10 July 2009

More Success in the Kitchen than in the Garden

It's been three weeks since I was laid off (AGAIN) and I am slowly getting back into the kitchen. Since I am trying to be as frugal as possible, there hasn't been much worth talking about for Foodie Friday. For the most part, I've been throwing spices on chicken and cooking canned vegetables.

The kids will be spared any more chicken-breast-and-canned-veg dinners for a while, however, because my freezer was turned off for a week without my knowledge and all my meat spoiled. ABM did something when he was mowing the lawn that made the electricity flick on and off last Thursday. We didn't think to check any of the appliances because it was so quick, so we didn't know that the outlet the freezer is plugged into needed to be reset. I'd already cooked dinner for Thursday and Friday, we ate out on Saturday, and ABM bought food that we grilled on Sunday and ate Monday and Tuesday. By the time I needed something from the freezer, it was too late to rescue the meat. Perhaps this would be the perfect time for us all to go vegetarian :-).

The two recipes I tried recently are Hot Dog Casserole from the blog Frugal Family Recipes and a peperonata recipe from Recipe Tips. The hot dog dish was popular with my kids and they renamed it Corn Dog Casserole because it tastes like corn dogs to them. The peperonata was not a hit with them, but I didn't really expect it to be. I was craving onions and peppers over rice, and I remember someone on Twitter mentioning a dish called peperonata. It totally filled the bill for dinner last night. My favorite thing about both of this recipes is that I keep most of these ingredients on hand. The only exception is bell peppers and I plan to plant a lot of those next spring.

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This year's garden shall be called Blanche because if it weren't for the kindness of others I wouldn't have any veggies at all this year. My bush beans gave only a couple handfuls of beans. My asparagus beans are all vine and no bean, and my tomato and pepper seeds didn't even sprout. The first tomatoes and green beans of the year came from my neighbors LJ and LS. The only plants in my garden that I can take full credit for are basil, corn, and watermelon; the rest were donated by LJ.

So have I learned any lessons from Blanche? Well, I think Blanche is telling me that I should (a) start my seeds earlier and (b) crowd my plants together like I did last year, a la Square Foot Gardening. Perhaps I also need to give some more thought to what plant varieties will give me the best yield for the space. It's a good thing that this wasn't my first year of gardening, or I might be tempted to give up.
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