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Monday, March 7, 2011

Progressive Stew

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

Food Security is on many peoples minds these days, I posted about our mainstay food crops that we rely on in this post on my personal blog. Bel has written several posts here recently too. Rather than growing or buying food to match recipes, in my kitchen, meals are planned around our food stores or garden depending on what season we are in. That is our food security, basically eating what we can grow and store easily. While that may sound like a recipe for disaster, (pun intended? maybe) actually a little kitchen magic occurs when you are forced to innovate and use up what you have.




My kitchen week starts out with a broth fast for dinner made from our chicken broth. I always have broth on hand for cooking or soups. My husband has digestive issues and a rich bone broth is helpful on that front. Usually seasoned with onion, garlic and sage this light soup is delicious and health giving.


The next day, though we are ready for a little more substantial meal and I use the leftover chicken broth as seed for the next day's stew. Usually roots are the norm, as they grow and store easily.





We're not really fussy eaters, and the blend of vegetables is always different, and may range from celeriac, and carrots, to rutabagas and parsnips or all the above. And of course more onions and garlic.

Freezer stores come in handy too. I freeze in jars, so the soup may contain corn, sweet peas and mushrooms depending on what needs using up. I am not using a recipe per se, just utilizing what is available and working through our stores.


Using our own grass fed beef is another way to add flavor and substance to the stew. Season and brown the stew meat, deglaze the pan with last last swig of wine and add to the chicken broth. This is also when I make a quick look through the fridge too. Wanting to keep this meal frugal I look for dibs and dabs of stuff. That little bit of salsa in the jar? Just add water to rinse the jar and throw in the watered down salsa. The jar is rinsed, saving water, and the salsa finds a new calling, flavoring the soup. Same with that little teaspoon of jam or pesto languishing in the back waiting for some toast or crackers, it can lend flavor to a soup too, giving you a balance of salt and sweet. Taste as you go, you may not need more seasoning when all the flavors meld.

If you're wanting to stretch your meat budget a little, after browning the meat, reserve half for another meal, it won't be missed in this flavorful stew. And of course, if you don't eat meat at all, vegetable stock and vegetables would work just fine. It just depends on what you have on hand.


Our stew simmers on the woodstove all day, but a slow cooker would work great too.

What's your most frugal meal?

16 comments:

ladyhawthorne said...

We always made soup like this when I was growing up and I continue doing it today. I have never been one to make a menu, instead cooking from what I have, usually something bought on sale.

Kate said...

Probably one of our most frugal meals is spaghetti carbonara. We raise the garlic and eggs ourselves. The guanciale is home cured from jowls given to us for free by a farming friend. We pay for the spaghetti, the black pepper, and a little grating cheese. It's devoid of veg, I know, and therefor not a weekly thing. But it sure tastes delicious, and it sure is cheap.

Paula said...

Our most frugal meal is the past I make with a little bacon and kale out of the backyard. It takes a pinch of red pepper flakes and a couple cloves of garlic (also from the yard) and then some fresh grated cheap romano from the warehouse store. On the days I make my own pasta, it's really cheap!

I'm still learning the ropes of keep stores. I don't have a hillside or a really good place for a root cellar, and this house has no basement, so I've got stuff braided and hanging in the garage. But the garage doesn't stay cold if the weather warms up, so today I have to take stuff down, throw the spoiling stuff into the compost, and cram the rest of it in the fridge. An all my beautiful parsnips sprouted (I had them in sand in a box) so a couple will go back into the ground for seed, and the rest will go to compost too. That was a disappointment. But- I'm still learning!

LindaG said...

I think rice and creamed peas is probably our most frugal meal.
And it can be flavored with cheese. Yum!

Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

Attila said...

The other day I had some chicken thighs, which I skinned and put in the slow cooker with a sauce of onion, leek and garlic, plus courgette, carrot, butternut squash and a couple of tins of tomatoes. I also added dried thyme, rosemary, oregano and basil. It was so good and there was enough sauce left over for three more meals. Yesterday, we had a couple of sausages each, some green beans and a portion of sauce with a tablespoon of chilli sauce added. Another time I'll add a tin of tuna flakes and some pasta.

The Professor's Wife said...

Mmm! I cook like that too - according to what we have, not recipe.

One of our most frugal meals is quiche made with homemade pastry, leftover meat my husband brings home from sandwiches at his job, and eggs and spices and veggies (which ever we happen to have).

prairieknitter01 said...

My most frugal meal is either pancakes (you can make them sweet or savory, depending on time of day and what additions you might have) or bulgar wheat pilaf or fried rice.

prairieknitter01 said...

Frugal meals for me would include pancakes (sweet or savory, depending on what additions I might have on hand), bulgar wheat pilafs or fried rice.

Bel said...

Our most frugal meal would be quiche too. Roasted cubes of homegrown pumpkin (squash), fresh spinach and herbs from the garden, eggs from our hens, a dash of milk from our cow - and we either make some pastry or just add a little flour to the egg mix for a pastry-less quiche.

Sandy said...

I freeze my garden produce for the winter too. I was wondering why you use jars. Do you find them superior to bags or containers? It seems like quite an expensive initial investment. Inquiring minds want to know.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Ladyhawthorne, me too, I grew up around frugalness, it's just second nature, and so much more satisfying than spending money when we don't need too.

Kate, you inspired me to cure our pork jowls with your guanciale posts - although they are still in freezer. Your meal sounds delicious.

Paula, that sounds really good, fresh pasta is amazing, and cheap like you say.

In your location you shouldn't have to dig your parsnips at all, or any other root crops except potatoes for that matter, unless of course you have voles plaguing you. The soil in W. Oregon is the cheapest root cellar/fridge you can find. My parsnips are just now showing a little leaf under the snow, but they will actually be quite good until late April. Next year...is what I always say about my garden projects :)

LindaG, Yum that sounds good too, I love getting ideas from others, already tested!

Attila, that sounds delicious, and dishes like that always just keep getting better and better as the additions progress. :)

The Professor's Wife, we like quiche too, especially when we have extra eggs, no matter what the ingredients a quiche is always so good.

Bel, I'm going to try your pumpkin addition to quiche, squash is one of our mainstay winter stored foods, and it would be delicious in quiche, thanks!

Sandy, I always froze my butter in jars, (keeps forever) but started using more jars instead of plastic on the advice of my doctor. Phthalates in plastics can leach in to food.

I already invested in my canning jars many years ago, and with recycled lids from canned foods, I have no cost really now, and the bonus is yes the food does not degrade like it does in plastic. Used canning jars are cheap around here. Tapered jars are best, and are marked on the box, Can of Freeze. The Ball Blue book has instructions for freezing as well as canning. Not for everyone, but I have to tell you I am enjoying the fresh taste of these veggies frozen in jars. :)

localnourishment.com said...

Losing my garage freezer has had a massive impact on the way I cook and shop. My house freezer barely holds enough stored meat, homemade stock, butter and milk for a single week. I'm having to shop weekly for everything and cook based on what I purchase. Ahhh, someday.

Kevin Kossowan said...

I share your approach as much as I can - cook with what you have. In my mind, it's the key to eating seasonally and locally.

Mrs. Mac said...

I cook that same way .. without recipes and just what is on hand for the day. My kids like plain elbow pasta with a little butter, tomato sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. Very frugal. Egg salad or fried egg sandwiches are easy fixes to make.

bag said...

I think this is a great post. One thing that I find the most helpful is number five. Sometimes when I write, I just let the flow of the words and information come out so much that I loose the purpose. It’s only after editing when I realize what I’ve done. There’s defiantly a lot of great tips here I’m going to try to be more aware of.

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