Thursday, May 4, 2017

Necessity Really is the Mother of Invention

A few days ago a friend reminded me of a recipe I had blogged about several years ago.  I had forgotten all about it.  It was called Crockpot Lasagna.

Not knowing what to make for dinner, I thought I would make the lasagna.  I was sure I had all the ingredients on hand.  I got out the crockpot and began.  I went to the freezer and got out a container of browned ground beef and unthawed it.  I went to the cupboard for a jar of spaghetti sauce.  There wasn't any so I settled for a jar of Butternut Squash pasta sauce.

I poured a cup of the sauce into the bottom of the pot.  The next step was to layer dry lasagna noodles on top of the sauce.  Then came the cottage cheese.  Oops!  No cottage cheese.  Well, that wasn't going to stop me.  I would just make some.  Making cottage cheese isn't that hard.  You heat a half gallon of milk to 120 degrees.  The recipe uses a gallon of milk, but I cut the recipe in half and used a half gallon. Slowly pour distilled vinegar into the milk and cover it with a lid for 30 minutes.  Then strain the whey out.  There is a lot of whey.  When the whey is out, rinse the vinegar out under cool water and drain.  You then add a little half and half with some sea salt to the curds to make it creamier.  Lightly stir and you have cottage cheese with no extra additives.  Here is the Alton Brown recipe I used.

I put the cottage cheese layer into the crockpot.  The next layer was shredded mozzarella cheese. This was getting ridiculous.  I didn't have any shredded mozzarella cheese either, but I did have some string cheese.  So I unwrapped twelve string cheese sticks and shredded them.  It worked fine.  I got about 3 1/2 cups of shredded cheese from twelve pieces of cheese.  The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of cheese so I have some left over for something else.

I finished off the recipe and turned on the crockpot.  It actually turned out really well.  So necessity is the mother of invention even though I didn't invent anything but I did improvise.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Happiness Is

Everyday my husband posts on Facebook what makes him happy.  It is something he does to remind himself and all of us that there is always something to be happy about.  Even on days that aren't that positive, he comes up with something.  This past weekend he lost his wedding ring for the second time.  The first time we found it in some lawn clippings.  We haven't found it this time. He had the ring for almost 49 years so it was sad to lose it, but rather than dwell on it, he went and bought an inexpensive replacement because the ring represented our long marriage, and the symbol of the ring is important to him.  If a miracle happens and we find the ring that would be wonderful, but until then he has a ring.  I think that is what prompted his latest "happiness is" statement.  He was happy about being frugal.  I didn't understand at first, but realized he could have bought an expensive replacement wedding band but chose a plain stainless steel band instead.

I guess we are a good match because I am also frugal.  I never understood why people are obsessed with making more and more money.  Money doesn't buy happiness.  I can get just as full on a $5 burger as I can on a $50 steak.  I can get just as much light from a thrift store floor lamp as I could from a $5000 chandelier.  I guess I like nice things but the thrill is not having them but finding the bargain.  I don't do that so much anymore.  We have way too much stuff, but once in a while it's fun to go to garage sales, thrift stores or find a really good sale.

Last weekend my daughter's in-laws invited us to go to some city wide garage sales.  It sounded like fun, although I couldn't think of a thing I needed.  I took a little cash and headed out early in the morning.  I was very selective but ended up with a few treasures and I only spent $10.25.

The first thing I found was a greek yogurt maker.  I have one from many years ago, but this was brand new and had some fantastic features.  All you do is heat the milk, add yogurt culture and set the timer. When the yogurt is finished, a strainer was included to strain out the whey.   I found the exact yogurt maker on the product's website for $49.99, but I only paid $3.

Another thing we do is use a water pitcher with a filter to filter water.  We have well water and a refrigerator filter, but I like the filter pitchers of water to make coffee and iced tea.  The Brita filters are quite expensive. They are usually $4 to $5 per filter.  I found a unopened package of three for $3 or a dollar a piece.

Another good deal I found was a piece of Mexican pottery.  I like some of the Mexican pottery ducks and birds and have gotten good deals on a few in the past.  This time I found a cute owl. They were selling a whole box of owl related items for $10.  I asked if I could buy just one item from the box, and they sold it to me for $1.  I looked it up when we got home, and they sell for around $25.

I found a table to put on my porch.  It was painted with a cabin and a moose.  The legs look like canoe paddles.  Even if it only holds up for a season or two, it was worth $3.  I also got a 25 cent hard cover book.  There were so many awesome things I could have purchased, but I didn't.

It was a fun way to spend the day.  Now if that darn wedding ring would appear that would be great.