Dear family; ’tis the season

It’s gift giving season again, which means gift buying, which means spending. I’d like to suggest a few possibilities that save money and might even be practical.

Might even be practical? Oh, family and friends, you know practicality is my middle name. You know that anything related to canning is a good bet. As I see my net pay shrink and my right to a contract wind its way through the courts, putting up stores for the winter is an investment in both groceries and health. The corn I bought and froze in August was cheaper by the ounce than a bag of frozen corn in the stores, and it will taste oh, so much better. The same goes for the peas, the beans, the asparagus – hey, Amigo, we have asparagus in the freezer! Your favorite vegetable! But I’m going off topic.

Any tools related to food storage are a good investment. Keep an eye open for a mortar and pestle. We’ve learned from experience that the herbs that are so prolific on the deck in season do not do nearly as well in the house over winter. Drying these herbs and crushing them will make the kitchen smell great and fill the spice rack.

A kitchen scale would come in handy, too. Making tomato salsa and marinara sauce was interesting. I measured out one pound on my tiny little scale that measures in ounces up to one pound. Since the Roma tomatoes called for were fairly uniform in size, I then estimated enough one pound piles to make the full amount I needed. It worked, but a real scale would work better. Four to five Romas make a pound, in case you were wondering.

Last time I watched an Alton Brown recipe video, I noticed how he used the gravy separator. How is it I’ve gone this long without one? I’d use it for making soup stocks, too. I like the one with the removable strainer on top.

Don’t spend a bundle, though. If you spot jars in a thrift store or at a rummage sale, go for it. If you see a second hand mortar and pestle set somewhere at a ridiculously low price, grab it. A well known kitchen supply store asks $40 for a ceramic set. Ouch. That’s ridiculously high; don’t bother.

Chuck needs jeans. He wears them a lot, and he wears them out. Contact me for size and style. He pretends he knows, but…. you know the drill. Don’t tell him I said so, but second hand jeans are fine as long as they’re the right brand, style, and size.

Amigo? He needs independence. If only we could wrap it up and put it under the tree for Christmas. Until then, he’ll keep doing his own laundry and making his own lunch and setting the table for supper.

La Petite is working her way into the real world of, you guessed it, work. If anyone can deliver more work to her, in particular work with health care benefits, please tie it up in a bow and place it in her stocking.

Oh, did I get distracted again? The underlying message is this: our world is a scary place. The future is uncertain, and sometimes I feel like the odds are not in our favor. Save the cash for the important necessities in life. Holidays are important, but spending oodles of money isn’t necessary. 

Meanwhile, I plan to make a trip downtown on Small Business Saturday, the antidote for Black Friday at the malls. It’s so much calmer and so enjoyable that I might even time my trip to the small shops on the Friday itself. Join me, anyone?

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