Friday, January 21, 2011

One Chicken, Three Meals

Whew- it's after midnight and I'm only now getting a break to post!

A whole chicken can be stretched over three meals for two adults and one child:
  • a roasted chicken (crockpot chicken in the summer) 
  • chicken soup (also done in a crockpot is the summer)
  • chicken pot pie or chicken salad
With our schedule, our big meal of the day is lunch.  Early this morning (1/20/11), I roasted a chicken for lunch.  I reserved the organs and neck for later, and rinsed and pat dry the chicken. The next step was to loosen the skin over the breasts, and I stuffed garlic cloves under the skin.  I sliced a lemon and stuffed the two halves into the cavity of the chicken with a few more garlic cloves.  The chicken went on a rack (I use the one from my toaster oven- perfect size for a chicken) breast side up, and then I sprinkled salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano onto the bird. Carrots, potatoes, and onions went into the roasting pan surrounding the bird.  375 degrees and two hours later, this is the delicious result:

After we ate our fill of the bird and the roasted veggies, then I removed all the remaining meat off of the bones.  The carcass, skin, the organs and neck that were reserved earlier, and pan drippings went into the stock pot with a tablespoon of vinegar to help extract the minerals from the bones, and then I filled the pot with filtered water.  It was set on the stove to simmer all day to make chicken stock.  It has been strained into containers and put into the refrigerator.  Tomorrow, I'll skim the fat off, reheat the stock, reserve two cups of stock for a pot pie, and add more a few more ingredients to make chicken soup.  The fat that rises to the top and is skimmed off the stock

Now, if you can raise your own chickens and grow your own vegetables and herbs, all the better. However, if you don't live somewhere that allows you to raise chickens, the next best option is to get them from someone local.  After that, the next best option that I've seen is to get chickens raised without hormones or antibiotics from a wholesale club (please avoid paying retail whenever possible- your just wasting money you do not have to spend).  Our wholesale club sells a two-pack of hormone and antibiotic free chickens for approximately $8.  If you can grow your own veggies and herbs, than the only cost for the roasted chicken dinner would be the chicken for $4 (half of the two-pack). 

Now, with two chickens, I can feed my husband, son, and myself six meals each week for an average of $5/meal- and that's if I buy everything from the store and had nothing in my pantry.  Otherwise, it works out to closer to $3 per meal for all three of us.  Now that is frugality at it's finest.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect, But I'm Not Quite There Yet

Today was another day with the spinning wheel.  Today saw more spinning and less "figuring".  I ended up pulling the first attempt at wheel spinning off of the bobbin and starting all over again.  Something about seeing that lumpy, bumpy, twisty mess just irked me a little too much to leave it be.  I've placed an order for a book on spinning, "Spinning for Softness and Speed" by Paula Simmons.  It has been recommended to me twice now, and soon it will be part of my library.  In the meantime, I have a book on tablet weaving to read.

As I promised yesterday, here is a picture of my wheel.

And here is a picture of my beginner spinning efforts from today.  

It looks very similar to my first attempts with a drop spindle. Over time, it will get more even.  For now, it's not too pretty.  

Tomorrow, I've got some cooking to do. Frugality rules, and a simple chicken can easily be stretched over three meals.  I will post recipes and pictures.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spinning with a Wheel

Hello again!  Welcome to the first post of 2011.

A few weeks back, a very special Yule gift made its way to our home- a spinning wheel. While I had finally been getting the hang of spinning with a drop spindle, in order to reach our self-sufficiency goals, I will need the increased productivity that you can only get from a wheel.  The model I got is a Kromski Minstrel, a castle-style wheel and perfect for folks like me with limited floor space.   I was very surprised at just how little room this wheel requires, and it is a beautiful piece to look at.

My husband was kind enough to put the wheel together for me.  Gotta love a handy guy!  A free lesson does come with the wheel, but it has been rescheduled a couple of times now due to winter weather, and now I have another week and a half to wait.  Regardless, I've been playing with it, testing out the different mechanisms, trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing, attempting to trouble-shoot my own stumbling blocks, and even getting a good stride here and there.  Thanks to the Fiber-Arts Gods for Facebook and Ravelry which provided me several social connections far more knowledgeable about spinning than I do!  And a special thanks to the many kind folks who have given their time to make YouTube videos demonstrating spinning with a wheel. 

Tomorrow, I'll post a few pictures showing the wheel and my very beginner attempts at spinning yarn with a wheel.