Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stretching your Food Budget

Everyone at one time or another has had to stretch their food budget. Some people have to do it all the time and others learn to make do when there's an emergency such as a hurricane or blizzard. Learning how to cook on top of your regular woodstove is important but then again, so is having the ingredients in the first place. You can't have 100 spices and exotic herbs sitting in your kitchen wasting space and money and not know how to use them. That's not thrifty. Better to have a dozen that are not stale and really know how to use them well.

Having some of the basic ingredients on hand and knowing how to use them can really make your food go a lot further. Having flour is all well and good but having just a little yeast, sugar and dried fruit suddenly means you've got fruit buns, or even hot cross buns if you add a little spice to them. Eggs, flour, milk and salt give you the choices to make crepes or Yorkshire puddings (I think they're called popovers in the US). And that's what we had for lunch today.

I'm trying to use up and rotate some of our food stores so the girls and I did a bunch of baking today. It was a snow day so no school and it just seemed like the perfect time to teach them another baking lesson on how to knead bread by hand and the proper way to beat eggs. We made banana bread, hot cross style buns and Yorkshire puddings with gravy and vegetables plus some of our thinly sliced lonzino for lunch. Despite the skepticism of one son, they all ate with gusto. I baked the puddings in my tortilla pans to give them an interesting shape and to make them enormous and slightly hollow in the middle, then I made up some gravy with a packet mix and a bouillon cube with flour and water and in it I cooked a half package of frozen veggies. I sliced the meat thin, placed in in the depression in the pudding then filled it with the veggie/gravy mix.

The results? Filling and Delicious! Now it's time to teach a lesson on cleaning up after you bake.

We're making a concerted effort to eat less refined sugar and flour and increase the amounts of vegetables both raw and cooked that we eat each day, but on a snowy day like today it's always good to have some comfort food too.

I've got to get going and stir my beans on the woodstove, I'm making baked beans from scratch and figured that if the woodstove was on I might as well use the heat for something extra useful. Here's my recipe if you're interested in making your own Yorkshire's.

Yorkshire Pudding Recipe

3 Eggs
1-1/4 cups  milk
2 Tbsp Melted butter or oil
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Beat the eggs, then add the remaining ingredients and beat smooth for 2 minutes. Leave at room temp for an hour or two before cooking. You'll need to cover it and stir again before baking.  When you're almost ready to begin baking, turn the oven on to 375f (gas 6) and lightly grease your tin or tins. These can be made in muffin tins with great success. Pour in your batter and bake for 30-40 minutes or slightly longer if using a big tin. It'll be puffed up and slightly darker than golden brown. Traditionally served in our house with roast beef, gravy and vegetables.

I always double this recipe but this should make 12 mice muffin sized puffs.

Cost of todays lunch was probably $6 because I made a double batch plus the gravy and veg. It fed 6 adults. Dessert was buns and juice for another $3 so a total of $9 or $1.50 per person.  Take that McDonald's!

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