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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Thinking Ahead

Frugal Kitchens 101

If you have been following this blog you will already know that I make a lot of basic ingredients that are then used as is or as ingredients for other dishes. This includes a variety of spice and seasoning blends, flavoured oils and vinegars, sweet butter, yogurt, buttermilk, ricotta cheese, yogurt cheese, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, sourdough starter, home cured meats as well as sweet and savory fresh sauces. Clearly if I want yogurt and it takes 24 hours to make or cured meat that takes 5 days to cure I have to do a bit of planning ahead. This is very important because I am relying on my homemade versions rather than stopping at a grocery store. This weeks Frugal Kitchens 101 focuses on how I think ahead to keep a steady supply of these foods ready to use as desired.

The first consideration is having the raw ingredients on hand to make the ingredients mentioned above on hand. That means I need a variety of milks, heavy cream, oils, vinegars, herbs, spices, dried beans and alfalfa seeds on hand at all times. With the exception of milks and creams I keep everything else on hand in the pantry as part of normal pantry stocking. If I notice an ingredient getting low it goes on the grocery list for our next grocery trip. Milks and creams are generally bought once every 10 days depending on our need and how many additional products I need to make.

I am on somewhat of a schedule when it comes to making these ingredients. I normally make milk based products and sweet butter on Mondays. I tend to make more of these foods during the winter months but they are always on the go. Bean and alfalfa sprouts are started mainly on the basis of need. I'll get an idea of something I would like to make then start the sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts are started weekly during the summer months because I love them in salads and sandwiches. Flavoured oils and vinegars are usually started throughout the growing season when fresh herbs are available. Seasoning and herb blends are made prior to being needed. For example during the holiday season I use a lot more poultry seasoning so will make up a fresh batch just to have the extra. The holiday season also sees me making seasoning blends for gift baskets so any extra goes into the pantry for my use. It also means I use more things like buttermilk for cooking. Now sourdough starter presents a bit of a challenge because it cannot be sitting on the counter waiting to be used if yogurt is being made. The active bacteria in the yogurt is an antagonist to the yeast in the sourdough starter so it ends up being a one or the other type thing otherwise both may fail. This becomes even more critical when I'm drying down sourdough starter to use as a culture at some point in the future.

In short, formulating a schedule to keep these homemade products consistently in my pantry and refrigerator is not as much work as it seems. Most of it stems from me knowing how much of each product I will go through in a week then adjusting based on the season. With a bit of tracking it was fairly easy to come up with a schedule that worked for me to ensure these are products we always have on hand ready to use as needed.


1 food lovers commented:

A Year on the Grill said...

great tips... I have got to work on this