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Thank you to all of you who left comments on my last post, who sent emails and texts, left notes on Instagram, who called to check in, who dropped off wine, gift cards, and food on our doorstep. We are humbled and truly grateful. It feels so reassuring to have an amazing local community in which we are lucky enough to live, as well as this extended, supportive online community that includes all of you. I said to a friend that I felt bad excepting “charity” since we are so much more fortunate than so many others, and because this is temporary and we can technically get through it alone. She told me, “We know you can do it on your own… but that’s not why you have friends that love you. It’s not charity, it’s just friendship.” So thank you all for your friendship that came across to us in many forms. It is greatly appreciated and deeply felt.

I always try to be transparent in my posts. I certainly have enough recipes that I’ve been working on that I could have just kept them coming and glossed over this whole thing, but I didn’t want to phone in posts and recipes while I was really feeling and experiencing something else. I hope that I can always be transparent even when it’s not particularly easy or flattering. It was obviously something that resonated with so many of you, and I loved hearing your stories, and took your advice, suggestions, and encouragement to heart. A few of you mentioned in comments and via email that I should consider putting a donation button on the site, which I did, in the form of a link on the sidebar.

I don’t have a new recipe for you, but I’m linking of one of my favorites. My girlfriend dropped off all of the ingredients for me to make my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (there’s also a cooking video), so that’s what we had for dinner last night. It’s a rich and delicious vegetarian soup that falls into the “healthy comfort food” category of my cooking, which happens to be my favorite type of food.

 With that, I’m most likely signing off through Christmas to reboot, get some extra snuggling in, and think things through for the new year.

We wish you all very happy holidays.

With love (and endless gratitude),
Kacie

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  • Mazz - I heart you, and your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Ivy - Merry Christmas sweet friend, we adore you.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - Merry Christmas, internet friend. Wishing you a love filled season.ReplyCancel

In my last post I mentioned that things had been quiet around here due to our very tight budget… and the past couple of weeks things have gotten even quieter. We are having a hard time putting food on our table. Every November and December we have to literally tighten our belts, this year more than ever. Around the end of October our much relied upon garden frosts over, we quickly use up our storage vegetables, and our grocery bill increases as my income slows down.

As a wife and mother the struggle to come up with delicious meals using up what’s in the freezer and pantry at first feels productive, but once the main ingredients have been raided and all that is sitting on the shelves in front of you are olives, enchilada sauce, and lots of pasta, the feeling of “I’m doing something” quickly becomes “I don’t know what to do”. The kids get plenty to eat, after all they love pasta in any form, but it’s incredibly frustrating. We have wonderful neighbors and friends who made us dinner a few times last week!

As a “food blogger” the situation has been downright depressing. I love creating recipes to share with all of you. I rely on the creation of those recipes for my daily routine and structure; planning, shopping for, prepping, cooking, and serving dinner is what punctuates my days as a stay at home mom. Sharing what I make gives me an outlet for that creativity and helps me work, meal by meal, towards larger goals. As someone who makes her living photographing food, writing about food, and creating recipes, it’s an embarrassing and frustrating place to find myself.

The point of sharing all of this isn’t to encourage pity for us. We have a million things to be grateful for and our struggle is very temporary and we have wonderful family members we can ask for help if we need to. We are making the choice to try to make do with what we have and to not put groceries on our credit card. Since we live paycheck to paycheck, as so many families do, it can get really tight in between them. With a new paycheck deposited we can head back to the grocery store to shop for this week. This time has been hard but next week, next month, and next year will be better.

The reason I wanted to share this was to remind myself, and you, that “hunger” doesn’t always look the way we think and that this time of year can be a hard time of year for families. The struggle to make ends meet can be overwhelming this time of year. There are so many ways to help support families in your community from donating foods at your local grocery store or food bank, or donating to a larger charity like Feeding America.

 

I really hesitated to share all of this, and I don’t actually know what to say in closing but I hope you all are happy and healthy and getting plenty to eat!

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  • Vanessa - I’m so sorry to hear that this is happening to you. My family is going through a similar situation as my husband was fired last month and I’ve been a SAHM – we are both on the job hunt now. It’s been a shock for sure as cooking IS my hobby and not being able to go to the grocery store as often and get whatever I want is a reality check, like you said, for all those people out there who suffer through situations like this on a regular basis.

    Somehow I also feel like having less this Christmas is making me appreciate more. I’m less focused on all the gifts, decorations and feasts to prepare and more focused on the fact that we aren’t lacking any of our basic core needs – even if it means eating less exciting food for a month or two :/

    I hope whatever it is that has affected your finances in such a way will ease up soon and you will be able to cook the delicious food you do again! Happy holidays!ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Vanessa, I’m sorry to hear about your family’s hard time. I really hope you both find jobs soon. We are fortunate that it’s a paycheck to paycheck issue and will be better sooner than later. This time of year just always nails us but we are very lucky and fortunate to have what we have. Sending love to you and your family this Christmas. xxReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Kacie, I’m so sorry to hear about this, but wanted to chime in right away and let you know that you’re not alone. My own family has been going through similar financial struggles, and while we do have “enough” right now, it’s just so. I’ve wondered if it’s something I wanted to talk about in a public way, but it feels so strange because I made a giant chocolate cake today, for work, and then we had pasta and a simple tomato sauce for dinner (these days, healthy food is the thing that’s scarce). Thanks for being honest and real, and please know that my thoughts are with you as we head into the holidays. It’s such a tough time to have too little. You guys are in my thoughts and I’m sending love your way.ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Elizabeth, I can’t tell you how much that relieves me… I mean, I’m sorry to hear that times are hard for you too, but it’s helpful for me to know that I’m not alone, especially when food is my work like it is for you. Sending love to you as well this Christmas.ReplyCancel

  • Kaylan - Oh, friend. Praying you find richness and fulfillment in so many ways this time of year. I’d love to have you over for a meal if I could!ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Kaylan, Thank you very, very much. Love to you and your sweet family.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - I cannot imagine the internal struggle you underwent to write and post this. I am so glad that you did. It is so easy to see hunger as a stranger’s problem, but not hidden in plain sight.

    We just got off food stamps after two years on them. The experience was humiliating at first. I was strengthened by gratitude and the deep joy that my kids would no longer be without. After my husband graduated, he got an amazing job and here we are now. We are still deeply in debt from school and school related things, but there is hope and there is enough now. I don’t want to forget how difficult it was. Having little made me a much better and certainly more creative cook, but it was a defining moment. Not because of self or communal pity, but because we learned so much about ourselves in the process, in the uncertainty.

    I don’t know what else to say. Even what I wrote feels self serving. My intent was to share so you can know you are seen and cared for and that I wish I could be one of your neighbors to bring your family dinner and you and your husband a bottle of wine. I wish you peace and a full stomach very soon.ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Angela,
      It was a little challenging since it has to do with our finances and, for some reason, it feels kind of humiliating… but it shouldn’t. I’m applying for state food assistance and I can’t wait to plant a garden again! Everything will come around we just have to keep positive. We have wonderful friends and generous neighbors and supportive families so it will all be good. Your note was not self serving in the least, thank you for taking the time to share. It means a lot.

      KacieReplyCancel

  • liz - This is one of those times I wish we lived closer and I could invade your home with a basket of goodies to cook up together over some good conversation. I’m so sorry to hear times are tough right now. I know how hard it can be, trust me. I’ve been in a very similar situation before. I admire you for opening up and I admire you even more for encouraging others to help those in need, especially during these difficult winter times.

    Love you my friend.
    xoxoReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Liz,
      Thank you, friend. And thanks you for the texts. Love you.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsy - Kaci,
    thank you for being so transparent.
    I’m right there with you.
    It’s a difficult time of year for musicians. Dam is home for 6 weeks (yayy!!!) but he’s also not bringing home the money that we count on. It’s the worst time of year to feel hungry, too.
    Sending prayers your way. XoReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Lindsy,
      I’m sorry times are tight for your family too. Prayers headed right back to you. Enjoy the cozy time with your family and Merry Christmas!

      KReplyCancel

  • Aunt Sue - i love you! What an inspiration you are! It’s time for a visit!ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - I love you, too Aunt Sue. We’ve missed you. We would LOVE a visit. Anytime. Come get some snuggles and drink wine with me! I’ll give you a call this weekend?ReplyCancel

  • Brooke R - Your honesty is inspiring. It’s not easy for most people to talk about these things but it is common for so many. Would you consider putting a donate button on your site?ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Brooke, Thank you. I think, and am finding since posting, that it is really common. I haven’t really thought about a donate button, but maybe I will… Thanks for the idea. I’m going to seriously consider it.

      KReplyCancel

      • Tara - I’m with Brooke. I tried to find your address to see if I could send something your way, but I’d love to donate on your site. We all come read your writing for a reason, and you give your time and love to your readers consistently. A way to give back to you would be wonderful. *hugs, hugs, hugs*ReplyCancel

  • Marisa Miller - I know it’s not a fun thought to entertain, but what if you saved the paycheck and went to a good bank. My husband quit a fantastic job a few years ago and ‘ruined’ my life with a 65% salary cut, and all the bills we had when he did it. I went to a food Bank for nearly three years so that we could keep paying our debt off and eat ‘well’. Well, meaning I only took produce and dried goods and some milk here and there. It seems like the most awful thing….and it’s not. I even ended up on Eatocracy’s top read stories of last year list http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2013/11/13/how-to-feed-your-family-from-a-food-bank/
    Not how I expected to achieve minor fame, but, as you said, the face of hunger isn’t always what we think it is, and they can be great resources for other things as well.
    Moms need help sometimes and it’s hard to ask, so good for you for being brave enough to tell your people what’s going on with you!ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Marisa,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story and the link. I read it all. We are lucky in that this is temporary and, although we will have to be on an even tighter food budget for this following year, we will be ok. I am applying for our state assistance program. Thank you for your kind words. Much love to you and your family.

      KReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Thank you for sharing this! For various reasons I’ve lately been thinking a lot about what luxury really means in this world – and this made me realize once more that apart from good health and a loving family it is a warm bed and a full table.
    I hope this next paycheck will come soon!ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Lisa,
      Luxury, indeed. It does seem nuts this time of year with ads for… everything, everywhere. It sure puts things in perspective. Sending love across the Atlantic to your family.

      xReplyCancel

  • Toni P. - Thank you for your honesty and sincerity Kacie! I’m sure you’re going to find, that many of us (myself included)at one point or another have looked into that same empty pantry and have felt the frustration and lived through the struggle you so eloquently and courageously described. May we all heed your advice and do our part to give unto others when our own plates are full. XOReplyCancel

  • Margit Van Schaick - This is not an instant solution, but since you garden, you might find the information at “Mother of a Hubbard” useful because she has so much information about having an abundant winter garden. I’m going to try next year to experiment. As a senior citizen with limited funds, I also rely a great deal on my garden. Wishing you and your family all the best. Don’t delay applying for Food Stamps because benefits start when eligibility is decided. It’s prorated for the month from the day your application is approved. Try not to feel uncomfortable–taking care of our children is what really matters. Some food banks do have some healthy food. Again, best of luck for better fortune!ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Margit,
      Thank you so much for the suggestion, and for the very kind email you sent. It meant so much to me. We did apply for food stamps and are just barely above the cutoff. We are getting through this with the help from friends and the love and support from readers like yourself. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Casey M Smith - I’m not even sure what to say…but thank you. Thank you for sharing when things are good and bad. I stay home with our kiddos (working minimal hours on wknds for a local clinic) but that choice leaves things tight (a lot tight) here as well:/ Sometimes I get super discouraged by blogs and IG because it would seem these other SAHM’s are able to provide such an amazing lifestyle and meanwhile we’re having PB&J for lunch…for the 3rd day in a row:/
    The perception we get from IG and bloggers is an often told tale…and I know everything I see isn’t what’s necessarily happening behind the scenes and surely I don’t want to follow a ‘Debbie downer’ either;) BUT you haven’t been either of those things to me. And I don’t like you more now that I know you’re struggling but because I know that even with very little…I can aspire to do more, as you have.
    thank you for sharing!:)ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Casey,
      Thank you so much for the wonderfully kind words. I agree with what you’re saying completely. I was talking with my best friend, telling her that I have enough recipes to “last” me through winter and I could have just glossed over it and posted the recipes I have without being honest but, frankly, it’s been a really shitty last couple of months and I can’t “create” when I’m feeling down or dishonest so… there it is. I’m glad that it was encouraging to you.

      p.s. we’re all pb and j for lunch all the time. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Julie - I hope someone with connections happens to come across your lovely blog and maybe get you some ad revenue, perhaps…
    Love your blog. Everything I have tried of yours is a winner! And I think a lot of people have been here at one time or another … Sucks >_< But I appreciate your positive take on things.
    When cash has been tight for me I've resorted to craigslist and eBay with surprisingly lucrative results! You can sell the weirdest stuff for more than you'd think… Esp brand name kids clothes and shoes.ReplyCancel

    • Kacie - Julia,
      Thank you for the encouragement. This is part of our journey, and although it doesn’t feel important or good right now, I do believe that we will look back and be better people for having been through this. Thank you for the tip. I’m going to keep that in mind as we move into the new year.

      xReplyCancel

  • bold rock cider tour + weekend links | brooklyn supper - […] off, this post by Kacie really got me. In a time of seeming online perfection and “aspirational” media, her […]ReplyCancel

  • Anne - Kacie, thanks for being brave and writing this post! We too, on our tiny grad school budget, go pay check to pay check, and eat pasta for way too many meals so I know how that is. Hoping all good things come to you and your sweet family this holiday season. Love ya girl!ReplyCancel

Things have been a little quiet around our house lately. Between the frigid temps and our end of the year budget, we’ve been a staying in. A lot. We are up against the end of the year tight finances time, yet again. Every November, despite our best attempts to stick to our rigid budget, any overspending from the rest of the year seems to catch up to us in November. We sat down with big glasses of (really cheap) wine and go over our budget from “now until we get our tax return comes in”. Our budget comes down to the following goal: Don’t spend any money.

With this goal in mind, I went through our chest freezer and pantry on Monday and pulled out every single thing that could be used, and tossed a few random things marked “2012” into the trash. I’m confident that we can make it through the end of the month only buying the necessary ingredients for my Thanksgiving stuffing that we are taking to my Dad and Stepmom’s house for dinner. This kind of resourcefulness can be bolstering, but also, if I’m being completely honest, kind of depressing. This too shall pass, as my Grandma would say. In the meantime we are staying bundled up, wearing extra thick socks, playing in the snow, and eating meals prepared from ingredients on hand.

One thing I almost always have ingredients for is cobbler. Since it’s basically a matter of having oats, butter, brown sugar, some spices, and some fruit or berries, it’s my go-to dessert all year round. This time of year my favorite type of cobbler to make is Apple Cobbler. There’s nothing that compares to stormy weather outside and the smell of baking apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg inside.

This recipe makes two smaller cobblers, or one 9×13” cobbler. You can cook them both at once, or freeze one. And, this recipe has about 1 1/2 times the typical amount of crumbly topping because, let’s face it, that’s the best part about cobbler! This makes a wonderful dessert, but an even better breakfast the next day with a strong cup of black coffee.

Also, I should note that I tend to use tart apple varieties for my baking, if you buy apples that are sweeter you should adjust the sugar a bit so you don’t end up with an overly sweet dessert!

APPLE COBBLER

Ingredients.
3 lbs diced apples, peels and cores discarded
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Topping.
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1
1/12 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions.
Peel and core your apples, and dice them into small pieces. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup (or less if the apples are sweet) of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Transfer the mixture to your baking dishes.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F. 

In another large bowl, combine the 1 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and salt. After it’s tossed together and combined, add in the butter and, using your hands, knead the mixture together until the butter is mixed in and broken up into small, pea-sized pieces.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The apples should be cooked through and completely tender and the topping should be beautifully golden. Allow to cool for about half an hour before serving.

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
APPLE COBBLER

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  • Kaylan - Looks delicious! post- holiday gift buying and we are feeling that budget crunch too. i actually kind of appreciate the discipline that is needed during this time of year. i can’t just be lazy and want to buy things.ReplyCancel

  • Rebeka - I’m so terrible at budgets, not spending any money at all is so hard. Good luck, you guys! Sending positive thoughts your way!! xoReplyCancel

  • stephanie - Images, words, recipe and heart so delightful in every way. XOReplyCancel

  • anja cieri - Looks light and delicious, might be nice with a warm cup of tea :)ReplyCancel

We played out in the snow all weekend. We got several inches in the middle of last week, and then the temperatures dropped into the teens, making for great sledding and potential frostbite. The kids have been really enjoying the change of scenery, mostly from their view out the living room window, or peeking out from beneath several layers of hats, scarves, and hoods. I spent most of my weekend making hot chocolate for half-frozen children, organizing our new office space, setting up a curriculum for our “preschool at home” program, and cooking meals from things we had on hand (since going to the store sounded treacherous).

We are on the tail end of yet another fall/winter cold. It’s been pretty non-stop around here since the beginning of September! I made up a batch of Elderberry Extract in an effort to get our immune systems back on track. I got in the habit of buying Elderberry Extract along with my Echinacea and Vitamin C when we are feeling under the weather, but Elderberry Extract is expensive! Last year I discovered that it can be easily made at home. And although I thought elderberries would be hard to find, they had them in the bulk section at our main grocery store!

The syrup can stay in the refrigerator for about two weeks, although I usually freeze mine in 1 oz cubes and add one a large glass of water along with 3oz of Just Cranberry juice and 3oz of just Pomegranate juice. I take it almost every day for cold prevention and sometimes double up my dose if I feel sick.

*For Lulu (18 months) I’ll add a couple drops to her water once a day. For Gigi I add about 1/2 teaspoon to a small glass of water. I feel comfortable giving this syrup to my kids because I know exactly what’s in it, but make sure to ask your pediatrician before giving your kids any supplements!

ELDERBERRY EXTRACT

Ingredients.
3/4 cup elderberries
3 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup honey (preferably raw and local)
4 cups water

Directions.
Combine the water, elderberries, ginger, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about half.

Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and let it cool to room temperature. Stir in the honey until well combined.

For Use.
The syrup can stay in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days, although I usually freeze mine in 1 oz cubes and add one a large glass of water along with 3oz of Just Cranberry juice and 3oz of just Pomegranate juice. I take it almost every day for cold prevention and sometimes double up my dose if I feel sick.

*For Lulu (18 months) I’ll add a couple drops to her water once a day. For Gigi I add about 1/2 teaspoon to a small glass of water. I feel comfortable giving this syrup to my kids because I know exactly what’s in it, but make sure to ask your pediatrician before giving your kids any supplements!

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
ELDERBERRY EXTRACT

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  • Rebeka - I recently bought some of this at Whole Foods – although mine tastes a lot like it has alcohol in it. I’d never heard of Elderberry Syrup until this year and now I feel like it’s everywhere. I’ll have to try mixing mine with some juice as I have a hard time taking it straight.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey - Thank you for this! We usually just take the capsules but those usually only last 1 illness bc you have to take so many since its dried.ReplyCancel

It’s dumping snow here today, and we have a cold (again), which makes it the perfect day to catch up on laundry, attempt to make the house cozy, and to watch Cinderella and play in the dollhouse. That’s exactly what the girls and I spent the morning doing. Right now, Gigi is outside playing with her best buddy in the snow, so it’s just me and Lulu. I’m taking advantage of the fact that she’s currently eating yogurt (read: smearing yogurt all over her highchair) to fix an error on my site.

The other day, my best friend pointed out that my recipe for garlic bread wasn’t up on the site. I insisted that she must be mistaken! I make this garlic bread every week! I’m kind of famous for it, or notorious if you are counting calories. But, after a quick search I discovered that she was right! Naturally, I set out right away to correct this error.

This garlic bread is garlicky, creamy, salty, and flavorful. It goes with everything: soups, salads,  pastas, tapas-style snacks, chicken, beef stew… everything! Which is why I make it so often. That, and it’s incredibly easy to make. Not to mention it’s the base of one of our very favorite meals! I like to make this with a baguette that is a little chewy, and doesn’t have too thick of a crust, but even a mediocre store bought baguette will work fine.

Once this garlic bread makes it’s appearance on your table, it will quickly become a comfort food favorite. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to customize it to your tastes. We like a lot of garlic!

GARLIC BREAD

Ingredients.
1 baguette
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced (or 1 minced, 1 very thinly sliced for mellower flavor)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced (1 teaspoon dried parsley will work too)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
paprika (optional)

Directions.
Turn on the broiler. Add the garlic to the hot, melted butter and stir. Add in the Parmesan, parsley, and mayonnaise. Slice your baguette down the middle (like in the photos) or thin round slices. Place the bread on a cookie sheet. Evenly distribute the garlic spread onto the exposed surface of the bread. Sprinkle with a little bit of paprika. Put the cookie sheet in the oven on the middle rack and broil until it’s bubbly, fragrant, and golden, about 5-7 minutes. Slice it up into pieces if needed and enjoy!

PRINTABLE RECIPE.
GARLIC BREAD

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