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.
Mary Beth's picture

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

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"It's Good for You" Pizza

The Best Pizza Ever is in Madison 

Click here for their info:   “It’s Good For You”   

Last weekend, while out of town, we decided to stop for a pizza at the place where our son works one night per week. If you know my kid, you know he was manager of an artisanal pizza place for years. He doesn’t miss managing an entire restaurant. Apparently, he DOES miss making spectacular pies and then baking them at temps high enough to burn the hair off his arms.

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Obviously I remember that.

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I read the ‘frugal things I did’ letters in other people’s huge and interesting frugality blogs. I figured I could list some of the ways I saved some money this week (this life). I’m pleased to say I saved about 64 Million.

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Two recent tweets : Someone named Kate Harding tweeted; “What haunts me is that I am not just smart enough for so many people to be this much stupider than me.”

And from Di, Obstinate Hoper; “I’m starting to think of pandemic caution like labor: buckle down during peaks, relax a little between them. Hang in there, folks. It’s a damn long labor.”

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If our finances were stretched we wouldn’t have gone to New Mexico. We are doing fine despite the advice that says one ought to retire with a million dollars in the bank. Imagine that.

1. We and, at this point, about half the nation, have had our Covid vaccines so we felt safe and ready to see something new. However, we traveled to a place where they had worked WITH the effort to fight this pandemic. This limited our choices and is the #1 reason we didn’t go to the Badlands. How we spend $ is our power.

The Mindful Chickens are Wordy Today

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

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