Monday, August 16, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
TODAY I made Watermelon Rind JAM!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
But, first let's make some pickles! If you are not cutting up the melon all at once, you can store the rind in a plastic bag or container in the refrigerator until you are ready to work with it. It's best not to store it more than 2 or 3 days though.
Make sure all the pink flesh is removed from the rind. Then, using a vegetable peeler, cut the dark green rind away from the firm white flesh. You are left with a piece of all white flesh.
Cut this peeled white flesh into one inch cubes (should make about 4 quarts) and cover with cold water. Add 3 tablespoons salt and let stand overnight.
In the morning, drain, rinse with fresh water and drain again. Cover again with fresh water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the cubes are JUST BARELY tender. Don't overcook!
Now, combine 3 1/2 cups vinegar (I use white vinegar) with 1/2 cup water. Add 6 cups sugar, 6 sticks whole cinnamon (I like to break mine into a few pieces although I'd not yet broken them up when I took this photo), and 1 1/2 tablespoons of whole cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour the syrup mixture over the rind cube and let stand for 24 hours. Drain off the syrup and bring to a boil once again. Then pour it over the cubes once again. Let stand 24 hours. After the wait period, bring all to boiling and simmer 5 minutes. Fill hot sterilized jars and seal. This will make about 7 to 8 pints of pickles.
Additionally I add a bit of food color to my pickles. I make some batches with red and some with green as it makes such a pretty presentation on your Christmas dinner table....not to mention it tastes yummy too!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Working underneath, carefully cut the breast portion away from the underside until you are left with a nice whole breast. Note that I usually cut these in half lengthwise prior to cooking. It not only makes a much more managable portion size, but cuts the cooking time in half. I wait until they are partly frozen to do this as it makes a nice even cut that way.
Once you have the breasts taken out, wrap each one and put them in the freezer until they are frozen. For this step you will want to have on hand those waxy inner wrappers that come with cereal, snack crackers, etc. It's the ONLY thing I've found that won't stick to the chicken....regular wax paper, foils and all the rest (even when sprayed with cooking oil) tend to stick. A piece of inner cereal wrapper cut to fit the chicken never sticks!
So, next I hold the wing out and cut it off at the first joint. Then I cut off the wing tip. Finally cut the wing in two at that second joint giving me two little "drumettes" for wings appetizers.
Now I'm ready for the thighs. I hold the chicken body in one hand and the leg in the other. Pull the leg/thigh portion back until the thigh bone pops out. Proceed to cut around that bone, removing the thigh/leg portion. Your family may prefer having the thigh/leg portion, or maybe they just like the legs. My family just likes the thighs. Thus, my next move is to remove the leg portion from the thigh. Apparently I forgot to take a picture of this step....what you see below is the thighs following my removal.
I place the drumettes (wing portions) into plastic bags. IF I want to freeze them individually, I lay them out on a cookie sheet, not touching one another. Then I put them in the freezer. When they are frozen solid I can bag them together.
While the parts are freezing I put the "leftover" chickens in a large roaster and cover them with water. While they are cooking I can go do something else. When they come out of the oven I lift them out of the broth with a slotted spoon and let them cool. I pour the broth into a container and put into the refrigerator and let it cool. By the next morning all the fat has risen to the top and solidified. I can scoop all the fat off and bag and freeze the remaining fat-free broth!
Now I pick the "good meat" off the chicken and save that for another use....let's see....chicken supreme, chicken croquettes, chicken salad, chicken curry, chicken corn or rice soups, chicken pot pie - the possibilities are endless - ANY recipe that uses cooked chicken works! I sometimes "work it up" immediately and sometimes freeze that chicken for later.
When the chicken parts in the freezer are solid enough that they can be bagged, I bag them and mark them.
ANOTHER FRUGAL TIP for BAGGING. Those FREEZER bags are somewhat pricey! And, I hate washing out bags. So, I bag my chicken FIRST in any old bags (such as the old bread wrappers you see here). THEN I put them in the freezer bags. That will allow you to re-use the freezer bags later without a lot of washing out AND the chicken is double protected too!
I just prepared 4 chickens for a total cost of $18.00. I figured this will make approximately 18 meals total between the breasts, thighs, wings and additional meat (not to mention the things I plan to make with the broth!). That comes out to about $1.00 per meal.....and THAT is totally squeezing the eagle if you ask me!
Friday, May 28, 2010
There was a time when I would set aside two days of the month dedicated to cooking for an entire month. I would plan 30 days of meals and set about cooking them all, labeling, and then freezing them. How nice it is to just pull dinner from the freezer! And I still do that!
I've heard arguments on the Cook Once Eat Twice (also known as Once A Month Cooking, Once A Week Cooking, Freezer Cooking and others). The biggest thing I hear is this: "I don't have enough pans to put that many meals in!" Well, neither do I! Which is what this post is all about! Each time I make a meal I create TWO. In this photo you see a basic Pizza Casserole. On the right is the one we are eating tonight. On the left is the one that will go into the freezer for a later time.
Normally I use a large plastic bag. I save all sorts of bags (yes. . . I am one of those that re-uses bread bags!). Here I used a smaller bag thinking it would work better for the photo. After I thought about it, it probably was a worse choice as it makes it more difficult for you to understand - but stay with me here!
Get out TWO pans (one for tonight...one for later). In one of the pans, place a plastic bag in the bottom in such a way that you can fold the sides of the bag up and tie when finished. If you prefer, heavy plastic wrap also works, but I've found in my experience that it doesn't work QUITE as well. Now, fill both pans. Pop one in the oven and take one to the freezer.
Once it's frozen, take it out of the freezer (note: no worries that the cheese has curled...it will flatten when I thaw it). Now remove the entire frozen "cube" from the pan picking it up by the plastic bag. The pan remains CLEAN and can be put away.
The frozen casserole can be bagged or wrapped and labeled with the name of the dish, baking instructions and the date.
When you bring it out of the freezer to use, simply peel off the plastic wrapping. It peels right off! and place the frozen casserole in the pan originally used to mold it. Bake it in that pan.
Using this technique you really only need TWO pans to store dozens of ready-to-cook meals in your freezer.
No more wondering "What's for dinner" tonight. Just look in your freezer and pull one out!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Start with a pound of regular butter from the store. I like to let it sit out on the counter for an hour to soften a bit first.
Pour into individual containers and store in the refrigerator. Everyone who has ever tried this thinks it really is 100% REAL butter (and it IS - just modified!). Some have thought it to be "that expensive whipped butter".
The bonus is that is spreads right from the refrigerator with the real butter taste, but using the oil makes it at least a LITTLE less on the calories AND a little less expensive as well!
I even use it successfully to do all my baking.