Living Frugally and Well: Rainy Day Savings

Saturday:  Katie texted that she'd be down to visit today and I wracked my brain trying to decide what to have for dinner.  I took some things from the deep freeze last night.  I finally decided on a new to us recipe and sending the frozen Pineapple Sweet Chili Chicken home with her for her supper.

My dinner was from Pinterest and now I can't find the recipe anywhere.  It was breaded chicken breasts that were pan fried and then a lemon and cream sauce was made and served over pasta.  It was pretty good!  The chicken breasts were thick  heavy things, so I filleted them and set some aside for later in the week.  We just didn't need that much meat...Though after watching Taylor reach over and take her mom's I might have served that little eater a bit more.

Made up a big bowl of salad and put toppings in smaller covered bowls.  We should be good for a couple or three salads.  I took a hint from Rhonda at If You Do Stuff with making the salad and toppings ahead.  I have found I will eat a salad when I'm on my own if the lettuce and toppings are all ready in the fridge.

Noted that the peach I had this morning was PRIME.  I didn't want the peaches getting any more ripe because they were at that absolute peak ripeness.  I pared them and sliced and tossed with lemon juice then bagged up three bags for the freezer.  I gave Katie two bags of them to take home.

Noted date on calendar and am hoping I can buy a big bag of peaches this week.  It will likely be the end of the season so I'd like to get a few more to put in the freezer for the months ahead.  Will see.

It started with Taylor pulling things out of a donation box and Katie deciding that some shirts she'd been thoroughly sick of two years ago were now worth having again.  I'd worn the shirts until I was tired of them.  Now they are new to her once more.    She also took a few pieces of clothing that didn't fit me well.  For all that we're basically the same size, her shape is different than mine so things that are an ill fit on me suit her perfectly.

I'd not typically sort out my closet but Katie always likes to see what I've added and offers suggestions for wear.  I need that added help and she didn't fail me this time.  I'd bought a plaid kimono to wear in the early fall when it starts to ease back into the 70's.  She suggested I take one of the sari strip scarves that V sent me not too long ago and tie the kimono about my waist.  "You won't look boxy in it that way and it will help it stay on more comfortably."

While she was looking over my things, she found two or three that I had been meaning to remove.  Naturally she liked some of them and others that she didn't I went ahead and put in the donation box.  That's a late summer job done just a little early.

Moved from donation box to the closet in my room.  I sorted out a few more tops and Katie took two, I think.

Taylor raided my dresser drawer and took ALL the bangle bracelets for her personal use for the day.

Then we went to raid the sheds.  A Queen Anne side table, some vases I thought she'd like and had set aside for her, a tabletop, an insulated coffee mug and a butcher block went home with her.  More room in our sheds was the bonus and she has project stuff to work with now.

Finished prepping John's work lunch for tomorrow.

Sunday:  I made oatmeal for breakfast.  Sent John off with coffee and a packed work lunch in hand.

I am so hungry by 9am when we eat breakfast at 5am.  I made myself a smoothie with a bit of leftover yogurt (time to make more), some cottage cheese, a handful of frozen peach slices and a ripe banana.  This made 2 cups mixture which it too much for a serving, so I split it and put the rest in the fridge to have tomorrow.

Washed and hung a load of clothes on the line before leaving for church.

Stopped by grocery on my way home.  I remembered yeast and the sale priced cat food and the fresh flowers I wanted, since the lilies I bought last weekend are fast fading.  I remembered the Sunday paper and to ask for the current coupon sheet.  I found a carrageenan free heavy whipping cream and half and half.  I forgot all about the need for decaf coffee...sad face come tomorrow afternoon when I'm longing for a cup!

Convinced myself to wait until I got home to eat.

It had rained in town and was sprinkling on the highway but was still dry here when I arrived.  I hurried so I could take clothes off the line before it rained.  

Reheated leftovers for dinner and made myself a nice salad.

Made just enough coffee to have a cup.  That's the end of the decaf.

I'd thought I'd shop this afternoon while I was in the area already but I didn't get nearly enough sleep last night and I was just plain tired.  I'm afraid I'd waste time or money or both if I'd shopped today.  I'd rather wait until I can be focused.

Monday:  A pastoring friend was preaching at a distant church.  We were able to listen to him on YouTube this morning.  It cost us data which is a lot like cash to us these days but we couldn't go hear him yesterday and the sermon was well worth the data.

John washed a full load of clothes and hung some to dry.

I washed a full load of dishes and then did several pieces by hand.  After I rinsed out the last pot and turned out my water I found a few more pieces, sigh.  I hate doing that!  I decided they could wait until I unloaded the dishwasher or was ready to hand wash another batch.  Like laundry and meals, dishes come 'round regular, don't they?

I brewed myself some tea concentrate on Saturday.  I mixed it with a bottle of the too sweet diet tea that John bought for me.  I add a little water and some ice to a glass then pour in tea concentrate.  It makes a very good glass of tea.

We're having leftovers for dinner today.  I had a few pieces of chicken left that I didn't cook but will cook fresh today, I'll make a smidge more sauce than I made on Saturday and will serve our leftover pasta chicken from Saturday.

I cooked squash I had in the fridge.  I gave half to Katie on Saturday but still had enough for a squash casserole.  They were looking rough.  Though I don't plan to have squash casserole this week, I will mix it up and then freeze for future baking.

Tuesday:  John promised me breakfast out this morning.  Well we didn't make it, but we had a lovely dinner out.  He paid out of his allowance.

We stopped at mailbox, took off trash, then went by Lowe's while we were out.  John purchased some more LED bulbs (now in all but the reading lamps in the house) and ant poison that intrigued him.  I asked for and got four bags of mulch.

Came home and it poured rain all afternoon long and into the evening.  I went down to the mailbox later in the evening and there was water standing in all the low places.  I could see that it had run as high as three inches under the carport.  Down in the bottom where the mailbox is, the tree frogs were frantically crying out for more rain.  It came...

I went down to the mailbox to pick up a book that had arrived in mid-afternoon.  Our mailbox tends to be damp-ish.  I was glad to see the seller had wrapped the book in one of the plastic mailing envelopes so it was nice and dry.

I had a strong craving this afternoon for potatoes and onions, so I made some for supper to go with our hot dogs.  I must be needing potassium or Vitamin C, both nutrients are high in potatoes.

Prepped John's work lunch.  Set up coffee and oatmeal for morning.

Used maple syrup in the oatmeal this evening and realized I needed less milk since maple syrup is liquid.

Wednesday:  Saw John off to work.  Breakfast, coffee, lunch all included in the morning send off.

Went out at daylight and spread the mulch about the Faith tree.  I needed only 2 1/2 bags of mulch.  Now please explain to me why Maddie must keep going to stand in that flower bed?  Glad to have that project marked off.  I need a good dog deterrent besides a switch to threaten her with.

Mixed up Challah for Shabat evening.  I'll divide and make into two loaves this week so I'll have one for next week.

Checked and organized both the deep freeze and the fridge freezer.  I've room to spare in both at the moment.  Inventoried the meats.  I think I have enough fruit to make jelly come fall.  Contemplating how I want to fill  both freezers up, as I prefer they are full for maximum usage.  One way to do so is to make foods here at home and then pile them in.  I'm thinking meatloaf, chicken pot pie, pie crusts, even freezing a milk jug or two of water for grocery shopping ice.  We have a family day slated for next month.  I have room to bag and store ice right now, as well.  There's also room to freeze the ice cream maker canister...Lots of possibilities with the empty space!

Painted the frames of the prints that were on the living room wall.  Didn't have enough of the first choice of colors and saw that the second choice was much too light.  Compromised and mixed some of color 1 and color 2 which came up a lighter blue grey.  Next I'll decide what I'm going to do with my window frame since I do not like the current color in the living room.

Removed all the bread end pieces and dried out slices and then divided them into three categories: for French toast, for croutons and cubes for strata (think of breakfast casserole).  I will have French Toast tomorrow morning.  The croutons are baking in the oven and the cubes were put back in the freezer for now.  They are ready to go when I'm ready to make a strata.

Sat down and sort of planned out my day.  I'd meant to go shopping, but (a) I don't have a clear idea yet just what I want and (b) it's meant to pour rain all over again today and (c) I have such a long list of possibilities to do that I decided I'd just wait.  I'll have two opportunities next week as well to go out and it will be a new pay period then.  I'd rather not spend indiscriminately but to have a better idea of what I'm wanting.

I set up seven or eight outfits: shirts with accessories and I'll choose pants at time of wearing.

Heavy rain finally fell around 2:30, just as I was sure it wasn't going to rain.  The flowers are looking pretty much finished but the rain will refresh them and I'll be looking at Fall plants very shortly, so I'll just let them be.

Made myself a pretty good but easy supper: Pizza Quesadillas with marinara dipping sauce.  I used what I had in the pantry to make the sauce. The Quesadilla was easy enough with whole wheat tortilla,  turkey pepperoni and cheeses.  Yum!  I figured the cost of this was fairly low and would be a great cheap meal idea.

Thursday:  Realized this morning that I did not have another loaf of bread on hand.  I bought three loaves nearly two weeks ago and we're still using the third.  I count this as pretty good.

Used the bread culled from the freezer bags to make French Toast this morning.  Instead of cooking the milk/egg mixture, I put that in the fridge to save to make strata with for the weekend.

A quick search of the fridge revealed I had two partial containers of grated carrot.  I dumped both into the sloppy joe mixture I was making.  I added zucchini, celery, onion and bell pepper as well as some tomato to the mix.  This was a meat stretcher when the children were young and we were broke.  It was a huge help in making meals nutritious and filling.  Little is cheaper than onion, celery, carrot and zucchini.  I did this sort of meat mixture for spaghetti, chili, lasagna, meatloaf and my kids ate it all.

After browning the beef, it just looked like too much food, so I set half aside.  I can use it for a variety of things.

Washed a full load of dishes this afternoon.  I allowed them to air dry.

John washed a load of clothes and hung most of them to dry.

John mowed grass.

I knew he'd be tired when he finally came in four hours later.  I offered him a choice for supper.  There's nothing worse than being tired and having a supper you don't want.

Friday:  Please lift my family in prayers as we deal with a death in the extended family.  Specifically pray for a mom  and step dad, a wife and two very young daughters who have lost their son, husband, father.  He was a young man and it's truly tragedy they deal with.    Thank you all..

Living Well

Potatoes and onions...Such a simple dish and yet one with powerful memories for me.  You see my daddy was very proud of his Irish heritage and mighty fond of potatoes.  He told Mama that as far as he was concerned potatoes should be on the table at every meal and Mama did serve them with most meals, including spaghetti dinners.  We were the only folks I knew who had pasta with meat sauce and a side of French fries to go with our salad!  Remember those frozen chicken pot pies.  French fries and salad went with those, too.

One of Daddy's favorite methods of cooking potatoes was German potatoes.  I've no idea why he called it German Potatoes but he did and that is what I called it for many years myself.

 He'd slice several potatoes thin, slice an onion and  heat oil in a heavy skillet.  In would go the potatoes and onion and these he'd let crisp on the bottom then turn them and then turn them again and again, allowing the potatoes to crisp and the onion to mellow.  He'd pop on a lid just long enough to let the heat steam the potatoes to tenderness.  Then he'd salt and pepper. 

The aroma of browning potatoes and caramelizing onions was tantalizing to us kids.  We might have been outdoors playing, or so often in my case, in my room reading a book, but the moment we smelled potatoes and onions cooking we had to go see what was for dinner...or lunch or breakfast, as the case might be.

I carried that simple dish to my first married home.  My ex-husband enjoyed it as much as we'd enjoyed it.  One summer we took a camping vacation to the mountains where we ended up at a primitive campsite.  No running water, no electric hookups and the nearest restrooms and showers were a mile drive down the side of the mountain.  We didn't even go equipped with a flashlight or wood for a fire.  But we did have a pup tent, wool blankets and a portable grill with a cast iron cooktop, food and charcoal.

I had brought along a bag of potatoes and onions and some meats to grill.  I had a single cast iron skillet and into that skillet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, went potatoes and onions.  We were in a lonely place on that side of the mountain, but do you know people literally walked out of the woods to our campsite to ask what I was cooking at every meal.  When I'd reply "Potatoes and onions," they generally said "Is that all?  It smells so good!"  Apparently, as basic and common as I thought the dish was, it was a revelation to nearly everyone who approached us that two humble ingredients could create such a delicious aroma.

All these years later and I must confess that German potatoes is still one of my favorite dishes.  It is comfort food at it's best, requiring nothing more than the most basic of pantry items: oil, salt and pepper, onion and potato.  It's cheap and filling, yet so delicious it never seems like a budget dish.  It is a great accompaniment to breakfast eggs and bacon or ham, or served alongside chops, steaks and burgers or hot dogs.  It is equally at home on a plate with any of them.

And it was to that dish I turned one day this week, when the weather outdoors was rainy and stormy and I was just longing for something comforting and filling but easy.  Two potatoes, one onion, salt and pepper and oil.  John came out of the music room as soon as he smelled the browning potatoes and onion.  "What's for supper?"  Nostalgia on a plate.


Anonymous said...

Love the German potato story. Nothing says delicious like fried potato and onion. I'm part German so had this growing up and still make it from time to time. I grow our own potatoes and onions so it is a super frugal meal addition anytime. Nannie

Lana said...

There were lots of fried potatoes in my childhood as well. We camped a lot. There was nothing my Dad enjoyed more than getting up before anyone else in the campground and putting a pound of bacon on to fry. Tent flaps were unzipping everywhere within 15 minutes.

susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

You brought back a memory of me as a little girl out in the backyard with my little neighborhood friends on the swing set. I could smell my Mom frying potatoes and onions. That was back in the days before AC, so the kitchen windows were open. I couldn't hardly wait for supper. That was one meal that she never had to leave warming for me on the pilot light. I was always right there and ready to eat when there were fried potatoes with onions, and pork chops.

Laurie said...

Dishes sure do come round regular! Because of your comment about carrageenan, I checked our organic cream, which contains gellan gum. I researched that, and not quite sure how I feel about that. My Dad was Irish as well, Terri! I hope to visit there some day. We've finally had a little rain this week. I hope we'll have enough this weekend to save the plants that are still living.

Anonymous said...

We always called them raw fried potatoes. Sounds like a contradiction raw and fried. Lots of onions and well browned!

sparky136 said...

Try some ammonia around the Faith Tree. Dogs don't like the smell.

Tammy said...

I could smell the onions and potatoes cooking as I read about them. Yum!

We're cleaning out the garage this weekend. I've been working on it little by little all week long, but Greg's home today to help with heavier stuff, and Jess will be here to help sort out her stuff, so we should see real progress today. As I try to toss or donate things, Jess always sorts through it first, much like Katie did at your house.
I'm finding project materials I knew were in there, but were buried. I'm excited to get to them once school starts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri! I'm just doing another catch-up reading of your blog and wanted to let you know my prayers are already in the ethers for your family members.
Fried potatoes are a favorite memory food of mine as well! My dad did all of the cooking in our house when I was growing up and he was VERY good at it! His potatoes were called "Potatoes O'Brian". He added saluted onions and diced fresh green peppers to his dish and usually served them with pan fried pork chops that I could never this day. That said, I'm told the pork they offer in grocery stores today has had most of the fat bred out of it and has lost the flavor of what they now call " heritage pork" which is hard to find and expensive. Thus, we really don't eat a lot of pork any more...just doesn't taste the same...but I digress haha! It would be such a treat to arrive home at dusk (after romping around the neighborhood for hours) and smell the onions frying! He didn't make them a lot (he preferred mashed potatoes and gravy...another of his magical gifts is making amazingly delicious gravy...I'm happy to say I've learned his tricks on that one haha) so they were an especial treat and one of my favorites! Well, sorry to ramble, I am off to read more of your happenings! Lots to catch up on as we've had a happy succession of family visiting this summer!

Anonymous said...

Oops...I meant to write sautéd not saluted haha!

Anonymous said...

Prayers on their way from the UK. Love Rose xxx

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Praying for that family. May God be with them and comfort them.

I love the potatoes and onions. I too, grew up on them, and love them till this day..My mom called them slow cooked potatoes.. ha

Louise said...

My dad who was Swiss German always wanted his potatoes cooked that way.. especially with new potatoes that he would sneak from a hill of potatoes.. I don't like new potatoes but in the winter I loved potatoes cooked his way... Now due to my psoriasis I cannot eat potatoes, tomatoes or peppers because of flare ups... I miss my fried potatoes.

Anonymous said...

Your dog is cooling herself. You probably have water from the rain in the flower beds. I found out, when I was complaining to the vet that our lab constantly sticks her feet in her water bucket. He told me that dogs had something in the pads on their feet.(I can't remember if he said glands ) He says sometimes this is the only way they can get cool. I am much more understanding, now that I know why she puts her dirty feet in there. I just rinse frequently and refill now.


Karla Neese said...

We have finally had lots of rain lately as well. It rained just about all day long on Saturday. So refreshing!

My dad was a master potatoes & onions "chef" as well. My grandma (his mom) as well. I simply do not make them. My husband is not a fan of fried foods much and it's just never been on our rotation for some reason, despite the fact that I could eat my weight in it, especially if bacon grease is incorporated. Yum!

We must be "shopping" at the same recipe websites. I made pizza quesadillas with marinara dipping sauce for dinner yesterday evening.

Speaking of food, would you be able to share your recipe for Pineapple Sweet Chili Chicken? I'm intrigued and it sounds like something we'd enjoy.

Terri Cheney said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your sympathies and your memories of potatoes and onions. Who'd think so many memories would be tied to something so simple? And apparently universal in some sense as well!

Karla, The chicken recipe is meant to cook in the crockpot. It's pretty simple and few ingredients: In crockpot put 2 pounds diced chicken breast, 1/2 bottle of sweet chili sauce (I get one called Gramma's Sweet Chili Sauce), 1 8 ounce can drained pineapple and 2 red bell peppers sliced. About 45 minutes before you mean to eat, add in a package of snow peas or snow pea pods an broccoli too if you'd like. You remove all the meat and vegetables and thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch, then mix it all in again and Serve over rice. I did this as a stirfry this time and it went pretty fast.

Becky Gepford said...

I'm sorry for the loss in your family. That's hard.

I loved your camping story. I can't tell you how many times we have eaten potatoes and onions. When we had 5 kids at home, and were on such a tight budget, my husband would buy 100 pound bags of potatoes from farmers in our area, and I would serve them daily. We just called the potato and onions "fried potatoes." It's funny how each family calls that mixture different names. We would often go through 200 lbs during a winter, easily.

I also add celery and onion to everything--like chili, spaghetti, etc. I've also been known to add in carrots, spinach, chard, or zucchini, but not as often. My mom did it, too. I never knew for a long time that everyone did not put those veggies in their chili and spaghetti. In fact, I remember being criticized by some of my new in-laws for not knowing how to make spaghetti properly when I was first married. I love being older, because I have no problem standing up for myself now, but it was hard when I was so young.

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