Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
A few days ago I went to get a ham from the freezer only to find it stuck solid in ice. How does this happen in a frost free freezer? A mystery for sure. Anyway, this is what I found. That is a lot of ice build up. It always happens at the bottom of the freezer, never anywhere else.
I had planned for cooking a ham and a couple of chickens. Bummer, no chickens. I forgot my daughter had taken the last two baking hens a few days before. I like to make good use of the oven if I’m going to pay for the energy used. I had actually planned to have a baking marathon for the day but it didn’t happen. I got distracted and two hams were it for this time. I hope to do better at my planning next time.
What is a baking marathon? Well it’s one way to cut utility costs. The energy usage (gas or electric) is absolutely the same whether you bake only one item or if you bake several items at once. So why not put enough items in the oven to fill it to capacity?
I can hear you saying but my family is small. We don’t need two hams at once. Ok here’s the thing, I cook for only one or two people myself, depending on whether I have company or not. So why did I bake two whole hams? I call it “planned leftovers” which are the basics of future meals. Ooo, yuck, left overs again? Well, yes. But…. have you seen how many delicious recipes there are on the internet that call for using left over ham? An internet search will get you thousands to choose from. Today I’m having ham and potato soup. Next week I’ll probably have ham, pineapple, and spinach french bread pizza. You see what I mean? It’s the same for any other food items, you can find thousands of recipes using leftovers. With so many leftovers recipes why not simply plan for them? Planned leftovers can greatly speed up your meal prep time as well as save energy.
From my two hams I got 18 cups of
leftover precooked ham. Packaged in 1/2 cup snack bags.
I saved the skins with a bit of fat on them to be used later as a flavoring for special dishes like baked beans or collard greens. I packaged it in small portions in snack bags too. Yes, yes, I know I’m trying to cut down on the amount of plastic I use. The best I can do for now is wash these to use more than once until I find an alternative.
The bones and the baking pan liquor were boiled to get the very last bits of usable stuff from the two hams.
This netted me 1/2 pint of lard that I put into the freezer with my collected other lard bits waiting to be washed. This is how I get my lard for cooking. It’s pure lard with no preservatives and it makes great biscuits.
The lard is scraped off and it leaves me with ham jello. Have you seen those liquid flavor packets in the store. I think they are called simmering sauces? Its those package things you just open and put into a pan to flavor foods. They sell for outrageous prices. Well I now have the same thing right here, without the high cost.
I will warm this jello up a bit and pour it into ice cube trays to freeze as individual servings or packets. Voila! Homemade simmering sauces. The remaining bones will be given to a neighbor for their fur kids. A couple will be kept for my own furry kid of course. So there you see how I plan and make leftovers. Nothing goes to waste. Grandma Mama would be so proud of me.