Month: March 2011

random thursdays

random facts about me, my cooking style, whatever

-in a perfect world, my kitchen cabinets would have no doors. i hate having doors on my cabinets. i prefer the look of doorless cabinets, and i prefer being able to just grab what i want and not have doors flopping around every which way.

bye bye ugly doors

-3 things almost always in my kitchen/fridge: coffee concentrate, applesauce, and juice

-i do eat artificial sweeteners. i’m still working on kicking my tobacco addiction, though i do consume about half the amount of diet pepsi that i used to.

-i collect vintage (pre 1985) cookbooks. but my most used cookbook is my red and white betty crocker, which was either my mom’s or my grandmother’s (i can’t remember which).

this has the most ridiculous wording, but it has some interesting recipes

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a chicken in every pot

i still don’t have my camera, and between work and moving i really haven’t had time to be doing much fiber related stuff anyway. the alpaca has been sitting in my living room calling my name though so i’m probably going to break down and spin soon. once i grab my camera i do want to show off my (vaguely creepy) new drying space, because i’m unduly overexcited over the whole thing.

you know, i really can’t complain. for money being as tight as it has been around here, i have plenty of food and access to lots of fairly good quality cheap food. i live within walking distance of an aldis, a tops, and a price rite. i don’t like the tops though so i don’t really shop there, but i do stop at wegmans on my way home from work rather frequently. anyway, i have absolutely fallen in love with my price rite. they a good sized meat section with staple cuts like chicken breasts and thighs. it won’t replace my love of the meat counter at niagra county produce, but they tend to mark down cuts by 25% fairly frequently.

i go and pick up milk 2 or 3 times a week (we go through milk in this household like no one’s business which really makes no sense since neither mid nor i can really handle dairy…) and on my last trip they had roasting chicken for under $3 with the 25% discount. i know that some people get nervous with marked down meats (meat generally gets marked down like that when it’s coming up on its to-sell date, but i worked in a grocery store for years and have it on good authority that the meat doesn’t go bad the minute it hits that date, just freeze it or use it as soon as possible, and it’s much much cheaper to boot) but i have no qualms.

i found a lemon garlic recipe on ehow that looked interesting, and i had everything it called for outside of some root vegetables and herbs de provence. a trip to wegmans last night got me the vegetables (i can’t wait till produce season to get stuff from my dad’s garden and the farmer’s markets, the price on parsnips just hurt but it’s a vegetable mid eats and there’s not many of those) but skipped the herbs. i couldn’t justify $5 for a bottle, they were out of their cheaper blend, and this is the first recipe in 4 years of cooking that required it. i just went with some general saltless seasoning and some chili powder mixed into some butter  and lemon juice then stuffed under the skin.

of course we eat the skin in this household. it tastes good and you don’t waste things ;).

the current plan for this chicken is lunch (obviously), then sandwiches for the week. if there’s chicken left by saturday i’ll make a pot pie then make stock out of the carcass. i’m about halfway through the vegetable stock from last weekend.  i’ll make a cream of roasted vegetable soup for my lunches this week tomorrow with whatever vegetables are left.

The great frappe experiment…

(against all appearances, i AM actually doing fiber related things at this point in time…i just keep forgetting to grab my camera when i go pick up another load to bring to the apartment. i’m working on a 3 ply with my hi-low in the most glorious noxious shades of yellow and orange that you’ve ever seen. i believe it’s 100% alpaca and i have no idea what i’m going to be doing with it when i’m done but it’s wonderful).

have you seen the prices at chain coffee shops lately?! i get that coffee is a luxury (except for me. i have been known to blog that i would rather give up produce than coffee, and only be half joking) and that there’s a pile of ethical concerns connected to drinking it, but it’s starting to border on the insane. especially since while i live and die by iced coffee, i don’t actually like most places’ frappe style drinks. they’re way too sweet, don’t taste like strongly enough of coffee, and if i have the audacity to ask for soy they want to charge me extra (and sometimes close to a dollar extra).

i’ve wanted a blender for several years. it’s just a toy that i’ve kept my mouth shut about but there’s now enough things that i want to make at home that need blending that i used some birthday money and picked up a tomato red oster blender at target. i got thinking about the homemade creamer in my fridge that needed to be finished off and my ever present supply of coffee concentrate*.

mid was impressed, i was satisfied with the results, and we both agreed it needs to be slightly sweeter. so we’ll probably be doing a lot more frappes at home as soon as the weather warms up. besides, i need my fives to do laundry now.

This post needed a photo. Once I make frappes again, it won't be a stock photo.

frappes

coffee concentrate*

ice

homemade creamer**

milk (any fat content, or soy, almond, or coconut- i had organic skim in the house. i imagine evaporated or sweetened condensed would work just fine, and condensed would probably make an awesome thai coffee inspired frappe).

this is dependent on amount desired and honestly i just eyeballed it. i used about a tray’s worth of ice, about 2 1/2 cups worth of concentrate, probably about half a cup of creamer, and a splash of milk. it made about 2 servings worth of frappe.

my oster has an ice crush setting, and i blended for 30 seconds to a minute. i blended slightly longer than was necessary because i had flashbacks to my barista days of people asking for highly blended drinks for mouth feel.

* coffe concentrate

i like my frappes to be strong on the coffee, but a dark roast that’s normally brewed and cooled would probably be fine.

using a 2:1 ratio of water to coffee (i generally do a heaping cup of coffee to about 2 cups of water or more) place in a french press and let sit at room temperture or refridge for at least 4 hours. plunge and refridgerate up to 2 weeks.

** i used my creamer because i had it. i imagine store bought creamer would work, or substitute more milk and add flavorings like essences, chocolate, or spices. soy or other non dairy creamers could be substituted, but my instinct is that they need to be there for mouth feel.

homemade coffee creamer

creamerupdate

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup milk

1-2 tsp dried spices or essences (like vanilla, coconut, mint, etc).

bring to a low boil then cool and put into a bottle.

-i’m not sure if this actually works out to be cheaper than storebought (sweetened condensed milk is horribly expensive around here), but i like knowing what’s in the creamer.
i also have this stuff on hand most of the time so i’m not at risk of running out of creamer (and coffee is serious business at my house).

(i’m not certain where i found this recipe- i think on a frugal living message board. so i guess i’m going to credit with intent, if i can’t do it in actuality)

Posted to here

Friday Tips and Food Waste

The Frugal Girl has a project that she’s been working on (apparently for awhile though i’m will working my way through the archives) where she takes a picture of her family’s food waste on fridays to hold herself acountable for the amount of food wasted.

part of my problem is that with only cooking for two, i tend to either overbuy or overcook. i’ve gotten better about freezing stuff and buying smaller amounts but it’s still a struggle.

i didn’t have my camera with me this week at the apartment but unfortunately there was more waste than i wanted.

-my fridge was set higher than what i was aware and it was freezing my food. i lost a head of bok choy and a bag of baby carrots that had frozen. the bok choy would have been dumped anyway because mid apparently can’t stomach cabbage or anything cabbage like (which makes me wonder what i’m going to do with the half a head of red cabbage still in there).

-a half a tomato that didn’t make it to the homemade sauce that i had hoped to make. mid doesn’t like a lot of tomato sauce generally and he doesn’t like homemade, but i wanted to freeze it for my lunches.

-the last of my hominy and bacon. i had tried to make a hominy and bacon dish from a frugal blog (i don’t remember which one) but i hadn’t had hominy before and was thinking it was going to be sweeter, and the bacon i got on sale at wegmans was horrible. the dish really needs better bacon to boost it. i did however freeze the left over bacon.

-bits and pieces of various lunches. the salad i made yesterday was huge and i got asked to buy a burrito with the guys i work with. i haven’t been getting enough fiber or protein lately so my salad got less love than it should. i had a partial bottle of coffee creamer go weird on me (but only me, apparently). the duck that i brought as leftovers were horrible reheated (as in, inedibly horrible). the applesauce i brought one day got overlooked and left out all night.

okay. it’s a start. it’s embarrasing, but it’s a start. i have some leftovers to grab for lunch today and then my fridge should be set.

Friday’s Tip

i guess this one looks like how to avoid food waste but it’s more coincidental than that.

i greatly prefer all natural cleaning products, especially ones that i can make myself. i’m really sensitive to chemicals, and mid doesn’t like anything that’s highly scented. i don’t like most commercial green cleaning products because they don’t seem to work all that well, and i can make a more effective product for less with a trip to aldi’s.

Orange Degreaser

notes:

-i used a stainless pan for this because it’s all i had at the apartment yesterday, and i’m getting new cookware for my birthday tomorrow. it doesn’t seem to have done anything to it, but i have a feeling like you’re not supposed to cook citrus in stainless? i haven’t googled this though and it’s entirely possible i’m talking out of my backside.

-i used tangerine peels though i suppose most citrus would work. it seems to be oranges that are most used though, but it could be that oranges are just more prevelant.

-you could probably freeze the peels until you need them since you’re not actually eating this. the original tip wanted 8 peels; i had 3 and it seemed to work. but if citrus is a rarity in your household or you only buy it in the winter when it’s seasonal, then i image you could put the peels in a bowl or a bag, dry freeze them (don’t blanch, and sticking together isn’t a problem here) and just hold onto the for 6 months to a year. again, i haven’t tried this so i don’t know if that would work or not but i know you can freeze the fruit.

-i don’t know shelf life on this one but if you feel that you’re not going to use it before it turns half the recipe.

-i did boil for more than the directed time because i had less peels than suggested. i also put the fluid in a measuring cup outside yesterday (it was hovering around freezing) before bottling and leaving in the fridge so my fridge didn’t have to work harder than necessary.

directions:

8 peels (i used a lot less peels than that and i don’t know how big an orange they want. i had tangerines that i turned into a cake sunday and held onto the peels)

about 1 cup water (i used more water than that because 1 cup didn’t even cover the peels)

put into a pot, cover, and boil for at least 2 minutes. put into a spray bottle.

**Radio Silence**

I know that I haven’t been around much.

There’s good news and I guess good news to spur that situaiton.

I found a cute little apartment in my price range in a very good location (right on two bus lines, actually easier for me to take the bus to work, walking distance to an aldis, a price rite, a target, and a movie theater). So I’ve been working moving out slowly (the downside being there’s horrific family drama involved.

And I get space to craft and cook and all that fun stuff again. I’ve already been baking up a storm (five hours of baking again) and I’m slowly creeping back into my more frugal lifestyle that I have when I have my own space.

And I’ve been highly busy with other things in my life (not bad things, just things I can’t really talk about). But good things. Just very very tiring things.