Friday, July 29, 2011

Frugal Friday- Iced Coffee

Heading into our 2nd month of serious buckling down on the budget and I have to admit that I have fallen back on the debit card a few times for some off budget items. Oh well, at least I am paying attention and making those decisions, and mostly they were things we need. Like when you happen to find Levi's in the right size at Sam's Club for $22 and you know hubby is down to raggedy work pants then that's a good choice to buy them. Bath and Bodyworks and Victoria's Secret, not so much. But I had coupons!
 Love this stuff!
It doesn't look like that on me! Go figure...

Now back to the frugal Friday tip. I saw this post about a recipe for cold-brewed coffee  from the New York Times and I really love a good iced coffee. 

When I was on the east coast Dunkin' Donuts knew how to do them right, but here in Colorado I have found it is really hit and miss. McD's has great coffee, and their iced coffee would be good if they didn't always screw up the sugar somehow. Starbucks has been less than stellar, not sure why, but iced coffee doesn't seem to be their forte. So I got all excited when I saw this cold-brewed coffee idea and decided to give it a try. Only problem was that I wasn't too excited about the messy process of straining the grinds out of the water after it brewed for 12 hours. The first time I tried it I discovered that I had a few filter bags of coffee like the ones they put in the hotels for the in-room coffee service. Picked those up at the cabin we rented a couple months ago, what can I say ;) So I put them in a mason jar with 1 1/2 cups of water/bag and let them stand overnight and voila! No muss, no fuss and it was really good. 

Now I don't have a regular supply of those bags, but I figured I could make them myself with some coffee filters and string. I actually used button thread because that is what I had on hand, kitchen twine would work too if you have some and can find it, but I couldn't find mine of course.

 Since Big K commutes every day I have been making a pitcher full and keeping it in the frig. I make 1 coffee bag for every 1 1/2 cups of water. 
 Put 1/3 cup of coffee in the filter, then cut a piece of thread or twine long enough to tie around the top a couple of times.
 Carefully gather the top of the filter, tie it into a neat little bundle like this.
 Measure 1 1/2 cups of water for each bag and put the bags in the pitcher. Let it stand for at least 12 hours. Remove bags and refrigerate. 

WARNING! DO NOT attempt to squeeze the liquid out of the bags when removing them. They will burst open and you will have a huge mess of grinds in your coffee concentrate. Yuck! You don't want that. Then you will have to strain it, which is what you were trying to avoid by making these nice little filter bundles.
 Now if you are commuting you can get yourself a nice reusable cup like this at WalMart and fill it with ice, fill about 2/3 full with coffee, fill the rest with milk and add sugar or Splenda to taste. Now get yourself a "tip jar" and deposit $2 that you saved by doing it yourself! Hey, that is $10/week that you didn't even plan to save!
.And since she discovered the coffee Big K got the idea to buy this little pitcher and make her own iced tea to take to the office instead of going to 7-11 or Subway and paying $2/day for it. She fills it with water every night, drops in 2 tea bags and sets it in the 'frig. In the morning she fills it the rest of the way with ice. That's another $2/day in the "tip jar."  I always see these articles about how to save money, and beverages like coffee, tea and bottled water seem to top the list of money wasters. But you don't have to give them up, just DIY and save yourself a lot of money too!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Kitchen is Open

The Rainbow Creek Kitchen is re-opening. I was initially planning to integrate all my posts on food and budgeting over at Up the Rainbow Creek. But then I thought it might be nice to have a place to chronicle my journey separately from my crafty space. And here I am again.

One of the reasons I quit this blog is that I was facing too many challenges in trying to accomplish what I wanted here. The first one being my horrific kitchen is just not conducive to food blogging. Another issue was our blended family and the fact that we have food issues here. But I am working through those issues and more and more I find myself wanting to share these experiences and blogging in my head about the little tidbits that I think others might find useful or interesting.

So I made some decisions today and I am going to move ahead and face my challenges and do what I can.

If you want to take a chance on following along or stopping by for an occasional visit at The Rainbow Creek Kitchen here is what you can expect to find:

  1. Some good recipes that I know you will love to try. But I don't guarantee that I will have perfect measurements. You have to be willing to "wing it" a bit to follow my recipes. That is because I am a little loosey oosey when it comes to cooking. I tend to throw things together and if they turn out good I try to remember how I did it so I can share it or do it again. But I am always around and willing to answer questions if you want to ask, or just call me up while you are cooking dinner and I will talk you through it. Really. I am used to that because that is how my daughter's all learned to cook.
  2. A look at how we are learning to budget and live more frugally. This is the end of Month 1 of my plan to live a simpler more stress free life. And even though we are still light years away from our goal I can tell you that I am already feeling calmer and more focused.
  3. A focus on living and eating healthy and fresh foods that are affordable and kid friendly.
  4. An occasional rant.
  5. Horrible pictures from the ugliest kitchen on the planet, which will most likely be the subject of the occasional rant.

See, that is actually a delicious Warm Steak and Spinach Salad w/balsamic vinagrette and Gogonzola, on a turquoise Fiestaware plate on a white cutting board. But something went horribly wrong and I am pretty sure that I would never convince anyone to want to eat this if they saw this picture. 

Then I dropped my camera in my drink at the beach a few days ago. I guess my camera is a lightweight and can't handle her vodka tonics because she has been in an unresponsive state ever since. So that's actually the good news. I am definitely going to be investing in a new camera :)