Day 21-28, A Setback

A recent commenter was kind enough to let me know that this blog  “is boring.” She was a bit premature; this post, in fact, may be the most yawn-inducing piece of literature you will ever read. You may want to save it for your next case of insomnia.

That is because last week a friend of mine deposited a truck-load of groceries in my kitchen (Take warning, you who have expressed interest in conducting your own such experiment. You may want to keep it a secret, unless you’re a “words of affirmation” girl like me. This is the risk you take.). I couldn’t find it in my heart to send them back, because she drove one and a half hours to do so. I won’t have your kids eating dandelions while my kids eat anything they want, she said. (Don’t bother me about the missing quotation marks; it’s a literary style I’m trying out.)

Now I have told her repeatedly that this is a voluntary, happily conducted experiment, but some people are hard of hearing:

So that night we enjoyed green-beans-that-were-green and steamed to perfect crunchy-tenderness so that they squeaked when you chewed them; grilled chicken; baked potatoes (with butter and sour cream); and salad with primary colors. See? Boring. No roadkill to write home about.

Before my experiment-interrupter arrived, I’d brought a couple of forgotten favorites to the table, for use with the leftover Easter ham:

My Hellfire Chipotle Corn Chowder (I was sure I saw smoke coming from Dave's ears. He only complained a little.)

Scalloped Potatoes and (Grandpa's smoked) Ham

Have I mentioned that I have had more dinner guests since starting this experiment almost a month ago than I have had in the past several months? One of the benefits (besides the food they bring and leave) is what you can learn. A friend clued me in to the fact that I should have been using powdered milk in recipes all along (as in the case with the above two recipes, the first of which I’d normally use cream; the second, 2% milk). I cringed when I realized that all these years I’ve been dumping five cups of precious liquid cow’s milk into a pot to make mac-and-cheese sauce, when I could have saved money by using powdered milk and no one would have known the difference.)

It may be a while before I have anything of interest to post. My fridge runneth over. For now we are having “whatever nights”–whatever meat you want to eat: Leftover chicken, ham, venison breakfast sausage, or kielbasa.

Of course we need our greens, and the donated salad disappeared quickly. So tonight I dragged out the dreaded canned olive-green beans. (The brand is Aldi’s “Happy Harvest,” which I’ve been referring to as “Hoppy Harvest” ever since a friend of mine found a frog in one of the company’s packages of frozen vegetables.)

Determined to make them more “eatable” (think Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka), I decided to prepare them the way Mamaw always did: Cook the already-dead beans to more death with some diced onions and a little oil (I only have olive oil left.). Simmer them until every last vitamin is cooked out. Then eat. I always loved them as a kid, for some reason. My kids weren’t as appreciative.

Creativity abounds with an experiment like this. Here’s Ruthie and her venison breakfast sausage on a homemade burger-bun (cut out from two slices of white bread). She added Hellveeta to it, which I believe the FDA should outlaw:

Finally, a confession. I went into a convenience store today (free coffee) and saw a bin marked $0.25. I spent twenty-seven cents on food I only like once a year:

Reverend Mother, I have sinned.


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Newcomer
    May 04, 2011 @ 03:00:15

    Oh. My. Goodness. A FROG??? I shop–make that used to–at Aldi. 🙂 At least I don’t buy canned items. Your boring, snoozy blog post has gotten me all riled up! 🙂


  2. Carla Anne Coroy
    May 04, 2011 @ 03:05:06

    Seriously, Faith… is powdered milk really cheaper there than regular milk? In the olden days it used to be, so not too long ago I decided I’d better check because we could use a reduction in our grocery budget. However, I realized that it is actually MORE money than real milk. The only benefit is if you don’t have fridge space or you are making gift packages of homemade hot chocolate. Other than that… at least up here in the wild north country… powdered milk is more costly than real milk.

    Glad to see you spent those 27 cents wisely! 🙂


    • An American Family's Food-Spending Freeze
      May 04, 2011 @ 03:20:38

      Carla, have you figured this based on the number of pitchers of liquid milk you can make from a container of dried? We have a discount store where I can get a big bag of it (The Surplus Store, Williamsport, PA). Maybe it depends on what’s available where you live, and how it’s sold.


  3. Tina Mallery
    May 04, 2011 @ 11:56:53

    I have really enjoyed reading this blog! Although, I have not yet been challenged to take on my own crusade…it has made me think about what is in my cupboard if I should ever decide to take it on. I have shared your stories with my friends here in MI. Keep them coming!


  4. Craig
    May 04, 2011 @ 12:24:04

    Sinned indeed!
    Leaving that poor solitary little Peeps chick pining of loneliness in the box.
    One is astounded to discover such cruelty in thy heart!


  5. Jeremy Newcomer
    May 04, 2011 @ 14:33:06

    I wrote a poem about Peeps once:

    Peeps are yellow, Peeps are pink
    Peeps have eyes of edible ink
    Lined up nicely in their box
    Like tiny fluffy chick-shaped rocks
    The taste is sweet, the texture chewy
    The outside crisp, the inside gooey
    But my favorite thing about Peeps
    Is biting off their heads


  6. MichelleMu
    May 05, 2011 @ 12:50:07

    Hi Faith,

    I’m curious about the title you chose for this entry — “A Setback”. I suppose you consider it a setback because it delays the fulfillment of number six on your list of whys for this experiment — “We will remember what it was like to be in want. That will make us more grateful for what we always took for granted.” But, see, I think, perhaps, you are gaining a perspective that you might not have planned for; that it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate the gesture when others are tenderhearted toward YOU. (Referencing number eight on your list.)

    I believe that too often in our society, those who are in need are judged harshly for their predicament. Whether or not that judgement is warranted, the weight of it makes it all the more difficult to accept kindness for which the recipient might feel unworthy.

    I say, revel in your “whatever nights,” be content with the generous gift this friend has provided (number one), don’t forget to be grateful (number six again), and chalk it up to a learning experience, not a setback.


    • An American Family's Food-Spending Freeze
      May 05, 2011 @ 12:56:59

      Hi Michelle,
      The “Setback” title was really more tongue-in-cheek than anything, and I called it that because my kids are so enthused about this project, that whenever food arrives they say, “this experiment isn’t working too well.” Yet at the same time they are extremely grateful. The friend I speak of is a very close friend and she knows well how much I appreciate what she did. I hope that in my dry-humored way of writing that no one else got the idea that I/we don’t appreciate it. 🙂


      • MichelleMu
        May 05, 2011 @ 13:18:46

        Ah…I see that my humor detector is on the fritz. Sorry ’bout that! 😦

        And I didn’t mean to imply that you were ungrateful; actually you seemed to be really enjoying the bounty! I guess I’m projecting wildly since it’s been brought to my attention, once again (I’m such a slow learner), that I have a LOT of trouble accepting help and/or gifts.

        By the way, since I’ve been conducting my own little experiment, I’ve had more food than ever. Odd that…

      • An American Family's Food-Spending Freeze
        May 05, 2011 @ 14:30:04

        That’s quite alright; I’m glad for your first comment, Michelle. Whether or not it was the case with you, I would never want to give the impression to anyone that I’m ungrateful. When my friend showed up with “the bounty,” I fell onto her shoulder and sobbed like a baby for a while. (Hope no one reads these comments!)

        I don’t know what person with half a brain has an easy time being on the receiving end.

        There’s a lot more to this blog than I am able to share here or just yet. But it will all come out in a book I’m working on, and hopefully be an encouragement to many.

  7. georgia
    May 12, 2011 @ 02:53:21

    that is a shame that someone would dump food on your clean floor.. lol they should have helped you put it away in your cupboards. You are great and everyone really loves your and your blogs..


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