Archive for the ‘economics’ Category


Walnut Hill Restaurant School

   Posted by: Livia

I live a block from a Restaurant School, and they have community classes on the side of their formal chef training. I’ve taken a couple classes on wine there that taught me quite a bit more than I expected (though I didn’t know much to start).

So the Winter/Spring catalog of community classes came in the mail. Here’s a list of what interests me in case you are interested in joining me, too –

  • Knife Skills – Wednesday, April 22, 2009 – 7:00-9:30pm – $65
  • Indian Cassis – Tuesday, February 17, 2009 – 7:00-9:30pm – $65
  • Spanish Tapas – Wednesday, February 25, 2009 – 7:00-9:30pm – $65
  • Thai Cooking – Wednesday, May 13, 2009 – 7:00-9:30pm – $65
  • Bread & Pizza Workshop – Sunday, May 17, 2009 – 11:00am-4:00pm – $125
  • Croissants & Brioche – Sunday, March 8 and 15, 2009 – 11:00am-4:00pm – $125
  • Vegan Baking Class – Monday, March 2, 2009 – 7:00pm-9:30pm – $60
  • 5 Wine Challenge Dinners – 7:00pm – $45 each, $150 for all
    • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 – California vs Australia
    • Wednesday, February 18, 2009 – France vs U.S.
    • Wednesday, March 25, 2009 – Germany vs Alsace
    • Wednesday, April 22, 2009 – Spain vs Italy

Food list
tonight for dinner:

  • retrieve laundry
  • make bacon
  • 3 ounces of pasta
  • cook together: olive oil, onion, garlic, fried leeks, jalapeno pepper, kale, red pepper flakes, diced tomato
  • cook on the side: small yellow squash with Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle (in pan with the bacon grease poured out)
  • stir into kale at the end: 2 sliced scallions, 1 roasted red pepper, crumbled bacon, 1/3c shredded parmesan cheese
  • freeze at least half of the kale/pasta as lunches
  • pop turkey meatballs in the freezer
  • put remains of beet/coconut milk soup in compost
  • pack
  • empty trunk of car

tomorrow for breakfast:

  • slice the last scallion and mix it with 1.5 ounces of cream cheese
  • microwave/toast bagel
  • while making up all the rest of the collard greens (kenyan style)
  • freeze half the greens on top of the leftover rice as a lunch
  • do dishes
  • vacuum, scoop litter, fill up extra food bowl for Tika, take everything that won’t melt to the car on the way to work

pondering my finances

   Posted by: Livia

Weight Watchers is coming to campus. They are having meetings every Tuesday – at a time (11:30am – 12:30pm) I can actually attend, even with my crazy work schedule. Starting November 13th. The initial sign up is less than half price, if you start either of the first two meetings, and then each week is $14 after that.

  • Can I afford it? Yes, but I could be putting that money toward credit card debt
  • I’ve done Weight Watchers before… and I thought it was one of the more sensible diets out there but
    • I wasn’t invested in being thin (beyond a certain weight, I started feeling cold and getting sick a little more frequently)
    • I got tired of obsessing over food quite that much
  • My household isn’t set up for it
    • I often pick up leftovers from my mother that aren’t going to be measured or made in a particular way
    • I guess I could still make large meals and save portions, but it’d call for a lot of tracking and calculating
    • there are, less with Weight Watchers than other programs, a lot of cheats to coming to the right amounts that require buying pre-packaged stuff (especially WW’s mysteriously light bread product), and I’ve been moving farther and farther away from artificial food products. It used to be that I couldn’t tell much difference between regular sour cream and diet sour cream – but now I can spot the carageenan and other texturizing agents right away, so I’d be doing more cutting things out than substituting :(


   Posted by: Livia

Even though I have food frozen for lunch, it is an act of will almost every single day not to go out to eat.

The tasty Mexican place across the street is half price from 2-4pm.

I have 18 minutes in which to cave to temptation.


Swap one for the other

   Posted by: Livia

The original Battlestar Galactica, you know – the one with Lorne Greene, is so much better than the new one.

Driving on highways during the daytime is always worse than driving at night. Driving at dusk, dawn, and 3am joyous.

Dairy products are interchangeable.

The key to running an economic kitchen is just the right amount of storage space – too much, and those exotic sauces and fancy jams start looking sexy; too little, and you can’t stock up on sales. It’s the freedom to be able to buy the six boxes of pasta for $3 that saves you from running out of pasta and getting stuck with a box for $2.50. It’s knowing that you have enough meat in your freezer that you can wait for good sales and never pay more than $2/lb for any kind of meat (and can stubbornly wait for some to get even cheaper – like chicken thighs below $.50/lb, whole chicken and pork shoulders or picnic ham roasts for $.80 – and if you live somewhere these are cheaper, that alone will be enough for me to spend at least 5 good minutes considering moving there). Produce is pure luck, though – luckily, I have people selling lots of good produce cheaply off the back of a truck.

Sewing your own clothes from scratch doesn’t save a dime.

People think I can garden even though most of the pots on my porch are empty. The pots are empty because I have been systematically killing the plants that were passed to me when my neighbor moved out of state. They think I can garden because I have pots.


My kitchen needs more storage space

   Posted by: Livia

I have a small apartment, and in some ways it has been a good idea to limit my available storage space. I will fill anything… and that will just make it harder to move in the future. But I love my apartment, and I’m likely to stay here for a while.

So I am trying to figure out what to do with my available floorspace.

Option 1: Nothing.
Bonus: It keeps me from accumulating a whole lot of extra crap.

Option 2: Shelves
Can hold my cookbooks and extra pantry stuff… and, if the shelves end up sturdy enough, I could finally bring my mixer from my parents’ home.
Minus – omg, I already have enough food staples stored to hold out against a seige for a fortnight… but they could be in more visible locations so that I’d use them up… *cough* yeah, right, like I wouldn’t just fill the space because it was there… but I would move it all to a level where I didn’t need a stepstool to get to the ketchup.

Option 3: Chest freezer
I can steal all the 8 year old beef that is filling the bottom of my mother’s chest freezer and I can have more room to store my own stuff without having to keep 40 lunches at work.
Minus – I will hoarde food and possibly not get around to eating it, either. And what’s the point of having room to get free meat, if I’m going to spend $150 to get it? Also, it doesn’t solve the book storage problem. Do they make hutches to go over chest freezers, like an etagere?


Figuring out how food works with my finances

   Posted by: Livia Tags:

I made macaroni and cheese for the first time tonight.

Yes, I do have weird holes in my cooking experience.

So I need to talk about money –
What would you do right after realising your financial management is way out of line? Right – go shopping.

I spent today in the Italian Market.

I bought $27.92 worth of meat for [redacted] (which is excellent because I got almost everything she wanted despite having instructions to stay below $40 – I am a great food shopper)

For myself, I bought miscellaneous chicken bits (backs and necks and stuff) for stock – a 5lb bag for $1.85. I also bought 3 chicken leg quarters ($1.38) and butter ($2.49).

Then I made a strategic error, I think, in going to Fante’s. I bought some paper tea infusers because my teaball was too small to make my tea strong enough ($5.99) — but it cost the same as the teaball I use at work, but they were out of that one. I made tea when I got home – at least the bags work well. I also bought a magnetic hook ($6.49) so I can hang my measuring cups from the range hood instead of having them just hang out on the back of the stove because they don’t fit in any of my drawers.

Trip back and forth took two tokens ($3.30?).

And then I went to the produce truck and bought a bag of potatoes and some celery ($2).

Feeling bizarrely virtuous (aside from the Fante’s part) I went to the thrift shop to see if they had a bigger stock pot so I wouldn’t have to make stock in small batches. No pot, but I ended up with a $2 sweater.

That’s all the money I spent today.
Food: $7.72
Travel: $3.30?
Miscellany: $14.48

I mean, that’s not much and kind of awesome… but on the other hand I am so not good at keeping track at all.


Menu planning

   Posted by: Livia

Possible meals for tonight –

Meal #1 – Quesadillas
Ingredients I’d need to purchase
cheese $2-5
tortillas $3ish (I don’t buy them often, so I’m not sure)
Avocado <$1 salsa $3 mushrooms $1 Meal #2 - Eggplant curry Ingredients needed - Eggplant $1 onions $1 yogurt (optional) $2 nan (optional) $2 Meal #3 - Mushroom Risotto flavored with truffle juice Ingredients needed - mushrooms $1 heavy cream $4 (Can you make risotto without finishing cream? Cause then it'd be the cheapest by far) (ETA: yes, I know you can - but it's a question of whether it is morally right.)