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What to do with an empty milk container

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Or rather, what to do with it before you recycle, throw it in the bin, or use it around the house for some mysterious purpose.  I know I can’t be the only person that dumps a tablespoon or two of water into the milk jug to swish out the last bit.  At any rate, I do, and this leaves a milk wash that can be used in any number of ways.  It probably doesn’t save much milk, but I figure it must add up over the course of a year or two.

So, what to do with this one or two tablespoons of watery milk?  The possibilities are endless, but here you go…

1. Any baking recipe that calls for milk, just dump it in to the rest of the milk.

2. Use in baking recipes that only call for a few tablespoons of liquid in place of what is called for

3. Dump it in to any cream soup, and finish off with regular milk.

4. Use it in making creamy dressings.

5. Use it in as a wash to top baked goods before baking.

6. Use it as a liquid for making a spread for sandwiches, for instance if making a flavored butter or cheese spread.

7. Dump it into the glass of milk.  I promise that you can’t tell the difference.



Buy better and use less

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Granted, this may not always work out, but I have found that it holds true with food, at least in our family.  For instance, we use less butter than margarine, since the butter tastes better and you need less of it.  The same goes for cheese, chocolate, meat, coffee and just about anything else I can think of.  I now make it a point to buy the highest quality that I can reasonably afford, and then I stretch it through various ways. If I am buying cheddar cheese, for example, then I will buy the most mature available, since the flavor is much stronger.  I end up using less, and it saves me money in the end, even if I had to pay a little bit more in the beginning.  If I buy free range chicken from the farmer instead of one from the supermarket, we eat less and the resulting stock has a stronger flavour, so I can get more stock out of the same amount of bones.

Once in a while, this will backfire.  I might buy a jam that tastes so good that we gobble it up in one sitting (almost) or a cheese that disappears the minute I open the package.  However, I find that if I buy it a few more times, we get used to the flavor and eat it at a more reasonable pace.  Do you have similar experiences?

4 meals from one chicken

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For today’s Double Dip Monday, I want to share how I got four meals for three people from one whole roasting chicken.  I will be upfront and admit that Daughter and I don’t eat very much meat, so this might not work out to four meals for you, but the principles still apply.

To start, I roasted the chicken whole for our big Sunday meal, and served the meaty breast and legs with brown rice.  There was one breast left over, plus the meat that was on the rest of the bird, so I picked that off, shredded it, and put it in the fridge.  I saved all of the bones, plus the meat on the wings and back, and made cock-a-leekie on Monday by adding leeks and the leftover rice.  This gave me enough soup for two full meals for the three of us, if I added some rolls or scones and a few cut up fresh veggies.  On Tuesday, I took the leftover shredded meat, added in some random salad bits I had floating about the fridge and some actual leaf salad, and served up chicken salad with a balsamic dressing.  Then, on Wednesday, I served the leftover cock-a-leekie.

Given that I could get three to four meals out of the roasting chicken, I splurged and bought a free-range, organic bird (what I generally refer to as “happy hens”).  The upside was that the bird was so flavorful that none of us ate as much as we would have eaten if it had been a factory bird.  I plan to try this out several more times, just to see if it is one particular type of chicken or all happy chickens in general, but you can get several meals out of any bird if you’re clever about it…

Double Dip Monday – again

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Oh, I know it’s been a long, long time since I’ve posted anything, but things have been rattling around in my brain.  We’ve been ill off and on, plus the weather suddenly turned gorgeous, so we’ve been outside as much as possible.  On the other hand, I’ve gotten very serious about my grocery budget in this country, and have limited myself for the whole month by taking money out of the cash machine and using only that (otherwise known as the “envelope method”).  This means that I have been emptying my pantry and freezer of anything usable first, before going to the store, which leads to fewer trips to the store and more time in the park (ultimately).

Here was my menu for last week:

Breakfasts were either cheese and bread or eggs and bread, with some kind of mild coleslaw for a veg.  We’ve definitely entered the barren months between abundant winter storage and sprouting spring garden.

Lunches were always either leftovers or polenta/pasta.  Husband took either apples and pears or leftovers to work for lunch.

Dinners were such –

Monday was roasted root vegetables with rice, cabbage salad, and some bits of bacon and cheese.

Tuesday was red beans and rice (actually quite a good way to clear out the freezer).

Wednesday is the day when dinner has to be done early and has to be easy and reheatable, so it was hoppin’ John and cornbread (incidentally another good pantry meal).

Thursday is a day when I have time to cook, so I made vyprazeny karfiol with potatoes and parsnip soup.

Friday, oh Friday, you always sneak up on me, and despite my grand dinner plans, we end up staying too late in the park.  I had planned on lentils and rice with caramelized onions, but made it home only minutes before dinnertime.  To prevent us from going out for food, I made pancakes.  I foresee a lot of Friday pancakes in our future…

Saturday is a great day, because it is market day, and all of our meals are cobbled together from last week’s buys and this week’s buys.  For instance, we had cheese and bread for breakfast and lunch, with various leftover salad bits.  Then we spent all afternoon at the park with a bunch of other families, and I made a GF snack with pastry from the freezer and cheese and pesto from the market.  Dinner was another “we’ve been in the park too long and now what are we going to eat” creation of GF pasta, pesto and cheese.  (yes, it was close to the pastry, and no one complained because we were thrilled and tired from our long romp in the park.)

Sunday is another one of those days when meals always sneak up on me – all three yesterday, actually.  We woke up late because of the time change, fended for ourselves for breakfast, then came home late after mass, so I threw together a veggie Thai curry and rice (ok, basically I cooked rice in one pot, then dumped frozen veggies and a bottle of curry sauce in another).  The time change caught us again at dinner, so Husband and Daughter had toast with grilled onions, leftover salad bits, and some milk.  I had rice cakes and home-made Nutella.

I think I need to try a crockpot.  What do you think?

Ahh, water

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We had one of those classic Monday mornings, where we woke up to find that there was no water on the whole block.  Apparently the severe temperatures caused a valve to blow somewhere, as these things are prone to do in extreme temperatures.  Luckily, given our previous experience in London with blown water mains, I always keep a reserve of water on hand.  Generally, the water comes back on within a day, so I have limited our reserve to two gallons, but I regretted that this morning.

After I cheerfully made a pot of tea, proud of my resourcefulness and foresight, I wandered off to do something, and came back to find that someone had used the rest of the reserve water to flush the toilet. The issue was somewhat resolved with a quick run to the corner shop to snag the last two packs of water, but I was kicking myself.  My new plan now involves the two gallons of reserve water for drinking, and numerous cheap plastic bottles full of water for flushing (the plastic bottles leach chemicals, so are not good for storing potable water long-term).

More to the point of this blog, I was thinking this morning what it must have been like during WWII, to have survived an overnight bombing raid only to find out in the morning that you don’t have any water at all.  Of course, there were mobile canteens and water trucks, but it still seems that the mark of a truly civilized life is running water.

Dieting and money

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Why is it that dieting is always so darn expensive?  You would think that it would be cheaper since you are eating less food, but it never seems to work out that way.  Husband and I have been doing the South Beach diet this past week, and I am wiped out.  We both have a severe sweet tooth, so breaking that addiction is very helpful for us, but I have a hard time eating so much meat and eggs.  We’ve had eggs everyday for breakfast, which works out to fourteen eggs a week per person!  I feel a bit foolish really, but it is only for a few weeks, and then I can’t take it anymore.  I need my fruit and oatmeal back (and fewer eggs).

I generally don’t actually go on a diet, unless I really need to, for instance if I am carrying around post-pregnancy weight or, ahem, post-dissertation weight.  I usually find that eating just a bit less and climbing a few more stairs works out well for me.  However, Husband is really in need of a dieting jumpstart, so I agreed to go along with it.  I will go back to regular eating sooner than he will, but sacrificing together through these first few weeks seems to really help.

My only Double Dip Monday thought is that it is much easier and cheaper to go on a South Beach-like diet in the summer when fresh veggies and meat are cheaper and more abundant.  Doing it in the dead of winter is financially foolhardy, but, as Husband says, it’s hard to put a price on something if it improves your health…

Another look at last week’s meals

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Wow, looking over my calendar, I can see that last week was complete and total chaos.  I must apologize to all you who are GF, because I didn’t eat much last week = ).  I had been away and came back late Saturday night, only to discover that Husband and Daughter had subsisted on bread and eggs for four days.  Anyway, here it goes…

Sunday was a monumental effort by me to use up the gluten stuff I had purchased but no one ate, like sachet soup and instant pasta.  So that was lunch and dinner, and breakfast was left over bread.  I couldn’t tell you what I ate, but it probably revolved around rice cakes.

Ditto for Monday.

Tuesday was a bit better, I think.  I made hush puppies and black bean soup for dinner, and lunch was GF noodles.

Wednesday was even better, since I forgot to go to the store, so breakfast was all eggs, lunch was more GF noodles, and dinner was instant Thai curry (from a jar that I picked up on sale and had in my pantry).

Thursday was more eggs and leftovers, and dinner was particular inspired – broccoli and rice. = )

Friday was a bit better, though we probably had oatmeal for lunch, and maybe breakfast.  Dinner was GF pizza, home-made, with love, out of some pantry items (pesto and olives).

Saturday was a pancake breakfast and hot dog lunch, as we had some little girls over for the day.  Dinner was (drumroll, please) real Mexican food!  They just opened up a taqueria around the corner from us, so we decided to check it out.  We stuffed ourselves.  It was amazing.

And that was our week in food.  Not very exciting, but still affordable (minus the Mexican).  Next week, we’re starting a diet, so things will be a bit pricier and a bit out of character for me.

Hope it helps!