It has always been said that when the American economy catches a cold, the black American economy catches pneumonia. Well thanks to the current economic crisis, many of us will soon discover the truth of that saying.

Many of us are not the children of parents who made it through the Great Depression. Our grandparents were the ones who saw the American economy tank. So some of us are still acting like what is currently happening is like something we have experienced in the past, but it’s not. By the time our economy recovers, if it ever does, there will be new rules and regulations in effect that will substantially change credit, banking and perhaps life as we know it.

In days past, people would can the food they grew during the summer. Although too late to do it for this year, anyone with a yard should grow vegetables to help offset ever-increasing food costs. Every year since I have owned my house, I have grown tomatoes and peppers. Some people are hesitant about growing their own food. But any reason that one uses to justify not doing it (rats, bugs, animals, etc.) are also living in the fields of farmers who grow food for a living. Whatever can happen in your backyard garden, can and does happen in the farmers’ fields.

I also put up what I grow by freezing rather than canning. The best part about freezing is that I use a vacuum sealer to preserve the vegetables. I put tomatoes in boiling water long enough for the skin to slip off then place them in bags, so I’ll have them to add to soups, stews and chili for the entire winter. Every kind of pepper is easy to both grow and store. This year I grew green, yellow and red bell peppers. I also grew jalapenos and habaneros hot peppers. The hot peppers were so hot, I had to use plastic gloves when harvesting them and in all aspects of handling them.

What I like best about growing peppers is that you don’t have to vacuum-seal them. They store just as well in regular plastic freezer bags. You can chop, slice or just freeze the peppers whole. With whole frozen peppers, I rinse them briefly then cut off what I need and return the rest to the freezer.

If you don’t own a vacuum sealer, it is an investment well worth the money-also a deep freezer. For the past few weeks, I have been cooking double and triple batches of food and freezing portion-size amounts. The vacuum sealer also comes in handy when buying in bulk. I especially like using it for sealing meats. I recently found Perdue chicken breasts at 99 cents a pound. I bought about 20 pounds and then sealed them in bags in amounts that I need to cook with. Same with pork chops. Again I purchased a large amount and sealed them in sizes more suitable to my family’s needs.

One of my favorite dishes is fried corn. It is best made with fresh corn, so I bought an entire bushel of corn, shucked and cut it off the cob and again froze it in amounts for me to be able to have all winter long.

As we continue our journey into the unknown economic future, saving pennies will lead to nickels, which lead to dimes, quarters and dollars. Let’s all share ideas on how we can best accomplish that goal.

E-mail your ideas to Austin Weekly News at or mail them to 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park 60302.