Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Still Getting Ready for School

My sons' room has been decluttered, vacuumed and generally readied for school to begin. I've begun to check through their clothes and will finish weeding out the things they've outgrown.

My technique for dealing with outgrown clothes has changed over time. If it no longer fit anyone in the house, I used to just put it in a bag and toss it in my car to take to a Goodwill type bin the next time I passed one. In the last year I've begun really looking at each piece of clothing and reviewing my current craft/household projects. Could I use the fabric from this in something else? In the case of my fickle teenage daughters, could I alter this to make it more fashionable? You'd be amazed at how much you can reuse. A fair amount still goes to those bins but at least I've thought about it first.

My teenage daughters' room is a far more tedious go. They are about half way done and the closet is part of the not yet looked at half. We've hung stuffed animals on the side of their milk crate shelves to give more floor/bed space. We're developing a "no junk on the desk" policy to keep it clear for future homework. Hopefully things will be clear by this evening.

This will be the first time in three years that I haven't had to drive a child to preschool. Its good timing considering gas prices but it also gives me more time for food prep in the morning. As in the past, I will begin making muffins for easy breakfasts. Since I can get bananas at a discount grocery for $.29/pound, I think the first week of school will include banana muffins. I'll also freeze a bunch for down the road. Apple picking is going to help expand the breakfast menu in a frugal and fun way.

You can keep your muffin costs down by using cooking water from pasta or potatoes in place of all or part of the soymilk in recipes. I do it all the time and it works really well and helps to stretch our soymilk budget. I've also made the ricemilk recipe from How It All Vegan for use in baked goods. I don't care for the taste to drink, but it works very well in recipes.


Sunflower said...

Hey girl,

I've had a lot of luck using Now Foods powdered soymilk (yellow bag) in place of soymilk in baking. It's incredibly cheaper than the liquid but is unfortified and unsweetened. Still, I think it's important to use soymilk because its high in protein. I can get Better than Milk soymilk powder (sweetened and fortified, 5.99/lb) for cheaper than the liquid but the canister doesn't beat our lowest price on Silk (and actually, Silk with a generic label here is only 1.99 for a half-gallon).

I make a big deal about soymilk in baking because most mornings when muffins or pancakes make the meal and I don't care to drink anything besides water or tea, the soymilk and soy flour I add to the batter is my only protein source. If the members of your family are soymilk drinkers, then you probably don't even worry about this. I used to be, before I realized my glass of soymilk was quadrupling the price of my breakfast!

I'm waiting for my SoyQuick soymilk maker to come in. It was a graduation present. I hope I have more luck with it than you! I figure, as long as it makes halfway decent soymilk I can use it for baking and white sauce. I find Silk to be way to sweet for cream sauces and uncheeses.

Speaking of this, if you're making an uncheese from Joanne Stepaniak's cookbook and the recipe calls for 1/2 c ground blanched almonds, I've found that 1/2 Better than Milk soymilk powder (plain) makes an excellent substitute. Given that almonds are $8.99/lb here, this is a big savings.

Katie said...

Oooo, I have to try your uncheese trick half almonds, half better than milk. I really like Joanne Stepaniak's Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.

If my guys are sitting down to breakfast, they'll drink a glass of soymilk with it, but if its on the run, they won't. I agree, when the muffin/pancake is the only source of protein, using the soymilk is a good idea. I also like to throw in a handful of walnuts or sunflower seeds to add protein and a little fat for holding power.

Let me know how it goes with your soy milk maker. I always wonder how my soy milk maker experience was so cruddy compared to other people who love the darn things. I'm not above admitting that some things have to enter your life at just the right time for them to work out well. I mean if I'd bought my canner 10 years ago I'd probably have used it as a baby bath rather than a canner! Who knows, maybe it was just the wrong time for me to try a soy milk maker when I did!

Take care

Sunflower said...

katie, just wondering, exactly what was the problem with your s.m.m.? Was the soymilk cruddy or was it just a pain to clean and how? I'm nervous! I HATE making decisions about things and then changing my mind. :) I am also getting a little chest freezer for Russell and I so that we can stock up better and make more efficient use of our oven (bake 6 loaves of bread at once, for example).
Best of luck with school starting :-D

Katie said...

Hey Ruthie,
Jim's not picky about a whole lot but he loves his Silk and I just couldn't get the s.m.m. to taste remotely similar. For baked goods it would have been fine but for drinking it was a no go. The other thing was the small volume that it made, remember we're a family of 6. One quart of soymilk doesn't give everyone a serving.

It was a little tricky to clean the screening completely but not impossible. No, it was mainly the taste thing. Plus, it had a 30 day money back guarantee and I felt pressure to get it shipped back to make sure I could get my money back. I also hate that feeling of second guessing that always goes on during a major purchases.

You'll love having a freezer, it is so convenient for so many things. While I was away this summer, I had made Jim meals that he just had to pop from the freezer into the fridge. It worked out so well and he never had to think about what to cook (he's the family taster, not the family chef!)