Keep Weekday Meals Simple to Encourage Cooking at Home

…as far as expending Frugalwoods bucks on restaurant meals, we’ve clocked in at a grand total of $51.26 for the year—once for Mr. FW’s 31st birthday and once for our 7th anniversary.

This wasn’t accidental kismet, but rather a concerted alignment with our year of extreme frugality (which, by the way, continues on). Pre-homestead and early retirement aspirations, we ate out fairly often—on average, once a week, which now seems unthinkable to us. But at the time, it was what we were accustomed to.

Source: How We Broke Our Eating Out Habit In 9 Steps

So far, I’ve been doing pretty well. I’ve only “eaten out” for two meals, both the other day, and both were in the hospital cafeteria as we were waiting for a friend having surgery, so I don’t feel too guilty about that. Two meals out of 40 possible so far is a huge improvement for me.

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Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016

I don’t really do resolutions like “running” or “clean eating,” but I do enjoy the “take charge of your life!” energy that each January brings. Instead of harnessing that energy to start a diet, consider making a few resolutions that aim to improve your kitchen and kitchen-related skills.

Though there’s nothing wrong with starting a diet per se, I prefer to focus on changes that make me more excited to cook at home, rather than focusing on calories or “cleanliness.” The better a cook I become, the more likely I am to make meals for myself, which will be healthier and cheaper than eating out. Here are seven ways you can better your cooking in 2016 and, unlike some resolutions, these are likely to last the whole year.

Source: Kitchen Resolutions You Should Make for a Delicious 2016

Try to cook four dishes, from a different country …each month.  Maybe a tad less if your INR is fluctuating though.  I know of a circle of friends who theme a potluck for a challenge while not having to cook everything themselves.

Fitness Isn’t Just for the Wealthy: How to Stay Healthy on a Budget

Personal trainers, fresh vegetables, and gym memberships all cost money. Not everyone can afford such luxuries. It’s one reason why being poor is too expensive—a crappy diet and sedentary lifestyle costs more down the line. Don’t worry: While fitness comes at a price, it’s not one you have to pay out of your wallet.

Source: Fitness Isn’t Just for the Wealthy: How to Stay Healthy on a Budget

Couple of points:

  • The article mentions bodyweight exercises, but stops short of saying yoga or pilates?
  • Cooking for yourself will take time, but it’s worth it for health/nutrition by minimizing how much packaged food you consume.  Just be sure to wash the fruit & veg, eh? 😉
  • While you’re likely to pay more for better food, lowering body weight means portion control.  You’ll eat less, which will cost less.

How to Pass Off Store-Bought Food as Your Own

Taking it out of the container would be a start 😉

From now until January 2nd, you’ll be invited to many parties of the house, cocktail, and dinner variety. If you love to cook, making and bringing something won’t be a problem, but if you have the baking skills of a young Cher Horowitz, you may need to lie. By “lie” I mean “buy some food you did not make and pretend you did.” This isn’t honest, or righteous, or even very easy, but it can be done.

Source: How to Pass Off Store-Bought Food as Your Own

I figured if I covered cranberry sauce, why stop there?

Why Cooking Is A Lot Like Mathematics

I’ve come to believe that mathematics, as an investigative science, as a practical discipline and as a creative art, shares many characteristics with cookery. It’s not just spaghetti alla carbonara, it’s the whole business of inventing dishes and preparing them. It’s an analogy with many parts, and it has consequences.

Source: Mathematics, spaghetti alla carbonara and you

Anyone who has ever tried to temper chocolate must inevitably reach the conclusion that cooking is not like mathematics at all, but is much more like chanting fragments of the Necronomicon beside a pentagram drawn in blood on the floor of a dark and mouldy cellar, and hoping that the dark spirit evoked thereby does not drive you completely mad.  This is why pastry chefs are the craziest chefs…

Why You Still Shouldn’t Cook With Hot Tap Water

I grew up not drinking hot water from the tap (my parents didn’t, and I eventually looked it up and found out that in old homes, lead can leach from solder). Now that I have a high-efficiency tankless hot water heater and replaced the copper piping with PEX, can I safely use hot water from the tap for cooking? I must be able to save some energy vs. boiling cold water for pasta.

Source: Is It Safe to Cook With Hot Tap Water?

Good time to bring up that you can boil water faster if you microwave half of it

Surprising news, considering that home insurance gives discounts for having PEX because PEX is less likely to fail.  Water damage in a house is admittedly bad for everyone.

Always check your Water Tank Anode if your tank is more than 5 years old, and replace it ASAP. The minute that anode is corroded enough to be ineffective, that water is eating at your tank – not the rod. You should also drain the tank once a year till it runs clean too.

Five Useful Cooking Techniques No One Teaches You

Most of us learn to cook through trial and error, the Food Network, or being forced to feed ourselves when no one else will do it. So naturally, no one’s born knowing how to sauté chicken, or blanch vegetables. Here are some basic (but useful) cooking techniques chefs use every day, but the rest of us rarely pick up.

Source: Five Useful Cooking Techniques No One Teaches You

#6: Sous vide 101.  How much did you know already?  Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” is a good show – last I heard, most was available on Netflix.

Why It’s Sometimes Okay to Eat Chicken That’s Pink After Cooking

Here’s the situation: your thermometer reads 165°, but that meat still looks pretty darn pink. What do you do? According to the USDA, looks can be deceiving.

Source: Chicken Still Pink After Cooking?  Don’t Panic

YYYYYEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Just eat it and let’s not be… chicken.

Liebster Award Nomination

I was nominated by Bekah, of the lovely A Vegan with a Plan.  Thank you!

The rules for the Liebster Award are:

  • post the award logo on your blog
  • link back to the person who nominated you
  • answer the questions set for you
  • nominate 10 other bloggers (preferably with less than 200 followers) and let them know they’ve been nominated
  • create 10 questions for your nominees

Here are the answers to the questions I was asked:

What is your favorite kitchen tool?

Egg beater, for licking after making whip cream.

What is your favorite food?

Just one?

What kind of camera do you use for blog photos?

Smartphone.  There was a time when I had a Nikon, but it died on me and I was never a photog.

What inspired you to start blogging?

I don’t consider it blogging – this is the result of wanting to change my diet.  After the third or so recipe on a piece of paper, I figured there had to be a better way.  So it’s a cook book to me, but it’s evolved to include various articles and information I encounter that’s either related or interesting to me.

Do you have any hobbies?

Too many.  Cooking takes a backseat to training for triathlon, which includes yoga and sleep.

Which do you enjoy more, cooking or baking?

Can’t it be both?  Both are delicious.

If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world with the goal of trying local cuisine, where would you go?

Eurasia 😀

How much time do you spend blogging each week?

I haven’t tallied – it depends on content.  Some things need more time than others.

What is your favorite color?

Puce.

Food processor, essential or “nice to have”?

Essential.  Mine is almost too small – guacamole is fine, but the black bean brownies almost kills the poor thing.

Here are the questions for my nominees, in no particular order:

  • Please describe yourself in 5 words
  • Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or 1 horse-sized duck?
  • What’s your guilty pleasure?  Doesn’t have to be food
  • Insects: Would you try them if someone offered them in some form of a meal?  Does it make a difference if the insects are alive or dead?
  • Puns: Enjoyable, or breach of etiquette?  Any favourites?
  • What was the last thing you celebrated?
  • Where was the last time you traveled somewhere new?
  • When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?
  • Would you rather be evil but considered good, or good but considered evil?
  • What’s the wisest thing you’ve heard someone say?

And the blogs I would like to nominate are… (drum roll):

Cooking: Doesn’t ‘Burn Off’ The Alcohol In Food

If you’re worried about getting boozy in front of your fiancée’s parents over the holidays, it’s not just the eggnog you should be watching.

As it turns out, many popular foods prepared with wine or liquor never have the alcohol completely cooked out. New Scientist deputy editor Graham Lawton tried it out for himself by eating several dishes sautéed, flambéed, or baked with booze. After each plate he consumed (an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert), Lawton measured his blood alcohol content.

Source: Cooking Doesn’t Actually ‘Burn Off’ The Alcohol In Food

There’s a handy chart in the article to compare how much alcohol content is retained in certain foods using various cooking times and methods.  A previous post covers non-alcoholic substitutions.