Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Black Friday Dilemma

Kid No. 3 has started wearing her older sister's hand-me-down winter coat, which is in great shape except for needing a zipper. Kid No. 3 likes the coat, loves the color (purple) and is patiently and curiously waiting for me to buy a zipper so we can figure out how to sew it in the coat. I even found the zip-on hood that goes with the coat when I cleaned a closet out the other day.
So now I see that Wal-Mart is going to have kids' winter coats on sale for $8 on Black Friday. Single digits. Tempting.
On the other hand, it seems a shame to let a perfectly good coat go to waste just because I'm too lazy to sew in a zipper.
Well, I am planning on doing the Black Friday thing this year, and I was already planning to hit Wal-Mart. I guess I'll either come out of there with a coat or a zipper.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Recycling cornbread into veggie burgers

Cornbread makes the best bread crumbs. I’d forgotten that. I never buy bread crumbs -- I couldn’t do it even if we had unlimited wealth. When there’s bread all around the kitchen, why should I buy bread crumbs? But I rarely take the time to shake the few paltry crumbs out of the empty breadsacks, and I haven’t made bread for awhile, and so we’ve been low on breadcrumbs -- which was annoying, because then I couldn’t make veggie burgers. Not without buying breadcrumbs.
Tonight, staring at a leftover pan of cornbread in the fridge, I suddenly remembered how wonderfully crumbly and coarse and flavorful cornbread crumbs are. And so even though I was tired, having gotten into work at 3:30 this morning, I felt compelled to start a batch of veggie burger while the french toast and scrambled eggs cooked.
I love that about mixing up your own veggie burgers. Instead of slaughtering a cow, just recycle some cornbread and add it to some TVP (textured vegetable protein) you can store in your cupboard without burning up electricity just to keep it in stasis, and next thing you know you’ve got veggie burgers. Well, I add some boiling water, and a couple of eggs, and some olive oil and spaghetti sauce or ketchup. But having experimented with various veggie burger recipes over the last 15 years, I’ve had the best success with this simple concoction. These days I just pop it in the microwave, either loose or in patties, and pull it out and check it every so often until it gets to the desired state of edibility. Two of our kids love these burgers, including the family carnivore. The other two don’t -- but they don’t like real hamburgers, either.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pickin' apples (at the store)

I love buying apples this time of year because you can find some really nice ones at my target price, $1 a pound. The thing is, you need to be aware that you're getting fewer, bigger apples. That's great if you're buying big juicy apples as a seasonal treat. But if you're buying them to fill a lunchbox, these apples -- even at a seemingly great price -- may be too big for your budget (as well as too big for your lunchbox, in the case of our oldest daughter's vintage metal box.)
Sometime this fall I started counting how many apples I was getting in a typical 3-pound bag. (This is exactly the kind of thing that embellishes the stereotype society has of thrifty people, I know, but how else are you going to know how much you're paying per apple? And if you don't know how much you're paying per apple, how are you going to know how much you're paying for a packed lunch? It wouldn't be hard to wind up spending more on a packed lunch than on a school lunch, especially if you're trying to balance thrift with good nutrition.)
Anyway, I discovered that a typical 3-pound bag contains anywhere from 8 to 11 apples. So when I pay $3.00 for my 3-pound bag of 10 apples, I'm paying about 30 cents an apple. Whereas when I buy the premium apples on sale for $1 a pound, seven apples wind up costing $3.60 or so -- more than 50 cents per apple.