Newton Construction in Gingerbread

An off-hand remark to me by Chris several weeks ago about wanting to make a gingerbread house from scratch with the kids, somehow led to Chris and the kids elbow deep in ginger and icing sugar while I ran around Barriere on last minute errands on December 23rd!

Stephen had every intention of writing the step by step directions but with skiing, visiting, and playing, bedtimes came far too early!  I think he took most of the pictures, though.  The recipe came from What’s up Kids magazine and the design from an online pattern that Chris found.  It was an amazing recipe.  Very tasty and structurally sound.  However, it didn’t last too long…unlike brittle store-bought gingerbread house kits, it was too tempting…everytime somebody walked by, a gingerbread man lost his buttons!  This led to an unfortunate collapse of the chimney stack.  Fortunately the gingerbread men were long gone before they saw the demise of the back half of the house…yum…

So here are the photos!

Eating from your Pantry and Freezer

Eating out of the pantry is a simple living concept that encourages people to slow down expenditures on groceries by looking through their pantry and freezer to make due with things they already have.  This way we make the best use of the things we’ve already bought, and we end up spending less on our grocery bill.  I was amazed to discover the last time I cleaned the pantry that I have 10 kinds of bread flour sitting in small bags at the back of the pantry…as well as orzo pasta (great for soup) and some arborio rice.  Sitting at the bottom of our freezer is 10-20 pounds of hamburger and stew meat, as well as some ribs and ham and pork ribs.  So some things we’ve been doing to “eat out of the pantry and freezer”.

1) I have slowly been digging up the meat and trying to use up.  I will continue to try to find different recipes for them so that we don’t have weeks of spaghetti sauce or tough old pork chops.  This is a slow process for us as we don’t eat much meat.  Our chicken harvest from the spring is hardly half used up (we started with 22) so that you should give you an idea of how much meat we eat.  I haven’t purchased grocery store meat in almost a year.

2)  Our pantry has an odd assortment of grains and such that I’m slowly planning to incorporate into my bread, instead of going to buy more flour.  This will be a bit of an experiment as I will be changing my regular bread recipes slightly.

3) We are using up our preserves.  We froze corn and beans and carrots, as well as some blueberries and tomatoes.  Our jam has been getting good use and we still have some left, thanks to our afternoon in August picking strawberries from Monica’s garden.  We are only buying those fruits and vegetables we don’t have frozen or canned and we feel are necessary (school lunches, for example).  Otherwise, if a recipe calls for a vegetable we don’t have, we try to substitute or do without.  If we can’t do without we will buy it.

4) In the last year I became a roiboos tea drinker, chucking my earl grey in favour of this decaffeinated tea from South Africa (not very local!).  I recently discovered that when we had been buying herbal teas — the ones that come with a selection of 4 or 5 different types — we were using the ones we really liked and leaving the rest to accumulate.  So before Christmas I went through them (I had to sniff the ones that weren’t in boxes anymore) and decided which ones I could easily drink.  Only Licorice Spice got dumped (NOBODY would even try it). I’m almost through the tea now and look forward to buying Roibois again in bulk from Zack’s in Kamloops.

5) Making turkey/chicken stock for soup and using leftovers to make soup.  O.K. so I’ve always done this, but it bears thinking about as a way to get the most from your grocery bill.  Homemade soup = YUM!

6) Making nut butter out of the mixed nuts Chis bought inadvertantly thinking it was his mixed nuts for his hot cereal (it had peanuts in it, which he’s not fond of).  It made a cup of nut butter which meant I didn’t have to buy any peanut butter (something we tend not to have much of around, since there are a few of us who could eat it with a spoon straight out of the container).  Homemade nut butter is even more wonderful but I think because I can control the salt, I don’t crave it as much as the salty/sweet peanut butter from the stores!

We’ve been doing all of this while keeping our “deprivation” levels in check. If we feel “deprived” then we’re not being frugal, but cheapening our lives.  So far, so good!

Does anybody else have stories of eating out of their pantries and freezers?  Recipes to do so?

Candy cane chocolate bark

Today December 22nd Katie, Mom and I made chocolate bark for our Christmas baskets (Christmas gifts). Katie did the brown chocolate while I crushed candy canes with a rolling pin.


Then I chopped up the white chocolate while the brown hardened.

After 15 minutes I stared melting white chocolate. When it was melted we had to add more than half of the crushed candy canes. When Katie pulled out the hardened chocolate Mom and I poured the white chocolate over top of the brown.

Then Katie sprinkled the rest of the candy canes on top. Now it is in the fridge hardening. Tomorrow we will break it in to pieces.