Kate Muller

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since May 29, 2014
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Recent posts by Kate Muller

I love this cook's approach to budget cooking.  

In this video she does vegan food for a week on a limited budget and is really creative about it.  I like her budget cooking videos in general because she is creative while cooking with a limited ingredient list, wastes nothing, and in a small kitchen without a ton of expensive cooking tools.  Her ingredient budget is $25.00 not including spices, sauces, and oils that she already has in her kitchen.  She also took on gluten free in this challenge. It is giving some inspiration on new ways to cook the veggies I grow in my garden.  

She has other videos that are budget challenges but they are not vegan that are also worth watching for her creative use of low cost ingredients.


5 months ago
Watch for seasonal sales.  Here in the US somethings are always on sale at certain times of year.  
I get winter squashes in October store them in my basement and eat them all winter.  Butternut Squash is my favorite to stock up on.  
Other examples include frozen turkeys in November, baking supplies in December, cabbage in mid March, eggs around Easter  and so on.  
Other stuff goes on cyclical sales and if you track prices you can buy at the low points.  

I prefer to get cuts of meat with the bone in.  That way I have a steady supply of bones for bone broth.  I use bone broths in my cooking all the time.  It is great for slow cooking of tougher cuts of meat, soups, gravy, and cooking rice in.  It add a lot of flavor for very little additional cost.   I put the bones in the freezer till I have enough to make a large batch.  I pressure can or freeze it in meal sized portions.  

Save the fat!  I save the bacon fat and other animal fats from cooking to use later.  This is amazing stuff if you can get it from pasture raised animals.  It saves me money, I use a little more of the animal and I need less, butter and coconut oil.

Grow sprouts herbs, and baby greens indoors.  I do this in the winter when the garden is frozen solid and covered in snow.  Sprouts are surprisingly easy to grow and can be done in the smallest of apartments.   I already have seedling trays, potting mix ,lights and shelving for growing seedlings so growing baby greens in the off season is easy.  I will also grow sunflower shoots for my laying hens.  Potted herbs are an easy one to grow and use. I cringe at the price of "fresh" herbs in the stores.

Buy whole spices in bulk and grind your own seasoning mixes as needed.  So many spices overlap in seasoning mixes that you can buy the whole seed of a fairly short list and be able to add easy to grow herbs to create most meals.  I buy peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, dill, celery, cloves, allspice, anise all in seed from small specialty stores or order online in bulk.   This selection with a bunch of dried hot peppers and a growing assortment of culinary herbs from my garden makes low cost foods taste amazing.  I use an inexpensive coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind what I need.  This saves money,  whole spices keep longer, and saves precious space in my small kitchen.    

I batch cook and left overs are always divided up into serving sizes and frozen.  This saves time and keeps us in easy heat and eat meals when we are busy or I am not feeling well.

Learning to can, dehydrate, blanch, freeze, and ferment foods also allows you to take advantage of good sales, free produce from from people you know, and foraged foods.  I canned 6 quarts of pear pie filling from pears a friend gave us.  I also have 3 gallons of autumn berries in my freezer to can into pie filling and barbecue sauce. We also have wild black raspberries in my freezer to can up that we picked this summer.  All of that produce was free to us other than labor.  

Batch cook with your friends. When my friends and I were broke in our early to mid 20's we used to have dinner partied where you brought the ingredients for a dish to the party and we all cooked together.  It was fun, low cost, and I learned so much about cooking since my fiends were from all over the US and the world.
These days one friend of mine and I will  get together and batch cook something like chili, soup, or jam.  We both have tiny farms and her husband hunts.  We will pool our ingredients spend half a day cooking and chatting.  We split the finished meals and save some money while we are at it.  Meals to be cooked are decided based on who has what ingredients on what free and or low cost ingredients we each have.  

5 months ago
My strategies have been about reducing the number of things I am canning this fall.  

I pressure can bone broth/stock.  I save my bones till I have enough to make a large batch.  Once it has simmered enough to get everything out of the bones and other bits I then cook off 1/2 to 2/3rd the liquid.  This way I only have to run the pressure canner once and use half the jars I would otherwise.  

I have also stepped up my dehydrating.  We had our best gardening year ever so I have been running it just about everyday.  Anything that would go in a soup, stew, or chili got cut up and dehydrated this year.  All the herbs, mushrooms, and a good chunk of the fruit we produced this year are in dried to rock hard and sitting in my pantry.   While this is not ideal for everything it has reduced the my canning load and leaves me with more freezer space.
6 months ago

Jay Angler wrote:Kate Muller wrote:

You know you are a Permie when you are still finding uses from things you bought for your wedding 11 years ago.

We bought green fabric for our wedding. I turned it into a huge stack of "Christmas Present" bags, many of which are still being used 30 years later. We had a friend I gave 5 to. They celebrated Christmas with 3 different groups of people, so those sacks got used 3 times each year and the garbage it saved was incredible.

I love this.  I will be making a bunch of gift sacks and totes for Christmas this year.  It is going to be a very hand sewn Christmas this year.
6 months ago
You know you are a Permie when you are still finding uses from things you bought for your wedding 11 years ago.   My husband and I had a very large family wedding. Instead of renting polyester table cloths I bought bolts of 108" wide unbleached cotton muslin for less money knowing I would have uses for the fabric in the future.  

Since it is the end of summer we are not shopping much these days I discovered we didn't have any paper bags in the house. I needed something to bundle my lettuce plant tops so they could finish drying out and no longer be in my way in the garden.   I grabbed a remnant of one of my remaining cotton muslin table clothes from my wedding and used them to bundle up my lettuce seeds stalks.  This piece of fabric has been used to frost protect my plants in the past and it was also used to teach several teenagers basic pattern making skills when they wanted to make a mascot costume for our FIRST FRC robotics team.  Once I have harvest the lettuce seeds it will be washed and put back into my fabric stash to be used for some other project.  Other table clothes have been used other parties, tie dye workshops, sewing patterns, and other uses.  I Still have a good sized pile of this fabric and a good chunk of it will be uses to line the Roman shades I want to make for all the windows in my house.

Here is a photo of the costume the kids made.

6 months ago
I lived near the ocean as a teenager and I used to take my dog to the beach in the afternoons and look for sea glass. I made quite a bit of spending cash wire wrapping sea glass in sterling silver wire.  I sold the earrings and pendants to a local gift shop and though word of mouth.  I still have some of that sea glass.

6 months ago

roberta mccanse wrote:I also like to can pie fillings, apple, blueberry lime, especially. My problem is that if they don't get eaten during the first year or two they separate and the thickening tends to gel. Should I be doing something differently when I construct them or should I just try to get them eaten more quickly? Maybe the thickening agent makes a difference? Thanks for any suggestions here.

It may be your thickening agent.  I have never had a separating problem with  Cornabys EZ Gel and some of my pie fill has been on my shelves for 3 or 4 years.
6 months ago
Pie making is a couples project in my house.  I don't make pies but I do can all the pie fillings.  My husband's family is all about the pie at family events and holidays.  It usually averages 1 pie for every 2 people attending because everyone brings at least one pie.  So we have to have some serious pie skill per family tradition.  

I don't have my husband's recipe handy for crusts but it is basically an Alton Brown pie crust except he uses vodka instead of water to make the crust flakier.

The flavors I can tend to vary year to year based on what fruit I grow that year or can get free or low cost. I will use honey instead of sugar for most of these since we have our own bee hives. I prefer Cornabys EZ Gel over other brands of modified cornstarch for canning.

Most of my recipes are out of The Complete Book of Home Preserving by Ball Canning Or Stocking Up by Carol Hupping.

I make the following types of pie filling:
Blueberry Lime
Strawberry Rhubarb
Apple Honey

Peach Honey

Pear Honey  This one I am trying for the first time in the next day or two because we were gifted 2 shopping bags of pears.


PickYourOwn.org has some useful tips and information on using honey instead of sugar.  

7 months ago

Beth Wilder wrote: I've pieced my first full-size quilt and have yet to quilt it, so I also have curved safety pins on my list for that.

I haven't bought curved safety pins but I have no trouble using straight ones to baste a quilt sandwich.  I bought a box of rust proof marathon bid safety pins I needed for another project since they were a good deal for 1000 pins.  
7 months ago

Nicole Alderman wrote:Anyone know where to find PURPLE glass head pins? I found a lot of every other color of the rainbow, but no purple ones

Bohin makes purple glass head pins.  
7 months ago