To measure the goodness of life

To measure the goodness of life by its delights and pleasures and safety is to apply a false standard. The abundant life does not consist of a glut of luxury. It does not make itself content with commercially produced pleasure, the nightclub idea of what is a good time, mistaking it for joy and happiness. On the contrary, obedience to law, respect for others, mastery of self, joy in service--these constitute the abundant life.
Thomas S. Monson, "In Quest of the Abundant Life", Ensign, Mar. 1988, 2

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Welcome to!

This site is full of information to help college families live comfortably on a set (small) budget. The main page will have a weekly buying guide for locals deals, as well featured tutorials for seasonal products or sale food. Use the page tabs on the lower right to find past tutorials on storing food, planning menus, cheap recipes, and emergency preparation information.

DIY Bottling (Fruit)

Fruit Havest!
September is the peak for orchard fruit harvesting in Cache Valley. Apricots have already come on, but you can still purchase them for less than the grocer in Perry, Brigham City, and at Cache Valley's Gardener's Markets (Merlin Olsen Park, 9am-1pm, and in Providence Square 3pm-6pm). Pears, peaches, grapes, and cherries are just coming in good prices. (I look for $20-$25 a basket for the fleshy fruit, and $1/lb for cherries and berries).

Before you bottle, inspect each jar for hairline cracks. The pressure and heat of sealing will crack or explode any unstable jar. Also, inspect your lids for any dents, smells, or uneven rubber seals. You rings should have no dents, rust, or discoloration as well. Wash and air dry your items, or steam sanitize them to avoid any food poisoning.

In a cold bath, rinse fruit thoroughly, half and pit, and place the fruit in the jars. (Pears and peaches should be skinned before cutting, a quick blanch loosens skin for ripe peaches and apricots, pears have to be peeled.) I leave my apricot skin on.
Push as many unblemished halves as you can into the jars; the heat of the sealing will soften and slightly cook the fruit, letting it float above the syrup so its important to place as much fruit as you can for tight fit for a more even preservation and less discoloration.

Over high heat, boil a simple sugar syrup until the sugar is dissolved. (For 7 qts or one batch, I had 8c white sugar and 16 c water). Some ladies to a 1:1 ratio for a heavy syrup. In a small saucepan, boil to sanitize the lids. In a bottling pot, fill 1/2 full with water and bring to a rapid boil. Trick: to avoid any glass from shattering in extreme temperature change, I fill a shallow pan with warm water next to the bottling pot and place the filled jars into it before I pour in the hot syrup.

Fill the jars with syrup (easier to dip a measuring cup with a spout into the syrup pan and pour over the fruit). Slid a butter knife or the end of a spoon along the side of the jar to wiggle any bubbles out of the pitted core, and top off the bottle with syrup. I fill the syrup up to the bottom ring of the lid-- Do NOT fill to the lip of the bottle. Syrup will boil and seep under the lid and prevent the bottle from sealing; so a little air gap is the goal.
After pouring the syrup, take a clean, damp rag and wipe clean the top of the bottle where the lid will be placed. If there is even a crystal of sugar, the lid will not seal, so it is the most important step in bottling. CLEAN, clean, clean! The lip will air dry within 30 sec.
Place the sanitized, hot lid on top of the glass bottle, then carefully screw on the lid without tipping the bottle (keep it the bottle level throughout the remaining steps to avoid breaking the dry rubber seal with the syrup).
Place all bottles in the rack and gently lower into the boiling water. Submerge the bottles in a rapid boil for 30 min.

After the boiling, gently take the bottles out of the water bath (without tipping) and place on a toweled table to cool. Trick: I place a towel over them as well to prevent a breeze from cracking the bottles and to prevent uneven cooling. After an hour, they should be cooled to the touch. Check your seal by pressing on the lids. They should be tight and firm; you'll know if they didn't seal if they make a metal popping sound (like a musical saw being flexed).

These should be good up to five years, but I rotate through mine every two years. So, last year I did peaches, pears, and beans; this year I'm still eating those and will make apricots, beats, and pickles. A special thanks to my Momma Lisa and sister, Courtney who team up with me on these bottling nights! Girl chat makes everything seem so much better. :)
My hats off to those pioneer women who did this on their own with two burners, inside, year after year!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

three-cheese basil stuffed tomatoes

In honor of the approaching tomato season on the Rockies...

In Smith's, Lee's, and Macey's you can purchase Gossner's economy cuts of cheese for a dollar or two less than their shelf packaged items (these are usually the end pieces of loafs or mis-cuts found in discount bins). This is great for cheese you're planning on slicing or shredding, like white jack, pepper jack, munster, mozzarella, and Cheddars.
Purchasing tip: if you don't mind grating, buy the Parmesan and asiago cheese by the wedge. You'll most likely get 2-3 times the amount of cheese for the same price.

3-cheese and basil stuffing, 10 min. prep., 20 min. roast, serves 6
1 1/2 cup. ricotta (or about half a container)
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1 c. diced white (or yellow) onion
1 Tb. garlic salt
1 Tb. diced fresh parsley
2 Tb. diced fresh basil
1/2 Tb. salt and ground black pepper
3 eggs
Fork mash thoroughly to ensure an even spread of egg.

Slice off the stem end of 12 Roma Tomatoes, and spoon (core) out the seeds, juice, and ribbing. Be careful not to puncture the tomato sides.
Pour 2 Tb. olive oil into a glass pan and roll the tomato skins in oil to coat, coating the pan as you go. Stuff the tomatoes and set on side (or if you can, stand them on their blossom ends with the cheese facing up, side by side to fill the dish).
Bake at 350 F for 20 min. COVERED, or until the skins are roasted and start to peel away from the tomato flesh and the cheese is bubbling or golden brown.

Serve 2-3 tomatoes on a bed or salted or pesto pasta, or with marinara and long pasta with a green salad. Enjoy!

Through the 16th

What's great for Farmer's Market:
4 for $1 Summer Squashes
$2 free-range eggs (doz.)
$1/bundle fresh herbs (basil, chives, sage, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, marjoram, dill)
$1/bundle beets, green beans, pea pods, scallions, onions, and bags of lettuce/arugula mixes
25cent ea. the BEST honey-salted carmels EVER (Bees Brothers)
soon to come: tomatoes, basil, watermelon, gourds

Case Lot Sales!
now through September (when there are the BIG ones)

2 for $1 canned corn, beans, chilies, soups, and apple sauce
88 cent canned fruit (lowest price for pineapple in Utah)
69 cent sweetened condensed milk, canned
39 cent tomato paste
$2.99 5 gal water jug -- lowest price of the year
$1.79 caro syrup
4 for $5 brown and powdered sugar, wf frozen concentrated juice

10 for $10 Hamburger (tuna and chicken) Helper, Knoll's side helpers in rice and pasta
Mountain Dairy Mile $2.49/gal
99cent/lb green grapes
COUPON: $5 off when you buy 10 General Mills Items (Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Fiber One, Reese's, Trix, Nature Valley, Youplait, Phillbury)
2 for $1 wf sandwich meat
99 cent/lb lettuce green and red leaf

99 cent WF loaf, white and wheat
79 cent/lb cauli and broc. -- one of the BEST years for flowerts! (snip and freeze in zip locks-- better than store bought frozen for soups, stir-fries, and casseroles in the fall and winter)
99 cent/ea WF steam-its frozen vegis
99 cent/lb Bartlett pears
79 cent/lb Roma tomatoes *** see our recipe of the week
59 cent/lb yellow onions
8 for $1 limes

A Fresh Market place
69 cent/lb Roma Tomatoes
COUPON: $5 off when you buy 10 General Mills Items (Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Fiber One, Reese's, Trix, Nature Valley, Youplait, Phillbury)
2 for $1 canned tomatoes, wf lunch meats, green peppers
89 cent/lb oranges

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Case Lot is ON!

This is the perfect time to stock up on food storage, re-vamp (or create) your 72 hr kits, and start saving money during the fall and winter on food.

2.99 5 gal water jug
59 cent 16 oz frozen vegi
79 cent conc. frozen lemonade
2 for $1 water chestnut
$2.99 24 oz Greek yogurt
98 cent/ lb cluster, vine tomato
79 cent/lb broccoli
2 for $1 green pepper
99 cent 29 oz pear or peaches
35 cent wf mac and cheese
10 cent Nissan Ramen
88 cent canned pineapple
$12.99 25 lb white gran. sugar
$7.99 25 lb wheat or white flour
$15/12 ($1.25/bag) 32 oz brown or powder sugar
79 cent betty crocker brownie and muffin mix
89 cent wf cake mix
2 for $1 salt, 26oz canister
$4.99 12 pk charmin toilet paper MINUS 25 cent off pandg brandsaver coupon
69 cent. gain dish soap

48 cent BIC pens plus P&G BIC coupon -- FREE
88 cent/lb tomatoes
67 cent/lb broccoli
69 cent/lb romaine, butter, green or red leaf lettuce
69 cent/lb yellow onions
$1.69/pkg Dole salad kis
8 for $1 limes
89 cent/lb zucchini

Smith's ---- Open House Saturday Aug 6 noon-5pm -- LOADS of give aways and samples. Come early!
$4.79 12"x15" dry erase message and calendar boards
2 for $1 school supplies: erasers, sharpeners, pencils, scissors
$1 school supplies: rulers, boxes, folders, dividers
99 cent/lb peaches
4 for $10 coke 12 pck
49 cent/lb yellow onion
10 for $10: progresso soup, hamburger helper, liter pepsi soda, knorr rice or pastas sides,
2 for $4 betty crocker snacks/granola/rollups

A Fresh Market Place
99 cent/lb grapes
4.99 tide store COUPON plus P&G coupon $1 off
2 for $5 ice cream half gal. store COUPON
$3.99 black forest giant gummy pack store Coupon
59 cent: frozen vegi, apple sauce can, whole chilies canned, chunk light tuna
$1: chili, pineapple can
2 for $1 wf diced tomato, wf soup, wf water chestnuts, table salt, iso. alcohol (rubbing)
79 cent: wf fruit can, chunck white chicken
**Macey's and A Fresh market both carry Associated Food Products, so many of their sales will be the same.

Family Dollar
$5 3pk clorax wipes
$5 /5 school supplies: scissors, paper, pencils, pens, boxes, etc.
$5 /5 chowmein, souper meals, boyardee cans, lance snack pack cookies and crackers (72 hr kts)

BOGO Free 9.99 backpacks (72 hr kits, car kits, school)
11 cent Wexford folders, 2 pocket with prongs
10 for $10 cereal, cookies, crackers, candy (72 hr kits) FREE when using PG brand saver coupons for Pringles
Store Coupon -- 99 cent BIC pens or pencils MINUS $1 Smart Source BIC pen coupon FREE
Store coupon - $10 off PLUS P&G $10 off -- FREE Crest Whitening Strips

$1.99-$99 hand sanitizer FREE with $1 Smart Source Coupon