Archive | Home Economics RSS feed for this section

So bad… but so good!

13 Sep


I’m a great wife because I cook for my husband.  I’m not so great because dinner hits the table around 10:30pm.  Points for effort?

I know this isn’t when I normally talk about my attempts at frugality, but it coincides so nicely this weekend with my attempts in the kitchen that I really can’t avoid the subject.  I saw a commercial on Sunday morning that Pahl’s Market has a fresh vegetable stand inside their garden center.  We decided to check it out on the way home from church, and scored all of this…

…for $3.87!  I used a poblano and the tomato in a breakfast scramble thing with the leftover chorizo from last week’s bake and one of the limes in a couple of gin & tonics.  The tomato was juicy and red.  The poblano was actually spicy.  That never happens!  The limes were sweet, which was strange but amazing.  The big beige blob you see is a spaghetti squash.  It’s something I’ve been meaning to try for a couple years, but either I never notice them or they aren’t available at all stores.  A good friend of mine grew up on the stuff and has good childhood memories of it.  Plus, we figured this meal cost us five or six bucks, and could have really been 3 or 4 servings, not just 2.

I thought I’d keep it simple for my first rodeo and just make a tomato sauce to go with it.  The husband was SO impressed with the low low prices that he was willing to race back to Pahl’s before closing time last night so that I could get some more tomatoes, a head of garlic, and an onion for said sauce.  I got home with my killing and got to work.

A trick: score the bottom of the tomatoes with an “X” and place them in a collander in the sink.  Heat water in a kettle to boiling and pour it over the tomatoes.  Cool them with cold water from the tap, and then peel them.  The skins come right off!  No bad words necessary!
I chopped half of the onion and smashed a couple cloves of garlic, and set them to saute them in my best olive oil.  Then I got to work on the squash… easier said than done.  Several knives were discarded in the process, but this little guy was the winner.  I could make a nimble fist, jam him into the skin, and work it slowly around the diameter.  I’ve read a few recipes that say you can bake the squash whole, and THEN cut it open.  Next time.  I scooped the seeds out, oiled it up, and baked it cut-side down on some foil.  I think about 375F for 30-40 minutes should do it.

While the squash was baking, I got to work on my sauce.  I hacked the skinned tomatoes into chunks with my awesome kitchen shears, threw in a couple of bay leaves, and let it go for about half an hour.  After it was nice and simmery, I just used my wooden spoon to smush the tomatoes into a nice pomodoro.  A little salt and pepper and some dried basil, and I was done.  The squash came out of the oven and in went some ripped up hunks of sourdough also left over from last week’s breakfast bake, coated with olive oil and Penzey’s life-altering Shallot Salt.

I “fluffed” the squash with a fork, kind of like you do with rice, to separate the strands.  Each half more than filled a pasta bowl, and I topped it with the sauce.  The sauce turned out to taste exactly like the sauce my mom always made when I was a kid.  I always hated it.  I wanted Spaghetti-Os.  I wanted Stouffer’s Lasagna.  I did NOT want FRESH VEGETABLES.  Times have changed.  I want fresh vegetables, and I want to live on this squash and sauce and shallot hunk combo forever.

Advertisements

Plan Schman

8 Sep

I think I’ve mentioned before that my husband is a planner.  I, on the other hand, am not.  I think it stems from my inability to make a decision.

These are at once strengths and weaknesses.  Take this weekend… we have options!
There’s a BBQ shindig at an old college friend’s place.  We’d know a few people, but it’s definitely a drop-in party.
There’s a loose plan to do somethingorother with a couple we wish we spent more time with.  We need to refinish our deck (more on THAT later).
I’d like to get a little shopping in… yes, I know this is my “Thrifty Thursday” post, but it’s definitely autumn around here, and I neeeeeed some scarves.
I’d also like to have a little time to just sit and read, as the next book club meeting is in ten days and I’m pretty far from my goal of finishing two books between meetings.  I aim high, don’t I…

To him, this means that we’ll do all of these things.

To me, this means we might stop by that party, or we might be too tired.  Or we might decide that it’d be better to get a start on refinishing the deck, and have ourselves a good powerwash.
We’ll probably hang out with that couple we like so much, but it’s hard to say when or where, because it’s only Thursday!
I’m sure we’ll end up at the mall, but if it’s nice weather, then maybe not.  Who wants to waste a sunny day inside?
And, as usual, my quiet reading time will probably take the back seat on the weekend bus.

For the most part, we’ve settled into managing our time my way.  Just the other day, he even changed The Plan in the middle of the afternoon.  I was completely thrown!  And more than a little bit proud.

But the money, we do that his way.  This is where his “The Plan” thing pays off.  We’ve made some good progress on our financial goals so far this year.  So motivating!  As we round out 2011 (did I mention it’s scarf-and-boot season?), we want to stay on that track, plus we’ve set a little savings goal.  With a goal, it’s so much easier to make those in-the-moment decisions.  Buy what’s on sale!  Skip the appetizer and dessert!  Drink at home!

Nothing!  That’s what!

I find it easier to set goals if I can attach them to a gizmo.  Someone told me recently that people who shop for a project but never FINISH the project are really in love with the creative process.  Fine.  I looked at Smarty Pig and loved their pink and green site, but didn’t necessarily love that it allowed me to solicit for “donations” through social media.  But if you’re into that, I guess it’s a neat feature.  They are literally a piggy bank, and allow you to dump out in the form of gift cards, debit cards, or ACH transfer.  There are some free-money bonuses for redeeming gift cards through their partners, so that’s neat.  But it involves opening a new bank account, and that’s more hassle than I’m willing to endure.

Mint.com is a little more my style.  Not visually, their site design does nothing for me – that whole pig thing is too cute.  But they’re more of a chalkboard of what’s happening in all your accounts.  They just pull the information from your various financial institutions so that you can see your debts, savings, investments, and spending patterns laid out all pretty.  They call this a “read-only” service, which is also a security measure.  If you can’t move your money around through Mint.com, neither can anyone else.

The winner!  Check it out and see what you think!