Saturday, November 29, 2008

Update on canning beans.

I finished doing the kidney beans. They all sealed and look great. They also look a smidge too full, but ok nonetheless. I'm doing black beans and white beans tomorrow(7 of each) and used just under 3/4 cup in each. We'll see if they are a little less full when done. I'm ridiculously excited about this. Then again, I am a little weird anyway.

Dinner was wonderful tonight. We had The Little Man's best friend over for dinner. I made pizza sauce from my canned tomatoes and homemade crust. The kids each got a cake pan to make their own pizzas in and loved it! Now I'm off to return the best friend to his home up the street.

Reality Bites and canning kidney beans

R and I have been talking about me taking over the bills and Quicken. He just simply doesn't have the time anymore. I'm busy as well, but have far more disposable time. Yesterday we finally got around to it. Oh my, I hadn't realized that we were tight. He's been doing so well with the computers and we always seem to have cash around. Apparently he's been letting a few things build up and spending the cash. It isn't bad. I guess I shouldn't be too upset, but it is more than I thought. The good thing is that it will be easily fixed. As long as the business continues to be busy.
Overtime at the station hasn't been very plentiful, but he did get a 14 hr night last night. That will certainly help.

R has always taken care of the bills in our 12 years together. I never really liked doing it and he has always loved numbers. When we met, I had 2 uncashed paychecks in my car door. He still thinks that is funny. At the time, I just couldn't have cared less. He took care of my mess of a checking account and made sure everything was paid. Well, times have changed. I'm more interested in making sure that we are financially sound. I really want to make sure that we can track spending and pay things off as quickly as possible. There are a few things that need to be paid off and I have a plan, but also think I may need to wait a month or 2 to see where things really go. It may be a little soon for me to jump in and start sending money off when it may be needed.

Along those same lines, I decided to can up some of my dried beans. I got them for very cheap and have tons and tons in the basement. While I am certainly capable of dealing with dried beans, it is much easier to open a jar or can when I feel the urge to make something. Also, lets face it beans are cheap and good for you and if I can use them more it will help with our health and our finances.

So, onto the process. These are being canned in pints which will equal a can in the grocery store. I found a recipe online that makes it quite easy. I got 14 jars from the basement and put them through the dishwasher to clean them. When they were done I put 3/4 cup in each jar and filled with water. Then I went to bed. This morning all the jars were nicely filled with rehydrated beans. How cool! I dumped the water and refilled with boiling water. The lids and rings had been washed and heated in water. I lidded them and put them in the canner. They are just coming up to pressure now. They will be canned at 11lbs pressure for 75 minutes.

I'm really excited about this and plan to can up 7 jars each of the rest of the bean types I have in the house. I have black beans, pintos, garbanzos(chick peas) and white beans. The kidney beans get used the most, so that is why I did 14 of them. When I'm all done with my canning, I'll make some Pasta Fagioli soup for the kids. They love this soup and it ends up being very much like an Italian chili. The recipe is adapted from a few recipes and is almost identical to the soup at Olive Garden. It can then be canned up without the pasta, which isn't safe to can. When I open a jar, I heat it up and cook the noodles in a seperate pan. It's nice healthy, hearty winter fare for lunches.

I really enjoy canning up these soups and meals in a jar. In the basement there are already a bunch of goodies. There is Minestrone soup, chili and turkey soup. I'd like to try canning my meatballs, but for the time being I make them and freeze in meal sizes. All of this is in an effort to save money and prevent the desire to go out to eat. Since many of these items are made with veggies from my garden and things that many people throw away. All my chicken and turkey carcasses are made into stock. The stock is then canned for later use. Since we eat a lot of turkey(its cheap, let's face it), there is a lot of turkey stock and turkey soups down there. It makes me feel good to do all this and help my family.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I just got back from Roche Bros. They have such great loss leaders and are so close, that it very often makes sense for me to shop there. This year turkeys have been on sale for .49 /lb and they also had cranberry sauce for .88. I went and stocked up on various things. After coupons and sales the total was 77.46. I had saved 69.66, not too bad. The freezers are ridiculously full and I really don't need to shop again except for fresh items for the next several months.

It's a nice feeling having all that food for the winter. I feel like a good squirrel mom. The economy is so bad right now. Even though it hasn't affected us yet, it is a frightening thing. There are so many businesses crashing. Now the auto industry is gasping for air and it could mean so really tough times for a lot of people. The unfortunate thing is that we really need to take our lumps at this time. This country has lived on bad credit and overinflated lifestyles for way too long. If it doesn't happen now, it will be soon. There are only so many bandaids the government can put on things before the whole thing collapses anyway. Then we still have to pay it all back with higher taxes. I just want to get our debt paid off as soon as possible and not have to worry about that.

We have been much better about limiting the restaurant meals. We went out last night for the first time in over a week and only spent $25 for the 4 of us. I can't feel too badly about that. Someone gave us a $75 gift certificate to a Japanese place near my parents. They have buy one get one meals on Monday and Tuesday so we're taking my parents out for a very nice meal that shouldn't cost us anything except possibly part of the tip.

Along the same lines, I've been diligent about meal planning lately. It helps to know ahead of time what we'll have. That way I can't really make any excuses. A friend suggested saving the menus to look back on for ideas. Great idea! We'll be having lots of turkey. I've already made 2 this year and still have 5 in the freezer. Yeah, we really like turkey. That will be interspersed with all the beef I have from the 1/2 cow we bought this year. There are also quite a few veggies from my garden this summer to eat up.

It feels good to me to save money for the family. R works so hard, that I feel like I need to work just as hard to stretch the money he makes. While talking to some friends the other night, I realized how well I really was doing. I was talking about things that I do and they were thrilled to hear about it. Everyone is trying to stretch a buck these days. I'm always so thrilled to talk about the things I do. I sometimes forget that not too many people cook from scratch, bake from scratch, knit, sew, garden and can the produce. I'm very lucky to have grown up with a mother who did all these things. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but I sure do now.