The Poorman's Meal #Sponsored by OXO

A few weeks ago I talked about how to regrow green onions using nothing but leftover onions, a glass, and some water. It's a great way to stretch things a little further in kitchen and hardly requires any work at all. Today I thought it was time for my next tip: how to reduce kitchen waste, especially from produce that isn't being used up quickly enough.

Let's face it, we've all been there. Sometimes you have an over abundance of food from the garden or a recent shopping trip and sometimes you just plain forgot you had something and it's starting to look a little sorry. I frequently find myself in this situation, so every other week I make a dish I've always known as The Poorman's Meal. I'm sure it has a billion and one other names, but that's what I've always known it as, so we'll just keep the name for now (even though it's probably not politically correct.)

This dish consists of whatever odds and ends I have on hand that are starting to get old. In our case it's usually some really wrinkly bell peppers, onions and potatoes that have started sprouting, and the last sausage in the package that I've forgotten to use up. The nice thing about this meal is that there is no recipe. I've seen it made with green beans and bacon instead of sausage and peppers, you just toss whatever leftovers you have in a skillet, cook them up, and season it with a little salt, pepper, and garlic. This meal couldn't possibly be easier and it's a great way to reduce your kitchen waste while spending only a trivial amount of time actually cooking. 

Don't forget to keep reading after the recipe for a quick review of a great tool from OXO that will help you on your quest to reduce waste in your kitchen. 

Want more tips for using up your leftovers? Make sure to check out our posts for Southern-Style Sawmill Sausage Gravy (to use up expired milk) and Banana Split Bread (for brown bananas.)

DISCLOSURE: Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

DISCLOSURE: Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

The Poorman's Meal
makes approximately 3 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon salted butter
1 large potato, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
6 - 8 ounces sausage (I use Andouille)
sea salt, black pepper, and garlic, to taste

Directions

  • In a saucepan melt butter. Add sliced potato, bell pepper, onion, and sausage. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, flip the potatoes so they brown on both sides, then cook for an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Season with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder before serving.

Notes

If you find you're out of one of the ingredients listed, try substituting the missing ingredient for something you do have. I've seen this made in a number of different ways and it's always been tasty. If you want a real treat, trying making it with maple sausage links instead of the andouille, fry or scramble some eggs, then serve it as breakfast for dinner. This is one of those meals that's tasty any time of the day.

OXO Chef's Mandoline 2.0 | Not Starving Yet

Review

 

OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0:

When I talk about reducing waste in the kitchen the first thing that springs to mind for most people is food waste. The simple truth is this: most people toss a good portion of the groceries they purchase each week. Often times it's leftovers that have gone uneaten or produce that has spoiled before it could be used. This translates into a lot of money that goes straight into the landfill. This wasted food and money is one of the reasons I make sure to incorporate dishes like the poor mans's meal into our menu rotation frequently—it cuts down on one form of the waste I frequently see in our kitchen.

Now I want to give you a little food for thought—food isn't the only thing that people waste when they're cooking. Time is another thing that is frequently wasted, but it's not something most people stop to consider.

If you're anything like me then you've probably wasted plenty of time standing at the fridge wondering what to cook. You've also likely wasted time searching for missing ingredients in your disorganized pantry or making last-minute trips to the store because you've discovered half way through a recipe you're missing a key ingredient. Anyone who has cooked a meal has been there, but what you may not realize is that you've also been wasting time by using tools that aren't quite up to the job at hand. This may sound like common sense, but having the right tool for the job can save a lot of time and that extra 15 minutes you save by using a more efficient tool can make the difference between a home cooked meal and ordering takeout for the third night in a row because you're too tired to cook.

That said, I've actually been a naysayer when it comes to using some of these time-saving tools in my kitchen. I don't have a large kitchen, so every tool I own needs to be a multi-tasker and it needs to perform well. To date I've not had a good experience with using a mandoline as the one I've own for years is a bit of a heath-hazard. The blade is always falling out and at one point took a huge chunk out of my hand that resulted in a trip to urgent care. Early in our marriage my poor husband came home to an unlocked apartment with a trail of blood leading clear across it, then discovered I was no where to be found. I was at urgent care receiving nearly 15 stitches while he wondered how an axe murdered got into the apartment.

After that I tucked the mandoline away and went back to using a knife, which works well for most tasks, but it's not always the most efficient way to cut up a huge pile of potatoes or vegetables (especially if you want them thinly and evenly sliced.) 

When OXO offered to send me the new version of their chef's mandoline I was curious to see how it differed from the model I had from their competition. The first change I noticed is that the blades are permanently stored in the mandoline, you'll still need to slide them out to adjust the type of cut you want, straight or crinkle, but they're locked in to place firmly and won't fall out. Even fine-tuning the thickness of your slices is simple—there's a red slider bar that adjusts in 0.5-mm intervals allowing a paper thin cut or something thicker like I used for today's recipe. You can even make julienne, waffle, and French fry cuts with the turn of a knob. The easy adjustment knob and the blades that stay put solved the two biggest pet peeves I had when using a mandoline. It was incredibly easy to set the thickness I want and produce a pile of potatoes that were uniform in size and therefore cooked evenly.

A mandoline may not be for everyone, but there are certain times when using one is much faster—especially if you have a huge pile of potatoes, zucchini, squash, or onions that you need to cut into uniform slices. If you find yourself performing this task on a regular basis, then it's definitely a time saving tool you may want to consider for your kitchen. 

Where to Purchase


OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Cherry Almond Pie Filling + Canning Instructions

For the past few months my mother and I have been worried about our yearly cherry harvest. We had an unusually warm winter which caused our lone tree to bloom several weeks early. There was a real risk that the last frost would damage the buds, leaving us with next to nothing worth harvesting. The few years we've gone without cherries have been absolutely heartbreaking, especially once winter rolls around and the realization sets in that there will be no cherry pies, cobblers, or syrup to get us through the cold weather.

Those winters are indeed bleak.

The good news is that the weather continued to stay warm, but that meant I ended up with a series of frantic text messages, complete with photos, letting me know that if I wanted cherries this year I'd have to make the drive back home a few weeks early. With my little man still in school this posed a bit of a problem, but we made a late night trip down just in time to pick as much as we could before the birds ate the rest.

We walked away with nearly 10 gallons of sour cherries, or about half of the usual harvest, since it managed to rain all weekend, making the ground too soft for a ladder. Believe me, I tried and subsequently gave up once I started listing dangerously to one side. I have a habit of breaking things (arms, legs, ankles and what not) any time I'm left unsupervised, so I wisely gave up and cursed the fact that I'll always be vertically challenged.

I have high hopes that my little guy will one day be taller than I am or at least able to shimmy up the tree and pick some of the higher branches. I'm counting down the days....

But I shouldn't complain since the harvest left me busy the following week turning piles of cherries into nearly twelve pints of cherry almond preserves and pie filling. I even had enough leftover filling for a small batch of cherry crumble with almond cardamom topping. Life is good and so is this pie filling, so if you stumble across sour cherries at the farmers' market make sure to put some up for later, you won't regret the decision at all.

Cherry Almond Pie Filling | Not Starving Yet

Cherry Almond Pie Filling


makes 2 pints or 1 quart


Ingredients

3⅓ cups cups fresh sour cherries, pits removed (see notes)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup ClearJel (regular, not instant)
1⅓ cup cold water
1½ teaspoons pure almond extract
4 teaspoons bottled lemon juice

Directions

  • Set a large pot of water to boil. Once the cherries have been pitted and measured add them to the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil, then drain and keep in a covered dish.
  • In a large pot combine sugar, ClearJel, water, and almond extract. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice, continue to boil for an additional minute, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat, gently fold in the cherries, then immediately transfer to sterilized pint or quart jars making sure to leave a full inch of headspace.
  • Process in a water bath for 30 minutes (0 - 1,000 ft),  35 minutes (1,001 - 3,000 ft), 40 minutes (3,001 - 6,000 ft) or 45 minutes (if above 6,000 ft). The time is the same for both pints and quarts. 

Notes

When measuring your cherries make sure you have 3⅓ cups after the pits have been removed otherwise you won't have enough cherries to fill the jars.

Not sure where to find ClearJel? I've never seen it sold at our local stores, so I buy a from Amazon and have it shipped to me. My preferred brand comes from SB Canning, which isn't available at the moment, so my second choice would be from Hoosier Hill Farm

ClearJel expands quite a bit during processing, so make sure you leave a full inch of headspace when filling your jars. Anything less and you run the risk of your lid popping while it's in the water bath (if you're using Weck jars) or compromising your seal (if using Ball/Kerr jars.)

The original recipe I'm working from calls for ¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon of ClearJel. I usually split this into two pint jars and find that I always have extra Jel left over so I've slightly adapted the recipe above.

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Summer Travel Survival Kit #Sponsored by Anker

The last day of school is officially here and if it isn't yet for the rest of you, it soon will be! Most of my summer will be spent chilling out by our little blue wading pool and enjoying the warm summer sun with my little man, but as always we have a fair amount of travel planned. We'll be starting with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ireland! I'll be sharing more details about the trip (as well as a few fabulous Irish recipes) over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Before I kick off our summer plans I thought I'd take a minute to share the handful of items that come along with me when I travel to help keep me sane. I tend to pack light when I travel, so only the barest of necessities make it on the plane with me. I have a small bag that holds my camera, a sweater and change of clothing, as well as my toiletries, then a handful of items that I consider necessary to survival in the event my flight is delayed. So without further ado, here is what you'll find in my travel survival kit:

DISCLOSURE: Anker has provided me with a set of 6 foot USB cables for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

DISCLOSURE: Anker has provided me with a set of 6 foot USB cables for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

Kindle Paperwhite: I've always been an avid reader, so my kindle goes everywhere I do. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't make the time to read at least a few chapters. If you're curious, I'm currently working through two different time travel series: Jodi Taylor's the Chronicles of St. Mary's and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. I'm on a huge time travel kick right now!

Larabars: The key to keeping me happy and quiet during a long day at the airport is to stuff my mouth full and leave me alone to read my book in peace. This is why I keep a stash of treats in my bag. If you're a fan of pie (lets be honest, who isn't) then I'll suggest my favorites: Cherry PIe, Coconut Cream Pie, or Pecan Pie. You really can't go wrong with any flavor that ends in pie.

Anker PowerCore 10000mAh Charger: I've started carrying a portable charger for longer trips because there have been numerous occasions, especially during peak travel season, where I've been unable to find a charging station that's open. This one holds enough juice to charge my iPhone several times and still top off my kindle.

Anker Powerline+ 6 Foot Cables: I'm a huge fan of Anker products in general which is why I mention them so frequently on the blog, but these cables are fabulous and have held up to a lot of abuse. I normally keep a set of the 1 foot USB cables in my everyday carry bag (both Lightning and USB C) but I've discovered that the shorter cables aren't convenient for airport travel as they're not long enough to reach most of the charging stations—unless you want to remain standing the whole time. That's ok if you're only at the gate for 30 minutes and need a quick charge, but delays are commonplace these days and I frequently find myself stranded for hours. Another nice feature of the 6 foot cables is the magnetic pouch, it helps keep everything contained and makes it easy to adjust the length of the cables as necessary. 

Moleskine Journal and Pilot G-2 Ink Pen: I like to go technology free as much as possible on vacation, so I always carry a good notebook and my favorite ink pen for taking quick notes about potential recipe ideas or amazing food I've come across on my travels that I'd like to share with you. 

Do you have any must-have items when you travel? Make sure to comment below and let me know your favorites.
 


Disclosure


In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that Anker has provided me with a set of USB cables for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

How to Regrow Green Onions

A few weeks ago we had friends come stay with us and one of them stopped me to ask what I had in the odd assortment of glass jars that line my kitchen counter. Any time I empty out a jam jar I repurpose it to regrow things like leeks and green onions from the scraps I have leftover. It cuts down on the grocery bill and ensures I always have them on hand to add a little extra flavor to my dishes. I can only imagine how odd my kitchen seems to most of my friends, some of whom can barely boil a pot of water, but to me it's just the way things have always been done. You save your bacon fat for frying, grow your own herbs in the windowsill, and stretch out the little odds and ends as long as possible.

But I can't take credit for these little things I do, most of my tips come from watching not just my grandparents, but others from the generation who grew up during the depression. They lived during a time where everyone grew their own food (or bartered for what they couldn't grow) and there was no choice but to be economical in the kitchen. Learning to make something from nothing wasn't an option, if you couldn't figure it out you and often your family starved.

Not a pretty picture, but true none the less.

Today things are quite different for most of us. When we want something to eat we can go out to a restaurant or pop into a grocery store and pick up the ingredients we need to make a meal fit for a king. If we don't know how to cook then there is someone on the internet willing to show us how. Technology has made it easier than ever for us to learn all sorts of things, but somewhere along the way we've forgotten to pass on some very basic lessons to our children.

Green Onions.jpg

One of those lessons is how to be thrifty, both in and out of the kitchen.

I was talking with the friend who had noticed my glass jars and he mentioned that he wanted to learn how to cook "my way." By my way, he meant more economically, so I gave him lesson number one:

How to regrow green onions

  • Buy a bunch of green onions, snip off the green tips and use them in a meal (like loaded potato soup or taco dip), place the roots and white stalk in a glass or old jar, fill it with enough water to cover the roots.
  • Change the water out every few days, otherwise the water gets slimy and starts to smell.
  • As you need green onions, snip away at the green tops. If you notice the outsides of the onions drying out, carefully trim them off, making sure not to damage the root of the onion as you do.

Notes

The onions won't regrow indefinitely, unless you plant them in soil, but they will last for months on the counter—as long as you remember to change the water frequently.

If you have forgotten to change the water and notice the roots are getting slimy, just rinse them off carefully under cold water.