Sunday, February 1, 2009

One Whole Chicken = 4 meals, Kasutera, Yogurt and A Canner

Okay, well my crowning achievement right now is what I call 'Four+ From One'. I bought one whole chicken (free range, organic) for about $7.00 USD and turned it into four meals. We love roasted or baked chicken, with a little lemon and fresh herbs.  We are 'mostly vegetarian' so we don't buy many chickens; one whole chicken is usually enough for two weeks worth for our family of three.

The first meal off the whole chicken was the breast of the chicken, with the skin removed. The organ meats were donated to locate stray cats, as we find them unpalatable.  We're white meat fanatics in this house and there is nothing like a tender bit of roast breast meat served with Brussels sprouts and maybe some quinoa, spuds or wild brown rice mix. Simple, filling and delicious!

The second meal was from the darker meat. I took it off the rest of the chicken and broke it into pieces. Using organic chicken broth (made from a previous whole chicken) and vegetables like diced potatoes, celery, peas, carrots and diced onions, with a touch of flour (or corn starch, if you prefer), I made chicken pot pie filling. With a batch of simple whole wheat pie crust, it became a delicious chicken pot pie. In our case, we made a hybrid form of shepherd's pie because I put homemade mashed potatoes on the top just for fun.  Whole wheat pie crust is either butter or shortening, flour, salt and some ice water.   A simple recipe would go:  2 c whole wheat flour, 1/2 c shortening worked well into that until it resembles loose crumbs, a pinch of salt and about 2 T ice water, dripped in slowly until the dough just holds together.  Roll it out on a floured surface and knead until slightly smooth.  Don't overknead or your dough will be dry and tough.  Roll it out and there you go, pie crust.

I made enough filling with the darker meat for two pies, but chicken pie gets old if you have it repeatedly for two weeks. lol We're a smallish household (3 people) and variety makes eating at home just as enjoyable as any meal out. Especially if one of the eaters agrees to help with clean up! So, instead of another pie I decided to save and freeze the other pie filling to be served over brown rice as chicken a la king. It is a comfort food I had in childhood, and a cinch to make.

Once the carcass was stripped of meat, I tossed it into a stockpot with the necessary veg (onion, carrot, celery, a small potato) and made chicken stock. About 2 quarts worth, actually. lol I froze it in quart containers and it will have a future as chicken noodle or rice soup, or in a casserole of some kind, who knows?

This is the kind of thing that makes my heart sing, you know? When that chicken carcass was finally sent away to be disposed of, it had gotten its full use. And even though meat of this kind can be expensive, we have managed to make it completely cost effective! It's as close to perfect as a frugal green foodie can get!


One of the things that I like about the Internet is that it exposes me to new things. I was looking for a good, simple sponge cake recipe that had few ingredients and wasn't too complicated to make. And of course, I found one. Kasutera, or Castella, is a simple Japanese sponge cake that has a lovely taste and meets all of my specifications for simplicity and ease.

Here is the basic recipe I used:


My cake came out beautifully - gorgeous, light and fluffy. It was an immediate hit in our house and I can see how it would be good for light social occasions. And yes, it really is best the next day!


I made homemade yogurt.. It's been a while, but it turned out pretty well. I decided to start making it again after I checked the sugar content in the fruited yogurts (even, disappointingly, the organic ones!) I had been eating. There was a lot of sugar in there. So, I resolved to make my own and eat it with fresh fruit instead.

Like bread, yogurt, once started, is pretty self-evolving. Give it a try!  Once the milk has been sterilized and cooled, and the starter added, just put it in a draft-free area (I put mine in a warm 115F water bath in my stock pot inside my oven. Eight hours later, voila! Enough yogurt for a week (I just did 2-3 cups of milk due to household size.)

Once set, I put it into clean glass jars I had prepared at the start and refrigerated it. Done.  It's good for up to 7 days.


My splurge, if you will, was a $20 water bath canner. You can do it without a real one, as many a mountain woman or homesteader will attest, but it's better to do it with one. Less breakage of the jars and it really is worth 10x what it costs to buy. The one I purchased online will hold 7 jars, with a rack and is stainless steal with an enamel coating.

Now that we're bringing home large amounts of food from the organic co-op, we're having trouble storing it all. It will be nice to be able to can certain things, and give my freezer and fridge a little breathing space. Plus, it feels like you're being useful, doing something like that. I know when civilization falls apart, I'll be in beans, peas and home-canned and frozen food for a while. Add to that my herb garden, the co-op plot, I bake bread, my neighbors' orange trees and that I recently planted blueberry shrubs in my yard, we'll eat. And fairly well, too. All without pesticides or anyone having control over our food supply, with the exception of meat and dairy. Try as I might, though, my neighborhood covenant won't permit chickens or a cow! lol

My actual goal is to be as independent as possible from mass food conglomerates. We're a long way off, but we're making progress and keeping to the outside aisles of the store 90% of the time, when we go. Fruit, veg, dairy and fish/chicken are the bulk of our diet. The only time we're traveling to the inside aisles is for coffee and grains. (I haven't bought any coffee bean plants yet, but I'll keep you posted! I did, however, contemplate buying quinoa or amaranth to grow in my yard.)


purpledogstar said...

that cake you made looks good

Esmeralda said...

Love the cake.. lovely!