Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Message from The Frugal Hostess

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FRUHUBS FOOD: A New, Semi-Regular Recipe Column

Well, you had to have known it was coming.  The Frugal Husband is a bad-ass chef, and The Frugal Hostess would like to exploit that for her own benefit.  You know, aside from eating everything he cooks, which is delightful.  Thus, FRUHUBS FOOD.

Today's episode is Pulled Pork and Barbecue Sauce (please sing that the way the deep-voiced fellow does in the old Chili's commercial for baby back ribs).  (And then sing the falsetto part "Chi-iiii-li' ribs.")  (Then the deep part again, "BAR-BA-CUE SAWSSSE.")

Good times.

OK, so, remember how FruHo talked about smoked pork butt recently?  Well, The Frugal Husband decided to whip one up, as it were, and smoke it for eight hours after giving it a good rub down with a rub he made.  Then he had to show it up by making his own barbecue sauce.

Here's how:

7-8 lb. pork butt
2 quarts of water, or enough to cover the butt
8 oz. molasses (Be sure it’s not made of high-fructose corn syrup, yuck.  If you don’t have molasses, use 16 oz. of brown sugar.)
8 oz. salt
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1.  Heat two cups of the water.
2.  Dissolve the salt, then add the molasses and other ingredients.
3.  Once everything has melted, let it cool to room temperature.  If you’re short on time, put in ice cubes.
4.  Add remaining water and pork butt.
5.  The pork butt should stay in the brine overnight or a minimum of six hours.

After you brine it, rub it with some rub.  The Frugal Husband has a Secret Recipe for butt rub (ha!), but here’s a hint – all of the ingredients in the picture above are in the rub.  Aye, there’s the rub.  Ahem.

So, rub your butt (but not someone else’s butt, unless you have permission), and then smoke the pork for eight to ten hours.  Whew.  FruHubs usually gets up super early to make this.  It’s worth it.

OK, once your butt is juicy and tender (seriously, TFH can’t stop herself – what do you expect?), pull it apart with forks and put it on sandwiches.  It’s good with a delicious sauce and some coleslaw on the sandwich. 

Sauce?  Do you mean Barbecue Sauce?  FruHubs won’t come off his sauce recipe either.  Seriously, FruHubs, what’s the point of having a recipe column if you won’t give out your recipes?  But he says that there are a number of great recipes for both rub and sauce, and you should look them up.  What a pain -- a pain in the butt!!!  (Wow, this topic is comedy gold.)

Enjoy your butt!

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More Halloween Party Ideas and a New Friend

The Frugal Hostess is always on the look out for new ideas for saving money while living an excellent life.  To that end, she's recently add a new friend slash long-lost sister to her RSS Reader.  Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet The Broke Socialite!

TBS and TFH have become fast friends, and The Frugal Hostess reads The Broke Socialite's every word.  So, when this post showed up today, FruHo knew she had to share it.  Here are some of TBS's great ideas for an inexpensive Halloween fete.  Enjoy!

The Frugal Hostess is always looking for more friends. Feed the comment beast.  You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Christmas Handicrafts

A few Christmases ago, The Frugal Hostess was flat broke.  She and FruHubs had spent a ton of money on their wedding [and, yes, their parents paid for everything, so how they accomplished that level of post-wedding poverty remains mysterious but may or may not be related to a year-long spending spree on things "for the wedding/honeymoon/to celebrate our engagement/because we're celebrating/etc."] and were living in a part of town they couldn't really afford.  Meanwhile, TFH had recently begun drinking an Al Gore-flavored Kool-Aid that made her want to decrease her consumption [conveniently, this coincided with a time when she would be consuming on behalf of others rather than herself].  So, she decided to make each and every one of the Christmas gifts that she and FruHubs would be giving to anyone.

Have you ever Googled "homemade Christmas gift" or "Christmas crafts"?  If you haven't, The Frugal Hostess will spare you.  Almost every result is either something made of macaroni like a small child would create (and then be too embarrassed to give you) or something so ridiculously complicated that you spend more money on the equipment that you would purchasing the non-homemade version of the same thing.  Hmmph.  Pipette, Martha?  Really???

Some parts of this DIY XMAS plan were easy.  TFH had gotten into paper crafts and had, before poverty struck, purchased a ton of supplies for making her own greeting cards and gift tags.  She bought a bunch of cheap wrapping supplies at after-Christmas sales the year before, and she had started her Regifting Closet.  So, you know, she wasn't totally screwed.


However, there was a lot of this that was exceedingly hard and annoying.  So this year, as her Christmas gift to you, The Frugal Hostess plans to give you detailed instructions for make-it-yourself presents that are A.) not made of macaroni, and B.) don't require a huge amount of special equipment.  Merry Christmas!!!*

To get you started, here are some past posts that include great DIY presents.  TFH has a long list of things she'll be making on your behalf, but if you have an idea you'd like her to try, leave it in the comments or email it to frugalhostess [at] gmail [dot] com.

Homemade Grenadine
Limoncello and Other Cordials - PLEASE NOTE: these take six to eight weeks, so start now if you're doing them for Christmas!
Dog Biscuits

*On the whole Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays debate, TFH comes down firmly on the side of say what you celebrate.  If you celebrate Kwanzaa, tell people, "Happy Kwanzaa."  If you celebrate Hanukkah, wish someone, "Happy Hanukkah."  And, obviously, if you celebrate Christmas, say, "Merry Christmas."  If you don't have a tradition, or if your tradition is one without nomenclature like Festivus or Solstice or Commercialus, and yet you still (maybe oddly) feel the need to throw out a seasonal wish, say, "Happy Holidays."  Just because you don't celebrate Hanukkah doesn't mean you should get offended at someone wishing you a happy one.  Duh.  Don't be an asshole.

photo by Kevin Dooley and Hans van de Bruggen
The Frugal Hostess wishes you the happiest of Happy Kwanzaas. Please send a card, or a comment of you're so inclined. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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MIYM: Breadcrumbs

A few years ago, The Frugal Husband made a smoker.  He saw it on Alton Brown's Good Eats, and he decided to make one for himself.  FruHubs is so good like that.  (If you'd like instructions, go here.)  The first thing he smoked was a pork butt, and it changed The Frugal Hostess's life forever.

Can you believe that she had never had a pulled pork sandwich before?  Isn't that just absurd?!

Now, they have smoked pulled pork sandwiches semi-regularly.  The best way to eat pulled pork is with lots of yummy barbecue sauce on a sandwich roll with sesame seeds - delicious.  If you serve it with salad and potato wedges, you will be extra happy!

But what happens when you buy a package of eight rolls and only have enough pulled pork for seven sandwiches? When life gives you extra bread, make breadcrumbs!

Old bread
Extra bread
Heel of bread
Hot dog bun
Hamburger bun
Stale crackers from party - crackers make EXCELLENT breadcrumbs, FYI.
In other words, whatever you have in the bread family.  TFH throws the above items in the freezer until she has enough to make a big batch of breadcrumbs.

1.  Thaw anything frozen.
2.  Spread on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
3.  Break into pieces.  Toss pieces into food processor or blender and process or blend to desire crumb.  If you don't have those, put into a big Ziploc bag and crunch up.  That is so fun, BTW, that you might want to just do it that way.
4.  You can stop there.  Or, you can add spices.  FruHo always adds spices because her daddy always used Italian breadcrumbs for everything, and she is a traditionalist.  And by traditionalist she means, breacrumbaditionalist. Spice options: pepper (any color), salt, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary (chop finely first), onion powder, garlic powder.  Spice requirement: red pepper flakes.  No idea why, but this is the one ingredient that never varies.  It makes the breadcrumbs slightly spicy and highly delicious.

Another thing to do with old bread is make croutons.  Thaw, cut into cubes, mix in a bowl with spices and melted butter, then spread on a baking sheet and bake.

And the cheater's way to make croutons, if you need a small amount of them for Caesar salad or something, is this: Toast two pieces of bread in the toaster.  Cut into crouton-esque cubes.  Melt butter in a pan over low heat, toss in the bread cubes, and add spices as desired.  You could also melt the butter in a microwave (use a coffee cup) and do the rest in a bowl.

A last idea, if you have children or grandkids, is to save your old bread for a while, then thaw it out and go feed some ducks at a park.  Whatever you do, don't feed birds at the beach, or you will create a scary swarm of dive-bombing seagulls that poop on your head.  Not that The Frugal Hostess has any experience with this.

Don't waste bread, yo.

photo by net_efekt
The Frugal Hostess feeds the birds. What do you think of that? You can join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Five Halloween Party Ideas

Hmmm, The Frugal Hostess has been so busy talking about organic food lately that she hasn't been much of a hostess.  To rectify that, here are five quick ideas for Halloween parties.

The Night of the Living Dead – Tell your guests that their costumes must be zombie-inspired which can lead to hilarious mash-ups like “Undead Jon and Kate Plus 8” or “Zombie Michael Jackson.”  Give all the food you serve names like “Mummy Eyeballs” for deviled eggs or “Gravedigger’s Dip” for seven-layer dip; that way, you can serve an easy menu of favorites but still get the added punch of being on-theme.  Keep the decorations simple by just using black fabric and spiders and bats cut out of black card stock.  (inspired by Birds and Cherries)

Closet Halloween – Costumes have to be made up of items in your guests’ closets (think hobo, gypsy, etc.); decorations are made from fabric scraps and old clothes; and the menu is made up of Spaghetti and Mothballs, Hanger Steak, etc.  This is a great “girls’ night in” (ghouls' night in?) party if you ask the ladies to bring unwanted clothing or accessories for a swap.

Dead People Dinner Party – Guests have to dress up as someone from the past who they’d like to have dinner with, and stay in character for the night.  You could have each person tell you who they’re going to be in advance and craft your menu to reflect the guests.  So, if you’ve invited a wanna-be Audrey Hepburn, dessert might be Tiffany-blue iced cupcakes; for a Ghandi-impersonator, a gourmet salt-tasting course.

Pumpkin-Carving Cocktail Party – Buy a pumpkin for every guest or couple, and put out hors d’oeuvres and a self-serve bar.  Cover your dinner table with newspaper and knives, and let people carve their pumpkins.  Have a pumpkin beauty contest with prizes at the end, and be sure to save the seeds to toast and add to salads.

Trick-or-Treat Tailgate – If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, invite friends over to watch the adorable trick-or-treat action.  Set it up like a tailgating party with easy food like hamburgers and hotdogs or fried chicken (getting Popeye’s is not cheating).

Party on Wayne.  Party on Garth.

photo by Steve Chasmar
The Frugal Hostess just made a Wayne's World joke.  Things are clearly getting critical.  Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things TFH Learned from Eat on $30

1.  It has been a long time since The Frugal Hostess felt really hungry.  That probably has something to do with her current dress size.  During Eat on $30, she was hungry for every meal and full after each one.  That felt somehow virtuous, in a Little House in the Big Woods way.

2.  Food tastes better when you are really hungry for it.  TFH wasn't kidding when she said that the half-quail was the best she'd ever had.

3.  Being hungry makes you sleepy.  Or, at least, it made TFH sleepy.  She slept an average of one extra hour per night and started feeling ready for bed about two hours earlier than usual each evening.

4.  If you are poor, the dollar menu at McWendysKing really, really gives you a better value than eating fresh food.  That sucks. It would be really great if one of the fast food giants would make something healthy for a buck, but no one can grow food fairly at those prices.

5.  If you are not poor, ask yourself if you really want to eat something that can be grown, processed, cooked, and served for one dollar.  What kind of shortcuts do you think have to be taken to make that kind of economy work?

6.  [Insert bathroom observations here.]  Too untoward for The Frugal Hostess to comment on.

7.  It seems like the only way to supplement a $30 weekly food budget is to grow some of your own.  TFH started digging up the vegetable garden as a result of Eat on $30, so be forewarned that you'll be hearing about it.

8.  Maybe a second way to supplement that budget is to make a lot of things, like chicken stock and bread, from scratch.  The Frugals have been working on that for the past couple of years, but it takes up a lot of time.  (Many other Eat on $30 peeps have talked about the time, equipment, and knowledge issues, so TFH will leave it at this: they are right.)

9.  The Frugals eat way more meat than is necessary.

10.  There is an organization, Wholesome Wave Foundation, that makes it possible for folks who receive public assistance to get double their value at some farmers' markets.  Wow.  Isn't that cool?  So, if you have $10 in food stamps, you can get $20 worth of food at the markets that participate.  The Frugal Hostess will be eating on $30 one week a month and giving the difference to Wholesome Wave; you can do the same or donate now.

OK, FruHo promises to be funnier next time.  Love you!!!!

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Monday, October 19, 2009

MIYM: Truffles without Morals

After Eat on $30, The Frugal Hostess planned to have a day of decadent eating, topped off by the Sunday Soiree at Running with Tweezers’ pad.  Alas, Dear Readers, life got in the way.  Football happened.  And a garden plot was begun.  Incidentally, should The Frugal Hostess be concerned that the palm of her right hand is so sore from digging (that’s right, sore – huh? Yes, from digging.  What?) that she can’t make a fist?  It’s kind of the height of being out of shape when you can’t use your hands without major post-traumatic digging disorder the next day.

So, while TFH did fix a big batch of the world’s best macaroni and cheese (stay tuned for the patent pending recipe in another post) and gobble up a couple of chicken wings, the candy-making wasn’t finished until today.  But it was totally worth the wait.  And handy, since the candy can now count for Make It Yourself Monday.  Ladies and Gentleman (men?  Dad, are you still reading?), The Frugal Hostess gives you…..

Truffles without Morals
(a recipe completely absent ranting and raving about food politics)

Ingredients (basic truffle)
12 oz.bag of semi-sweet or bitter sweet chocolate chips (Ghiaradelli, if you’re askin’.)
One can of sweetened condensed milk
Splash of vanilla

1.  Melt the chips in a double boiler or bowl set over a pot of boiling water.
2.  Remove from heat.
3.  Stir in the can of sweetened condensed milk.  It’s OK if you accidentally eat some.
4.  Stir in the splash of vanilla (like a tablespoon or so).
5.  Put the bowl in the refrigerator to cool and harden.  This takes about four hours, so TFH usually leaves it over night and does the rest the next day.
6.  Once cool and firm, use the small side of your melon baller to scoop out little scoops of chocolate.  They will not look cute, so you will have to roll them around in your hands to make beautiful shiny spheres.
7.  Oops, you should have already lined a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with wax paper.  Do that, then get back to handling your balls.  What?

OK, now’s where the candy-making gets fun.  There are a ton of variations that will make your truffles extra fancy.


Stir-ins: Before you start to roll the chocolates, mix in a small jar of maraschino cherries, finely chopped.  This tastes so good, just like chocolate-covered cherries but without being a huge pain to make.  You could also mix in candied citrus peel, nuts, dried fruits, unmelted chocolate pieces, or toffee.

Liquors: Instead of, or in addition to, the vanilla, try a flavored liquor like Chambord or Frangelica.  Yum.

Coatings: The easiest version of this truffle is to make the balls and roll them in unsweetened cocoa.  This makes a nice contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate and looks pretty.  Just sprinkle cocoa on a dinner plate and roll the little suckers around.  Powdered sugar would work the same way.  You could also do it with crushed nuts. 

But, if you want extra credit, do this (which FruHo found on The Pioneer Woman): refrigerate your dark chocolate balls until they are nice and cold.  Melt a half a bag of milk chocolate chips.  Coat the dark chocolate in milk chocolate, then sprinkle on a touch of sea salt.  So good, The Frugal Hostess promises – she had one tonight.  Look at the (horrific) picture.  A sprinkle of crushed pistachios would look really pretty, too.

The best way to serve or give these is to put them in those little mini-muffin cups inside a box or on a tray.  Or, you can just stand at the refrigerator door and pop them into your mouth.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Eat on $30 Participants

The Frugal Hostess realized that she had forgotten to include the list of Eat on $30 participants.  They are all great bloggers, and it's been really interesting getting to know them.  Give 'em some love!

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Why The Frugal Hostess Would Rather Eat Organic Than Buy Shoes

The main reason The Frugal Hostess decided to do the Eat on $30 Challenge was that she wanted to prove to the world you could eat organic on a budget.  Or, maybe, she wanted to prove it to herself.  This is a constant debate she has with The Frugal Husband: that organic food may be a little more expensive, but with the right amount of planning you can do it without a major change in your food budget.

Sample conversation:

TFHostess: Erg, I’m hungry, I want some wine, whine whine whine, when will this Eat on $30 crap be over?

TFHusband: I could do Eat on $30 and drink wine, because I am super awesome and would stop buying organic food.

TFHostess: Um, what’s the point of that?  You wanna die from cancer or have a son with a small penis* just to be able to afford some wine?  [Point.  Set.  Match.]

(*Just read that chemicals in our food can be blamed for smaller penis size.  That’s right, ladies; use that in your next organic argument with the Hubses.)

Also, The Frugal Hostess has noticed that FruHubs (ya like that?) has been sneaking a lot of conventional produce into the house, under the guise of it being local (i.e., grown in this state) and cheaper.  Now, local is good – it racks up fewer food miles, supports the local economy, and makes sense from a larger “what you’re supposed to eat” perspective.  But The Frugal Hostess can’t help but wonder if buying local produce sometimes lets us feel better about wimping out on putting our money where our mouths (and stomachs) are when it comes to doing right by the planet.  Put another way, what is better: local pesticide or non-local organic?  (And, duh, local and organic is obviously the answer, but that isn’t always as easy as it sounds.)

FruHo realizes this is a nice, comfortable, yuppie dilemma to be in, BTW.  But she’s in it, so might as well try to sort it out.

Reasons to Eat Organic, according to The Frugal Hostess’s cursory Google research

1.  Less pollution of the air, soil, and water.
2.  Like, a lot less.
3.  Better for farm workers to not have to ingest poison all day every day.
4.  Chemical pesticides have been implicated in diabetes, obesity, cancer, autism, Parkinson's disease, male sterility, genital deformities, female infertility, miscarriage, infant deformities, ADHD, hormonally caused gender confusion, asthma, allergies, accelerated aging, and smaller penises in boys, amphibians, and other wildlife. 

Think about that for a minute. 

Have you ever asked yourself why it seems like some of the things listed above are happening at staggeringly increased rates now compared to when you were little or Olden Times or whatever?

Something else The Frugal Hostess found:

Don’t give up organic for local. Food that’s both local and organic is the gold standard. But while it’s true that food produced locally generally has a smaller carbon footprint than food transported across the country (or from another continent), the carbon emitted by transporting food is smaller than that released by growing it with chemical means. [emphasis by TFH] In fact, PepsiCo recently documented that, for its Tropicana orange juice, transporting the product accounted for only 22% of its carbon footprint.”

So, the conclusions drawn from TheFrugal Hostess’s extremely rigorous scientific research into this topic are:

1.  Local AND organic is best.
2.  If you have to choose one over the other, choose organic.
3.  There are ways to buy organic on a budget.
4.  But it takes A LOT of planning and organization.  Or organic-ization.  Ha.

More to come, lovies.

UPDATE: Duh, today is Blog Action Day on climate change, and TFH didn't even realize it.  How's that for serendipity?

photo by Rhett Maxwell

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stages of the Eat on $30 Challenge

Denial: On Day 1, The Frugal Hostess barely paid attention to what she was eating, figuring she could make it up later (luckily, almost everything she ate was free that day).  $30 would be plenty for her, and she would show those people who flat-out refuse to eat organic because of the prices.  Yep, TFH was certain that her success at eating organic on a budget would be so great that she would light up the night, winning hearts and minds across the land.  Ha!  Pure, straight up denial, Dear Readers.

Anger: About mid-way through Day 2, FruHo started to actually calculate her daily budgets.  She divided the cost of her CSA box over the seven days ($1.43 per day) and realized that she would have to charge herself $1 a day for the convenient but expensive fair trade whole bean coffee purchased from her neighborhood spot.  So, out of a daily budget of $4.28, $2.43 was already consumed by local organic veggies (ordered before she committed to the challenge) and non-negotiable coffee.  The Frugal Hostess quickly realized that, unless Robert Mondavi swept into town to inexplicably woo a third-person blogger with free bottles of wine, she wouldn’t be having so much as a sip of the 3+ cases in The Frugal Homestead for another five days.  WTF, y’all? 

Bargaining: As regular readers know, The Frugals Hostess and Husband are pretty strict about not wasting food.  They practice the ancient art of Fruit Rescue, they make pickles, and they freeze everything.  There were six quail that needed to be eaten, and eaten now.  Meanwhile, at two bucks a bird, just eating one would blow the budget before another bite was taken.  TFH talked it over with the Hubs, and they weighed some options.  Could she pretend it was chicken on the blog?  No, she had already outed the quail on Facebook.  Could she eat two and make it up later in the week?  Sure, if eating wild chives pulled up from her dog-pee watered lawn would count as meals for the rest of the week.  Could she just.  Have.  One.  Freaking.  Glass of Wine?  The stress of all this bargaining was started to take its toll.

Depression: As she calculated the cost of her meals for the rest of the week, a dark swarming cloud of gloom began to circle.  There was no way she could succeed!  Her stomach was about to mount a campaign to eat her spleen!  Just look how yum-tastic those little quails looked!  And seriously, where the hell was Robert Mondavi?! 

Acceptance: The Frugal Hostess slapped herself across the face (metaphorically-speaking).  “FruHo,” she thought, “You signed up for this voluntarily!  It is only day three!  Get a hold of yourself!  What kind of a worthless @#$%^&* are you?”  And thus, TFH ate a giant bowl of rice and beans and one half of one quail.  And it was the most delicious, scrumptious, glorious half a quail she ever tasted.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Days 1&2

So, here's the thing.  Yesterday was kind of a cheater day to start Eat on $30, because The Frugal Husband came back from his Football Pilgrimage with a bunch of leftovers that his dad paid for.  Everything was free, except coffee ($1), apple ($.50), and bun ($.50).

Day 1 total: $2 

By the way, The Frugal Husband isn't playing.

Also yesterday, The Frugal Hostess did some prep work to get ready for the week on a budget.  While it would probably have made sense to take $30 to the grocery store and buy everything for the week, the CSA box had already been delivered before TFH knew she was going to participate. We all know how she feels about wasting organic produce - completely against the rules.  So, FruHo will be estimating the prices of some items based on Googling them.

This brings up an interesting point.  The Frugal Hostess has a house full of organic food and spices and staples like flour.  Her pantry is well-stocked, so she can use twelve cents worth of paprika in a dish, stay well within the Eat on $30 budget, and still get something pretty good.  Not so if you don't have the money to stock a pantry, like if you are on public assistance.  What if you had to buy the herbs to season your dish as you needed them, rather than having a storehouse of stuff?  You couldn't, of course, because you can't buy twelve cents worth of paprika, and a $21 (or $30) budget doesn't allow for the whole jar.  How do you build up a stock of the condiments and oils that let you eat good food pretty cheaply on a regular basis without some kind of start-up cash?

As she was saying, TFH did a good amount of prep work to get ready for the week.  She had read a recipe a few months back for miniature frittatas and, being a haphazard breakfast eater, decided having them pre-made would help her out.  Here's how she made them (which in no way resembles the original recipe, which is why there's no link; she would probably get sued for saying these are like the ones that inspired them):

6 eggs ($3.50 per dozen organic, pasture-raised eggs, or $1.75 for this recipe)
Approx. 1 pound of potatoes ($.50, Googled)
Half an onion ($.32, Googled - Vidalias)
2-3 cloves of garlic (Organic, $.10, guessing)
Shredded cheese (maybe 4 ounces) (Organic, $4 block from Trader Joe's, $1 for this recipe)
Splash of milk or cream (Organic, $.30)
Couple pats of butter
Salt and pepper

1.  Peel and cube the potatoes.  Like, small home-fry type cubes.  Steam them until soft.
2.  Finely dice the onion.  Saute in butter on low to medium heat until very soft.
3.  Grate the cheese.
4.  Mince the garlic and add to the onions at the very end; cook for a minute or so longer.
5.  Let all of the above ingredients cool down (do the steps below during the cooling-off period), then mix together in a bowl.  Add salt and pepper.
6.  Grease a 12-muffin tin.  Then, cut circles out of parchment paper and drop them in the holes.  (TFH realizes this sounds stupid but you have to do it or the frittatas won't come out.)  Another option is to take the mini-muffin papers, turn them inside-out, and use those.  You don't want the full-size muffin cups because they take up too much space, eliminate the crust, and are just generally a nuisance.  To recap, put something down there.  You know, in the hole.
7.  Fill each hole about two-thirds full of the potato mixture.
8.  In a measuring cup or bowl with a spout, beat the eggs with a splash of milk, salt, and pepper.  Fill the remaining space in each muffin cup with beaten egg.  You'll notice why the spout was suggested.
9.  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

When they're done, you'll have 12 delicious little frittatas to eat for breakfast!  TFH made them Sunday and then microwaved them for 60 seconds before eating this morning.  You probably need to eat two.  Some variations that would be good: add bacon or ham; use sweet potatoes and leeks; try spinach and mushrooms.  So, with the recipe costing $4 for 12, these little guys are $.33 each, or $.67 for a serving of two.  And The Frugal Hostess's stomach is growling.  More on Day Two tomorrow....
The Frugal Hostess would like to eat a comment. Please leave one for her. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Eat on $30 Project

The Frugal Hostess reads lots of other bloggers.  Some are funny, some are serious; some write about business, and some focus on politics.  Some are even about her very own family.  But the ones that are always fun to read are the food blogs. 

When The Frugal Hostess read this post on Running with Tweezers, she knew she couldn't sit this one out.  In addition to being moved by the fact that those on public assistance get only $21 a week for their food, she feels like an exercise in food frugality will be good for her blog and her figure.  Also, it will hopefully help FruHo prove to the doubting haters (you know who you are) that you can eat a mostly organic diet without going broke.  We shall see.

Stay tuned this week for a run-down on the trials and tribulations of the Eat on $30 Project, or follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #eaton30.

photo by 96dpi
The Frugal Hostess might be hungry. Please distract her with a comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Halloween Centerpiece Extraordinaire

The Frugal Hostess worked on her Halloween centerpiece this weekend.  What do you think?

The Frugal Hostess spent an hour and a half arranging squash on the dining room table. She clearly needs something better to do.  Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, follow on Twitter @frugalhostess, or subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

The Frugal Hostess Forgot How to Cook

The Frugal Hostess loves to eat.  Or, put a less "hog-snuffling-down-slop"-sounding way, she loves to dine.  It started when she got her first real job out of college and got to eat at a fancy restaurant for free every now and then.  TFH began to learn about food and wine and was still young enough that her metabolism outpaced her fork.  (Alas, those days are long gone; now the fork is the fastest moving part of her body.)

Her favorite hobby remains tasting multiple courses at the best restaurants and critiquing them with The Frugal Husband.  In fact, she pretty much introduced The Frugal Husband to the art of dining (if she does say so herself), taking him to a few amazing restaurants for a few amazing meals in the early years of their courtship.  Which began around the same time as those free dinners at that fancy place.  The courtship, that is.  Coincidentally.  Or maybe not....

Because he knows how much she loves to eat out, The Frugal Husband has recreated some of their favorite meals on special occasions.  The first was a Valentine's Day dinner.  They sat on the floor to eat, but who cares about those details when you're chewing on roasted asparagus and Hollandaise sauce?  Over the years, he's surprised The Frugal Hostess by making exact or even better replicas of dishes they tasted at the most expensive restaurants.  In the process, The Frugal Husband has become an amazing chef, able to invent recipes that make you want to punch yourself in the ear if it means you can have more.

Now, The Frugal Hostess loves to cook.  She finds it relaxing and therapeutic, with the added bonus of there being something to eat at the end.  She's even been called a good cook before.


However, The Frugal Hostess has been on a streak of suck lately.  Like, everything she touches turns to gruel. Here are some examples:

Supposed to be: Crunchy Tofu Nuggets | Actually was: Tofu Jerky

When prepared correctly, this is actually good.  You take a block of tofu, cut it into two by two squares (like a half inch thick), roll the squares in breadcrumbs, and bake for a long, long time.  Dipped in barbecue sauce, these give the distinct impression of Chicken McNuggets.  Except for, you know, the chicken part.  And, if you accidentally leave it in the oven for an extra hour because you can't tear yourself away from Facebook.  Or something.

Supposed to be: Veggie Meatloaf | Actually was: Loaf of Horror, GI Distress, and Grossness

Listen, The Frugals do (or celebrate, as it were) Meatless Monday.  And it gets boring eating scrambled eggs or, uh, not meat, so TFH researched some recipes that would add variety to Meatless Monday.  This Veggie Meatloaf was made from lentils, brown rice (OK, TFH can hear you.  Those ingredients do not necessarily mean the food will be gross.  It's just a coincidence.), wheat germ, eggs, and spices.  And rotten dead things, based on the resulting flavor.  The Frugal Husband tried so hard to eat that crap, too, fearing a meltdown from his wife.  Alas, they both suffered for hours as a result of that dreadful Loaf of Horror.

And lest you think that only the meatless meals go afoul....

Supposed to be: Barbecued Chicken Pizza | Actually was: Sawdust Pie with Smoked Chicken and Burn

Man, The Frugal Hostess used to rule at making pizza dough.  What happened??  This pizza was prepared like any other.  She made the dough a day in advance and let it rise in the fridge overnight.  She rolled it out a little, sauced it up, and sprinkled on the toppings (which included some YUM smoked chicken that The Frugal Husband had made and frozen).  She baked it at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time.  Actually, that's totally a lie - that pizza sat in the oven a good 20 minutes longer than it should have.  But, The Frugal Husband was changing out all the light switches in the kitchen at the time, so TFH was kind of hiding by reading blogs, and time just passed....  So it's really The Frugal Husband's fault, at least on that one.

On the one hand, TFH is delighted by her husband's cooking prowess; it's the modern man's version of hunting and fishing, she supposes.  On the other hand, what the hell? 

photos by Geoff604, Back Garage, and The Punch Pizza

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Snack Dinner

If only this included pate, it would be the perfect meal.

The Frugal Hostess is embarrassed to ask for comments on this post. But still, please comment. Then subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears.

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Halloween Bat Mobiles

In case you missed it, The Frugal Hostess decorated for Halloween.  You can catch up in yesterday's post.

Thin cardboard (like a gift box)
Assorted Halloween-y papers
Black glitter
Hole punch
Black ribbon or string

1.  Draw a bat on a piece of thin cardboard.    This is pretty easy; The Frugal Hostess did hers freehand and then replicated it.  You can also Google a bat shape and trace it.

2.  Cut out the bat shape, and then trace it to make four more identical bats out of thin cardboard.  [If you are using this decoration inside, card stock will work just fine.]

3.  Trace those bat shapes onto your Halloween-y paper.  FruHo used papers on two bats (meaning she needed four shapes) and glitter on two bats (more on that in a minute).  You should pay attention to what side of the bat you're using for tracing; if your bat is at all lopsided (or "jaunty," as TFH's bats are), you'll need to keep track of which cut out goes with which bat.  Just number them or something simple.

4.  Cut the bat shapes out of the paper you've traced it on, and glue it to the cardboard bats.  [Gift box/tampon box - use what you have!]

5.  If you decide to glitter any of your bats, The Frugal Hostess suggests that you spray paint or color them with markers first.  She didn't, and as a result she had to use about twice as much glitter and still had gaps.

6.  When the bats are dry, cut a one inch slit in the bottom of two bats and the top of the other two bats.

7.  Punch a hole (if you have a hole-punch that is smaller than standard, that will be better) in the bats that have been cut from the bottom up, and string the ribbon through the hole.  The length of the ribbon will be determined by where you're hanging it.

8.  Push the bat with the ribbon into the bat cut from the top down, so that they interlock.  Presto, flying bat mobile extraordinaire!

The Frugal Hostess has bats in her belfry.  Please comment. You can also join the Frugalistas on Facebook for exclusive content, subscribe so that you always know when a new post appears, or follow on Twitter.

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