Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Garden update with snow outside

Marigolds on the far left, phlox, I believe, on the far right...tomatoes in the middle. The seed packets will be planted directly outdoors. We had a sudden storm last night which is not unusual in the spring here, and although we are all eager for sunshine, we do need the moisture. I'm chasing away the winter blahs with some old K.C. and the Sunshine Band. You know a person is desperate for some sort of cheer when they're pulling out 1970s disco!

Crepes, by accident!

People ask me often how we can possibly have a grocery budget of between $20 and $30 a week for the two of us. I have a few tricks I've learned that I will explain more fully in later posts, but probably one of my main ones is that I always focus on using what I have. I have freezer cooking days once a week, where I survey what is currently in my fridge and freezer and see how I can 'transform' leftovers. This time, I had a loaf of bread that did not rise correctly in the bread machine--I still don't know what happened, because the next loaf came out fine--and so I decided to use the flop for French toast. Which turned out not too badly, I must say.  After frying up the French toast, I realized that I still had a considerable amount of egg batter left, and really didn't want to just pour it down the sink. So...I went to my trusty computer and discovered that if I just added a bit more flour to it, to make it a runny form of pancake batter...that it would make crepes. These came out so perfectly, I had a giddy Julia Child moment!!  Whether I can do it that's the test.

Oh, and by the way, this is one of my Grandma Ellen's tablecloths. I figure it's about 50 - 70 years old. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sweetpeas and China Birds

Dang, this was fun. I am working on trompe l'oeil, a French form of painting meaning to 'fool the eye'. This kind of painting focuses on creating artificial still-lifes and scenes that could be plausible on a wall or other surface. This one will go into my kitchen and near my kitchen sink, where I have always wanted knick-knack shelves.

(Image: "SweetPeas and Yellow Birds" Acrylic on Canvas, Cory Jaeger-Kenat, 2015)

Beginnings of a box garden

Itsy bitsy basil sprouts...
The birth of flowers and vegetables...tomato sprouts, marigolds and phlox. I really get a sense of the power of God, when a tiny seed comes to life. After all, I could put a seed into the best soil, do everything right when it comes to watering, light, temperature...but when it comes down to it, something divine and beyond my power happens when a bright green sprout pops its head into the world. I can't wait until these boxes are showing far less dirt and far more color, keeping my fingers crossed.

Everything but the gobble

This was last week's freezer cooking session. I try to use everything I possibly can when I cook. It was high time to use the turkey bones from last Thanksgiving, which had kind of been forgotten about at the bottom of the freezer...oops!
Here is the delicious stock I made from nothing but those bones and some water. (It almost looks like soup already!)  I filled the stock pot up until the bones were nearly submerged, and then just let it simmer for a couple of hours. The amount of water really depends on how rich you want your stock and how much you want to make.No hard and fast rules here...just let the poultry carcass boil for awhile, until you start to see some colorful, flavorful liquid. The longer, the better.  It's amazing how much can be gotten from just a few bones!  The only drawback is that your house will smell so delicious, you might be like me and crave mashed potatoes and chicken gravy for the rest of the afternoon.
And voila, my stocks are ready for the freezer once more. I will use this stock to make gravies, and also as the base for homemade 'condensed' soups (such as cream of mushroom, cream of chicken (of course!) and even cream of celery. It will also make a great chicken soup base either with noodles or rice.  Stock adds a real restaurant-level quality of flavor to seasoned rice side dishes. 
Two things I've learned in just the last few years of my radical frugality:  1.) it's amazing how much just one bird will yield for food...and 2.) how rich and 'gourmet-like' poultry dishes taste when you use genuine stock. Having stock in my kitchen makes me feel like a genuine chef! 
Oh, and one more thing, I don't worry about the fat in the rises to the top of the containers, hardens and is easily removed when the stock is used.