Apart from Knut’s love of the South Beach Diet, in our house we’re not organic food crazed or fad diet crazed (I will never consider the South Beach Diet a fad diet. It’s good, old fashioned eat right diet.) However, I believe in real food. I will choose real butter over margarine any day. Real milk, real bread, real fruit. It just tastes better, and as a bonus it’s often cheaper.
The tough part about incorporating as much real food as possible is that it often requires that you cook from scratch. That’s why the use of the freezer is so vital to running our household. I have 2 freezer cookbooks: There’s a Chef in Your Freezer and The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet. The second one is good, but I’m sure there’s better books out there. The first one really taught me to have a different mindset when it comes to cooking from the freezer. I would recommend that one to anyone who has a garden as it has less “casserole in the freezer” recipes and more “how to preserve your garden for fast, all year round use.”
If you don’t have a garden, you can buy in bulk when the vegis are in season and cheap and get the same benefit, or be part of a garden co-op. The main 3 things I use from this cookbook is beef and chicken stock that I make in big batches on a lazy day at home, and roasting, pureeing and freezing tomatoes when they are ready from my garden. Those 3 things, frozen in little 1 or 2 cup portions in my freezer are something I use all the time. Since then, I’ve added pumpkin, squash, as well as many other vegetables to the freezer cooking technique. Most of all, I think about freezer cooking differently.
I’m always looking for ways to make real food faster, and in a more organized fashion. A little while ago, I did a quick post about how we started making homemade yogurt using the tutorial from Kitchen Stewardship. Well, Katie, who is the blogger from Kitchen Stewardship sent me an email after I posted that, saying she got a ton of hits on her site from that post. She was so delighted that she sent me one of her e-cookbooks as a gift for me. (Basically, a cookbook that you download instantly…so no shipping…and you can print off only pages you want to…which is extra frugal.)
The cookbook she sent me was for Healthy Snacks which use real food. In the post I had asked for favorite granola recipes, and her cookbook had a few. It also had homemade fruit roll-ups, power bars, muffins, bars, puddings, etc. She also codes each recipe for cost and work intensity, as well as whether they are diaper bag friendly or should stay in the fridge.
She also invited me to be one of her affiliates, and if someone should buy one of her cookbooks through my site, she’d send me a cut of the profits. It was easy from there for me to rationalize that I needed all 3 of her cookbooks so that I could recommend her with good conscience. (Notice how little prompting I need to get a cookbook…or any book. It’s a sickness really.)
Her Everything Beans book talks about the frugality, and high nutrition density of beans and how to incorporate them in the kitchen. She talks in my kind of language: making large batches on lazy days and freezing them into portions that are easy to grab and throw into a meal.
There’s a common thread in all of her books. They’re not just a compilation of recipes, but a complete “how to manage your kitchen” book with tips and tricks along the way. She has the organization that I lack, therefore she is my friend. 😉
For instance, she recommends some recipes that cook well together in the oven so you only have to have it on once. There are lots of lists too, which are going to be very instrumental in my weekly meal planning.
The third book that I drooled over for awhile and then gave in. I don’t regret it for one second. It’s her Family Camping Handbook. Notice that it doesn’t say “cookbook” although there are tons and tons of recipes in it. Katie goes over packing tips, things you’ll need in order to carry “real food” into the campsite and not settle for prepackaged food. Details like how to camp with babies and toddlers and not go insane…every family camping tip you’ve ever wanted to know.
We’ve been planning to go camping sometime this summer, and this book has me soooo pumped to do it now! It’s like going camping with someone super organized like my sister, Heidi. It’s like peeking inside of the brain of someone who thinks of everything, and has a method to all the madness. Some of the ideas were no brainers for me, and some were fresh and new and I will definitely be using during our next camping adventure this summer.
She teaches you how to pack a cooler for a few days worth of food, and what to prep for before you leave. It’s truly inspiring organization. I guess I just love that sort of thing.
She does not include my mother’s chili recipe, which was a mainstay in our family camping trips growing up. I’ll post that recipe later with my own tweeks, as well as about the best cornbread recipe using yogurt from a highly tweeked recipe I found online. (I changed over half the recipe, so can I call it mine?)
So as my first hand picked sponsor, I’m going to put a link to Katie’s cookbooks on my left sidebar, and right here: Click here to visit Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship. I’d like to figure out how to put a little “Kitchen Stewardship” picture button there, but for now we’ll all have to settle for a little letter link that I got. When I’m making some of her recipes in the future, I’ll try to let you know how it goes. So far everything we’ve tried has had a big thumbs up from both the grown-ups, kids, and wallet of this family.