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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

For Your Information

Please watch this area for important information like updates, food recalls, polls, contests, coupons, and freebies.
  • [March 19, 2020] - Effective Mar 17, this blog will no longer accept advertising. The reason is very simple. If I like a product, I will promote it without compensation. If I don't like a product, I will have no problem saying so.
  • [March 17, 2020] - A return to blogging! Stay tuned for new tips, resources and all things food related.
  • [February 1, 2016] - An interesting report on why you should always choose organic tea verses non-organic: Toxic Tea (pdf format)
  • Sticky Post - Warning: 4ever Recap reusable canning lids. The reports are growing daily of these lids losing their seal during storage. Some have lost their entire season's worth of canning to these seal failures! [Update: 4ever Recap appears to be out of business.]

Popular Posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Food Acquistion

Hmm, when it comes to food acquisition you have a multitude of choices.  There's growing, hunting, trapping, fishing and foraging for the ultimate DIY.  Moving up we have direct from the farmer/grower, equally ultimate.  Then we have farm stands move up to farmer's markets, ethnic stores, grocery stores, super centers and online,  Ideally, your food acquisition will involve a combination of the aforementioned with a stronger reliance on DIY and farmers/growers.

Complicating food acquisition at this time is the price of gas.  We buy directing from farmers/growers which means a bit of rural travel but cost and quality is worth it for where we are.  If you live in a city, that may not be the case.  BUT, you will pay gas regardless of where you shop and it may be a deterrent to multiple stops shopping the sales.  Sorry but my time is money so I don't do this even in our very small community.  If you order online, the price of gas is reflected in higher shipping rates.  IMO, the price of gas may be the biggest factor for food acquisition for many.

However, there is a price point consumers will not cross unless absolutely necessary.  That's where a very well stocked pantry can help.  Alternative resource help too.  For example, a 3 oz bottle of  mustard seed will cost $5.99 in the grocery store but 1 kg will cost $8.99 online and might be cheaper at an ethnic store.  It very much becomes a game of knowing your price and where to get that item cheaper.

Here's a few ways to save a bit:

1. keep a list and only shop when absolutely necessary UNLESS it is a great sale

2. always shop sales then buy a couple extra

3. shop with cash for farmers/growers and bring bags or boxes [yes, they will reward you]

4. create an informal co-op especially for warehouse stores/farmers/growers - can you pick up this for me your next trip, I will pick up that for you

5. stay out of grocery stores unless cherry picking sales

6. shop unit prices - dollar stores are actually more expensive for food than grocery stores

7. in general, buy the largest size possible from growers/producers

8. shop farmers/growers early in the morning

9. buy local, if hunting/fishing/trapping stay local

10. forage as much as possible - everything from edible/medicinal plants >free, easy, fun and great exercise


Garden Gnome

Monday, August 08, 2022


A comment was left to thank me for being back.  Oh my gosh!  What a lovely comment.  Thank-you so very much!  Not once did I ever think what I wrote actually mattered.  I write because I believe in what I'm doing and want to share that with others. 

At the moment, everyone is dealing with inflation, shrinkflation and uncertainty.  If we are honest with ourselves, we are also dealing with anxiety, fear and anger.  The latter three serve as motivators but they are also harmful physically, mentally and spiratually.  We cannot prep out pantries out of any of these emotions and quite frankly at this point we must deal with inflation and shrinkflation to the best or our abilities.  Let's use this time instead to discover new skills, preserve what we can and channel anger into productivity.

So, my newest skill is foraging.  Caution: always have a positive identification before using or consuming any foraged plant.  I use the app PlantNet.  I am impressed that our lack of lawn maintenance is giving us an abundant resource for edible and medicinal plants.  In our urban yard we have: common marrow, two netttles, plantain, common dock, dandelion, clover, purslane, riverbank grape, lambs ear and mullein.   Oh and maybe a little grass mixed in!

Again, relax and enjoy the opportunity we have been gifted with.  As you stock your pantries from all sources, do so without fear but determination and gratitude.

Garden Gnome

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Update and Observations

Folks, things have been at a rather hectic pace ever since asparagus came into season.  So a bit of an update.  Food acquisition and preserving continues to be our main focus.  The canners have been going a few times weekly and the dehydrators almost daily.  

A few observations:

1.  strawberries ($5/qt) and corn ($8/doz) - not impressed and those are prices from farm stands

2. produce prices are up but quality is way down in the grocery stores

3. milk and milk products have increased

4. sugar always sold in 5 lb (2.26 kg) bags is now 2 kg (4.4 lb) but the price has stayed the same/increased

5. farm stands especially direct from the farmer not farmer's markets continue to be the best value

6. meats in general have increase but there's still a lot of good sales especially pork

7. food shortages:

    - mustard seed increased $1.99 in less than 4 hr on Amazon then wasn't available by evening

    - yellow mustard is scarce in some stores here and reports are shortages in Michigan

    - white sugar is in short supply but we are still able to find it, some areas you can't find it

    - some shelves are bare but possibly due to normal retail operations

8.  hot & humid temperature means tomatoes, peppers, and many edible weeks are very productive

9.  canning jars are available but full increased price; Bernardin lids unavailable at Dollarama over 1 mth

10.  watermelon has actually decreased in price, great value for fresh eating or preserving

11. dried pastas are now a victim of shrinkflation

12. rice ($10.99/8kg/18 lb) and dried beans/lentils ($3.49/900 g) have remained the same

13.  yellow corn is virtually non-existent here anymore, peaches&cream it is but not the best for preserving

Overall, while we are seeing food price increases but for the most part they aren't affecting us much but we really don't shop much in the grocery stores.  I have reduced my milk purchases to 4% whole milk and heavy whipping cream which allows me to make a wide range of milk products without the extra cost of those products.  I have increased foraging a bit especially mullein (awesome for colds/flu), plantain and nettle.  Dandelions seem to be few and far between with this heat.  Our chickens and beef are on schedule but we will have fewer chickens this year.  I have been slowly stocking my fishing gear, something I should have done awhile ago.

Again folks, I want to reiterate my goal is to give information not fear.  Prep what you can, stock what you can BUT always with a purpose NEVER fear!

Garden Gnome

Thursday, June 16, 2022

A Short Update and Observations

It has been a very busy month!  Starting with asparagus and now onto strawberries. I love this time of the year when local produce is starting.  It takes very little effort to stay busy.  At the same time, I kept doing what I'm doing given the current geopolitical events.  

Organic asparagus from my produce delivery guy is $4.50/lb.  We went out to a nearby organic asparagus farm and got it for $1/lb so I was rather pleased with that!  I canned plain asparagus and cream of asparagus soup base, dried and froze asparagus.  Local strawberries are going for $5/qt at the farm but Walmart put Ontario strawberries on for $3.97/qt which saved a bit of money as well as gas and time to get them.  I decided not to make strawberry jam this year so only wanted a couple of quarts for dehydrating.  

In terms of my food observations over the past month.  Our local Dollarama has increased their food space from about 3/4 of an aisle too 1 1/2 aisle.  But, just because it is at Dollarama, doesn't mean it's cheaper.  Canned beans were $1.25 but Walmart price was $0.97 so now it is even more important to know the prices.  There are still some good food deals too.  No Frills has pork half loins on sale again and quite frankly, pork has been one of the best deals since the first of the year.  Avocados have increased by $1 for a bag of 6.  Honestly, the surprise was the increase in Spanish and red onions!  One Spanish onion cost me $1.69 and a red onion $2.17!  Salad kits have increased by $1 per bag too.  Packaged lunch meat has increased by $1 per 2/pk.  Classico tomato sauce was 3/$7.50 at No Frills and $4/$10 at Walmart.  The beauty with this sauce is you can reuse the jars for home canning so a bit of a win for stocking up and adding to your canning jar collection.  Both No Frills and Walmart are giving more space to their food brands likely because the perception is store brand is less expensive.  Good deals can still be found for dried beans and lentils. Some candies and chocolates are still quite inexpensive.  Campbell's soups are buy 5 or more for $0.80 each at No Frills but the last time they were on sale they were $0.49 with no minimum purchase.  Milk is definitely creeping up in price.  Sundry items like toilet paper and garbage bags really haven't increased in price. 

If you pay attention to the predicted food shortages, citrus is supposed to be in short supply this summer.  I picked up a large bottle of real lemon juice that was one of three left.  There was still a lot of orange juice and since hubby starts his day with orange juice, I bought an extra jug.  I also canned 3 L and plan to buy a few cans of frozen orange juice.  Quite frankly, orange juice is one of those foods that's a bit more difficult to stock a large supply.  

Canning supplies have not followed their normal sales trend.  They typically go on sale when strawberries start but so far all canning supplies have not gone on sale and are actually seeing an increase in price.   A carton of 12 - 500 ml jars is $14.99 for Bernardin and $12.99 for Golden Harvest.  Canning lids are averaging $6 for 12 lids.  Pectin, pickling spices and canning salt have all increased in price.  Enterprising home canning know how to work around these minor annoyances.

Farmer's markets (the ones that come to town each month with stalls) have started back up.  I haven't checked their prices yet because ours tends to be more of a mini craft show with a bit of overpriced produce tossed in.  This is definitely the year to grow as much as you can.  There have been some very good deals on vegetable and herb plants, averaging about $1.50 per plant so I managed to get most of my containers planted for about $20.   All the plants for my Kratky passive hydroponics system were started from seed  indoors.  I'll be harvesting beans, peas and lettuces soon.  And, I have 3 cute little lemon trees growing! 

Garden Gnome