Quick Tip: What to do with all the Celery

Celery is a nutritious addition to the diet. As well as being used in one-pan-meals, casseroles, and soups, you can do other things with it. Use some of the stalks or the greens in salad or smoothies. Add celery to juice. Snack on it plain. I love mine with nut butter. You can also use it when making vegetable stock.

Celery will store just fine for about a week in the refrigerator, but to extend it’s useful life you can cut it into sticks or shorter stalks and store in a jar of water in the refrigerator.

As for the greens, I just rinse and towel dry them, then place in a freezer container if I won’t use them within a couple of days. They’ll keep for at least a couple of weeks in the freezer. I use these in smoothies. They aren’t even noticeable.

How do you use celery? How do you store it?

~ Shannon

Quick Tip: Drying Herbs

As the weather gets nicer, many people start wondering how they can save money on groceries while eating fresh foods. One thing is for certain, growing your own herbs will mean less money spent, and less money wasted on items you won’t use up before they can go bad. You can pick the herbs fresh, in just the amounts you need.

And when these harvests do need to be cut at the end of their growing seasons, you can hang many of them to dry – and store them for out-of-season use.

I will not pretend to be an expert on drying herbs, though I do so minimally in my own kitchen, but I will share this article from Mother Earth News. It will help.

Of course, you can also dry what herbs you won’t be able to use fresh after buying them as well.

Enjoy!

~ Shannon

Easy Pasta Meal in a Skillet

Yesterday was a “use it up” kind of day. You know, when you have leftovers in the refrigerator, and maybe a little of something left on the shelf.  I don’t eat pasta often, but I had this amount left over from a while back and decided to use it up.

I do have vegetable based pastas on the shelf, and will be trying them – maybe soon. I’ll let you know how that goes.

The pasta cooked perfectly in the skillet, and the liquid did make a little gravy of sorts. The finished dish tasted good, and that is my main criteria for a meal.

This morning, while typing this up for you, I am listening to pop music from the ’80’s through Alexa. She probably doesn’t know what to think of me, as I have her playing metal, classic and hard rock, easy listening music, oldies, and even the oldies, depending on my mood.

Onto the recipe. I don’t know how much pasta I used, honestly. For lack of a better name, I’m just calling this dish:

Easy Pasta Meal in a Skillet

1 tbsp ghee

about 1 tsp chopped garlic, mine came pre-chopped and in oil. Use what you have on hand.

1/8 pound ground beef

1/2 can peas, a little liquid was left with it and I used that as well, but you don’t have to.

water

egg noodles, or you could use another type of pasta

2 pinches dried parsley

2 pinches dried thyme

sea salt to taste

  1. Heat the skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of ghee and heat.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic and cook for a minute, stirring.
  4. Place the ground beef in the skillet and cook while breaking it into small bits. Cook until browned.
  5. Slowly add about 1/3 cup of water, the peas (in liquid if there is any), and the pasta.
  6. Cook all of this, stirring every minutes or two, checking the consistency of the pasta as it cooks.
  7. Add a little more water when necessary in order to keep the pasta cooking, but do not cover completely in water. I did this a few times, you may need to less or more. In the end, my liquid was sort of a thin gravy consistency that just covered the food. There was not a lot of it. You need a little liquid for the pasta to cook.
  8. When pasta almost done to your liking, add the seasonings and give it a good stir.

That’s it. It was an easy meal, and was pretty tasty!

Tips

  • Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Harder veggies might require more cook time. If this is the case, add it as soon as the meat is cooked and wait to add the pasta.
  • Macaroni, spaghetti, or other pastas could also be used.
  • Try different seasonings if you’d like.
  • Try different types of meat. Leftover roast or sausage, or whatever you have on hand.
  • Look for pasta on sale, and use a coupon when possible. Check your favorite pasta company’s website to see if they offer coupons, check the weekend papers, or try a coupon swap. This is a great way to save money.

Suggestions

Stay healthy and safe, my friends.

~ Shannon

 

 

 

Smashed, Roasted Potatoes

Sometimes it’s just easier to do everything in one pan. Seems I dirty far more dishes when I am home all the time, and I really don’t like washing them once used. So I have taken to making more skillet and baking dish meals so I can keep up with the dishes. Also, I might be guilty of eating straight from the pan sometimes. Maybe. 😉  I mean, it is just me here.

This turned out to be a delicious meal.

Smashed, Roasted Potatoes

1 yellow potato

1 sweet potato

2 baby red potatoes

1 carrot

almond oil

1/2 can of peas, with 2 tbsp of the liquid (or water if using fresh or frozen peas)

a few pinches of dried parsley

a few pinches of dried oregano

sea salt

baked kale chips

  • Wash all the potatoes and the carrot, and pat dry with a towel.
  • Cut out any bad parts, cut the top off the carrot, and chop what is left into bite size pieces. (Yes, I eat the peels from them all.)
  • Place these in a small baking dish with a tablespoon or so of almond oil and a few grinds of salt. Mix it all up, and put into the oven at 350* for about 1 hour, or until they carrots and potatoes are cooked to your liking.
  • Remove from oven, and use a fork to smash the carrots and potatoes. You’re not mashing them all the way, just smashing them a bit.
  • Pour peas over these, and the 2 tablespoons of liquid.
  • Add the herbs, more salt if you like, and crush a few baked kale chips over the top.
  • Bake another 5 or 10 minutes, until the peas are warm.
  • Remove from oven and serve.

Tips

  • Use whatever potatoes and carrots you have on hand.
  • Switch up the seasonings if you’d like to use something else.
  • Use corn or green beans rather than peas if you want. Just remember the green beans may need more baking time.
  • Save money by using leftovers if you have them on hand.
  • Top with anything you like, such as sour cream or cheese, if you eat those things.

Suggestions

Be safe and well, my friends.

~ Shannon

 

Frugal Recipes Happenings – Spring 2020

My first week home during this pandemic was the worst. I knew what needed to be done here at home, but just couldn’t focus. I really just wanted to be at work. I did manage to get the financials figured out, but that and a few chores were all that I had accomplished.

Then I sat down with two pieces of poster board and a few permanent markers, and made a couple of lists. The first list was for chores. I did not do my spring or fall cleaning in 2019, because I was too busy, so the list was a good one. Twenty-nine things went on that list and, so far, I have completed nineteen, and gotten two half done. I’ve done good!

The second list had to do with writing projects and the four blogs. Thirty-five items went on this list and, as of the time of this post going live, eleven have been completed, and one partially so.

20200418_114310Creating those two lists helped me to focus, and I’ve been doing little things almost every day since. I have only had two days where I haven’t done anything from at least one of the lists, though I did do regular cleaning on those days.

I’ve taken some walks, on the nicest days, and walked to the stores and Aroma Joe’s up the road twice, though I had tried not to go shopping at all. My daughter Skye and her boyfriend have grocery shopped for me once so far, but were unable to find disinfectant. I ran out twice, and needed to walk to the stores to find some. Otherwise, I haven’t gone near people at all. When they shop for me, they leave to stuff on my step, and I go out and get them. I only walked through the drive-thru at AJ’s, and only because I had to pass by there to get to the stores.

20200419_130755One day Skye and Ryan stayed near their car when I came out, and we chatted across the yard from each other for a few minutes. Another day, I did a video chat with my daughter Zowie’s family. Those are my most treasured moments through this. I do talk with my mother every couple of days, and I am in contact with a couple of my co-workers.

I was not prepared for just how lonely this time was going to be. I cherish what interaction with others that I do have, and I can’t wait to go back to work.

What have I learned from this experience, so far?

People are acting crazy. Buying up stuff like crazy. Not caring about social distancing efforts. Getting far too close to people who obviously are trying to avoid getting near people. Being rude to others just because they aren’t happy with the situation. If you are hollering and/or carrying guns, it is not a peaceful protest – no matter how often you try to convince people it is.

I know that, if ever I start earning enough money from writing that I can stay home and just write, I will need to schedule time for socializing and seeing people.

I’ve had to do a lot more ordering online, just for basic groceries and other necessities, because they can’t keep the store shelves stocked. Is this happening everywhere?

My back feels great! I can more easily be standing or sitting, and get to walk around much more. I’m not lugging things back and forth to work, or carrying groceries for so long. I’m taking my time with cleaning tasks, and not overexerting myself.

I can breath so much better. The last few weeks of work I was using their disinfectant cleaning multiple times per shift, and doing the same here at home. It was just too much for my lungs! I was having some issues breathing. I’m still disinfecting here at home, but I’m just using the peroxide wipes I am making on my own. No harsh chemicals.

This lifestyle change produces too much waste. Packaging and materials to have groceries and stuff delivered.  A crazy amount of peroxide bottles and paper towels. Way more trash. More water use because I am eating at home more. These things I feel bad about. I can’t wait to get back to shopping with my reusable bags, where I need to order less online. (Read on for a way I’ll be using less.)

I have never watched so much YouTube in my life, and I am absolutely addicted to thrifting/trash-to-treasure and homesteading videos. I love the Homesteading Family and Roots and Refuge Farm. Another food related channel I am watching is Mind Over Munch.

What’s happening on Fabulous Frugal Life?

I made a post about my easy disinfectant wipes, and another about what I did with my stimulus check. Take a look around while you are there to see what else I’ve posted.

What’s happening here on the Frugal Recipes blog?

I’m trying to eat healthy most of the time, so I posted an orange smoothie recipe. I’ve also been posting about the smoothie packs I’ve made, and how I’m storing food in my tiny space. Take a look around to see what else I have been sharing here.

20200425_115930My Dream?

I’m not sure if you know it or not, but my dream is to have my own homestead. While I can’t do that right now, I can learn how to do homestead-like things. This is why I’ve been binge-watching homesteading videos. I want to learn all I can until I get there. That way, I will be better prepared.

Recently I decided to go through all of my herbs and spices. You may be shocked to learn that they were all expired! (Oh, no!) Like I said, I didn’t do my spring or fall cleaning last year.

So now I need to stock back up. How am I doing this? A bit more slowly than normal. I used to just go to the store and buy newer jars of the herbs I always had at home. But I hardly use some of that stuff. In fact, more than just a couple of the jars of expired herbs this year were20200425_115937n’t used more than once. Also, 90% of those herbs and spices weren’t even organic.

I ordered organic ground cinnamon and whole cloves through Misfits Market, and I am ordering fresh herbs from them as I can afford to. The fennel, thyme, and parsley I ordered a few weeks back are already dried and in jars. Right now I have more fennel and parsley drying, as well as oregano and rosemary. I’ll keep adding to my herb and spice stash as I can afford to, but am only going to get the ones I know I will use them.

Did you know you can freeze ginger? I did not, but I learned you can and now have some all peeled and cut up and in the freezer, as well as Kitchen Organization 4/2020  5organic cranberries, mixed fruit and some other things. Because I got a new fridge! The old one did not have a separate freezer, and the freezer it did have did not freeze food well. Yes it was, as is this one, just a little dorm room size fridge. But it is perfect for me since I rent a room. This one does have the separate freezer, and I am loving it! ❤ It actually holds a good amount. Besides the ginger and other things listed about, it holds lots of smoothie packs and plenty of meat for me. Oh, and I have a bag of frozen banana rounds so I can make some banana ice cream on a nice day!

 

What else is happening?

I am trying to organize my kitchen area. I recently removed labels from a number of jars I’ve been saving to use for food storage, and bought three boxes of canning jars: quart, pint, and half-pint. All this has been a huge help. The food looks so much better in jars, than they did left in the various size packaging, and actually takes up less space.

I’m still getting my Misfits Markets boxes, and have switched to getting the smaller size box weekly during this time, to be sure I have fresh produce coming more often. Since I’m not grocery shopping myself during the pandemic, and my daughter is shopping between multiple stores to try to get the things we both need, not always with the best of luck, this means I know I am getting some amount of healthy food weekly. I am able to give her a little from each box to help her out as well.

I did order some reusable snack, sandwich, quart, and gallon size bags. This won’t make up for all the extra waste I’ve been generating, but it will help me to generate less waste in the long run. I have been washing and reusing the smoothie pack plastic baggies thus far, and any other bag I’ve used for anything other than meat. Once I have a chance to use the reusable ones and see how they work, I’ll write a post for the blog.

Projects!

Kitchen Organization 4/2020   8Since I’m home, I might as well fill some of my time with projects. I’ve been wanting to do these, but had just been too busy.

  1. I am going to grow an indoor herb garden to help me to preserve some for my new stash, and to use fresh.
  2. I bought a couple of bulletin boards for another project. I am going to use one for my regular cooking, recipes I want to try, etc. The other will be a planning board for this blog.
  3. Continue to organize when possible. It’s such a small space here, as you can see by this picture of my little kitchen, and it is taking some time to decide the best way to organize. Any ideas? Let me know!

Well, that’s it for this season. Keep coming back to the blog to see what else I will be posting, and take a look around now to see what’s new.

~ Shannon

shannonlbuck@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Food Storage in My Small Space

It may seem, by reading some of my recent posts, that I am stocking up because of COVID-19 and the issues come with it, but that is not the case. I always stock up on many items with the income tax refund, and I had just bought a little refrigerator with a working freezer when all this was starting – at the time when everyone started crazily hoarding the toilet paper.

So naturally I had to fill the freezer. It isn’t even a big freezer. The only thing I did when I knew that the virus was going to be a huge thing in our state was buy two extra half-gallons of almond milk, two pounds of butter, popcorn kernels, and an extra dozen eggs. I also bought an extra pound of meat, and a large bunch of bananas. And there was still plenty of all of it left for many, many more people. I didn’t think things would last as long as people are saying it might.

I really didn’t need more than a few other items, and did my shopping accordingly. About a week later I went shopping with my sister for more immediate needs, like Airborne, a little fresh fruit, a few cans of food, and some other items. Still I did not go overboard.

I just spent two weeks at my house, and am only now finding that I need a few things. Not too much.

So, my food stockups are helping me.

  • I don’t eat huge amounts of meat, so I took and split a pound of ground beef, a pound of ground sausage, 3/4 of a kielbasa, and just over a pound of some stew beef into 20 servings.
  • I made 28 smoothie packs, that will make 2 servings each.
  • I froze some banana slices. I can use them for more smoothies later, or make some banana ice cream as a treat.
  • I organized the food I had bought previously for the purpose of stocking up. (I’d been waiting on the canning jars I’d ordered to arrive.

I am going to share a post about my organizing efforts in my little kitchen, but right now I just want to share how I am organizing the food I had been stocking up on. The shelves under my printer are actually part of the “living area” of my room, and lives between my two chairs. These shelves hold the items I have on back-stock, like the oats I always have on hand, and the napkins I bought as a backup for toilet paper – because people keep buying that stuff up!

The other shelf is in my “kitchen area” and is full of the stuff I use regularly. See how I used canning jars to organize a lot of what I have? It looks so much neater than having all those bags and partially used boxes.

The little jars hold organic spices and herbs. I recently went through all of my stash, and found that most things had expired. So I threw it all out and am starting anew. Right now I have whole cloves, ground cinnamon, fennel, thyme, and parsley. It takes a little time to stock up on herbs and spices, because it is an extra expense. This shelf is also where I store my sea salt, vanilla, frother, and dressing jars.

In the second picture, you’ll notice that I also store my oils on that shelf. And above is my store of teas. I have a lot. They also fill all three of those boxes. No, I didn’t buy them to hoard, haha. People buy me teas at Christmas and my birthday. It’s the perfect gift for me! I never run out.

As you can see, I don’t have a lot of space for food storage. I do what I can. I feel confident that, even if I can’t get any food for the next few weeks, I will not go hungry. I may not always be able to eat the way I want, but I do have plenty of food.

Do you have to store food in an extra small space? Please share tips in the comments, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

~ Shannon

 

So Thankful for My Misfits Boxes

Things with Misfits Market have changed a little over the last few months. At least for me. I believe you have to be a member for at least a couple of weeks before you get these benefits. But this is what I am now able to do:

  1. Go in and choose most of the produce I receive, tailoring my orders to what I need.
  2.  Order add-ons, such as fresh herbs, snacks, oats, and more.

**** Note that I have switched from the big box of produce every other week to the smaller box every week, at least for now. Reason below.

I am following our governor’s stay-at-home request, for the most part. I do walk some days, steering clear of others. And I did have to visit two small stores after the first two weeks because I ran out of disinfectant and couldn’t order it anywhere. Also, none of my people were able to find any for me at any of the stores. It wouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is, if I didn’t rent a room in a house where I share the bathroom with others who are also renting here. And those people won’t clean the bathroom during normal times, so I can’t trust them to disinfect regularly now.

Since I am trying so hard to stay away from people right now, having told the neighbors to stay right away from me until this is over, I need to find other ways to get groceries and other necessities.

I can’t get grocery delivery from Wal-Mart or Hannaford because they don’t deliver to my area. Mind you, I live less than 15 minutes from both establishments.

Instacart won’t deliver to me because they do not accept prepaid cards, apparently. I’m not sure if this is all debit cards, or just the unemployment one. Either way, I can’t get any of these places to deliver groceries to me.

So I decided to do an online order for pickup at one of the stores. My daughter Skye would pick it all up for me, and drop my groceries off to me at my porch. But none of the stores have any time slots available.

Great. 😦

Now, I’ve been home – not working – for just over two weeks, and I do need a few things. Not a lot, because I stocked up when income tax refunds came in. But I am almost out of milk and a few other things that I do need.

We have decided that Skye will try shopping for me the next time she goes. First, she has to come all the way into Orono to get my card and list, and then go back to Bangor to do the shopping, and then come all the way back to Orono to drop my stuff off, then go back to Bangor where she lives. I feel bad, but I don’t have any other way to get what I need.

So this is what I did to make it easier on her:

  • I ordered a few more things from Amazon: A 6 pack of 32 ounce almond milk, Paleo crackers, Paleo chocolate date spread. The latter two are for snacks. I will reorder those items in a couple of weeks if the need be. Bit as long as Skye can pick me up almond or coconut milk at the store I won’t use these ones. They will store until I can’t access milk. This way, she won’t have to stress if she can’t get her momma the milk.
  • I went in and changed my Misfits Markets box from one big box every other week to one smaller box every week, so I can have more of a variety, and I can be sure I have fresh produce coming in every week if nothing else.

I’m seriously hoping I can keep doing this, but no one can say for sure if things will ship the further we get into this virus stuff. But we shall see.

I am so thankful for these Misfits boxes right now. Having fresh produce to work with is making this lock-down so much easier. And I am freezing what I can, to at least have frozen versions of some things if I can’t get it fresh at some point.

How about you? Are you able to get the food you need? How are you holding up? Any concerns? Helpful tips? Comment below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

~ Shannon

 

 

 

Smoothie Packs

I finally got a new refrigerator for my room! The other one was so old, and was used in this room for I don’t know how many years before I moved in eight years ago. The extra tiny freezer wouldn’t freeze food properly, and I don’t think it was keeping the food in the refrigerator part as cold as it should have. And the little freezer area was needing a full defrost ever 5 or 6 weeks, verses the once a year when I moved in. Ugh. It desperately needed to be replaced.

I bought it myself, and opted for one of the little refrigerators with the separate freezer. One door for the fridge, and one for the freezer. Yay! It cost a pretty penny. Just over $150. But it was well worth the money. And I just love having the freezer separate.

This freezer is more than twice as big as the other one was, so I needed to decide what to put in it. Smoothie packs were the first thing I thought of.

Using quart size freezer bags, I made 28 smoothie packs, each with two servings. So I got 56 smoothies out of my efforts, and still had plenty of room left for other things.

Smoothie Packs

bananas

frozen mixed berries

kale

frozen cranberries

fresh strawberries (leftovers)

fresh blueberries (leftovers)

celery leaves

***** These were super simple to put together. Here is what I did.

  1. Opened the bags as I needed them, setting them up as a sort of assembly line.
  2. Peeled and sliced the bananas, using about 1/4th banana per bag. This gave me 24 bags.
  3. Split the fresh strawberries and blueberries between eight bags.
  4. Split the frozen berry mix between between the rest of the bags.
  5. Split the cranberries between the all of the bags.
  6. Split the celery leaves between six of the bags.
  7. Split the kale between the rest of the bags.
  8. Pushed the air out of each bag, closing it.
  9. Placed them in the freezer.

I didn’t label them because I know I’ll use them before they go bad, and before I make more.

It feels great to have a freezer I can actually use.

Do you freeze smoothie packs? What are your favorite combinations?

~ Shannon

Quick Tip: Freezing Bananas

Why would you freeze a banana? Why not. You can, and there are a few different ways to do so. I want to talk about my favorite way to freeze them.

First, I wait until the banana peels have some brown spots on the them. These will make for sweeter bananas.

I peel them, then slice into rounds. These rounds go on paper plates in a single layer, and are placed in the freezer for an hour or two, until frozen. (Baking sheets are too big for my little freezer, or I would use then instead of the plates. I know this would be less wasteful.) Then I place the rounds into into a quart size freezer bag and close, being sure there isn’t much air inside. I don’t pretend to be able to get all the air out, but I do squeeze out as much as I can.

How do I use these bananas?

  • in smoothies
  • to make banana ice cream
  • to make muffins
  • to make bread

How do you freeze bananas? What do you use them for after they’ve been frozen?

~ Shannon

Baked Kale Chips

I received some kale in the last Misfits Market box. At the time, I was making up some snacks to have while being pretty much quarantined. Getting this in my box gave me the perfect opportunity to try my hand at making kale chips.

No, I am not sick. I do, however, have asthma and my mother, and my daughters, and I were worried about my coming into contact with someone who was sick with the virus that has turned our country on it’s side. Because I work at the front desk at the hotel, and rely on public transportation, I am was on the front lines. I took a layoff and am no longer too worried about in contact with an infected person.

Personally, I cannot wait to go back to work. But being home is offering an opportunity for me to experiment with new recipes and do some other kitchen related things. All of which I am going to share with you!

I do hope you are all being safe. I do understand that some of you are considered essential workers, and hope the best for everyone at this time.

I did make baked collard green chips a while back, so I was excited to try these ones.

Kale Chips

kale leaves

almond oil

sea salt

(The amounts of oil and salt will depend on how many kale chips you are making.)

  1. Preheat oven to 275*.
  2. Wash the kale leaves, checking for bugs and dirt, and lay out on a towel. Cover with a second towel and run your hands over it to help sop up most of the water. Remove the second towel and allow kale to air dry.
  3. Remove the rib from the kale.
  4. Tear the kale into chip-size pieces.
  5. Put a tablespoon or two of oil in a mixing bowl.
  6. Add a few grinds of sea salt.
  7. Place the kale chips into the bowl, and gently mix it all with your hands, until the oil coats the kale.
  8. Wash and dry your hands.
  9. Put parchment paper on the bottom of a baking sheet.
  10. Place chips on baking sheet, being sure they are laying as flat as possible, and not touching each other.
  11. Put the baking sheet into the oven, and bake at 275* for about 20 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven, and allow to cool.
  13. Store in a covered container.

Tips

  • This can be done with chard and collard greens as well.
  • Try using different seasonings.

Serving Suggestions

  • Eat like you would any chips.
  • Serve crumbled over shepherd’s pie, or over mashed potatoes.

Enjoy!

Shannon