Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Eating out of the freezer/pantry...continued.

After a month of eating out of the pantry/freezer we have finally started to see a noticeable difference in our stores…
Our chest freezer was full a month ago and is now about half empty. I went through it fairly methodically a few days ago to see what I had left:

1) 7 of our home grown chickens, various sizes (we started with 22 last May.

2) 15 packages of whole wheat English muffins (I buy these for $1 a pack at the Superstore, which puts them on sale every month or so). They are delicious in the morning with a poached fresh egg from our chickens. Very filling and packed with protein.

3) 3-4 pounds of carmelized tomatoes. I bought $40 in local Roma tomatoes last fall after a friend (D’Arcy Feller) showed me and a few other 4-H moms this really great recipe one evening when a 4-H meeting was held at his house. I don’t think I ever posted about it…I will have to do that. These tomatoes are scrumptious on fresh bread, sandwiches, etc. However, I still have a lot left!

4) 2 lbs of sundried tomatoes from our garden.

5) 6-10 package of beef stew meat.

6) 4 pork shoulder roasts

7) 2-3 packages of beef ribs

8) 2-3 pounds of frozen beans

9) 10 pounds of frozen pumpkin (Chris has faithfully frozen all pumpkins we’ve been given, but we never seem to use it; I need to find a pumpkin soup recipe)

10) 2 cans of orange juice

11) 3 chuck roasts

12) A family size serving of prepared stew.

13) 8-10 single servings of various leftovers, including macaroni beef, 18 bean soup (overflow from the inside freezer).

14) 7-8 pounds of frozen corn, bought locally from our friends, the Kempters, last fall.  Yum.  We will definitely use this up before next harvest!

I have been going through and using up pantry items as well, including flours, pastas and beans and various spices.  In or canning shelves we are still making good use of homemade jam, applesauce, sweet pickles, salsa and apple juice.

I’m estimating that in the last month we’ve spent about $200 in groceries, mostly on fresh vegetables
and fruit.

I’m now looking for inspiration to effectively use up those items that remain in the freezer or pantry. We are not a roast family so I’ve been looking for ingenious ways to use up the meat. I’ve been cutting up the roast pork and making several meals worth of souvlaki (then making pork stock from bones; wonton soup is in my future!) We’ve been using the chuck roasts for stir fries but it’s a bit tough and Chris suggested we turn it into hamburger, which is a good idea. We eat approximately two chickens per month and each chicken gives us at least two main meals, plus several days of chicken soup.

I’m looking for a way to use the stew meat (not traditional stew, I’m getting sick of it). I’d also love a great way to use up the pumpkin, either in soup or in bread or muffins.

Why are we doing this? Well, firstly it’s incredibly satisfying to apply our frugal and environmentally aware principals to our dining table. I read a study once that showed that 20 percent of most household grocery purchases were wasted (veggies going rotten in the fridge, out of date food, etc.). I suspect it's a rare person indeed who never throws food out, regardless of whether they have a stocked pantry or freezer...
Our second reason is financial…we are trying to live frugally and mindfully and it feels very responsible to spend time making the most of what we have.

Doing this takes time and effort, something that most people feel they don’t have. I know when we were running the business full tilt there was NO way I would have been able to think about our food and how we make the most of it…

Even if you are busy, I would encourage you to look through your food storage areas and pick two items that have been there a while. Maybe a cut of meat or a type of pasta, or even frozen vegetables or fruit, that with a small amount of effort, could save you money and help make the best use of your food resources. You’d be surprised at how satisfying it is.

In the meantime, please pass along any suggestions for meals!


Jan said...

Good for you, Sandra! (I need to excavate the freezer side of my fridge -- I always forget what's in there!)

Pork shoulder is one of my favourite cuts - very flavourful. I usually buy it as chops. So, I'd suggest slicing a roast into 3/4 inch thick chops, laying them flat on a parchment-lined tray and baking them in the oven at about 425, for 40 mins to an hour, or until browned, turning halfway through. Top with BBQ sauce and continue baking until bubbly. Tastes like ribs, but with more meat and less bone. And, in the last half hour, you can cook homemade oven fries at the same time to go with the pork.

My mom (and her mom) used to tie two pork shoulder chops together with stuffing between them and bake at about 350 for an hour or more, until well-browned. My family made oatmeal stuffing (skirlie), but bread stuffing should work too. [The stuffing absorbs the pork fat, so this is a very filling recipe and not too kind to your arteries, but it's good high-energy food for people who do lots of physical labour -- like building a house!] And the oven will be at the right temperature to bake potatoes at the same time.

Cheers, Jan

pcprov said...

Pumpkin soup is easy - it's great with Japanese kabocha squash, but I'm sure regular orange pumpkin would be just as good:

- chopped onion
- butter
- 2-inch cubes of raw pumpkin
- enough chicken stock to cover the pumpkin in a pot (or water and bouillon cubes if you don't have any homemade)
- fresh grated ginger - abt 1/2-1 Tbsp (as you like... don't know what the powdered equivalent would be)
- 1/2 and 1/2 or (even more decadent) whipping cream (if you don't have either, or you want to avoid the fat, full-fat milk is a fine substitute
- nutmeg

* In your soup pot, saute onions in some butter till soft (you don't need a lot of butter)
* add chunks of pumpkin and your chicken stock
* simmer pumpkin till soft, then mash well (together with the chicken stock) with potato masher OR, if you have one, give it a whirl with a Braun hand blender or put the whole lot in a regular blender to puree it. If you don't have a hand blender, you might want to run the mashed pumpkin/stock/onion mixture through a sieve to get rid of lumps
* add 1/2 and 1/2 (light cream) to your puree till you get a potage-soup-like consistency (you don't want it to be too thick nor too watery...)
* taste for salt, and stir in a little nutmeg (not too much - maybe start with 1/4 tsp and see how it tastes)
* serve as is, or you can dress it up with a swirl of cream on each bowl, or a dollop of sour cream, with a little sprinkle of nutmeg on top to make it look nice. You can also have this soup chilled in summer. Yum. (The kids LOVE it)

If your frozen pumpkin is already cooked, of course skip the cooking step and just warm things up to puree.

Sandra said...

Thanks Jan and Christie, Jan, I think you have to give me the recipe for skirlie...sounds intriguing...

Christie, I have EVERYTHING you list in my house right now...I will make this in the next few days and let you know how it goes over.

Jan said...

I'll have to approximate on quantities for the skirlie, Sandra,because my mom always just did it by "feel".

So, take about 1/3 of a cup of butter and saute a large, finely chopped onion in it until clear, along with some finely chopped celery. Then, take the mixture off the heat and stir in enough dry rolled oats (I like large flake) to absorb the butter. [Probably about a cup.] The mixture should be neither to greasy nor too dry looking and should clump together a bit. Add chopped herbs of your choice (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, savoury, chives, etc.) and then season with salt & pepper. It works well as a stuffing for poultry too. As it roasts with the meat, it develops a 'nutty' flavour. Jim has become quite fond of it.

pcprov said...

Me again -
For your chuck roasts, cube them up and try a Japanese curry just for fun? Jpns curries are a little sweeter and thicker than Indian curries, and are hugely popular with kids here. They are served over steamed short grain Jpns rice but you can serve it with anything, really - long grain rice, brown rice, whatever. Most people here use prepackaged roux cubes and I must confess that I do, too (for Jpns curries -- my Indian and Thai curries are made from scratch!), but here's a recipe that will probably work:

I like that it uses lots of onions, slow-cooked till caramelized. Some people add grated apples to their curry to add sweetness -- it's very good, too.

For your pork, as your other commenter said, you can do it up as chops, and, again with the Jpns theme, here are 2 different marinades -- don't know how available the ingredients are for you, but if you marinate those puppies for a few hours and either grill them or broil them (just till done - don't over cook!), you'll have a nice meal with a bit of an asian flair:

Pork Miso Marinade (our favorite)

If you can get your hands on some white miso:

1/2 cup of miso
1/3 cup Japanese soy sauce (a little less if it's Chinese - I found the Chinese stuff I cooked with in Barriere to be very dark and salty)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I know it's a lot but YUM! Honey is also a good substitute)
1/3 cup Jpns sake (I hear that cooking sherry is an ok substitute)
1/2 tbsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic (crushed)

Marinate at least 2 hours (pref. overnight) and grill or broil. Watch carefully b/c the sugar or honey burns easily.

Another Asian Pork Marinade (no miso, so probably easier to get hold of ingredients)

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar (or just white vinegar if that's what you've got)
1 tbsp crushed garlic
grated fresh ginger (we like lots)
salt and pepper (says the recipe, but I never add salt b/c of the soy sauce)

Marinate 2 hours or overnight and grill as in Miso pork. You can simmer the leftover marinade to kill all the nasty pork bugs and thicken it a bit, then serve it over the pork. I usually slice the chops in 1-cm strips across the grain, arrange them on a platter, drizzle sauce over and serve the rest of the sauce in a pitcher or gravy boat at the table.

Happy cooking!!!

Maureen said...

Pulled pork is an excellent use for that cut of pork you have - quite similar to the beef recipe I pointed you too in FB today. You can add curry to that pumpkin soup recipe for twist. Carnitas are another good use for that pork -and don't forget pea soup or ham and bean soup with the stock. Did I send you the pumpkin roll recipe I made for my mom's birthday party last year? Corn - that's easy - chowder! Or a corn casserole - traditional southern cooking there. In fact, if your library has a cook book selection, try and find one about traditional Southern cooking and you may find some good recipes for your ingredients. Happy Cooking - I'll keep thinking on other ideas!

Jan said...

Another idea for your pumpkin & corn -- combine them in succotash. (I usually use commercial frozen butternut squash cubes, but I'm lazy.)

I'd roast the pumpkin to give it more flavour. So, first dice it into about 1/2 inch cubes. Also dice up some fresh red pepper if it's in season. Toss them with a little bit of olive oil, spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined pan and bake at 425 for about 1/2 hour, or until cooked through and browned. Meanwhile, on the stove, boil your corn until tender, plus whatever beans you happen to have. Traditionally, it's lima beans (I use frozen commercial baby ones), but I'm sure you'll have a variety in your freezer or pantry that will work. [Obviously, if you're using dry beans, you'll have to start cooking them much earlier than the other ingredients.] Drain the corn & beans when cooked, throw in the roasted pumpkin & red pepper, toss with a bit of butter and season with salt & pepper.

Instead of the roasted red pepper, some of your carmelized tomatoes added at the end would also work well.

Oh, and here's a similar recipe I found on-line, this time with the ingredients sauteed in bacon fat. ;)

Jan said...

Not sure why that URL didn't make an active link. Let's try again:

Nicole up North said...

I crockpot my roasts and they fall apart they are so moist. Otherwise, I don't do roasts since they are always too tough and overcooked for me. I also LOVE this website, also a crockpot most of the ingredients are already in my pantry generally...