Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saving by increments...

Some days I save big; other days only miniscule amounts, but surely it all adds up in the end. My kitchen scale is one of my favorite ways to be a conscientious consumer. When the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of butter, I can measure precisely 2 ounces of butter. Sometimes I think, 'Oh, a little extra butter won't hurt,' and it wouldn't; however, using exactly the amount called for leaves more butter for another day, another recipe. Further, buying butter packaged by the pound instead of the stick is another way to cut down on packaging waste.
Another way I try to be conscientous is by not throwing compostable organic waste into the trash. While I'm cooking, I keep a container nearby to fill up with the scraps. Coffee grounds and the filter and eggs also get tossed in. We don't have a compost bin (YET), so for now the scraps get thrown onto the garden. Our dog licks out the eggs, so there's no worry about the eggs attracting other critters. I look forward to the day when hubby will make me some barrel composters. Can't wait!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Make over: Leftover spaghetti magic

Feeling a little proud of myself! I transformed leftover vegetarian spaghetti into vegetable soup for lunch and then a veggie lasagna for dinner. VEGETABLE SOUP: For the soup, I cooked some diced onion and potato, then added leftovers from a restaurant veggie plate: butternut squash and spinach, plus roasted long green beans, and finally, added some of my leftover spaghetti. Seasoned the whole by adding red pepper, white pepper, basil, cumin, sherry vinegar, chicken base seasoning & freshly ground pepper. VEGGIE LASAGNA: Inspired by a vegetarian lasagna recipe found on, I mixed an egg into the remaining 3 cups or so of my leftover marina spaghetti, then layered this with a bechamel (white) sauce chunky with cooked diced onion and green pepper, about 6 sundried tomatoes (oil packed) and a little bit of cottage cheese. Placed some fresh mozzerella on top and baked it 'til bubbly. We both really liked it, but I wished I had left the sundried tomatoes a little bigger, as they were the most interesting surprise ingredient.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scratch cooking: Pizza sauce

I found a pizza sauce recipe that I'm making:

1/2 an onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15oz) cans of diced tomatoes
1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
2 tsp Italian herbs, a store blend
a pinch of salt
Saute onion & garlic in a bit of olive oil until soft. Add remaining ingredients; cook simmering on low for an hour, stirring peridiocally & breaking up the tomatoes. (Found on
I didn't have a store blend of Italian herbs, so I used 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried basil and 1/2 tsp dried thyme, plus a little sprinkling of dried rosemary leaves. Didn't mean to use that much thyme, but I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing. Anxious to see how it turns out.

Sadly, I broke my garlic press while putting the recipe together. I had used the press frequently, as it is so much quicker than mincing garlic (how lazy is that!). Hoping Hubby can fix this for me, but if not, I will be doing without. Sooo much want to become less of a consumer. The less I buy, the less will end up in a landfill, right? 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Make over: Sausage apple strata

Okay, it doesn't get any better than finding and adapting a recipe to fit your foods on hand. For tonight, I made a strata, which was layered into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish as follows:

  • 2 large pieces of stale country bread, cubed
  • 1 cooked smoked sausage patty, cut into small pieces, scattered evenly over the bread cubes
  • 1/2 peeled, cored apple, cut into cubes, scattered evenly over sausage and bread
  • several cubes of cheese leftover from a party (had on hand cubes of havarti with dill & gruyere), scatter evenly over above ingredients
  • 3 eggs, beaten, 1/2 cup cream, 1/4 cup milk, big pinch of dried sage, salt to taste...once mixed, poured over the above items, then sprinkle with freshly ground pepper

bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until set.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Craving hot cocoa?

No more wasted packaging and money buying individually packaged cocoa mixes: just make your own. In a large microwaveable mug, put 1 & 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (I use Hershey's Special Dark) and a pinch of salt. Stir together then add a tablespoon or so of milk and stir to mix...slowly add more milk, about 6-8oz. or so, until your cocoa is the color you like. Nuke in microwave for 1 minute on high, then add large marshmellows and nuke up to 20 seconds, being careful to watch so it doesn't overflow. Then drink!! Adjust the amounts to suit your own preference.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Waste not, want not

Came across a site that posed the question "what does your refrigerator's contents say about you?" That gave me the idea to take a picture of my own refrigerator's contents and set the picture as my wallpaper. I now try to do this every couple of days. Helps tremendously in figuring out what to fix for dinner, what might be going to waste. No more standing in front of open refrigerator doors. gotta love it! The dark covered pan is a bean casserole cooked in my SunOven yesterday. Always a feeling of accomplishment when the sun oven powers my baking.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Making a visible difference daily

Striving to make sure that I do at least one thing daily that gives me a sense of accomplishment AND is visible to others. Today I made a blackberry pie. In fact, it's in the oven now, and the house smells fragrant throughout. The blackberries were in our freezer, so I pulled them out as part of my latest pledge: to use up freezer foods before buying new groceries. Of course, I will buy supplemental groceries, but hopefully will be able to "shop" my freezer for the main stuff. Buzzer's going off now...can't wait to take that pie out of the oven.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Managing time

Have joined the ranks of the unemployed--by choice. Anxious to craft a life full of meaning. Need to review the Ben Franklin tenets & go from there. Today, however, has become the launch of a new objective to cram pack each day with exercise. After all, healthy body, healthy mind, right?? UPDATE: 11/2/10: Unfortunately, I've spent more time online than on the ellyptical over the last few months. A post over at "Living. Minimal." recently gave me a needed kick in the pants when it comes to wasting my time on the computer. Check out this thought-provoking post by Martijn: Reduce your digital footprint in 5 steps.
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