Monday, March 9, 2009

March 5-8, the messy weekend

My computer is in the shop for repairs, which is why the last entry there is so backdated, and why I haven't posted any food minutae for so many days. I thought that I'd lost that entire post, but thank God for Blogger's autosave feature. I came back today, and there it was where I'd left it. Hurrah! I wish I could hope the same for the contents of my hard drive, but oh well, c'est la vie. At least it was still in warranty and doesn't cost anything to fix but time. Right now I'm using M's old workhorse of a laptop, which is a bit slow, but has a huge screen that is something of a novelty. It's the one we normally use for watching movies. 

There wasn't really much to report on the food front this weekend, except large deviations from the plan. Thursday M had chili for lunch and I had pork, and there was so very much pulled pork left over that we decided to have it again in the evening instead of tuna melts. Five pounds of pork is a lot, seriously. Thursday night, I made shortbread cookies. I loooove shortbread cookies, but they are five dollars for eight cookies, and that's just crazy. Butter was on sale at Aldi's, so this seemed a good week to give it a whirl. With a food processor, making shortbread cookies turns out to be a breeze. Pop in a quarter-cup of sugar and let it spin to fine down a bit, add three-quarters of a cup of flour (My sifter is messed up, so I spun that a bit too), and then chop in a whole stick of butter, pulsing it till it turns into a doughball. Refrigerate for an hour, then divide the ball in eight circles, smash them with a cup, poke them with a fork, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. They turned out wonderfully. I made two batches, which made sixteen good-sized cookies for basically a dollar's worth of butter and maybe fifty cents worth of flour and sugar. Not bad! Not good for me, but oh well. 

Thursday I also started a new experiment, washing clothes by hand. We've been doing a laundromat trip a month, which is a rather expensive proposition that takes hours out of one single day. What I've been doing is washing 5-10 pieces of clothes at once in the bathtub, rinsing them, then hanging them to dry on a tension rod with a plastic bin underneath it. It's really good exercise, so I don't feel quite as bad about the buttery cookies. If I keep this up, I'll have arms like Michelle Obama in no time! Well, as long as I don't go nuts with the butter, of course. 

Friday I went in to school with M, so a shortbread cookie on the way out the door was all I ate at home all day. Speaking of going crazy with cookies, sheesh! I hung out in the grad student lounge all day and finished another hat, my fourth in two weeks, and got a little much-needed human contact. I also got coffee and even more cookies, as well as a pulled pork sandwich from home for lunch. After M finished his classes, we went to a Friday evening program the UC Wellness Center was putting on. They showed a bunch of 80s cartoons, fed us healthy snacks, and had trivia raffles for fabulous prizes! I fell in love with the amazing taco dip they had there. Full of fresh veggies, guacamole and black beans, it filled a lot of cravings I haven't satisfied lately with the drive for thriftiness. Even better, there was a fresh fruit plate with pineapple, strawberries,  blueberries and muskmelon, all things that are out of our price range when out of season. I'm not ashamed to admit I made a bit of a pig of myself, but since it was lightly attended, there was plenty for all. M and I, being trivia buffs, also did quite well in the trivia raffle. I came home with a giant bouncy ball and a Fraggle Rock DVD, and he scored a set of Matchbox cars and a Barrel of Monkeys. (If you recognize the slap bracelets in the picture, then you know you are from the 80s.) It was a very fun evening, and all free! 
On Saturday, we slept shamelessly late, the last day before springing ahead made us wake up early, and took Pookah in once more to the adoption event at Petsmart. Once again, there were no takers, but she's showing better, without turning her back on anyone who might be the least bit interested. Adoptions have been slow these past few weeks, which worries me. We're going to hit kitten season soon, and fat, loveable five-year-old Pookah is not going to look good against a cage full of adorable, playful kittens. Fingers still crossed! While she was strutting her stuff, we took M to get a haircut. One of his Christmas presents was a card for a dozen haircuts, so he has no excuse to get a real grad-student scruffiness going on. I went over to Kroger and picked up the turkey breast I'd gotten a rain check for. A big six pound breast, originally twelve dollars, now six. That'll be several meals! 

Saturday night, there was a party at one of M's friends' apartment. It's graduate recruitment weekend, so there were new potential grad students who needed to be shown that the department is cool and fun and has parties. (This is in fact true, if you count very nerdy fun, which I do.) For the party, I bought a box of generic Ritz crackers (they actually taste very good) and made a cheese ball from one of the mixes M's mom sent us. A pack of cream cheese, half a stick of butter, once again with the food processer, and voila! White chocolate cherry almond cheese ball. We didn't eat supper that night because we went to the party, where we had nachos and veggie tray, cheeseball and potato chips. We did outlay some money, though. Last year when we were graduate candidates, some of the grad students took us to Graeters, a local institution and home of the Best Ice Cream Ever. They paid for our ice cream and told us that if M came to the school, he should pay it forward next year. So, as promised, we took one of the candidates and took him to Graeters, where we introduced him to the wonders of black raspberry chip ice cream. It was ten dollars for the three of us, but it was worth every penny, and fulfilling a verbal contract. 

Today I would've taken a stab at getting back on the plan, but I had leftovers that needed using up first. For lunch, I warmed up the last of last week's split pea soup, which was getting crowded out of the freezer, and paired it up with corn muffins. Corn muffins make soup a real meal, I think. For dinner, I used the last of the pulled pork and my carefully reserved pork liquid to make fried rice. The cold pork water was gross, with an inch of fat on the top of the lid, but when I removed that and microwaved the jellied juice, it was the perfect medium for cooking rice. I didn't have peas to add this week, but I tossed in two eggs, all the rest of the pork and a packet of seasoning mix, and we got a very good meal of pork fried rice. No picture this time, but you've seen it all before. 

Now, though, I have to totally rewrite the plan for the coming week. Not following the plan for three days means that there are perishables that need eating, and meals that need filling. I was supposed to make penne hot dog casserole tonight and send the leftovers to school tomorrow, so that meal needs filled, etc. It's not a big deal, and I'm still glad to have a plan. My mom tells me that she's been inspired enough to start making a plan, and I'm glad. They waste more food than we eat, I think! Besides, between working out with the Wii and washing clothes today, I'm ready to sit down and let my aching muscles and blistered foot relax. 

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