Is truly another woman's treasure. As our "Something from nothing" gang proved this week. We gathered at our friend Annette's place and swapped housey things. We had everything from kitchen utensils to espresso makers. Let me tell you, I snagged that espresso maker instantly - I always like to have a back-up. (BTW, Kimberly, this doesn't get you off the hook for giving me your old one - if one back-up is good, two is even better!) So, what else did we have? Bottles of wine, garlic, kitchen utensils, a dish towel, decorations, and even some Pampered Chef. What a treasure trove! This is such a fun thing to do with your girlfriends or neighbors. Everyone bring what she no longer wants or likes and everyone is free to take what she falls in love with. Leftovers go to the Goodwill - a win, win, win situation! If you're looking for a fun fall party I highly recommend it.
All of you who are city peeps have the advantage of theater, activity, shops, and great restaurants. Sometimes that sounds attractive, I must admit. But, when it comes right down to it, I like living on the edge of the sticks because we have access to free food. And food scrounging makes for a fun weekend. Last Saturday we went into the woods with friends. Fortunately, we didn't encounter the big, bad wolf or (more likely) a bear or (even more likely) hunters. We did find a field full or huckleberry bushes and some chanterelle mushrooms. Yum! Wild huckleberries make the best pies on the planet. They also make wonderful jam, coffee cake and liquor. (Try adapting the blackberry cordial recipe from "Small Change".) Mushroom hunting is like Easter Egg hunting for grown-ups. No, now that I think about it, at the price of those things in the store, well, it's more like panning for gold. Even better than the money savings is the time in the great outdoors, a chance to be with friends, and the memories made. That's priceless. Mushroom season is right now, so if you do live near woods this is the time to go hunting. (Check out the various on-line sites to be sure you know what you're looking for. Even better, if you have a friend like my buddy Kimberly who is a expert on the 'shroom, take a guided expedition to make sure you're not picking something that will make you sick. God's bounty is everywhere. Let's enjoy it!
Oh, the fun of making pretty things! My friend Theresia, the culinary artist, showed me how to turn fruits and veggies into flowers. If you're having a fancy dinner party... don't start this an hour before the guests arrive. This is an art, a time consuming art. And you need patience, grasshopper. Something I don't have a lot of, so, needless to say, what you see in the picture is mostly Theresia's work. She used carrots, radishes, green onions, and strawberries for her artwork. The less than perfect specimens are mine! If you're looking for a fun afternoon activity to do with your girlfriends this fall, this might be it. Check out the how-to videos on Utube (search by typing in "fruit and vegetable carving") and you'll be in business. All you need are your veggies or fruit, a sharp paring knife, and patience. Did I mention patience?!
Oh, the joys of finding goodies right in your own back yard! Just like our grandmas used to do. For a while there, I think many of us sneered at those simple things Grandma spent so much time on: picking berries, growing veggies, canning - in general putting food up for winter. But now, with many of us facing financial challenges a lot of women are thinking it's not so bad to grow your own organic food, or scrounge something free from that tangle of vines down the street. Which is what I did today. Labor Day weekend - perfect for laboring for free food! Later today we have friends coming out to try their hand at catching some fish in our little lake. (I have a Plan B for dinner - call me a pessimist, but I believe in being prepared.) Anyway, as you can see by the picture, I returned from my berry expedition with a full haul. That will make a couple of pies this winter. Or maybe I'll keep some out and make blackberry cobbler. (Posted on the recipe page.) I already have berries in the freezer (thanks Annette!) to make my blackberry cordial for Christmas presents. (You can find the recipe for this yummy treat in my novel "Small Change".) I've also been harvesting zucchini from my garden, which has given us many a wonderful meal... and has resulted in several loaves of zucchini bread in the freezer (also for winter). So, jam and canned peaches in the pantry, goodies in the freezer - and maybe later we'll round out the food supply with some fish. Also, I'm going to try my hand at making rose hip tea. I'll harvest the rose hips right after the first frost. (If you're wondering what the heck rose hips are, they're those little reddish globes hanging from your rose bush about this time of year - and they contain Vitamin A more Vitamin C than an orange.) So, I'm feeling pretty good. I may not be saving a fortune, but I'm saving something and we're eating well. And I'm enjoying the thrill of the hunt. And that, as the Mastercard people say, is priceless!