Tag Archives | food

everyday’s a tea party.

When I started hiking further afield around the state, it was a challenge to bring along not just snacks and lunch but have a way to brew up a hot drink.   It all goes to keeping costs down. This little kit is something I have been working on for the last few months, it is something I will probably be tweaking and improving on, but with a few recent purchases it’s complete for the most part.

I was inspired by the Edwardian motoring picnic kits, many of which had a little alcohol stove matched with their kettle.  It is limited to making tea\coffee and toast, with a few packets of biscuits\cookies tucked into it. I have a completely different case with a few other things for car camping\cooking and another small picnic hamper for foodstuffs.  This case is designed to sit in the car all the time just waiting for me to find a nice scenic view when I can open the hatchback and have a nice brew up. With the addition of a few slices of bread and cheese, you can do a pretty decent toasted sandwich. I am probably going to replace one of the smaller cups with a larger one for instant soups.

Samsonite Traincase contents:

Vintage enamel tea kettle – (upgrade from an aluminum camping kettle)
two Enamel cups & two 7″ vintage luncheon plates
Lidded Tin containing various teas
(still looking for a container for sugar)

Grid-It organizer holding
Spoon & fork
new folding stainless picnic knife (delightful find on ebay)
Swiss Army Knife
Salt & pepper (using tiny glitter shakers)
Mini stove lighter
Cutting Board

Coghlan’s Folding Stove (stored in tyvek mailing envelope)
Alocs Outdoor Camping Stove (Alocs has the best simmer ring adjustment)
GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Toaster

Sadly I don’t have a picture of it in use from this year, but I will have plenty next year.

(yes there is a tiny lantern for ambience, but it may get squeezed out by more cookies)

chicken heart

I started thanksgiving a little early…after selling so much this week and paying the phone, internet and car insurance…a WIDDLE bit towards the truck repair…(i still owe $400…but i have a few more dvds to sell. )  I had my heart set on roasting a chicken.  Most chickens are around $5-$6, so i can splurge a little and get a few meals out of it….

Needless to say the Holiday season has changed the available poultry scene at the store, they are all large and fat and injected with water and hormones and so forth..so i get the smallest cheapest one i can find… I am limited to what my Countertop Oven can hold anyway.   Upon dissecting the chicken ..the giblets bag contained…a green heart..not a blackish rotten color but a bright green chlorophyll color – yes i know that the giblets don’t come from the chicken at hand..but i just couldn’t cook that chicken – i actually considered photographing it, but i didn’t want to have that image in my computer and stumble upon it years later and say…oh yeah….hearts can be green…ick.….and it all got exchanged for a chicken the same size with surprisingly NO heart at all in the giblets bag..no liver either just a neck…go figure… regardless this $6 roasting chicken is fatter than the normal chicken available and wouldn’t fit in the pan nevermind the oven. So it was cooked in shifts…the leg quarters  then the breasts…i already cut off the back and wings for the freezer/stock ingredients.

In the end I got my chicken fix…and annoyed my roommates who are NOT getting any of my bird.

I usually don’t go anywhere for holidays..i try to join friends who have open houses feeding all the lost souls..and I may indulge in that if i have the gas money this week.   But I DO like the cooking part.  In previous years i have cooked all my favorite dishes..the ingredients ARE on sale after all…and then stowed them in the fridge so i get the Leftovers, which is one of the great by products of holiday.

One of the uncluttering chores i have been doing is sifting through old computer files..including recipes..most of them are 10 years old or older…including the Brown Rice and Spinach stuffing recipe… i may have to make that soon.

scratchy food

more broke foods tales

I am one of the few americans who finds mac and cheese unappetizing..the yellow mac and cheese in a box even makes me ill looking at it in the grocery store..somehow it brings to mind some bad childhood memory. probably something i ate or refused to eat in a school cafeteria once…or many more onces… as broke food goes you can’t really knock it..it will keep you alive i guess…but would life be worth living?

In college I remember it sold 4 for a dollar..now it’s probably more than that..yet still overpriced. It’s pasta with a packet of salty dried dairy powder….of course I will eat the BETTER and more expensive kind..the 2.99 a box organic, Parmesan or white cheddar type..the kind without ALL the heaps of salt. So, i am attempting to recreate IT for a reasonable price.


I found a cheap grated cheesey blend for half the price of all the green boxes. I am actually looking for the qualities of the cheap cheese – finer grain, more bland, less tang, so that i can control the taste and saltiness. I also want it to be frugal enough to use it to make the cheese sauce.. I can make a cheese sauce from a cooked white sauce base, but i’m looking for quick, just like the box type.

starting with 1.5 cups of small shells just like in the box, I intend to add milk and a smidgen of butter just like on the box. To make my instance sauce I started with 3+ tablespoons of grated cheese, 1 tsp of basil, 1 of parsley and hoping to encourage a nice smooth sauce I added a tsp of corn starch.

As I discovered I think i could have left out the corn starch as the cheese and added more milk, the starch on the shells was plenty. I should sit down and hammer out the math..but i don’t want to.




Still eating the canned meats from the dollar store. Today’s dinner was the Van Camps Kippers, normally I eat the Brunswick brand…but the Dollar store has the Van Camps for half the price and the can says it’s a smidgen more product.  The van camps expire in 2014 and the Brunswick in 2015 go figure.

And surprise surprise..a canned kipper is a canned kipper. I am going back to grab more of those little fishies.  By the way that cooked Pink Good mashed up with some relish on crackers was shockingly good.

Pink goo to go

I have been tending my new stockpile like a young tomato plant.

Getting intimate with the dollar store before i hit the grocery store. Basicalli i try to stick with just foods i would eat anyway not stuff i would only eat if i was in dire trouble. But since i was there anyway…. I am going to try some experiments with the brands of canned goods they have.


enjoy every sandwich

Just a thought….i seem to running an experiment in how many types of ham and cheese sandwiches one can make… ham and cheese, toasted bread with dijon mustard; ham, cheese, plain bread, mayo, lettuce optional depending on availability; ham, cheese, grilled with as schmear of butter; Monte Cristo (pictured) which is your fried ham and cheese sandwich dredged in an egg batter, (think french toast) … Croque Monsieur which i highly recommend..basically a ham and cheese (with dijon) covered with a Gruyere based béchamel sauce and shoved under a broiler; Croque Madame, the Croque Monsieur with a fried egg on top..I cheat and stick it inside, which makes it a grilled ham and cheese with egg..so what?

I haven’t run out yet as there are a lot more Croques to try
croque provençal (with tomato)
croque auvergnat (with bleu d’Auvergne cheese)
croque gagnet (with Gouda cheese and andouille sausage)
croque norvégien (with smoked salmon instead of ham)
croque tartiflette (with sliced potatoes and Reblochon cheese)
croque bolognese / croque Boum-Boum (with Bolognese sauce)
croque señor (with tomato salsa)
croque Hawaiian (with a slice of pineapple)

Other variations whether cold or hot I can slide in tomato (not my favorite), avocado, bacon, turkey, pickle ….by the way if you haven’t tried a CHEESE and PICKLE sandwich you haven’t lived.
MUST be cheddar cheese..and my trick is to put the Ploughman’s Pickle through a blender and knock out all the serious lumps..it will only end up falling out anyway.

fry up

Still experimenting with these… there’s a mention in the book i am transcribing about a fried pie, basically a cranberry turnover “like his mother used to make”….and he would steal from the buttery. I am determined to master them.  The first batch I had the oil too high and the store bought pastry that i am using, browned on the outside and did not cooked through. This second batch were completely browned, crispy and edible, but a little greasy indicating the oil was a smidgen too low.  Never one for deep frying, all I know is what I read in the books, the heat, should  brown, but not saturate. Don’t say “use a thermometer”…they didn’t have one in 1865, i’m already using ready made pastry…which damn it all, i should use more often..now that I am impoverished again, it would be handy to have in the freezer..i wonder what one would taste like stuffed with Nutella?

ball of dough

I was feeling especially frugal last night…especially since i see the bottom of the bank account now….it still has a few spit covered coins laying on it from where i kicked over the spittoon…but the end is coming…anyway..i threw two cups of flour in a bowl with a tablespoon of sugar, a tsp of salt and a tsp of yeast…actually i didn’t measure anything, i just used my hand and a glass to pour in some water – i stirred it with a table knife and then covered it. the longer you set it sit and bubble the less you need to knead it..the yeast makes more gas and the glutens become silky.. this morning i grabbed a handful and made four tiny little fried dough balls/donuts..i still had some honey that hadn’t hardened.. just now ..which could be considered lunch by my internal clock..i took half the rest and made a single serving

pizza..which came out better than i expected…i used to make my own pizza’s all the time..but i slacked off when i discovered Vinny’s my favorite pizza ever..(they had that conveyor belt oven) but he has since retired and if i want cheese on bread i need to make my own..the probably with counter top cooking..and even most ovens is that they don’t run steady at 515 degrees like a pizza place…so i tend to make the pizza disc and then precook for a few minutes before i out the toppings on…this keeps it from getting too soggy…if you don’t precook the bottom ..it gets soggy while the top burns and the middle never cooks…it’s a puzzlement…but today it was indeed cooked through without precooking…still a bit doughy…but cooked…i still have enough dough left for another pizza…but i am going to make some sandwich rolls…i used to make THOSE all the time when i was married..i lost that recipe..it was a nice herb infused hamburger roll…this will a bit of an experiment in texture..i cut the silky sticky dough into bits and i’m letting them rise in muffin tins to get the shape. then i will flip it over onto a cookie sheet and bake them molded. We will see how they hold up. The next batch may be much more dense and less risen to get that dense sandwich texure.

if i were to do the math..the small pizza probably will come out less than a dollar…but it tasted way better than any of the frozen kind.

when its ajar

I got my last check from one of my many jobs. I’m gonna miss that job…with that money i got to live like a person for a while. Now i am back to crackers and cheese dinners etc… So what does one do with their last check? Mind you it was also 7 days overdue, so in that time i had to empty what i did have to satisfy a couple of bills…i robbed an animal rescue donation can to get the internet turned back on..and took a well time check from a wholesale customer and paid off the car insurance which had lapsed due to the missing paycheck. So i am starting from ground zero…actually no…i’m 3 garage floors and a subway station BENEATH ground zero..but still…my default settings kicked in. I toured the grocery store like a pro..buying the heaviest longest lasting items in my regular shopping list…no bacon..aside from those terrible torture porn pig farm videos..alas there just isn’t enough meat for the money in bacon.

In the end I walked out with cereal, crackers, cheese and some sandwich fixings. I also got mozzerella and sauce to start making my own pizzas…among the things i lost last week…my absolute favorite pizza place closed up shop…they guy retired though the place is up for lease….i drove around town considering the other pizza options open to me…and within a 10 minute drive there isn’t anything i consider worth all the trouble. I can’t afford it anyway….so it looks like i will saving a ton of money and probably losing weight as well.

Don’t write in with all the obligatory cheap food ideas…i could write a book on it ..and i just might…the draw back to eating like the people living on communes in 1974…lentils and brown rice faction…is that i don’t like lentils and brown rice…i can make all the lentils and brown rice recipes in the world and it still wasting food because it will sit in the back of the fridge and turn blue. The REAL secret to eating poor…that no one wants to admit..because we all want to PRETEND we will eat healthier that we do…is to buy food that gives good investment on your money that you WILL EAT and not waste when you open the fridge and say ‘there’s nothing here i want to eat’ and then go out and buy something else. Hence the imported ham on my sandwiches, Life cereal, name brand stone wheat crackers – eat good food but eat less of it. I found i can rationalize buy the KATE’S homemade butter from maine at $3.60 pound because I use very little butter in my cooking but when i want butter…i want something that tastes good and doesn’t have a large percentage of water. It has taken decades of living on no money to find the grey zone between being frugal and being suicidal.

I was double thinking my investing in more plastic jars…i thought they were a good idea, then i didn’t and wondered why i bought them all, then i filled them up with food and remembered WHY i thought they were a good idea. A i can see how much food i have at a glance, B, it is insect, rodent and moisture proof…sometimes it takes me a while to finish things..and C, i can fit more in the cupboard. with the original packaging things are always askew and things don’t stack right ..these plug in nicely like food tetris. So, i will be picking one every time i go to you know where.

It was my fault anyway for becoming to dependent on money from a single source. i’m putting a lot of effort into the local history reprints…i think it should get me through the summer and then i will think of something else..i always do.

Savvy shopping

or how do i love my smart phone let me count the ways

I have been fussing back and forth with a couple of IPhone apps looking for the ‘perfect’ one to use for my grocery lists…but until I learn how to write my own App there is no PERFECT grocery list app. There are some that let you enter your data by hand, there are some that let you scan it in and do both…you can save your data, but most don’t do comparison shopping..i’d like one that lets you scan, enter, save and export data, as well as track what you have in your cart and calculate your bill..but alas that presently takes 3 apps.

Today I settled on one Shop Savvy, That’s the things they don’t warn you about app addiction there are so many that do the same things, or similar things, that it can get hard to decide – but that’s what you HAVE to do: pick one and stick to it; otherwise you get caught up in mental infinite loop.

ShopSavvy does this cool thing where you can scan the barcode and it will compare online prices to LOCAL real world prices. That’s worth the price of admission. You can save barcoded products to your own lists, and even export them via csv file. This morning I FINALLY figure out how to use it as a dynamic shopping list. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before. But all items are in separate lists..vegan, cleaning supplies, groceries etc.. (I even have some barcoded items that represent produce i will buy that obviously won’t have codes) items can also be on more than one list..SOme of them i have on lists representing different stores..Walmart, Home Depot etc… SO I created another BLANK list called Shopping. WHen i need something I add it to that list as well..and while i am shopping I will delete the item from the lists when i put it in the cart. I will just have to keep the running total in my head. Or at least I will when my paycheck makes it into my bank acct again…

Just Figured i’d share – the app is also available for Android…good god i love my smart phone.

BTW I learned another trick this morning…some items i don’t have in house but i want them on my shopping lists, if i couldn’t make ShopSavvy find them in its database I just found them online and scanned a picture of a barcode….you know you can do that right?

digestive bits

In case you were wondering (and god knows why you would) both acquisitions do exactly what it says on the in. The Waring burner doesn’t cycle…i suspect this is the model they use in all those in store demonstrations..the flip side is that it stays hot after you shut it off, so i have to move it someplace safe while it does that. With my luck i will hit it with my arm or something. THe Food processor chops well if not nicely..no regularity to the cuts, but what do i care? what started off as white beans with garlic and basil, was soon swimming in red pepper and onion. Then for giggles i sliced some Soy Italian Sausage into it, not to cook i didn’t want it to fall apart because i found it surprisingly tasty…no really it is. Pain in the ass part about the food choppy thing is once it is assembled it doesn’t fit back in the box and i have zilch cabinet space for it. One of my new rules is that things can only stay on the counter for three days and then it needs to find a home. So i need to rearrange the cabinets to find room for the parts. I doubt i will be using the salad spinny basket…what else is it for?

BTW one of my tenants must have visited the Magic Hat Brewery in Vermont, because i found an empty growler in the recycling. Doubtful I will drive to Vermont to refill it for $7 bucks – i certainly have other uses for it. It now holds ice tea – btw the screw cap from a bleach bottle fits just right. Finally i don’t have a crappy plastic pitcher in their growing black mold around the rim. Yeah I know..i am easily amused. I told you today had it all over yesterday. Very laid back.

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