Saturday, February 26, 2011

Week Eight: Eating Down the Pantry

Food eaten:
• leftover lentil soup
• leftover curried veg soup
• beef stew with local grass-fed beef, local veg, home-canned stocks (beef, tomato, and vegetable)
• beef with broccoli with more of the grass-fed beef and rice from last week's stir fry session
• stir-fried veg with shrimp and more rice

I really only cooked three things this whole week for us! We ate everything up with no waste.

I did spend some money on groceries: stock up on milk, sugar, bread, and shrimp and I got lots of remaindered produce: broccoli, tangerines, kiwi, celery as well as some root basics at the farmers market: organic mushrooms, parsnip, carrots, rutabaga, green pepper. Total spent: $25.29.

Now we'll heading into the two week stretch before we go away for nearly a month, so eating down the refrigerator becomes important!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My First Pair of Knitted Socks

This is my first pair of hand-knit socks. I loved the colour way, even though the yarn is acrylic. The right one fits better than the left -- but that's to be expected for a first pair!

I adapted a pattern for toe-up-socks, using the Magic Cast-on by Judy Decker for the toe and a Plain Heel from The Sock Knitter's Workshop by Ewa Jostes and Stephanie van der Linden. I like the Magic Cast-on because I can make a less pointed toe (which fits my squarish toes better!). I like the Plain Heel because it is for a high instep and a wide heel, which I have. It also looks stronger than the more usual short-heels (which fit low insteps fine, but would be tight on me.

The cuff is K2P2 rib, with larger needles in the upper cuff to give a "larger" fit. I still have problems with the cast-off being too tight. But on the next pair I'll be adding a quarter more stitches in the last rib row to give the elasticity I need.

After the socks were done, I spent the time to transcribe the techniques and stitch counts I used into a 3 page pattern for myself -- better than carrying around a book and two print-outs! Now my sock knitting can truly travel.

I'm already on the first cuff of the next pair of socks!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Week Seven: Eating Down the Pantry

Food eaten:
• pulled pork with frozen roast and sauce compounded of preserved odds'n'ends on home-made rolls
• restaurant leftovers extended with pulled pork, shrimp, and lots of veg
• lentil soup (from mix) with tomato stock, stored carrots, dried tomatoes and red peppers
• curried veg soup with squash, broccoli stems, zucchini, tomato stock, garlic sauce, quinoa, dried red peppers

I bought some flax seed and remaindered produce, spending a total of $4.27 for the week!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Week Six: Eating Down the Pantry

Food eaten:
• remainder of adobe chicken in tostados and a soup using a number of home-preserved items: corn, veg and tomato stocks, squash, carrots.
• last of the fall apples and some canned fruit preserves in a fruit crisp
• last of the fall carrots in carrot salad and soups.
• pasta with home-canned sauce, frozen turkey sausage, fresh veg

This week was stock-up on a few items: makings for yogurt, brown rice, alfalfa seeds for sprouting; and I used a half-price voucher at a local butcher for some meat. Total spent: $37.82.
I really expect to spend a lot less next week.

The Kenmore is Dead - Long Live the Whirlpool

Back in January our front-loading washing machine stopped spinning out all the water it should from our laundry loads. Hubby took apart things and found some stuff in drain but its removal didn't improve things.

We finally got a repairman in this week. His verdict: the tub casing was broken (and pieces of it had been showing up in our laundry!) and it would cost $400 - $450 to fix. The Kenmore had more or less begun a course of self-destruction in January. After hearing that the machine was eight to nine years old, he recommended we get a new machine. I asked what kind, he said "Whirlpool."

Hubby looked through the papers and flyers we had and searched on the Internet. A store about twenty minutes away was having a scratch-and-dent sale with no sales tax. We decided to check it out. We remembered the trouble we had getting the Kenmore down into the basement and took measurements of the doorway -- we had 26 inches of clearance if we took the door off at the top of the stairs.

We got to the store and all the machines we saw we 26 1/4 inches or more in their narrowest dimension. We didn't see the scratch-and-dent model on the floor; probably sold out. We told the salesman about our size constraints and he took us into the warehouse where there was a row of scratch-and-dent washers, all Whirlpools! Even better, they measured 24 inches at their narrowest. They were smaller than the machine we had, but we were doing maybe two loads a week. Another astounding thing was that the machine used less than 160 Kw a year, figuring that you are doing eight loads a week!

Needless to say we got the machine. It even fit in the back of our CRV. Back home, hubby finished dismantling the old machine. We'll reuse what parts we can and take the rest to the municipal recycling depot for such things.

Getting it down into the cellar was another issue, but the next morning I called my son at work and he agreed to come by after work to help get it down into the basement. He showed up at 5:30 and had even borrowed a hand-truck with his boss's blessing. We had it down and sitting on its pallet (to keep it off the floor -- high enough that even the flood we had in 2004 didn't touch the first machine) in twenty minutes.

The new machine has maybe two-thirds the capacity of the old one. I'm back to separating darks from lights...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Week Five: Eating Down the Pantry

We thrived so well on this last month that we're continuing it this month!

Food eaten:
• adobe chicken with stored potatoes, adobe sauce to be used up, frozen local chicken
• rest of the chili in quesidillas one night and over rice another night
• beef curry (grass-fed beef, canned tomato-curry sauce, various fresh veg on hand) with flat bread from artisan dough
• fruit bars with preserves, stored flour and oatmeal
• pasta with mixed veg, canned tomato sauce, stored pasta, frozen sausage

Stocking up on coffee accounted for most of the $16.11 we spent this week.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Making Winter Magic Hot Sauce

The snow was like magic as it graced the trees and road banks. It was magic I was able to get out of the driveway without shovelling it. Vroom, front-wheel drive and new tires does it again. I had a bag of ingredients and some jars and I was going to Greg and Mary's to have lunch and make hot sauce. My street, at least, was plowed. They thought theirs was, but it wasn't, but I got to their house all right and parked on a side street.

Homemade soup, homemade bread, homemade fruit crisp, and then we started throwing things in a pot to make winter magic: hot sauce. I had a pint of tropical fruit cocktail (mangoes, pineapple, and lime slices in a ultra-light syrup), Greg cut up a fresh pineapple, Mary and I chopped up a couple of carrots. I had them taste-test a high-heat skinny red pepper and a fat fire-roasted chipolote. One of each went into the sauce. Then a couple of cloves of garlic, two-thirds of a cup of homemade tomato paste, about 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, and a dollop of date syrup. We had to have a little more sour, so a tablespoon or so of white balsamic vinegar went in too.

We let it simmer for a half hour or so, until the carrot coins were soft. The smell that wafted into the kitchen as we lifted the lid to stir was full of warmth. Taste tests affirmed we had the right amount of heat. Then we set it outside to cool enough to whirl in the blender. We figured we had enough for 4 half-pint jars and 1 quarter pint. Actually it turned out we had enough for 5 half-pints and the quarter pint. We added two more tablespoons of the white balsamic vinegar to assure the mixture was acidic enough to preserve with a boiling-water bath. But the taste was not sour at all.

I should have brought my jar lifter, but we were able to improvise with tongs. We pasteurized the jars while the pureed sauce was heating again to a boil. Into the jars and thence into the boiling water bath for 15 minutes. The tongs worked to take the jars out and we listened in delight as the lids all sealed with satisfying pops.

The plow had come while we cooking, but the magic hadn't left: no car in front of me and the CRV just drove through the plow-line and kept going down the snowy street and air full of fluffy snowflakes .