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Friday, November 28, 2014

The next best thing to Thanksgiving: the next day leftovers!

 Here was today's lunch: sliced turkey breast over toasted oat bread, topped with homemade gravy, a side of homemade, whole berry cranberry sauce (which  is now empty!).
 Knowing that I was planning on few leftovers, I picked up some sale deals for anticipated side needs and/or quick to the table dinners. Aldi's stuffing mix (wasn't all that thrilled with it, BTW, perhaps I'll like the chicken flavored one or was it "herb"?)
 Frozen sweet potatoes were a BOGO plus I had $1 off cpn. The kids liked these alot. Pricey, but it's a whole food product, so reasonably healthy (if you didn't put the brown sugar and butter on top)
 Here's one diner plate. I mixed the 1/2 cup of remaining creamed onions with a 1/2 bag of fzn peas, added a drained can of mushrooms (Aldi's from France), some black pepper, a pat of butter. Done.
Besides a 2 cup container of sliced turkey breast for possible sandwiches and the 2 cups of "scrap" meat for soup, the above gravy, a jar of cranberry-orange relish and the almost cup of turkey gravy above, the leftovers are pretty much gone. Pies remain, but shouldn't last the weekend. : )  The peas, scrap meat, and gravy will come together in tomorrow's soup.

What's old is new again, and keeping warm in Winter

This is an energy efficient home, in stark contrast to where we spent the last two years. The LL here has installed new, energy efficient, replacement windows such as these in the dining room:

 which were dressed in pretty valence curtains that the LL had made: large augergine purple flowers on a silver grey background, with olive green stems. Very pretty. Of late, however, especially after the sun sets, we are finding the dining room windows (as well as the large kitchen bay window) to be cold. Time to do something about that.

I went up to the attic (walk up stairs) and dug out my 3 sets of Waverly, green/blue/orange/white floral lined drapes. I bought these YEARS ago at a local thrift shop, spending $5/pair. I used the black rings with clips that I had used at the former rental, to hang these same drapes in the dining room there.

Once the sun sets, I can close these, to keep us more comfortable. I am already doing the same with the drapes across the large window in the living room.

The walls to the dining room are a silver gray above the chair rail, deep olive below. I have a cream and tan swirl rug beneath the dining table. I have to use what I already have and these seem to match just fine.

Passive frugality

 I think I first heard the term passive frugality from Amy Dacyczyn of The Tightwad Gazette.  The concept is an interesting one. Case in point: pictured above is the stainless steel colandar that was a bridal shower gift to me back in 1987. I have used it constantly. A month or so ago, I noticed that the metal "ring" that it sits in, was unattached/unsoddered on one side. I just kept using it. It eventually came off completely, and I recycled the ring.
 If you look carefully, tiy can see the small soddering areas. I am not running out to replace this item. It still works for me, although it no longer is able to sit up from the bottom of the sink. I gave it a good scrub with a Dollar tree brillo pad once the ring fell off (interesting accumulation of gunk underneath, kind of reminded me of baked on grease on a baking dish). and I think it's as good as new. Now, should one of the handles fall off, at that point, given the issues that I have with my hands, I may replace it. For now, we trudge on. I also have a thrift shop acquired, long handled, medium sized, plastic strainer from Tupperware that I use quite often as well, depending upon my task.
 Another passive move is to make do with what i already have. I really needed a side board for Thanksgiving. We only had the dining table and 6 chairs, the extra chair and a wooden secretaire that folds up (top drawer lifts up to reveal the desk inside with pidgeon holes and slide out desk top-made by my maternal grandfather), which I use for storing linens. A basket for bread and a basket for fresh fruit have been stored on top. While I have been keeping an eye out on the second hand market, nothing in my price range, in good conditon, has crossed my path. I keep waiting. Meanwhile, we have been discussing Christmas, where we'll put the tree (getting a free tree as DS will be working a side job at a Christmas tree farm). There was the source of my inspiration. As we would be placing the tree in the living room, I knew I had to move some furnishings around. I took the white, harvest table (was originally my Dad's, found in an old tenemant building that he had his first appartment in. I took it when I moved out of my parent's home, had it stipped and painted white. While it could use a new paint job, it's now "shabby chic" and still works for me) and having moved the aforementioned secretaire to the other side of the dining room, I placed the harvest table where the secretaire originally was.
 Here is a view of the wall where the table now is. It is providing me the flat surface, serving space I need, at no cost.

The seating area that faces the long couch was moved closer together (the harvest table was under the wall clock), and I moved the brass filigree based lamp that was on that table to the secretaire in the dining room. The dumb waiter table was moved from the corner, next to the love seat and now is the table between the recliner and Queen Anne chair.

Here's the corner where we will place the Christmas tree, and we'll move the loveseat over to the right, as needed. You can peer into the dining room and see the secretaire now to the right as you enter from the living room.

These changes will do nicely. : )

Making the best of a good thing

 We ended up having out Thanksgiving dinner more mid than early afternoon yesterday, due to DS's work schedule. Afterwards, I sliced up the breast meat, and stored that in the fridge for sandwiches and tonight's dinner: a mini Thanksgiving, round 2. 14 cups of meat was taken off of the carcass and frozen for future meals. All of the bones, skin and pan dripppings were placed in my largest Crockpot, a 7 quart model. It was soon evident that I needed a second one! I had roasted an almost 21 lb bird.
 Initially, I grabbed my "normal" sized one(4 quarts?) but that was too small, so I turned to this second, large sized one, and was able to just make it in. Water was added a bit so as to make a rich bone stock. These simmered overnight.
 I planned carefully this year, and besides the aforementioned turkey meat, we have few leftovers: a 2 cup container of mashed potatoes, another same sized of green bean casserole, a 1 cup container of sweet potatoe casserole, 1/2 of a cup of creamed onions, a cup of gravy, a 3 (?) cup casserole of sausage stuffing.

This morning, I strained the broth, ending up with 7 1/2 quarts of rich stock. Most will be frozen, some used as soup for tomorrow, possibly for more gravy tonight. I also have cranberry relish, pies leftover. The leftover Crescent rolls were topped with jam and eaten by one kidlet for bfst today, I had some cranberry muffins, with more still remaining.
I am always amazed at how much meat remains on the carcass after I debone it, thinking that I have gotten every morsel. Once the bones are strained and cool enough to handle, I pick thru them once more to get every last scrap. I ended up with an additonal, 2 cups of meat, which I will add to tomorrow's soup pot.


Up early as usual, I made a batch of cranberry muffins for Thanksgiving morning. I used my usual cranberry orange tea loaf recipe from Ocean spray, but baked these as muffins to reduce cooking time, and to get them out of the oven so as to allow me to get the turkey in! OJ, coffee/cocoa, yogurt, fruit were offered as well.

I started my actual dinner prep with making the stuffing, which was split 50-50 cooking in the turkey with the rest baked off in a covered, casserole dish.

Homemade bread and butter pickles, homemade dilly beans, homemade whole berry cranberry sauce, my great grandmother's pork sausage stuffing, sliced turkey, homemade gravy

 green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, creamed onions

swet potatoe casserole, cranberry-tangerine juice to start (good stuff!), butterflake Crescent rolls. Also not pictured: homemade bread and butter pickles.

Naturally, the turkey starred in the meal, which we barely made a dent in this turkey, but I have plans for this.

I also had a homemde, apple pie (topped with vanilla ice cream) as a dessert. See other post, squash pies with whipped cream were the other dessert option.

Thanksgiving prep

Wednesday found me slowly driving home through a slippery, slushy mess. I was most worried about going down our driveway as it dips down to the parking area infront of the garage. Since there was packed snow, this gave me better traction, and I was relieved to have made it home safely. My own children's school was called off the night before (Tues) due to the forecasted conditions. DD went to work early at 10 a.m. only to close the shop and return home just after 12. Took her 15 minutes for a 5 minutes drive. Next, DS was to get off work at 3, he made it home, the roads were worse. Based on those conditions, GF called out on work, as she works in the same plaza as DS, and the same bad roads would have had to been taken to get back there, bringing her to work. She was due in for 4 p.m. When she called, she learned that many were calling out at well. Just glad that everyone was home safe.

As is my routine, I made the pumpkin pies the night before Thanksgiving, this year turning to some canned Butternut squash that has been lurking in the pantry. More traditonal in New England anyways. Just glad to get 2 more cans off the shelves.

As the oven was on, I went ahead and also prebaked the sweet potatoes, for a sweet potato casserole the next day (Thanksgiving)>
 Meanwhile, I got 2 ABMs going and made 2 batches of pizza dough. My tradition is to send a kidlet to grab some take out, but with the roads being so bad, that was out of the question. I had yet to shred the Deli cheese ends that I picked up the weekend before, and I had some lurkers in the fridge that had to go, so hommeade pizza for 6 it was. I determined that I'd made 2 this time, since they had meat on them. Pizza number one: Pepperoni, "meatball" aka that last slice of meatloaf cubed up, onion.
Pizza number 2: Pepperoni, onion, mushroom, and Italian sausage (using only one link).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

An affordable Thanksgiving


Yesterday found me wrapping up my shopping for Thanksgiving, which we will have here at home, just the family of 6, ages 16 and up so almost 6 adults, as far as appetites are concerned. I played the game of grocery store roulette and bought what I wanted at the cheapest prices:

Turkey: I took advantage of a price match and now have one 39 cent/lb turkey in the freezer for another time. Joining it,is a 59 cent/lb turkey. I am splurging on an organic, pasture raised, local, heritage breed turkey, that I am able to access through my organic CSA, I will pick that up tomorrow. It's pricey, even with my CSA member discount, at $7/lb. From the turkey, naturally we have our meat portions, but I will also make my own gravy, using butter, all purpose flour, salt, pepper, Bell's seasoning (just bought my one a year box @ $1.99). The caracass will be picked clean, sliced meat reserved for sandwiches and some frozen. Cubed meat will be fzn also for a stew/pot pie/tettrazzini and scraps will be diced and frozen for tacos/chilli/enchilladas. The bone stock will be defatted, frozen in quart containers for future soups, stews, gravies. I still would like to pick up 2 more birds by Christmas, to help get us thru the Winter months. By cooking one turkey/turkey breast a  month, we can have affordable meat protein at the table. Meat prices are shooting through the roof!

Mashed potatoes: no need to buy any as we've amassed about 10 lbs recently from the CSA. Milk, butter, salt/pepper and onion powder already on hand.

Sweet potatoes: 3 lb bag @ 99 cents from Aldi's (other shops: 59/79/$1 a lb) I will turn these into sweet potatoe casserole using butter, brown sugar cinnamon, marshmallows ($1/bag)

green bean casserole: lots of deals recently on canned veggies, so I will grab 2 cans off of the pantry shelves knowing that I paid approx 40 cents/can. Cream mushroom soup on hand (50 cents), milk, pepper, soy sauce, french fried onions ($1.99 large tub)

relish tray: home made bread and butter pickles, homemade dilly beans, canned black olives ($1), homemade pickled green tomatoes

Cheese/crackers: box of Ritz ($1.88), tub of Alouette garlic and herb soft cheese $3 (bogo)

sausage stuffing: Jimmy Dean roll pork sage sausage ($3.50), seasoned bread cubes (Aldis-forget the price, but cheap), onion/celery on hand, along with butter, turkey stock from pan, mushrooms ($1.19 large tub)

Crescent rolls (a request): 2 tubes @ $1.27 each after sale plus cpns

White wine (under $10)

Creamed onions: fzn box of Birds Eye onions in cream sauace ($1), add some black pepper, done

Cranberry sauce: homemade and canned-less than $1/jar

Cran-orange relish: navel orange (paid $4/approx 8 oranges), bag of fresh cranberries ($1 Aldi's vs $2.50 at S & S), sugar on hand

Dessert:pumpkin pies will be homemade BUT, I will use Pillsbury pie crusts ($1.50 ea after sale plus cpn), baked pumpkin puree (from CSA), sugar, spices, eggs (Dollar Tree 8 count/$1) and evaporated milk (89 cents). I have a pint of whipping cream ($3? at Price Rite) as well as a tub of vanilla bean ice cream ($1.99) to top a final pie: apple, which I will make again turning to the Pillsbury pie crusts, apples already on hand (paid less than $1/lb) sugar, tapioca, spices, butter.

Tea/coffee always available but I also grabbed a bottle of Cranberry juice for a starter ($1.88)

I cook for a 12 noon serving time, then clean up the kitchen, get the carcass squared away, the bone stock in the CrockPot, and then I can relax. Y.O.Y.O. for supper-grab a plate and heat it up or make a sandwich. Planned overs will get incorporated in the days immediately following, to be sure.