Live Below the Line

Tomorrow I will begin a new project in More-wtih-Less Living.

This project is titled, Live Below the Line.

Live Below the Line is a campaign designed to bring about awareness so that we may take action to help meet the first of the Millennium Development Goals, that of eradicating extreme poverty worldwide.  Extreme poverty is classified as living on less than $1.50 a day. Today, there are more than 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty.  That is more than four times the entire population of the United States.  By joining this project, I will save money that would otherwise be spent on groceries.  I will donate the money I save to organization(s) of my choice.  I also expect that I will develop a greater degree of empathy for those that must live in this situation every day of their lives.  In reality, I cannot live on less than $1.50 per day, because housing and taxes for one month, consist of more than an entire year’s worth of expenses for those living in extreme poverty.  It is good for me to remember that limiting my food consumption to equate to $1.50 per day is, in reality, a poor approximation to the conditions of those who do live on less than $1.50 per day.

I believe that eradicating poverty is more than just donating money to poor countries, though. Eradicating poverty also consists of learning about the conditions which bring about this poverty and correcting those conditions.

Please join me in learning about this very important issue.

It is important to understand that the decisions we make, here in the U.S., have impacts on others.

Please support institutions that promote equality.

Shopping with organizations and companies such as Equal Exchange, Sole Rebels, and even the The Salvation Army, which are all committed to helping others, can make a big difference if many folks join in.  This helps in more than one way.  It helps by directing our purchase dollars away from the companies and organizations that make decisions that promote inequality, while at the same time empowering those that do work for equality and justice.  Considering local and green purchases promotes greater social justice too.

See more about the Live Below the Line project here.

See more about the Millennium Development Goals here.

Please leave a comment and let me know which companies and organizations you support in this effort to shop Fair, Green and Local, so I can check them out too!

© Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Homemade Laundry Soap

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Laundry Soap is one of those expensive grocery items that we really can make ourselves, and make it much, much, much cheaper too.

You can make a liquid gel or a powder.

A five gallon pail of laundry gel costs only about $2.00.  That’s only 1 or 2 cents a load !

Here’s how:
Grate a bar of soap, add water and heat until it is dissolved.  Do not let it boil.
Pour into a five gallon pail and stir in Borax and Washing Soda until they are dissolved.
Fill pail with water and stir again.
When cool, it will gel.
Use between 1/2 – 1 cup in your laundry – depending on how soiled the clothes are.

If you prefer a dry laundry soap, grate the soap finely, add the washing soda and borax and use like any other dry laundry soap.

Use the bar soap of your choice.  Common choices are Fels Naptha and Octagon as pictured above.  Zote is another choice for laundry too. I sometimes use the little left over bits of bath bars instead of discarding them.  It’s easy to adjust the amount of Borax and Washing Soda to suit your own personal needs. Fels Naptha, Borax and Washing Soda can be found in many supermarket laundry aisles.  Note that this is Washing Soda, not baking soda.

You can make your own washing soda too.  It is very inexpensive to make from a bulk supply of baking soda.  Baking soda in bulk can be purchased at feed stores.

Bake your baking soda @ 400° for 30 minutes to turn it into washing soda.

Happy savings and simple living.

© Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Making Vinegar is one of those really easy things to do.

You can use almost any fruit.  I use apples, or rather apple peels, and cores.  So, making vinegar always begins with an apple dish, and I save the peels and cores for the vinegar.

Here’s one apple dish I make – homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal:

I use regular oatmeal and chopped apple, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar & nutmeg, add water and microwave for a few minutes.  No silly little expensive packages with a few dried bits of apple.

This is the real thing.  It’s filling and yummy, too.
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Save those peels and cores and place them in a jar and cover with water.  Add a little raw apple cider vinegar as a starter culture, cover with a cloth and band and set in a dark place to ferment.

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Continue adding cores and peels as you accumulate them.
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Your vinegar is done when it is the strength you like.
Strain and compost the solids.

© Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I Relish the Fact That You’ve Mustard the Strength to Ketchup With Me

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Making my own condiments – catsup, mustard, relish.
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Homemade Catsup
In a saucepan, whisk together and bring to a boil:
12oz Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Cups Water
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 teaspoon each Onion Powder, Ground Cumin, Cinnamon, Dry Mustard, Granulated Garlic, Ground Cloves
Simmer for a few minutes then allow to cool.
Add:
1/4 Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Adding Raw Apple Cider Vinegar once all is cool, makes this a living probiotic food.
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Homemade Mustard
In a non-reactive container soak overnight:
1 Cups Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Filtered Water
2/3 Cup Yellow Mustard Seed
1/3 Cup Brown Mustard Seed
The next day place above mixture in blend and mix with:
2 Tablespoons Honey or Brown Sugar
1, 2, or 3 teaspoons Salt (adjust to your taste)
Mix all until consistency you desire.  If a thinner mustard is desired, add more water.
Place in a nonreactive container and age for a few days at room temperature – until it’s bitterness goes away.
If a hot mustard is desired, refrigerate it once the bitterness is gone.
If you prefer a more mild mustard, age it longer so that the heat will dissipate, then refrigerate.
Experiment with your mustard seed, you can use yellow, brown, or black mustard seed & in any combination.  You can choose any vinegar or sweetener of your choice too.

This too, is a probiotic food if you choose to use a raw vinegar.
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My homemade Bread-and-Butter Pickles become . . .
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The best Sweet Pickle Relish I’ve ever tasted . . .
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With just a quick zap of the blender stick!
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© Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Peanut Butter: Changing the Brand We Purchase

I always used to purchase the store brand of natural peanut butter because the store brand is less expensive.  Today, I found that the store brands are now packaged in plastic containers.  This disappointed me very much.  I have always received a bonus with my peanut butter purchases – a ‘free glass storage container’.

It seems that these jars have just become more scarce.

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This is my new peanut butter brand, still packaged in a glass jar.

I will miss the familiar plastic yellow lid.

Why do I save peanut butter jars?

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They make fantastic food containers.  I cook most all the food we eat from ‘scratch’, including condiments.  Above is a picture of my homemade catsup, mustard, and sweet pickle relish, all in peanut butter jars.

We, as consumers, do not think too much about the waste that is inherent in our current capitalistic economic system.  When I do things, such as cook from scratch, the savings go well beyond the benefits to my family’s finances.  There are benefits to the environment, too.  I grew the cucumbers for the relish.  The jars they are canned in will be used time and time again.  These foods need no transportation, no special building and equipment for processing, they use minimal and recycled packaging (no printed labels or boxes or bags), and no advertising or retail space.  This is a huge savings to the environment.  Plus, whenever I can re-use a glass bottle, instead of discarding it or recycling it, a few less resources will be used up, because it takes resources to recycle, too.

Another plus is that I make these foods with ingredients of my choosing – no artificial ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup.  I can make the catsup as spicy as I like, and as thick as I like.  The mustard can be spicy or mild, grainy or smooth, sweetened with honey or not.  The choices are unlimited.  The sweet pickle relish is made using my  homemade bread-and-butter pickles.  Now that I have made my condiments, and know how very good these foods can taste, I will never return to pre-packaged, store bought condiments, ever.

How our food is produced does matter. It matters for our health and well-being, for the well-being of folks in other countries, and for the well-being of the natural environment. The foods we choose determine what kind of world we live in.  Small acts, such as being mindful of our food purchases and seeking out answers about who grows our food, who harvests our food, how our food is processed, transported, stored and sold, can bring a new awareness to how we wish to spend our food dollars.  This is living more-with-less.

We are what we do.

© Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bone Broth

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Do you know what bone broth is and why you should make and eat it?

Bone broth is how soup was made before we invented processed food. Bone broth is made by simmering the bones, and the skin, and other parts of the carcass of an animal that you otherwise would not eat, such as what is left after the Thanksgiving turkey is no longer.

Broth contains minerals that we need, and in a form that our bodies can easily absorb.  From broth we can get calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, and trace minerals.  It contains glucosamine from the cartilage and tendons.  These are all things we pay a lot of money for at the drug store.

Making bone broth is very easy to do.  After you have cooked your turkey or chicken, remove the meat off the bones and put all of the bones, skin, and everything you do not want to eat into a crockpot.  Cover it all with cold water and add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  Turn your cooker on to low and allow to cook for about 24 hours, then strain.

If you wish to make Chicken Stock, it is made in the same way, but add onion, carrots and celery to cook with the bones.  Strain all when done.

I skim the fat off the top and use that for cooking too.  It is fantastic to cook fried eggs in, as they will not stick.

When I still had a dog, I fed what remains after straining to him.  The bones became very soft and crumbly, as much of the calcium gets pulled out and is dissolved in the broth.  This is the purpose for the vinegar.  Now that Barkley is no longer with us, I put what is left after straining into my compost, as it’s good for my garden microbes too.

What can you do with your broth?  Make soup or gravy, or cook rice in it.  Place it in small containers and put it in your freezer.  Use this broth, in place one of those little cubes or cans of broth, in your recipes.

You may notice when your broth gets cold that it has gelled, not unlike Jello.  This is very, very good.  It means that your broth is not only full of wonderful and good for you minerals, it is also full of protein.

“Where did I learn about making bone broth?”, you may ask.  I learned it from The Weston Price Foundation.  There you may find lots of information about healthful eating and many lessons about the benefits of bone broth and good-for-you fats, amongst other things.

By making my own bone broth:

  • I keep my food bills lower while providing my family more nutritious and tasty meals.
  • I am able to make inexpensive, tasty, and nutritious soups and gravy.
  • I replace some of my cooking fat, that I would otherwise need to buy, with healthful chicken fat.
  • I have a free source of  ‘bone meal fertilizer’  for my organic garden (which further acts to reduce my family’s food costs).
  • I help the environment (creation care) by making the most from what I have, and therefore reserve resources that would otherwise go into the production and the sale of what I otherwise provide for myself and my family.

This is truly living More-with-Less.

© Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog, 2013-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nancy Babbitt and Just Desserts Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.