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eating on the cheap!


binkyboots
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Binkyboots, glad you tried your local fish-shop and butchery! No supermarket specials have ever beat the freebies my local fish-shop used to give me (when we lived near one, that is :wacko: ). Ditto for veges...find the right shop, tell them happily about what was great and what you used/plan to use your purchases for, and they'll often come up with something special - my local vege vendor used to send her son round to my house with a tray of tomatoes etc that were getting squishy, because she knew I could and would cook them, and as she said, she just hated to waste things that would taste wonderful if somebody knew how to use them.

mince and yorkshires
What are yorkshires? My mother used to make stewed mince and dumplings when busy and poor, sounds utterly revolting, but I still make it with a lot more veg and seasonings added to the mince, and using a lighter dumpling recipe (if you can find a copy, International Jewish Cookbook has (or the old edition which I have does, anyway) a recipe for spring beef casserole which has a good dumpling recipe in it. You can add more egg and make them really light and fluffy too...

Check a copy in a library if you can, because you already cook a lot and may well have similar recipes. My sister is not an adventurous cook, but she likes to cook well, and put me on to this cookbook because it has lots of good family eating with extremely reliable recipes. The author is certainly a good cook, as you can tell from her notes on methods of doing things, but she is not aiming for food to impress, and is not ashamed to mention "frozen peas" in a recipe.

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Sometimes I like to cook on the cheap just to say I did it and to save a little money.

Making a big batch of tomato sauce alwyas helps me out. I can do polenta topped with tomato sauce and mozzerella or plain spaghetti and sauce.

Another thing i like to do is cook up a huge batch of carnitas and start with carnita tacos for a couple days then make some carnita enchiladas with the rest. I usually cook up a pork shoulder that I get for about a buck per or so. My guess is I can feed 14 people with this dish if I have to and with all the side dishes I am in it for less than $30. Just over $2 per person.

Red Beans and rice are always a winner and super cheap.

Fried rice with leftover white rice from home or takeout.

Edited by jscarbor (log)
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  • 3 months later...

well.. after an extended break (been on holiday, then just lost the plot as far as keeping a diary went)

first up, yorkshires are yorkshire puddings, a flour, water and (depoending on who you ask) egg batter that is poured into a tray of preheated fat and cooked in the oven till crisp and golden.

mince and dumplings (or doughballs as our family called them) were a food we saw a lot of when I was growing up, my auntie was a big fan as she had a family of six, the doughballs helped stretch the meat that bit further.

we still love doughballs, I may have to make some soon.

the cheapest meal I've made recently was a lasanga, it was enormous and also really tasty, lasted three nights (served with salad or garlic bread)

lasagna

meat sauce

500g lean mince, your choice lamb is good or beef, beef is cheaper

two handfulls of mushrooms, ugly/cheap mushrooms are fine!

onion

four cloves of garlic

two tins chopped tomatoes

1 carton tomato passata

couple of tablespoons tomato puree

half a glass of milk

a little sugar

salt

pepper

italian seasoning or oregano

square of dark chocolate

chop the onion, garlic, italian seasoning and mushrooms in the food processor till fine but not mushy, if you want you can chop in a carrot or two as well.

brown the mince in a big pot or casserole, once the mince is brown throw in the chopped veg.

meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the milk and tomato puree, do not mistake this for strawberry milkshake :wacko:

ok, pour in the milky puree once the veg is slightly softened and you smell garlic.

bubble for a minute then pour in the chopped tomatoes and passata, should you have lots of time pour in some water too....

leave to cook until fairly thick and very delicious, when it's nearly ready put in the square of chocolate, stir and remove from heat.

white sauce - seriously, the thing that makes cooking cheap easier is making your own white sauce, at the rediculous price of around £2 a small tub this is essential.

1 litre of milk

100g butter

90g plain flour (oo is nice, but not essential at all)

nutmeg, freshly grated is way better.

melt the butter

warm the milk in another pan

add the flour to the butter and stir till you get a nice smooth paste, cook for a couple of minutes, it should seeth and bubble.

start adding milk, I'll confess, I add it all at once and whisk like crazy to get rid of lumps... but if you want do it slowly.

stir, do not stop stirring, keep going till it thickens.

season with salt, pepper and nutmeg (if you have it)

pasta

ok, I do not make fresh pasta, I buy it, it's an item I consider fairly cheap, one pack does two lasgnas and costs around £1.40

build the lasanga

in a big dish spoon a little bechamel in to cover the bottom

layer of pasta

layer of meat sauce

a little white sauce over that

more pasta

keep going like that till your dish is full, ending with a layer of pasta with white sauce on top.

if you have parmesan sprinkle some between the layers and on top.

bake for about 40 minutes or till golden brown in places.

also a potato and onion soup, seriously cheap but very comforting...

onions, three or four

potatoes, four or five

water

butter

slice the onions very thin, fry in butter till soft and golden

add the peeled, chunked potatoes

season with salt and pepper

cover with water and cook till tender

liquidise and serve with a little double cream swirled through it.

this week I plan on making a kind of chilli (but modified, picky eaters wont touch kidney beans :wacko: ) with cornbread topping, loosely inspired by nigella's recipe in feast, only mine wont serve 18 :raz:

also more soup, I fancy something with a kind of korma flavour, coconut and spices, I have coconut milk so I'm halfway there, lol, any ideas along these lines are very welcome.

*edited to add*

very cheap sandwich filling, delicious on a pittat with salad

bean paste

two tins of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

125 ml olive oil

a tablespoon of lemon juice

salt

three cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

put the lot on the food processor, whizz till it's all combined into a smooth paste, scrape down the sides and whizz again.

put it in a box in the fridge, last at least three weeks and tastes better the longer it sits.

Edited by binkyboots (log)

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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The bean puree is a great favourite of mine - dip, sandwich filling or mash variation depending on texture and spicing. Chickpeas work well too (Add sesame oil in place of tahini for a hummus bi tahini effect - I never have tahini in, but always have a bottle of sesame oil)

I have made a spiced coconut, spinach and squash soup/curry before now - can't really give an exact recipe as it gets varied acording to my mood - sometimes more indiany warming spices - cumin, coriander, turmeric etc, sometimes more southeast asian style with more ginger, garlic, lime juice and fresh chillies.

Lentils are good in it too, or sweet potatoes (Actually almost anything, but something green and something earthy make a good combo).

If you are using baby spinach just put it in the bowls and ladle the soup over, if it's the bigger stuff you need to blanch it first or just cook it in the soup for a few minutes at the end.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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If your audience like them, chicken livers are fantastically cheap (frozen ones are currently 50p for 225g, which is enough for two people as a main course or more if you turn them into pate). I fry up some onions with a bit of bacon + thyme, throw in the chicken livers, fry till nice and crusty but still pink then deglaze with brandy/red wine/bramble jelly (etc), serve over rice.

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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I fancy (and think I could get it past the pickiest of the crew) making my own pate, I'm just not sure where to start, I watched gary rhodes once, I must have been having a sick day, but his method involved poaching in milk then whizzing them up.. I feel I will need to research this a little more before leaping right in.

however, we are having liver tonight, the organic meat lady has lovely lambd liver at about 96p for enough for three with a bit for the dog (old dog is very bossy about liver, lol)

suspect they'd like the chicken livers done that way though, I think it sounds lovely...

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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I fancy (and think I could get it past the pickiest of the crew) making my own pate, I'm just not sure where to start, I watched gary rhodes once, I must have been having a sick day, but his method involved poaching in milk then whizzing them up.. I feel I will need to research this a little more before leaping right in.

My basic method goes something like this: chop an onion relatively finely, brown in butter till sweet and sticky. Add chopped garlic if liked just before the end. Remove from pan, then fry the (de-tubed) livers in more butter (as much as you like!) till crusty but pink. Deglaze with brandy/port. Chop some parsley and put it, some s+p and everything else in the blender, whizz till desired consistency - I like relatively smooth. Check seasoning + pack into ceramic pot to chill. Can put butter over the top but I never do, the alarming grey colour it goes doesn't worry me too much if I'm eating it soon. Can add crushed juniper berries (really good), more herbs, extra softened butter, double cream, pancetta, orange rind, etc etc, depending on how glam you're feeling.

and hey - at 50p a pop, you can stand a little experimenting.

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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and hey - at 50p a pop, you can stand a little experimenting.

absolutely! I feel a trip to the butcher coming on :smile:

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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Chicken livers are a bargain - theyhave the taste and texture of a luxury item, but are are incredibly cheap. I like them sauted on a warm salad (with some bacon as well!).

If making pate passing through a nylon sieve is a good idea for the smoothest texture (Normally I'm a chunky kind of guy, but not for this). You can add cream, but I prefer without.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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:laugh: what a great thread. Seems we're all tightening our belts of late.

Right now i have beef cheeks braising away. They weren't as cheap as I thought they'd be, but then I have a feeling the butcher gouged me a bit for this "special order." A restaurateur friend assures me he can get them for me around $3-4 a pound.

these should be done in about 30 minutes or so..... :unsure:

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I've found mussels and scallops are a bargain if you are not cooking for a crowd. Two lbs of mussels serves two and can be had for around $5, and when I am cooking just for myself I love searing about four scallops, which don't cost much.

I have found a lot of stores that sell things self-serve by weight (as opposed to pre-packaged) can offer good bargains. In New York, there are delis and groceries where you can measure what you want from bins of rice, beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. There is also usually a wide selection so you can get different types of rice or beans which helps change things up.

I have found the dried fruit to be quite a bargain when compared to pre-packed dried fruit (I got a big bag of golden raisins for about 50 cents). They are great for brightening up pilafs and savory dishes and I sometimes make a syrup with apricots or dried figs for dessert.

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I fancy (and think I could get it past the pickiest of the crew) making my own pate, I'm just not sure where to start, I watched gary rhodes once, I must have been having a sick day, but his method involved poaching in milk then whizzing them up.. I feel I will need to research this a little more before leaping right in.

The incomparable Daniel Rogov posted his recipe for chicken liver pate here: it's the one I use, and it's great. I'll saute the livers till they're cooked through but not dry, and use lots of butter both during the sauteing and after the whole mix has been mashed/processed. I'll also throw a few whole peppercorns into the pan while cooking and process them as well at the end.

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I've found mussels and scallops are a bargain if you are not cooking for a crowd. Two lbs of mussels serves two and can be had for around $5, and when I am cooking just for myself I love searing about four scallops, which don't cost much.

I have found a lot of stores that sell things self-serve by weight (as opposed to pre-packaged) can offer good bargains. In New York, there are delis and groceries where you can measure what you want from bins of rice, beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. There is also usually a wide selection so you can get different types of rice or beans which helps change things up.

I have found the dried fruit to be quite a bargain when compared to pre-packed dried fruit (I got a big bag of golden raisins for about 50 cents). They are great for brightening up pilafs and savory dishes and I sometimes make a syrup with apricots or dried figs for dessert.

Mussels I'd agree with, but scallops? Definitley more of a payday treat than eating on the cheap (In the UK anyway)

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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I don't know about poaching in milk - I think you'd want some nice caramelisation on them. Soaking livers to remove blood and some bitterness is a standard techniqe, but I don't really find it necessary, but if you do make sure they are dried well before sauteing.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Here's a recipe I whipped up the other night. If you and/or your family aren't fans of spicy foods, you can reduce the amount of cayenne and/or five-spice powder.

Also, you can use chicken or tofu in place of the chickpeas, and rice in place of the couscous.

Five-Spice Glazed Chick Peas and Apples

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 red onion, chopped into biggish pieces

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, and cut into chunks

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

salt to taste

1/2-1 cup apricot preserves

2 cups couscous

2 cups vegetable broth or water

Pour oil into medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Add onion and apple chunks and cook until softened slightly. Add chickpeas and then cayenne pepper, five-spice powder and salt to taste. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add apricot preserves to skillet and stir until preserves melt and coat vegetables. Taste and add spices and/or salt if desired. Add more preserves or a little broth if you'd like more of a sauce.

Meanwhile, bring broth to a boil in a smallish saucepan. Remove from heat, add couscous and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff couscous grains with a fork, and serve topped with chick-pea mixture.

Bryan Ochalla, a.k.a. "Techno Foodie"

http://technofoodie.blogspot.com/

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)

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Here's another of our favorite dishes (concocted by my husband) - again, it's cheap and easy and uses regular 'ol ingredients. I know people may be aghast at the use of parsley and dried basil in place of the fresh, but I swear you won't be complaining once you taste it.

We like to have it with sauteed mushrooms and cubed tofu, but obviously you can pair it with whatever you prefer.

David's Poor Man's Pesto

½ cup olive oil

2 cups (half of a large bunch) fresh parsley, stems removed

1 teaspoon dried basil

5 cloves of garlic, minced

1/3 cup ground almonds

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 pound pasta, cooked (reserve a few tablespoons of water)

Toss all of the ingredients (except the pasta, of course) into a blender or food processor and pulse until fully combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Toss with cooked pasta. If it seems dry, stir in a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve topped with more Parmesan and whatever other toppings (mushrooms, tofu, etc.) you prefer.

Sun-Dried Tomato Variation:

Reduce fresh parsley to one cup and replace with about 30 sun-dried tomatoes that have been reconstituted in hot water for about 20 minutes (use the freeze-dried variety, not the ones packed in oil). Continue as above, using the same ingredients and following the same instructions.

Bryan Ochalla, a.k.a. "Techno Foodie"

http://technofoodie.blogspot.com/

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."

Orson Welles (1915 - 1985)

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Five-Spice Glazed Chick Peas and Apples

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 red onion, chopped into biggish pieces

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, and cut into chunks

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

salt to taste

1/2-1 cup apricot preserves

2 cups couscous

2 cups vegetable broth or water

Pour oil into medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Add onion and apple chunks and cook until softened slightly. Add chickpeas and then cayenne pepper, five-spice powder and salt to taste. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add apricot preserves to skillet and stir until preserves melt and coat vegetables. Taste and add spices and/or salt if desired. Add more preserves or a little broth if you'd like more of a sauce.

Meanwhile, bring broth to a boil in a smallish saucepan. Remove from heat, add couscous and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff couscous grains with a fork, and serve topped with chick-pea mixture.

oh man that sounds good :wub:

I shall be trying the daniel rogov pate recipe later this week, and making some sourdough (from my resurected starter) to serve with it.

mussels are a good bargain, but nobody in the family eats shellfish, at all :wacko: I wish they did, that winey, mussel, cream dish (I will not embarass myself by getting it's name wrong) sounds good and so fast! (I dont eat much in the way of solid food so it's out for me)

we used to have a cool shop, the scoop-a-market great big plastic bins of flour, sugar, peas, grains, all sorts really.... I dont know if they just were no longer profitable or if there is some sort of new rules about that kind of shop in our area, but they've all shut down. the organic/whole food shop has bins with various flours and cereals, but are expensive compared to the old style scoop-a-markets.

last week we had a truly delicious chilli kind of thing.. lamb mince, tinned tomatoes, passata, a teaspoon on chillis in oil and a teaspoon (largish) of baharat spice.

cooked till done then cooled, on top of that I made the batter for cornmeal muffins from the magnolia bakery cookbook, I switched water for buttermilk though as I had some in the fridge, spooned that in lumps on top of the cooled chilli, baked it till the cornbread was golden and fluffed up looking.

served three on two nights plus one for lunch.

I have a chicken roasting just now, roast chicken tonight with jersey royals (so good, my yearly treat!) and brocoli

tommorow chicken and feta salad, maybe a ricey chicken thing with apricots too if it stretches.

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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last week we had a truly delicious chilli kind of thing.. lamb mince, tinned tomatoes, passata, a teaspoon on chillis in oil and a teaspoon (largish) of baharat spice.

cooked till done then cooled, on top of that I made the batter for cornmeal muffins from the magnolia bakery cookbook, I switched water for buttermilk though as I had some in the fridge, spooned that in lumps on top of the cooled chilli, baked it till the cornbread was golden and fluffed up looking.

wow what a fantastic idea! Chilli cobbler! that's going in my notebook as "have to try this soon".

I have been trying to stick to my budget better recently. I did really well this month, the grocery account says -0,84 cents and next months money is coming in tomorrow!

My goal for next month is to actually save some of the grocery budget.. :rolleyes:

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organic food is not always a winner, I bought some organic split yellow peas from a farm shop, brought them home, soaked, drained, boiled for hours, they never got tender, like gritty, flavourless little bullets in my pan.

happily we only wasted £1 on that, I guess the turnover of split peas is rather low in that shop, leading to ancient split peas sitting around their shelves :wacko:

so, today we'll be making lentil soup, I love lentils, I really do, they're so cheap and so versatile.

lentil soup

lentils, half a pack, 250g? more if you want more soup, less if you want less

an onion or two, chopped, doesnt really matter how fine, it gets liquidised

a potato, peeled, only if you want a creamier texture, otherwise plain lentil is good

water

rinse the lentils, then put them in a large pan with the onion, potato and water to cover, better to top up often than end up with watery soup.

simmer till tender, liquidise and season

spiced butter

1 tsp baharat spice (I use this a lot, I rationalise, it costs £2.50 a pack, but it's strong so I use only a little per recipe)

two or three crushed cloves of garlic

a few chopped chives

2 tsp clear honey

butter, softened, about 75g? I just take a chunk off the end of the pack

mix together, chill, serve with the soup, you take a little slice and drop it in the soup, wait a minute, it melts into a delicious, concentrated flavour boost. not for everyday perhaps because of the butter, but it is really good.

could vary the spices too of course to get other flavours..

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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ooh.. just home from a wander in the charity shops, managed to get "the art of eating" by M.F.K.Fisher for £2.99!

looks like fascinating stuff, it includes "how to cook a wolf" as recommended upthread :biggrin:

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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Here's what we're having tonight for dinner (along with broccoli sauteed with some garlic). Inexpensive, filling, and quite satisfying as well:

Spiced Basmati Rice with Lentils and Caramelized Onions

1 tablespoon butter

4 cups sliced onions

1/2 cup dried lentils

2 1/2 cups water

3 whole cardamom pods

2 whole allspice

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup basmati rice or long-grain white rice

Melt butter in 10-inch-diameter ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and stir 1 minute. Cover and cook until onions are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Uncover and sauté until onions are deep golden, about 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Spread onions in even layer in same skillet; set aside. Meanwhile, cook lentils in pot of boiling water until almost tender but still firm to bite, about 20 minutes. Drain.

Combine 2 1/2 cups water, cardamom, allspice, bay leaf and salt in heavy medium saucepan; bring to boil. Add rice and lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Discard cardamom, allspice and bay leaf.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spoon rice mixture atop onions in skillet, pressing with back of spoon to compact rice; smooth top. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cool. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)

Cover skillet tightly with double layer of foil. Bake rice mixture until heated through, about 35 minutes. Remove foil; let stand 5 minutes. Place plate over skillet; invert skillet, releasing rice and onions onto plate and scraping any onions remaining in skillet onto rice. Spoon rice and onions onto plates and serve.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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great minds think alike (ish)

we had leftover chicken, chunked into bite size pieces, boiled some plain rice and fried an onion till soft and sweet.

had some leftover "new england" dried fruit mix, cranberries, blueberries, golden sultanas and raisins, put them in hot water to plump up a little.

put the lot together in an oven proof dish, covered with foil and heated through... at the last minute I snipped some chives and spring onion in.

this stretched our roast chicken to feed two adults last night, three adults and one child tonight and still leaves a tiny portion of the chickeny rice to go into a salad tommorow.

I'm very bad at making stock, no matter what I do it comes out watery, thin, greasy and poorly flavoured. this could be my greatest kitchen crime, a terrible waste of a good chicken carcass.

my other culinary nemesis is home made mayonaise :wacko: no matter what I do it comes out thin and greasy instead of thick and gorgeous.

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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How long do you simmer your stock? I find that the longer it cooks, the more flavors end up in the resulting liquid. You can also cook down a stock that isn't very potent until it is more highly flavored. Adding herbs, spices, and produce help round things out if there isn't much chicken to flavor things up.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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in the past I've simmered for about two hours, sometimes more, sometimes less.

I've tried a few things, extra herbs, a pinch of saffron, a glug of chicken stock concentrate and chilling, degreasing and boiling down.

always ends up like dishwater :hmmm:

Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

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No, no, no! Two hours isn't nearly long enough. I simmer for a minimum of 6-8 hours, sometimes longer if I don't have a lot of chicken to flavor things properly. Simplest is to leave it at the lowest simmer overnight. Two hours would only be sufficient if you had a huge amounf of chicken meat and bones for the amount of water used - and that wouldn't be cheap. Give it another try!

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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