If you’ve been hanging around the Penny Thots archives for a while, you may have seen my comments on raising chickens…. the original report is here. (Part II is here.)
Just in case you haven’t followed the Saga of the Brick Chicks, here’s a quick recap:
We have 15 chickens at present…assuming, that is, that the resident fox in the neighborhood allows us to keep up the current count. (He took two back in late August, on one unguarded summer evening, when our watchdog Charley was indoors, miserable with allergies.)
Three are ‘Production’ Reds – Rhode Island Reds that are specially bred to produce more eggs. They look like this:
They are mean, quarrelsome, bossy…and excellent layers. They also began laying eggs earlier than the others. Maybe I’d be crabby too, if I felt that urge all the time!
The rest are Australorps – a Buff Orpington breed refined [...]
supermarket isle containing staples such as pasta and rice
Every few months, the same advice on saving money at the supermarket crops up. You’ve heard the line: shopping the perimeter of the store and ignoring the isles will save you money and leave you healthier. The advice is good natured, but is also generally wrong. Okay, maybe not wrong, but at best only half right. Shopping the perimeter is a good way on how to not save money on groceries.
Why is this? The theory behind the advice to shop the perimeter is based on the idea that all of your staples, your meat, produce, dairy, etc. are going to be along the outer edges of the store. Meanwhile, the higher mark-up stuff, the processed foods, and the junk food that simply isn’t necessary are all going to be in the isles. So by shopping the perimeter, you get [...]
Pizza — crispety, crunchety bliss. A good hot pizza, fresh out of the oven, is one of life’s best frugal treats. And it’s not difficult to make, either…with a few tricks.
First, you’ll need a crust: a sturdy one that has plenty of crunch. This one has done well for me:
CLASSIC PIZZA DOUGH CRUST
2 cups flour (add a few tablespoons of whole wheat, if you like an ‘artisan’ texture)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional, but good)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup warm water
sprinkle of sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Mix everything but the flour, and let it ‘proof’ in a warm spot for ten or so minutes, until bubbles or fuzz are starting to form. Add the flour gradually until the dough is stiff, then knead until elastic. For best results, let rise for at least [...]
Getting home late is no fun — especially when you haven’t had a minute to think about what you’re going to eat for supper. Sure, you could stop for fast food…and sometimes you do. But a hot home-cooked meal can be not only less expensive, but very satisfying. (Besides, it’s raining out…and your feet hurt.) For purposes of this article, I’m assuming you’ve got children and/or a partner or friend tagging along — but cooking for yourself is just as easy, using these techniques.
First, do what Peg Bracken suggested, and set the table. (It reassures people that supper is on the way.) Next, take a look at your pantry. Got any hearty canned soups or stews? These are by far the fastest thing to make, dumped in the pot with a little water or milk, with an extra can of vegetables added, if you have more than a few [...]
Some months ago, I mentioned raising chickens on Penny Thots.
Since then, we’re going into our second year of keeping chickens. We currently have 15 — eight laying hens, and seven babies, nearly grown, who are supposed to begin laying shortly. We currently keep them in two coops at night, with plenty of space to roam in our fenced yard during the day. We’ve learned a lot, including these gems:
*They eat like crazy. Chickens love to eat — they’ll stuff themselves silly, if you let them. One of our cousins couldn’t figure out why his chickens laid down to eat…turns out they were so fat, they couldn’t stand up for any length of time! Our chickens will eat anytime, anywhere, and as much as we let them.
*They don’t always produce eggs. Molting, the nasty secret of chickendom, kicks in during spring or summer, and can last for [...]
Nothing beats good old cast iron pans and kettles for low-maintenance cookware that will last for generations. And cast iron is versatile, too! You can use it in the kitchen on the stove top or in the oven, outside on the barbeque, or even over a campfire. What other type of pan can do all that?
Simple Cast Iron Care
Keeping your cast iron in top shape is simple. To preserve the non-stick finish, just follow these simple steps:
Rinse thoroughly after each use with plain hot water. For stuck on food, soak in plain hot water for a few minutes and use a plastic scrubby, if necessary. If you’re camping, you can scrub the inside with a handful of sand. DO NOT use soap. I know some folks do and claim it doesn’t hurt the finish but in my experience, it does. Dry your clean cast iron immediately, either [...]
Warm days make for a perfect time to go on long walks, enjoying the flowers and greenery. (And in our neighborhood’s case, an occasional bear.) While you’re out, you may come by a tree, loaded with fruit, that no one seems to be doing anything with.
Why not stop and ask if you could pick it?
It’s called gleaning, and it’s a creative way to bring healthful fruit into your diet, even at a time when the cheapest is a dollar a pound or more.
One group, Fallen Fruit, has made spreading the news about unused fruit their personal mission. Not only do they design exhibits and products (like wallpaper) based on the flora and fruita of the cities they visit — they’ve included more than 60 maps of various cities around the world, pointing out fruit trees, grapevines and berry bushes that are yours for the picking.
Late summer is the time for thick, drippy slices of a favorite fruit: melon
I’m specifically talking muskmelon here — though other types qualify. Or ‘cantaloupe.’ What — didn’t the watermelon or honeydew want to run away with you? (Just some melon humor there.)
Push lightly on where the stem originally joined, and you should smell a sweet, almost musky odor. Look for light-colored webbing, and a dull sound when you thump it. That means it’s ripe.
Melon is best sliced and guzzled right out of the rind, or chunked into your favorite fruit salad. You can even use it as a container for the salad, like the photo below. Wrap up in plastic wrap or foil when you’re done, and it’s the perfect holder for a picnic — throw away when done.
We’re lucky out here in Colorado — our Rocky Ford melons are famous for [...]
Is it possible…grocery items that actually help you firm up and slim down that uncomfortable paunch you’ve been dragging around for years?
Prevention Magazine says so.
In the book Flat Belly Diet (Rodale, 2008), Liz Vaccariello, Prevention‘s Editor-In-Chief, and her co-writer Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, advocate for something they call MUFAS, “otherwise known as monounsaturated fatty acids.”
Our bodies naturally need some fat for good health. Fat is what gives your hair and skin a healthy sheen. It gives us energy, and helps process vitamins A, E, D and K in our systems. We don’t produce some of these fats naturally — we must ingest them in our food, instead.
The key isn’t fat, Vaccariello and Sass argue. It’s the kind of fat. “Saturated” fats are tightly constructed and hold their shape, even at room temperature. They do a similar job, passing through your body. (The authors call them “sticky and inflexible.”)
“Unsaturated” fats, in [...]
The recent Live Below the Line challenge was a simple one. For five days, keep your food expenditures to what many of the world’s poorer citizens live on: $1.50 or less a day.
I’ve always considered myself a frugalite in the food department. Nonetheless, it took real discipline to keep us on this level. We lived primarily on what the rest of the world does: rice and beans, augmented with a few vegetables, tortillas and an egg or two.
That got me to thinking — what other foods are nutritious, yet low in price? Posted here are the 20 Best, in yours truly’s and other people’s opinions. Feel free to chime in with your own favorites.
*Rice – of course. You’ve got all kinds to choose from, including Arborio, wild and the more nutritious brown rice. Tummy-filling, and a more complete protein when combined with:
*Beans. Pick a country, and odds are very [...]