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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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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
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Monday, January 04, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - A Look Back at 2009

Frugal Kitchens 101

A year ago I started running the Frugal Kitchens 101 feature every Monday. When I first started writing the features I had a few doubts and but over the year they have become quite popular. I think one that thing that appeals to many about this feature is all aspects of the kitchen are covered. Over the past year I've shared my tips not only for saving on your food dollars but also on topics such as saving on energy used in your kitchen to shopping for food and anything else related to running a frugal kitchen. Kitchen equipment has even been discussed so I think it has been quite interesting with something for everyone.

Frugal Kitchens 101 will remain a feature of this blog airing every Monday for the upcoming year. I have a lot of ideas to share with you as I explore new ways to make my kitchen a bit more frugal. This year promises to be an adventure in frugal kitchens as I reach out a bit beyond the basics. This year Hydro One will have most of Ontario on Time of Use (TOU) pricing that will result in the price per kWh go from 5.6¢ to 9.2¢ during high usage hours that will directly affect the cost of meal preparation during the week. This amounts to 44% of our electric bill with the remaining 56% being service charges some of them directly affected by kWh uses. So expect throughout the year to see a bit more on saving electricity in the kitchen and perhaps an investigation into solar cooking methods.

14 food lovers commented:

A Year on the Grill said...

I played a bit with solar cooking and failed miserably... I am really looking forward to someone smarter than me to lead the way!

Garden Gnome said...

I like the idea of solar cooking which of course only works well when the sun is out. I'm not sure how my experiments will work out but they should be fun :)

Chey can cook! (and more) said...

I can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve:)

Darlene said...

Also look into "hot boxes", "hay boxes", "Wonder Boxes", "Dream Boxes", etc. They are all ways of heating food to boiling, then finishing the cooking in an insulated box, basket, etc.

Mostly, you need a large round pot with a tight lid, a heavy-duty blanket or quilt that is made from natural fibers - wool, cotton, etc so that the hot pot won't burn the fabric, and something like a box or laundry basket.

Basic premise is that you bring foods to a boil, cook for 10-30 mins and then place the covered cook pot into the lined box/basket and cover the pot well. Let it sit for 30 mins to several hours (like a slow cooker) and then remove from box. Things like meat need to be reheated to a boil to make sure it's cooked - and I'd use a thermometer on the meat to make sure it's at the correct temp.

This is what procedure was used during WWII when fuel was scarce.

Also, you can use your crockpot to cook things while you sleep. Refrigerate in the morning and simply reheat when ready to eat.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Darlene and thanks for visiting. I've read a lot about hot boxes so thanks for reminding me of this method. I think this method wouldn't work well for anything needing short cooking times but it is definitely on my list to experiment with.

Darlene said...

Actually - quite surprisingly, I have seen short-cooked item recipes on the net. I think 30 minutes for rice and less for pasta. There's a Wonderbox mini "Kit" out there that cooks rice, pasta and yogurt/kefir. Basically, it's a small cooler ($1 at dollar store), 3 quart mason jars and lids with "pasta", "rice" and "yogurt" written on them and a $5 fleece blanket. You'd bring the water/broth for the rice/pasta to a boil, dump it into the jar(s).

Yogurt you'd bring the milk to about 110-115, incubate with starter and place in jar. With all items, you wrap the jar(s) well with the fleece blanket and then put them in the cooler and let it sit - Rice for 30 mins and pasta for however long that particular pasta should cook and yogurt for 4-10 hrs - depends on how tart you like your yogurt.

Darlene said...

Oh, the Wonder minibox costs about $25. Or make your own for less than $10 - and that's if you buy new jars, cooler and blanket to use.

Garden Gnome said...

Darlene I'm going to set one up to see how well it works. I know yogurt can be made without electricity so am interested to see how well this method works for pasta and rice. Thanks again :)

Darlene said...

It "should" work well. That Pasta thingy they sell on tv is nothing more than a tall plastic container with a lid that you put boiling water into.

I know that "microwave" pasta WON'T work in it. Tried the same principle with some and YUCK! It was slimy. I don't know what they do to the pasta to make it cook in 1 min, but that stuff was NASTY done in boiling water.


Garden Gnome said...

It's good to know the microwave method doesn't work well. That's the problem with some of these methods then you end up tossing the food which is a waste.

Darlene said...

It wasn't the method, but the pasta used for "instant" Mac & Cheese. We had hot water and tried doing a "soak" in the hot water and that's what came up mushy. The Mac & Cheese that was cooked IN the microwave was ok - if you like boxed Mac & Cheese (son LOVES it - just not fixed in hot water.)

Regular pasta works fine - or so it seems.

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks for clarifying Darlene. I misunderstood and took it to be the method. So for this method it is important to use regular pasta?

I use Red Rooster instant noodles and rice noodles both of which cook in under a minute. I don't use a microwave for them though as they tend to be home canned soup additions. The rice noodles are quite lovely used as a pasta with sauce topping though for a 15 minute meal :)

Darlene said...

I think it's only microwave "pasta" that would be a problem. For some reason, I don't think "noodles" or rice will be a problem, but I haven't tried them. I'm not sure why there's a difference between pasta and noodles, but there is and it shows both in cooking times and taste. Perhaps it's that one has eggs in it and the other doesn't. The egg helps bind the flour so that it doesn't get slimy - or at least that's my guess.

Garden Gnome said...

I haven't used microwave pasta so can't comment on the difference between it and regular pasta other than it might be partially cooked to speed up the cooking time. That would give a difference in texture.