We’ve all had that moment were we open the produce drawer only to be confronted by a wilted, accusatory vegetable.
“You wanted me! You drove all the way to the store, wandered the aisles for an hour, and selected me to come home with you. Then you just forgot me?!?!!”
“Look, I’m sorry, Celery. I just got busy-”
“Oh, please. You managed to cook the squash and the broccoli! You cook all the time!”
“I know, you’re right. Look, let me make it up to you.”
“I’ll write a blog post all about how to use up celery in your condition, so that no celery ever gets wasted again.”
“….And, I’ll give you a bunch of dialog, so you can yell at me all you want.”
So here we are. As I said, I bought too much celery, only to find it limp and unappealing. What to do?
If the celery is not too bad, just on the cusp of “Oh crap, I better use this up right now”, cut it up for snacks! I’m very fortunate in that I can hand almost any food item to Hubby, say “I made you a snack!” and he’ll eat it up. Much like Joey on Friends when their fridge broke. You can always count on me for current pop-culture references!
When the celery is just a little wilty, cut some of the bottom off, then place it in a glass of water. It’s still a plant, and it will suck up water like a 3rd grader’s science experiment. If any of the leaves are gross, just throw them away, and clean the celery off. You can use the same trick with green onions.
Chop it up and freeze it. You can either cut it up by itself, or with carrots and onions, as I’ve done here. The next time you’re making soup you can just throw your pre-chopped veggies in there, and pat yourself on the back for your frugalness! Go you!
The only way to save money is not to spend it. One way to do that is to eat the food you already have, rather than buying new.
I am always looking for ways to cut my spending, make life simpler, and reduce waste. I have often seen and been tempted by those disposable, sanitizing wipe things that come in huge canisters, and I’ve found myself grabbing baby wipes to clean up more things than just my baby. Well, no more! We can make reusable, washable, non-toxic wipes ourselves!!
You will need:
Wipes, (I used baby wash clothes I had laying around, which I’ve found for about $6/12 pack online. You could also repurpose an old towel, sweatshirt, or other absorbent fabric), vinegar, dish soap, water, and a container or two. If you buy new wash clothes, make sure to run them through the wash first. In your container, mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a couple drops of dish soap. You can add essential oils if you like that kind of thing. I’ve also used less vinegar before, so they don’t smell so strong, and it worked fine. Swish that stuff around, then smush your wash cloths down into the liquid. You want them to ideally be damp, but not drippy.
And now you’re ready! Wipe up any little spills without guilt! For dried on stuff, I spray plain vinegar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe everything down. When I’m done, I just toss the wipes in with our regular laundry. Note: you don’t want to use dryer softener, like Snuggles or Bounce, with these, or any other towels. It coats them with softeners which reduces their absorbency.
I make one batch at a time, and have another container of dry wipes ready to go. Some people use this same recipe with paper towels so they can throw it away when they’re done, and that’s up to you. I use paper towels for exceedingly gross stuff, like anything that comes out of my cats, but kitchen counters aren’t heinously disgusting like those little hell beasts.
Anyway, this recipe is great. My kitchen is already oodles cleaner, and we’re not burning through paper towels at a frightening rate anymore! Now go forth, and save!
The other day I was yet again in the kitchen chopping vegetables. As I was preparing to make soup I thought, “Why should I chop veggies for just one pot of soup when I make it all the time?” So I chopped double, and put one batch in the freezer! If you’ve been following the blog as religiously as I hope, you can one day end up with a perfect storm of tastiness in your freezer: shredded chicken, your pre-chopped veggies, and some amazing broth, all ready to be assembled.
Any time you’re chopping stuff, think to yourself “What else could I be chopping?” This saves time and mess later, and makes it that much easier to cook at home rather than going out, or living on mac ‘n cheese.
Below, left to right we have onions for breakfast tacos, freezer soup veggies, current soup veggies, compost for scraps, veggies for chicken salad, and veggies for my dog, Flapjack. He freaking loves frozen green beans and the ends of carrots.
Also, this is my 500th blog post! I have been blogging for about 4 years now, which just blows my mind. I wish I had something special planned, but you know, just had a baby and all that. As a mini-celebration, I will send a hand-crafted item to someone who comments on this post. For real! You will get something created by my elegant hands. I will choose a comment using secret and completely arbitrary criteria, but if you make me laugh you have a good chance. I know you can barely contain yourselves, so have at it minions!
When I was chopping up a ton of veggies at once, I made some 3 bean salad for Hubby. He has no microwave or refrigerator available for his lunches, and was getting tired of sandwiches. For this I used:
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2-3 raw jalapenos (Hubby like VERY spicy food)
1/4 cup diced onion (you could use green or red onions)
1 can chick peas
1 can pinto beans
1 can white beans
1 can corn
Red wine vinaigrette dressing to taste
I basically chopped and drained everything, threw it in a bowl, and tossed it in dressing until it tasted good. There are some more technical recipes out there with all kind of complex dressing recipes, but ain’t nobody got time for that!
The great thing about making this at the same time I was cutting up veggies sticks is that when there was a weird shaped part on the bell pepper that didn’t lend itself to being stick shaped, I just cut it off and tossed it in the bowl. Also, I only had to clean the kitchen up once. This is also a great summer time recipe, since there is no cooking required.
Hubby loved the freshness and spiciness of this, but I couldn’t even eat it, what with all the bell peppers in there. BLARG. True love is purchasing and preparing bell peppers even when you hate them.
I’m a little behind on blog posts, so this is from a couple months back, but well worth the wait! A few months ago I had the perfect storm of mass cooking occur. I started by browning some hamburger, about half of which I stored to make beef stroganoff later.
I then added some cabbage, carrots, and onions I had chopped up while making three bean salad and raw veggies for snacks, all while keeping the kitchen clean. Cook the veggies to your desired cooked-ness. I like mine somewhat caramelized.
I used: about 1/2 pound beef (browned and drained), 1/3 head of cabbage (chopped), 1 carrot (chopped), 1/2 onion (diced), garlic salt and pepper to taste.
I then made a triple batch of this biscuit dough, one batch of which I smashed out for the topping on my shepherd’s pie.
Bake the whole thing according to the biscuit recipe, and you can even have the biscuits in the oven at the same time!
This type of strategy makes it so much easier to eat homemade food every day. I have a newborn at home, so BELIEVE me, I understand that it’s hard to find time to cook every meal. Get around it by prepping a bunch of stuff at once, or even cooking multiple meals at once.
I cook a lot, even now in my giant state of gestation. I’m actually cooking extra and freezing it for later, but that’s a tale for another post. I hate making a mess in the kitchen every single day, or at all, so I have developed a few tips to reduce the prevalence of mess in the kitchen.
If you’re chopping veggies, have all your materials at hand: here we have 3 bean salad on the left, compost in the back center, veggie sticks on the right, and cutting board front and center. All of this takes place directly next to the sink so I can easily wash veggies.
Any time you’re about to start cooking, have the dishwasher empty and ready for each dirty dish as you’re done with it. If you hand wash things, have your drying rack empty, and a sink-full of hot, soapy water ready to go. I often finish some of the dishes while something is simmering on the stove.
Chop veggies for multiple meals at once. You can also shred cheese or cook extra meat for more than one meal at a time. My products for the day shown here: veggies for shepherd’s pie and veggie sticks to eat at work in the containers on the left, 3 bean salad center, and veggies for Hubby on the right. These all lasted most of the week. Obviously you don’t want to cut things up TOO far in advance, but a few days at a time is fine.
Anything you can clean as you go makes clean up MUCH easier. When you’re done with the olive oil, put it away. Wipe down each section of counter as you’re done with it. Put dirty dishes in the dirty dish receptacle. Throw trash away. Prevent messes in the first place by covering spattery foods, and by making sure pots don’t boil over. There’s usually lots of down-time in the kitchen where you have to be in there to make sure things aren’t exploding, or scorching, so you might as well put it to good use. By the time you’re done cooking, most of the kitchen can be back to normal, if you keep on top of it during cooking. At the very least, if you end up with half the mess already dealt with, there’s that much less to do at the end of the evening. I know that for me seeing a destroyed kitchen is much more daunting than a HALF destroyed one.
Do you have any mess-reducing tips? Leave them in the comments, and maybe I’ll acknowledge your presence!
I have been having a weird couple of weeks. It seems like random, slightly unpleasant events keep occurring. That, in and of itself, is not unusual for me, but things have been happening so frequently that I’m starting to wonder if I slipped through a hole in the space-time continuum. Maybe I’m in a parallel dimension that’s very similar to my own, but in which dishes jump off counters, fruit trees have no fruit, and I’m a pirate.
First of all, the other day I was just walking through my bedroom, just like normal. Somehow I smashed my left foot into my bed. I tend to trip on things, and bump into things a lot, but this was horrific. It is still hurting, 5 days later, and it was hugely swollen, with weird purple spots (See?!? Even bruises are weird in this dimension!). The ironic part is, a large portion of my left foot is numb at all times, due to a pinched nerve in my back. Did I smash the numb part? Of course not. So I’ve been hobbling around like a wicked crone in a fairy tale.
A week or so ago, I went to my dentist for a normal cleaning. Did it work out with a pat on the back and a free toothbrush? I’m not that lucky. First of all, I got a COUPON for a toothbrush. What? I depend on the dentist to supply all my travel sized dental equipment. A coupon for a normal sized toothbrush doesn’t help me. I already have dozens of them laying around at home. Second of all, my nice, young dentist, from my same hometown was gone. Instead, I have the love child of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mr. Clean. He was polite, but intimidating. Turns out that one of my fillings from last year needs to be replaced (he wouldn’t say if it was done incorrectly before), and he wanted to give me a GOLD tooth. Granted, it would be way in the back, and I do love pirates, but still. My insurance company decided that if I was going to have the fun of being a pirate, I had to pay for a large chunk of it myself, so normal filling it is. That whole experience was not fun, but I’m sure everyone knows what it’s like, so I won’t force any of us to relive the horror that is the dentist’s chair.
Right now, in my kitchen, there is the inexplicable sound of water running. I have checked the sink, under the sink, the outside hoses, the water heater, the water heater downspout outside, and the sink upstairs. Hubby has checked it all too, and we cannot find anything. It’s like Chinese water torture, but instead of dripping on my head, it’s giving me visions of water building up inside the walls, slowly destroying my home, and everything I love.
As always, Hubby and I are constantly trying to lighten the workload around the house and be more ecofriendly, when possible. Our dishwasher is tempermental at best, and we were having to rewash things at least twice. We decided that if we each had one bowl and one plate, we would just use them, and hand wash them ourselves. This way, the dishes don’t stack up, and no one gets resentful having to wash up the gross dishes the other person leaves with food on them in the sink rather than just rinsing them. 3 guesses who does that. We went to the thrift store and picked out one each. The whole system was working great. There were a very small number of dishes each day that we easily hand washed. Then, somehow, my bowl jumped out of my hand and committed suicide. It exploded across the kitchen, scaring the crap out of me and Flapjack. I cleaned it up, and everything returned to normal, but now more dishes are appearing. I decided I would just use one of the bowl we had, but they must be multiplying on the counter. It’s bizarre.
More of the Strange World of Clever Chick in Part 2: Seriously, call Stephen Hawking
I’m constantly scaring the crap out of myself by flipping the switch for the garbage disposal instead of the light in the kitchen. I’m sick of this so I made labels for myself. Not your normal, boring labels, with words or something. Who’d write a blog post about that? I used illustrations; one for the dishwasher, one for the garbage disposal, one for the light. I drew them with pen on masking tape.
(Said in Bob Ross voice) That’s a little shiny plate.
That’s a happy glowing light bulb. My camera is not fantastic, so I had to zoom and crop a lot. They look much better in real life.
This is the monster that lives in my sink, the garbage disposal. He’s my favorite. Maybe now I’ll stop flipping random switches and yelping randomly when I cook!