Saturday, 30 September 2017

Almost Free, Nutritious, Homemde Pet Food

My dogs are truly spoilt!
Oh, not in a bad way - I don't allow disobedience, rudeness, whining, etc. I am the Alpha Bitch here and that is that - more in the, "these dogs are living the life", sort of way.

This fact was brought home to me anew this afternoon, as I was working on stuff on the computer, and wondering what the neighbours were cooking that smelled so tasty. Then I realised it was the dog food in its final phase in the rice cooker that was tempting my taste buds.

So, I've posted before about making utterly delicious, natural, packed with nutrients, and basically free bone broth and vegetable broth. You might think then that it's time to toss those scraps and bones once you've given them their "second life". Not so!

Instead, once you've strained off your tasty broth, you can use those bones and/or scraps again to feed your pets or livestock.

With bones, you will need to make sure that all of them are soft enough to crush into a chalk like substance with just your thumb and forefinger.
If you've used the pressure cooker, they're probably already there. If not, you need to cook them more (in liquid) until they are. 

For dogs, chickens, pigs, and other omnivores, bones, meat scraps, and veg are all good. Cats are naturally carnivores, so, while they can eat veggies with no issue, it's best to stick with meat products for food and save the veg for treats. I'm not totally clear on most other animals, and what I make is dog food, so that's what we'll mostly be discussing here.

Just take the scraps and bones and add liquid again, along with rice and/or oats, and some extra meat and veggies if you want, cook it until the grains are done, and you've got some tasty doggie meals!

If you're going to be just supplementing your dogs' regular high quality feed with home made once a week or less, there is no need to add anything other than grain unless you want to. If you want to move completely to home made, you'll need to add some additional meat and fruits/veggies, and possibly oils and fats, (depending on the amount of fat in your scraps) to the mix to ensure they're getting a balanced diet. Here is a link to a good article on the right ratios. The bones from your broth will take care of the calcium needs (bones will make dog poop light coloured and kind of chalky. This is normal and not cause for alarm!).

Friday, 29 September 2017

Don't throw away those soap slivers! (This week's money saving tip)

When your soap gets too small to use in the bath/shower effectively, move it to the sink for hand soap.
When that gets too small, put the pieces into the end of a nylon stocking (knee high, tights, pantyhose, really thin trouser sock, etc) and twist the opening and turn it over onto itself, or tie a half hitch at the end of it to close. Several soap scraps together in there will act just like a regular bar of soap and you will be able to use every, last speck, rather than throwing out perfectly good soap.

More uses for those little slivers and chunks of soap are:
  1. Use a small remnant of a full sized bar of soap is as a travel sized bar to stick in your travel supplies, camping gear, or go bag/bugout bag. 
  2. Put the pieces into a mug to use with a shaving brush.
  3. Save up the pieces to make a new bar of soap (same concept, but more attractive than the nylon)
  4. make your own liquid hand soap or body wash, by adding the slivers to an old soap dispenser bottle, along with some water.
  5. Use to "lubricate" stubborn zippers, sliding door/window tracks,and similar, by rubbing the dry chunk of soap against whatever needs to move more easily (you can also use wax from candle stubs, saved drippings, crayons, etc for this!).

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Too much produce? We'll see about that!

I forgot to log into the web store at Terra Organics (if you sign up, please tell them Khaos WolfKat sent you!) and edit my CSA box by the deadline this week. That means I got an entire $42.00 worth of fruits and veggies yesterday!

Now, normally, I go in and pick and choose what I want from the weekly offerings, cause I don't use that much produce in a week by myself, especially when I've recently also been to the local farmer's market and bought a bunch of what's on sale.

So, what all arrived at my front door? I'll cheat and just post a picture of the packing list.

Yeah. That's a lot of fruit and veg, even for me!
So, of course, abundant salads as usual takes care of the radishes, lettuce, cilantro, and some of the carrot greens.

That would have been the tomatoes...

The sungold tomatoes would have been on that list, only I popped one of them in my mouth as I was unpacking the box and that was all she wrote. They were SOOOO good!

   These little gems are far too tasty to get lost in the shuffle of an ordinary salad, or even one of these super-delish extraordinary salads.
 I (and we, when my granddaughter is here) eat a LOT of salads!
You'd think more so in the summer, when it's too bloody hot to cook, only we seem to eat at least as much of it in the wintertime too.
Anyway, back on topic;  That still leaves an awful lot of produce to use up, so it was time for me to start coming up with meal plans and recipes so none of this goes bad. The melon was two breakfasts. Good stuff.                                   The first recipe,  Potato Carrot Soup with Leeks and Kale, is an adaptation of my PLFK (Potato, Leek , Fennel & Kale) soup (pronounced, "plufuk").
Potato Carrot Soup with Leeks and Kale

It turned out looking almost as lovely as it tastes, with the carrots lending that beautiful, golden colour.
Look for the recipe for that on Monday.

The beets, along with some of the carrots will go great in a big pot of borscht sometime this week or the next. I've already got the other ingredients on hand.
A couple more inventions spawned by yesterday's abundance are Goldenberry Pie, Presto Pesto (no basil or pine nuts needed!), Presto Pesto Potato Veg Roast, and Presto Pesto Squashta Pasta. (I know. I have a serious problem. I really ought to have it looked at. Only words are so much fun!)

Keep an eye out for those recipes the next few Mondays, and maybe a Sunday or two.

Oh, and, sadly, I don't really care for jalapeños all that much, even though these are quite lovely, so those are going to a friend or neighbour who can use them.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Delicious, Nutritious, Hearty Bone Broth/stock for Free

This weeks thrifty food tip is how to make your own bone broth, absolutely free.

(I'm cheating here, and using lots of the wording from my vegetable broth post, so if it looks familiar, that'll be why!)

You can buy chicken or beef broth in cans, cartons, or powder at the store, but not only is it pretty expensive, even for the cheap stuff, but it is also usually full of preservatives and artificial flavours and colours and very high in sodium to boot. 

Instead, why not just make your own?

You'll need gallon freezer bags, a freezer, some cheesecloth 
(optional, but makes things much easier) or a wok skimmer or strainer, and a crock pot/slow cooker, rice cooker, Instant Pot, stock pot, or other large pot for simmering or pressure cooker, and a marker. 

Every time you have bones left from cooking (or bringing home a roasted chicken), save them. You can even ask for take away bags/boxes to save bones from when you eat out, if you like. After all, you DID pay for everything on your plate!

Put them in all in labelled freezer bags and keep them in your freezer (if you have a deep freezer, better still!)
I have some separate bags for chicken, turkey, beef, pork, etc, some for general poultry, some specifically for smoked meats. You can separate them however you like.
When a bag gets full, time to make your broth (or start a new bag and make the broth later.. whichever). 

  • Line your pot with the cheesecloth, if using and dump all the bones in. 
  • Fill to the top with water. 
  • Add any additional salt or seasoning, if desired.
  • Turn the crock pot on low and let it go for 8-16 hours. 
    •  If you're using a rice cooker, turn it to the "cook" setting until it starts boiling, then leave it on warm for the same amount of time. Check water level periodically and add as needed.
    • If using the stove, bring to a boil and then simmer on lowest possible setting for 3-5 hours, at least. Check water level periodically and add as needed.
    • If you're using the Instant Pot/pressure cooker, set it to manual/pressure for 90-120 minutes and let it do a natural release.
  • When it tastes like broth, turn off the heat and let it cool enough to handle. 
  • Pull up the cheesecloth and squeeze out all the liquid you can into the pot, or skim solids out with a wok skimmer or strainer. (The bones and scraps can then be composted or added to animal feed. Just make absolutely sure the bones are soft enough to easily crush with your fingers before giving to animals)
That's it!
Once it's done, you can use it right away, or you can freeze or can it. For freezing, I suggest using a rinsed out, cardboard milk carton, freezer bags, reditainers, or, if you want more measuring control when you use it, ice cube trays.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

More frequent posts! (hopefully)

I'm going to make another attempt at posting more regularly here. Wish me luck, and enjoy the thoughts, tips, tricks, hacks, recipes, and more coming your way!
And do feel free to message me with a reminder if I start forgetting again.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

A day in the Life of a "Make Ahead Cook"


 The beets and rhubarb have dried from their washing on the counter overnight. I'm roasting them with carrots, shallots, a pear, goat cheese, and walnuts for supper this eve. This recipe, (without the fennel - cause I don't have any right now)

I've done my morning blood sugar testing and  taken my insulin. Now for coffee and a brief bit of socialising in a chat room over breakfast. (A very nice fruit and cheese plate)

Am I officially a "foodie"?

Someone mentions craving pho, and that sounds delish, so, I decide it would be a great idea to make up a pot!

Off to the freezer to see if I've got enough soup bones and such to make a good broth. I do, so I get to work. The bones are saved from previous meals. Smoked pork, chops,  beef roast,  steaks, etc. I also save veggie bits - celery ends, onion and garlic tops and skins, bell pepper stems and seeds, leaves or stalks that aren't good enough for using in a regular meal, etc. They will all have a second "life" in making a wonderfully flavourful bone and vegetable broth.

 First, to sauté the garlic, ginger, anise, cardamom, and veggie ends and pieces for the broth. I would normally put the fish sauce in now too, only, since I'm cooking the beets above it, and don't want that flavour added to the beets, I'll wait to do that.

  Next, since I like to pre cook the beets some in the Instant pot and peel them after, I go ahead and put them on the steamer insert on top of the veggies, and add enough water to soften them up. This will add a nice flavour to the broth, I think. I've used the beet water as a base for bone broth and soups plenty of times before. Never tried it for pho. Not precisely traditional. It should be interesting though.

In the meantime, I cut up the rhubarb and shallots, set them aside for later, and go back to some other household tasks.

 Once the beets are done, it's time to take them out to let them cool...

... Then toss the bones, salt, and fish sauce in the pot, along with the drippings from last night's beef roast.
 90 minutes, plus natural pressure release time in the Instant pot produces the same, delicious broth which used to take 4-12 hours simmering on the stove! It's a wonderful improvement!! No stirring, no monitoring. I just "set it and forget it" and come back to it later in the day.

That's about the time I decide that this would make a great blog entry, to give an idea of how this "make ahead" cooking can work, even if you're not willing or able to devote a full day or three every month to making an entire month's worth of meals to freeze ahead. This is a few meal's worth in almost the same amount of time it would take to make just one meal!

Fast forward to the afternoon. Lunch was a couple hours ago. (roast beef sandwiches from lst night's roast on fresh baked, rustic bread. OH yeah!)

 The beets are cooled and I'm taking a break from other duties, so I toss the rhubarb and shallots in olive oil and honey (even with the sweetness of the pears, the rhubarb needs a bit of honey to "tame" it.),

 I pop that in the oven for a bit whilst peeling and slicing the beets, and coring and slicing the pear.

Of course, I save the beet ends and skin too - they're going in the dog food! (more on that later).

Back to other things as I wait 'til time to add the rest of the ingredients to the roasting pan. I've got some more produce from my weekly Terra Organics delivery to sort, wash, and put away, and a couple recipes to type out before I forget what went into them.

It's getting on toward evening now.
Next up: add the beets, pear, nuts, and goat cheese to the shallots and rhubarb, toss it a bit, and back in the oven for its final stretch. This gives me just enough time before supper's ready to strain and decant the pho broth into the broth jug for another day or few (it's a lot of broth!)
Then I put the bones and scraps back into the pot, along with the beet skins and ends with more water and some rice and oats for some tasty, home made dog food in the coming days.

Now, the food is ready and that's good, cause all these amazing smells have been driving me insane ALL day.
Roasted Rhubarb & Beets with Goat Cheese & Walnuts