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Frugal Friday - In a Jam

Nothing says summer to me like fresh, sun-warmed strawberries, straight from the garden.  Mmm mmm mmm!

A few weeks ago was peak strawberry time here in Michigan so the kiddos and I went strawberry picking at a great little U-Pick Farm we love in Belleville, MI (the heart of strawberry country around here).  Even better - my mom and my sister's family met us there!

The kids had a field day and were stained pink from head to toe with super ripe and juicy fruit - you could tell they were in strawberry heaven!  We picked a few quarts of berries and easily ate half of them within the next day or two.  We could have easily eaten them all, but I strategically saved a bunch of the berries to make homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam.  Making this jam has become a yearly tradition, and not only is it super sweet and super delicious, it is also a super frugal way to use up fresh strawberries.  The recipe only requires 4 simple ingredients, and easily could supply you with a year's worth of jam (if you have the proper storage).

If you have the opportunity to go strawberry picking, I highly recommend it.  Supermarket strawberries may be large and pretty to look at, but they don't even begin to compare with the taste of garden-fresh.  Plus, if you have children, a spouse, a significant other, or even a stranger from who-knows-where, picking your own fruit can provide great memories and great, healthy playtime outdoors.  Have fun, be free, and be sure to frolic through the strawberry fields!


  • 2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 (1.75 ounce) package dry pectin
  • 1/2 cup water

Mix crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers.

Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Place into freezer, and store frozen until ready to use.

Yields: 4, 12-ounce jars

Recipe can be easily doubled.  For a thicker set, use slightly under-ripe strawberries.

Around here, each jar of homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam ends up costing about $1 for a 12-ounce jar (not including the cost of the container).    Fun and frug-la-la!



~ Heather



Frugal Friday - Homemade Chicken Stock (with super-yummy soup recipe)

I don't know about all of you, but I have to admit that I'm a little addicted to those inexpensive, quick and yummy, fully-cooked rotisserie chickens you can pick up at your local supermarket. Although they may not be homemade, they are tender, juicy and just the thing to feed the family on a crazy, busy night.

But what do you do with the leftovers after the family has eaten their fill? When there's not enough left for another meal, but there is definitely meat on the bones? Well, if you ask my family, they'd tell you - chicken soup!

Because of these tough economic times I've learned that you can easily make your own chicken stock (and then chicken soup) with leftovers for cheap. This might be common knowledge to you culinary experts out there, but I guess I just never put two and two together. I figured you had to have 30+ ingredients and spend hours in the kitchen to pull together a decent batch of stock. Not so, my friends! Making simple chicken stock actually tends to be super easy!

It's funny to me, to be honest, that I find making my own stock to be a good thing, because growing up I couldn't even touch raw chicken (I could hardly even look at it). Heaven forbid I ever be asked to eat chicken off the bone!!! I was spoiled with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and wouldn't have anything to do with blood, bones or "innards". I liked my chicken to look as little like an actual animal as it could. Fortunately, my ability to handle raw meat, bones and innards have matured with me and I am proud to say that with a deep breath and some pep-talk I am able to dive in and handle a chicken carcass all on my own. (Aren't you so proud...)

Now, on to the recipe . . .

Since I feed a family of 6 + plus my parents on a regular basis (and I love leftovers), my portion sizes might be quite a bit bigger than the normal family's. Feel free to half the recipe to suit your needs.



2 rotisserie chicken carcasses


2 onions, quarterd

3-4 bay leaves

fresh vegetables (halved carrots, celery, leek, garlic, etc), if desired

other seasonings to taste (fennel, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, etc)

Place chicken carcasses in a soup kettle or Dutch oven and cover with water.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2-3 hours (or more).

Remove carcass; cool. Set aside 4 qt. broth.  Skim surface of broth and remove fat and solids.

Remove meat from bones and break into bite-size pieces; set aside.



2-3 cups leftover meat from the carcasses

3-4 carrots, chopped

2-3 celery ribs, chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cups fresh, frozen or canned corn

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup flour

3 cups half and half or milk

1 1/2 cups long grain rice

4 Tbs salt, or to taste

1 tsp pepper


In a soup kettle or Dutch oven, saute the onions, carrots and celery in butter until tender.

Reduce heat and add corn; stir in flour until blended.

Gradually add 2 qts. of reserved broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Add cream, rice, salt, pepper, remaining broth and reserved chicken. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until rice is tender.

Serve with fresh bread and enjoy!

And here is an honest, revealing picture that proves to you that I am not all the domestic genius that I wish I was.  Do not leave a covered, simmering pot unattended!

~ Heather