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Saturday dinner – pork with rice and beans

August 7, 2010

We went to the grocery store today and I spent $80 on food and a few toiletries. I haven’t bought cat supplies yet and we still need a few more things ourselves. I got a pair of chickens for 69c a pound. I was going to cook them tonight but they’re frozen solid, and their giblets are sealed in plastic inside them! So I put them in the fridge to thaw and I’ll roast them tomorrow. Instead we had the pork I’d planned to cook on Monday.

I made pork with rice and beans a few weeks ago and it came out very good so I made it again tonight. Alas it wasn’t nearly as nice this time round – I cooked the beans in with the rice to make sure they were soft, and the rice got a little overcooked and by the time I’d mixed everything together and seasoned it up it was on the gluey side. I think I’ll make the leftovers into rice cakes/balls and fry them. Or try to anyway…

Costing/Ingredients

  • 1/2lb boneless pork chop, sliced finely $1.50 ($3/lb)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed well 60c (Walmart store brand was a bargain!)
  • 1 stick celery ($2/bunch…)
  • sliced carrot ($1/lb)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (for me)
  • Assorted spices from our pantry

Kajikit’s Kitchen – on a Budget

August 7, 2010

I know I put this blog aside a long time ago – writing a cooking blog turned out to a be a lot more time and effort than I expected! But now it can serve a use again. We’re trying to cut down on our expenses, and one way to save money is in the kitchen… I’ve always tried not to be wasteful, but I’ve never really tracked expenses etc. For the next week or so I’m going to log every dinner I prepare and try to get a realistic account of how much money we’re spending on food.

Our pantry cupboard is fairly well stocked… last weekend I only spent $40 on groceries, buying bread, milk, eggs, biscuits, yoghurt and cat supplies.

Last week’s menus (as best I can remember them!)

Monday – hamburger sandwiches with bacon and cheese
– 3/4lb 90% lean ground beef from BJs ($2.50/lb); white bread ($1.50 loaf); Publix bacon ($3.50/lb used about 1/4 pack), a few pickles and lettuce leaves and sliced cheese.

Tuesday – chicken gravy and biscuits with frozen peas
– 1 pack refrigerator biscuits ($1.25); cooked chicken breast and homemade broth from freezer both made from roasting chicken at 80c/lb; a little milk and cornstarch.

Wednesday – Omelettes and biscuits (the leftover) with frozen veggies for me
– Eggs $1 on sale, used 1/2 carton; few slices salami and grated cheese

Leftover biscuits/chicken for my lunch, ham sandwiches for DH.

Thursday – Spaghetti and frozen vegetables
– Jar Barilla sauce $2.75 BOGO; 1 Italian sausage ($2/lb on sale); 3/4lb lean ground beef ($2.50lb); 1/2 pack whole wheat spaghetti $1.50 on sale, little parmesan cheese

Friday – Spaghetti (leftovers)  Lunch – leftover hamburger for DH and Lean Cuisine for me

This week I’m going to try to make an entry every day and I’ll go into a bit more detail.

The cooking is done, and I’m exhausted!

August 28, 2009

I was so busy cooking over the last two days that the only tray of cookies that got photographed was the first! But here they are to tempt you…sugar cookies

In total I made the following –

– 1 batch easy sugar cookies (recipe from allrecipes.com.) I’ve made these many times before. You can’t go wrong with a simple sugar cookie with something decorative embedded into it. I stashed away a bunch of bags of mini chocolate easter eggs post-holiday because they make very pretty cookies. Some (most) of the eggs crack in the oven but that’s okay. They taste great anyway. I finished the other half of them off with slices of candied papaya. I’d rather have used cherries, but they only sell them at Christmas and I’ve used my stash. This year I’ll make sure I buy twice as many! It’s strange because in Australia they’re a supermarket staple year-round.

– 1 batch spice cookies (my mother’s family recipe that she taught me when I was a kid. I used pumpkin pie spice to save time and they didn’t turn out as nicely as they usually do. I don’t think it had enough cloves in it.)

– 1 batch snickerdoodles (recipe from allrecipes.com.) I’d never made these before, but they’re very easy to make. I made two changes to this recipe – firstly I used butter, not shortening. And secondly, I used baking powder instead of baking soda/cream of tartar. I’m not even sure why snickerdoodles use the latter – they don’t have anything particularly acidic in them to set off the baking powder! Anyway, they turned out great and DH loved them.

Those first three cookies were made yesterday afternoon/evening so I could take my time. This morning I had to do some laundry and housework, and I got started on the rest of the cookies and slices at about eleven.

– 1 batch sugar-free sugar cookies for the diabetic church-members (recipe from splenda website.) New to me, and not that great. They’d be nicer sandwiched together with chocolate or frosting but that would defeat the purpose of making them sugar-free! I have no idea how to make them taste better without sugar… this dough is very very very soft and you have to chill it for at least an hour before you try to roll it out. It rolled out beautifully the first time and then it got squishy soft again when I went back for a second pass. And the finished cookies are basically tasteless. All in all, it’s not really worth the time and effort.)

– 1 batch of oatmeal cookies with the lot (my own recipe that I make regularly. Just regular oatmeal cookies with a bunch of chocolate chips and raisins and some craisins thrown in. They’re basically fruit and chocolate held together with a bit of cookie dough.)

– 1 tray chocolate chip brownies (my recipe I’ve made many times before, adapted from Barb Schaller’s famous orgasmic chocolate brownies.) Hers are delicious too but I add some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, cut the sugar back half a cup because the chips are very sweet, skip the raising agent,  and cut down the flour to 1 cup for even more chocolatiness.

– 1 tray mocha brownies (made up on the spot and delicious! I used my chocolate brownie recipe and put some strong coffee into it and added extra flour to make it the right consistency because the coffee made it runny. I had a bunch of mix left over, so I made some mini-brownie-bites to use it up and they turned out SCRUMPTIOUS!)

– 1 tray butterscotch blondies with butterscotch chips and pecans. (recipe I found online somewhere or other ages ago and printed out…) For some reason these didn’t turn out as nicely as they usually do… probably because I was tired and rushed. But they’ll do.

– 1 tray coconut blondies. This was entirely my own invention. I wanted to do coconut but the recipe I found that looked most promising used chocolate brownie mix with coconut sandwiched in the middle. I was running out of chocolate and cocoa powder, so I made a vanilla brownie mix with white sugar and sandwiched the coconut in the middle. I have to try to write this recipe down as best I can before I forget it because they’re DELICIOUS!!! If you want the original chocolate recipe, here it is on allrecipes.

– and 1 tray of marbled brownies because there was a bunch of butterscotch brownie mix left over. No recipe required, just half a batch of butterscotch and half a batch of chocolate swirled together and topped with chips.

– and lastly, because the sugar-free cookies weren’t really a success I decided to try making a sugar-free apple slice with an oaty topping. I figured that spice would give it lots of flavour and colour, and oats and coconut would add the crispness that the splenda just can’t create. The recipe needs tweaking but in general they worked. (Dough on the bottom pressed into the pan, unsweetened applesauce spread on it, then finely chopped apple and a few currants sprinkled in the middle, topped with an oat/coconut sugar-free streusel.) The bottom crust is very soft and cake-like and I think it would benefit from being pre-baked for crispness before the filling goes into it. Also I used too much baking powder in it. 1.5 cups of flour does NOT need a whole teaspoon of baking powder if you’re trying to make pastry!

And here are my brownies/blondies in all their glory. The missing squares are because all the new-to-me recipes had to be tasted to make sure they weren’t disasters! (of course…)

brownies,baking,chocolate brownies,mocha brownies,butterscotch chip blondies,coconut blondies,marbled brownies,sugar-free apple slice

More photos tomorrow when I pretty everything up and get it ready to take to the church for the funeral… for now I’m beat!

Fun times a’comin’!

August 26, 2009

One of our church members passed away a few weeks ago and the memorial service is on Saturday. His widow would like to have food, so I offered to bake… my next two days are going to be filled with shopping for ingredients and baking enough cookies and brownies for a crowd of 200! I’m assuming that two cookies apiece will be enough (because not everyone will have two and some people will want an extra) so I’ll make 400 cookies… I expect to make 50-odd cookies each of 4 different varieties. Ooops, I can’t count! That would only be 200… I need to do twice that! I’ll do two large batches of each and see how many that comes out to. And one square of brownie or slice per person, ie 200 squares.  By the time we get to the service I’m never going to want to look at another cookie again! But it’s all in a good cause…

On the menu –

  • – Basic sugar cookies
  • – Oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips
  • – Peanut Butter clouds
  • – Spice cookies? (not sure about these… I might try something different if I can find an interesting recipe.)
  • – To-die-for chocolate brownies
  • – Blondies with pecans and coconut
  • – Lemon sqares
  • Another slice of some kind… maybe a fruit slice or a coconut slice.

The slices will be baked in disposable aluminum trays… and I bought two new cookie sheets today so I’ve got 4 large cookie trays at my disposal instead of just two. That’ll make life simpler because I can prep the next two trays while the others are in the oven baking instead of having to do them one at a time. I usually bake one tray and prep one tray and alternate but this’ll be twice as fast.

Grocery list for tomorrow –

  • – 1 LARGE bag white sugar
  • – 1 large carton eggs
  • – 2 boxes unsweetened baking chocolate
  • – lemon juice

I just bought 4 boxes of butter, 10lbs of King Arthur flour, and a twin pack of baking powder so I don’t need to  buy any of them. I wonder how far that’ll go?

My favourite foody links

August 24, 2009

They say you learn a lot about someone by what they like to read… so here are a few of the sites that I like. All of these links open in a new window so you can browse to your heart’s content without losing my entry.

I read Chowhound every day – it’s a busy site and there’s always plenty of discussion going on. And you can get great ideas from the home cooking board. If you want to know what to do with a bunch of arugula, a few lemons and half a bag of basmati rice, somebody will be able to suggest something!

E-gullet is quieter, so I only need to check in there once a week or so. I’m not a professional foodie or restauranteur so some of their conversations go over the top of my head, but there’s still plenty of interesting stuff to be found.

I also read the rec.food.cooking newsgroup but it’s unmoderated and overrun with spam and junk postings, and it can be very hard to wade through the dross to find the ‘real’ food threads! It’s a shame because that was my first introduction to the cooking community…

When I want a laugh, I go to the infamous Cakewrecks blog… and I need say no more because by now I’m sure EVERYONE knows all about it! I know nothing at all about cake decorating, but I know how not to do it.

And when I just want to drool over delectable photos that look good enough to eat, I visit Foodgawker to feast my eyes… then I can click on some of the links to follow up.

Friday Feasting – Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting!

August 22, 2009

Carrot cake is one of those cakes that seems very complicated because it has a TON of ingredients, but when you put everything together it’s actually very simple… and since it has a vegetable in it you can pretend that it’s healthy! My starting point was the Carrot Pineapple Cake 1 from allrecipes.com. I was making carrot cakes for two households so I basically doubled the recipe – the recipe as listed on allrecipes makes one large cake, not three small ones.

Firstly, assemble your laundry list of ingredients. Not everything I used is actually shown in the picture because I added a few extra things as I went along. But most of the ingredients are here –
carrot cake

Get a large mixing bowl and put your dry ingredients into it. That includes the flour, sugar, salt, spices, and raising agent (this particular recipe uses baking powder AND baking soda.) Mix everything together really well. My mix is extra-brown because I used brown sugar, but you can use white if you prefer.
carrot cake

Make a small well in the middle of the mixed dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients – eggs, melted butter and/or oil (I used one stick of butter and 1/4 cup corn oil) and vanilla.
carrot cake

I don’t like to use a lot of fat or oil in my cooking, so I cut down on the quantities suggested (1 cup of oil for one cake sounds like an enormous amount to me!) and I substituted an individual container of applesauce and a mashed banana (we happened to have a really ripe banana needing to be used.) Mashed fruit adds sweetness and moistness to a cake and cuts the fat requirement in half.
carrot cake

When I’d added the mashed fruit, I realised that the mixture was WAY too dry, so I added some apple juice to moisten it up. If you wanted you could use pineapple juice or milk or even water… any type of liquid will work.
carrot cake

Next, add your fruit. Carrot cake can have any of all of the following fruits added to it – crushed pineapple (don’t drain it, use the juice in the cake), raisins or sultanas, grated coconut and nuts… I don’t really like coconut in carrot cake so I used a cup of raisins and 1/2 a big tin of pineapple. Whichever you want to use, mix it into the cake to taste.
carrot cake

Now for the fun part… it’s not a carrot cake without carrot in it! So grab a bunch of carrots and start prepping. You can use a food processor to do this very quickly, but I did it the old-fashioned way. You want to end up with about 2 cups of grated carrot per cake.
carrot cake

My kitchen supervisor had to approve the recipe at this point. Tessie thinks I put that chair on the other side of the kitchen counter just for her – cats are strictly prohibited from being on the kitchen counter and they know it (if we catch them up there they get sprayed with the water bottle!) But she loves to stand on the arm and to watch me working in the kitchen… after all, there might be something in it for her!
carrot cake

Oops… almost forgot to add the nuts. I don’t like walnuts so I used pecans. Just crumble them into the cake mix and stir them in. Pecans are so soft that they’re easy to break up with your hands.
adding nuts

Divide the cake mix into your pans. I was making cakes to give away so I used three disposable foil pans because it was simpler… and I stood them on baking trays to avoid any potential disasters in the oven.
carrot cake

Then I baked them at 350F for thirty minutes… then I swapped the trays around so that they could get equally heated, and I baked them for another 20 minutes or so. The end result? Delicious!
carrot cake

I would have been happy to eat the cake just like that… but that’s not the end of it. As DH pointed out to me, carrot cake just isn’t the same without cream cheese frosting on it! Fortunately, frosting is very easy to make. All you need is a packet of cream cheese, some confectioners sugar (or icing sugar, they’re the same thing) and some vanilla. Butter is optional depending on how much cream cheese you happen to have available… Soften the cream cheese in a bowl – the quick-and-easy way to do this is to put it into the microwave for 10-15 seconds. And then squish it and stir it until it’s smooth and creamy.
carrot cake

Then add your confectioners sugar a bit at a time and keep stirring until you have enough frosting for your cakes. In the end it should look something like this.
carrot cake

Dollop it onto your cakes and smooth it around with the back of the spoon until you like the way it looks, then put the cake into the fridge to set.
carrot cake

And there you are… your carrot cake is done. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week and still taste good… if you can make it last that long!
carrot cake

ANNOUNCEMENT!

August 18, 2009

After I started this blog I found out that most of the craft blogs are hosted on Blogger… so to make my life simpler I registered over there too. So now I have two blogs… which led to the decision that rather than deleting or moving this blog, I’m going to split it in two.

This blog is going to be devoted to my cooking exploits… and blogger will host my card-making. If you would like to read about my card-making and to try out my tutorials, follow my link to ‘Creating with Kajikit’, and if you’d like to read about my fun in the kitchen, stay right here… but I hope you’ll read both of them! My next cooking post will be ‘Tuesday Treats’ – today I made homemade chicken soup, and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Boy did that cake taste good!

Welcome to my world!

August 13, 2009

I thought I’d give this blogging thing a go… there are three things that occupy a lot of my time and interest, so they’re the subject of my blog.

1) Cats… namely ours! We have three kitties who very much rule the roost around here. Silver and Scout are sisters and they were adopted from the animal shelter right after we got married.That makes them going on for six now. They’re positively sedate, and they spend a lot of time lying in the sun or curled up in a box some place.
Our third feline, Tessie, adopted US. She’s a year or so younger than the other two, and while she has the body of a full-grown adult, she has the brain (and energy) of a kitten. Tessie loves to play, and one of her favourite games is chasey. She will chase anything that moves – balls, the laser pointer, her sisters… Silver will play with her on demand, but Scouty hates her.

Our fourth kitty isn’t actually ours… I am pathologically unable to ignore a cry for help, and Tommy Boy realised that and took advantage of it! I was feeding another kitty at the time (I thought Stripy Thing was a stray but he actually has a perfectly good home in the other building – he just likes to mooch!) and one day Tommy Boy smelled/saw/heard the food and came tearing up the stairs to get some. How could I possibly refuse such bravery? So he got his own bowl and he shows up for breakfast and dinner every day. He’s very much a feral and he doesn’t want to be touched or paid too much attention to, but he knows when it’s time to eat. And I’m happy to help him out… I will NOT turn any creature away from my door hungry if I have the means to help fill their belly.

2) My second interest is cooking. I’m not a gourmet cook… but I love good quality food made with real ingredients. I don’t use a lot of salt or additives in my food and store-bought or factory-made food tends to be disappointing, not worth the money, or plain dreadful. But I’m not a purist, and there are plenty of shortcuts that make my life simpler without spoiling the end product. I’m not ashamed to use a store-bought pizza crust… but it’s going to be topped with fresh vegetables (for me) and pepperoni (for John). I don’t use a lot of formal recipes in my cooking… cooking is mostly a mix of intuition and experience. I helped my mother with the baking from the time I was very young, and I took over cooking the family dinners when I was thirteen, so I’ve got plenty of experience under my belt! I love to look at recipe books and to get new ideas from them, but most of the stuff I actually make comes from my gut. Sometimes it works… and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s just the way life is. I celebrate the successes and pull the rug over the failures and move on. And there are very few nights when we have to turn to pizza! 😛

3) My third interest is crafts. I’ve toyed with scrapbooking (both paper and digital), cross-stitch and various other crafts, but my real love is making things from paper. I did scrapbooking for quite a few years, but it gets to be a very expensive hobby very quickly. After we were married I settled on cards because they’re quick, easy, inexpensive, and useful. I love being able to produce a result fairly quickly and then to give it to someone else and pass on the joy. I make cards for our church and I make cards for the Cards for Heroes project. Cards for Heroes collects handmade greeting cards, collates them into boxes, and ships them off to the troops overseas so they can keep in touch with their families. CFH also collects ‘hero cards’ with notes, letters etc in them so that the heroes can be encouraged as well… it’s got to be mighty tough to be away from your family and loved ones for so long, and they need all the encouragement they can get!

4) I know I said I had three interests… but there are actually four. My last interest, which probably won’t get as much airtime here because it’s very personal and more a subject for my private diary, is church… I’ve been a Christian since I was fifteen, and while I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with the church itself and sometimes I’ve gone for months at a time without setting foot in the church door, my faith is a central part of my life. I don’t believe in sitting here and telling other people what to do or believe. So don’t expect to be lectured at… but I wouldn’t be me without God.

And that’s me in a nutshell… I’ll get some photos in here when I figure out how to do it. I’ve never had a blog before so it’s all new to me! I hope you’ll stick around for the journey…