Showing posts with label frugal eating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frugal eating. Show all posts

15 July 2014

Making Chicken Stock

At least 10 times a year, I roast a chicken, usually on Sundays. Chicken was the dish of choice nearly every Sunday at Grandma Annie's house in Frenchtown, and I associate the aroma with the sensation of putting on my play clothes after church.

I also buy four-packs of chicken breasts still on the bone, and can get at least 6 servings from them, making chicken salads or casseroles for the first few meals of the week.

Always I save the carcasses and the bones for making chicken stock, usually adding onions, a carrot, celery some garlic, parsley and herbs de Provence. In doing so, I feel rather virtuous because I am making such complete use of the chicken.

I freeze the broth for cold-weather soup making. Store-bought stocks are no match for it: It is rich and full-bodied and savory. Usually I chill it first and skim the congealed fat off the top before freezing, but sometimes I skip this step.

Chicken stock has many uses, in addition to soups like this and this:
  • It adds flavor to rice, pasta, quinoa and couscous.
  • It can make frozen vegetables taste almost fresh.
  • It provides a sauce base for many French dishes.
  • It really enhances the flavor of mashed potatoes.
  • It is essential for making gravy.
  • It can be used to add richness to a cream cheese and onion potato chip dip or cracker spread.

Here are links to other ideas for using chicken stock:

This blogger calls it liquid gold and I agree. And this one calls it free food.

Here are a few more ideas.

If you are tossing out your chicken bones and carcasses instead of making stock, you're missing a gold mine of flavor!

23 June 2014

Meatless Monday: Cucumber Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Cheese

Cucumber Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Cheese

I read "Gone with the Wind" when I was 11 years old, renaming my recently-cast-off Barbie doll Scarlett, and constructing elaborate dresses using embroidery hoops in the skirts. I read and reread the book all that year, and once forced myself into sleep by mentally naming all the characters, major and minor.

A bookish, somewhat solitary child, I memorized entire passages, and lived the book as much as a young girl can in the second half of the 20th century. I recall asking my father (who read everything) to name his favorite part of the book, and I recall his reply verbatim, "When they were grubbing for food at Tara - that was my favorite."

Ever my father's daughter, I have to admit: I love that part of the book, too. I love being forced to do a lot with a little. I am always up for a challenge.

These days I grub for food in my own larder, and I am rarely disappointed in the outcome of my food pairings.

21 June 2014

Herbed Mashed Potatoes with Boursin

Herbed Mashed Potatoes with Boursin
It feels strange not to be planning a trip this year.

Instead of traveling, we are sticking close to home and working on our own turf. We have a 118-year-old carriage barn that needs some major attention. It's not a big barn - about the size of a garage - and it's rather charming, but it's old. I'd like to build a greenhouse on the back of it, but that might have to wait for another year. We'll see.

We're also involved in some inexpensive but time-consuming projects around the kitchen and other parts of the house. We're about a quarter through our to-do list: The book room is done, the new shower head is installed upstairs and the powder room has a new faucet. But when you have a house, especially a old house, the work is never done.

Traveling has made me extremely frugal around the house, especially in the kitchen. I keep thinking of the conversation I heard on Boulevard St. Michel two years ago. Two American women were talking about another family, when one said, "They live simply so they can travel more often."

That's become my credo. So when I splurged on but did not finish a small package of Boursin, and then noticed I had some redskin potatoes to use up, I tried something new. New for us, that is.

07 March 2014

Fast and Frugal: Sweet Onion Soup

Sweet Onion Soup with White Cipollini Onions

I have a bad case of cabin fever.

As I write this, our weather is going from rain to snow, from 38 degrees to below freezing, and a thin, gritty coat of ice is starting to cover roads and cars. I've got a nagging sinus infection and the weather isn't helping it.

Fortunately, I've got a carton of frozen onion soup, made three months ago and stashed in the freezer so that it would be there to comfort me when I needed it.

I need it now.

07 September 2012

Frugal French Friday: Asparagus-Leek Soup

September is Clean Out the Fridge Month at our house. Now that retirement is so close we can taste it, a thorough cleaning of the refrigerator is also in the offing.

(What does impending retirement taste like? Sweet, slightly intoxicating. Like generous quantities of my favorite Riesling.)

Becoming more frugal is essential. I may be retiring, but I'm still young enough that I won't be receiving Social Security checks. With that in mind, I've made sure to save scraps from every meal I've made this summer. I see a long season of soups and casseroles ahead.

Since that's the kind of food I crave as soon as temperatures drop, I'm looking forward to a delicious fall.

I froze the leftover leeks from this tart, and I had some asparagus frozen earlier in the season. It didn't take much work to find this recipe, which I cut in half.

As you can see, I served the soup with shaved Parmesan cheese. I have some rosemary crackers that provided the perfect accompaniment, along with some apple slices.

The leeks were locally grown (Immerfrost Farm), but everything else was store bought.

Cost: The only ingredient I had to buy was sour cream, which brought my total cost to $6. I don't serve large bowls of soup, so I got six servings from this recipe for a total of only $1 per serving.

Wine Pairing: A French Chablis or an American chardonnay is the recommended pairing.

21 August 2007

Cooking in Paris: Warm Pepper Salad

You eat well in Paris on 200 euros day. Very well. Breakfast will be your cheapest meal, followed by a good lunch and dinner. You can probably work in a snack, too.

But I didn't have that kind of money to spend. We were trying to keep our trip under $5000. By planning ahead and buying food items that complemented one another, my husband and I ate well on less than 20 euros a day. It helped that we rented an apartment with a small - aren't they all?  - kitchen.

I improvised as well, as I do at home, pairing ingredients in new ways. One day after a morning of traipsing around the 13th arrondissement and taking buses across the south side of the city, I had peppers, onions and sausage on hand plus half a baguette.

I cut the sausage into bite size pieces. I sautéed it and the peppers and onions in minced garlic and olive oil, and topped them with a sauce of aoili and mayonnaise blended flavored with Provencal sauce from a jar. I buttered the bread and browned it in the skillet. The meal was served with a very reasonable rosé table wine from Provence.

The meal and a short power nap fortified us for another round of discoveries in the afternoon.

Improvised meals remain my favorites.