1. Cooking: I cooked one of those cheap hams I bought last week. It was a shank ham, and a bear to cut up. The meat was good roasted, but it came off the bone hard because it was very fatty. It took me a long time to cut off the fat in order to get non-gristly meat. Finally I decided to cook it again in the Instant Pot, hoping for fall-off-the-bone meat. It still don't come off easily. Finally I got a good portion of the meat off and decided to just leave the rest on the bone in order to make broth. When the broth was finished cooking, the rest of that meat finally came off. So I'm pleased to announce that none of the meat was wasted—I used the broth meat in soup.
I also made yogurt this week in the Instant Pot. I have been using yogurt starter from the previous batch for several weeks now, and it's still going strong. So that's $0.25 per week or so, saved. Here's a secret: making yogurt is so easy, I feel guilty calling it an "accomplishment". It's literally dumping milk into the Instant Pot, pushing some buttons. Then when the pot beeps, you take out the inner pot and set it in a sink of cold water. Stir a couple of minutes until the temperature goes down, then add some yogurt from your last batch, stir, and put it back into the Instant Pot. Push some more buttons. The next day, the yogurt is done. So easy, and I've never had any failed yogurt this way, even with homemade starter.
2. Shopping: I know, I said I was going to stop telling you our grocery spending. But I was curious to see how much our bill would go up. Would it double? Would it triple?? Or would it spike and then gradually come back down?
For the first two weeks, we spent about double. The next week, it was less than double. Last week we still had a bunch of groceries left from Aldi, so I bought fewer groceries; carrots, onions, frozen produce, bread, tuna, etc. We even got off-brand ritz crackers, organic celery and a mango (all no-nos on a bare-bones budget), and the total came to just $28.78. So who knows? Maybe we won't end up spending much more, after all. Maybe a simple $10.00/wk. increase is all it takes to ward off boredom and have a healthier standard of eating.
3. Thrifting: I went to the Sharing Corner (basically a free neighborhood garage sale). I dropped off two garbage bags full of stuff before the sale, and brought home half a bagful of new-to-me treasures: clothes and one book for Princess, and two belts for myself.
4. Gardening: I planted four tomato plants, chives and Bells of Ireland (a flower) in the garden. I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't freeze, but if it does, I still have back-up tomato plants in reserve. Earlier this year I planted radishes, lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach in one of my greenhouse beds. In another bed, I planted parsnips, beets and garlic.
Organic celery costs twice as much as conventional (not to mention the stalks are smaller) so I think I'll start replacing it with the almost-free spinach and other garden vegetables. One package of celery can last a long time if you only use it for mirepoix.
I also dragged a little play structure out by the patch, which keeps our daughter busy while I work. That gives me a good 20-30 minutes out there, in the morning and possibly the evening if needed. I think this year is going to be SO much better than last, even though we have all of the extra construction work going on.
And of course, this post wouldn't be complete without an update on our house project! This is where we left off last week (minus the chimney, of course):
Til next time,