After I had a baby and quit my job (I owned a wildly unsuccessful business) I started couponing to help us save some money. It seemed like a competitive sport, trying to save 50-75% off of my grocery bill. BUT being vegan – and a health conscious vegan, it was hard to go through the newspaper coupons and find much of anything that I currently used or would consider using. So while I could buy lots of crappy food for cheap, that really wasn’t what I wanted for my family…even if it was nearly free. Though there are some deals I can’t pass up, like when something is nearly free I just get it and give it to a food pantry or women’s shelter.
After failing as a coupon goddess I decided to try something else. I started contacting the companies directly! I went through my kitchen and made a list of the things that are either most expensive to buy or the things I go through the most and sent them emails. Something like:
My family LOVES your ______. Thank you for making such delicious _____!! We go through nearly 3 packages of your _____ every week. The only thing is that your ______ never seems to go on sale here in Denver. Would you happen to have any spare coupons laying around that you would be able to mail to me? That would be fantastic.
Thank you very much and have an awesome day!
(my address here)
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I can now include myself in a very small group of people who can say that “I’ve made my own ketchup.” I don’t know anyone else who has. Maybe there’s a MeetUp for that?
It started with a handful of simple ingredients that I already had on hand – mind you, I have an extensive spice cabinet – and about an hour of my time. Originally I thought it would just be a bunch of stuff in the blender or food processor, but it turns out I needed to cook it on the stove to reduce for a while.
The end result is NOT the plain red ketchup you’ll find at fast food restaurants or even in grocery stores, though there are a growing number of “gourmet” ketchups on the shelves these days. This is a darker red and has a lot of flavor; spices make all the difference. I would say that plain ketchup is just a salty lubricant to help get my french fries down, but this homemade ketchup is a complimentary flavor to add to my dining experience. So far, my only taste testing has taken place with french fries…we plan to buy a grill next week so I’ll have to try it on some sort of burger soon.
Here’s the recipe (This is a recipe that was inspired by a ketchup recipe in “Jam it, Pickle it, Cure it” by Karen Solomon:
Reducing the tomato/onion puree
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To keep my herbs and other small rooted things fresh in the kitchen I’ve been keeping them in a glass of water on the counter. When I get them home from the grocery I rinse them off and either cut off the bottom of the stems in the case of rootless herbs or I put the whole thing in water, like with green onions since they still have roots. This keeps them fresh and vibrant much longer than if I just throw them in the fridge while they wait their turn to become supper. I change the water every day or so and they seem to last several days longer for me. I got this idea from a fellow blogger, Feed Your Skull. Check it out!
Replanting Green Onions
I might be kind of neurotic like this, but I hate to waste food and I hate to throw away something that may still be good – if there’s value in it I like to put it to work. My husband will often grab some premixed salad from a box of salad and leave 3-4 leaves in the box and say it’s gone. I get defensive of those lonely leaves and say that those pieces of greenery were grown and should be consumed – out of respect for the plant. They were planted, grown, cared for, harvested, washed, packaged, shipped, purchased, and placed out to be a dinner salad; it seems a crime to just let them rot in the garbage can. Am I crazy?
So, anyway, with my green onions, after I chop the green tops off for use in something, I place the root end back in water and they’ll shoot back up. It’s really amazing. Their roots continue to grow too! Just last week I decided to plant the growing root end of the green onions in my little garden area next to the wild strawberries. They grow back and I can keep using them! Miracle? Maybe not. But I sure do feel great about giving them a second life in my garden. :)
2nd Life in the Garden
I keep my baking powder and baking soda in my cabinet until they’re completely gone. I’ll use every last 1/4 teaspoon, no matter if it’s been in there for 3 years or longer. To me, it’s just a magic white powder that is required for baking – it does something really cool, but I’ve never been sure exactly what. Ignorance is bliss.
So, ahem, according to my copy of Larousse Gastronomique, Baking Powder is: A raising (leavening) agent invented in America and introduced to Europe in the 1840s, it consists of 2 parts bicarbonate of soda and 1 part cream of tarter mixed with a flour or starch…Baking powder is commonly used in domestic baking, particularly for cakes and scones (biscuits).
And according to Wikipedia, Baking Soda, aka Sodium Bicarbonate, is primarily used in cooking (baking), as a leavening agent. It reacts with acidic components in batters, releasing carbon dioxide, which causes expansion of the batter and forms the characteristic texture and grain in pancakes, cakes, quick breads, and other baked and fried foods.
Hmm, still not clear what the exact difference is here except baking powder contains baking soda, but I already knew that.
Anyhow, here’s how you can test to see how fresh and active they are!
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