Tag Archives: budget

Saved Vegetable Beef Soup

vegetable-pixabay

One thing that my limited budget affected is meat in my diet. I’m a fan of non-GMO, organic soy products, free range poultry, fish and organic cheese, but now and then I crave beef. Toward the end of the month supplies dwindled, so I made a pot of vegetable beef soup.

Without beef bones I used boxes of bargain beef broth from the emergency stash. My fresh veggies tasted less than great and the Great Value  beef (alleged) broth tasted like anything but beef – it was just plain yuk. I’m glad to know not to buy the product again.

I got creative and was delighted to not have wasted the food or my efforts. The friends that dropped by admired the end result so, my secret is secure.

Following is the recipe and the save I concocted. I’ve made it a few more times since with homemade stock, good boxed broths, Knorr Homestyle Stock or Knorr bouillon cubes (which contains less sodium than many other brands). Better Than Bouillon is also good.

knorr-soup-base

Since then I also discovered a culinary jewel at my local restaurant supply: Knorr Professional liquid Concentrated Flavor Base. Available in my area in Beef, Chicken and Vegetable, a 32 oz (946 ml) bottle makes 6.25 gallons. They’re gluten free, no MSG, store on the shelf even after opening, and easily dissolve. With 760 mg sodium per cup it’s less salty than bouillon cubes and quite tasty.

Saved Vegetable Beef Soup

Fresh vegetables chopped into bite-sized pieces:
6 celery ribs
6 medium carrots
1 large onion
Bell peppers (I prefer red, orange or yellow)
1 large potato (or 1 1/2 cups cooked rice)
1/3 large head finely chopped cabbage
3 large garlic cloves finely minced
Bunch fresh minced parsley leaves (to taste)
Cover with beef broth (or stock). When homemade stock is not available, use 2 – 3 boxes or hydrated bouillon cubes (omit additional salt)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer till vegetables are almost tender (about 20 minutes).

Once veggies are tender add:
2 cups cooked (or canned) beans; black beans (rinsed). Navy, cannellini, great northern or ceci (chickpea or garbanzo) beans are good and the liquid is great in soup.
16 oz frozen corn
½ small can (6 oz/170 g) tomato paste (avoid lumps and thin with some warm broth before adding), or a large can chopped tomatoes.

Stir and cook on medium heat till blended and heated through.

The save:

1 envelope onion soup mix
1 jalapeno or poblano, pasilla, or Anaheim (California or Magdalena) Chile, halved (remove before serving or chop, according to your preference)
Bunch cilantro leaves finely chopped (to taste)
Juice ½ lime (or more to taste). For extra flavor drop rinds in, but remove before serving).

Stir and cook on medium heat till blended and heated through. Remove lime rinds and peppers if desired and serve with crusty bread.

 

“Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous…” 2 Corinthians 9:11 (NLT)

Vegetable image courtesy Pixabay

 

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Larry

choose-joy

larry cable guyHey, all y’alls remember Larry the Cable Guy? Okay, after listening to the comedian for twenty minutes his bit got old with me. However, today’s whimper involves my cable internet and phone service, so I’m borrowing Larry CG’s persona.*

Restoring This Old House in particular could provide a month-long series on PBS, HGTV or DIY. So, Old School works well here.

Forget all the ads out there for bundles -and the fine print sales reps don’t mention till the end of the pitch. I’ve checked them all out for our area. Erin must live without her E!-TV, but we save for repairs and upgrades on the property from the entertainment and communications budgets. Utilizing satellite for television, cable for internet and phones we realize a minimum $20/month savings. Just don’t get me started on life without a DVR. Who knew one can’t program a VHS recorder without the remote?

So, our internet, land line and my (unlimited through Wi-Fi) cells services come to us from the wonderful people at “Mapper” Cable Company – who only recently came to our part of the Western Slope.

When I noticed cars stop in the street to talk to Mr. First Tech who was parked in front of the house, I thought, “My, this is such a friendly town!” It was actually the first sign that Mapper service is under par with my previous experiences in Chicago, Phoenix and Fort Worth.

Larry, our third tech in four weeks came in musing how customers don’t understand he’s dispatched from remote parts of the country, so he can’t just swing by to look into their problems too. “They seem to see red when they notice the Mapper sign on the truck,” he went on as he happily accepted some sweet tea. This actually is a friendly town – just sayin’.

So early Thursday Larry devoted himself to confirming Mr. First Tech and Mr. Second Tech’s reports – both now closed as PNF (Problem Not Found). A healthy hour later, he affirmed the frequent crashes I continue to experience are most likely ‘at the pole.’ To be sure he covered all bases he swapped out the modem and router for brand new ones (whoop-whoop) and promised to order a service check at the pole (technical paraphrase mine 😉 ). ‘Guess he liked the tea.

But this morning’s fitness walk complicated the whole unfortunate sequence of events when my flip knife wasn’t on my dresser where it had been Thursday morning – before Larry’s arrival. Seriously, flipping the car, every room, bag, laundry hamper… every square inch I use in the house for two hours didn’t locate the knife.

So try to imagine my reluctance as I explained to Ms Agent at dispatch, “I’m positive Larry isn’t a contractor. I have a keen sense about people. He’s not the kind of guy that would take anything from a customer. He’d been working on the dresser that houses the equipment where I also had the ‘tool’ that’s missing. It’s possible he inadvertently picked it up as he ever-so-considerately cleaned up after himself. I don’t want to generate a report that could ding the man’s record. I just want the tool returned.”

Ms Agent assured me contacting dispatch to reach Larry would be no problem for him or me. I know better. Back in the dark ages I worked dispatch for the same company (before Mapper acquired them). I told Ms Agent how to route a ‘Call Back’ (“it’s an industry term”). Amazed, she thanked me. For a moment I thought, “Cool, not that much has changed.” Then she had to go and say, “Yeah, going old school is healthy once in a while.” Shrew.

So, I no sooner hung up the phone when Girlfriend that had also visited us with Ellie Thursday afternoon, came bouncing up the walk. “Heya Roo! How ya doin?”

Goody, more tea…

The short story, Girlfriend saw the gruesome-looking flip knife on the vanity in the powder room – right where I’d set it so it’s hard, steel edges wouldn’t scratch our nice, oak toilet seat. Knowing we don’t leave things like that laying around for Eight-Year-Old-and-Very-Inquisitive-Niece to find, Girlfriend slipped it into her pocket meaning to hand it over to me. She washed her hands and promptly forgot all about it. Under a deadline, I didn’t walk the neighborhood on Friday, and I didn’t notice the knife missing from where I always, always keep it, on its very own tray on my dresser – until this morning.

Great, now I have guilt for ruining Larry’s career. At least I can now narrate in precise detail the whole new brand of frustrated humiliation, trying to contact Ms Agent again – it simply doesn’t happen. Fortunately, Mapper’s Billing Department STILL hadn’t called me back about crediting my account for all the down time. I spun the call so I could include cancelling the Old School, sequestered Call Back order to Larry.

Another Tech will be scheduled to check the pole issue tomorrow. Mapper’s got two strikes and one ball, so we’ll see. Now I must check next week’s schedule for the Elementary and NCIS episodes I missed during the move. Film at eleven…

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2

Joy image courtesy FreshFitnHealthy,  Larry the Cable Guy image courtesy Alchetron.com, Video clip from Toy Story courtesy YouTube

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Rotisserie Chicken Soup

In our family circles my late aunt Patty was the reigning queen of up-cycling, recycling, repurposing and reusing most everything. One of my favorite stories (that I can share) was her making watermelon balls for a luncheon. Once done felling the melon, she held up the hollow half shell, examining it closely, wondering aloud what else she could make of it – aside from a bowl for the salad. That’s when another aunt swooped by, grabbed the melon shell and ran, rather than find it repurposed later.

Queen Patty (who literally was Lombard, Illinois’s 1949 Lilac Queen, the youngest queen in Village history) loved to entertain and tastefully made old things look new, long before shabby chic was popular. She was one of those lovely people one would assume comes from old money, and though she made the most of her life, our family history disproves family affluency. I think fondly of her every time I make this amazing rotisserie chicken soup recipe.

One of my tastiest finds ever, it came to me by accident. I’d been brainstorming an idea for an article that had me so fired up I had to walk away. So, I took inventory of the refrigerator, noting all the extra space days before payday. I would likely not have otherwise imagined how one of the most flavorful meals ever came about. In fact, it was so tasty I afterwards wrote every motion as best I remembered it to create it again, and again. And that it developed during a particularly difficult time when every penny and scrap mattered. It doesn’t make a lot, but it’s a good second meal from one often dry, leftover chicken.

Note: Try it. You’ll either love it or be relatively indifferent. Either way, take a photo and share it with me as I rarely remember to snap one myself 🙂 Until then, you can enjoy seeing me, Suze and the Beej back in the day.

Me, Suze and the Beej

Me, Suze and the Beej

Rotisserie Chicken Soup

One must think ahead and not serve the whole pieces of chicken. Instead, cut the meat from the bones and save the bones in the plastic container – everything un-mouthed, that is. Also keep the market packing (refrigerated, of course) without scraping or washing it.

Makes enough soup for 2 – 4 servings. Or by adding white cooking wine (and maybe a bit more stock) for a delightful reduction, tossed with rice, noodles or quinoa it will go even further with amazing flavor and considerable nutrients.

Instructions:

Put bones, skin, meat, drippings, everything left over from grocery store rotisserie chicken into a small soup pot. Pour 2 cups hot, not boiling, water to rinse and scrape drippings from container, pour into pot. Repeat with 2 more cups hot water. This gives the stock an extra pop of flavor.

Add more water if needed to just cover the chicken and bones.

Bring pot to boil, reduce heat and simmer till all meat falls from bones (nothing about this recipe is exact science – approximately 40 – 60 minutes, more or less).

Allow to cool and then pour through colander into a bowl or another pan, reserving the stock. Wearing gloves, take your time removing bones, (gently pinch between fingers to be sure no sharp pieces get through), skin and any undesirable pieces. Return meat to stock, refrigerate till separated and then skim fat from the top.

Once stock is near room temp, return it and the meat to the pot and add:

1 stalk celery, chopped (great way to use celery and onion trimmings from freezer)
1/2 small chopped onion
1 smashed clove garlic
1 chopped carrot
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 rosemary branch (optional – remove before serving)

Add vegetables to stock and simmer till tender.

At this point you can either

1. Add cooked noodles, pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa or more cooked vegetables if desired. Serve with rolls or crusty bread.
or
2. To make reduction, remove meat and vegetables from stock to a bowl or platter, set aside. Add 2 cups wine to stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, lower heat to a fast simmer and continue stirring till just slightly thick (it will continue to thicken as it cools). You will have a flavorful sauce that’s healthier without thickening agents like flour or cornstarch. Then return meat and vegetables to pan with noodles, rice or whatever you like, gently fold in sauce, plate and serve with crusty bread or rolls.

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Kitchen Sync

2015-02-06 19.27.02

Food is necessary for life. Good food is the spice of life. And creating new, great tasting, soul-satisfying food makes the whole world seem like a better place. The very best food seems to develop when hearts gather around the home fires. To date, I haven’t studied under great culinary masters, but nobody ever complained about food that vanished from my table.

My humble means makes this particularly interesting. I’ve never had a lot of money for long, but we’ve always eaten well. I learned early on how sharing a tasty, satisfying meal in good company is more about the company than it is about the elements or any training.

It’s more about the connection, developing relationships with some experience sprinkled in and the common bond – fueling the engines.

Most recently I’ve noticed how the best culinary creations developed in lean times – making do from the remnants of recent abundance. Spontaneously providing sustenance for unexpected crowds inspired more surprisingly great suppers than I can remember. Family, friends and I most often craftily compiled them from everything in the house BUT the kitchen sink.

This Category is more about intertwining stories than blending ingredients together. It’s all about family, friends, fun and food; making the most of whatever we have.

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