By Julie Norman
Monday, April 27, 2015
I know I blog about food waste often, but let's face it: FOOD is something we all buy. It's something we all use and something we all waste. You know how it is...you have good intentions of using up that kale, but then it just doesn't happen. So here are some things that I did this weekend and 5 tips for avoiding food waste.
This weekend I needed to use up some peanut butter cookies. We'd been eating on them for almost 2 weeks (friends were supposed to come to town but cancelled, so that's how we ended up with excess cookies). What do you do with old cookies? I was determined not to throw them out. Instead, I pulled the ice cream maker out of the cabinet (thank you Cuisinart for awesome little electric ice cream makers!) and mixed up a batch of maple vanilla ice cream. When it was ready I beat up the cookies into bits and stirred them in. It's SO GOOD! The ice cream recipe is included at the bottom of this post.
Also this weekend I found a great way to use up some freezer burned old hot dog buns that I found in the freezer: croutons! I chopped them into pieces, added olive oil and garlic powder, and baked them for 10 minutes at 450. Perfect salad toppings!
Here are 5 other ways you can avoid food waste.
1. Freeze it. I've frozen raw bell pepper, leftover red beans and rice, sauerkraut, all sorts of sauces, ginger root (peel it and then grate it from frozen when you need it). You can freeze lots of things.
2. Take the leftovers for lunch. Leftovers are our lunches 75% of the time. Unless we've had really smelly fish, we create lunches from our leftovers. Sometimes we end up with odd lunches like a bunless brat and a side of strawberries, but we don't end up with wasted food.
3. Repurpose it. If I've got leftover rice from a Mexican night I make an Asian fried rice dish. If I've got extra grilled veggies I might make a frittata or a vegetarian fajita. You can throw all sorts of vegetables into soups and in fact I have one friend whose mom will take bits of leftovers - green beans, okra, corn - and freeze them just to use in soups!
4. Take it to work. If you know you aren't going to finish that cake or those cookies, take them to work. People will eat them, I promise!
5. Keep an eye on what's in your fridge at all times and make a list. Right now I have a list that says, "Things to use next week: bacon, Thai red curry paste (which actually I can freeze), and there's something else on this list..."
Can you, right now, name 5 items in your fridge that need to get used up? Here goes: 2 leftover grilled brats, 1 serving baked beans, some anchovies in olive oil, sauerkraut, and cauliflower. The cauliflower is a dinner side dish tonight.
Here's the ice cream recipe:
3 cups milk
1 cup white sugar or 1/2 cup maple syrup
1-2 tsp vanilla
Whisk until the suger or syrup is combined well with the milk - 3 minutes or so. Then pour into your running ice cream maker. Wait 15 minutes. Enjoy! Oh, stir in cookies if you want!
By Julie Norman
Monday, April 20, 2015
I ran across this post from the Frugal Girl this morning about how to just "be you." I get that guilty feeling sometimes when I think someone else is doing something that I "should" be doing...and then I remember that I'm me. That there are things I like to do that others don't and vice versa. In the end, it's all okay! It's okay that we don't have a compost bin. I use quite a few vegetable scraps to make broth and I find egg shells are great at cleaning and sharpening my garbage disposal blades :) So there; go out and be you and don't be ashamed of what that is.
In other news, in an attempt to use up the last of the butternut squash from last year's garden, I decided to make butternut squash soup last night. I'm not a huge fan of it, so I'm always looking for a new and different recipe to try. Last night's was a Thai Butternut squash soup. I had most of the ingredients (not the garnishes, which would have added a nice touch). I didn't have red curry paste though. So I started Googling for a substitute and ran across a recipe for making your own red curry paste. Since I had almost all of the ingredients for this recipe I decided to go for it. I left out the shrimp paste and the "dark soy" and used some lime juice instead of kaffir limes, but I had all the spices right in my spice rack. I thought the paste turned out great! It could be a little spicier and maybe a little more tomato-y, but it's definitely going to get used quite a bit around here. I can see myself making quite a few more curries because of it. Hello shrimp curry! Hello ooooh, Tuesday was supposed to be stir fry night...maybe now it'll be curry!
So now I've not only not wasted my butternut squash, I've saved myself from wasting the last of some sundried tomatoes (which I used instead of tomato paste in the recipe).
What's your latest way to stop the food waste?
By Julie Norman
Monday, April 13, 2015
For the past two weeks I've been home alone. When you're used to cooking for 2 and having leftovers for lunches, cooking for one is nearly impossible. I did my best to avoid wasting food. I froze lasagna after eating on it for about 3 days. I avoided going out to eat for lunch and instead used lunch time to work on other leftovers as they appeared: frittatas, pizza, etc. Still, in the end I did end up throwing out some rice and some pasta salad. I'd made the salad for a picnic but, even using just half a box of pasta, there was still quite a bit left. After 2 or 3 days the veggies get soggy and it's just not any good any more. So out it went. I tried not to feel too bad about it, but knowing I'd just wasted artichokes and feta made me cringe!
The next time I'm left alone that long (I hope there never is a next time) I'm going to work much harder to avoid cooking large meals. It may mean I'll have to eat sandwiches for lunch, but that will be better than wasting leftovers.
By Julie Norman
Monday, March 30, 2015
Today's quote board quote seems appropo for Penny Pinchers: "The best things in life aren't things." ~ Michael Franti
It's true though, isn't it? We get hung up on material items so often in life that we for get that they're just that: materials. They aren't love, peace, happiness, satisfaction, contentment, harmony, adventure, awe or even inspiration. They're items that make our lives easier, or sometimes way more complicated. I know my life would be simpler without a tablet. It's certainly simpler without cable and without a car payment. Would a nicer car make my life better? No. I use it to get to work and the grocery store and some days I don't even use it for that. It runs, it has low miles and that's really all that matters.
Would I be happier with a bigger house? No. Our house is the perfect size for us. We have a room for visitors and even an extra bathroom. THAT is a luxury in itself!
The best things in life? For me, the best things in life are:
Friends who also bike
Awesome coworkers and a great job
A great home-cooked meal
Good microbrew beer
THOSe are the things that make my life what it is. Not a big house, not a fancy car...I'd much rather save my money on those things so that i can spend it on adventures and experiences!
By Julie Norman
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
There's a great article in the NYTimes today about options for those who wish to ditch cable. You can read it by clicking here. I'm not advocating getting rid of cable; at least, I don't believe that's right for everyone. I DO however believe that you should shop around and find what works best for your family and lifestyle. Maybe it IS a money issue for you and you just can't afford cable. Perhaps as an alternative you could get a strong antennae for network channels, and buy a cheap Hulu Plus subscription. Really it's the same as choosing your newspaper options: digital only? 7-days? Saturday and Sunday only? They're all options and they fit a variety of budgets and lifestyles!
In other news, I have a food waste confession. I had to throw away onions last night. The BF reminded me that onions are inexpensive and that I shouldn't feel that guilty about it, but I do. See, we'd been gone quite a bit lately; we were on a ski trip for four days and then the following weekend were out of town again. Because of that, my bag of onions began growing. I mean, like 4 of the onions had sprouted and probably, had I just put them out in the dirt, I'd have lots of onions later this season! Alas, they were mushy and just before rotten when I threw them out yesterday. I did manage to salvage a few and used one the day before yesterday on a pizza. I used another last night for stir fry, another this morning to season a chicken I'm cooking in the crockpot, and I'm using yet another on Friday for fajitas.
So that's it folks. I wasted food BUT am at least trying to avoid wasting anymore. If you're looking into the cable alternatives from that article here are my thoughts on several of them:
I like Hulu Plus because I have easy access to "Brooklyn 99," "The Daily Show," and the Danish version of "The Bridge." Its two downfalls are that it sometimes freezes and you have to completely restart your streaming device (we use ROKU) and that it doesn't remember what episode of a show you're on. That's up to you.
Netflix we have almost abandoned, though we've considered getting the DVDs again. The best movies are available that way long before they're available for streaming. We do enjoy watching some of the Netflix originals though, so we share a subscription with a friend and watch "House of Cards."
Amazon Prime is probably our favorite of the three. Amazon has done a great job of creating original shows and we're anxiously awaiting new seasons of "Alpha House," "Transparent" and "Mozart in the Jungle." It has many of the same shows as Hulu Plus, but some, like The Daily Show, aren't available as quickly on Amazon as they are on Hulu.