This is my reminder that I'm simply sharing the things that I have learned as of late and I don't consider myself an excellent source of information or of...anything!
I LOVE to save money (who doesn't?), it's almost like an obsession. I also like to cook healthier by doing more things by scratch. I think it's a common misconception that the two go hand and hand. I was surprised when I first started cooking how expensive it was to do some things yourselves when you could go buy a packaged item for a fraction of the price. There is one thing that I believe is well worth the extra time and money, bread. I thought it was going to be too hard but it wasn't really at all. I found it relaxing and fun!
That was three years ago, and now with less time I picked up a bread maker (for $5 at a garage sale!). I don't bake in the machine but I let it do all my kneading. It saves on time and mess :). My favorite recipe is out of the Better Homes and Gardens Bridal recipe book. The great thing about making your own bread is that you can control what's inside. Have you ever read the list of ingredients? Wowzers. Then, if you want to you can beef it up all you want. Use unbleached white flour, buy your own freshly ground wheat, add some milled flax seed or wheat germ...the options are endless.
Now that my daughter is older she loves to help with the bread. I love kid friendly recipes.
My few hints for bread making that I notice not very many instructions have: activate your yeast. Put the warm water (I just let my faucet run as hot as it will get) and sugar and yeast and allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes.
Allow rest time in between steps.
And use a bread maker for kneading :D.
Ta Da! Fun and easy!
The other thing I love that does save money and is healthier is stove top popcorn. I could eat so much popcorn that making it myself I don't feel as guilty about the price or health factors. I was doing my popcorn just in one of my pots but my mom found me a popper like hers and I LOVE it. No matter what, you have what you need: I buy the cheapest bag of kernels, use a couple of tablespoons of oil and then salt. When I feel like splurging we buy the butter flavored salt (less than $2 and it lasts for quite awhile). Splurging on the flavored salt really makes it taste like your not missing out on anything. The directions suggest letting the oil get hot but I have better success putting the kernels in right away. If you don't have a pot that turns inside, just grab your favorite medium to large pot (with lid!) and just make sure to shake it -horizontally- to keep it from burning. When we moved into our new house and I had to go from a gas to electric stove I didn't think I was going to be able to keep making stove top popcorn but it's working out.
I love "kettle corn" the sweet and salty stuff we all love. I've tried it out once or so, just throwing in salt and sugar when I put in the kernels. Is that the best way. I'd love to hear what everyone's favorite popcorn recipe/topper is: parmesan cheese, caramel...?
I love my popcorn "maker." Thanks, Mom. :)