Friday, September 10, 2010

I'd call this progress

This morning on the way to work I stopped at the ATM to get $20, because on Friday mornings my office has breakfast together. And I figured it was time to get some more cash, since I hadn't been to the machine in over a week.

Well. Imagine my delight when I was putting my card and cash back in my wallet and I still had LAST PAYDAY'S $20 in there -- that's from TWO WEEKS ago, folks!

That's right. I had money left over because I've been taking my lunch every day, cooking from scratch and mostly ignoring the vending machines at work.

It is a lovely feeling!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Home-made pizza success!

After a disasterous recipe for biscuits failed miserably, I needed to get back up on that oven again and come up with some sort of baking success.

I was hungry for pizza. And having just read The Tightwad Gazette's recipe for pizza crust, I made it. Here's the recipe in all its perfect, wonderful goodness. MAKE THIS. IT IS GOOD. And besides, you can make the whole pizza for about $2.50 and not have to wait for delivery.

Thick and Chewy pizza dough
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 package (1 Tablespoon) dry yeast (I use the bulk yeast in the jar -- make sure it's new)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups flour (I used unbleached all purpose)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive)
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Combine 1/4 cup of the water with the yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast and let stand until bubbly, about five minutes (Note- I had this in an 8-oz. cup. Use something bigger!)

Put the flour, oil and salt into a food processor using the steel blade. and process about 5 seconds.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and process about 10 seconds, or until blended.

Turn on the processor (on high) and drizzle just enough of the remaining water through the feed tube so that the dough forms a ball that cleans the side of the bowl. Process so that the ball turns around about 25 times. (Ironically, my processor quit running just at that time...)

Put the dough ball on a 14-inch greased pizza pan or large cookie sheet (I used my Pampered Chef cooking stone.) Cover with plastic wrap or a bowl (I just turned the food processor bowl upside down on top of it.) Let it stand 10 minutes.

Pat the dough out so that it covers the pan, making a ridge on the edges.

Spread with pizza sauce (it doesn't take much) Add cheese and toppings. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese bubbly.

I will never order pizza again after making this.

As a matter of fact, I'm going to make a hamburger, pepperoni and sauteed onion pizza for tonight's supper.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An update

Things are going very well with the austerity program. This is the end of the first week and I am pleased with the results of being just a bit more conscious of my spending.

Of the shopping trip mentioned in my previous post, I have used the ground beef in three meals that consisted of beef patties I broiled and topped with cheese (no buns; don't need the carbs!) I've added a veggie to each from my freezer or pantry stash, not included in the shopping total.

In addition, I made a huge pan of "spaghetti pie" on Sunday which has now provided at least six meals. I'm on track to finish the last of it tonight or tomorrow for lunch. Yep, I'm getting to the point where I really can't stand to look at it much longer. I prepared a 9x13-inch pan; my lesson from this is to make two 8x8 pans and freeze one so I don't get so incredibly bored with it! LOL.

I've eaten the three peaches as desserts, at a cost of about 25 cents each. Sure beats putting 85 cents in the vending machine for a candy bar, for so many reasons.

One more week left until my next payday, and I actually have money left -- a good sum. My phone bill will be the next drafted payment before payday. The other bills will come out of the next paycheck, but I am so well set with groceries that I will only need to make a small purchase, if I have to purchase anything next week at the grocery store.

I did make a tiny supplemental trip to Aldi's yesterday and picked up some shortening, a can of corn and celery. Less than $5. The shortening will be used for baking and the corn and celery will go into another casserole that will last a few days.

To say I am pleased would be an understatement. I had lunch at Taco Bueno yesterday-- just two bean burritos -- and I got my very first senior discount! So with a drink, lunch was about $3.50. Not as cheap as taking my lunch, but since I needed to run an errand to Aldi's, I'm not upset.

In the next week or so, I will have finished paying off a hospital bill to the tune of $300 a month. I will now roll that over to pay my doctor's bill. However, my next major hurdle will be getting a loan so I can have central heat and air put in my house. I need to do this soon, as the season is changing. My floor furnace is kaput and cannot be repaired so replacement and upgrading is my only option. I crippled through the summer with my window air conditioners, but even they are at the end of their useful life. Upgrading will make the house more comfortable, no doubt, and will be value added. I just hate having to pay for it!

I will keep you posted as I continue with my plans of eating breakfast at home, taking my lunch to work and then cooking items that will last for several meals. (This will get better as I empty out some freezer space and get to the point where I can freeze and rotate meals instead of eating one thing until I'm sick of it.)