Saturday, November 12, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Cooking to battle inflation

What a difference a couple of weeks makes in the world around us!  Two weeks ago we still had some colorful leaves on the trees.  Today most of the leaves have fallen and there are snowflakes descending from the sky.

It almost puts me in the Christmas mood.  While I will wait to do much Christmas decorating, I will be more likely to listen to the music of the season now that we have had our first (however light) snowfall.  My friend who lives in the Dakotas has been experiencing blizzard conditions.  I will take a few snowflakes here and there without complaining.

The stores that I go to have been well stocked and if one store was a little low on a product, another store had plenty.  I didn't go back to Aldi last week but I am hearing online that they have a lot of Thanksgiving sales going on right now, including the price of turkeys and butter.  I will definitely check it out this next week.

Meijer has turkeys on sale.  One of turkeys is down to (I think) 59 cents a pound with purchase.  What I did notice was all of those turkeys were huge.  Meijer also had whole chickens on sale for 99 cents a pound.  I haven't seen that price for awhile so I bought one to start chicken stock this afternoon.

I mentioned last week that I had purchased a pork shoulder for the first time in ages to make pulled pork sandwiches.  Most of the recipes I had seen for pulled pork had the pork shoulder (aka: Boston Butt) cooking for around twelve hours.

I had purchased the pork shoulder at Sam's when I saw it at a very good price and figured I would look up various recipes online.  I found a recipe that had a three hour cooking time and one could lower the oven temperature to keep it cooking a couple hours longer.

That is the recipe I used and it turned out to be fabulous.  I slowly cooked it in my large Lodge dutch oven (in the oven) and the pork shredded easily.  I put together a simple rub that I rubbed into the top fatty side of the roast, along with plenty of salt and pepper.  We enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches for a couple of dinners and most of it went to the freezer.  I only put Sweet Baby Ray's original barbecue sauce on the part that we had immediately.

That one pork shoulder could have fed a crowd for a very reasonable amount, especially with sides of cole slaw (which is cheap to make), and perhaps baked beans and potato salad.  Makes me almost miss July and picnics!  Believe me, I will start missing very warm days again by January.

Christopher and his family came over for dinner early last week.  I asked if he had any requests and one thing that came up was his Aunt Joan's Chicken Tetrazzini.  I hadn't made it in a long time but I found the recipe and started it the day before they were coming.

Her chicken tetrazzini was a legend and while she passed away when my son was very young, he still remembers that casserole.  So, I printed out the recipe as she had given me and made it exactly the same as her instructions, Which I found, had to be tweaked off and on as she used to always double or triple the recipe and some of the amounts were off for one casserole.

The way she made it was to start with a whole chicken and "boil it" (I would say simmer on medium to medium-high heat) until the cooked meat fell off the bone.  She then used the chicken stock to boil the spaghetti in for a good flavor.  

After I had removed the chicken, I thought that was a waste of delicious rich chicken bone broth so I ladled that broth to a freezer container (for later use in soup stock) and covered the bones once again with water to make a less rich stock but one that would still provide flavor to the spaghetti. 

It provided plenty of flavor to the spaghetti and although that recipe takes a lot of time and a day to wash all the dishes (I would NOT let my daughter-in-law help, she had a night off of cooking), it was worth it.  Isn't it amazing how food can bring back good memories?

I thought it remarkable that one of the women (Jess the Pilgrim) I follow on IG was talking about stretching her food dollar a few days later and she talked about what those who came before us called "second stock".  That is exactly what they called using the bones a second time and they often used that "second stock" for cooking food like rice to add flavor.

I'm making chicken soup today because I do not have room for the chicken in my freezer and the morning snowflakes made me think soup would make a good dinner.  I haven't made lemon chicken orzo soup for awhile, it sounds very good for a cold day.  When we lived in the Detroit area, there was a Greek restaurant that served delicious lemon chicken rice soup.  This is very similar.

I have put back quite a few packages of 15-bean soup, which is what I planned to make this weekend but it can wait a week.  Many articles and books I have read about saving money in the kitchen suggest a soup meal at least once a week, especially in colder weather.

I will be away from blogging next weekend and the following Saturday as I will have company coming and going so there will be no time for putting together anything other than making memories.  

Because of that, just a reminder that if you need to defrost a turkey before Thanksgiving, place it in a container that can hold condensation as it defrosts (there can be a lot with a turkey), give it plenty of days to defrost, and let it sit outside the refrigerator awhile before roasting it.  

Some websites say to let it sit out at least an hour before going into the oven.  This will help the inside of the turkey roast quicker so the white meat does not dry out.  I didn't know that until about a decade ago.  It is the same for any large roast.

There is always more to learn about cooking.  I have been spending more time looking for recipes that are budget friendly.  My sister's casserole was not budget friendly or quickly made but it was special. 

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Lodge Dutch Oven 6 quart... here. I keep this on a shelf in the garage along with other cookware I don't use a lot.  It is heavy but it is also perfect for some kinds of cooking, like the pulled pork roast!  It is also available in a smaller 4 quart size... here. (The 4 quart size is on sale at the moment.)

Lodge tends to be heavier than Le Creuset but it is a fraction of the cost and it is American made.  I had a Le Cruset dutch oven that lasted for decades until it had chipped too much to safely use.  They are remarkable but I couldn't see spending that much money these days.

Jess the Pilgrim on Instagram... here.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup... here

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Image:  Apple Pie Harvest


Carol said...

We are looking for ways to save money at the grocery store as well. I hate the price of butter, margarine, etc

GrammaGrits said...

Is your chicken tetrazzini recipe on your blog? Would love to have it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Lodge products which are ENAMELED (porcelain coated) are actually made in China, which is sad. I considered purchasing one several months ago, until I realized (reading the specs carefully) they are not made in USA.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a link for the pulled pork recipe, please?