Monday, August 31, 2009


Today I did a little math and figured out about how much money I will be saving by eating my fresh canned goods all winter. Here it is.
I figured a rough estimate (on the low end) of $140 for all of the supplies I bought including, 4 oz jelly jars, 12 oz jelly jars, 1/2 pint jars, pint jars, vinnegar, canning salt, fruit pectin, canning tools, and of course, a preassure canner.
At the grocery store today I wrote down the prices of the things I would have bought. Not that I would have typically bought these canned food items at the grocery store, but since I had the fresh food and needed to do something with it... I canned it. My estimate came out to about $170 dollars. Most of that cost was 30 jars of jelly.
Now I realize this is a very rough estimate, but if it is even close, then I have already broke even on my investment, or at least come close.
But of course we have to take into account the fact that normally I would not be buying some of this stuff in the grocery store, so if I had not canned okra, for example, I still would not have spent any money buying it. So perhaps it was actually alot more work and money for me in the end, even though I acquired the food free of charge.
On the other hand, I can reuse the jars for quite a few seasons, and the pressure canner and accessories should last for many years. So every year that I can preserve free fruits and veggies, the cost goes down. Next year, if I just buy jars, salt, pectin, vinnegar, and spices (even though I won't need as many jars), my cost will already be cut in half, due to the price of the canner.
Of course all of this is pretty irrelevent, but I feel so good knowing that the food I will be eating was grown locally and that I spent my time doing something I enjoy instead of walking around a grocery store. And probably most important, in the long run, less and less of my money will support businesses that do so much damage to our health and the envirnment.

Good deal.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Adventures of the Heartland

~~~~~Shaun and I have made it back to the good ol' U S of A, and the dogs too. The flight back was pretty long, but the dogs did much better this time around. I drank a cup of strong Argentine coffee at 3:30 in the morning before we got on the plane. They put cinnamon and liquor in it and topped it with whipped cream to convince me to drink it and I just couldn't resist. Of course, I didn't sleep a wink on the plane, but I'm pretty sure I am one of only three people (the 2 captains of the plane) to witness one of the most amazing sights ever, the sun rising over the amazon jungle. I saw the curve of the earth, and the full spectrum of the rainbow, and managed to catch a bit of it on camera.
~~~~~I have decided I love the Miami airport. It is the nicest airport I have ever been in, it is so easy to navigate, and the people who work there are just great and always so helpful. There are fenced dog break areas every 100 yards, and they even provide bags! It was definitely a pleasure to spend time at the Miami airport and I can't wait until my next stop there!
~~~~~Since returning to Iowa, Shaun and I have been busy busy beavers. Our first day back in town, we were offered a job at a Japanese grill. We have taken over the two sushi rolling positions, and I keep hearing from all my asian co-workers, "Not bad for a white girl!" It is very nice to be working again, but I'm really not sure we are going to be able to make much money there, so we will probably be looking for second jobs as soon as things settle down.
~~~~~We now are proud owners of a red mini-van, and soon to be 'first-time-home-buyers'. Between the van breaking down and needing repairs, at least one of us working split shifts every day, and constantly making appointments with bankers and realtors, we have hardly had a minute to can and pickle the 60 pounds of vegetables we picked from a friend's garden a week and a half ago!
~~~~~Finally, just today, I almost have it all finished. It has been alot of work, but our pantry will be full of delicious foods for winter, saving us a whole bunch of money and shopping time, not to mention holiday gifts for all! (Sorry friends and family. No secret here...You're all getting hot pepper jelly for Christmas!)
We have:
canned okra - I am very interested to see how this turns out since it was so slimey when I put it in the jars
canned green peppers -a mix of anaheim and dark and light green bells
jalapenos and garlic in oil
Dulce de Tomate - a recipe straight from an Argentine chef
spicy hot tomato jalapeno jelly - which I made from the seeds, juice, and scraps of the tomatoes for the dulce de tomate
hot pepper and mint jelly -which I made from the scraps of the canned peppers
and a few jars of dilly beans!
~~~~~I am ready to be done canning things, but really, after our southern vacation, it feels good to wake up early in the morning and spend the entire day doing things. Tomorow, I will pickle three heads of cabbage, then hopefully have some time to work on a sweater that I am knitting for myself. The sooner I can finish it the better because I promised Shaun I would make one for him before it got cold.
~~~~~By the end of September we should be moved into our new house (not that it will take much since we only have a couple bags), and we will be able to translate our computer hardware to english. After that I will get all my recent pictures up, I will have room for my shoes and yarn, plenty of kitchen for making more time consuming food products, and all will be good.
Now keep up! Just because we've left Argentina doesn't mean the adventure is over!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ready For Take-Off

I am pretty amazed that we only have 2 days left here. I am a little bit nervous...ok very nervous... to go back to the states. The flight and drive from Florida i'm sure will be fine... but once we get back to Iowa, I feel like I have so much to do. We have been so sedentary here and especially this last couple weeks, pretty bored. We have some big plans and need to make some money to get them started. I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed to start over in Iowa with nothing. I only have one box of possesions anyway, and that is in Montana.
But, at the same time, I am so excited! Everything will be so fresh and new and I really feel like I will be so motivated to be active and work hard. Shaun and I are very ready to get out of the city and back to the states to start planning our next move, and our next international trip...
I'm thinking an english teaching course in Thailand.... Hmmmm.... But for now, let's just start with finding a house in Iowa.