Friday, March 20, 2009

Frugal Cooking

Along with the idea of "going green" is the concept of being more frugal. Being frugal with cooking not only allows for less spending on food, but it also focuses more on natural foods and staying away from most processed items. Growing up with frugal parents, and living for many years with very little money in the grocery budget, I learned to become fairly comfortable with being thrifty when it comes to feeding my family. Frugality is a topic that I love to read about - always trying to increase my knowledge on the subject. The BEST book on the subject is one that I have read three or four times - The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.

On Thursday, I made some chicken stock. I purchased a package of chicken thighs (bone in) for under $4 (I believe there were about 8 - 9 thighs in the package). I put all of the thighs in a large pot and added the entire contents of my "soup bag" from the freezer. This bag contains all of the peelings and ends of vegetables that I cut off during the week. I cover all of the contents with water and some salt and simmer for about an hour and a half. At that point the chicken is very tender so I take it out and continue to cook the stock for another 30 minutes.

Using a strainer, I drain the broth from the veggies and store the stock in the refrigerator. The next day I am able to skim the hardened fat from the top. After the chicken has cooled, I take all of the meat off of the bones and store it in the refrigerator as well.

When it was time to make dinner Friday, I sauteed some onions, carrots, and celery in some olive oil. (Each week I purchase a bag of carrots and a bunch of celery and I clean them all at once. I cut them into sticks and keep them in plastic containers filled with water in the fridge. This keeps the veggies nice and crisp and easy to dice up when needed for recipes.) After adding a bit of butter to the pot, I sprinkled in some flour and let it cook for a minute.

I slowly added my chicken stock to the roux. I cut up some of the cooked chicken and added that to the pot along with some poultry seasoning, pepper, and plenty of salt. Letting all of that simmer for a while, I moved on to my biscuits. Shortly before I was ready to serve the soup, I added some egg noodles.

Drop Biscuits (from Better Homes New Cook Book)

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening, margarine, or butter

1 cup milk

Mix the dry ingredients together and then cut in the butter. Make a well in the center and pour in your milk. Mix. Drop onto a greased cookie sheet. I made about 11 biscuits.

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