I made chili Thursday, even though it wasn't on the menu. Boy did it taste good! The weather isn't due to last this week, but will return to 'normal' once again but it sure was nice to get an early taste of it. Makes me that much more hungry for good hearty entrees.
Last week I said I was planning out three meals each day. I'm balancing the big breakfast days with a slightly lighter dinner midday. We too often are not very hungry midday on those days. The whole meal plan worked beautifully this past week for saving time in the kitchen. That was lovely and gave me extra hours to play about with projects.
Saturday: Easy meal and nothing fussy about it on this Shabat morning. It's my gift to myself, to have one morning of bagels and cream cheese...Or in my case one pop tart and a cheese cube. Poptarts are not really frugal are they? Nor are they especially good for you but I buy a 12 pack of unfrosted poptarts on sale and then I eke them out over several months. I eat one about every two-three weeks. Just one. Not because of a calorie savings, nor because of saving money but simply because I like having that little treat to look forward to. This morning was my morning. Enjoyed it mightily.
Made a meatloaf out of 1 pound of ground chuck. I had a little onion in the fridge and so I chopped that. About 1/4 onion to season both meatloaf and potatoe casserole for our dinner. For the meat loaf, I fiinished off the last of a bottle of steak sauce mixed with as much catsup, the bit of onion, some bread crumbs, an egg, a bit of milk. This made enough for six generous slices, so I figure we'll get another meal and perhaps sandwichs for supper one night off this little meat loaf. That's 1 meal more than I'd have gotten had I merely made burgers.
I mused a bit as I made bread crumbs for the meatloaf. I used end pieces of bread from the freezer, and grated them on the box grater. Why? Because I didn't want to drag out the blender and I don't own a food processor. I'm really not much of one for appliances...I've found I get a fine crumb if the bread is frozen and I grate. It takes a little physical effort but it's a good all purpose kitchen tool. I also grate hard boiled eggs for egg salad, a bit of onion when I don't want even minced onion (for making salad dressings or certain meat dishes), aside from grating cheese and any fruits and vegetables.
Use it up...That's probably my favorite one and also the one I am continually honing. Today, in the midst of autumn, when apple trees begin to yield their lovely fruits, I came across these recipes in the current issue of Southern Living. I love that they are 'use it up' recipes...
- 10 red apples $
- 6 cups water
- 3 tablespoons powdered pectin
- 1 1/2 cups sugar $
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 whole clove
- Bring peels and cores of apples and water to a boil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 45 minutes. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large saucepan to equal 3 cups liquid. (Add water, if necessary.) Discard solids. Whisk in powdered pectin and sugar. Add cinnamon stick and whole clove. Bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; discard spices. Pour into 1 (24-oz.) hot sterilized jar, filling to 1/4 inch from top; wipe jar rim. Cool completely (about 30 minutes), cover with lid, and chill 12 hours. Refrigerate up to 1 month.
Oh Hello! Come and have coffee with me on the porch...Doesn't that scene above look nice? You can just smell the grill and the coffee...Notice how the men are wearing sweaters and sports jackets? It must be a tad cool outdoors, wouldn't you think? Which would mean we assume all those girls in their dress sleeves are menopausal, lol. And wouldn't you just love to find cups like the one in the foreground?
I am a sucker for pretty and interesting china. Trouble is, I seldom will take it out to use because I don't want to spoil it. I've made a strict rule with myself that I shall buy no more china unless I am meaning to use it. So far, I've only gotten china for the flea booth and it doesn't tend to do well there. But I do love to look and dream and now and then I just go to eBay and have a long gander at page after page of vintage china patterns and sigh deeply when I stop. Granny loved china, too. She always looked long and hard at all the pretty plates in the big department store sales sheets. For many of the years I knew her she only had two sets of plates in her cupboard: a platinum edged cream colored plate with a big magnolia blossom and leaves in the center and a set of aquamarine colored Melmac which was thick and heavy and indestructible. I have one of those little coffee cups here that I eat ice cream from.
This week my focus on menus has to deal with how much time I find myself spending in the kitchen. This is apparently my area for the month because I've caught myself more than once begrudging the amount of time the preparation, cooking and clearing up behind that meals are taking. It's a sizeable chunk of time, let me tell you! So far, Saturday is my least time spend-y sort of day, even if I don't prep anything ahead. Why? Because I'm more focused on saving time, cutting corners and spending as little time at work as possible.
I've always had this mentality where meals are concerned that I don't want a fast meal. I don't enjoy reading those articles about putting a meal on the table in 15 minutes or 20...but I'm starting to see that if I want to reclaim some of my time for projects and chores I long to attend to, I'd best figure out a way to do just that.
So what's my game plan? Plan all three meals, so I know just what I mean to have for breakfast, dinner and supper. Generally supper is the least labor intensive meal...if I have planned it out. Otherwise I have to scramble to prepare something to fill sandwiches, which is typically our meal for evenings. I have been avoiding lunch meats, preferring the flavor and savings of making my own. I'm putting sandwich fillings on my weekly prep list.
This week I've been thinking a lot about seasons for various reasons. First, there are the leaves drifting slowly to the ground and piling up under the trees. It is the natural season, a time of change, a season of purpose...
I thought about seasons of life, most especially of a woman's life, as Bess and Amie and my niece have just given, or are about to give birth. I am in a different season, a season when that possibility is at an end.
I thought about my daughters Lori and Amie and Bess and dear Virginia raising children from infant stage to pre-teen. I think of my small heartache for those hands on parenting days being well behind me now, two widely varying seasons of parenting.
I thought about my new grandbabies just starting life and my cousin who has been told the end of his own life is imminently near...Two very different seasons of life, a beginning and an end.
Saturday: John worked last night so this morning I made a bigger breakfast. I'm trying to change up how I do things, both to save money and time. Big breakfasts on mornings following a 24 hour shift, lighter but still filling meals on the other mornings. I've found I'm spending far more of my day in the kitchen preparing the three steady meals a day and too little time at other tasks which call me. This morning we had eggs, grits, sausage and toast.
I didn't have time to prep food for today yesterday...and I planned my week badly so there was not much at hand. I had some cubed steaks I'd picked up at the local market when marked down and knew they would thaw quickly. I planned the rest of my meal from the freezer and fridge: John brought back home his bag of salad unopened. I decided we'd eat that for our raw side and I pulled a small pan of macaroni and cheese from the freezer as our starchy side dish. I found the banana pound cake I'd made and thawed that too. It was a pretty good meal to be pulled up from nothing that morning and I was pleased my freezer had provided the prep work I'd failed to make earlier in the week.
Come on in! It's too hot to sit on the porch yet again and the plants look so sad and straggly anyway that's it's hardly a pleasure to sit there gazing at the poor spent things. I've pulled up several pots full of plants but we seem to be in that in between time when no plant appreciates the season and who can blame them?
I thought I'd try these Pecan Bars this week...What do you think? I love pecan pie but it's so sweet I seldom make one. I thought this might be a good halfway sort of thing. Of course, we must eat up some of these other sweet things first. There's some of John's favorite no name, el cheapo cookies, the sort that are both chocolate and vanilla and taste like neither but are sweet. He loves those silly cookies but unless I am in deep craving mode for that elusive something, you'll not find me eating more than one or two at best. I had taken pound cake from the freezer over the weekend, but I put it right back when we came in from grocery shopping. There's a raspberry sweet roll which isn't bad, store bought also. I still think the recipe sounds good, but perhaps not this week...
Did you see the Golden Rod blooming at the edge of the back yard? Isn't it lovely? I like golden rod. It's one of those flowers that draw criticism, too. So many people claim it makes their allergies act up but all the doctors and scientists say it's the fault of ragweed which blooms at the same time. I've also seen the red October or Spider lilies blooming. I have one which blooms but never multiplies. I'll have to see about purchasing some of those unless I can find someone willing to share some of their bulbs. I love them, perhaps because Granny did. She was big on bouquets in the house to enjoy.
The goldenrod is golden, the leaves are tumbling to the ground. It's getting dark about 7:30 and I find myself yawning mightily about 8:30. I'm craving stew and chili and pot roast...And I've searched in vain for the cooler temperatures! We were promised it would be cooler last week but those temperatures were surpassed and the lower temps moved to this week but somehow I think we won't see them this week either. So what do I do? I make a warm hearty meal and we regret mightily the heaviness of it or I make a summer meal and it's not quite substantial enough. I don't have any 'in between' recipes! And that's what I need, recipes meant for that time between two seasons. I'll do my best, but it's a balancing act I'm not very adept at!
Saturday: Bananas were ripe right now. It was obvious they were at the point where we'd eat them today or not at all. We had oatmeal (just plain old cooked oatmeal, not the fancy custard type) for breakfast and topped each bowl with a sliced ripe banana.
I put the last three bananas into the freezer, peeling them and breaking them into 1 in pieces first.
I warmed dinner in the oven. I meant to make salad, but looking through the fridge I discovered a serving of romaine in a zippered bag and enough salad in John's leftover purchased bag for another serving. No making salads necessary, just eat what is on hand and not let it spoil.
I served packets of taco sauce from takeout purchases with our burritos today.
Supper was the rest of the pizza we purchased Tuesday while out grocery shopping. I'd put in the freezer but it was quickly thawed and heated this evening. It was handy to have a quick meal. I'd spent time out this afternoon at my niece's baby Sprinkle.
Played about on Pinterest this evening. I found a quote that really struck home from a blogger regarding couponing: It's about spending less, not saving more. There's a blog post of inspiration in that phrase...
I put this wreath together early last week. It was quick and easy.
The base is a straw wreath I picked up at the thrift store. I wrapped it using the wide burlap ribbon you buy in the fabric department at Hobby Lobby. I picked up two rolls last year for $4.99 each...I'm warning you all that it's increased to $5.99 this year, because I bought another roll this year.
I sewed the end piece down and bound the florals and leaves to the wreath using a needle and thread. In the past I've used glue or glue dots and it tends to turn loose in our sometimes too warm, sometimes cold weather. I wanted this to hold together for at least two or three seasons.
So I wasn't expecting to find anything new but I did. This girl wrote something that I read out loud and have said over and over again to myself because it just really set fire to my brain.
It isn't about saving more it's about spending less.
She's right. She's so very right.
I meant to share this earlier but didn't have time to blog as I wanted. I'm all about making leftovers into a new to us dish. I know many people who tell me they want to be more frugal but then follow that statement with "I do not eat leftovers!" And they mean it! I say stop calling them leftovers and learn to make new recipes with them. I think my family has never minded leftovers because while they might be eating the same ingredients all over again, it was a new to them dish. And besides, some of the best recipes start with a bit of cooked meat or vegetable!
I like Pierogi. Pierogi are (and I'm not Polish so forgive me if my definition is over simplified) basically a potato filled ravioli. I've been wanting to buy Pierogi for weeks but the cost at best sale price, is roughly $3 for about a dozen frozen pierogi. Middle Georgia is not a hotbed of Polish speciality shops so frozen is as good as it gets.
Much as I shall regret seeing summer past us this year, I am feeling the energy that comes with seasonal change. I worked hard last week three days (meaning far more than usual) and I'm looking at doing the same this next week. I suppose, since I've got the deeper cleaning in a monthly rotation, the energy I'd devote to seasonal cleaning is being diverted into project work. This is not a bad thing at all! It means that I will get a few of the multiple projects on my long list accomplished.
The weather has not cooperated in cooling down. That's fine. We are, at the moment in a cycle of warm days, nighttime temperatures very near the daytime temps and daily thunderstorms which are hit and miss with rain. I told John that Friday I came home down the dirt road, stopping to check on Granny's house. About every 15 feet I hit a patch of dirt road that was either bone dry or freshly rained upon. It was literally a 'band' of showers that went through...which we got none of mind you. Anyway, meals are a mix this week, some summer, some autumn.
Time just clips right on, doesn't it? I don't know about you but I'm ready for September, much as I regret seeing summer die out. A fresh new month, with a fresh new season in it, is really just the kickstart I need to energize me right now.
I got busy this morning and tackled the iris and had the bed nearly cleared out within a half hour. I took advantage of the damp moist ground and last night's rain to get things cleared out this morning. The garden wagon is piled high with the things I pulled up. There's a bucket of iris sitting by that bed, too, which must be replanted somewhere. I'd meant to replant a few iris right back there, but I don't know. You see there is a water and electric line that runs under that bed and deep digging is not allowed hence the iris with a ground cover of Bouncing Bett, or Soapwort as it's better known went into that spot. However, some other invasive things haven't heeded the need to keep that bed free of deep rooted things. There's a bit of privet and spiderwort, and day lily that decided to move in and moving them out is not proving as easy as the iris removal. I'm thinking the best idea now is to put down some good weed mat and mulch it and use it as an area for potted things. I have pinned a few ideas on Pinterest that I think would be just the thing.
Now let's talk about meals. It's hot. It's supposed to stay hot. Nevertheless my body says it's time for some nice slow simmered dishes. I suspect I'd better plan lighter meals much as I might want those rich autumn dishes. Cooler weather will be here shortly, I feel sure.
Saturday: I've had a hard time sleeping lately. I found part of it was waking due to being too warm. Lowering the temperature 2 degrees has helped tremendously. I turn the AC back up every morning first thing, even before coffee.
We had spaghetti and meatballs for our dinner today. I put a quart of sauce in the freezer and set 4 meatballs aside for my dinner tomorrow.
Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.
Typically this is a quiet day at home for us. We don't work, we don't shop, we don't spend. In order to assure that this is a day of rest for me, I prep and/or make dinner the day before so we have something readily available. Otherwise the temptation to eat out, or to run to town for fast food is high. This is the bulk of my savings for this day, making dinner ahead.
Hello there. Sugar cookies and Iced Tea? It's terribly warm outside so come on in. The promised cooling down spell hasn't arrived yet. The horse flies were out in force this morning. Nothing meaner than a horse fly!
Aren't the cookies good? It's a new to me recipe that I made this week. I wrote it down some time ago, so I think I must have copied it from one of the vintage magazines, but I failed to notate the source. I really like this sugar cookie. It reminds me of Granny's 'Tea Cakes' as she called the simple vanilla and butter flavored cookies she used to make. Her recipe was oral and started with 'take a piece of butter the size of an egg'...ack! I never did get it down on paper, so it's lost to me.
While my family is all about pie, I am a cookie and cake sort of gal. A few years ago I determined that homemade is really and truly the best tasting. To that end I've been trying to build a file of recipes for cookies that I enjoy making and eating. In my very young married years, I often made dozens of cookies each Christmas, but I seldom made them at any other time because they weren't my favorites.
John convinced me years ago to forgo the annual cookie bake. Over the years I've pretty much stuck to a very few recipes for day to day use: chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter. At Christmas I make sugar cookies, magic cookie bars, stove top cookies and chocolate chip. I've never been happy with my sugar cookie recipe, though I've used it for years upon years. This past Spring I found a new to me recipe, which I wrote down.
It is September...And just saying that makes me happy. It means that cooler weather is that much nearer. I only hope the leaves can stay on the trees long enough for the cool weather to arrive! The leaves are drifting down with regularity and there's a carpet of leaves under nearly all the trees in the yard.
I'll start where August started for comments, with a Frugal Week Post. In Week One Susie of Persimmon Cottage shared her own little dog's 'guilty' face. Maddie doesn't seem to have one, but Trudy did. She would look up and then down really quickly and I always knew when she'd done something wrong. Sparky shared that her sister's Jack Russell likes having his back rubbed, too. Must be a JR thing, lol.
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