Thursday, December 30, 2010


I just got a spam email with the subject line: Tea is the ties of Friendship.

I love spam email sometimes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Well, since Mister is on a roadtrip (long story, but he'll be back in around 4 days), it's just me here at the apartment. Rather than end up in the pity-party of just-me cooking, I've decided to make tasty foods that Mister doesn't like. :-P

So, for tonight's meal, I'm having some tea, a cheese quesadilla (used up some dried up cheddar and the last of the salsa in the process), and tuna noodle casserole. Mister doesn't eat fish, and can't stand even the smell of tuna -- so with the promise that I will wash the can out and not leave any tuna around (our apartment is so small that a single smell will linger for days... it's been bacon lately), I get to eat some good comfort food!

Tuna noodle casserole is cheap, simplified American food at its finest: egg noodles, cream of mushroom soup, canned tuna, and milk. Precook the egg noodles, then combine and bake! I also prefer to crumble potato chips on top (apparently this can be called "P'tuna Noodle Casserole"), but as I was out, I'm using fried onions from a can. :-P

I'm also intending on putting on a comfy movie and eating while watching a movie -- comfort to the max!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Believe In Father Christmas

They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the virgin birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A winter's light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
And they told me a fairy story
'Til I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
'Til I awoke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on earth
Hallelujah Noel be it heaven or hell
The Christmas you get you deserve

^ If you are unfamiliar with this piece from Greg Lake, please listen to it. It's my most favorite non-carol.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Preps

Just a few notes and pics of what Mister and I have been up to these past couple days (and so much of it tonight of course...)

Got around to pressing and starching that scarf -- what a difference it makes! Even though I KNOW it makes a difference, it always surprises me.

Free, on-the-side-of-the-road scarf has now been washed by hand and is drying on our window screens.

Just about half of a batch of dough waiting for pierogi filling (sadly, I ran out of flour, so these are 1/2 whole wheat flour...)

Lookit the cute lil' pierogi! Who's a nommy dumpling? You!

Me, with my ghetto sifter, making chocolate cake.

OM NOM NOM CHEX MIX. On a side note, it's really difficult to get them to crisp when you use too much butter...

Working on the first of five crocheted loofas. Luckily, I don't need this done until Monday or so.

Happy holidays folks, and may all of your preps be as tasty as mine.

Monday, December 20, 2010


So I am pissed -- in addition to all that she's done the damage our property, this apartment and my happiness, our cleaning lady has trashed one of our saucepans (the biggest one no less) to the point that Mister and I should no longer use it.

It's a non-stick 3-qt saucepan with a glass lid able to strain pasta. Now, we've not always been perfect about not using metal in it, however we never go out of our way to scratch and scrape it.

Last night, while drying this pot (after washing it), I noticed many small pricks in the bottom of the non-stick surface. Pricks, like something had repeatedly stabbed through it, and lifted little sections to stand straight up. Pricks reaching straight through to the metal underneath.

Knowing how dangerous an improperly cared for non-stick pan can be, I pointed it out to Mister, and stated that I felt we should no longer use it, and wondered how this damage happened.

"Oh it was [cleaning lady]," Mister stated confidently. "She throws all of the silverware into there when she's washing dishes. I've seen her do it."

Excuse me?! Going out of her way to trash the objects that I'd rather not have to spend money to replace? (It was a good, solid, heavy-duty pot, destined for many years of use.) I was furious. If it hadn't been 10:30 at night, several people would have gotten phone calls from me, so that I could vent and get it properly out of my system. Also, I'd like to know what exactly kind of cookware she uses at home, since she doesn't know how to care for both cast iron and non-stick.

So, I wrote up a cute little calendar deciding when and how many times the cleaning lady would be visiting before we leave. Three. That's it. She will not be allowed in our apartment beyond those three times, and if she tries to give Mister shit about "not enough notice" (four days requirement is excessive, Ms. Cleaning Lady), she can go suck a duck.

Update on Scarf

So, I started the scarf for Mister's sister in early December.

Look at how it's grown up!

And some close up detail:

It merely wants pressing to be done. The final pattern (as I've recreated it) is as follows (again I apologize for the terrible pattern writing):

[This scarf was created using a 1.4mm hook and size 10, 3-ply crochet thread.]

1 -- ch20. sc in last ch.

2 -- ch4. dc in 3rd ch from sc. *ch2, dc in 3rd ch from dc. Repeat from star until across the row.

Repeat grid pattern until you have a 6x6 square.

3 -- 3sc in 1st square, 2sc in next square, 2sc in next square, 2sc in next square. ch8, attach by slst to 3rd sc from the last one made. ch1, flip work so that when it's facing you, you have on the left of your hook the plain grid and a loop. 3sc in loop, ch4, 2sc, ch4, sc1, ch4, sc1, ch4 sc2, ch4, sc3 (one picot of ch-4, two sc, three picots of ch-4, two sc, one picot of ch-4 surrounded by 3sc). Continue sc-ing in the grid. 2sc in next square, 3sc in next square, ch1 and turn work 90 degrees clockwise.

Repeat row three 3x, until all around the square, and slst in the base of the first sc.

4 -- ch6, sc in 2nd picot on the loop. ch8, sc in 4th picot on the loop. ch6, sc in corner of the grid.

Repeat row four 3x, until all around the square and slst in the base of the first ch.

5 -- 3sc over the ch-6, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 3sc (ch-6 loop (three picots of ch-4 surrounded by 3sc)). 4sc over the ch-8, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 4sc (ch-8 loop (three picots of ch-4 surrounded by 4sc)). 3sc over the ch-6, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 3sc (ch-6 loop (three picots of ch-4 surrounded by 3sc)).

Repeat row five 3x, until all around the square and slst in the base of the first sc and break thread.

** In every motif except the first, on your final repeat of row five, please attach to another motif by crocheting: 3sc over the ch-6, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 3sc (ch-6 loop). 4 sc over the ch-8, ch2, slst through ch-4 loop #1 on other motif, ch2, sc, ch2, slst through ch-4 loop #2 on other motif, ch2, sc, ch2, slst through ch-4 loop #3 on other motif, ch2, 4sc (ch-8 loop). 3sc over the ch-6, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 3sc (ch-6 loop), slst into base of next sc and break thread.

After completing and attaching as many motifs as you need for length (for my scarf, I used 16 motifs), set foundation for final round.

Attach thread at one end of the scarf, in the center of the ch-4 picots.

1 -- ch10, sc in next center picot. Always sc-ing in the center picots of the last round, ch10 all around the motif, with ch12 between one motif and the next (paralleling the slst connection attaching picot to picot). Continue all the way around.

2 -- In ch-10 loop: 5sc, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 5sc (three picots of ch-4 with 5-sc on either side). In ch-12 loop: 5sc, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 5sc (five picots of ch-4 with 5-sc on either side). When all around scarf, slst in base of first sc and break thread.

3 -- Weave in ends.

Holiday Cookies

So one of the items on my list of things to do is crossed off.

These cookies have been made and bundled up for my coworkers at LUSH. The alterations that I made for this batch (which was delicious btw):

-- Valrhona cocoa in lieu of black cocoa
-- no instant coffee
-- since I couldn't grind the cloves in my mortar/pestle, I used mace instead
-- almonds instead of walnuts
-- a bit of agave nectar and maple syrup instead of brown rice syrup
-- an extra 1/3 c. of molasses instead of brown sugar
-- applesauce instead of apple butter

Also, here's a list of useful substitutions for syrups.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Plans for 2011

Since it's nearing the end of the year, I think it's time to take stock of what I've accomplished this year, and what I can attempt next year.

Tasks Completed in 2010:

-- canned pickles, not all recipes are created equal :-P
-- gathered many jars and 3-gallon buckets
-- found a great apartment with pantry space and gardening space (although shaded)
-- shopped at the Farmer's Market weekly to learn seasonal eating
-- learned many interesting recipes with cabbage and also zucchini
-- harvested lots of rose hips, and both dried and made syrup with them
-- made an effort to eat home more
-- made my first pair of socks
-- celebrated the holidays frugally and with minimal purchasing
-- scavenged local grapes
-- made liqueurs/cordials

Plans for 2011:

-- actually garden this year. I still have seeds that never got planted last year, so I will work on shade-loving plants outside, and using the large south-facing window in our new living room for such plants as tomatoes.
-- store 6 months of food for Mister and I
-- eat out of the pantry better
-- keep our budget down
-- put up more food beyond pickles, applesauce and grape cider
-- do UPick at least once a month while it's running (berries, apples, etc.)
-- involve more friends in the food process of pantry building (R, you're around next summer, right? Wanna help build up my pantry?)
-- learn to utilize spices better -- you do not want to know how bland my food is :-P
-- make more liqueurs/cordials and perhaps gift them!
-- aim to have all gifts be handmade
-- look into the possibilities of chickens
-- get a cat and try to train it as a mouser
-- learn more seasonal scavenging
-- make my own bread


So I'm a fan of not wasting food, and eating random things. As yesterday, Mister and I went to a nearby store and picked up day-old bread and some brie to eat it with, yet left a good 4" of the baguette for this morning... I had to do something about this!

Taking a cue from this recipe for Ribollita, which involves cooking soup, throwing stale bread in it, and having the bread break down -- I put about a cup of water with a teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon Beef in a pot, threw in the chopped bread and about 1/2 c. frozen corn. I let it cook down for quite a while (probably 40 mins. or so?) until the bread was falling apart.

Taking a cue from Shepherd's Pie at this point, I then turned my oven on to 350F, poured the thick soup into a casserole dish and topped it with mozzarella. I let this cook for about 20 mins, and broiled it for about 3 mins to get some color on the cheese. As this was still quite watery at this point, I let it sit in the oven (which is now off) for another 5-10 mins.

And look at how tasty it looks!

Although a little salty (thanks Better Than Bouillon...), it is quite delicious as well. Yay for random creations!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shopping List for the Holidays


-- wineglasses for Dad

Grocery Store:

-- pecans
-- candied fruit
-- raisins?
-- rice chex
-- corn chex
-- wheat chex
-- cheerios
-- peanuts
-- pretzels
-- instant coffee

Christmas Present Planning

People to Gift to:

My Family
-- Mom - outfit, squash butter
-- Dad - wineglasses
-- Grandma - Montego Boy pickles, LUSH stuff
-- Grandpa - Sweet Spear pickles, fruit cake cookies
-- sister - outfit, LUSH stuff

My Extended Family
-- Mom's SO - Montego Boy pickles, fruit cake cookies
-- step-sister/family - Montego Boy pickles, soap
-- step-brother/family - Sweet Spear pickles, soap
-- ?

Mister's Family
-- Mom - mix CD, chex mix
-- sister #1 - scarf, chex mix
-- sister #2 - chex mix
-- sister #3 - scarf(?), chex mix
-- sister #3's SO - chex mix

-- Vegan Black Gingerbread bars
-- Chai Gingerbread bars

So those who I need to figure out what they're getting: sister #2 for Mister's family, sister #3's SO for Mister's family, and maybe something else for my grandparents or sister.

What I need to make before gifting: squash butter, fruit cake cookies, chex mix, finish sister #1's scarf, and two outfits for my mom and sister.

What I need to buy before gifting: wine glasses, possibly fabric for outfits, supplies for chex mix and cookies/bars.

I will also possibly wrap presents in scrap fabric/stash fabric. Yay furoshiki!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spending Over the Past Few Days

@LUSH 12/11/10:

-- Aromaco deodorant @ $2.88 (saved $2.88)

Total (with tax): $3.06

@Shaw's with Mister 12/12/10:

-- Quaker Rolled Oats @ $4.77
-- Shaw's brand Cheerio's @ $1.99
-- two bottles of Worchestershire Sauce @ $2.79/each (saved $.72)
-- 3# pasta @ $.99/lb (saved $1.62)
-- dozen eggs @ $3.69
-- 2# butter (salted/unsalted) @ $2.50/lb (saved $1.58)

Total: $24.00

@Restaurant with Mister 12/12/10:

Total: ~$20

@Pizza delivery with Mister 12/13/10

Total: $16.93 (used coupon to save $3.99)

@TJ's 12/14/10:

-- two boxes water crackers @ $.99/box
-- 3# honey @ $8.69
-- two 30oz. containers of steel-cut oats @ $2.99/box
-- two packages dried cranberries @ $1.99/package
-- two cans of tuna @ $1.49/can
-- package of tofu @ $1.49
-- whole chicken @ $6.01
-- Valrhona chocolate bar for Mister @ $2.99

Total: $34.10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grocery Shopping @ TJ's

To keep with my budgeting, here is what I spent at TJ's yesterday.

-- Corn Tortillas @ $1.49
-- 2 cans of whole tomatoes @ $1.49/can
-- candied ginger @ $1.49
-- almond meal (cheaper than almonds!?) @ $3.99
-- 2 blocks of tofu @ $1.49/block

All total: $12.93

Friday, December 10, 2010

Crazy Squash Cookies

So I wanted to make cookies similar to these, but I don't have eggs (the grocery store has been out of my brand for weeks). Not to mention, I wanted to use some of the Carnival Squash puree that was sitting in my fridge. Not to mention, I had an epiphany last night of squash puree + confectioner's sugar = filling for sandwich cookies. So something needed to get made.

After searching the internets for egg-free cookies, and having a pretty good idea of what cookies should look like, I started throwing stuff together. I apologize if you are a specific measurement kind of baker, I am not when it comes to making it up -- so all of these measurements are estimates after the fact.

-- 3/4 c. oil of choice (butter, ghee, shortening, olive oil, etc.)
-- 3/4 c. squash puree
-- 1/2 - 3/4 c. sugar
-- 1/3 - 1/2 c. milk
-- 1 1/3 c. almond meal
-- 1 1/3 c. unbleached white flour
-- cinnamon
-- mace
-- ginger
-- nutmeg
-- allspice
-- chocolate chips

-- 1/3 c. squash puree
-- 1/2 - 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar
-- scant 1/4 c. starch (potato, rice, tapioca, etc.)
-- same spices as in cookies

For the cookies, preheat your oven to 350F.

Mix the wet ingredients. Add the sugar. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet little by little, adding more moisture if necessary (either oil or milk). Stir in chocolate chips.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet 15-20 mins (it took mine exactly 18 mins). When done, take the tray out of the oven, take your spatula and smush the cookie a bit on the tray before placing on a cooling rack.

While waiting for them to cool/popping your next batch in the oven, start making the filling. Mix all of the ingredients together in an oven-proof bowl, and let sit in the oven for 30-40 mins. When taken out, it should be the consistency of apple butter.

I think I've invented Squash Butter...

After all components have cooled, assemble them! Makes 60 cookies, or 30 sandwiches.

Cute little cookies!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Entered Another Contest

This one is for $100. But, lookit what I have to discuss to enter! A Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Blondie Sundae? Sign me up! It looks so tasty, it made my already full fiance and myself hungry all over again, but for dessert this time. :-P

Saving Some Recipes

This is merely one of three in my freezer

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars
Pumpkin Pie Snickerdoodle Bars
Thanksgiving Twofer Bars
Pumpkin-Pecan Pie Candy
Russian Teacake Cookies
Pumpkin-Pecan Spice Bread
Macaroons Speculoos
Roasted Delicata Squash with Panne Cotta
Butternut Squash Pudding
Praline Pumpkin Cake
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Almond and Polenta Cake

Photo Contest

I have entered in this months Does My Blog Look Good In This? contest. Erica Lea is hosting it this month, and there will be winners in each of the three categories, as well as three overall winners.

General DMBLGiT Rules:
Only one food/drink photograph may be entered per person.
The photograph must have been taken by you.
The photograph must have been posted on your blog between the 1st and the 30th November, 2010.
The deadline to submit your entry is the 20th December, 2010 midnight, whenever that is in your part of the world.

A panel of five judges will choose six winners based on the following criteria:
Aesthetics: composition, food styling, lighting, focus, etc.
Edibility: Does the photo make us want to take a big bite out of our computer monitor while drooling on our keyboard?
Originality: a photo that makes you stop, look twice, and think “Wow! I never thought of photographing it like that before.”
Three overall winners will be selected and one in each of the above categories. As host I have the privilege of choosing one photo that I think stands out but wasn’t chosen as a winner.
My announcement post with the winners for this month should be published by the 1st January 2010.

There is my entry -- it had to be a food photo, taken between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30, and I had to scale it to 500 pixels wide. :-(((

All of the entries will be posted here. I like the looks of my competition (it's food, how could it go wrong?), and I hope that I win!

An Old Thought on Homesteading

In August, Mister and I had an argument concerning my desire to be self-sufficient food-wise. It involved the statement: when you uncover the $10-20 million it takes to [farm], we'll discuss it.

Since I'm WELL AWARE that it doesn't require that much input to farm, I emailed my favorite farm guru, Sharon Astyk. In the email, I asked for a rough estimate of what a simple set up would be, not counting property.

-- a couple of pigs
-- a dozen chickens
-- a couple of goats
-- fencing for the animals
-- a hoophouse
-- a farm building or two

Her reply was both thoughtful and in-depth. She warned that this was an exceedingly rough estimate, as it's difficult to judge such things in the abstract. But, here's what it amounts to.


Two pigs - I don't buy pigs, so I'm less sure of the range of farm prices for young shoats, but let's say you buy two pigs, a sow and a boar, for $40 apiece - it could be more in a more populated area, but I've known people to get them for that. That's $80. If you have a good source of scraps locally, you shouldn't need to feed them any purchased feed, just a mineral supplement which you can get for $5 every two months. But that requires a lot of regular scraps - so maybe figure $25 per month in feed for six months for the boar and year round for the sow.

Again, I'm less certain about the figures on the pigs because we don't raise them, but I am pretty sure that at 6 months, you can breed the boar and sow, and then butcher the boar. Hanging weights on most conventional pigs are maybe 80-100lbs of pork, although it could be more or less. With vaccinations and mineral, you spent a little over $200 on your boar, and may get your pork back for as little as $2lb - you could sell it for more, of course. If you didn't have scraps, the cost of production might be much higher, but still lower than buying the equivalent. You'd either want to build a smokehouse or buy a freezer to store your pork, and my guess is that either one will cost you 4-500 dollars.

Also in that equation, you'll get next year's pork largely for free if all goes well - average pig litter is 4-8, so figure 6 pigs for next year. with a monthly cost for maintenence of about $30 - but it could be more, again, especially in the winter.

Housing and fencing are a bigger deal for pigs than chickens - pigs are *strong* - it doesn't have to be big, but it does have to be sturdy. A small barn suitable for pigs and goats together would probably cost you $1000-2000 to build, maybe even more if you need a lot of permits, or can't do any work yourself. If you are pasturing your pigs, you'll probably want electric netting to keep them in - about $200 if you are moving the pigs around every day, more if you want to be able to go away - 600, say. If you want woven wire perimeter fencing that's more, but we'll assume you'll go cheap and electric.

Initial start-up: $2000 (animal, housing, fencing)
Yearly input: $180 (food)
Average yearly gain: 80-100 lbs. of pork per animal butchered, selling shoats, stud services perhaps


A dozen chickens - bought from the feed store as chicks, probably $25 plus feed. Feed costs depend on whether you want organic or not, and how much pasture and scraps you can get. 12 chicks take a long time to go through a 50lb sack of chick grower - probably 2 months, and that will cost you $18 organic and $13 non. Then you might go through a bag a month, plus scraps and pasture for 12 hens at the same prices. Could be a bit cheaper, could be more if you don't have many scraps or pasture.

Remember in that calculation that 12 hens will give you 1/2 dozen eggs a day average year round - 3 1/2 dozen a week. Assume you keep 1 1/2 for yourselves, if you buy the organic and have a good source of scraps, you can charge $4 doz in most outer areas, more in the city. But let's call it that - so you could sell 8 dozen a month at $4 each - and make back cost of feed, plus get your own eggs free. But that depends on how good you are at that sort of thing.

You don't need any fencing for the chickens, just housing - they can range around. For housing, you could probably build a functional chicken coop out of shipping pallets and plywood for under $50, although you could go for greater aesthetic value and also greater longevity and spend several hundred. It would partly depend on your skills and also your neighborhood. If you have to pay someone to build it or buy a pre-made coop, think 700-800 for anything really nice.

Initial start-up: $2000 (animal, housing, fencing)
Yearly input: $120 (food) + any repairs
Average yearly gain: 890 dozen eggs, sale of chickens, sale of eggs


For goats - if we're talking big goats, the fencing costs are much higher. If you want little ones like mine, you can get away with woven wire or stock panels, or electric netting easily enough. The big ones can jump over that too easily. So let's talk mini goats.

Two does in milk would cost you 600-800 dollars. You'll get the best price if you buy first fresheners, who have just kidded for the first time and aren't proven in the milk pail (ask about their genetics and their mother's milking) or if you buy an older doe with a few more years of kidding in her. If you can get one of each - a good older doe and a first freshener, you'll probably maximize youth and milk.

For two does, you could easily get away with one roll of electric netting and just move them every few days, so let's assume that. Again, that's about $200. You could let them roam too, like we do, but you won't want to do that if you go away, so having some fencing is essential.

You will also have to buy a winter's hay for them - two does would probably eat 50 bales over the course of a year (that's a high estimate, but let's bet high, since they waste some) - at $4 bale that's $200. They would go through a sack of grain a month - $20 organic, $15 non. They also need a bag of loose mineral every 2 months $5, and vaccinations once a year $25, vitamin E when they are knocked up $5 month for both, and you'd need to invest in milking equipment.

If you use jars and just by the filter like we did, and want a manual milker (useful for being able to go away) you'd probably need to spend $100 on milking start up equipment and you might need to pay as much as $300 to build a stanchion. You could probably build one yourself for $50 if you are handy, though. Kidding equipment would cost you $150 - most of which is amortized over a lifetime of use. Without a buck you'd also pay $20-50 per year for stud fees for each goat to get them bred.

Each year you'd get two kids worth $250-400 if you are registered, $100-200 if not. You'd also get an average of 3 quarts of milk a day for 10 months per year. In most states you won't be able to sell it, although you may be able to use it for barter, but you can do the math for milk and cheese and figure out what the equivalents are for you, whether you do organic or not.

Initial start-up: $1250 (animal, housing, milking, kidding equipment)
Yearly input: $475 (food, vaccinations, stud fees)
Average yearly gain: 225 gallons of milk, $200-400 in kids


A hoophouse can be made for as little as $100, but I doubt it will hold up long to a cold climate snow load - I'd estimate $500 for a small one - maybe $300 if you are handy and good and building. They could cost up to many thousands if you want a big one.

Initial start-up: $500
Yearly input: any repairs
Average yearly gain: season extension -- fresh veggies longer, earlier start to seeds and veggies


Where are you willing to live is one of them - even barring the broader property question, that has implications for how much it will cost to acquire buildings. There are places where old farm buildings will be part of the property for no more than the land would cost - and places where it would be very expensive to find someone to build them.

How handy are you? How good are you at building things in general? If you can do the work yourself, it will obviously be a lot cheaper. If you are good at scavenging, you may be able to get a lot of your building materials for free by taking down old buildings or haunting building sites - but one of you has to be good at this sort of thing.

Initial start-up: $0-1000
Yearly input: repairs
Average yearly gain: storage, useful space, more space for animals perhaps


Initial start-up: $5750-6750
Yearly input: $775 + any repairs
Average yearly gain: 80-100 lbs. of pork per animal butchered, selling shoats, stud services perhaps; 890 dozen eggs, sale of chickens, sale of eggs; 225 gallons of milk, $200-400 in kids; season extension -- fresh veggies longer, earlier start to seeds and veggies; storage, useful space, more space for animals perhaps

So, it looks like I was right about THIS argument. :-P

Roast Chicken

For dinner Tuesday, I roasted a chicken with a little help from this recipe for a marinade and this site for cooking time and temps.

ZOMG Tasty!

My modifications:

For the marinade, I used 4 Tbs. butter (which wasn't warm enough -- I should have melted it), some orange juice, a delicious horseradish, hemp and honey mustard, fresh rosemary, onion powder, red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper and some salt. Inside the cavity of the chicken I put two quartered clementines, six cloves of garlic, two shallots, and a sprig of rosemary (which I added afterwards so it was kinda shoved in there. :-P

I trussed the bird using this method and stuck it in a roasting pan surrounded by carrots and parsnips.

I also made a side dish of potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.

The verdict? OMG the tastiest, most moist chicken I have ever had. And not bad for the second chicken I've ever roasted! I think I will ALWAYS put citrus inside the bird as it made such a difference. One thing I would change up -- although the marinade was certainly fragrant, it didn't have enough spices. Apparently you have to really up the spices in order to taste them, as most of them burn off. Also, melting the butter and perhaps infusing the spices in it? I think that would be delicious.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Random Stuff/Recipe

Roast Chicken that I want to make tonight
lots of info on roasting chickens
Brian Polcyn's trussing of a chicken
How to Open a Pomegranate <-- need to try this soon!

I also kinda want this cookie cutter for Christmas, so emailed my sis to ask from whom shall I request it? Because it's on Etsy, I couldn't ask my mum or grandma I think... :-P

Those lucky few who DO read this blog might note that I post in bursts -- that's because I only post when I'm home during the day and Mister's at work. If we're both home, I've usually got better things to do. :-P

Mac 'n' Cheese

My leftovers, reheated with more cheese and fried onions. :-P

Last night Mister and I had a delicious meal of baked mac 'n' cheese. This led to contention, as per usual, as Mister and I have differing ideas of what goes into said dish. But, we pulled together, and crafted this delicious dish.

Mac 'n' Cheese à la 12/6/10
-- 1# pasta (we used small shells)
-- 8 oz. sharp cheddar (preferably Cabot! :-P)
-- 4 Tbs. butter
-- flour
-- milk
-- paprika
-- pepper
-- fried onions (TJ's brand)

Start by making a roux with the butter and flour. Add milk until it reaches a sauce-like consistency (you may need to keep adding milk throughout to keep said sauce-like consistency). Stir in cheese, cut into chunks, a little at a time until incorporated fully. Add spices, and let cook a little bit (make sure it's still thin enough).

Make pasta. Drain. While you're at it, oil your casserole dish and preheat your oven to 350F.

Mix pasta and sauce together, and pour into casserole dish, making sure to even it out. Pop in the oven for ~10 mins or however long you'd like, remove dish from oven, top with fried onions, and put back in the oven for another 5 mins.

Devour. Complain that your tummy is full. Package it up into leftovers for yourself and your dinner partner.


Since Mister and I are having to be frugal, I figured it'd be a good idea for me to keep track of what I'm actually spending. Also, taking a leaf out of Allie's book to write down the itemization.

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and bought:
-- 2 broccoli crowns @ $1.21 (saved $.40)
-- 5# box of clementines @ $4.99 (saved $3.00)
-- bag of frozen corn @ $1.79
-- 2# of pasta @ $1.98 (saved $.72)
-- 1# mozz. @ $5.49
-- 1/2 gallon of skim milk @ $2.39
-- 2 1/2# blocks of Cabot cheese @ $5.98
-- half gallon of Simply Orange oj @ $2.99 (saved $.90)
-- 1 donut @ $.69

So I saved $5.02 all total, and spent $27.51 all total (including $.05 tax). Hopefully that should last us for a while. I bought some stuff we don't normally buy (clementines, juice, broccoli) in an endeavor to get us to eat healthy stuff while we're living on the cheap.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Meal Planning for the Week

Since Mister and I have to be living on the cheap now (we signed a lease! yay! but we're still on the old one too...:-\), no eating out for us! So here's a meal plan for this week:

Monday: L@work-grilled cheese sandwich; D-Mac n Cheese
Tuesday: L@home-pasta; D-Roast chicken and veggies with potatoes of some kind
Wednesday: L@work-grilled cheese sandwich; D-more chicken n' stuff
Thursday: L@home-pasta/leftovers; D-Thai Kitchen stir fry noodles
Friday: L@home-pasta/leftovers; D-(Ted)
Saturday: L@work-leftovers; D-(roommate leaving party at M's)
Sunday: L@work-sandwich/leftovers; D-(Ted)

I'm hoping that I have enough leftovers to get me through the week in lunches. I also would like to be able to make a ribollita soon from either this recipe or this one. We've taken to buying the "day old bread" from the cafe down the street, and I like to do that. It's a fair amount of bread for pretty cheap. I also have squash that I can cook too. So there are options.

[Ooh just had an interesting idea for a baked, filled squash using baked cubes of polenta...]

Ingredients to buy:
-- milk
-- more cheese (mozz. and plain cheddar)
-- would like to have eggs, but not necessary
-- anything else on sale

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I haven't really made chai with the regularity of which I did back in the hellhole, but I do still remember!

After looking up recipes, and trying stuff out, a mix of 50/50 water and milk seems to work best.

Bring the water to a boil, then add: milk, black tea, and spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice, etc.). Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the color that you'd like. Serve hot.

I like to make a big ol' pot of this, and just keep reheating it on the stove for each mug. It's so nice and comforting; and now that I have to be frugal, it keeps me from going to cafes as much. :-P

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crocheted Scarf

So remember this scarf? Lemme put a pic up just in case you've forgotten.

Ah yes, that one. The one where the creator was requiring $7 for directions, yet gave up close pictures to enable cheapskates to discern its pattern. Let me show you my start on it.

Yes, there are some discrepancies. An obvious one is that the previous pattern had a 5x5 square, and I have a 6x6. But here is my pattern thus far (I apologize for any terrible pattern writing).

1 -- ch20. sc in last ch.

2 -- ch4. dc in 3rd ch from sc. *ch2, dc in 3rd ch from dc. Repeat from star until across the row.

Repeat grid pattern until you have a 6x6 square.

3 -- 3sc in 1st square, 2sc in next square, 2sc in next square, 2sc in next square. ch8, attach by slst to 3rd sc from the last one made. ch1, flip work so that when it's facing you, you have on the left of your hook the plain grid and a loop. 3sc in loop, ch4, 2sc, ch4, sc1, ch4, sc1, ch4 sc2, ch4, sc3. Continue sc-ing in the grid. 2sc in next square, 3sc in next square, ch1 and turn work 90 degrees clockwise.

Repeat row three 3x, until all around the square, and slst in the base of the first sc.

4 -- ch6, sc in 2nd picot on the loop. ch8, sc in 4th picot on the loop. ch6, sc in corner of the grid.

Repeat row four 3x, until all around the square and slst in the base of the first ch.

5 -- 3sc over the ch-6, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 3sc (ch-6 loop). 4sc over the ch-8, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 4sc (ch-8 loop). 3sc over the ch-6, ch4, sc, ch4, sc, ch4, 3sc (ch-6 loop).

Repeat row five 3x, until all around the square and slst in the base of the first sc and break thread.

Take that Ms. I'mma-charge-money-for-my-pattern!

Fruitcake cookies

I usually make a batch of fruitcake and give one loaf to my grandpa, and one to my mother's SO for christmas. It's labor-intensive, time-intensive (can you say "soak raisins in alcohol for 3 weeks?), and the ingredients are expensive (candied cherries are HOW MUCH NOW?). So, seeing this recipe from Pioneer Woman got me thinking. Maybe I don't have to make full-on fruitcake this year. Maybe I should just make these cookies...

Freezer and Fridge Plans

So R, since you asked, here's an idea of what I'd like to keep in the fridge/freezer. (Hmm... I had a list somewhere, but it has disappeared... aha I blogged about it!)

Drawing from this post, some ideas that I have for what should always be in my fridge/freezer, and in constant rotation. Also, we usually have booze in the freezer. It's not in the list, but currently we have two quart jars half-full with limoncello, and a nice bottle of vodka.

Meat(in freezer)
-- two rings of kielbasa at all times
-- 1-2 roasts
-- 1-2 chickens
-- two pork loans (one cut into chops)
-- ground beef
-- sausages of several varieties for soups
-- bacon?

I'm working on this one. Thus far, I have some cuts of beef and a chicken. Also, I need a good source for Kielbasa or some other form of sausage, because all of the commercial varieties have MSG. :-((((( Since I'm being sneaky about my food storage (since Mister and I have such differing goals/ideas about it), it lead to this highly amusing conversation:

Mister: Well, we could just use that chicken that's in the freezer.
Me: ... we don't have a chicken in the freezer.
Mister: Yeah we do, I saw it the other day. It's been there forever.
Me: ... WHAT?! I put it there last week! You just weren't supposed to find it 'cause it's a surprise!
Mister: Oh, well, I assumed that since I didn't remember it, it must be there for a long time.

Yeah. I love our interactions sometimes. :-P

Also pulled from that list, are three categories. I'll mark out where each item goes.
Pantry, Freezer, Fridge
Root Veggies
-- 2 dozen squash
-- potatoes
-- cabbage sadly, as much as I would like to keep these veggies out of the fridge, and use the fridge less, that's where they store best :-(
-- parsnips
-- rutabaga
-- carrots

-- corn
-- peas
-- eggs
-- milk
-- cheeses (esp. cheddar, mozz., ricotta)

-- bread
-- coffee
-- tea
-- sugar
-- flours/starches (These could also have some in the freezer, but it's just as easy in the pantry.)
-- breadcrumbs

(You might also note that this is the first time that I've played with colors in HTML. Yay!)

This is just a rough draft of what I'd like. But as Mister and I MIGHT be paying for two apartments at once for a few months (grr... do not like my current LL), we'll need to NOT be eating out, being frugal, and having a nicely stocked food supply is useful, and dream/drool worthy. :-P

R, as a crazy side note, on my list of goals on the sidebar there? One of the items is "store 6 months of food". If I fill my 3-gallon buckets, I've completed that. Crazy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Plans for New Apartment Pantry

Alright, just trying to think of what I want to have in storage in my next pantry. I probably have around 10 3 gallon buckets. All of these calculations involved either the package itself, or a measuring cup and a kitchen scale. :-P Also, if 25 gallons per person is a year's supply of food, this is a 6-month supply for the two of us.

-- black beans (18 lbs. worth)
-- oatmeal (3 1/4 cardboard cartons worth)
-- flour (WW pastry or unbleached) (~12-13 lbs. worth)
-- rice (18 lbs. worth)
-- lentils (21 lbs. worth)
-- sugar (20 lbs. worth)
-- great northern beans (18 lbs. worth)
-- kidney beans (18 lbs. worth)
-- roman beans (18 lbs. worth)
-- split peas (21 lbs. worth)

I would do most of this kind of shopping at the Indian grocers nearby. They are also the reason why I have PB jars of spices -- they're dirt cheap and that's the smallest size they sell. :-P

Also, probably around 20 lbs. of pasta, 3-4 jars of pasta sauce, dried fruit, nuts, and other random stuff.

Making Applesauce

So at the last time that -I- went to the Farmer's Market (now sadly closed), one of the things that I had gotten was a bag of apples. Flash forward to last Monday, and we noticed that there was a most decidedly smushed apple in that bag, polluting all of the others. Mister said "oh we should throw that out" and I said "nah, I was gonna make applesauce anyways".

I chopped the apples on Tuesday, but then got home too late to cook them. So Wednesday morning, I popped them in a saucepan, put some water in there, and covered it. And last night I finally did get a chance to put it on the stove.

I added cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom and a little too much sugar (:-(). But my 3 lbs. of apples turned into a quart of applesauce.

Yay for applesauce!

Now we need to go buy pork, as I only eat applesauce with pork, and I have two jars of applesauce that my grandma made sitting on the shelf as well. :-P

Also, since I'm a cheat, I made sure that the jar was hot (by repeated filling with near boiling if not boiling water), the applesauce was hot (reached a boil), and upended the jar to try and make a seal. If it doesn't seal, it'll just go in the fridge. But I don't want to pull out a full water bath for one little jar of applesauce.