Friday, May 06, 2011
A little pantry talk... stocking up and sticker shock
It feels like spring! For the first time this season, I could go outside without a jacket and feel comfortable. It has been a long... long... long winter.
Thanks for the suggestions about the cake mix combinations. I have combined pumpkin and yellow cake mix before and a friend has served me a cake made with the spice cake-pumpkin mix. Very good! The base of the cherry chocolate cake on my recipe blog is German chocolate cake mix combined with a can of cherry pie filling. I love having options for pantry meals and desserts.
I must admit, I've been a cake snob and usually like to make mine from scratch. However, when I made a cake recently using a yellow cake mix and frosted it with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting... Christopher said it was the best cake I've made in awhile. Sigh... I may overlook the list of ingredients and keep Cool Whip in the freezer, too. ;)
This past week has brought two phone conversations about the price of food and stocking up. One of my best friends called earlier today, my friend who lives in the desert in New Mexico. She called with a question about yeast and ended up talking for over an hour about crazy weather, the small earthquakes they have been experiencing, and the need to be prepared for anything.
Their water situation is now critical so it may necessitate a move to another state. She is always interesting to talk with, sometimes it is hard to believe we live in the same country with her surroundings so different than mine.
Speaking of yeast... a quick answer to a question I'd forgotten about! I use Saf-instant yeast, purchased in 16 ounce blocks. I keep mine in the refrigerator in an ancient Tupperware canister except for just a little kept in a glass jar on my shelf to keep at room temperature for immediate use. My yeast has lasted two years in the refrigerator this way. Stephanie uses the same yeast and she keeps the block in the freezer before opening it (also refrigerating it once it is open). This yeast has never failed me!
The second conversation about food and such this week was with said daughter... talking about keeping a family of seven fed at a reasonable cost. We agreed we both need to look at ways families stretched meals in the past. For instance, when I was growing up there was often bread on the table, especially when Mom was serving a crowd.
My mother-in-law also served bread with each meal (both mothers went through the Depression when they were very young). Italian cooks prepare lots of inexpensive pasta and French families learned to love snails. I am happy to make healthy bread and serve good quality pasta but not so much the whole "snails as food" thing.
The conversation with Stephanie was hours after I'd arrived home from Wal Mart and had sticker shock at the price of food... at Wal Mart! I had read the article by the Wal Mart executive who said their prices would increase sharply come summer. It is not summer and I'm already shocked. My husband had given me $40.00 to purchase a few items we were out of and even though I'm good at stretching the grocery dollar... it didn't go very far.
The cost of a gallon of gasoline is around $4.25 a gallon here and that certainly hurts us all! I can't imagine what it means to the trucks carrying food and supplies as diesel fuel is often more expensive. No wonder cauliflower was nearly $4.00 a pound the last time I looked for it at Kroger (and did not buy it, I may add).
Christopher took me out to lunch recently and the same lunch that cost us just $12.00 a few months ago now cost over $18.00. He was telling me it was the first time he had been there since the prices had raised but he knew it was coming, they had to just to keep the restaurant open. Even then, he was surprised at how much the increase was for the same amount of food.
In many ways, this reminds me of the years I was a new bride and inflation was playing havoc with our budgets. But it also has that feeling of what my mother talked about in the Depression. At least in the 70s, the wages usually were increasing at the same time... not so for most people now and one in ten Americans is still out of work.
So... now that I've depressed everyone... what am I trying to say... again. :)
Everything we can do to stock up a little (or a lot) will save us money down the road... and it is insurance we can eat. I had to overcome the inability to stock up very much and realize anything I do helps in the long run. I've also decided to do my own fight against inflation by looking through cookbooks and such to see how generations made it through the Depression years ago... and how those with less opportunities do so today (for instance, in the More-With-Less cookbook).
Now... I must also do my part by getting the small garden planted, we had frost recently but the long term forecast looks warmer. There is a break in the rain to hopefully get some hoeing done in preparation for planting. Except for the raised bed with my herbs... all I am growing right now are weeds!
Picture: Cookbook and apples; allposters.com