It's so nice this morning, cool air, and we even were greeted by a little thunder-boomer with a little lightning and a few sprinkles. I love these little boomers, its when they get big and nasty and full of lightning I don't like them, especially when they grow to become tornadoes, but I think that we are past the prairie twisters for this year.
Since it is so cool this morning, I am going to finish a batch of tomato sauce I have had in the frig for a few days. I generally process tomatoes as I get them. They are very slow to ripen, so I get a batch, and then cut them up or run them through my hand food mill to make sauce, and then cut onions, and garlic and get them done. Then if I want salsa, or sauce, I just pull a jar, and finish with the ingredients that I want. I have had a wonderful neighbor who has been sharing his tomatoes and I do not turn down free food at all. I also had another neighbor who has several small peach trees in her yard and brought me over a small basket of peaches which I was just ecstatic to get. I am going to freeze these and then vacuum seal these until I can make jam or jelly or preserves. I just can't get them all done at once.
Fresh fruit is a very hard thing for low income people to get. Even for families who have higher incomes, fruit is a luxury. I really have never been able to afford fruit, unless someone gives me fruit or I have been at the food pantry when I needed things when the going was tough, have I gotten fruit. Fruit and meat is definitly something that the lower end of us really are not afforded the benefits of. And the government tells the low income to make better choices in their food selection, well, government, look at the price and ask me if I can afford it? Even where I live, fruit is not grown hardly at all, so I am very excited about the peaches, and they are truly a gift.
I am going to give you the recipe for the vegetable bouillion I use. Really it is not a recipe, just a mix of things and you dry it.
Sometimes when I am lucky to do a roast or chicken, and I roast vegetables with it, I have leftovers of vegetables, which I usually make more of on purpose to make this bouillion. I generally freeze the leftovers and then in about a month, I have enough to make two dehydrator trays of the bouillion. I bought a dehydrator several years ago, and then earlier this year, I bought a new one listed on Craigslist, that was still in the box new, for $10 bucks, so I now have 2 which I use almost daily now.
Now, take your vegetables out, whether they are frozen or from last night's dinner, and if frozen, thaw, and then if you have a food processor, or blender, run these through, with a little of the broth, and make a puree. If you do not have a food processor, a food mill or even a potato masher will work great. Use what ever you have. I also urge you to save your broth from your chicken or meat drippings, put in the frig, and skim off the fat, and then place this in a jar in the frig, and then if you have enough to make bouillion, then place this in a ice cube tray, freeze, and then pop them out and use them in soup, stew or gravies or whereever you need flavor. Then place these in a bag or canning jar back in the freezer to keep fresh, they keep about 3 months, use up and keep a fresh supply from your leftovers.
Now, on my dehydrators, I bought extra trays, and fruit leather trays and also trays that you can dehydrate fruit to make candy with, I use the fruit leather trays, they are a solid flexible tray that you can spread your purees on and then place on the slotted trays and then start up your dehydrators to dry. I have also done this in the oven on a low oven, but this can heat up the kitchen a lot and I have burned things as you need to watch it as you cannot just leave and go off somewhere. That is why I purchased the dehydrators as they are a great tool for me in my kitchen.
I do spray the trays with a little vegetable spray to help with sticking, and then this dries down to flakes somewhat on its own, and when dry, you break this up and place in the freezer, I use glass jars, you can use plastic, but I am not a fan of plastic at all.
That is about all there is to it. If you cook a lot, you can figure this out. Really its all about experimenting with things. I did buy the book, " Drying with an attitude" by Mary T. Bell, and this is a great guide and the rest is up to you. Drying I assure you is quite habit-forming and very fun. I also dry vegetables and mix these to make a vegetable soup mix, and I grind up my vegetable puree when dry to make a powder to shake onto food for flavoring, very fun.
Now this stuff, when you do it, looks different from stuff you buy in the store, this is home made bouillion, but it doesn't have the chemicals or MSG that the stuff in the store has. So understand that it looks different when you use it.
To use, just place flakes in a little beef broth or chicken broth and let it soak up the broth. it takes about 15-30 minutes for this to do, and then pop it in your recipe. I urge you to either buy broth ready made or save your broth from your cooking, don't throw out any of this as this is a great flavor add to your cooking. I buy a broth that is made by a company that makes it without MSG or additives, and it comes in beef, chicken, vegetable or seafood. Sometimes you can get caught short, and do not have time to make broth from scratch, so it is nice to carry this in your pantry staples, for quick cooking. I also use it in cooking vegetables, and rice and making a base for gravies.
Since we are on the subject of pantries, and I am getting ready for winter here, I think that I will have a discussion on pantry stocking. Low income folks are bad about not stocking pantries, as they usually buy processed food, and do not think of meals or meal planning for the family. Pantry planning is purely based on your family's needs, and what you fix or eat in the house. Each is different. But it is nice to keep staples on hand, and you have the makings for some quick meals that you can just throw together and you are set with a healthy and filling cheap meal. So I think that I will touch on this the next post for all of you.
Now, I do want to clear up something that I do not want folks to feel that they are excluded. First, since I am a very low income earner, what I generally talk about it how to do things with less money. This does not mean that this blog is for low income folks ONLY, its not, it for all who struggle, which is most of us. I am just a advocate for the disabled or low income to handle the money they get better and eat better, as it seems that the low income do not handle money for food well, or know how to budget for food, or even cook. I want everyone to feel welcome, and take what I have learned and then take the information and run with it or help someone else. I do not want others to feel that you have to be a disabled to read this blog. You don't, but its my situation and I live it daily, but everyone is having great difficulties and it seems that we all are "disabled" in some way to make ends meet.
I hope that I have helped in someway to bring a better meal, or a new idea to the dinner table. I urge you to "play with your food" so to speak, and have fun with boring meals.
Have a great day and and up coming Labor day holiday for my US readers.