Tag Archives: observations

Using Expensive Meat: Conclusions

So far we’ve had 15 portions using the expensive pork roast I bought. (See this post.) That brings the price down to $1.86 per portion. Surprise!

What I still have in the freezer: 1 slab which could be turned into stir fry, soup, or two pork chops, and a small container of carnitas. At a minimum, there’s probably still 4 portions remaining. If I figure 19 portions from this pork roast, it’s $1.47 each.

Just wow.

I had no idea I could do that. I’ve been watching it go, but I’ve used the meat as I cut it: about 1/2-1/3 for the roast (which became the carnitas), 3 slabs, and one small piece off the end. The small piece was turned into soup. That left the 3 slabs. We’ve eaten 2.

I admit it probably wouldn’t work this way in a bigger family, or perhaps with other cuts of meat. I started with a boneless hunk of pork loin. Very little waste, especially since I’ve used the small amount of fat that came with it to cook something every time we’ve eaten the pork. But I haven’t skimped or deliberately stretched it, I’ve just used it as convenient.

I also admit we’ve been eating it pretty steadily, because I knew I had this chunk of beautiful stuff in the freezer. . . My plan is to use meat for dinner 2x a week, which would have been 6 meals or 12 portions.

We also ate it for lunch: 5 6 portions worth. We tend to eat smaller lunches than dinners, so it went further that it might have otherwise.

My conclusion? It’s possible to get to my target price with expensive meat, if you have minimal waste in the original, large piece of meat AND if you use any leftovers for lunches. Otherwise? I’d have made 10 meals, at $2.79 per portion, over the $2 per portion price I wanted.

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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!

Realization

I realized yesterday that I have been in survival mode for much of the past 2 months. I have good reasons for this, but it isn’t all that productive!

What I do, and I’ve only just really understood what this is, is the minimum. Minimal cleaning, self-care, progress on projects, etc. It’s an emotional shutting down and awaiting the next blow. It’s pulling inward and freeing up emotional resources.

This makes sense if you’re a child dealing with the last and anticipating the next emotional/abusive attack. It doesn’t in an adult woman! And, as I said, I’ve only just realized I do this. I shut down everything that isn’t essential. Makes getting work done difficult: work for others, work for myself, or work on projects of any kind.

As a semi-healed adult, not dealing with abuse, this is probably the worst thing I can do. At the very time I need the distraction and pride of accomplishment, I stop doing the chores which would give me both.

Okay. I’ve gotten to step 2.

  • Step 1 is acknowledging there’s a problem.
  • Step 2 is understanding the nature/history of the problem.
  • Step 3 is formulating a possible solution.
  • Step 4 is implementing the solution.
  • Step 5 is giving myself credit for the change and trying to continue making the change until it’s habitualized and/or a part of my regular life responses.

Step 3 will be harder, because I don’t know what triggers this or accordingly how to either monitor for it or stop the reaction.

I’m not beating myself up about it, the 5 steps are how I’ve moved away from the abuse and my reactions to it for decades. It works. Just sometimes it’s incredibly, frustratingly

s-l-o-w !

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Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Baby It’s Cold, Culture, and Change

I first heard the idea that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as a rape rant a while back and thought it a bit far fetched.

I listened to it again and although I could see the point, it still seemed a bit “off?”

Then I read Shatner’s comments, and something there seemed wrong, although I couldn’t articulate exactly what it was.

A short response to Shatner’s comments changed that. The comment, which I cannot find to quote, was something like, “You’ve missed the point. It’s not up to the guy.”

And the sun burst through the clouds for me.

Okay. I realized my cultural take was that rape is an act of violence. Anything up to violence wasn’t rape. But I am the same generation as Shatner, where, when I was young, women were ornaments, expected to be the “moral guardians” of their families, live for their families, and put up and shut up with whatever men wanted of their bodies. The penultimate Barbie doll outfit when it was new, when I was little, was a bridal dress.

I am a rape survivor, no matter how you parse it, I was raped. It was a violent act. I probably as a young woman put up and shut up 50 or more times with men going farther and using my body more than I wanted them to. I wasn’t discrete, careful or picky enough for a long time (rape survivor and PTSD both contributed there).

But I also described that rape, for years, to men, and even male psychologists said to me, dismissively, “Oh, you were date raped.” as if that made it less of a rape?

I was culturally programmed to “put up and shut up” because of when I was raised. All those June Cleaver, Betty Crocker and Barbie stereotypes contributed. And the sexual revolution changed a lot, but all that stuff still lurks under there, because that’s what being a woman was when I first saw myself as a girl.

This isn’t a bludgeon to beat men with Mr. Shatner, it’s a major cultural shift. I saw the song for years as a seduction song, not rape. And, although there’s no violence in it, I can understand now why someone could see it as rape, because the male character is ignoring what the female says, and that’s not acceptable any more.

sheet music

For years, I thought I’d processed the rape, I could talk about it right? Then about 20 years afterwards, I heard a show on NPR about date rape and this teen-aged guy said something like, “You can’t pay attention to what they say! They think they can’t act like they want it, because they wouldn’t be the right kind of girl if they did. So you can’t listen to them.”

I told DH about this later. When I relayed the comment by the kid, I started crying and cried for days. (Hit a chord, ya ‘think?)

And yet, despite all that, my first reaction was still if there was no violence, there was no rape in “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

I’m culturally programmed; we all are. But the programming has changed.

Hallelujah — It’s about time!

 

Self-Cleaning Cooking — Put It To Use (or Try)

Also available on the self-cleaning cooking page, see the menu, above, for a link to the page, all of these posts are there!

  1. Use up ingredients! This generates less clean up: you don’t have to deal with storing what’s left. (It generates less waste and happily is frugal too.)
  2. Use the smallest quantity of cooking utensils & tools as practical (and safe)! Each tool or utensil generates two clean up tasks — it has to be washed and put away.
  3. Limit cooking areas! Each cooking area generates one clean up task: cleaning the area after it’s used.
  4. Make your own prefab or partial ingredients! Partially prepared foods may be the best way to cook from scratch, with fresh foods, and limit clean up tasks.
  5. Try using commercial prefab ingredients! These can also save many clean up tasks, but you sacrifice knowing exactly what’s in the food and how it was prepared.

So! Given those, what can I do?


  • Use up ingredients!

For us, that means that I will try and do more bulk cooking. I do this with meats already, that is, when I open a package of 1 lb of chicken thighs, these days I always cook all of it. However, I don’t do this with vegetables say. Items which will store well, I do: cooked rice as an example. But what to do with fresh veggies to handle/store them as little as possible is the challenge here, and I don’t have an answer.

  • Use the smallest quantity of cooking utensils & tools as practical (and safe)!

I think with measuring tools, I already do this. I’ll measure dry ingredients before wet. I’ll use the smallest spoon measure and use a graduated cup measure for items.

Cooking tools? Hm, not so much.

Pans: if items need to be dry roasted (like dry roasted cumin, in a soup recipe I use a lot) and then another ingredient needs to be sauted, wiping the pan out with a paper towel (or not, depending on the ingredient) between makes sense. Using the pan you roasted meat in to make gravy might make sense, but it would usually generate another dish to hold the food taken from the roasting pan.

I have two sets of divided pans: small, almost triangular pans made to fit inside a bigger one and be cooked that way. I wonder if using those more often could help? It might not lessen the quantity of items to be cleaned, but it certainly would lessen the square inches of surfaces needing to be cleaned. There’s only two of us and often I’m only using the bottom inch of a pan . Hmm…..

Cooking utensils: I automatically just reach for tool x or y or z as I’m cooking. I think I need to become more aware of what I’m doing and see if I can just not use the wooden spatula I’ve used for years to saute items, and then need a spoon instead. Why couldn’t I saute foods with the spoon? No reason; I’m just used to doing things a certain way. As I said, this one will require some work on my part!

  • Limit cooking areas! 

This is the same as cooking cools/utensils: I automatically use this cutting board, that knife, the peeler, etc. I will have to *think* before I cook to find ways to lessen cooking areas. (The horror!)

  • Make your own prefab or partial ingredients! 

As I said, I often make a quart jar of sauted onions.

At the end of the summer last year, I made up something which also worked: I made up bags of tomatoes, onion, green pepper, all chopped and ready to go, for marinara for me (no red tomatoes) or my husband (with red tomatoes). I also made up bags of salsa verde for me (no red tomatoes again) or regular salsa for my husband.

I’ve discussed this earlier, I think to limit the number of recipes: I’ll make a red tomato stewed tomato recipe and a nonred tomato stewed tomato recipe. I’ll probably also make salsa verde. Tomatillos, which I love and can eat, are readily available at the farm late summer. A jar of salsa verde is about $3 (or more)! I love Mexican food and use a lot of salsa.

stack of dirty pots & pans

  • Try using commercial prefab ingredients!

Of course, I have done this and do. But I have limited storage and money. In the summer I toss a huge amount of the farm food unnecessarily. Especially since I’m losing my big freezer this summer, finding new ways to use the farm food, rather than buying more prefab food is my mandate.

 

Philosophy of Clean

It seems to me that there are “truisms” about cleaning. Some of these I’ve discussed:

  1. Clutter is usually made of “stuff.”
  2. “Stuff” is frequently made up of pieces you can pick up with your hand.
  3. Hard surfaces are easier to clean than soft ones.
  4. The only way to get an area clean and keep it that way is to keep cleaning.

My new one is related to #4. That people who manage to get and keep areas clean don’t see cluttered or untidy as acceptable.

For someone in their 60s who’s trying to learn to live differently, that last piece is not easy. Even when I clean regularly, I just don’t have that muscle. I’m so used to mess and clutter that I often just don’t see it.

This creates an all-too familiar situation for me: that I clean/cull an area and within a week or so, it’s a mess again.

I noticed this because of yard work. I’ve been working on raking out the beds, specifically, the bulb bed. For weeks I’ve had piles of leaves in the yard. I’ve been pulling them up and taking them to the dump, when I can get to the dump, at a rate of about 8 bags a trip. The piles aren’t there forever, and I finally have one more trip and that’s it to finish picking up those leaves. (It will be 4 trips when I finish.)

I’ve restricted myself. I’ve been slowly, but surely cleaning out the leaves in the other areas, and piling the leaves into neat piles. If I keep it up, it will still be another month or so before I manage to clean up most of the yard. This is an acre and I’ve never done this before; we’ve lived here 20+ years. Lots of dried leaves!

My neighbor’s yard always looks neat. Both of them work on it, instead of one person. And, whatever yard work they do is entirely cleaned up, before they quit. It occurred to me that there are some reasons for this: they have more storage than I do (a garage and a basement) also, they ALWAYS clean up and put away whatever accumulated mess and tools before they quit.

Also, in this neighborhood, we almost all have wood piles. There’s a neighbor who has a wood-fired, exterior furnace, with large wood sheds, as you might imagine. His wood piles, even when it’s a grapple load, are rarely messy. The wood is almost always cut to size and stacked in the sheds. The neighbors with a garage and basement have a small pile of wood for power outages, it’s tidy. Us? We have the end of two cords in a pile in front of the porch — which just looks messy.

The difference is that the large pile and the mess is something we live with, and the others won’t, for whatever reason.

I’ve been pecking away at that pile, a log or two here or there. I’m very aware of my weakened elbow and the potential for permanent injury if I’m not careful. Otherwise, I would have tackled it long since . . . .

But my observations are what got me to item #5.

5.  Keeping an area clean requires the attitude that a hodge podge isn’t visually acceptable.

J

No Shortcuts

Apparently I’m not the only one who reacted badly to all the clutter of “shabby chic” or the bald sterility of “minimalist” styles. I found an article yesterday talking about “warm minimalism” which isn’t what I want, but it is a lot closer than either shabby chic, industrial, or minimalism.

I’d decided that whatever I called my decorating style really didn’t matter, although it has been a pain not being able to find things which suit me in a group, instead of piecemeal.

I want  a frugal hygge-cwtch combination. Hygge is a better known term, it’s Danish and means “acknowledging a moment.” Cwtch is a Welsh word. The first meaning I found was “feeling safe, loved, & totally comfortable.” So contemplative, safe & comfortable.

Rather than a decorating style, it’s an emotional state I’m after? This is me, so that figures. Why didn’t I just fall in love with Modern, like my Dad and Husband? Or Shabby Chic, or “Country” or ?

There’s a sign in our living room,”There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Of course, this fits. Here’s yet another attempt to define my style:

Simple lines, industrial/retail, warm & uncluttered —  a hygge-cwtch space.

If I was going to make an image for this? It would be sitting wrapped up warm on a porch, holding a cup of tea or cocoa, and looking out at a lake or other body of water with early morning mist rising from the water.

I grew up a block from the Pacific Ocean: water within seeing distance is just part of what makes “home” for me. Unfortunately, this house has no water within sight, except vernal ponds in the spring.

We have talked, at various times, about buying a lakeside cabin as a retirement home. Maybe.

fineartamerican.com via images.google.com

(Image is NOT mine, fineartamerica.com via images.google.com )