Wednesday, April 8, 2020

When Flour is in Short Supply

Flour might be in short supply right now, just when you need or want to bake more bread. There are ways to stretch the flour you have.

First, every time you empty a sack of commercial bread, empty the crumbs into a container and freeze. When you slice homemade bread there are usually more crumbs, so make sure to save those, too. When you have enough, put it your blender or food processor or work it with a fork until it's fine like flour and use it to replace up to a fourth of the flour in breads.

Other things than wheat flour can be used to stretch the wheat flour you have. Consider using a half cup of cornmeal, instant oats or hot cereal blend. If you have hot cereal like Wheatena, use that.

If you have a flour mill or a good food processor, so much the better. You can make flour from any grains, bought or wild (seed). Oats, rye and barley are the most common but don't overlook quinoa, millet and amaranth.

If you're a wild food enthusiast, you may have various wild grains or seeds that can be milled and added.

Don't be afraid to experiment, just keep a few things in mind:

Remember that it takes gluten for bread to rise and wheat is the best source for that, so you need wheat in some form after it has been milled.

Knead bread that has other grains in it a little more than with plain wheat flour. Whole grain flours absorb more liquid than processed white flour, so allow a little more liquid than your recipe calls for.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

3 Frugal Reminders for Times of Scarcity

It's no secret that some things are hard to find right now. If you find yourself wondering how to stretch what you have until you can find what you need, or if you are trying to stretch to keep from having to go hunting... or if you just want to be frugal and mindful of the situation, here are a few things we may have forgotten along the way.

1. Manufacturers nearly always recommend that we use more of a product than is necessary. Laundry detergent, shampoo and dish soap amounts can all be cut back and still do their job. For laundry detergent, cut back by a third of what you usually use and if your clothes get clean (they will), cut back a little more and a little more until you see a difference then increase until you are happy with it.

For shampoo, only lather once. There's no need to lather and rinse twice unless you have been mud wrestling, and even then, a good rinse before lathering does just as well.

If, when you do dishes by hand, your water is still quite sudsy by the time you're finished, you are using too much soap. The suds are not what cleans anyway but they are a measure of how much is "used up" in the water. That's assuming you know  how to wash dishes in a pan and not under running water. Using a sponge or cloth and reloading it constantly while washing dishes is very wasteful, both of soap and water.

2. Use less meat by cooking more  soup, stew and casseroles. You can cut down the amount of meat in those dishes and no one will even notice. Other sources of protein, like eggs, cheese and peanut butter may be in short supply also, so get used to stretching what you have. 

There are many eggless recipes online and just being a little less generous with peanut butter or cheese can help.

3. Use rags instead of paper towels. Cut up  old t-shirts or hem other material for tissues and napkins. Even think about "family cloth" to stretch the toilet paper. It wasn't all that long ago that we didn't use disposable anything and we don't need to do it now, when products are hard to find.

There are many other ways to cut back on our use of products. This blog and many other frugal living blogs can give you ideas that will make getting through this thing a lot easier!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Make Your Own Bread

It's hard to find bread in some places right now, so it makes sense to make your own. Flour seems a little easier to come by and you can use white or whole wheat, spelt or other wheat types of flour to make loaf bread.

There are ways to make gluten free bread with other grain flours but you'll have to go looking for recipes there because I have never made that.

However, if you're short of wheat type of flour or want to stretch what you have, you can substitute a fourth to a third of other grain flour and still make a decent loaf of "light bread." Oat flour, rice flour and barley flour are commonly used. Be aware that they will impart a slightly different flavor to your bread.

No sugar? No milk? No oil? No problem. Bread: Frugal Staff of Life shows you what to substitute and how to do it. And if you don't have yeast, you can get sourdough started. Making sourdough bread is pretty much the same as making yeast bread, it just takes a little longer to raise.

Even if the shelves are empty you can still have bread - and better bread than you can buy anyway! 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

All things in moderation

Were you stocked up before this virus hit? Have you bought more than one product when a good sale was on? Kept a few weeks' worth of meals in your pantry and/or freezer? Used coupons to add to your stock?

I hope you have been doing this all along and not rushing to the store now and panic buying in multiples like so many are. It's cheating and very selfish to grab more food and paper goods than you need right now. That puts an incredible strain on the delivery system and it hurts others who need products, too.

I'm not saying you shouldn't get a little extra of things that may be hard to find. Maybe an extra dozen eggs or a box of tissue, but not an entire cart load! Leave some for someone else, for heaven's sake.

If we would all do that and quit panicking, there would be enough for all, just like there always have been. I'm not naive enough to believe that people will actually come to their sense any time soon, so for those of you reading this, please do your part.

Don't panic. Be careful but don't live in fear. This isn't the only pandemic the world has seen and it won't be the last. "All things in moderation" is a very good thought to go by all the time and times like these remind us why.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What to do if you run out of toilet paper

First of all, don't call 911. Really. Some people have done that.
Secondly, take stock of what you do have.

Things you can use include:

Paper napkins
Facial tissue
Paper towels
Baby wipes
Adult wipes
Face wipes
Any other soft paper product you might have

Except - don't use cleaning wipes! And never, never flush these other paper products. Only real toilet paper should be flushed. We are having local problems because people are flushing other things down the toilet.

Put container with a lid near the stool and put used paper products in that. 

Now is the time to bring out those old t-shirts or rag material. You don't have to use them for your bum if you use them instead of paper napkins, facial tissue, etc. You can wash and reuse after using as a substitute for those things while you may not want to wash "toilet paper." (That's another post and if you do it, more power to you.)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Newspaper Hacks

I have never used that word before. A "hack" sounds to me like suspicious behavior, but it's trendy now!

Newspaper isn't as common as it once was when everyone subscribed to the local paper. There always seemed to be piles of newspaper to be recycled or got rid of somehow. Even if you don't subscribe to a newspaper, there are flyers and sales sheets printed on it. Get your hands on some and try some of these.

Papier mache. Remember? You tear newspaper into strips and soak in water, then add white paste and use it as a sort of modeling clay. When it dries, it hardens and holds its shape.

Fire starter. It's basic. Just crumple a few sheets of newspaper tightly, put some kindling over the top and touch the paper with a lit match. Add wood as needed.

Insulation. Newspaper is an excellent insulation, although not approved for housing because of its flammability. Use it in your shoes, under your mattress in a cold bedroom, under throw rugs or anywhere a little warmth will be appreciated. 8 to 10 layers will make a big difference.

Keep your feet warm. Not only by using newspaper as insoles. You can make toasty warm houseshoes by starting with several layers of newspaper. Put them on the floor, then put your toe toward one corner with your heel toward the opposite one. Push your foot closer to the heel corner, then bring up both side corners over the top of your foot and secure with tape or string or yarn. Bring the front corner up over your toes and the back corner up over your heel. Gather the newspaper together at the ankle and tape or tie. You can cover this with cloth or burlap or whatever you have and you will never have such warm houseshoes.

Use newspaper to create or copy patterns. Whether you're sewing, knitting or doing other crafts, newspaper is perfect for making patterns. If it doesn't work out, toss it and grab another sheet. Use a marker to write without the words getting lost in the print.

Use newspaper to make a template before attempting to cut flooring to fit around door jams or other uneven areas like pipes and fancy work.

Newspaper makes a great, disposable mat for muddy, wet boots and shoes. Keep one by the door when the weather is bad. It's a good mat for the kids' craft projects, too (adults', too!).

Newspaper is a good mulch for between rows of vegetables. You can sprinkle a little dirt over it if you don't like the looks. It will keep a lot of weeds from growing.

Of course, you can dry windows and mirrors with it. You can also use it to polish bathroom fixtures and the trim on your vehicle.

What else? Do you use it for other things? Let us know!

Monday, January 6, 2020

New Year musings

I was just looking through some Pinterest posts, vintage, antiques, retro... and I found many things that I have and still use. What does that make me? Old fashioned? An oddball? Or... maybe frugal?

I don't know. I saw a manual clamp on meat grinder. I have one downstairs that hasn't been used for awhile but if I need it, I know where it is. I saw a coffee grinder - manual, of course. I have one and use it regularly. I don't drink coffee, but I make a coffee like drink from dandelion roots and sometimes grains.

I saw a Cosco red step stool/chair. I have one, thanks to my son and daughter in law.
Old fashioned Christmas candy, of course. I have some left from Christmas and some stashed away for next year.
Tinsel "icycles" for the tree. I have a box and used some last year.
Hot water bottle - I gave one away recently, preferring to use 2 liter plastic bottles because you don't have to get the water as hot and they last a long time. Good for cold feet, in bed or out.

I have an old fashioned egg beater, where you turn the handle and it turns the beaters. I have a pencil sharpener mounted on the corner of a bookshelf, where you turn the handle and it turns the blades. I even own a wringer washer.

"Time saving" appliances can cut us off from the real world. What's the satisfaction of sharpening a pencil if it's done so fast and with so little effort than you can ruin a pencil in just a moment? Or beating eggs in a mixer where you don't even have to pay attention.

I know... our grandparents and great grandparents probably thought the same thing when horseless carriages were introduced. And they were right. We ride the skies and have no idea what's beneath us. We ride in air conditioned or heated vehicles at ridiculous speeds and know nothing of what goes past us in seconds.

I'm not trying to guilt anyone into giving up anything - that's the way the world runs now - but this year, why not take the time to do something with your hands? See how it feels to turn an old fashioned ice cream maker this summer. Sew something by hand instead of a sewing machine.

I think that's what is meant by the phrase "smell the roses."