Sunday, January 11, 2009

Start of the 2nd full week

Here we are on Sunday with the morning coming to a close and I've just put on a large slow cooker full of boeuf bourguignon for the week. It's been a relatively easy morning for me, sleeping until 8 when the dog woke me and then the paper online with coffee and then fresh yogurt and toast. In between all of that I started a 1/2 batch of brioche using the recipe from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day blog here:

I have now been perusing this blog for more ideas as I work to perfect my bread and still keep the preparation down to something I can handle as we work our way through the week and I must say they 2 are onto something here; making a dough once each week or so and then refrigerating it for up to 2 weeks (5 days for the brioche because of it's inclusion of eggs) and then pulling off just what you need as you need it. A brief rest and rise period after shaping and into the oven for fresh bread, rolls and pastry. Now if the brioche works I'll be a seriously happy camper. I do have to say that one of the things I like best about bread making is that I can accomplish something and still have down time to run the wash, read my book, clean the kitchen, read the paper or play with the dog all while I'm doing something else. This is why I've always loved bread making but if I can still get those same things in without the longer preparation steps then I'm sold. So far it is working and the loaf of sandwich bread I baked last night is the best so far in my 10 days or so back at it.

This morning after the paper and before the coffee ran out I stumbled onto a new blog that I find very interesting as it is in the same vein as this writing insofar as it is about eating frugally. How it differs though is the writing is far more accomplished and dare I write it out loud, more amusing than my own. Hmm, this I'll have to work on. It just seems like such a serious subject but there will have to be humorous moments of which I'll obviously need to share with you all. The blog is Poor Man's Feast and it was started roughly the same time as mine and for roughly (very) similar reasons as my own; using everything that comes through the door and frugally eating very well however I have not yet turned to a roast duck and rendering the fat from it as part of my frugality but who's to say I won't? I do have to confess though that I still have commercially rendered duck fat leftover from the holidays in my fridge so it may not be on the menu for some time as Henry has let me know he is averse to eating the wee water fowl.

Back to my living on the cheap, I was able to consolidate shopping into other travels yesterday and concluded all my grocery needs as I subjected the auto to it's biannual emissions test and getting Henry off to a play date with a friend a few miles away. Without going out of my way I shopped at 4 stores (one of which was only to pick up powdered milk from a bulk section for the yogurt experiment without purchasing an army's worth but more on that in a bit) for groceries and 1 for dog food. Trader Joe's will probably be more of an every other week stop for me because of it's more specialized foodstuffs and lack of bulk produce; everything is pre-packaged, even the fresh produce which although the pricing is very good it calls into question just how "fresh" is the fresh produce and also I just don't like all the packaging. TJs will still be my store of choice for lower cholesterol eggs high in Omega-3s for a reasonable price as well as chocolate, everyday cheese and other such stuff but most of their food is of the pre-prepared/pre-packaged variety and that is what we're doing our best to avoid with this project. I did spend a bit more this week than last but I believe I also have laid in some stock which will carry us into the following week as well. It may well be a pattern that one week the bills are lower and the next a bit higher but still the goal is for the month overall. I've also started tracking my purchases with some detail ins a spreadsheet that includes separate categories for the groceries, liquor/beer/wine and pet food and this weekend I spent $53.78 on people food, $38.65 on dog food and $10.12 including tax for wine. I also had to make one more quick stop last week so in addition to the $34.71 I reported earlier I added $4.58 more last week for $39.29 and this takes me to a grand total for the month to date of $93.07 and I expect that to carry us well through the next week even with this being a Henry week with me.

Speaking of a Henry week, he assisted yesterday with some menu planning and is still interested like some of you to see if this can actually be successful. He requested chicken parmesan and on Friday nights we usually do some variation on a pizza theme (pizza, stromboli, calzone, etc.) in front of a movie on the tube where on the weeks he is with me only 2 evenings I have no problem eating more leftovers and quick foods when I'm by myself so that may be where some of the every other week higher cost may play out as well, we'll see.

On to the fun stuff...
The yogurt experiment was a rousing success and I used kind of a combination of techniques. I did use the slow cooker but only for a form with which to keep the heating pad secure around the jar in which the magical mixture fermented into it's thick and silky wonderful-ness. Many of the recipes I found encouraged the use of whole milk for your first attempts as it apparently is easier to get and keep the thickness up and I chose to use a natural organic local product that contains only milk and live cultures, no pectin or added sugar of any kind. So here is my first recipe:

Homemade Whole Milk Yogurt

  • 32oz Whole milk ($1.49)
  • 2 Tbl Powdered whole milk (~$.25)
  • 6oz Organic whole milk yogurt - Room temperature ($1.19)

  1. Whisk the powdered milk into the whole milk and warm to 120 F in the microwave
  2. Pour most of the milk mixture into a clean glass jar w/ a cover retaining about 1/2 cup
  3. Take the temperature of the milk mixture and be certain it is not over 115 F
  4. Whisk the room temperature yogurt into the retained 1/2 cup of milk and add to jar
  5. Cover and wrap with a heating pad set to medium
  6. Check temperature periodically and keep between 110 F and 115 F. Too hot will kill the cultures and too cool and fermentation will not take place.
  7. Ferment between 3 and 12 hours depending on how much "tanginess" you like, I did 5 hours
  8. Cover and refrigerate overnight
I had this today with a tablespoon of no added sugar strawberry freezer jam from this past summer with toast and it was delicious. A little thin but I could strain it and get it a bit thicker and keep the whey to add to my bread recipes since it is full of protein but that's a different post...

And now, I'm off and to the gym... Stay tuned for a review of my boeuf bourguignon and tarte tatin for Sunday dinner soon.


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