Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fall Decorations become Winter soup starter

So, what do you do with all those pumpkins you have decorating your house/porch/yard?

I cook mine!  Ok, not all of them.  The large oversized jack o lantern bigger than the dog one that I put my hand through when I went to pick it up (gag ewwwwwwwwwww moment) went into the compost box.

The still in perfect shape but not a sugar pumpkin I put into one of the raised beds to see if it will seed in the spring.

And here is what I did with the sugar pumpkins.  Did I cut up/peel/dice them?  No way.  I poked one hole in each of them after I washed them and threw them into a convection 375 degree oven.   For 90 minutes.   And aren't they pretty?

Just cut the top off and start scooping out the delicious squashiness.  The first pumpkin was perfect, everything came right off the skin.

The second one probably could have gone a bit more, it was a bit watery.  But still good!

All empty!  I was able to freeze 3 gallon bags full!  Nice for spiced pumpkin soup.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Food Prep and a weak moment of resentment

I am thankful that my husband is next to me. I am thankful that we can provide plenty of food for my father (ok, one snarky remark here). I am thankful that I was able to get to the studio today, relieve my co-educators of stress and teach our students who came in. I am thankful that my maternal Grandmother is still here. I am thankful that my sister is still here. I am thankful that I can take my Mother out for a meal tomorrow. I am thankful that my daughter has grown into a beautiful woman. I am thankful that I am still here. I am thankful that I have gotten most of the sides done for our Thanksgiving meal number two (gotta feed Pops!) I am thankful that some of you read this. I am thankful for my friends. Writing this has made me feel more thankful. Amen.

We will be taking my Mother out for dinner tomorrow.  Noon reservations for her, DH, DD and Significant other, and my DS and her husband.  Including me 7 total.   But we still have to take care of Gpa P.  So tonight I have gotten the following prepared:

4 pounds of mushrooms and onions sauteed in butter (extra prepared to be frozen for mushroom soup another day) garlic and a splash of Gravy Master.

Stuffing with sausage, onion, celery, butter (of course!) vegetable broth and bread cubes. 

Pierogies (a throw back to my Italian Great Grandparents who lived in Austria....I grew up hearing a combination of German and Italian)

Potatoes peeled and ready to be boiled for mashed potatoes (for DH)

Turnip peeled and cubes ready to be boiled for mashed turnips (for me!)

Brussel sprouts trimmed and halved, ready to be roasted with garlic, olive oil and bacon.  

Did I mention this is NOT a low fat day?

Vegetable peelings all saved to go into the largest crock pot with the neck to create stock (to be frozen)

We will put the turkey in the oven as we leave to get my Mother.  

Cranberry sauce (whole and jellied) and gravy.  

I also made broccoli rabe and sausage (pre cooked and taken from the freezer) for today's lunch.  

I cooked down two pounds of kale in vegetable stock with garlic.  This was frozen for a future creation of Kale/White Bean/Sausage soup. 

I still have to take the pies out of the freezer, and add some things to the freezer for use on a later day. 

Did I mention the two loads of laundry?

All this as well as billing, studio newsletter, rescheduling other educators students, teaching some of my and some of their students.  I get frustrated with the was truly not bad from the studio south, yet we had a lot of cancellations and no shows.  It was so bad that I suggested one teacher stay home with her kids, no sense her driving in for two students (I actually am the closest to the studio at almost 20 minutes of travel on a dry took 35 minutes not for weather related issues I felt, but holiday is coming issues.) The other educators are at least 30 minutes, some 45 minutes away from home. 

I managed to get a workout in, and some more ribbons cut for some projects.  

I also reminded myself with the openings to today's blog post that I have much to be thankful for.....after having a moment of huge resentment.    I will share it here, and I know it will be considered by some to be petty.  Please know that you don't live in our day to day situation, and things like this happen every day. We provide for 4, sometimes 5 people.  Those that provide seem to never enjoy what we provide.  Sometimes, it just pushes me a bit over the edge. 

We have a family who gifts us their farm raised eggs.  They have given us at least 4 dozen eggs in the last six months.  I have never tasted one.  DH has had one breakfast of them, and I chose to give the two left that time to him as he works hard.  

Gpa Paul ate 8 of the last dozen that I brought home on Friday night.  DD had three (and I do not begrudge her those)  but there is 1 egg left.  And after the weather/studio stress I dealt with I just wanted to cry.  And when I tried to talk to my Dad about it (after DH teased me a bit about being resentful....I stated to him that I was having a resentful moment) he just said but you said they were there, and I didn't eat all of them.  I said to him, but Pops, you seem to forget that there are other people here.  I want you to have some of them, but you always seem to have ALL of them.  I had to get it out, or it would have eaten at me for days.  It won't change this behaviour.  He consumes alot, (and I resent that it doesn't show) He has a problem, he thinks that the food will go bad, and he has to eat it all.  If it's open, he eats it.  We have hidden food, locked up food, marked doesn't matter.  It's part of our daily life.  

When DH and I discussed this, he said to me, then we don't bring so much good food into the house, and you and I will enjoy these good things when we go out. 

Seems extreme to me.  But if that's what we need to start doing, I guess that's what we will do. 

So forgive me my moments of failure, dear reader.  I am just human, and am not always the perfect daughter/wife/mother/teacher I hope to be.    A Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Free Turkey!

So, I did most shopping at Shop Rite these last 6 weeks.  I made sure to only buy on sale/clearance/with coupons.  I spent EXACTLY 400.00.  The only non perishables I bought in those weeks were discounted sausage (all sorts), eggs (never more than .99 a dozen) yogurts (only on sale and with coupons) milk, lemonade (DH special treat), ricotta cheese and select produce (when Broccoli Rabe is .89 cents a pound I stock up!)  All other items were canned/cleaning/paper good.  

Here is the proof that I got my free turkey.  

But we aren't done.  DH wants a fresh turkey for Thursday.  I have figured that with the Big Y coupon it will be cheaper than purchasing a fresh one at BJ's.    I also plan on getting one more frozen turkey for .59 a pound at Stop N Shop. 

Ham Bone Soup

I have been trying to make room in the kitchen freezer for a turkey, so more use it up cooking!  I always keep vegetable peelings in plastic containers for just this project.  I also had a ham bone in the freezer.  Both came out, and went into the crockpot over night.  The peelings contained onion skins, celery ends and carrot tops.
The meat just fell off the bone.  I strained the broth, saving every bit of meat, and added ground pepper, chopped onion, corn, lima beans and two cans of small white beans rinsed.  Here is the final result 6 hours later.  Gpa P said it was a winner!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Zaycon Prep Day

So, this past Friday was Zaycon chicken pick up day.  My friend Margaret H is always the designated pick up person as I'm usually teaching.  I had great guilt over this, so I shared 5 strip steaks from our local grass fed CT raised beef purchase to assuage my guilt (and make room in the freezer, lol)

We had each ordered 40 pounds of chicken at $1.49 a pound (incentive price as we had bought ground beef in August....and we both have loads of that left too).  The price as I have mentioned then skyrocketed to $2.49 a pound (still a good price for hormone/antibiotic free boneless skinless breasts) .  Then a week before delivery the price went back down to $1.89 a pound.  I pounced, buying another case of 40 pounds (we planned on sharing that third case)  Margaret tried to purchase another case herself, but the delivery amount for our location sold out before she could get in on it.

When pickup day arrived, she mentioned to the gentleman loading her truck with our three cases (remember, 120 lbs) that she had tried to order more, and he said today is your lucky day.  And she was texting me that she had gotten TWO MORE CASES and needed to know when my DH would be home to let her into our second fridge.

Since I was teaching, I don't have a picture of our fridge, but here is a picture of hers, with three cases of chicken

My DD took our two cases out and drove to the studio on Saturday, where we transferred them to my vehicle and then we drove to Margaret's Mum's house.  

With Margaret and I trimming and cutting and DD vacuum packing we got 160 pounds of chicken vacuum packed in less than three hours.  Our friend Melanie L came and picked up 20 pounds, and a friend of Margaret's also received 20 pounds.  

Next purchase, I'm taking the day off.  We tried to think about marinating, grilling, other cuts or preparations but we just couldn't fit in more work. 

Yum Yum, Zaycon chicken.  

Here is a picture of Margaret's fridge AFTER the chicken was all packed in the freezer.  

Making use of left overs

Making room by using up leftovers.  Need room for the 80 lbs of Zaycon chicken (another post)

We roasted a chicken this past week, and I also made soup. 

I always prep the vegetables for the soup stock that I create overnight while I'm preparing the roasting chicken.

I froze the left over white meat that I didn't use up in previous meals, which I plan on 
turning into a pot pie!    I had coupons/saving star deals on pie crust, so it was cheaper to buy it then try to make it on my own (not one of my strengths in baking, maybe some day!)  So, left over chicken (already paid for) pie crust (.90 cents after all deals) one jar chicken gravy (.75) frozen vegetables from garden and past deals (free) plus one onion (a nickel maybe?)  A great frugal venture (as long as you get the deals).   Plans change.   Everything except pie crusts went in crock pot today for stew.   

Three dinners out of one chicken.  Not to shabby!

We also had one last ham from our half of a pig that I have written about earlier. 

We had ham, potato salad and broccoli 

Today I made crescent purses with the leftover ham, an onion, dijon mustard, leftover broccoli.  Pulverize it in the food processor.  The crescent rolls were purchased with coupon and savings star deal, so I paid $3.50 for two roll packages.  Not cheap, but a treat.  I have yet to create a pastry product that works well for this one recipe, so it was definitely a special purchase.  8 more lunches created for the cost of those rolls.  .44 cents a meal.  I'm not complaining.