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Salad days.

IMG_20150622_182817We had our first from-the-garden salad last night. When I say “from the garden” I mean that most of it was from our own little urban homestead.

The rest of it was from a great big garden somewhere else. Factory farms count, right?

Although the greens (and reds!) in the garden are starting to look respectable, we don’t want to denude them just yet.

So we possess our souls in patience and augment what we grew with romaine from the supermarket.

Here’s the lineup from the picture on the left:


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How to avoid takeout.

thYesterday I woke up with this phrase in my head: “Something about the bridge.” Not the conveyance type of bridge, but the kind in my mouth.

Unfortunately, my dentist appointment proved that my precognitive flash was correct. The X-rays showed decay in a place that can’t be fixed unless the dentist removes the cantilevered bridge (aka a “Maryland bridge”) to do it.

That bridge was on borrowed time anyway. It was installed 31 years ago. When I said as much, the dentist’s eyes widened. It’s had an impressive run, but time for it to go. And for a crown to be placed on that tooth.

My self-funded dental insurance covers only preventive work like X-rays and cleaning. The work needed will run a little over $1,200 if I pay by check. Which I will, of course.

My decidedly non-frugal reaction was to say, “Let’s go out to eat.” You can see that I wasn’t thinking clearly.


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A mess of beans.

th-1The temperature is about five below zero, which isn’t unusual for an Anchorage winter. Even though we’re hard by Cook Inlet, it still gets chilly in the winter.

This hasn’t been an ordinary winter, though. We’ve had hardly any snow and temperatures in the 30s and even the low 40s, which is just against God. When it finally started snowing the other day even non-skiers like me were greatly relieved.

But apparently my blood has thinned, because as the thermometer settled toward the zero mark I was unreasonably cold. Wool socks weren’t keeping my feet warm. A fleece layer was necessary even in the car. I considered pulling out the long johns and maybe even zipping my coat.

Clearly what was needed was a mess of beans.


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The bonus turkey.

thIf you’re still seeing good prices on Meleagris gallopavo in your local supermarket, buy an extra one. In fact, buy the biggest one your freezer can hold.

Here’s why.

Last month we bought a bonus 20-pounder, i.e., one not for Thanksgiving. After DF cooked it on the Weber we wound up with 18 pounds of meat and more than a quart of broth for future soup or gravy.

We gave ourselves extra Frugal Points for skimming the cooled fat off the top and freezing it for future sautéing purposes, and for picking tiny bits of meat off the boiled-down carcass. Hey, we got enough for three turkey salad sandwiches – and we ate them that week, because we weren’t sick of the bird yet.

That’s because it was the week before Thanksgiving and we hadn’t already undergone an unending series of turkey leftovers, hot turkey sandwiches, creamed turkey, turkey soup and turkey surprise. Those 18 pounds of bonus turkey went first into quart-sized canning jars and then into the pressure canner.


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The boiling bag.

thWe had a marvelous soup the other night, based on a friend’s recipe for sausage-potato-kale soup. Ours utilized some of the kale we dehydrated last year (boy, has that stuff hung on), some potatoes freshly dug from our garden and some sausage bought months ago at a deep discount. (I love my freezer.)

It was supposed to have been kielbasa but spicy Cajun links were what we had. I sliced two links into coins and sauteed them until slightly crisp in a cast-iron skillet in which onions had already caramelized. Decided that a finely diced carrot wouldn’t hurt a bit, either.

The base was the real star, however — a rich homemade stock the likes of which we will never taste again. No two of our stocks ever taste exactly the same. That’s because the contents of the boiling bag vary every time.

The boiling bag is a bag in the freezer that receives vegetable scraps, bones and sometimes even bits of fruit. This batch had several apple cores and there was a slight sweetness under the richness of the other ingredients — which this time included beet and turnip greens and stems, onion skins, carrot tops, and both pork and chicken bones. Put it all in the slow cooker overnight and you wake up to a lovely, intriguing aroma.


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