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Frugalities

Big Tomato — It’s What’s for Dinner

big-tomato

The original plan was to make a honkin’ big batch of Pasta alla Vecchia Bettolana using the jumbo can of plum tomatoes. But then stuffed green peppers sounded good, too, what with the green peppers being garden fresh. That should leave just the right amount tomatoes for standard-issue spaghetti sauce. Fortunately, this last stroke of brilliance hit when standing at the meat counter so a pound of the good Italian sausage made it home without the need for a second trip. And the four cans of tomato sauce in the pantry could be called into action.

The results: Eight meals of Pasta alla Vecchia Bettolana, ditto spaghetti sauce, now in the freezer, plus stuffing for four meals of stuffed green peppers on hand. One or two less meals to plan each week for a goodly while. Zero cans of tomato anything in the pantry.

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Available in Four Sizes. Maybe Three.

ramekins

No-bake goat cheese cheesecake. Doesn’t that sound good? Use 6-4 oz ramekins or jars. Hmmmm. Don’t have that, but I do have this assortment. Since it’s no-bake, no problem with variety of sizes.

goat-cheesecake

The blue ramekin is the only 4 oz one of the bunch. Unless the little glass bowl is too; I’d have to measure.

Make a graham cracker crust. How about a Biscoff crust, thank you very much. And the expiration date on the sweetened condensed milk is sell-by date, right? That stuff has a long shelf life.

Improvise and conquer, that’s my desert-making motto.

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Testing 1, 2, 3

cake-testers

On the last out-of-state excursion, I bought a cake tester for no discernibly good reason. Even in the moment I said to myself, This isn’t necessary. But it’s cute and cheap and if that purchase has risen to the level of extravagance, I am being true to my frugal roots to the point of being cheap. But does it work?

Twice tested with the same results. And I’ll wrench my shoulder if I pat myself on the back anymore. The round-top one has been in use for years; it’s just a stout wire with a bit of a handle coated with something to make it a marketable item. The new one has a cake-shaped top stamped ‘cake tester’ in case you were to mistake it for something else. And there’s old reliable, the toothpick.

Most receipes state that the cake is done when the tester comes out clean. And sometimes a toothpick is noted as the preferred tester. Also of note is the caveat that ‘clean’ really means a few crumbs sticking to the tester. Since I’ve a tendency to overbake ‘just to be sure.’ that is advice to be heeded.

The results: The wire pulls out more crumb that either the new tester or the toothpick. So my crispy-edge cakes may be avoidable using the new tester. Who knew? The sad news is that this cake was baked in the wrong pan, but that’s a post for another day.

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Whom to Thank?

Biscoff again

Here are those darn cookies again! Couldn’t find them the last two trips to Costo, so stopped by Customer Service to find out what gives.

Horrors! I think the only person more disappointed than me to find out Costco no longer stocks Biscoff was the woman behind the counter. Apparently she’s a bigger fan. She just kept saying this doesn’t mean Costco won’t stock them again. Hope. . .

Once the shock wore off, I recalled hearing that Target carries them. Sure enough. Better price than anywhere on the interwebs, so last Sunday with an all-purpose discount coupon I stocked up.

But who told me that Target stocked them? I need to recall so I know whom to thank!

Honey Wasp Don’t Care

Honey wasp

See anything interesting, anything at all? No? Good!

Here in the Land of the Frugal, mulch goes down when the price drops. And the end-of-season price on cedar mulch meant it was time to load up.

So the hubs starts spreading the stuff in the front garden when he feels a sharp pain on his nose. Just about center of this pic is where the honey wasp nest was and the mulching stopped. He got stung, and it wasn’t fun.

The event made him pretty wary because it took three weeks of asking about next steps before a can of wasp destroyer was purchased. Even then, you-know-who had her hand on the nozzle while he pointed where to aim.

Now all’s quiet on the eastern front (yard).

 

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The Kludge Report – Honey Locust Don’t Care Part II

Well, the tab for ‘free’ firewood from the neighbor’s downed honey locustis about $150.

When the small electric log splitter, some hand tools, and a lot of elbow grease didn’t make any headway on turning those logs into firewood, the hubs headed to Northern Tool. (By the by, is there a name any more flannel than that? Probably not.)

Anyway, he came home with a hand-powered 10-ton splitter. And this is is what happened.

Honey locust 4

Lots of creaks and snaps. Flipped the log over, more creaks and snaps. No split.

Then we looked at the splitter. New personal best: Broke a piece of new equipment in under an hour. The creaks and snaps were the frame saying Hey you two idiots, STOP. Bent that puppy good. The wheels rolled no more.

At this point (or perhaps sooner. . .), the battle has become personal and the hubs heads to Lowe’s, comes home with some angle iron, and some nuts and bolts. Heads to the basement. Lots of loud sawing, banging, and whatnot. And this is what happened.

Honey locust 7

Behold the newly reinforced log splitter. Frame whacked back into shape, too.

honey locust 6

Again with the creaking and snapping. But at this point, what the hell. It works or it don’t; no point in babying the thing.

Honey locust 5

Houston, we have liftoff! Whew. A little ‘finessing’ required as the frame inhibits the split on larger logs.

But that’s a small price to pay.

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The Kludge Report – Geezer Edition

About 20 years ago, when some may still have called him young or at least youthful, I realized the hubs was a geezer. It’s a long story involving a perfectly nice young woman with a nose piercing. Even with that snippet, you can paint the picture.

This realization has been reinforced many times since, often involving the dogs. For example, feeding spoonfuls of his DQ Blizzard to the dog then feeding himself with the same spoon. I hope no one is eating as they read this, apologies. . .

The latest evidence involves Iko and her pool. Let me begin by noting this is Iko’s second pool. The pup’s only a year and a half old. She’s the only pet to get a pool, no less two. Give me a G!

Exhibit A is this contraption:

Iko pool 1

That mess of PVC and tubing is a filtration system. The pool and accompanying kludge displaced a lovely fountain that used to grace the deck. Give me an E and another E!

Iko pool 4

This is the pump that runs the system. The fountain pump wasn’t sufficient. He spent actual money to get a bigger pump. Give me a Z!

Iko pool 2

The clamp (actually a plastic clothespin from Target – only the best – usually employed to hold shade fabric in place over spring garden plants) holds the tubing in place because, well, it might fall out. That is an actual concern? Give me an E!

Iko pool 3

The 2-inch PVC spout was salvaged from the previous attempt at a filtration system. The use of this pipe was extolled to me as a money saver. Give me an R!

Iko pool 5

In the recent heat wave, Iko enjoyed her pool at least twice a day. That means the hubs was out of the house for extended periods twice a day while I was inside enjoying the blissful sound of silence. Give me a half dozen exclamation points!!!!!!

 

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Holiday Cheer and Fun With Food

Christmas kisses

Just opened the last bag of Holiday Kisses. We picked up a handful of these on a luckily timed trip to Target; they had just been marked down about 80 percent. Cheap, cheap, cheap!

And using my clever consumption method, I stretch each bag to the max. It’s a diet trick, too.

Unwrap two pieces and insert in mouth. Hold to roof of mouth and allow to melt.

Nits not ewey nu nalk win nuu nu nis, nut wa noclic laps amut nen nu fiteen mints as nit mets so nuu eet liss.

That’s my only strange eating habit. No, wait. I also like to bite Tostitos tortilla chips into the shape of Minnesota.

original chip at angle

That’s it. Really. Happy Holidays – winter and summer!

Honey Locust Don’t Care

When the neighbors up the street felled a honey locust, they offered us the remains. We quickly accepted and trundled the logs to the wood pile in our backyard. Free heat!

Honey locust 2

The honey locust is a hardwood tree. A very hard wood. The hubs spent several hours splitting a few logs.

Honey locust 3

Several instruments both sharp and blunt were employed.

No such thing as free heat.

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