Monday, January 23, 2012

cookin' in the chicken*...

when my daughter was a toddler, she was known to yell, "hey mommy, are you in the chicken?"
meaning of course, kitchen.  we still giggle about it now and she's almost 8. *ignore me while i go faint for a second*

okay, i feel better now.
i mean she's 5.
i can handle 5.


today i'm going to share with you all some of my completely unprofessional, usually sloppy, and always lacking kitchen tips.
who needs martha, right?

cooking for a largish family can be tricky.
i still have not mastered the 'frugal' part of it.
i need to desperately, but as i love feeding my monkeys and love healthy, homemade foods, it is increasingly difficult to be thrifty at it.

tip # 1:
make a weekly menu/list.
i try to have a menu weekly.
i succeed about 3 weeks out of the month.
and i'm about 80% with actually sticking to it completely,
but man does it make life easier!
keepin' it real.  i could have made this look all pretty.
but i didn't.
this is what my list/menu looks like after 2 grocery stores.

tip #2:
roast a chicken (or two!)
this is something i do , if not every week, at least every two weeks.
 and i always make 2.
well, it takes no more effort to roast two than it does one.
and i'm all about lazy. oops, i mean time management.
whole chickens are cheaper, healthier, and tastier than bags of frozen chicken.
the day i roast them (in a turkey pan instead of the chicken one!), we eat one that night for dinner.
the other one is processed for chicken dishes later that week, lunches, etc.
it makes it so nice when i have a chicken dish to prepare, and the meat is already there, cooked and ready!
and roasting chickens is easy-peasy!
simply throw whatever seasoning, herbs, etc you like, (  i like herbs de provence blend with a little oil, or lemon wedges with garlic cloves and rubbed in butter) cook it for a couple hours covered, another bit uncovered till brown on top and cooked through!

tip #3:
this tip correlates with tip 2.
use those bones, etc to make your own broth!
want to be really lazy about it?
after getting the meat off the carcasses, just add water to the roasting pan!
i don't know if this is actually  good for your roasting pan, but remember? i'm all about lazy.
if i have to clean one less pan i'm for it!
once water is added, throw in a few cloves of garlic, a whole onion, a carrot, celery, a splash of raw a.c. vinegar, a few more herbs.
simmer on stove top for 24 hours or so with the lid on.

once it's simmered, pour through fine strainer into a large bowl.
cool on counter .
put in refrigerator until fat forms on top,
then scrap off fat.
 i then pour mine into ball jars, and store in freezer.

wa-la! homemade broth whenever you need!

tip #4 :
use a dry erase marker on ball jar lids
i use jars for lots of storage,
if you use a dry erase marker on the lid for contents and date, it wipes right off when done:)
that says tuscan chick. soup for those of you that lack my elegant handwriting skills.
tip #5 :
pay more attention to price per ounce than price tag.

often my hubby will ask what a good price for ( fill in the blank)
i usually don't know if we are talking in actual price #s.
since getting married, i have always paid more attention to price per unit than the tag price.
it's simple really.
even if the almonds you're looking at are $4.99 vs, $7.99, if price per ounce is .58 as opposed to .37, buy the more expensive bag and get more for your money.

tip # 6:
buy it cheap, even if you don't need it.
the other day i saw a bag of red bell peppers for $4.99.
there were ten in the bag!
now, red bell pepper wasn't even on my list that day, but that is one heck of a deal!
normally here, they run about 1.49 a piece.
i brought them home, chopped them up, and put them in the freezer for when i do need them:)

tip #7:
that pinterest pin circulating about growing your own green onions?
it works!
simply put the ends of your onions in a shallow dish of water, and you will have endless onions!  i'm easy to please apparently, because this makes me ecstatic!
organic, fresh green onions any time!
just be sure to keep an eye on the water level, and add as needed.

  this week's menu is up in the side bar!
have fun in the chicken today!

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