Category Archives: scheduling

Oven Meals — 400 Degree then 350 Degree — Menu Plan (and reality)

Not sure why I’d do this? See here for an explanation.

400:

  • Jacketed potatoes, for up to 2 hours.
  • Oven fried chicken, 400 for up to 1 hour.
  • Mexican Green peppers, 400 for 45 minutes.

350 for 30 minutes:

  • Ham slice, 25 minutes
  • Candied sweet potatoes, 30 minutes
  • spinach tart or tomato flan, 30 minutes

The 400 meal: The chicken usually works for 2 meals. The pepper recipe is for 5 peppers, although you could no doubt do 2 or 4 or 6 for that matter….

The 350 meal: The spinach tart uses a pie shell, the tomato flan does not. Also, spinach is available (here) first thing in the spring and in fall, the tomatoes are only available in summer, so that could easily affect why I’d choose one or the other.

Note:

I’d love to try doing this as an experiment!

However, I do NOT have the peppers, corn to stuff them with, the ham, cottage cheese (for the spinach tart), spinach or tomatoes. Given the current state of things, due to Corona, I have no idea when I will be able to just buy those again! When I can? I’ll be happy to do this as an experiment. If I do?

I’ll post a link to the write up here.


I’m going to do the 400 degree meal tonight. However, I didn’t find a ham slice yesterday at the market. The only sliced ham was sliced for sandwiches, not something I’d want to put in a 350 oven for 30 minutes!

I’ll have to modify the recipes to suit what I have, but I think I can manage! This is Friday, so my meal is supposed to be a double meat dish, that feeds us tonight and Sunday night too. I have 3 thighs in a freezer container, thawing. We’ll eat 2 tonight.

We’ll have dirty rice for lunch, it’s left over from earlier this week.

And I might make a burrito bowl from the last thigh on Sunday.


I tried this! I wrote about what worked and didn’t here.

Long-Term Storage Foods, Food Frugality, & Food Security

For a long while now, I’ve planned to make menus using more long-term storage foods. For one thing, long-term storage foods are usually available in bulk, or I can buy them in bulk, and the prices  aren’t as seasonally variable. I’m not talking about the canned goods available for preppers and Mormons. I’m talking about regular food available at the supermarket, although I may buy a caselot or large quantity! (Eventually, I might just buy those prepper or Mormon foods, although I never have.)

I’ve researched how long foods last and in what conditions. My plan has always been to take foods which are the most shelf-stable and incorporate those into our diet.

Very long-term storage foods, 2 years or more,  which don’t require any extra equipment to store include mostly unopened packages of: sugar,white rice, canned ham, canned coffee, chocolate syrup, instant tea,vanilla, vinegar, unpopped popcorn, condiment sauces: hot sauce, worcestershire, salsa, and hard liquor, according to one list.

Aside from the canned ham and possibly the popcorn, if you could grind it into cornmeal, there’s not much there that will sustain life.

Another list adds ground herbs & spices, whole spices, bottled water, bullion, canned meat & vegetables, and wheat berries to the long-term storage list.

Foods which can be stored for up to a year are more plentiful. Add corn meal, grits, whole grain pasta, nonfat dry milk, vegetable oil, dry soup mixes, canned fruits,  canned juices & tomatoes, dried peas and beans, unshelled nuts, canned coffee, and tea.

Various sources disagree about how long foods can be stored, so do your own research. The disagreements are why I haven’t included links.

However, with the wheat, rice, beans, and herbs, ah now I can make more than just canned ham. Off the top of my head you can make rice & beans, bean burgers,  wheatberry salad, etc.

Part of this is retirement planning too. I figure we won’t be able to afford premium foods, unless we buy and use them only as condiments. Using meats that way is something we’ve already changed. When the price of ground beef got over $4 a pound, I stopped buying meat at full price. We’ve been eating only what I can find on sale, about 1/2 off in most cases since. Sometimes that’s sausage, sometimes it’s steak, sometimes, we just eat salad. We’re not feeling deprived and we have sufficient calories and nutrients, I think, so I’m not worried about not having meat every day. If you were raised in the era I was, meat was something you were taught you had to have every night for dinner.

Also, we’ve been baking bread, eating oatmeal for breakfast instead of cold cereal, and we keep talking about learning to make our own crackers and such, as the price per pound for snackfood makes it almost obscene to buy anything, and we like munching just like everyone!

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This post was started some time ago, as was the post “Life with Sugar” which I also published today. However, I haven’t changed my ideas. What has changed is that these days I would include more home-frozen foods.

Also, a neighbor has a successful root cellar. On my list today is to call her to see if I can go over and talk to her about how she stores veggies through winter. I can store beans, peas, flour, etc. but the veggies are more difficult!

Life with Sugar

For some time I’ve been interested in food storage. Recently I found links to food storage charts. Some of the listed items are almost upsetting: packaged cookies are good for four months? (Home made, by contrast are good for 2-3 weeks.) …are they preservatives iced with preservatives? It’s enough to make you change your eating habits! I can resist most cakes, pies, ice cream, but cookies are my downfall. I usually avoid making them for just that reason, maybe I should rethink that?

I’m not as interested in regular food storage, as I am long-term storage. Knowing what can be stored a long time tells me what I should stock the most, then use the rest of my food dollar for the fresh or short-lived stuff.

Things that are good for more than 1 year (at pantry temp 70 degrees) include the staples you’d expect, baking power/soda, boullion, semi-sweet chocolate, unopened chocolate syrup, cornstarch, dry gelatin, dry pasta, rice, etc. But there are some surprises and even disagreements between the charts I found.

Powdered sugar can be stored 18 months in a pantry, but granulated only 12. Why is powdered sugar more shelf stable than granulated?

Brown sugar can be stored only 4 months? Granulated can be stored 12 months and molasses 6 months (opened) or 12 months (unopened). I haven’t bought brown sugar for years, I mix my own. (1T molasses (or more) as needed per 1/2C granulated sugar). I never store brown sugar as I only make it up as needed.

Why are molasses and granulated sugar both more shelf stable than commercial brown sugar? What does this say about commercial brown sugar? I don’t know, but I find it upsetting or at least disconcerting. I’m glad I’ve been mixing my own for years.

Working on trying to make a long-term storage chart has had some unexpected consequences. Life can be strange!

Pulling It Together

I have notebooks, pages, cards, file boxes of various sorts, tracking what I do or want to do. It’s a mess.

I started an index  today with the idea that I will cull/organize the mountain of paper into a usable tool, or set of tools. Since this incorporates several years (decades?) of planning, successful and not, it’s not a small task and will take me some time. A week or perhaps longer. I took a pic of the dining table awash in paper, but have to download it.

It occurred to me that I’m overwhelmed with the various tasks I’ve set myself. The cull and clean up of the house and stuff is a daunting task. Also, I have these various bits and pieces which worked (and didn’t). I don’t want to throw away work when I don’t have to, but have no need to keep it all forever, either.

So, it begins!

  • Loose-leaf binders for the seven levels of stuff cleaning plan. (2)
  • Teacher’s attendance notebooks, also used for the seven levels. (2)
  • Monthly Notebooks, for filing things which are done that way (12)
  • Category Notebooks, for filing clippings (5, I think?)
  • File boxes for the monthly notebooks (2)
  • Garden clippings and book in another file box (1)
  • Various cards, card pockets, and files (?)

I’m not sure what I missed, but I’m sure there are pieces not included in the list above.

It’s a mess.

Progress Report

Although I haven’t been reporting here OR keeping track explicitly of my progress, I will say that yes, I’m getting quite a lot done!

The living room got cleared out for DH to live in a bed there, while that was necessary. That bed has been gone since Christmas Day. When he started sleeping in our bed again, the living room was put together a lot closer to what I really wanted it to be. Sometime in here, the table we’d loaned out was returned and we took the round table we’d been using to the swap shop along with the base of the glass-topped table DH had used to take the cover photo for the memoir.

Three days after Christmas, we took more furniture out of here: a chair/ottoman, a small bookcase, the wrought iron table with the marble top, and 2 metal end tables. We rearranged what was left.

A few weekends back, we rented a van and removed the baker’s table from the living room and moved in a low dresser we bought.

Last week, the hall and kitchen were cleaned and culled.

Today, the dining room got cleaned and culled. I had no idea how much I’d stashed around the edges of the dining room until I took it all out this morning. It was a lot!

The only piece of furniture in the dining room which wasn’t moved was the table. When I remove the pieces from the living room and hall and kitchen again, they’ll be sorted: going away now, going away at a flea market, keeps (maybe), keeps (for sure), I’ll have more room. But so far, since these are all boxes I’ve been through recently, there’s not much that’s immediately being culled. That means the stuff needs to be boxed up, labeled, and then, oh yes, I need to find a place to stash the new box.

It will be neater and tidier, but there will still be WAY too much stuff.

Nightmares? No, thankfully; I’m not having nightmares! The only bad night I’ve had recently was Saturday. I returned the edited ms. of the memoir and talked to my publisher. Anything to do with the memoir is usually followed with a bad night, lots of anxiety, etc.

I sat bolt upright around 2 a.m., with a piercing scream in my head which I managed to NOT do, but I woke DH up anyway, because I made a sort of a loud gulp and I’d probably pulled the covers off of him.

jian-xhin-y2yWnOkOUM0-unsplash

Photo by Jian Xhin on Unsplash

I keep doing what’s needed for the book, but I will be very glad when all the steps are something I’ve done.

 

New Living Room

The plan for this week is to finish the revamping of the living room. For one thing, someone is coming to work on the house next week and I’d like it done before that. For another, it seems like I can work on this without issues.

Part of this will require work in the kitchen/dining room too. There’s a new dresser (well, new to us) going in the living room. The table that is sitting where that’s supposed to go has to be emptied and moved. The only sane place to move it is the kitchen. There’s currently no room in the kitchen, sooooo…. you do the math, right?

That means this morning, although it seems contrary, what I will do is work on the kitchen/dining area to get the living room finished!

Move the empty hole around some more, and make it bigger I hope!

(No image this time, sorry. Went to find one, couldn’t find one with books that worked. The only thing close is tagged as a living room, but looks like a retail counter to me! I don’t live in a retail store anymore, or I’m trying mightily NOT to!)

Memoir, Update

The publisher, a few months ago (?) sent me a pdf of my memoir. Great! It’s going to be a real book — HURRAH!

But you can’t edit pdfs. So, I sent him a note, how did he want changes noted, etc. and never got an answer.

There’s a convention in a few weeks where Ill probably see him. I should be able to get an answer in person. Then, maybe, it will get to be a real book people can buy.

A mutual friend, an author, volunteered to write a blurb. I sent him a note. Nada.

It is NOT a memoir; it’s a black hole. This happened a lot when people were reading it. I do NOT know wtf I wrote that makes people think I can’t take whatever they’re likely to say about the thing. I keep telling people I’m twitchy about the events but not the black squiggles which describe them. I have paid 3 people to edit the thing.

Maybe I just give up?

I don’t know.

J