Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Simple Stockpile - Week of March 30-April 5, 2011

This week doesn't look like too great of a shopping week.  There are a couple of items for pretty decent prices that you might want to stock up on:

Chicken of the Sea Tuna 2/$0.98
Kroger Canned Vegetables $0.49

Tillamook Cheese 7-8 oz. 3/$5 ($1.67 each)
McCormick Grill Mates Seasoning   $1.50
$1/1 McCormick Product 3/13/2011 RP Insert (exp 4/24/2011)
Final price:  50¢ 
Crest Toothpaste (6.4oz)   $1.50
$0.50/1 Crest Toothpaste or Liquid Gel 3/13/2011 RP Insert (exp 4/30/2011) (worth $1)
$0.75/1 Crest Toothpaste or Liquid Gel 2/27/2011 PG Insert (exp 3/31/2011) (worth $1)
Final price:  50¢

Anthony's Pasta $0.79

So, like I said, not such a great week for stocking up.  Milk is best price at Safeway this week (Dairy Glen $1.79 gallon).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simply Homemade: Yummy Granola Cereal and Hot Cocoa Mix

These are a couple of staples that I have been making for a little while and now my kids get upset when we run out. So I thought I would share the recipes in case anyone would like to try them, too.

Healthy Homemade Granola Cereal
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or chopped pecans)
1/2 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whole grain flakes
In a large bowl, combine the oats, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, almonds, sucanat and salt. Mix well and then toss in the whole grain flakes. In another bowl, mix the oil, honey, water and vanilla. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread over a jelly-roll pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 300 degrees for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. If you desire, you can add raisins for the last 15 minutes. You can also add banana chips or dried cranberries. The granola will brown as it cooks. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Hot Cocoa Mix
2 3/4 cups powdered milk
1 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
dash of salt

Whirl in blender and store in airtight container. Use 3 Tablespoons per cup of hot water.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simple Stockpile - Week of March 23-29, 2011

In Simple Stockpile, I am going to share with you each week, what items I feel are the best price at the grocery store and that I am going to buy a bunch of to put in my stockpile.  I will share the store, the item, the price and if there are any additional coupons or catalinas that make this an especially good deal. 

For this week of March 23-29, 2011, the best deals I see and will be stocking up on are as follows:

All of these items are in their Mix & Match March to Savings Event - this price when you buy 10 items:
Powerade 32 oz. $0.38  I keep these for my son who is VERY active in sports.  I have already bought about 15 and will probably buy 20 more - this is a GREAT price!!!

Annie's Mac N Cheese $0.49 (found in the Health Food section)  My daughter LOVES mac n cheese and these are healther than Kraft.  I will probably buy 10 of these to have on hand for quick lunches.

Kraft Singles $1.49  My kids love grilled cheese sandwiches and prefer this cheese, even though I would prefer something more natural.  I will probably buy 3-4 - they have a pretty long fridge life.

Eggs $0.88/dozen (limit 2, so I will visit several times:-)  You can stock up on eggs - they last 3-4 weeks minimum and I like to make frozen breakfast burritos and keep hard boiled eggs on hand for snacking, too.

Challenge Butter $2.69/lb  I have printed off several coupons which will be worth $1 each this week, so a final price of $1.69/lb for butter - yeah!!!  At this price, I will buy as many as I can and keep in freezer.

So that is what I am stocking up on this week.   Are these "stock up" prices for you?  Are there any other items this week that you will be stocking up on?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Simply Homemade - Mayonnaise

One of the things that I now make from scratch and would never go back to buying is mayonnaise.  It is very easy and quick to make and the taste is SO much better than anything I have ever bought!  The only downside is that when we run out, I have to make it again:-)  I make so many things from scratch these days that there is always something needing to be made.  But I am happy to do it and love knowing exactly what we are eating!

So here is the recipe I use for making mayonnaise:

1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups oil (you can use olive oil, veg oil, canola oil, whatever you prefer)
1 Tbl. cider vinegar

I put the egg, yolk, mustard and salt together in a container that came with my stick blender.  Then I use my stick blender to blend those and begin slowly adding the oil.  As I keep blending with the stick blender, it begins to emulsify the oil, making mayonnaise.  It only take a couple minutes with the stick blender.  You can also use a regular blender, but it will probably take longer.  Just add the oil a little at a time and keep blending until it begins to emulsify (look like mayonnaise:-).  After it is done, I stir in the cider vinegar and have fresh, ready-to-eat mayonnaise.

With the stick blender, it takes about 5 minutes total. I have heard that with a regular blender it can take as much as 15 minutes or so.

I would love to hear what condiments you make from scratch.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Revamping My Blogging Habits With Regular Features

I have been contemplating what exactly I would like to do with my blog for a few weeks and have decided to do three different weekly features that are a little different than just posting whatever I feel whenever I feel like it (which is what I have been doing).  I am hoping to have them come out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday/Saturday and since I have alot of material to glean from, I should be able to get ahead in my writing.

Once a week, in Simply Homemade, I would like to feature a post on making something from scratch, whether it be something from the kitchen like homemade mayonnaise, or something like making your own facial cleanser or cleaning products.  There are so many things that I make from scratch, I thought this might be a feature that would be of interest.  I will try to have lots of pics showing the steps and the end products and I will also link to some other sites that feature similar products/recipes.

I would also like to feature each Wednesday in Simple Stockpile, a "heads-up" about a particular grocery item that is at a great price that week for stocking up.  Almost every week there is a great deal on something that I like to stock up on.  And I would like to share that with you each week in order to help those who are trying to build up their pantry stockpile.

Lastly, in Homeschooling High School Helps, I would like to write a post each week about homeschooling high school where I may feature a particular curriculum I like or a resource that has helped me.  I have many friends who are currently homeschooling high school or will be soon, so I am hoping to be a help by sharing details about some of the things that have made homeschooling high school easier for us.

So, if you are new here, stay tuned!  It's going to get better!  And if you have been following me for awhile, look for these new weekly features and please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

This is an update on my aquaponics garden, because I have received a number of requests for updates and pics.  I am not sure how many goldfish I have gone through, but there are 6 healthy ones in the tank now.  I lost a number of them early on because it just got too cold at night.  Now, the night temps are fine and they seem to be doing well.

My basil and cilantro seem to be thriving pretty well.  And the lettuces that I planted as seeds have begin to grow like crazy!  I can recognize the romaine and several different varieties in the gourmet mix.  They are about 1 1/2 inches tall now and growing very well.

I haven't had any problems with chlorine or nitrates/nitrites, but our water is SO hard that I have had to lower the pH.  I used a little white vinegar - don't know if that is really approved, but I know that it isn't harmful to people and NOW I know that it isn't harmful to fish:-)    I need to talk to the experts at the hydroponics store to see if they now whether it will harm the plants at all.  So far, seems just fine and it lowered the pH perfectly.  I figure now is the time to experiment:-)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Viewing the International Space Station

This evening, at 7:20pm, we were able to watch the ISS (International Space Station) pass overhead!  It was very cool to see.  It looked like a very bright star but was moving across the sky in just a matter of a couple of minutes.  You can see it for yourself - just check out this Satellite Tracking site to see exactly when it will fly over at night when you can see it.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Beginning Aquaponics

Last month, I went on a tour of The Garden Pool, which is located near where we used to live.  I had just received a number of plants for my birthday and was hoping to find someone who could help me grow a garden - like a mentor.  I came across the website for The Garden Pool and was intrigued.  There was a public tour the very next day with one space left, so I signed up and went!

The Garden Pool is a large in-the-ground pool that a family has turned into a greenhouse, complete with tilapia pond and chickens!  They grow enough eggs, fish and veggies to sustain their family of four.  They use aquaponics, which is a combination of hydroponics (growing with water) and aquaculture (growing fish).  The beauty of this system is that it waters and feeds itself and there are NO weeds!!  Well, those are two of my greatest challenges with gardening, so hope sprouted in my heart that I COULD successfully grow a garden.

Earlier that day, they had taught a class on a small aquaponics system using a shelf that they call "shelfponics".  I missed the class (didn't know I would be interested:-), but they put the video online the following Monday.  So I watched it and thought this would be a great way to being to learn about aquaponics.  They include step-by-step instructions and a list of items needed, so I went to work rounding up what I would need.  It took less than an hour to get the whole thing ready to go and I bought some goldfish to begin with until I can get some tilapia fingerlings.

I planted cilantro and basil in the top shelf, romaine lettuce in the middle shelf and a gourmet lettuce blend in the bottom shelf.  In about a week, I had LOTS of lettuce sprouts and my herbs are growing well.  I lost some goldfish due to cold nights, but I bought some more (only 28 cents each) and now have 10 healthy larger goldfish in my 10 gallon tank.  They seem to be doing really well and the biofilter of the growing medium (hydroton) seems to be working very well since my pH levels are good after 2 weeks.

I am anxious to get some tomatoes going in another small aquaponics setup this week!  There are lots of websites where you can learn more about aquaponics.   If I can be of any help, let me know, but I am just beginning this journey.  I have BIG ideas for another area of my yard where I am hoping to put in a large tilapia pond and many growing beds to grow all kinds of fresh food for my family.  It makes me SO happy to grow fresh stuff for my family:-)