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Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin is another thing that is cheaper at the Farmers Market than at the grocery store. I can usually (in season) get nice sized pie pumpkins for $2. Sometimes Iíve been able to get them for $1. The one I cooked today weighed 3 pounds 10 ounces whole, including seeds, stem, etc. I roasted it and got about 840 grams of cooked pumpkin, or about the same as 2 of the smaller (just under a pound) cans of processed pumpkin from the store. I saw the smaller cans of pumpkin at Walmart yesterday for $1.79 per can. I also got about half a cup of toasted pumpkin seeds. Iím not sure how much that weighed, but pumpkin seeds were about $11 per pound when I was at the health food store yesterday, which is the only place I've seen them around here. In Idaho I could get them for a lot less at Winco. A cup of cooked pumpkin (about 200 grams) has 49 calories, 12 carbs, 2.7 grams of fiber, 9.3 net carbs, and 1.8 grams of protein. It also has 245% of your RDA of Vitamin A, 19% of your Vitamin C, and 11% of your Riboflavin, plus smaller amounts of other nutrients. At 9.7 net carbs per cup itís a bit high, but I eat it in things and not by itself, so Iím usually eating half a cup at a time, or less. Half a cup of roasted pumpkin seeds has 143 calories, 17.2 carbs, 4.5 grams of fiber, 12.7 net carbs, and 6 grams of protein. The way I cook the seeds you eat the shell and all, so they probably have more fiber and less of everything else, though I donít know.

I washed my pumpkin, cut off the top, and then cut it in half. I pulled out the seeds with my hands so Iíd get as little of the stringy stuff as possible, then used my sturdiest spoon to scrape out the rest of the stringy stuff. Put about a tablespoon or so of oil or clean drippings in a rimmed baking sheet. If you are using drippings you may need to put it in the oven for a few seconds and let it get soft. Rub a bit of the oil/drippings over the cut edges and make sure the pan is completely covered with the rest. Put the pumpkins, cut side down, on the baking sheet and roast for about an hour at 375, or until itís completely soft. Take it out of the oven, turn the pumpkins over so theyíll cool faster, and leave them until they are cool. Scrape the pulp out of the shell with a sturdy spoon (the shell just slipped right off of the one I cooked today).

Put the seeds in a bowl of warm water and rub them thoroughly to get rid of the slimy stuff. Most of the seeds should be pretty clean anyway, but some will be stuck in the strings. If you squeeze the end thatís stuck in the strings the seeds should squirt right out. (Itís kind of fun, actually!) When the seeds are clean, put them in some salted water, bring to a boil, and simmer them for 10 minutes. Drain, and spread them out in a baking sheet that you greased with a tablespoon or so of oil or drippings. Bake on the top shelf of the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until they start to brown. I did mine while the pumpkin was roasting at 375 and it worked just fine. Let the seeds cool completely, then eat the whole thing, shell and all.

I cooked the pumpkin today to put in some Pumpkin Hominy Chili that Iím serving to my friends for dinner tonight. I hope you can find the recipe from my Nutrition Tracker. If not, let me know and Iíll see what I can do. For that, I just cubed the cooked pumpkin and then mashed it up a bit with a spoon before putting it in the crockpot. It should cook down to mush and just thicken the soup a bit. If you want to use it for pumpkin pie or other things where you want the puree, you can either puree it in your food processor or put it through a colander. Cooked pumpkin freezes well.

Mostly I use pumpkin in soups. It thickens up the broth a bit, which I prefer. It goes especially well in beef stew, beef vegetable soup, and things like that. It also makes a good soup in its own right. Iíll post a couple of other pumpkin recipes, too, though that may take a day or too. Someone said that they put some cooked pumpkin in their MIM/OMM's with a bit of pumpkin pie spice.

By the way, you can toast other winter squash seeds, too. Iíve seen references to toasting acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash seeds, though I havenít tried any of them. And, of course, the seeds from your jack oílantern! You can use the pulp from your jack oílantern, too, as you would the pulp from a pie pumpkin, though itís not quite as good. Be sure your pumpkin has been freshly cut if you are going to cook it. Itís ok if itís carved earlier that evening, but it gets old and nasty if it was carved a few days before.

Here's a link to where I got the information on toasting pumpkin seeds www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/toaste
and to where I got the information on roasting pumpkin www.traditional-foods.com/food-prepa

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LADYPIXEL 10/19/2012 12:15PM

    When I was a kid, I used to roast my pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet in the oven with some butter and salt sprinkled overtop. I would probably opt out of the butter now, but I really miss roasted pumpkin seeds... maybe I'll get a couple pumpkins and eat 'em this year. :)

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Chicken legs

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I think I posted last winter about chicken legs. I can usually get a 10 pound bag of chicken leg quarters for $5.90 at Walmart. I get about 12 meals out of a bag, plus about 14 cups of chicken broth. I have two ways of cooking the chicken. The first way is to bake the legs, the second is to cook them in the crockpot. I actually like the meat from the crockpot better because it's more moist. How do get 12 meals?

The first meal (and sometimes I make 2 meals out of it) is the skin. Yes, that's right - just the skin. It actually has quite a bit of protein, in addition to the fat. If I bake the chicken, I just pull the skin off after it is cooked. It mostly comes off in one big piece. Salt it if you like, or I usually just eat it plain. If I cook the legs in the crockpot, I pull the skin off first, and make Chicken Chips out of it by spreading it out on broiler racks or other racks over rimmed cookie sheets and then baking it at 425 for about 20 minutes. I think it comes out a lot better when it's cooked on the legs than when it's pulled off and cooked separately, but I like the meat a lot better when it's cooked in the crockpot. It's an imperfect world, isn't it?

Whichever way I cook the meat, I pull the meat off of most of the leg quarters and put it in 1 or 2 cup containers in the freezer. I usually save some legs out and eat them in the next few days instead of freezing them. 1 leg quarter usually yields about 1 cup of meat, at least with the WM ones. There are usually about 10 quarters per bag. When I get them from Kroger (they occasionally have them in 10 pound bags at the same price), they are usually smaller. The last bag only had 14 quarters. But they should still yield about the same off the bone. So that's about 11 meals, 1 from the skin and 10 from the meat. The last meal is cleaning off the bones after I make the broth.

After I've taken the meat from the bones, I put the bones in the crockpot, cover them with water, add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar (to leach the minerals - especially calcium out of the bones), and some pepper and a bay leaf or two. Depending on how ambitious I'm feeling I might add a carrot or some onion or celery or maybe some poultry seasoning. But it's more likely to be left plain. Bring it up to a boil, then cook it for 24 hours or so on low (if it's an old crockpot) or warm (if it's a new one). With my new crockpot (and I've heard the same from other folks), it will boil on low. Apparently some do-gooder decided that it wasn't safe for food to cook for long periods at the lower temp on the old machines. I've checked my crockpot and it stays between 160 and 170 on warm, though it has to be boiling first. It doesn't warm up at all on warm, it just stays warm. I have a 6 quart crockpot, and I get about 7 pints (14 cups) of broth from one batch of broth.

After the broth is done, I pour it through a strainer into a couple of big bowls and let it cool. Then I skim of some of the fat, and either refrigerate the broth then or put it in wide mouth pint canning jars and refrigerate the jars. If I refrigerated it first, I put it in wide mouth pint canning jars later. I label the jars, leave the lids a bit loose, and freeze them. It is important to use pints and not quarts (I used some quart jars and they broke when the broth swelled a bit when it froze) and to leave the lids loose. And to leave headroom, too. The middle of the broth usually pushes up 1/2" or so and if there isn't enough room then it will break the jars, instead. The wide-mouth jars make it more convenient to get the broth out of the jars later and also prevent the broth from pushing up on the the shoulder of the jar and breaking it.

But where is that last meal? After I've made the broth, I stand at the kitchen sink and gnaw off all the meat that was left on the bone. I don't know how much meat I actually get that way, but it takes long enough that it seems like a meal's worth.

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NAOLEE 10/18/2012 3:02PM

    Thank you. Have Blessed day.

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Spaghetti squash

Thursday, October 18, 2012

While a lot of stuff at the Farmers Market is not cheap, spaghetti squash is, at least at ours. They are usually $2 each, regardless of size, though I got some small ones last week for $1. The one I cooked last night was a big one (I usually buy the biggest ones I can find) and yielded between 6 and 7 cups of "spaghetti", or about 30 cents per cup. 200 grams, or about 1 cup, has 54 calories, .5 gram of fat, 12.9 carbs, 2.8 grams of fiber, 10.1 net carbs, and 1.3 grams of protein. It doesn't really have a lot of nutrition - the highest is 11.7% RDA of Vitamin C. But then spaghetti doesn't have all that much nutrition, either!

I don't like spaghetti squash as spaghetti. I KNOW what spaghetti tastes like and looks like and feels like and spaghetti squash isn't it. But I do like it as something in its own right. It works well in Chinese-ish foods like stirfries and that salad that you make out of spaghetti and chicken and sesame seeds. Or chow mein-ish sorts of things. Probably because I haven't had so much of any of those that I KNOW what the noodles in them are supposed to be like. Last night I just combined a bunch of veggies, including some spaghetti squash, with some leftover chicken and cooked it all in some chicken drippings. It was ok. It would have been better with some curry powder or soy sauce or something, but it was ok as it was.

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BUDGETMAW 10/19/2012 8:29AM

  Now I'm just the opposite, CreekLady. I love trying new foods. In fact, during the summer Farmers Market I'm always on the lookout for foods that I haven't tried before. Maybe it comes from liking to read cookbooks. I'm always finding recipes that sound great but require a new ingredient that I haven't seen before. Then I find the ingredient, buy it, and can't find the recipe!

You may be right at that, VWJ. I guess when I think of spaghetti squash as spaghetti, I think of it under red sauce. Maybe that's what I mean when I say it doesn't work. I don't think it works with what I think of as "spaghetti sauce" - tomatoes and hamburger and Italian seasoning. But I have had it and liked it in an Alfredo type sauce, and I made a good dish with fresh tomatoes and pesto the other day. But again, in both of those recipes I was eating spaghetti squash, not a substitute for spaghetti. Or maybe it's just that it's been over 8 years since I've had real spaghetti! Would you please post your recipe or suggestions for using spaghetti squash? Maybe in the recipe forum? Thanks.

Do try the spaghetti squash in various ways, Eschletz. Don't just give up on it. But please do think of it as a new vegetable, not as spaghetti. As for the butternut squash, the best way to eat that (in my far from humble opinion!) is with lots and lots of butter. Well, really the best way is with lots and lots of butter and brown sugar and cinnamon, but unfortunately the brown sugar is out. The cinnamon would still be good, though. Unfortunately, butternut squash isn't one of the lower carb squashes. You can get something comparable but with lots fewer carbs by using pumpkin. A blog post about pumpkin is coming up soon.

Comment edited on: 10/19/2012 8:40:20 AM

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ESCHLETZ 10/18/2012 2:45PM

    This was so helpful! Thank you. I just bought a couple squashes (spaghetti being one of them) and though I've tried (and didn't enjoy) the butternut squash I was really excited to try the spaghetti one. I'm not very inventive in the kitchen, but now I'll know to try it in a few different things before just thinking it's not my favorite dish.

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VJH-W65 10/18/2012 2:35PM

    It must be an aquired taste, I love it as spaghetti,
I don't do well with any flour foods so it suites me.
DH hates it, so he has something else.
I do not use the red sauce I love it 'alfredo' butter & parm cheese.
I say bravo for any way it can be enjoyed

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CREEKLADY1 10/18/2012 2:33PM

  I hate new thing to eat, especially if I don't know ways to cook them...

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Day 2 (Wednesday)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The day went much better than yesterday, with meals at usual times. I went to Kroger on my way to the library to get some yogurt (Dannon full fat plain for $1.88/qt) and ended up getting some other stuff, too. I have a feeling I may be running out of money before the end of the month, though not out of food. Guess I'll have to concentrate on eating what I already have.

I bought:
4 qts Dannon full fat yogurt @ 1.88/pt = 7.52 (Kroger sale)
1 can Juanita's Mexican Hominy = 1.39
1 box cornbread mix (for company) = .49

And I "bought" from my pantry/freezer/fridge:
1 can Juanita's Mexican Hominy = 1.39 (Kroger price)
1 lb butter = 2.29 (Kroger sale price)
1 spaghetti squash = 2.00 (Farmers Market price)
72 eggs @ 18/1.99 = 7.96 (Kroger sale price)

Total spent so far (and it's only been 2 days!) = 56.30

And I ate:
B - 3 eggs scrambled in 2 T butter
L - salad of 1 can tuna, 3 T mayo, 200 g celery, .5 c cherry tomatoes
S - concoction of 1 c chicken, 200 g spaghetti squash, 100 g broccoli, 2 T chicken drippings, .5 c cherry tomatoes, 45 g onions
T (evening tea) - 1 mug tea w/37 grams coconut milk and 1/4 oz gelatin
Estimated cost for day's food = 3.28


Day 1 (Tuesday)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Well, the day didn't go exactly as planned. I had planned out my food for the day, including lunch, then didn't get back home until after 3. I had planned to take my lunch with me, but didn't have time/make time/get around to it. While I'm not one of those who say they can go all day without getting hungry, I was starving, either. I had a hard boiled egg and a huge (1 qt) glass of water when I got home and that was enough.

I did the first round of shopping yesterday, since I was going by the stores anyway on my way back. I had studied the grocery ads on line, prepared a price book, made out a grocery list, and everything. And left it all at home. Grrrrr! I didn't plan on getting very much anyway, since there were few things that I wanted on sale. It did mean that I couldn't fill in the prices in my price book so I don't know how much I spent on things I "bought" from my pantry and freezer.

Here's what I did buy -

Walmart -
10 lb bag of chicken leg quarters - $5.90
6 cans of coconut milk @ 1.48 = 8.88
26 oz frozen chopped spinach - 1.98
1 lb frozen chopped broccoli - .98
cinnamon, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper - $2.88
Total - 20.62

In case you're wondering about the coconut milk, I use it instead of cream in recipes, tea, etc. It's supposed to be good for us (the kind of saturated fat is good for us), and it's actually cheaper than whipping cream, if I buy it at Walmart.

Sam's -
celery (3 hearts) - 2.48
2 lbs fresh broccoli florets - 3.98
2 lbs cheddar cheese - 6.28
Total - 12.64

The frozen broccoli is, of course, cheaper, but I prefer the fresh most of the time. The frozen is better in cream of broccoli soup, though. It used to come in a 3 pound bag at Sam's, and I never quite made it though the whole bag before it went bad. The 2 pound bag is a much better size for me, though of course they raised the price per pound when they went to the smaller bag.

Fortunately I didn't make it to Aldi yesterday, since they have some good deals on veggies starting today. I'll pick up some onions and mushrooms, and "buy" some zucchini and peppers from the fridge at the Aldi price.

Tuesday's food -
B - 3 eggs scrambled in 2 T butter
L (very late) - 1 hard boiled egg
S - skin from 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters, meat from 2 small leg quarters, 1 can of green beans, 1 T chicken drippings

Actually, I cheated a bit. I had some okra that I didn't get used up before this challenge started, and I really had that instead of the green beans. But I definitely wouldn't have bought the okra on a food stamp budget, so I'm counting a can of green beans instead.

Very rough estimate of actual food costs for day - $2.50. Which is higher than it should be. I did not plan to eat the leg quarters. The skin would have been enough. So I'll have to make it up later.

Oops! I was thinking it was about $1.50 per day, not $1.50 per meal! so my $2.50 is great.

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NAYPOOIE 10/17/2012 2:26PM

    $1.50 per day! Not in this century.

It will probably be a few days before I can figure out costs, kind of busy at work. What I will do is start tracking so I can do it when time allows. I bought pork chops and rib eyes at Costco Sunday, they're vacuum-sealed and in the freezer. Need to find that receipt. I'm not sure how to price my home-canned tuna, as I'm not sure how many jars I got out of it (some have been eaten), or how much of what I paid for went to waste (bought whole fish). Maybe I'll just use the price in the store, probably not accurate, but trying to figure the actual price probably won't work well either.

If I get a deer (unlikely around here), I'm going to count it free. Obviously there are costs associated with getting it, but I budget that money for recreation, not food. If it results in food, that's just gravy.

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