Butchering Skills to the Rescue!

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons Attribution, piggy bank, money, savings, frugal life, frugal living, saving moneyI love a good deal, but I try to be really careful to make sure that I don’t purchase things that aren’t really going to be useful. If we don’t use it or like it, then it’s wasted money, no matter what.

Being totally unfamiliar with most butchering skills, hubby has taught me a few things (actually a whole bunch) that has helped me to see good meat deals in a new light.

Did you know that Center Cut Pork Chops (you know, the pretty ones that sit on the top of the family package of mixed chops, hiding the ones with the bone in them) are just slices made from the Pork Loin? Okay, you likely did, but I didn’t know that for a long time. Occasionally, we would be at the grocery store and the hubby would find a big hunk of meat at a really good price and bring it home and chunk it up into useable sized pieces. I still didn’t have the “vision” to see what could be made from what was available until he explained (I’m a bit slow :-)) that when he cut 1 inch slices off of a pork loin, that he was making Center Cut Chops without paying the butcher extra. Our time slicing and packaging meant that we didn’t pay as much for our chops!

This week, one local store that we go to occasionally (it is a warehouse that sells things that are close to their expiration date, but the meats are always fresh) had a really good price on whole pork loins. I mean REALLY good for our area. So, I picked up two (warning hubby that he was playing butcher that evening) and stashed them in the fridge.

Another Hatchett Job, frugal life, saving money, home economics
Pork loin becomes bargain priced center cut chops!

Hubby was nearly floored when he saw the size of them. I neglected to mention the word, “whole,” apparently. So, he cut one into two really big pork loins for company meals and half of one into generous 1 inch chops for our family of 6 adult appetites to eat on twice. The remaining portion will be cooked as a pork loin and sliced thin for biscuits–lots of biscuits.

If I can luck up and find another one or two at that price in a couple of weeks, hubby and I will dice it for me to pressure can for quick meals for busy, Winter days.

By my estimation, our work in the kitchen saved us around a dollar a pound over the best price for center cut chops that I have found in our local area.

Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

What is your best kitchen money saving tip? Share in the comments!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett


Chicken Bone Broth

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons attribution, chickenMost home cooks that I know use chicken broth or stock from time to time.  Some even make it from scratch or at least save the liquid from boiling a chicken to flavor another meal.  It’s good stuff and it adds flavor to any dish.  Our family enjoys soups, rice, noodles, and other dishes made with chicken broth.

But, have you noticed just how pale that commercial chicken stock is?  I thought this was normal until I started making my own and noticed that it was a darker amber color and far nicer tasting than any I had ever purchased.  I still purchased some if I ran out of home made stock in the freezer, but mostly used what I made.

Then I graduated on to canning low acid foods with a pressure canner and realized that I didn’t have to tie up my freezer space with stock that could sit in a cupboard in a canning jar.  At this point, I began making more broth than ever, even taking our family’s turkey carcasses (we usually cook two and freeze the leftover meat) to make tens of quarts over a weekend to use throughout the year.  It was good stuff.

This continued and I began looking at various articles and blog posts from others who did similar things for their families and learned that the words “stock” and “broth” really aren’t interchangeable.  Broth is made by including bones (which I usually did) and simmering them for longer lengths of time.  Now, I might let a stock pot of turkey carcass broth slowly simmer all day, but I had never really let any of my broth go for longer amounts of time and didn’t feel great about leaving the stove on unattended while I slept.

As my children were growing, I became more and more interested in nutrition and how I could feed them food that they would enjoy, but would satisfy my need to keep them nourished.  As my youngest child and I have asthma, I was also looking for anything to improve our immune systems as viruses and colds become bronchitis far too easily for us.

This brought me to read up on Bone Broths.  These broths were made and canned or frozen very similar to the way that I had been doing mine, but reportedly had greater health benefits.  The greatest difference between bone

Another Hatchett Job, canning, bone broth, healthy living, frugal living, crockpot recipe
Deep, rich chicken bone broth.

broth and mine is that the bone broths cooked for 24 to 72 hours on low heat with a splash of vinegar to help leach out minerals from the bones.  The promise of greater amounts of calcium was a big lure as hubby and younger son are lactose intolerant and don’t drink milk.  It gave me one more way to get more minerals into our diets, which, in turn, should enhance our immunity.  Plus, broths are super to have on hand for when sickness strikes.  Broths are gentle on the stomach, hydrating, and easy to consume.

Once I tried it in my crockpot (which I am okay to leave on overnight), I was amazed at the difference in richness and taste!  This was the completely gourmet version of what I had been making before and total light years away from the grocery store version.  This stuff makes food an event!

The photo of canned broth is from my last batch.  It  is such a deep, rich, amber color that it almost matches grocery store beef stock.  And the smell and taste is incredible.  It’s totally worth making for the taste alone.

It’s totally simple to do:  put chicken bones or mixed poultry bones in your crock pot.  Add an onion cut in half (stud with cloves if you like), a couple of limp carrots, celery, some garlic, about 1/2 cup vinegar (any kind is fine, you won’t taste it).  In fact, you can keep bags in the freezer for stock with bones left over from your family’s meals until you have enough.  You can even save veggie trimmings, celery leaves, onion skins, garlic skins and cloves too small for peeling, any scraps will do fine).  Fill to the brim with cool water and turn on low.  I left this batch for about 32 hours before I got a chance to strain and can it.  The longer it cooks, the more nutrition works out of those bones.  I do check the water level daily and add more boiling water to keep it full.   It’s the ultimate frugal canning–using items destined to be thrown out anyway.

My large crockpot yields one full gallon of stock (I generally can in pint jars for convenient use) plus almost a pint to refrigerate for immediate use.  Not bad for a big nutritional punch with very little hands on time.  No wonder Grandma’s chicken soup is a remedy for the common cold.  I’d put money that many Granny’s and great Granny’s made  their own bone broths to soothe their sick kiddos!

What is your go-to remedy for colds and flu?  Share with us in the comments!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett



Crocheted Baby Gifts

Another Hatchett Job, crochet, frugal life, frugal gifts, baby hat, baby booties, baby blanket
Gift for an expectant friend.

Some things are just plain ol’ fun to make!  And baby gifts are the closest thing to instant gratification around due to the small size and the fact that while making them, I am remembering my own teen boys as precious infants.

Crocheted gifts are also good on the budget.  By purchasing baby yarns (baby items have to be super soft) at my local Wal-Mart, I was able to make this little set for an expectant friend for very little cash outlay, but a big impact.  As a matter of fact, I find that homemade baby gifts (especially the cute booties) are very well received gifts that don’t take weeks or even months to complete.

I am not one to stick entirely to a pattern once I know what I am doing, but I did for the hat and booties this time.  I found the patterns for them on this site.  The site is run by a lady, Bev Qualheim, who is very generous in sharing patterns, links, and ideas for all sorts of knitted, crocheted, and sewn projects.  She encourages many to be made for charitable purposes and even lists organizations that would be helped by a simple donation of a few hand made items.  I love this site for all sorts of ideas and tips to make your crafts the very best that they can be!

The blanket is from a pattern that I have used many, many times for gifts.  It can be found here.   This pattern works up quickly because you hold two strands of yarn together as you crochet.  To make it a bit larger after I ran out of the blue yarn, I added a double stranded border of single crochet in white.  It makes a warm blanket, without a lot of holes to get little fingers caught in.  As the intended recipient is expected to arrive in the near future, warm blankets will be welcomed.  For summer babies, I like two sided fleece receiving blankets.  They are not too warm, but useful in air conditioning.

What is your go-to baby gift?  Do you make gifts yourself?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Pale Pickled Beets

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Eddie Hatchett, beets, peppermint beets, pickled beets, frugal life, frugal recipe, canning
Colorful “peppermint” beets in the pan awaiting pickling.

Mom, Dad, and I love pickled beets. Hubby will eat some. I don’t even mention them to the boys. Sigh.

I grew up eating these sweet and tangy beets straight from the canning jar! They always seemed like a treat with any home cooked meal.

The kind we enjoy are somewhat similar to a “Harvard Beet” with a thinner sauce. They can be canned and kept on hand for years, ready to eat. That makes them a great candidate for finding at a great deal and putting up enough for several meals at a time.

A local warehouse store in the closest town to us occasionally has foods that were cleaned and packaged for restaurant use, but not sold quickly. With this, I was able to score three big bags of cleaned and chopped, fresh beets, ready for pickling for, get this, 49 cents per bag. Each bag held over one gallon of beets with no cleaning, peeling or chopping needed. It was a pickler’s paradise!

Even better, these were “peppermint” beets and simply looked like little chunks of peppermints in the bag. Okay, it’s silly, but I think they are totally cute that way! They taste like regular beets, but inside the beet root is made of rings of red and white flesh. If you cut them horizontally, they look like a bullseye. When you chunk them up, they look

Another Hatchett Job, pressure canner, pressure canning, frugal cooking, frugal life
Trusty pressure canner.

like candies.

The process is totally simple. I simmered two bags of beets on the stove, just covered with water until just barely tender. Then, I drained the water off and returned them to the pan with enough brine to cover. The brine is a ration of 2:1:1 of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and plain water. So, I added 4 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 cups of water twice to make sure I had enough to cover generously.

Once brought to a simmer for 5 minutes, carefully ladle into hot, prepared canning jars (prepare them by adding 1 cinnamon stick broken in half, a pinch of cloves, and 2-3 whole allspice berries), make sure you have 1 inch head space remaining in your jars. Clean the lids with a clean towel dipped in hot water and rung out. Add lids and place in pressure canner for 30 minutes for pints at 10 pounds of pressure. Remember to check your altitude to know if you need to adjust times and pressures for altitudes over 1,000 feet. It’s important.

Another Hatchett Job, pickled beets, canning, frugal canning, frugal life
Pickled and tasty, but without the characteristic red color.

Sadly, our beets lost most of their lovely pink stripes in processing. They look like pickled golden beets, but will taste just as delicious as their redder cousins. They will sit for at least 4 weeks to let flavors come together before we open up a jar.

If I can continue to get them at this price, I will keep on canning them up. Home canned foods make lovely gifts and if I preserve enough, I won’t have to purchase full price beets for a couple of years. It’s a total (and tasty) win-win for me!

Do you enjoy preserving foods?  Share your favorite recipes with us!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett