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Vera Stewart

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since Apr 22, 2015
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Recent posts by Vera Stewart

A shorter post this week, I promise!

One of my sweet potato muffins went mouldy and I had to throw it out. I've started the count again and have five days without trashing food now.

Today's grocery shop was fast, in town, and well within budget - if I can repeat the trick next week I might come out of the month okay grocery budget wise.
I tested the recipe that was going to be using tuna and ended up using salmon, a savoury loaf with feta and sundried tomato as well, it was quite nice.

This week (soon, perhaps tomorrow) I'm going to try a cauliflower salad recipe as my test-recipe of the week.

I was expecting to go to the dentist this week and so I took out the last noodle casserole I'd already prepared and had in the freezer - soft food at the ready! -  my appointment was cancelled, but I still enjoyed the casserole - although, one of the disadvantages of having no microwave is that it definitely makes it more complicated to heat things up.

I have some sour cream that has reached it's best before date - I was thinking of trying to bake some doughnuts. I might.
But I also have a creative writing contest deadline to make in eight days and I will probably need to pay attention to where I'm spending my time this coming week.

In the regional newspaper, there's a report that the most "popular" location for shoplifting in the city closest to me is one of the supermarkets that I regularly visit. At one of the local grocery stores here in town, a "customer" apparently threw groceries at a clerk after she caught them trying to sneak out of the store. The plexiglass panel put up during the height of the pandemic around the cashier was cracked from the force of the impact.

About two weeks ago, I planted a white onion that was sprouting - outside. It's been snowed on once, but it seems to still be alive!
5 days ago
Got super-frustrated about canned fish at the grocery store today. I was only trying to find some tuna that was less than $5 a can and also from a Canadian or American fishery. I would have accepted an European fishery. I thought I'd found some from Spain, only after going through the check-out, I saw on the side of the can it read "Product of Thailand."
I returned it at customer service.
I was angry.
I did not show it too much.
I also returned some soup that failed to come through at the correct sales price, which I was going to add to my stockpile.
I still spent lots of money.
The shopping, it was not so good this morning.

What I don't understand about all the canned fish from Thailand, is that I remember distinctly hearing about abusive labour practises and atrocious over-fishing in Thai fisheries almost twenty years ago, and ever since, as far as I can tell, the only thing that's changed is that more and more options in the canned fish aisle are from Thailand. Or other Asian countries where similar concerns are raised.
I get why other canned fish options have gotten more expensive and over $5 for wild red pacific salmon is not something that I like to pay but I can comprehend why I see that price - but the Thai-fish-in-Spanish-colours this morning was almost exactly as expensive per gram as the salmon.

I wanted the tuna for a recipe.

I'm going to use my one remaining canned salmon from the pantry instead.

I do eat canned sardines now and then, and I'm glad I can get some from Canadian fisheries, I just don't want to only have sardines left as the both affordable and sustainable-ish choice!

In other food-related news, I still haven't had to throw out anything --- although I have to admit I let the bones from a chicken carcass get away last weekend when my housemate successfully roasted one. (The oven is still clean! Hurray!)  
I completely forgot to tell them to save the bones for me when they were carving it up after the meal - I only remembered the bones the next morning, and by that time, they had said sayonara.

However, I did save bacon grease for the first time ever this week. I cooked up a whole package of bacon at once and instead of undergoing my usual tedious and rather gross preparation step where I scissor off and throw out a lot of the fat from the strips before putting them in the pan, I dumped everything into my cast-iron grill pan and poured off the fat as it melted, into a jar.

Then I used the meaty bacon bits in a big bacon (and veggie) pie which fed us for a couple of days, and I've still got most of the bacon fat in the fridge. I've used some of it to fry up some bok choy, and another dollop for something else I can't remember at the moment. I'm quite pleased by how nice and white it looks in the jar, and I look forward to using the rest of it over the next little while.
However, adding to my frustration this morning, my housemate informed me, as they added another package of bacon to the shopping cart, that they prefer their bacon not in pies and would really like it more if I went back to the old way with making a couple of strips at a time, wrapping up the remainder separately, fussing with it, because they "want to see it on their plate." ARRRGH. Just when I thought I'd found a way to make peace between myself and their bacon-wanting.
To be fair, they did say they could make the bacon in the future.
Right, because what I really need is to spend an hour waiting for them to fry a couple of strips of bacon some weekday night, after which I will still probably have to repackage it up and stuff. And I won't get the fat.


What did go well this week?
Well, I made sweet potato muffins. And oatmeal cookies. They were pretty good. And I made a crustless quiche last night that I'm hoping to enjoy again tonight.
I found part of the potato pancake recipe I was looking for in my last posting, and I hope to try a combo sweet-and-white-potato pancake really soon, perhaps tomorrow.
I'm glad that I did get back to cooking a bit more, as I hoped I would.
I found some previously homemade hummus in the freezer and have been enjoying that with my lunches.

And I ordered my vegetable and herb seeds for the spring.

1 week ago
The more the merrier!

Your soup looks great!

So, I am doing okay, food-waste-wise. I managed to get the oven cleaned, which is a relief. And I got the cilantro chopped up and frozen before it went funny. This upcoming week I'm going to try testing another recipe for the first time in months - I'm going to make sweet potato pancakes and maybe some muffins with sweet potato as well. I am actually a bit frustrated about this recipe-test already, because I know I've previously tested potato pancakes several times, and I wanted to combine the recipes, only now I can't track down my file about the potato pancake tests. It's not a huge deal, but it's a little annoying deal!

I am on a sweet-potato and 'regular' potato binge because they're all starting to get a bit soft. I have previously established that I have no where great to store fresh potatoes.

This week I'd like to use the last casserole that's sitting in the freezer - it's pretty big and I might have to unthaw it and then cut it in half and put one half back into the freezer. I don't think that'll hurt it much.

I still have frozen fruit in the freezer, from when I was going to make myself smoothies. Maybe I should make myself one now? But it's snowing outside, I don't want to drink freezy-fruits!

At the store today I bought a loaf of rye bread that was half off due to being best before today. I have thrown it straight into the freezer. I am envisioning something strata-like with it in the future. There were a whole lot of rye loaves on discount. Maybe I should have bought another one as well?

2 weeks ago
Everything is going pretty well on the food-waste-prevention front. I do need to freeze some cilantro quite soon. I hope that I remember to do it. I've started volunteering for a literary magazine this week and I've been quite caught up in getting myself acquainted with their systems, and haven't been doing much that's been exciting in the kitchen. One of the things that I want to do next week is re-establish my pattern of testing at least one recipe a week for my cookbook project, but I don't know if I'll get around to it or not. Priorities, priorities!
I was able to buy a small bag of sweet potatoes last week, and a small bag of organic white potatoes this week.
Last weekend, we used two of the sweet potatoes for Sunday roast dinner - but my housemate also made a huge mess of the oven. I won't be able to use it again until I clean it, and I don't want to clean it until a mild day comes along during which I can open all the windows and turn off the furnace for a couple of hours to let the self-cleaning function run. I made the mistake of starting to preheat the oven tonight to make fries, because I'd temporarily forgot about the cleaning problem, but it very quickly reminded me, with terrible smells and smoke, that it needs cleaning. We did not get fries tonight.
The sweet potatoes we have are on the small side - I'm going to look around for what I should do with them!
3 weeks ago
Loving all the new suggestions!

I returned from a vacation at the end of last week, and am happy to restart my count! I find that it's useful for me to compete with myself, to get the number higher each time. As the days go by, I get more and more determined not to have to start at the beginning again...

I restarted my count on Feb. 11th, with a relatively small grocery shop to last us until I go into the city at the end of this week to get some vacation-delayed chores done, and a bulkier-buy of ingredients done as well.

I bought some mushrooms that I need to chop up and throw in the freezer, and a few days ago I made up a large batch of potato soup from a mix that was a Christmas gift - I'll be having some for lunch and serving more for supper tonight.
It was nice to be able to go into the freezer and bring out a casserole for supper the first couple of days after returning home, and I'm also using cooked turkey from the freezer as sandwich filler at the moment.

I'd like to set up some kind of compost system this spring, but I haven't really started to look at planning it yet.

For Valentine's Day, I'll be enjoying a few chocolates from a box we bought at Christmas time as our "in case we forgot a gift for someone."
I was delighted to hear my housemate recognize that the cost of the scones he's been buying from a local bakery is now ridiculous (they've gone up by nearly half over the past year or so) (they're an especially indulgent purchase since I don't really like them and they're often quite stale by the time they're all eaten) and instead, they've volunteered to make raisin bread at home, and they've actually done this yesterday! I like raisin bread better, and we'll use it quicker.
1 month ago
The JB Fields are starting to look a bit fuzzy. The other three pairs are still looking quite good. I spent about a month just past living in a camper, and I sure did appreciate my wool socks come night fall!
1 month ago
I made it to 70 days, but this is the end.

Today I discovered that one of the cheese blocks in the fridge was covered in mold.

I think it had gotten moisture inside the wrapping and... disastrous things resulted.
I'm wondering if it's because I put it into the freezer in it's store packaging and then took it back out and put it into the fridge without doing any packaging adjustment. I can not remember if I did that or not.

But despite being still good according to the "best before" dates... it was... clearly not. I don't mind cutting off a bit of fuzz from cheese but this was excessive and unlikely to be healthy.

I take a little comfort from knowing that it was inexpensive cheese and not really anything spectacular taste wise (even before it got moldy.)

Think I'll just take a break from posting updates here for a few weeks, due to Christmas and life plans.

I will of course still try to not waste food, and I hope to return to these posts in the new year!
3 months ago
What an amazing answer, thank you very much! All of this helps.

I am going to re-think the "supplying self" idea and probably add in a couple of scenes where he stops and gets water and feed from people along the way. Perhaps there will be a bit of conflict if someone decides they don't want to help...

And a scene where someone with a lighter, faster horse passes by, and...

Well, just thankyou again!
3 months ago
Made an excellently-within-budget shop today. At the door to the shop met a guy asking for spare change to buy food for his cat. (He said.)
It's a bit unusual to encounter beggars in my small town, but my old city instincts kicked in and I said no.
A few minutes later, I saw a woman who didn't look like she had much more money than he did taking him around the store, presumably buying him (and his cat) food.
I'm glad there are nicer people in the world than me.

I'm also glad that I bought the salad mix a few days ago, because today we were back to nothing but $5 sad lettuce being available, and the tomatoes are winter-pathetic. So I didn't buy either. This is probably my most local-seasonal winter eating in a very long time, due to the prices.
I did buy some mandarin oranges from California, which were not inexpensive. But they're part of Christmas-time tradition for me.

Still need to finish up the Christmas baking this week, and use up the French dressing. I am now working on a bar of mozzarella cheese that I bought on a whim several weeks ago - I'm not sure what I had in mind, but fortunately it tastes okay on sandwiches even if that's not really "what it's for."

I'm thinking of using in combination with the french dressing in a "taco salad" tonight. I wish I had some salad greens to add to it.

I'm starting to make serious inroads on the freezer-food again, which is great.

Still no food waste! (Excepting one mandarin orange that proved to be all squished and gross when I opened the oranges bag as I got home.)
3 months ago
I just typed this question out for one of my writing groups to maybe answer, and then I looked at my open tabs and said "duh! This is a perfect question for permies!"

So here we go:

I am in the early stages of brainstorming for a creative writing project and need to decide how far away from site X to place my farm.

Project is based on an historical event, I'm adding fictional and fictionalized characters and plotting to it.

Hero will travel to X within two or possibly three days. He is on a rescue mission, and quite motivated to get there with speed, however, he has absolutely no interest in causing long term harm to his horses.

Hero is in his early to mid twenties so does not yet have huge amounts of experience, but he is very comfortable with his horses and treats them as well as he knows how.

His horses are draft horses. They are working horses, they plow fields, and haul timber out of the woods in the winter. They are in pretty great shape, considering it's winter, and he is too. He has two horses. (I haven't decided if they are Percheron, Clydesdale or if I'll pick a more "rare" horse breed to highlight yet)

It is winter and it's Canada. There is snow.

He has a sled. He will be carrying himself, and perhaps a friend, plus a few supplies such that they hope they can support themselves for a week to ten days or so.

If he decides to travel to X in the early afternoon of day one, and leaves almost right away, and if there is a snowstorm day two, and he arrives at X before (or perhaps a little after) nightfall on day three, how far can he travel in that time? History dictates a fairly heavy snowstorm.

Along the way to X, he encounters others travelling to help out at X, and they form a bit of a convoy. Sometimes he leads and sometimes he's following. I suspect this will allow them to go a bit faster?

If anyone can help provide a rough estimate on a credible distance that can be covered under these circumstances, I would be very grateful! Thank you!
3 months ago