (paid) job has allowed me to experiment in the kitchen, search out hard to find ingredients and research different products sold in different places. And I’ve been able to share that information with several people, all of whom I hope I’ve helped. So, I get to help people and my family gets freshly made bread and homemade salsa. And for those times when my experiments go horribly awry, the pizza place is on speed-dial. It’s a win-win situation for all involved- especially for the pizza place! J