Monday, October 11, 2010

Strawberry Jam and Bargain Kitchen Essentials

I had the wonderful opportunity to go to a private greenhouse and glean from their strawberry beds.  I came home with 25 lbs. of ripe strawberries!!!  My goodness!  I definitely had my work cut out for me because I had to attend to them right away.  I turned it all into jam because my family could not live without the sweet stuff and after many, many hours of work, I've got enough to last well into next year.  I may even have the chance to go pick more!!!  I ended up with 24 full pints and 6 half-pints!!! I am really happy with my jam stash now!! 

I've been doing a lot of thrift store hunting lately and have found some real gems!  It seems that I've been in a real stainless steel kind of a mood lately.  Our local thrift store has offered $10 off for a $10 purchase coupon per email so our family has cashed these in and I have found some "steals."  First on the list is what I call my baby stockpot.  In the picture on the right is my huge stainless steel stockpot I bought over 10 years ago at Dillard's (I think) for half-price which was $18.  It still looks practically brand new even though it's a work horse around here.  I can cook 20 pounds of potatoes, it holds 25 pounds of strawberries (that's right, I took it strawberry picking), plus I can make stock in it from a huge turkey carcass!  The one on the left is the one from the thrift store.  The first thing that came to mind when I saw it was JAM!  It's the perfect size to make a batch of jam!  It has high sides so the jam can sputter away without making me a mess!  Can you say $1.99???!!!  Oh yes, I've already used it to process all those strawberries into jam (in separate batches, of course).

My next bargain was this ginormous stainless steel mixing bowl.  I had one years ago that I had sent with my husband to a church function I couldn't attend and he obviously never made it back home with it.  I just never had the heart to spend $16-$20 on one and finally found one for $3.99!  I absolutely love it! 

My next acquisition were these Wearever AirBake cookie sheets.  I figured I was taking a gamble on these because I couldn't figure why anyone would want to get rid of them unless they weren't any good.  After a minimum amount of cleaning, we baked some cookies on them and they are great!  Can you imagine how many cookies I can bake now at once!!!?  The big one is 15" x 20" and the smaller one is roughly 14" x 16 1/2".  They were only $2.99 each.  Remember, I had my coupons so I basically got all these things for FREE!!!  These cookie sheets are totally expensive brand new...I think the big one goes for $20. 

And finally, who couldn't use a few more gravy boats.  These awesome stainless steel gravy boats were priced at $1.59 and $0.99.  I think I am so ready for the holidays now!!!

I hope all of you are finding wonderful bargains and I would love to hear all your stories of what you're preserving on your homesteads.  I have much more to come in the next few days as we are on fall break...
Blessings to you on your homesteads!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Quick and thrifty fall treat...Caramel Apples

I'm getting ready to do a huge batch of canning because I have at least 40 pounds of apples.  That number is dwindling because they're just sooooo good to eat.  So, with all the work ahead of us, we thought we would make a delicious treat of caramel apples.

We took the easy way out and bought two bags of caramels that are individually wrapped.  The bag comes with 5 sticks each for your apples.  Each bag takes one tablespoon of milk and you zap it in the microwave for 2 1/2 minutes.  We coated our apples with the caramel then put chopped peanuts on the still warm and sticky caramel.  We let it set in the fridge for 5-10 minutes and then melted chocolate chips in the microwave and adorned our apples with slashes of chocolate.  We used Gala apples which are delicious as is, but when you add all this gooey goodness, MERCY!!!!!  For the price of one apple in a specialty chocolate shop, we got ten!!!  That is what I call bang for your buck.  When I was pregnant with my last child, caramel apples were all I craved.  I  haven't made these in a long time, which I'm not sure why, but they really are a great treat for the fall.  The kids are in apple-caramel-chocolate heaven!

Time to get my preserving done...till next time...Enjoy your fall treats!!!