Sunday, January 20, 2013

$10 Challenge Week 3

I had to think twice about which week this was, since I've only started posting about this challenge last week, but it's actually the end of the third week. Of course, looking at the calendar, there's still two weeks of January left and that seems decidedly unfair, and not only because I'm trying to stretch our groceries. January always seems terminally long; without a single thing to break up the monotony. I know for some February is the worst month because everyone is entirely sick of winter and cold but at least there's things like Groundhog Day, Lunar New Year, and Valentines Day going on so that every day isn't exactly the same as the one before. As you can tell I've been deep in the January doldrums: the lazy post holiday hibernation mode has evaporated and even reading seed catalogs doesn't help. The only good news looking at the calendar brought was the realization that I could totally spend another $10 for that last week of January.

So it's probably a good thing that I signed up for the challenge- at least it gives me something to think about and plan meals around. (It also gives me an excuse not to venture out into the cold to pick up ingredients!) We started off this week by cooking up the turkey I bought last week. I invited my sisters for dinner but only one, along with her partner, were able to join us. It still made for a nice evening; we drank some of my homemade mead, they brought dessert- a lovely foamy champagne cream with  raspberry pureé- and we played Mexican Train and Yatzee! Turkey leftovers featured in most of the meals this week- turkey in gravy on potato pancakes made from leftover mashed, a big pot of turkey soup and there was still enough left for turkey pot pie. When we weren't eating turkey I did up a couple of pasta dishes with ground beef (bought with the remain $5, so no eggs sadly) and another night we had bbq style pork riblets with potatoes and frozen beans from last summer's garden. There were three good size riblets in the package so I sauteéd them all with onions and garlic and touch of maple syrup. The extra riblet I cut in pieces and threw into a pot of dried beans I'd soaked all day to make a nice pork and bean soup, which we had for lunch on Friday.

The other good thing about the challenge is that it encourages me to be more creative and adventurous. I'm not normally much of a baker since I associate baking primarily with dessert which we don't normally eat.  One of the things I've always meant to try but never get around to is bread making. On Thurs I decided to make the turkey pot pie and since the oven was going to be on anyway, I decided to have go at making my own bread. I used a very basic recipe and a package of dried yeast, substituted a bit of honey for the sugar and was delighted with the results. My bread was still pretty dense and slightly sweet ( I'd use less honey next time) but very tasty and not bad for a first attempt. While the bread was rising I made pastry for the pot pie and since there was lots left over (I doubled the recipe to make sure) I also baked a cherry pie with cherries canned last summer. Lots of good smells in the kitchen that day!

So we were doing  well within the boundaries of the challenge and then yesterday we derailed completely. It started out innocently enough; we were both off today so I suggested we invite a friend for dinner,  It had been a nice warm day so someone suggested barbecuing, and somehow one guest became two and then four and then suddenly we had 8 people coming by expecting to be fed! Well of course we didn't have anything in the house to feed that many people, so an emergency trip to the yellow store became necessary. We were fortunate to find an absolutely fantastic price on pork shoulder and bought what looked like almost a whole leg for $8! I also picked up some Chinese greens, button mushrooms, a couple sweet peppers -from Mexico of course but very inexpensive for this time of year. I had rice noodles and other veg at home so we had a lovely meal of barbecued pork with stir fried veggies and noodles in oyster sauce, with cherry pie for dessert- all for about $15! It was wonderful to have a houseful of guests, eating and laughing!

So the bad news is that we completely blew the $10/week budget this week. And it was worth every penny.

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