Mary Beth Writes

Mindful Chickens? We are frugal so that our retirement savings will last as long as we do. At the same time we try to consume responsibly so that our choices have the least negative impact on our fellow humans and on our earth and its creatures.  Cheep, Cheap!

Did you have a nice weekend? Did you get to share a meal or a chocolate egg or a PEEP with a friend or a child or a childish friend?

The lamb that Len cooked was one of the best meaty things I’ve ever eaten. I felt sorry for the sheep, but frankly, not that sorry.  If I can slow him down (I can hear him rumbling around with tools and stuff in the basement) I will ask Len how he cooked the leg of lamb. I know it was a 2-day process.

Okay. I just asked him how he cooked the meat. I am going to write what he said, and he will proof it later.  Here’s the recipe backstory: https://www.recipetineats.com/slow-roast-leg-of-lamb/

 

Obtain a hunk of lamb.  We think ours - Thank you, Pals who gave it to us! - was around five pounds.

Day before: Take about half of the lamb bones you already have in your freezer from Christmas dinner (hah) to make a broth from; bones, onion, carrot, celery, rosemary. Len used the pressure cooker to make the broth.  Cook under pressure for about 4 hours (the broth is very thick). Strain the broth and toss the now kaput bones and vegetables. 

Make a “rub” for the meat. Len used a lot of chopped fresh parsley, rosemary (from my lackadaisical urban backyard garden!), garlic (4 or 5 minced cloves), salt.  The meat has a fatty side. He put the rub on the not-fatty side, then set the meat on the fatty side in the bottom of a glass cake pan, and then covered it with the pan’s lid. This sat in the fridge close to 24 hours.  The house smelled like a garlic farm which is okay for us because we love the stuff. (We had no vampires in the house at all Saturday evening) If you don’t like the smell of garlic, you should find another recipe…

Sunday morning Len flipped the meat so that the fatty side was on top. He poured a couple cups of the strained broth into the glass cake pan dish, creating a ‘several inches deep’ puddle for the meat to sit in. (The rest of the broth is frozen in containers in our freezer, yum...) He set the oven to 350 and cooked it about an hour, and then turned the oven down to 300 and slow-roasted it 4 more hours.

Then, about half an hour before we ate, he took the dish out and transferred the meat alone to a rack on a metal pan (so the meat didn’t touch the pan).  He put it back in the oven at 400 degrees to brown.

Meanwhile, he took about a tablespoon of butter and melted it in a heavy metal pan, then stirred in about a quarter cup of flour.  Whisk to break up the lumps.  Then he tried to put the juice from the glass dish, which was a mixture of broth, rub and meat drippings into the pan with the butter.  This wasn’t easy; he tried a turkey baster, then a gravy separating pitcher, then back to the baster.  The problem was the solid pieces in the juice kept getting stuck.  He says, “I should have strained the juice before I tried to separate it.”  Oh, well, next year.  Gravy happened anyway.

It was falling apart on the serving platter and was amazing. We ate it with egg noodles, gravy, peas, fruit salad, bread, some Polish sausage and horseradish, and a cherry pie for dessert. Also some chocolate covered crème eggs. We were six altogether; it was a wonderful meal and afternoon.

I did not lose any weight yesterday.

About Being Seriously, Adamantly, and Incessantly Frugal

Several people responded to the story about Franc (CLICK HERE to read it!) by saying that they appreciated a person who lived frugally in order to live the life he wanted to have – not the other way around.

Those thoughtful comments got me thinking about the passive, take-it-easy side of frugality.

Yes, you can save tons of money if you do huge frugal things such as host a garage sale, call insurance companies to find a cheaper one. Get your dental work done in Mexico (I’m checking this out next time they talk crowns at me). Sell your vehicles and ride your bike. Take in borders. Make awesome projects and sell them from online sites. Sometimes proactive frugality is such a pile of work that you can’t even start it.

Here’s a reminder:  Living the Simple Life can also be “easier and now”.

Make a peanut butter sandwich for a dinner with ice tea made fast and cheap with tap water and one tea bag - and a 15-minute break to read your library book. 

Frazzled by someone or something? Go outside with the strict goal of staying out there six minutes (enough time to walk around your house or your office). That’s all. It often helps and it costs nothing.

Your chaotic kitchen looks like a 1986 cyclone hit it?  Wash the supper dishes and walk away.

One of my daughters explained this to me years ago; she was learning it in a college psychology class.

The human brain seems to live in 20-minute sections of “now”.  If you crave something badly (chocolate, booze, drugs, to shriek at someone in your family who is not living up to your standards, to stop in at Target on your way home from work to buy one thing and “just look at the jewelry”) – try to wait TWENTY minutes.  Cravings seem to unleash and re-leash in 20-minute arcs. 

Making frugal choices in your day does not have to be unrelenting steely determination. Sometimes your brain is weary, overwhelmed, or just bored. Maybe what you need is to attack one task (the supper dishes) or relax on the front step of your house, drinking a warm mug of something simple.

When we are less stressed, we consume less, buy less, and breathe easier.  Do the easy chores. Sit down. Take a short walk that won’t impress anyone. Give yourself 20 minutes off. 

All of which are ways of taking yourself and your family seriously today. You can reinvent your life - tomorrow.

Comments

Your Easter dinner sounds luscious. Would you believe , I’ve never had lamb.

That's crazy! You live in the country!! I will have to pester you....

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Mindful Chickens on an Icy Night

My church has been working for months to organize their fund-raising auction that was supposed to be TONIGHT. But instead we are in the middle of the massive spring storm that is scrubbing the nation from Oklahoma to I don’t know where next. The wind is howling; rain is sleeting into snow over a glaze of ice.

So the auction is postponed until next Saturday evening. I have put in so many hours (as have many other) working towards this event in the past weeks - that being quietly at home not working on it makes me feel as if I won a lottery. 

Other Peoples' Mindful Chickens

I regularly read blogs about being frugal.  I like them because they are about people taking as much control of the quality of their life as they can within the many different circumstances in which people live.  I especially love the letters people write listing what they did in the past few days to be careful and thoughtful about what they spend and how they save.

Retired Chicken Observations 3/22-2018

Two things I have been thinking about lately. Both are related to retirement income and retirement adventure.

1. Last week Len and I went to our Social Security office to sign me up for Spousal Benefits.  It took me several run-throughs to understand what “spousal benefits” are. Since then I have talked to several other people who were also unclear on the concept.

My confusion was this. I was already getting Social Security based on my earnings when I worked (as opposed to what I did when I stayed home and raised kids. But let’s not go there now. Grrrr.)

Franc’s Wildly Successful Life

This is a long piece of writing and I am proud of it. If you don’t want to read it all – here are my take-way points about how my friend Franc lives well on a surprisingly small income:

Mindful Chickens 2/24/2018

1.  We did it!  We called, explained what we thought we needed to do, made appts, were home for the appts, rec’d the estimates about - fixing the gutters and getting the house painted.  I think one of the reasons we usually do it ourselves is because this process is so daunting and time consuming.

The gutter guy is coming next week; we are looking forward to no rivulets when it pours. 100-year old houses built on non-waterproofed rubble foundations, like George Washington, cannot lie about what’s happening outside your basement walls.

Mindful Chickens - The Snickerdoodle Edition

1. When we were sick in January (with flu and cold) Len used the CVS card that I had signed up for last year and then barely used.  He bought several OTC medicines plus a cool-mist vaporizer using that card, which saved us 20%. That was helpful.

2. While I was under the weather I signed up for Starz in order to binge-watch an Outlander season.  After I watched TV for two days I canceled the subscription, thus paying nothing.  This is the third year I have done this.  Why do they let me do this??

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