Sunday, May 29, 2011

Powdered sugar and popcorn salt

One of the best things we can do for ourselves and our budgets is to cook more and more from scratch. When I say "make my own" any more, I truly mean make my own, as in salad dressings, bread, powdered sugar and popcorn salt.

Powdered sugar is quick and easy if you have a blender. Just put table sugar in it and blend until it's a powder. It won't be as light as commercial powdered sugar unless you add a little cornstarch. The cornstarch is to keep it from clumping after it sets for awhile, but if you make just enough for what you need at the time, you don't have to waste cornstarch.

And the popcorn salt is easy, too. A coffee mill works after a fashion but a blender does a better job. Don't overdo it. Use short pulses and check it every couple or three times. If the salt is too fine, you can easily over salt the popcorn.

There are lots of things to make from scratch and the more ways you use, the more money you save.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I did it!

How many times have I tried to make crackers that were crispy just like the kind you buy? Answer: Lots! I lost count of how many times I've tried, but finally I took a recipe and made it my way and it worked.

The recipe called for a cup of butter, milk, vinegar and baking soda, then salt. As I was putting it together, I realized that plain buttermilk would substitute for all the ingredients except for the baking soda and salt. The first batch turned out good, but not crisp. So here's what I did:

To 2 cups of flour, add a half teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of baking powder and a half teaspoon of baking soda. Mix it up, then add enough thick buttermilk to make a dough that can be handled on a floured board. Roll it out as thin as you can. I wound up using a pasta machine made for rolling noodle dough. I put the rolled out dough on a parchment paper on a cookie sheet, scored and lightly salted it, then baked at 275 for somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes.

Voila! Crackers. Finally.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Free books?

Reading is one of my passions, but being frugal, I don't like to spend money on books, magazines or even a newspaper. I can catch the news on the computer and read plenty of articles and magazine-like content online, but nothing is quite like stretching out on the couch with a good book, or tucking one in my purse to read while in the doctor's waiting room.

One way I've found to get good, free reading material is to trade with others. All of my kids love to read and two of them are here in town, so we trade books now and then. Although we don't always read the same kind of material, we now and then find one that we all enjoy.

How else to get free reading material? How about checking with a local Freecycle? Another way is to take some of your books to a used book store that will give you credit toward other books.

Yes, you can print books from online sources, but ink and paper are not free. There are a few places where you can trade books online, but postage is not free, either. I'm open to any ideas that anyone has on how to get more free reading material.