In the Kitchen...
Our supply of rice milk for my husband is running low, so today I decided to make some up two ways - with cooked and uncooked rice - to see which turns out best. This morning I set up the raw brown rice to soak in water most of the day, and also cooked up some rice using the absorption method (incidentally, the way I always cook rice for fluffy, perfect results every time!). This evening I turned both rices into rice milk - HERE is how.
Since the weather is cooler with the storm howling outside, I decided today would be a good day to have a quick empty and rearrange of my big chest freezer, so make sure like items are together and I have a clear idea of what is in there, where. I hauled everything out, sorting into the three big bins I use as laundry baskets, then rearranged the boxes and baskets in the freezer, stacking things back in groups. I now have:
3 banana boxes at the bottom of my freezer - one has all the frozen tomatoes I need to make into bottled products, organic tomato paste I bought in a bulk tin and split into useful sized packets, plus some packets of chicken meat for pet food, and some frozen whole nasturtium leaves for making dolmas. The second box is full of assorted bones for making stock - while I was at it I pulled out enough to fill my biggest stock pot, and cooked a load of chicken stock. The third box has various random meats I need to use up - a couple of goat legs a friend got hunting, some venison my son hunted, one of our roosters from a while back etc. Since most of these are in sizes too big for a meal for just the two of us, I'll either invite folk for dinners and use them then, or make into dishes that can be split, then frozen and used for several meals, or gifted to others.
I put packets of frozen beans and other veges into plastic grocery bags to sit on top of the boxes, so they can be collectively lifted out of the way when I need to get to the boxes. Containers of soup are stacked at one end, along with upright banker boxes of chops and more un-sausages.
In the hanging baskets I put small quantities of meat, suitable for 1-2 people, so I can grab those easily for small meals. Another basket has GF bread in it (and one ordinary), and another has all the small packs of herbs etc chopped and frozen from the garden, and the fourth has containers of stock, ready to grab for use in various meals.
It took less than 30 mins for me to do this, and now my freezer is better organised, and I have made some notes as to what is needing using first.
For dinner I made a delicious courgette dish I invented recently. Except that tonight, I first sauted some diced chicken breast in a little coconut and olive oil, and set it aside, then made the courgette dish, then added the chicken in and simmered until heated back through. Yum!
I also roasted some pumpkin from last year's harvest that is taking up space in the fridge since I cut some recently - some to eat for dinner, and some to put on the fridge and make into soup. While I was at it, I scooped out the seeds from the pumpkin, and made a roasted pumpkin seed snack. Pumpkin seeds are very nutritious, as well as being a natural vermicide (anti intestinal worms). They can be cooked with their shells on and eaten as a very tasty snack - the method is simple and you can experiment with various flavour combos.
In the Office....
Today I revisited my own price book - it's been a while since I kept one, so I decided on a fresh start with a spiral bound address book I picked up from a $2 shop a year or so ago, and haven't really used (I have a much better system for addresses and telephone numbers!). I pulled out all the receipts I could find, and began writing in recent prices of regularly purchased items. I know that getting back into the habit of using a price book to advantage is one way to keep our grocery spending down in future! It helped me a great deal in the past.
Today's Thrifty Tips and Handy Hints...
Better laundry baskets: Next time your laundry basket needs replacing, get a big "fish bin" type bin from the Warehouse instead - they are much more robust than the plastic baskets with holes or slits around them, and hold more laundry too - perfect in a large family. They stack either on top of each other, or nesting for storage, and can be used for so many other things too - bathe the baby or a small dog, use when emptying the freezer, load with items that need transporting to a camp or picnic and so on. Currently $8 for a 42L bin. Mine are 54L ones, and cost $10
Safely reuse ziplock bags in the freezer: If you use ziplock bags to store various items in the freezer, you can safely reuse them if you keep them frozen. I use large ziplock bags to store opened packs of GF bread, chicken carcasses for making stock, roast bones for soups and stocks etc. If I remove the contents without defrosting it in the bag, the bag remains essentially clean, and I fold the bags and put back in the freezer, then reuse them for the same kind of items again a few times. Keeping them frozen reduces any risk to nil, if stored items are then going to be removed and cooked throughly, such as bones into stock. Bags that have been used to store non-meat items (eg bread, herbs etc) I will wash in soapy water, dry, and reuse. Bags used for meat storage I do not reuse except as above - if they have meat defrosted in them, they become potentially unsafe. Today I emptied a bunch of frozen chicken carcasses from bags into my stock pot, tucked the bags back into one of them, and put back in the freezer. I will use those bags to store the next rounds of chicken carcasses until I'm ready to cook up a pot. Obviously, apply wisdom to how you utilize this idea. :-)