Making the Most of Everything

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At the end of my last post I mentioned that I would share some details of the food preparation that I do.

In the past few weeks I have been fortunate to score some great bargains on fresh produce. A food bargain is only a bargain if you actually use the food. This can be a particular challenge with fresh produce but with a bit of know-how and some time you can make the most of bargains that may come your way.

Today I want to show you how I used and stored large quantities of cheap bananas, pineapples and tomatoes.

I bought a 10kg box of perfect, ripe Roma tomatoes for $10. $1/kg was too good to pass up. I could have bottled them straightaway but they were so firm, red and perfect that we decided to enjoy them fresh for as long as possible. I spread them out on a couple of racks so that would be able to easily identify any blemishes or potential rotten ones. Fresh tomato salsa was served with at least one and often two meals every day. Here is a selection of our meals.

L to R: Chicken tacos, Mexican quinoa and Baked potatoes with refried beans

This strategy worked well for just over 3 weeks which is testament to the perfect quality of the produce. In fact, I have no idea why they were being sold for $1/kg.

The remaining tomatoes were diced and packed into jars to go in the freezer. These will be added to casseroles and other dishes instead on buying canned tomatoes.

Next were the bananas. These were also $1/kg and I bought 12.5kg in a box. The bananas ranged from partly green to overripe but the majority were ripe and flavoursome although the skins were showing blemishes. We eat sliced banana on our cereal every day so about a dozen of the least ripe ones were added to fruit bowl to be eaten over the next week.

Two very ripe ones became banana cake and the remainder were peeled, cut in half and frozen on trays. They can be sliced and added to cereal with no further preparation.

You can see the less ripe bananas in the fruit bowls in the background as well as trays ready for the freezer and two bananas in the bowl which were about to be turned into banana cake.

Finally, the pineapples. I spotted this box of 5 pineapples for $4 and knew exactly how I could use them.

Dried pineapple is a delicious treat so it was a simple matter of peeling, coring and slicing the pineapple and then into the dehydrator. We like it semi-dried (a bit chewy but not crunchy). I store it in a container in the refrigerator.

L to R: Fresh pineapple ready to dehydrate, dried pineapple, ready to store in the refrigerator.

I would love to hear your stories of bargains or gluts and how you make sure they do not go to waste.

Progress Report

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Tonight I do not have a single story to tell but updates on several ongoing projects.

Dishcloths – I am knitting these from a pattern in Rhonda Hetzel’s book, “Down to Earth”.  I have done 2 and a half so far.  My plan is to use all the cotton I have which will probably make 6 cloths.  Here is one that is finished and I just need to sew the ends in.

2012-04-26 01Dehydrating – the onion tops dehydrated beautifully and were then ground in the spice grinder and this is the result.

2012-04-26 02I made another batch of pumpkin soup but I have now finished the onions I grew last winter so I put a tablespoon of this into the mix instead and it worked perfectly.

We have been working on the itinerary for our USA trip.  We now have return flights booked, accommodation organised in Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.  We have found a suitable car hire company (thanks, Joanna) and have also booked our train tickets from Philadelphia to New York.  We booked this first as it is a Sunday and seems to be selling out on some trips.

I am currently reviewing and revising our itinerary for the driving part of our holiday.  I hope to finalise most of that this weekend.

Decluttering – The bags of clothes and hangers have gone to the op shop.

Now I need to go and reply to the comments from the last few days.

Also, just in case you are wondering where Friday Favourites went, it will be back tomorrow with a yummy dessert.  I decided that I had to be true to the description and post only tried and true family favourites under this heading – not something I had made once, so this feature will only appear when I have something really worth sharing.