Friday, September 30, 2011

Adopt a Tomato for Pennies!

This past Sunday, we went to a farmer's market & bought lots of good yummy stuff.  We asked the seller about "seconds."  Imperfect tomatoes don't sell well at full price.  They require a little work but they are so worth it.   Since we were planning to make sauce, these tomatoes were a perfect fit for us.   

(I should add that Eric's mom first told us about this farm stand and their imperfect tomatoes. She and I canned whole tomatoes last weekend & it was so fun!  We got 8 quarts full out of the box!) 

He didn't have many then, but said to come back at the end of the day.  We were rewarded with a full box (10 or 12 pounds!) of tomatoes!  We only had to throw away 3 of them that were beyond saving.   And that box of tomatoes only cost $5!  I left a tip, but even at that, these were so cheap!   

It also made me happy that the farm stand was able to offload these less-than-perfects toms, and make a little money (although I do feel like we were undercharged big time.)

So we spent Sunday night in the kitchen,talking, listening to music, & making tomato sauce.  It was great.  

The best way to peel tomatoes is to drop then in boiling water, and then dunking them into ice water.  If you haven't done this, you are missing out big time.  

So we boiled all 10 lbs of tomatoes, peeled them, cored them, and removed the seeds.  
Here I am, peeling....

 And peeling...
And peeling...

All in all, the peeling/seeding/coring process took about 45 minutes for the two of us.  Eric is the superior cook, so he took on the task of making the sauce in our giant lobster pot.   Everyone has their own recipe, so I won't bother repeating ours.  All I'll say is, add a little bit of Worcestershire sauce.  It makes a difference.  

I went to bed, and Eric dutifully stayed up to stir and clean up.  (Love him.)  Tonight I took the sauce & froze it into 16 oz containers.  10 in all.  I somehow found room in the freezer, and now we have lots of sauce for so so so cheap.  Plus, your own sauce is always better! (Or in my house, Eric's tomato sauce is always better.)  

Here's the math: 

Tomato sauce on sale: $1.99/26 oz or $0.07/oz (for reasonably good sauce- I'm not comparing against bargain basement sauce here.)

Our sauce: $5/160 oz tomato sauce or $0.03/oz.  Even if you add in the time we spent, it's totally worth it.  It's delicious, we know where it came from & what's in it.  And, it's ours.  

We'll be doing this again, for sure.  Lesson learned: Always listen to your mother-in-law.  :) 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Cranberries


Remember that band? Weird.
Living in New England is great about 75% of the time.  December to March gets a little dicey but overall, I can't complain.  I grew up next to a cranberry bog, and it was beautiful during the fall.

So I always knew about cranberries and liked cranberry juice and cranberry sauce, but I never really appreciated them until last week.   I actually bought some locally raised (like in my town) cranberries.  Not only did I feel high-and-mighty for being so environmentally aware, I was really proud of this item that is shipped from my little town, all over the world.

I let all that get in the way of the fact that I had never cooked a cranberry, and really had no idea what you could do with them.

Luckily, Google helped me out & I found a lot of recipes for cranberries that I could use. 

First I made regular old cranberry jam.  It was almost an epic failure when I let them boil over.  But luckily, I somehow managed to save it.  FYI, don't ever let jam boil over on a glass stove top.  It's bad.  Really bad.  

Here's where I found my first recipe: 

I skipped the pectin with no issues.  It's a little watery without, but honestly, it doesn't really need the pectin. I canned it into 6 1/2 pint jars.  

It was sweet & tart, just like the cranberry sauce I always have at holidays!  First jam-a success!  Plus Miss Autumn Mae and family approved.  

So then I decided to get crazy.  I couldn't find anything that was unique enough to feel like I made it my own.  So I consulted the hubs, and we decided on cranberry balsamic jam.  I had seen a recipe for strawberry balsamic jam & figured it would be much the same.  And it worked!  We plan on serving it with pork or turkey, possible as a glaze.  Or maybe with a really strong cheese.  Yum. 

Cranberry  & Balsamic Vinegar Jam

Makes 4 pints

4 cups cranberries, washed & bad stuff picked out
1c orange juice or water
2 cups white sugar
1/2 box low sugar pectin
6 tbs balsamic vinegar

Bring cranberries, sugar, and orange juice to a boil in a large saucepan (watch out! It boils fast!)
Cook for 10 minutes on medium
Use an immersion blender to break up any chunks. (I left it a bit chunky)
OK now add the pectin. 
Stir it in, and bring to a full boil for 1 minute. 
Now add the vinegar.  Stir in and taste.  Doesn't it taste awesome??
I canned it in 1 pint jars and it made 4 pints with a little bit left over.  Process in a boiling water bath for15 minutes, and you're done! 
I may skip the pectin next time, but other than that, it was a success! 

And just to showcase my awful photography skills, here are the jars processing: 

That's all I've got for now kids!  

Monday, September 26, 2011

One Minute Apple pie

You guys, I am eating the most delicious treat right now.  It's warm and cold, soft and buttery, and tastes of spice and sweetness.  

It's apple pie and vanilla ice cream.  And it only took me 1 minute to make.  

Ok so it's not exactly apple pie.  But it tastes JUST like it.  On a Monday night, when I do not feel like making a crust thankyouverymuch...that'll do.  

So how did I achieve this Monday night amazingness?  Well, a few weeks ago, I bought some apples.  And this: 

Eric and I cored, peeled, and sliced 14 apples in about 7 minutes!  Yes, seriously seven minutes

So, I took my 14 sliced apples and threw them in the crockpot, with a splash of vanilla extract.  

I smashed them with a potato masher for awhile, and then let them cook on low for 10 hours.  I then added 3/4c of brown sugar and 3/4c white sugar (too much, I'll use less next time,) and some spices (cinnamon & cloves.)

I did all that in 10 minutes the first night and three minutes the next morning before work.  I let it cook all day like that (10 hours on low) and when I came home, I had apple butter! Just like that! 

I put it in the fridge, and then a few days later I reheated and canned it.  

So what is apple butter? (I really had no idea, I just knew it sounded awesome & easy.)

It's basically apple sauce cooked down to the point that it's spreadable.  It looks like a can of preserves. 

And it is delicious!  I tasted it during the cooking process & loved it, but I was left with one question: 

So how do you eat apple butter?

I have tried it three ways:

- On toast
- On a banana nut muffin
- On ice cream

Toast:  I don't want to hate on toast, which is one of my favorite foods (yes I'm boring,) but it was weird to eat something so sweet on toast.  If I were a jelly toast kind of girl, I might feel differently.  

Banana Nut Muffin:  Definitely an improvement over the toast.  Really good.  The apple butter added some great flavor & moisture to my somewhat dry (I made them so I can say it) muffin. 

Ice Cream:  Well, this was just sublime.  It really did taste like apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  

There are a ton of ways people eat apple butter, but that's how I ate my first jar! :)  

How about you? Ever had it? Ever heard of it?  

Believe me,  I will be making more & soon...we haven't even gone apple picking yet!


Saturday, September 24, 2011


I tried to come up with a punny ketchup title but I've got nothing.  Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments! (Where's my think tank at??)


I bought 4 lbs or so of tomatoes at the farmers market Thursday.  The tomatoes looked amazing, and it was a rainy day so I felt for the sellers at the market.  It wasn't very crowded.

I'm in gift-making mode now, so I wanted to make something more creative than just puree or whole canned tomatoes.  I looked around on FoodInJars for awhile (best canning site ever)  but I just wasn't finding the right thing. (Although, the tomato jam and tomato butter look amazing!)  So I googled something like "tomato gift canning preserving" and low & behold, a recipe for ketchup!

I have been thinking about homemade gifts for guys.  I'm trying to make as many homemade gifts as possible & gifts for guys is tough!  So I was thinking of BBQ sauce- but I decided this ketchup would be a great starter recipe.  I'm not sure if I'll gift it, or who to, but I think with some homemade mustard & grill accessories, this could be a great housewarming gift!

Recipe (Yields 4 pints and one adorable half pint, seen above.)

I'm starting to get my food preservation confidence.  I'll be posting on that at another time.  I don't know if it was pulling bugs off my kale, or making my first jam, but I'm liking experimenting a bit & finding ways to make recipes my own (safely of course) as I preserve our garden.

4 lbs whole tomatoes (these were beefsteak, I think with Romas you might need less)
1 c apple cider vinegar
1 c white vinegar
3 tbs salt
3/4 c brown sugar
Worcestershire sauce (2 tsp.)
Pinches of:
Chili Powder
Black pepper
Garlic salt
Onion salt

1.  Quarter all tomatoes
2. We used a food processer to puree them in batches (the skins totally disappeared!)
3. Add vinegar, boil on stove 10 minutes
4. Add remaining ingredients, stir & boil for 45-60 minutes.  (We went almost 90 minutes)
5. Once it's boiled down about 30% remove from heat
6. We put ours in the fridge overnight, as it was very late.
7. Once cool, puree in a blender & use a sieve to remove seeds
8. Bring to a boil for canning

I'm not sure if this is the most efficient way to make ketchup, but it worked! It looks and tastes like fancy ketchup!

Here's all my Saturday AM canning projects....lots more to blog about!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spicy Ratatouille

 Yup, I totally just made up that name.  This recipe was inspired by the garden FULL of tomatoes a few weeks ago.  We had somewhere around 8 lbs of them.  We also had an eggplant, summer squash, corn and zucchini. 

So I turned to my trusty cookbooks and found ratatouille from the Moosewood cookbook.  My mother-in-law gave it to us (it's her old copy) and it's an awesome reference for vegetarian recipes.  (  What can I say? Those crazy hippies can cook! 

What I thought was so cool is that ratatouille was basically made up by French women (and men?)  that had all kinds of garden veggies in the summer, and needed a new way to use them.  Anyone that grows zucchini knows that pain!  It's a rustic stew that needs no real recipe, just an understanding of flavors.  I totally pictured myself making this in the French countryside, possibly on a vineyard, with lots of baguettes and curing meat in the kitchen.  (What? I have an active imagination!)

Anyway, so I had all these fresh veggies, and I basically chopped them all up, and threw them in the trust slow cooker with 2 bay leaves, some water, and salt & pepper.  After an hour I added some garlic & cumin.  

I tasted it, and while it did taste fresh, it really didn't have a "bite" to it.  We like to have lots of spice in our food.  So I looked around the kitchen & found a package of Gaspar's chourizo. (I feel like being married to a Portuguese-American guy, I could add chourizo or linguica to anything.  Example: Eggs, ratatouille, sandwiches, brownies...ok not really brownies.)  I decide to take a risk and add it in.  

This is what it looked like:
The chourizo added in texture & created a spicy broth that was absolutely delicious.  We had it for dinner a few nights & froze the rest for lunches. 

This was my first time taking a recipe & modifying it so significantly.  I'm so happy it paid off!! Now to figure out how to grow chourizo in the garden...

So here's the recipe:

1 large eggplant (I didn't peel mine but I would next time)
Frozen diced peppers
2 c corn
2 small summer squash
2 small zucchini
Assorted spices
1 package (1 lb) of chourzio
Chop all into 1 inch-ish cubes/slives (I didn't do this & the eggplant never seemed to catch up with the other veggies)
Slow cooker on high for 4 hours did the trick.
Serve w/ bread to sop up the remaining broth, and a good glass of wine.
I recommend imagining yourself in the set of Beauty and the Beast while you make this, but that's up to you.  :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Punjab Paddy

This is a repost from my old blog (delectable life.)  It was pretty popular & I thought it might interest some new readers as well. :)

Anyone know that song by Gaelic Storm? Google it, it's hilarious.

Saturday Eric and I had some dear friends over for an adventuresome little meal. We decided to make Indian food. I have a real love of Indian food (my few months as a vegetarian introduced me to this amazing cuisine) but I know it's not for everyone, so we were a little nervous.

El and Mark jumped in with both feet, supplying a great chickpea salad (Recipe, El?)

Eric did not disappoint, making an amazing fried fish with curried red lentils. YUM. I declared it my favorite dish he has ever made (and that is saying something.)

We served it with basmati rice and Naan. I wanted to make the naan but didn't have time. The store bought was delicious anyway.

If you want to get all crazy and make your own Naan, here's a great recipe:

The curried lentils were another AllRecipes recipe, found here:

Next time we'll make the lentils in the Crock Pot to save on time.

Since I don't know where the camera is, here's a stock image of our dish:

Ours looked just that good, I promise.

Now for a fun extra, the lyrics to Punjab Paddy. The story of an Irishman who makes his way to India. Seriously google this song, it's so cute!
I said farewell to Erin, only seven years ago,
When asked where I was headed, I said: “Jaysus, I dunno!?”
I stepped ashore near Bangalore, not a tosser in me hand,
By the time I hit Darjeeling, I was feeling mighty grand!

You can keep your forty shades of green, they only make me blue,
You can stick your eggs and bacon, boys, I’ll have a Vindaloo,
I found a place in India, so far across the foam,
You can call me Punjab Paddy, boys, I’m never comin’ home.
I dreamed I got a letter from me darling Josephine,
She asked me would I marry her, back home in Skibbereen,
But the girls out here have almond eyes and jasmine-scented hair,
And there’s things in the Kama Sutra that they never do in Clare!
So I’ll spend me days relaxing in me Punjab paradise,
No more I’ll dig the praties, I’ll stick to tea and rice.
I’ll be sippin’ mango lassi with the lassies in the shade,
While yer man called Ravi Shankar plays “The Boys of the Oul’ Brigade!”

You can keep your Miltown Malbay, you can chuck yer Galway Bay,
You’ll never see the sun go down on Delhi or Bombay,
I found a place in India, so far across the foam,
You can call me Punjab Paddy, boys, I’m never comin’ home.
From Bohola to Benares, Inchigeela to Lahore
Kamakura, Siliguri, Peshawar, Sahrunapore
Amritsar to Sanawar, Simla, and Pinjore
I got trolleyed on Dewali, and I'm going back for more!
Someday I’ll be a holy man with saffron on me nose,
I’ll shave my head like Gandhi and I’ll never wear no clothes,
To see the Irish Guru, they’ll come from near and far,
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Whiskey in the Jar!

You can keep your Michael Flatley with his tattoos on his chest,
Fare thee well, Sweet Anna Liffey, it’s the Ganges I love best,
I found a place in India so far across the foam,
You can call me Punjab Paddy, boys, I’m never comin’ home,
I’m never comin’ home!
I’m never comin’ home!

Preserving this week (9/17/11)

Just keeping track:

This week we canned:

6 pints of apple butter
6 pints of picked peppers
4 pints of dilly beans
4 quarts tomatoes ($5 for a huge box of bruised tomatoes! Love that!)
4 gallon bags kale, cooked down & frozen
3 pints peach butter (in fridge, to be canned.)
1 qt refrigerator dill pickles

We also bought 20 lbs potatoes for $0.50/lb.

Plans for next week:

Fresh Cranberries (about a gallon)
Apples (how long will apples keep in the cellar? Have to find that out.)
Possibly more tomatoes?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011 Garden Recap

This weekend we closed the garden down, pretty much.

I should have journal-ed all season and written down what varieties we planted,etc. I didn't.  So I'll say this.  The garden was, overall, more productive than last year.  Our tomatoes were great- enough to eat and give away some, too.  We didn't preserve any (but that's partly because I didn't plan ahead.)  We planted 14 plants total, about 1/2 cherry and 1/2 regular.  No roma.  I didn't miss the roma for salads, etc.  but I have heard they are the best to preserve so we may add them in next year.  We didn't stake the properly so they were kind of a mess to look at, but we lost very few tomatoes.  I have 6 green tomatoes on the counter & that's it!  

Our peppers were sad this year.  Really sad.  Only 3 hot peppers.  We think they were overwhelmed by the tomatoes and/or they didn't get enough sun.  Our thought for next year is to plant them in pots on the front steps, which get afternoon sun.  I plan to grow hot peppers & red bell peppers for canning or freezing.  

Kale:  The kale was great.  We gave away a lot, used little, and froze about 3 gallon bags full (blanched) for next year.  

Swiss Chard:  Worked, grew, but no idea what to do with it.  

Herbs:  All the herbs are awesome.  We really, really lucked out.  The Genovese basil was fabulous.  Next year, the goal would be to preserve some of the herbs.  Every time I dry anything, it grows mold.  Eric made pesto & I loved it.  I would probably double our basil next year.  

Goal for next year would be to find out what the herbs look like before they go to seed so we can preserve it.  

We didn't grow eggplant, zucchini, or summer squash this year.  I missed the eggplant, and I did not miss the other two.  

Our neighbors grew cantaloupes & watermelons, and now I have major garden envy.  I can't wait until next year!  I'd also like to grow some cool weather squashes. 

For next year:

More tomatoes! 
Peppers (front steps) 
Strawberries/Blueberries/Raspberries? (Ours get eaten but I'd like to try growing a fenced-in patch.) 
Extra basil
Peas and/or beans
Asparagus! I have to look into that project. 
Skip: curry, swiss chard

I also want to grow garlic, so I need to find out how to plant that in November or so.  

So those are my notes!  Hopefully next year I'll accomplish my goal of a real garden journal. :) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Adventures in Canning

This week I finally took the plunge and learned to can.  I have always wanted to learn and bought a kit at Tractor Supply (love that place!) in the spring.  

I'll have a full post with pictures soon but for now, a note to self for next year- buy jars early, as they were hard to come by this late in the season.  

Next year I see myself canning a lot more produce from the garden.  For now, I am satisfied with apple butter (yum!) strawberry jam, and pickled hot peppers.  I am so looking forward to going apple picking and trying a few more apple recipes for canning.  

My personal goal this year is that every person on my Christmas list will get at least one small homemade gift from me.  So I have a lot more canning to do!

Overall notes- it isn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  But I have to remember to can when I have lots of energy or I get lazy (my strawberry jam is pretty chunky right now. :)

I also baked an apple tart, banana nut muffins, and a strawberry rhubarb pie this week.  I froze most of the muffins for the next time we have overnight guests. 

BTW, strawberry rhubarb pie is not difficult and is super delish! 


Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Faves

I love to read.  Always have.  From the time I could read, it's been one of my favorite pastimes.  I especially like to read about social issues and historical events that interest me (with a little Harry Potter thrown in there for good measure.)  Over the last 5 years I have really become interested in food: the supply chain, where it comes from, laws/regulations, and how it affects our planet.  I attribute this interest to my husband, who first bought me "Diet for a Small Planet" and has always encouraged me.   He took a nutrition class in college & I WISH I had taken it with him!  I learned so much from his retelling of his classes that it really sparked a passion for me.

Here's my list of three books that I love, have read over & over, and recommend highly.

1. The Omnivore's Dilemna

I read this book on a vacation visiting family in Maine.  I literally couldn't put it down.  Eric's aunt kindly told me to take it home, and mail it back to her.  I did, and then bought my own copy, plus copies as gifts.  I would call this a must read for anyone wanting to vote with their mouths and know where their food comes from. 

2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

This is a fun story about a family who ate locally for one year. It's an easy to read book with recipesm tips, and some hilarious stories.  My favorite is the chapter on turkey sex.  Did you know they can't?  It's an interesting read & I am actually rereading it again now!  

3. Diet for a Small Planet

After I read this book, I became a vegetarian for about 6 months.  Even now, we eat a very low meat diet.  This is due to budget, preference, and the information I absorbed from this book.  I highly recommend it.  It talks about food issues from a global perspective- without resorting to scare tactics about animal welfare.  Heavy read but excellent book for anyone wanting to learn about food issues. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kitchen Organization: Part 2

Hi guys!

Here's a little bit more on kitchen organization.  We have found that Creative storage solutions can make or break our little kitchen. 

 Here's one.  These glass racks were from Ikea, and we bought them way back for our first apartment.  

They store 9 wine glasses or 12 champagne flutes, & they make this space usable.  This frees up half a shelf in our cabinets. 

Plus, they keep the inside of the glasses from getting dusty (since they are stored upside down.) 

And another Ikea find!  This magnetic knife wall is about 5 years old, and it has served us well.  I like that it keeps the knives out of the way, plus it looks kind of cool (or ominous.)

Added bonus?  It keeps the knives out of drawers where they could potentially cut someone.  

*Check out that diesel exhaust fan. So ghetto but it works well!

Did I mention I have a weird jar obsession?  Well, in this case it pay off.  Rather than having awkward bags of items in the cabinet, and shelves over the sink full of tchotchkes, we took some of my Hoarders-style jar/glass container collection & put it to use.  

Regular staples in salvaged jars has a cool Pottery Barn/old farmhouse look that I really like.  

OK so this last one is not really a storage solution but it is a reminder to not let a small space cramp your style.  This butter dish is functional and it adds a little visual interest to the shelves.  

The cutting (right)  has been in that glass bottle since we bought the house.  I like having something green and living on the shelves but they are too narrow for a real plant.  The cuttings look cute & rustic, and I can always give one to someone who admires them. 

Finally, my last tip- be BRUTAL about what takes up space in your home.  You deserve to have a clutter free home that doesn't feel crowded.  Food slowly spoiling in your cabinets could feed a kid who needs dinner.  Your extra 5 muffin tins or 3 sets of measuring cups could bless someone who could use them.  Don't be afraid to let things go!  You'll feel calmer & happier if you have a little room to breathe. 

So that's my little post on our little kitchen.   What do you do in your kitchens to maximize space?

Grocery Shopping Breakdown: Week 1!

Weekly Grocery Trip Breakdown
This week I’ve decided to start a new feature about my weekly grocery shopping trip.  I hate overspending on food, especially on items I could make myself.  So I’ll be sharing weekly what I paid, and including a budget breakdown when possible on recipes.   Hope you like it!
My weekly target is $100 for groceries.  This typically includes:
·         5 dinners, with leftovers for lunches (I don’t plan for the weekend because we are usually out.)  When we have dinner parties, we take that out of our entertainment budget as needed. 
·         Breakfast (usually a banana or toast)
·         Housecleaning/toiletries as needed
·         Beverages (seltzer, milk, OJ, etc)
Although there are just two of us, we typically have company for 1 or 2 meals a week.  Our family all lives close to each other so we spend a lot of dinners together (which I love!) And even if we do have a quiet week, I try to make things that freeze well so we don't waste food (which we do, a lot, but are trying to cut back on!)
The goal is to keep our meal budget as low as possible, and definitely under $100.  I also want to keep track of prices & see where we are spending our money most.
So this week, our meal plan is:
-          Ratatouille (with chourico, OMG delicious! Recipe and pics to come)
-          Taco salad (a weekly occurrence at our house!)
-          Eggplant “parm” with feta (this is a recipe from “Make it Fast, Cook it Slow,” which is an awesome slow cooker cookbook
-          Honey Orange Tofu served over brown rice (Another recipe from “Make it Fast, Cook it Slow”)
And our grocery total came in at….
Not too shabby!  Plus, as you'll see, I bought some things in bulk, and some items that I didn't really need (hello $6 worth of apples for apple butter)
There were a few factors in our low food budget this week:
-          One night out, so no cooking (or cleaning = awesome!)  But, even if we were in 5 nights, we have so many leftovers that it doesn't really matter. 
-       Eating what's in season! We bought mostly fresh produce this week, which can be pricy, but not if you are smart about what is growing around you.  The winter is definitely tougher but hopefully we'll have enough good food frozen that it won't matter too much!
-          We are eating vegetarian two nights (great budget tip- it can be really inexpensive to eat this way.)
-          We were able to pull some ingredients from the garden (tomatoes for two of the meals)
-          We had some ingredients on hand (Orange juice, honey, etc.)  Before I make my meal plan, I assess what I have in the cabinets, or the fridge.  I would not have picked Orange Honey Tofu if we had to buy everything for it. 
Without further ado, here’s our grocery shopping trip breakdown! 
Ground beed 85% lean $3.09/lb
Chourico  $2.99/lb
Romaine hearts (pkg/3) $2.00/pkg
Gala apples $0.99/lb
Red peppers $2.99/lb
Tofu, extra firm $2.19/pkg
Green pepper $1.49/lb
Zucchini $1.29/lb
Crown broccoli 1.29/lb
Sleeve garlic  $0.25/bulb
Eggplant $0.99/lb
Vidalia onion $0.89/lb
Bananas $0.39/lb
Shoepeg corn $1.00/16 oz pkg
Shredded mozz (RF) $2.00/8 oz pkg
Crumbled feta $2.69/6 oz pkg
Butter $2.69/pkg (4 sticks)
Shredded cheddar (fancy) $1.89/8 oz pkg
Sour cream $1.19/16 oz pkg
Tortilla chips $5.99/32 oz pkg
Tuna $1.25/can
Brown rice  $3.99/80 oz
Vegetable stock   $2.99/32 oz pkg
Lentils $0.99/16 oz pkg
Bleach $1.59/gallon

I know it's a bit difficult to read.  I'm working on formatting the list to be more user friendly.  I shop at Market Basket (best prices ever.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tips for Small KItchen Organization

Hi guys!

Friday night I was reorganizing our kitchen cabinets (I know, big weekend over here) and I was thinking about the ways we have adapted to our small house & kitchen.  So I figured I'd share some tips for keeping your sanity in a small kitchen, whether it's a dorm, apartment, or starter house.  

  Here's our little kitchen.  It's an L shaped kitchen, and while it's a decent size for our house, for two people who love to cook, eat, and entertain, it's pretty minuscule.  

We also hate (like HAAAATEEEE) cluttered surfaces & try to keep appliances out to a minimum.  

So here are my tips for keeping your adorably small kitchen functional and presentable.

First tip is- choose your furniture very wisely.  Here is a picture of our original kitchen.  As you can see, the biggest change is the island.  It was built in, and it did give us added counter/cabinet space, so it did have good points.  However, it was also three feet wide.  And the refrigerator couldn't open all the way because it hit the counter.  

So since the island took up a LOT of valuable floor space, we knew we wanted to switch it up when we redid the floors.  

Here's tip 1.2 . Don't rush into anything.  We took about 6 months to pick out that Ikea beauty up there, and I'm glad we waited.  We actually went to Ikea three times to look at it before we purchased anything.  Don't be afraid to think outside the box- this was supposed to be a bar.  And don't be afraid to customize.  Eric took about 10 inches off each side of this to make it fit our kitchen perfectly. And he sanded & finished it so perfectly, you wouldn't even know it. (Love him!) 

We also replaced our fridge over time. The design of this one wasn't really working for us (it jutted out really far in front of the counter) andddddd it caught on fire.  (Yes, on fire)  So when we replaced, we didn't have much time to decide, but we are happy with what we picked out- side by side, with a water dispenser, and it's shallow (like me!) so it gives a much more natural entry way to the kitchen. 

More tips coming in part two of this post!