While I was growing up, my mother taught me how to cook and bake. There were many days where I enjoyed watching her make pepper steak, pierogi from scratch, and create ice cream bombé and kolacky. The same goes for my grandma – there were the holidays where my grandparents’ house smelled so very appetizing while she cooked kapusta z grochem on the stove while her delicious babka baked in the oven. I could hardly wait to sit down at the table and enjoy her tasty, traditional foods from the Old Country.
Over the years, I learned how to make all our family’s traditional foods, including my dad’s oxtail soup and its many ingredient versions, his version of Polish macaroni, his baked spaghetti, and how to grow the best backyard tomatoes. Though I follow most recipes to the letter, there is nothing wrong with improvising just to mix it up a little. Yes, I’ve had some hits and some misses doing that, and that’s the fun of learning!
I was fortunate to be able to take home economics in school, and from those lessons, I learned a few techniques that help my own kitchen creations to this day, although what I learned from my family is still tops and the best with me. Nevertheless, it all is an on-going experience that I seem to have tailored well to my own tastes.
One of the things I learned from my family is that there is so much truth and practicality with the “waste not, want not” dictum. Not only is that good to follow with everyday home resources, but it is also a practical, wise, and economical means to get the most out of food and leftovers. From scraps to the littlest bit of leftovers, I can wisely stretch meals and create light lunches, while keeping the cost of food as reasonable as possible.
These days, with the ridiculous inflationary reality we all are experiencing, using every bit of food, and wisely buying provisions, is key to maintaining the household on a sensible budget.
Preparing soups from scratch is one of those practical ways to use the scrap bones and meat from chicken, turkey, and beef.
Last Thanksgiving, we bought a whole Tom turkey here at The Oasis of Four Queen Palms. From that one bird, I was able to serve the Thanksgiving meal, set aside the legs and serve them on another day, freeze most of the remaining meat for other uses later such as turkey tetrazzini, salads, and sandwiches. There was enough of the carcass left to freeze two plastic bags’ worth – wings, ribs, various other bones, and skin. From those scraps, I was able to make two pots of soup, at two different times. Into the soup also went carrots, celery, pearled barley, and ground black pepper.
So, you see, there is no need to throw out the bones after a feast. You can use turkey, chicken, beef. They all make a good soup that could be a meal in itself, and with adding a few crackers on the side, you’re done.
From time to time, during this year, I will be sharing my tips on stretching your homemaking dollars. Sure, food and tangibles have become outrageously expensive, but with a little fortitude and imagination, you, too, can become more economically wise.
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