Frugal and Green

Summer is winding down and I’m starting to remember why I love the fall. The weather was beautiful yesterday. I think it was in the 60’s and 70’s most of the day. The NFL preseason is under way and I’m looking forward to seeing the leaves turn and watching the wind toss them around (mother nature’s snow globe). The novelty of raking outside on a beautiful fall day wears off quickly, but I love watching the kids jump in the piles of leaves. I take a lot of pictures, and the ones I snap on these days are so earthy and rich with color.

However, I’m already missing the wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The farmer’s market had so much to offer in the spring and early summer. These days, I’m having to buy more produce from the grocery store. But I’m determined to keep things more seasonal than I have in the past. This is the time of year that apples and grapefruits taste their best. I also can’t wait to have my first warm and yummy roasted (or microwaved) chestnuts, mmm… Some other seasonal vegetables and fruits I’m looking forward to are oranges, clementines, pears, avacados, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, kale, parsnips and cranberries, just to name a few. Most of these are available year round, but this is when their flavors and nutritional value really peak! Buying seasonal also saves you money. You’re buying the produce when it’s most plentiful (supply and demand) and most nutritious, which means you are getting more nutritional bang for your buck.

This is when I get to make soup with little complaint from my family. I love soup and would make it year round if not for their grumbling. How can you not love it? It’s so versatile! As we speak my house is filled with the smell of roasted chicken and vegetable stock. I used the leftover carcass from this weeks chicken dinner. The chicken, by the way, is one of Baucom’s Best premium pastured chickens that I bought from the Matthew’s Farmers Market. It was pricey, about $15 for a 4 pound bird. So saving the carcass for stock is not only frugal, but I get fresh, low sodium stock that tastes better than anything you’ll find in a can or carton. I’ll even use the remaining bits of chicken (about half a cup) as garnish. These bits of chicken don’t have much flavor once they’ve spent a couple hours in stock pot, but I’ve found a way to revive them. I let them marinate in a little salt and pepper, fresh garlic, sometimes soy sauce, or whatever seasoning fits the dish. This also works great with beef. I’m going to make a bean and vegetable soup, so I used salt, pepper, fresh chopped garlic and some Italian seasoning.

The roasted vegetables in the stock are from another frugal tip I’d like to pass on. I collect  vegetable scraps in a bag in my freezer, and when it’s full, I make vegetable stock. I usually toss the frozen veg in olive oil, salt and pepper and them roast them in the oven first, to add flavor. There are certain vegetables and parts you shouldn’t use, either because they make the stock bitter (celery leaves, broccoli stems) or because of possible bacteria (root ends). I also throw things in the freezer that I probably won’t use before they spoil. Typically I have portobello or shiitake stems, outer layer and tops of onions, celery pieces, bits of carrot, tomato and garlic and herb stems… You can save just about anything. And what I don’t save for stock, I compost (along with my fruit scraps)! I even compost the veg from the stock, when I’m done with it. I’ll use this mostly organic compost in my garden in the spring and this frugal cycle will go on.

I’ve also added a bag of seven dried organic beans from HT to my simmering stock (red kidney, black turtle, baby white lima, french green lentils, adzuki, yellow split peas, hulled red lentils and/or navy beans). They only soaked for a few hours this morning, so it’ll take awhile for them to cook. Later I’ll add butternut squash and maybe a little celery, onion, carrots, shiitakes, fresh garlic, thyme and oregano. I haven’t decided if I’ll sweeten it yet with honey, or if I’ll make it creamy with some fat free evaporated milk. This is my first time using butternut squash, so I’ll taste the soup before I decide. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Organic food does cost more, but I’ve found another way to recoup the extra costs by using the scraps to make my own mostly organic stocks and compost. It’s frugal and green!!

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About Michele
Wife and Mom of three girls doing her best to lead the family into a healthier lifestyle and evolve gracefully.

One Response to Frugal and Green

  1. Pingback: Things I Learned in 2011 and What I’m Looking Forward to Learning in 2012 « HealthyMamma's Blog

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