Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Winter Composting & Freezer Foraging -- My Frugal Wednesday Morning

Mid-week, time to press pause on life.  Tuesdays usually mean my "late night" -- the night I either meet with clients or give a presentation.  That means I am not home until nearly 9pm.  Knowing that Wednesday afternoon will bring another afternoon of back-to-back client meetings, I have learned to treat Wednesday morning as a lazy day at home.  And in our home, that means lots of frugal moves.

In an effort to keep laundry needs small, I stay in my PJs until just before lunch when I dress for the office.  It's comfy, and reduces the risk of yet another pair of pants going down the shoot.  It's not a clean morning at home.

First, the kids and I tackle laundry.  As I type this mornings load is line drying in the basement.  A few small items went in the dryer, which ran less than 15 minutes.  The rest dry and add moisture to our dry home.  This is also work for my son, work for which we pay him.  He is saving his money for a huge LEGO set.  It is a great way to teach life skills, provide financial education, practice basic math (counting money), and the relationship between work and purchasing -- when you work hard, you may be a little less inclined to spend without giving it some thought.

Upstairs I empty the counter compost bucket into the larger winter container.  Once a cat litter container, it now holds food scraps and paper, waiting for warmer weather before joining the heap in our backyard.  I love being able to compost during the winter.  I make a special effort to include as much "brown matter" for balance.  Think cardboard, egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, and the newspapers Sports section.  There is no need to toss food into the garbage.  The container sits just outside my kitchen door to the garage.  Cool and dry, it makes sure we get every once of value out of food (it will nourish gardens of the future) and minimizes items from the municipal dump.  I have filled up two of these containers, and another two empty ones wait in the basement.  In the summer they will be cleaned and saved for winter 2014.

And then there is the chest freezer.  Oh yes, you may remember -- the one I worked so hard to fill this past growing season.  And now I am working to deplete our reserves.  Sadly in mid-February I feel as though I have not made a dent.  I turned up the effort today and foraged for cooking inspiration.  My morning oatmeal was topped with blueberries that I froze last summer and a rhubarb compote I made in the Spring.  Delicious and sweet enough that no honey was needed.  Pancakes (actually made last night by our sitter) contained pumpkin and a bit of banana the kids had not finished earlier in the day.  I love asking the sitter to make pancakes and eggs for Tuesday dinner.  It makes breakfast on Wednesday a bit easier because there are always leftovers.  And even the yogurt did not escape my effort to use every last drop.....I took plain Greek yogurt and mixed in the juice from the frozen berries.

Before heading out for work, I threw together a cheese potato soup, which fit well with the other veggies in the fridge that have a short shelf life (celery, carrots, onion, and red pepper).  And dinner will be frozen chicken in the crockpot and curried veggies....from the freezer.  Eggplant and zucchini with onions, garlic, and curry powder took minutes to prepare.

From the looks of the freezer, countless soups, curries, and quiches will be appearing on the table as I work to use the freezer items.  April 20th is not far off, and that is when the farmers' markets start up here in Madison.  Time to get cooking!

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