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Leftover Management and Homemade Take-Out

January 13th, 2017 at 07:24 am

One of the things I've been doing lately is taking any leftover meat and immediately chopping it up into a small dice. It's nice to think that it'll get eaten over the next couple of days, but too many times it doesn't. So I've taken to dicing and then freezing immediately. Or in the case of leftover hamburger patties or lamb patties, crumbling it up. We can't afford food waste and I'm opposed to it even in the best of times. Everything needs to get eaten.

I have had some good pizza toppings this way, with some lovely homemade sausage, picnic ham, taco meat, and lamb de provence. The ham and sausage is also great for putting in an egg scramble or omelette. We have had a few things that I don't really want to put on pizza, though.

The pork ribs with the apricot/honey/soy sauce glaze and the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey leftovers, to name two. Sometimes leftover rabbit or chicken as well, depending on the seasonings. That meat has been going into making stir-fried rice, which is also helping to use up the over abundance of eggs we've been getting now that the ducks are switching into high gear.

I used the leftover pork with the apricot/honey/soy glaze tonight and it was so good. It was better than Yangtze pork fried rice that you can get in just about any Chinese place out there. I did add some garlic and ginger to the meat as well as to the rice itself. I ended up with 5 quart baggies full for the freezer, enough sides for a family of four for five meals, and then 2 more cups that my son and husband were bargaining over for a late evening snack.

I am really happy with the amount of Chinese/Polynesian dishes I have learned to make. Besides the rice I can make chicken and broccoli, broccoli beef, black pepper chicken, subgum chicken chow mein, beef chow yuk, pineapple chicken, char sui pork, and then just a general stir-fry with whatever I have with Chinese flavors. I have mastered using oyster sauce, fish sauce, and hoison sauce without getting too much of any of them.

It is nice to be able to make our favorite Chinese dishes when we can't afford to get take out. I have learned a couple Korean dishes over the last couple years as well, mandu (pork and cabbage dumplings) and kimbap (rice, seaweed, vegetable, and shrimp roll up thingy cut into circles).

I have been running down recipes for Mexican foods that don't require tomato sauce or peppers. It's not quite authentic, but there are substitutes and I am going to try them so we can get it figured out. There are a few dishes that don't use those things anyway, like quesadillas, which are simple enough, but I want to make tacos, and chili, and enchiladas again.

With Sichuan peppercorns, long grain peppercorns, and grains of paradise and judicious use of some other herbs and spices that aren't nightshades, it is supposedly possible to do all three of those things. I'm just not terribly fond of the texture of the nomato sauce, though, which is the base for two of them. It tastes good enough, though. Maybe I need to puree it more or something.

All I can say is that I am glad I am a good cook to begin with, because it has been a challenge to replace half my spice palette with other things and half my recipes as well. But I am doing it and we are finding some new favorites in the process. I don't think I'll ever get over losing peppers, though. At least peppercorns are not the same botanical species. I'm not sure it would be possible for me to give up black pepper, too. It's underrated, but salt and pepper are the best seasonings there are, really. They enhance everything. It's just the amounts you have to watch.

I am trying to post more frequently than I have been. It's just hard sometimes to figure it out when there is no income coming in. There are no savings updates. There are no payday reports. We still have no debt. So pretty much it comes down to household management, stretching the food budget, and making sure nothing goes to waste. Well, enough rambling. It's getting late and I need to get some sleep.

No Eating Out Challenge

October 6th, 2014 at 06:25 pm

Two weeks down, 16 days to go. We are doing really well here. The kids have not been able to talk me into going out to eat in two weeks. There were a couple of days that I really wanted to, too. Having the meal plans firmly in place help a lot. Making meals in such a way as to have planned leftovers helps so much. This week I will be using my homemade spaghetti sauce in 3 recipes and my homemade meatballs in two. I will make the sauce and meatballs tonight and then use them in tonight's meal and in the meals the following two nights.

Last week I made baked potatoes with dinner one night. I threw in enough extra to make baked potato soup later in the week.

Sometimes I will make roast chicken, pick the leftovers off the bones, and made enchiladas and quesadillas as well as using the bones to make chicken stock for chicken noodle soup.

Those sorts of leftovers really help to have on hand so I can make one complicated meal followed by one or two easy ones. I always plan my complicated meal for a night when I have more time and the easier meals for the nights when I don't.

Doing this helps me save money because 1. I don't buy as much food to begin with, 2. I don't end up wasting the food I did buy, and 3. I am far less interested in eating out when I know I can put together a much better meal quickly.

Of course I am still tempted to eat out, but I'm not sure it would be worth the hit to the wallet, or the pain from ingredients I'm allergic to. Since I never know what food additives are used, cooking at home is safer for my stomach, too. And certainly safer for my son's.

No Eating Out Challenge

September 25th, 2014 at 09:14 pm

Things have gone great with the no eating out challenge so far. I've made all food at home for the past 3 days, and am on track for today as well. When we were at the grocery store yesterday, the kids wanted me to buy them a couple of premade soups from the salad bar, but I felt like that would be cheating on the intent if not the letter of the challenge.

Then there is the fact that each one of those soups costs $4, so $8 for soup when I can make a big pot of soup for a lot less money, that will feed us about 8 times the amount of that soup. And I'll be using the leftover potatoes from last night's meal to do it.

On tonight's menu is baked potato soup. So they only had to wait a day for soup. And while it is not savory pot roast soup, we just had beef stew on Monday with all the same ingredients, so I don't feel like I'm disappointing them any by making a different hearty soup. Plus its on the menu plan anyway. They can live with it. And they always like my soups and stews better anyhow.

I feel better when we eat this way. Even eating out once a week makes me feel cruddy afterwards and almost like I am hung over the next day from the excessive carbohydrate intake.

So far I feel if I continue to plan well for this, that I won't have any problems making it through the month.

The biggest thing I am noticing is how there isn't nearly the garbage without the eating out. And none of the food is getting wasted at all since I am making planned overs and those get eaten up in the next meal or the one after that. It's much more efficient, since I am using the oven less for long-term cooking, and then being much quicker on the stove top the next day by using leftover ingredients. Less waste will lead to saving more on the grocery budget since everything gets used up.

Hopefully I will stay this together and focused as we head into October, the second half of which is always my big cold season starting.

New Arrivals and Expenses Today

April 11th, 2014 at 05:38 am

I spent $116.91 on Royal Palm heritage turkey poults and Barnevelder chicken pullets today. Barnevelders are a very old breed and lay a nice dark brown egg, similar to a black copper maran. These guys will pay me back with eggs in about 16 weeks.

I am hoping that I got at least one male and one female turkey, but since they were straight run, I won't know until they are quite a bit older. If I got at least one of each, they will remain as our breeders. Royal Palms are still capable of breeding naturally and don't need AI like the more commercial breeds you'd find at the grocery store that have been bred so heavy breasted they can't support their own body weight at maturity so can't breed. They just fall over if they try.

The Royal Palm poults can be sold for quite a premium so it will be well worth the investment eventually.

Two of the turkeys will be for Thanksgiving and Christmas regardless of whether they turn out to be male or female. It'll be cheaper to raise them ourselves than to buy heritage birds at the holidays.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8ZBsHvnB9E

I also spent $41.26 for a 50 pound bag of game bird starter feed, a waterer, and two feed troughs, since the ducklings are eating enough now to need a second trough.

Then I spent $59.19 on a tank of gas for the minivan and $210.63 on groceries. They had a huge sale on turkey legs so I stocked up on a lot since they are so easy to make. I also bought a lot of other staples and some fresh veggies.

I canned 3 quarts of pickles today. Unfortunately the bottom of one of the jars cracked off during the canning process. I lost about $3 worth of food. Still, it is rare that something like that happens. I've never had a jar crack before in two years of canning. It is still far cheaper to home can even with the occasional loss, than to buy them already made when you are working with organic foods. And I can make it exactly the way I like it and in the quantities I want them to be in, with no yellow #5 or MSG. Well worth it.

Long Day with Good Food at the End

November 14th, 2013 at 03:02 am

I am glad I didn't get around to making the baked potato soup last night. I was definitely in need of comfort food tonight. And it turned out beautifully:



I had to make the roux twice, though. The first time I wasn't paying attention and didn't even look at the flour DD had brought up, just dumped it in. Well, there was a dead miller moth in it. Fortunately that was the end of a bag of flour. Unfortunately, I ,had to throw out 2/3 of a cup of butter. Ouch. With butter so expensive these days, losing over a stick of it does not feel good.

How is it possible to have such a long day on such a short day? Well, I suppose having to deal with DD's evil teacher is probably why it felt so long. I totally see what DD means. The woman is a master manipulator and it was one of the first things I called her on. Let's just say woman got schooled, hard. And we got the assignments that DD should have got in the first place.

I have to say the counselor and person from admin were top rate. Neither could understand why DD hadn't been given her assignments in the first place. Teacher really was falling all over herself. The VP wasn't there. No reason given, she was supposed to be. Oh, well. Evil teacher is now on notice that her crap won't fly with us. I do wish DH could have been there. I think his physical stature alone would have cowed her even if he is the kindest, most gentle soul, but I managed all on my own at my little 5 foot 5 inches to put her in her place. It did take a lot out of me though.

Today was a no spend day, but tomorrow won't be. I really should go to the store tonight, but I am just too tired. I know I will regret not having caffeine in the morning, but I will stop at the store after taking DD to school.

On Wasting Food

August 4th, 2012 at 08:49 pm

Even though I tend to keep an eagle eye on the fridge and know what's in there pretty much to the teaspoon, sometimes food does get wasted. Usually, but not always, this is the fault of my youngest child who likes to put his leftovers in the fridge and then shove them to the back, even though I have a policy on where leftovers go, which is up front and visible at all times.

With all of the fruit I have been harvesting this week I have not kept as sharp an eye on things and when I cleaned the fridge last night I had to throw out, courtesy of my son:

1/2 bowl of homemade organic chicken noodle soup
1 cup of leftover spaghetti
About a one inch by 4 inch strip of pork chop from the organic, sustainable farm (I would have eaten this had I known!)
2 tbsp of leftover hamburger (from the same farm) that went with the cup of spaghetti
8 ounces of organic milk

Courtesy of my daughter:
1 quart size baggy with broccoli and cauliflower that she said she was going to eat

Courtesy of myself (you didn't think I was completely innocent in this, did you?):
1/2 can of the really good, meat only chili

And of course, DH is in Alaska and even if he was home, he eats leftovers left and right. There's almost never anything that is his fault, unless you count that he didn't get to other people's leftovers fast enough, and I don't! LOL Actually, I think the last thing we threw out that was his fault was because he left it out of the fridge, not because he left it in there for too long.

So all in all, not the best week for not wasting food, we lost about $8 worth. Everything went into the compost bin or to the chickens. The meat smelled off, not spoiled so I let the chickens eat it. I'll keep a better eye on it all this week, blueberries or no blueberries. (Ha, of course there will be blueberries...all...week...long).

Well, I better go check on the chickens. Someone either just laid an egg or had a heart attack. My guess is one of the newbies laid her first egg and wants the whole world to know.