Time to spill some Thrifty/Nifty ideas

A simple paper plate in the microwave oven saves a lot of cleanup. (Photo by Laura Groch)

A simple paper plate in the microwave oven saves a lot of cleanup. (Photo by Laura Groch)

Well, I guess I can’t say “Let’s start the New Year with some Thrifty/Nifty tips,” but I can say “Let’s wrap up February with some Thrifty/Nifty tips.” (Let’s just say it’s been a busy beginning of 2018 for me.)

Anyway, one of the purposes of this little bitty blog is to offer some help in the kitchen (since I can’t be there with you) and some ways to save time and perhaps even money. So let’s try these on:

— Save cleanup time in the microwave by protecting the rotating glass plate with — ta- Continue reading


Net worth: Recycled wreath for Christmas

Christmas netting wreath

You know I hate to waste stuff and love to recycle when I can. So I crafted this Christmas wreath of red plastic netting from grocery store produce. (Photo by Laura Groch)

I had to show you my colorful Christmas wreath. Look closely, and you’ll see it’s made of the red plastic netting that my grocery store uses to package for-quick-sale fruits and veggies. I had been saving these lengths of netting for something — I wasn’t quite sure what, but I knew it would be good for something besides scrubbing — and then hit upon the idea of a wreath.

I already had an empty wreath form — two concentric wire circles, held together by some other welding — and basically just knotted the lengths of netting together as I wrapped them around the wreath form. That was step one.

Continue reading

Thanksgiving recipes bring back memories

Pie crust

Pumped-up piecrust awaits its custardy filling. No spills with a raised-edge crust. Photo by Laura Groch

Well, we’re coming close to crunch time for Thanksgiving cooks. You’ve probably already got your recipes in hand, but just in case you still need some ideas, here are some of my favorites:

First up, a sweet potato-and-apple dish that I actually enjoy: Find it here. Next, my Italian grandmother’s stuffing recipe, which you’ll find here. How to make hearty turkey soup from the leftovers here. Some hints for your pumpkin pie crust here.

And, in case you’d like to be reassured that even seasoned cooks can make kitchen Continue reading

Post-pumpkin, a few tasty ideas

pumpkin oatmeal

Pumpkin is a warm, welcome addition to your morning bowl of oatmeal. Photo by Laura Groch

Halloween is over, but pumpkin is still with us. And will be with us through year end. And really beyond, because pumpkin is just too good not to eat more often than just in chilly weather.

It’s nutritious, full of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber, and you can use it in myriad cakes, pies, muffins and cookies — none of which I’m going to discuss here.

Instead, I’m going to suggest a few simple ways to use the rest of that can of pumpkin you Continue reading

New packaging, old lesson: Save bucks with some DIY in the kitchen

Quaker Overnight Oats and muesli

Quaker’s new Overnight Oats are the same thing as muesli. I’m sure Quaker’s tastes good, but I’d rather pocket the $1.99 and mix up the oatmeal myself. Photo by Laura Groch

My grocery store gives customers free samples of new products weekly. Two of them prompted me to write today.

They come from two companies whose other products I have used for years and know and love. One is Quaker Oats — which produces a most wholesome and economical breakfast food and baking ingredient. The other is Kraft, well known for its tasty cheeses and other foods.
Yet I can’t vote for either of their two new products.

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Don’t fear the artichoke. Here’s how to steam and conquer it


Don’t fear the fierce-looking artichoke. Instead, learn to conquer and eat it. Here’s how. (Photo by Laura Groch)

It pains me to see food misused. I once nearly keeled over while watching a cooking-show host take some very fine lobsters, remove all the meat from the shells, then puree it, mix it with other stuff and pour it into a baking dish. Oh! what a terrible way to treat beautiful, succulent lobster meat!

Similarly, I was shocked to see on another show a vendor at an open-air market slicing all the leaves off an artichoke to reach the tender (and yes, delicious) heart. Oh! what a waste of tasty leaves!

But I can understand it — somewhat. You may be familiar with jarred artichoke hearts, Continue reading

Safe at home: Those pesky ‘best by’ dates

"Best by" dates aren't absolutes. Most canned foods are perfectly fine for up to five years. (Photo by Laura Groch)

“Best by” dates aren’t absolutes. Most canned foods are perfectly fine for up to five years. (Photo by Laura Groch)


For the past three months, I’ve been feeding myself poison.

That is, if you count “Use by,” “Best by” and “Sell by” dates as absolutes when it comes to wholesome food.

Obviously, I don’t.

We’ve recently seen stories about how wasteful Americans are with their food, and how Continue reading