Frugal Friday: nonstick cooking spray alternative

I recently bought a really cheap brand of nonstick cooking spray. It was $2-something at Smart and Final. That would have been a great find, except it didn’t work. It left gunky residue on my pans and it didn’t keep food from sticking. Ick!

I kept thinking there has to be a greener way… a more frugal way… to keep food from sticking. 

THEN. I bought a bottle of liquid lecithin at the local health-food store. I had to have one tablespoon for a recipe. (Don’t you hate it when you just have to have one tablespoon and have a whole bottle of whatever left? I’m just sayin’….)

But that jiggled my memory a bit. When I was a student at a boarding high school, we used some sort of lecithin-oil combination instead of nonstick cooking spray. We used to use wax paper to spread it around the deck pans for the food deck, etc. and I figured that wouldn’t be too green. 

What else could I use to spread around a liquid solution? I thought of using a spray-bottle, but then I would have to find a food-grade spray bottle. It would likely be plastic. And I’d rather not use plastic. I googled around, and found a stainless food-grade spray can, but the reviews were mixed. In the reviews, however, I read that “real chefs” use brushes to brush oil. Now, why didn’t I think of that?

I already had a pastry brush. I decided to use an old applesauce jar to store the lecithin solution. But what is the recipe for this nonstick liquid?

One part liquid lecithin + one part liquid oil = nonstick liquid

(I don’t know what else to call it… nonstick liquid sounds boring, to be sure, but that’s what it is.)

Oh, and I used canola oil in case you’re wondering.

Directions: You just dip your brush into this liquid and brush it onto your casserole dish, baking dish, etc. I don’t use very much. I just get it nice and greasy-looking, but not so there are puddles of liquid. Spread it evenly. 

I have been using this for a few days now and it works very well on everything that I have tried it on. I can’t vouch for it on all surfaces, but I’ve even tried it in my breadmaker and it works like a charm. (The bread used to stick to the bottom of the machine.) 

Nonstick cooking 101

For more Frugal Friday tips from everyone else, visit Fish Mama’s website.

Published in: on August 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm  Comments (4)  
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Going green… by eating greens!

In January we had the chance to visit a wonderful vegan restaurant. It’s quite a drive from where we live so we don’t go there often, but it was definitely worth trying out. (Oh, and it’s also more expensive than most restaurants we usually go to. Another reason why we shouldn’t live closer to it… haha!) My husband ordered their lasagna and with his dish he got these incredible greens. I think the menu called them “Sautéed kale with sundried tomatoes.” I bought the restaurant’s cookbook in hopes that the greens recipe would be in there, but it wasn’t. (There are some other really great recipes in there, though.)

Ever since, I’ve been experimenting with greens. You know, I never really would consider sitting down and munching on a pile of greens and actually enjoying myself. But the way I’ve been trying them, they have really turned out very yummy!

Here’s what I’ve been trying.

1. I get a bunch of greens – so far I’ve only tried kale and Swiss chard. Chop it up. Big pieces are ok. They will kind of shrivel up a bit. (Oh, and you will not believe how much they will shrink. I’ve started out with my big skillet FULL of greens and have them wilt down so much that I wished I had more!)

2. Get out your skillet, fry pan, or whatever, and put a LITTLE bit of olive oil in the bottom. I don’t like really oily greens. I learned once that olive oil is monounsaturated fat which is better than other types of oils. (Flax oil is supposedly very good too but it oxidizes quickly. Um, but we are oxidizing the oil by heating it, so whatever.)

3. Add your greens of choice. Sprinkle with sea salt. (Sorry, I don’t have a specific amount. Just to taste.)

4. Add any (or all) of the following to the sautéeing greens:

  • dehydrated or fresh onions (both are yummy)
  • sundried tomatoes
  • pumpkin seeds – these add a really nice crunch! And they are good for men’s health… good for your hubby!
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • minced garlic cloves
  • nutritional yeast flakes

I strongly suggest adding the minced garlic and the nutritional yeast flakes. Those add a wonderful, wonderful flavoring. If you haven’t discovered nutritional yeast flakes yet, they’re WON-DER-FUL on greens. I think you should be able to get them at a health food store. You can also find nutritional yeast flakes online – just google it.

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[Note: Don’t sautée the greens too long – just enough to wilt them and get sort of tender. I don’t like my greens mushy. If you do, feel free to modify my rough recipe. But the longer you cook the greens, the less nutritious they will be.]

Speaking of nutritional yeast flakes, I’ve gotta tell you a slightly-related story.

My mom makes this sauce where she melts a stick of margarine in a small pot and adds 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes, stirs it up, and serves it over boiled or steamed (tender, anyway) cauliflower. Yummy.

Well, when I was much younger, I was at my younger brother’s little kids class at church with him, and the teachers asked all their kids for favorite foods. And you know… kids were piping up answers like, “PIZZA!” “ICE CREAM!” …

And my bro pipes up, “CAULIFLOWER!”

The parents all looked at my mom with the “what-kind-of-food-do-you-serve-your-kid” kind of look, and meanwhile she was trying not to laugh too hard. 

Anyway, yes. Nutritional yeast flakes make greens… and cauliflower… taste delicious. My brother is living proof of the fact.

(In the picture in this post, you can see the picture of my sautéed Swiss chard there in the corner. The rest of the food? Well, I’ll get to that some other time…)

I’m linking this recipe at Tammy’s Recipes – head over there for more great kitchen tips!

Published in: on March 23, 2009 at 8:30 pm  Comments (4)  
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My first recycling experience

So, this year I’m trying to go green, and that means I’m going to start recycling.

I should give you a bit of history. I have been intending to recycle for quite awhile. Last week, I cleaned out a messy corner of my kitchen where I had been stacking all these bottles that I intended to recycle. And you know if you follow FlyLady’s system of organization that February is the clutter elimination month, and they are doing the “Super Fling Boogie.” So I decided it was high time to actually recycle all those bottles.

Now, we don’t drink wine in our house. We drink sparkling juice, however, and I had all these Martinelli bottles piling up along with sparkling juice bottles from Trader Joe’s. I had at least 8 bottles. I think I had saved some of those Martinelli bottles since last summer. :-0

Dreadful, I know.

Procrastination is hideous. (Shudder.) In my defense, I procrastinate about very few things. When I was in school, I used to finish my research papers way in advance. But when it comes to recycling, you know, it’s just really hard to get the bottles in the car and remember to drop them off.

So on Friday I had a massage scheduled and so I decided to swing by the recyling booth thingy that is in the parkling lot of our local supermarket. Which, coincidentally, is about 1 minute away by car. I could have walked the bottles there.

Anyway, after so many months of procrastination, I arrived at the recycling booth (one minute away from my house.) I plunked the jars into one of the big rubber containers. The guy asked, “Are those your bottles?” pointing to a bag containing about 8 more Martinelli bottles.

“No,” I said.

The guy asked several other people who were standing around if the bottles belonged to anyone. Then he told me, “Why don’t you add those to your container.”

So I added the other neglected bottles to my container of bottles.

The guy swung the container onto a scale-looking kind of machine. “Two-twenty-nine!” He announced.

Having never recycled before, I suddenly wondered, am I supposed to pay for recycling?! I thought I got money back. Um, well, maybe I don’t get money back and I have to pay him. I began fishing in my wallet for $2.29.

I confessed to the guy, “I’ve never done this before. I don’t know if I have enough cash. Do I pay you?”

He said, “Oh no! I give you this piece of paper and then you go over to the grocery store and give this to them and they give you $2.29. Or you can have it subtracted from your grocery bill.”

Ooooops. I felt sooooooo dumb!

But relieved. I wasn’t carrying cash, so this was quite a relief.

Anyway, if you recycle regularly, you probably think I was incredibly stupid, and I’ll be the first to admit that I had no clue what I was doing. But hey, at least now I know how to recycle. And I get $2.29 off my grocery bill! 🙂

And if you haven’t ever recycled, I’ll tell you that it’s really quite simple. Just remember, they give you money.

Published in: on February 9, 2009 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Goals Progress Update

Well, here is a quick update about some of my goals and how they’re coming.

1. Journaling. Well, I haven’t done it every week. But I have written twice since the new year. Not bad.

2. Exercise – well, perhaps once a week. Need to increase that a bit to make it up to 4 times a week.

3. Going green. Yaaay, I’m making progress here! I bought some glass pyrex containers to take my lunch to work in, because I’ve been a little worried about using plastic and its effects on health. So the food isn’t as separated as those nice plastic microwave containers, but I don’t have to worry about plastic byproducts either. I also bought a really nifty set of reusable utensils to take to work. They are GREAT! I feel wonderful using them. And my coworkers all look at them and say, “Oh, those are cute!” And I feel great because I’m not throwing away plastic utensils every day. Also, I’ve been taking my reusable Trader Joe bags with me when I go shopping. I’ve remembered them for every grocery shopping trip so far. (It’s the other shopping places that I forget to bring them.) But I am doing better over all and cutting way down on the plastic bags that I bring home. I still need to get some produce bags.

4. I am currently working on getting my finances in order in Quicken. I finally figured out how to get it to work correctly. Now I’m just going through and itemizing all expenses since last March. Ayiyi… big job. 😛

*Edit: See how others are coming along with their goals this year at the Happy Housewife’s blog!

Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 9:28 am  Comments (1)  
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New Year’s goals…

I have been contemplating what kinds of goals (er, resolutions – but I like calling them “goals” much better) to make this year and have come up with several.

  • Journal at least once a week. (I used to be faithful at journaling, but I have been slacking ever since I moved to my current location.)
  • Exercise at least 4 times a week, with DH.
  • Simplify, organize, and go green. Recycle. Re-use more and buy less. Avoid unnecessary plastic and paper (remember to take my bags with me when I go shopping!!). I’ve been doing some interesting research on the internet and have come across several ideas about how to “go green.” I have been considering joining a CSA. (Community supported agriculture.) What you do is put a certain amount of money into some farms and they give you a box of organic fruits and veggies every week. So. I don’t know, I’m still thinking about that option but the more I think about it the more I like the idea. Fresh, non-supermarket organic veggies and fruit… every week… mmmm.
  • Finances. I happen to be in charge of finances at my house, and I plan to get organized in this department. I bought Quicken 2007 for Mac which will help me itemize stuff and help with taxes (I hope). We need to wipe out some credit card debt from when my dh was in med school, so we’ll be getting busy on that (we’ve been chipping away at it, but we really need to wipe it out…)
Published in: on January 2, 2009 at 9:14 am  Comments (3)  
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