The little Clay Pot

Lots of things can go in a little Clay Pot

Getting back to basics. May 28, 2010

Right of the bat, let me say “Sorry for the delay.”   The last month of school was a bit intense and the last two weeks have been spent trying to put my seriously havoc ridden home back together–a task that has almost been accomplished.  Add to that the beautiful weather and the need to get the seeds and plants in the ground and it has been all I could do to keep food in our bellies, let alone actually planning and being smart about it. In fact, during finals week my two oldest children made coffee cake for lunch to have with fruit…twice…because it kept them busy and answered the “What am I going to feed these cridders?” question.  Furthermore, in the spirit of true confession, Yesterday…I fed them ice cream and pretzels.

As things slowly come back together though…I can smell bread in the oven, and we can actually walk on the floors in the bedrooms and not on toys and laundry, and my nails still have traces of garden dirt…I feel a sense of supreme bliss, knowing that this summer is going to be fantastic.  I will be able to make my menus and enjoy the foods that I will access to at the farmers markets.  I will be able to grow some of our own foods and even some medicinal herbs that I am finally taking the time to learn about.  And I will be able to share these things with my children…so that they will know that we never stop learning and that we can always learn a new way of doing things.  For example: not going out to eat or grabbing sub sandwiches because mom doesn’t feel like cooking at the end of a long hot day but instead–simmering a stew hen all day, shredding the meat, mixing it with BBQ sauce and making a beautiful chicken BBQ salad with a side of fried left over salt potatoes with fennel and chives.  It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t hard and best of all it didn’t require extra $$ or time.

“MUD MEN”

Best of all, as things get back into our preferred routine, I will be able to watch my children be children.  As we teach them to work the soil, and pull weeds and water plants…we can watch them discover (again!) the wonderful attributes of MUD!  It is a simple pleasure…and perhaps a bit devious in nature because there is something so satisfying at hosing them off with the garden hose…but these are the things I hope to make more time for by getting back into the menu, planning routine. So I will pick up where I left off…hope you still plan on reading along and sharing your thoughts as we go.  But most of all I hope you enjoy your summer…and maybe even some “mud” of your own.

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ACK! I missed my Bounty Order! March 31, 2010

Unfortunately yesterday I was focused on other tasks that had to be done, and I forgot about placing my bounty order until after it was to late! I have not missed a bounty order in a month or two, so I am very disappointed.  I am also into “CRunCH” time with my school work, so I need to be organized over the next couple of weeks to make sure that I am not making these silly time/money wasting mistakes!

The first step is going to be a thorough inventory of the kitchen.  Please hold, this may take a few moments, and I will probably get detoured by the needs of a human under 4ft tall. …………….

OK, now that is done, to create a grocery list and a menu.  I have decided that I am going to try to get through to next Thursday with the bare necessities and a few pantry items.  I need to restock on oatmeal (if anyone knows of a place to purchase non-plastic large food containers I would love to know!) and I will need milk, and a few produce items as well as a few things for dinner next week.  I am going to try to get the milk from a local farmer, and the oats and most everything else I will get from Troyer’s.   The menu for next week is very budget friendly, and so I should be able to maintain my $100.00 mark.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to post a grocery list or a break down of what I have purchased–that is not labor intensive.  I have considered scanning my notebook that I take with me and use to keep track of prices, and I think I will try to play with that this week.  I am also looking at some other blog themes that may allow me to organize a bit differently.

Also please take the time to read Mama Beth’s comment on the Breakfast on a Budget post…she is the amazing woman who shared the oatmeal/granola recipe and I greatly respect her experience, expertise and energy!

 

Breakfast on a Budget. March 26, 2010

Personally, I am not a big breakfast person…unless it is a BIG breakfast: pancakes, eggs, bacon, oranges, fried potatoes, cinnamon rolls, coffee, Juice.  But let’s face it–the farm family breakfast is just not realistic on a daily basis–at least not in my house!  I think most Americans today have cold cereal, milk, perhaps a fruit, some juice and maybe some toast.  But I know that for us, for a looooong time the routine was–cold cereal–milk–and juice.   Except Saturday, Saturday is pancakes and I think my children would revolt if I tried to pull anything over on them in that department.  I missed a Saturday a few weeks ago and promised to make them on Sunday…there was no backing out on Sunday…they were ready to make a picket line in front of the bathroom if I started to recant!

So as I started this venture I immediately started noticing how much was being spent on cereal.  Even at Aldis a box of “Crisp Rice” is approx $1.49.  Even in Walmart you can expect to pay any where from $1.60- $3.00 (and I think I am being conservative here) for boxed cereal depending on the brand.  Then feed four children an average of 3/4-1 Cup of cereal each day…(Not to mention my husbands, “I’m ready to go to bed–it is time for a bowl of cereal.” habit.) I have to buy at least 2 boxes each week.  So even if it is Crisp Rice from Aldi’s (which is a smaller box and normally I would buy 3 boxes for a week) – that is $4.50 for breakfast not including a fruit or the milk.

Enter the Mighty OAT.  Am I dating myself if I refer to Wilford Brimley telling us all that eating oatmeal is “The right thing to do”?  Oatmeal is actually a very good breakfast food.  It is filling, but not fattening, it is warm or cold, and it is good for our cholesterol.  Amazingly it is also very cost effective.  I can buy rolled oats at my local Amish store for $.70/lb.  A 6.55 lb bag costs $4.59.  Now I have not figured out mow many cups are in 6.55 lbs of oat meal, but I only have to by a bag every few weeks. So figure it is about $1.50 a week?  OR I can buy STEEL CUT OATS (or Oat Grout) (the unrolled oat, some people say it is more filling because it is not processed) for $.62/lb.

My magic numbers for rolled oats are 2 to 4.  Boil 4 cups water, add 2 cups oats.  This is the perfect amount for my 4 kids (for now.)  I am preferring the oat grout right now for 2 reasons:

  1. The magic numbers are 1 to 4.
  2. I can put it  in the crock over night and it is ready in the morning, with minimal clean up!  The recipe can be found here. If my husband want’s to eat some before he goes to work, this is good for that too, because I don’t have to get up at 3am to make him oatmeal before he goes!  I just change the 1 cup oats to 4 cups of water to 1 1/4 cups oats to 5 cups of water.

Now, my kids do get a little tired of oatmeal with butter and brown sugar. So we started experimenting.  We add Fruit (fresh or frozen), nuts and coconut, chocolate chips, maple syrup.  Anything really.  A favorite treat is to mix hot cocoa into it!  But if we really need something different we use this method suggested by a reader.  This is great as a “cold cereal” or on top of yogurt or even plain.  And there is no limit to what you can add  nuts, fruit…hmmm probably even some hot cocoa (will have to experiment with that!)

I do not buy much juice, a lot of cost for not a great nutrition (depending on the variety of course).  So we drink tea or milk or water and have an orange or mandarin with breakfast to get in that Vit. C.  These typically are not too expensive at Aldi’s and a large orange can be split between 2 kids.   I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but based on the USDA guidelines Children aged 2-8 only need 1- 1 1/2 cup of fruit per day.   And when you look at what counts as 1 cup, you don’t need to eat your whole serving at once.  A half an orange at breakfast, and 1/2 cup of pears or apple at lunch…and *POOF* you’ve done it!  Throw some plums or raisins in for a snack and now you have exceeded the need and gotten most of the recommended vitamins!   Apart of the $$ problem is that we just plain eat too much and waste too much.  When we put in perspective what our bodies really need to be healthy…suddenly we are able to spend a lot less money.

Happy eating!

 

Spring Planning- March 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — littleclaypot @ 4:22 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Finally getting into the swing of things with this new schedule.  Although I am starting to think that schedules are overrated and that I need to learn to adapt at a quicker pace.  But the weather has been lovely and it is starting to demand my full attention, insisting that we spend every possible moment outdoors…cleaning up the yard, playing with the dog, and dreaming about the garden that will be growing soon.

I am not an educated gardener.  I buy seeds, (or if the income allows plants from a nursery) I stick them in the ground, I water, weed, and cross my fingers.  Last year we put in 4 6×6 raised beds.  One of them went unused because of poor planning on my part.  This year I am trying to be more educated about where and when to plant what.  My hopes are to actually can/freeze some of the food we grow for next winter…but I have been saying that for about the last 7 years!

I am also looking into some of the local CSA’s (will spend some more time on this concept at a latter date I think).  I think that it may allow for me to focus on the few things I can grow and preserve, and not get over done with all the things I would “like” to grow.   I think the concept is also great for people who do not have enough space to provide a summer’s worth of bounty.

The spring planning is fun, but I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt!

 

A Day Late and a Dollar Short. March 13, 2010

We have already addressed that sometimes lifestyle, or LIFE in general keeps us from leading a well planned, budgeted existence, so we won’t go over that again…but let’s take note that sometimes when we run into a glitch it takes a while to recoup and heaven forbid that we run into two glitches in a row!

This week my husbands work schedule got changed…so my “routine” of shopping on Thursday or Friday will now have to adjust to shopping on Monday or Tuesday.  Thank you for being patient while we adjust.  So in lieu of some thoughtful banter I am posting my CNY Bounty order that was delivered 3/11/10 and breaking down how I will use it.  Hope to be back in the groove on Monday with some ideas for breakfast and a better format for posting exactly what is being purchased and used each week!

Product

Producer

Price

Use

Milk – Whole – 1 Gal

Evan’s Farmhouse Creamery

$6.31

Mostly for Drinking.  We normally go through about 3 gallons a week.

Yogurt – Orange – Quart

Evan’s Farmhouse Creamery

$4.06

For 1 lunch (with apples and bread) and 1 breakfast (with granola and fruit)

1/2 and 1/2 – 1 qt

Queensboro Farm Products

$1.55

For the husbands coffee

Apples – Empire

Split Rail Apple Farm

$5.53

For lunch.  We normally do slices to make them stretch.

Eggs

Tea Party Acres

$2.93

For cooking, and hard boiled for lunch.

Salad – Bouquet

Finger Lakes Fresh

$2.00

For..salad.

Utility Carrots – 4lb

Stick & Stone Farm

$5.85

These are lovely!  Used in cooking, salad, and as a raw veg.

Breakfast Sausage – bulk

Drover Hill Farm

$6.49

(this was actually out, so I won’t be using it.)

Hot Dogs – All Pork

Ingallside Meadows Farm

$7.80

These are for Monday nights dinner.

Lard – rendered

Ingallside Meadows Farm

$4.52

I will use this for cooking, like Crisco.  But I am thinking I will try to get some more to make soap.

Arm Roast – Large

Mizrahi Manor

$11.41

This will be served on St. Patrick’s day!   See the menu for 3.15.10

Product

Producer

Price

Use

Milk – Whole – 1 Gal

Evan’s Farmhouse Creamery

$6.31

Yogurt – Orange – Quart

Evan’s Farmhouse Creamery

$4.06

1/2 and 1/2 – 1 qt

Queensboro Farm Products

$1.55

Apples – Empire

Split Rail Apple Farm

$5.53

Eggs

Tea Party Acres

$2.93

Salad – Bouquet

Finger Lakes Fresh

$2.00

Utility Carrots – 4lb

Stick & Stone Farm

$5.85

Breakfast Sausage – bulk

Drover Hill Farm

$6.49

Hot Dogs – All Pork

Ingallside Meadows Farm

$7.80

Lard – rendered

Ingallside Meadows Farm

$4.52

Arm Roast – Large

Mizrahi Manor

$11.41

 

My Apologies. March 8, 2010

  • My Apologies, but the menu will not be published until Tuesday 3/9/10.  On the up side please use this opportunity to post a recipe or an ingredient and I will see what I can do to work it into the menu.
  • ALSO, I have been slaking on keeping up with the cost analysis portion of this endeavor…That should get back on track this week as I figure out more about the formatting on here etc.
  • Finally, any feed back/suggestion is always welcome.  So please do comment if you have an idea on a topic that would be beneficial.
 

And yet, another perfect example. March 7, 2010

Filed under: Health — littleclaypot @ 9:50 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

If only this was a smell-a-puter.  Then I could give you the rather unpleasant, but probably considered, option of smelling the chicken that came out of my fridge today.  That’s right, THE chicken.  You know–the stuff I bought last week at BJ’s due to the chaos of our schedule.  The nearly 10 lbs of chicken thighs that said “SELL BY 3/8/10.”  The same chicken that was packaged in individual plastic pouches and then in a larger plastic wrapper to eliminate styrofoam and save the environment.   Yeah, that’s the stuff.

Well, when I opened it today, 3/7/10…it seriously polluted my environment!  I didn’t take the time (or the effort that it would have commanded to control my gag reflex) to open each individual pouch so see if there was any that was salvageable…the whole nearly 10 lbs went straight into a garbage bag and into a garbage bin.  Yet another perfect example of food waste.

Now I know that for the most part our food systems are safe.  Think of all of the food that is eaten each day with no ill consequences–But there have been those times when there was a recognized large scale issue with our food (spinach or peanut butter anyone?).  There have been deaths.  Now I like the convenience of buying a bunch of chicken, and I like the price even more…but not enough to risk killing my dinner guests with the meat! So the ethical decision is to throw that convenience and $$ away.  This completes the perfect example of how our life impacts our food demands, that impacts how food is grown/packaged/shipped, in turn impacting what we purchase and serve to our loved ones…or toss in the garbage.  (The phrase running through my head all day: “There are starving children in the world!”) I am at least relieved to know I have a whole chicken from the CNY Bounty thawing in my fridge for this week.

The moral of this story?  “Tis better to have no meat at all than to spend your money on rancid chicken.”