20 April 2011

Budget Blues

I have this habit of coming up with an idea, running around telling everyone about it and then, a week or so later, thinking I'm the biggest idiot for ever thinking that would work.

You'd think that since I'm aware of this trait of mine, I wouldn't be so pissed off at myself about now for committing to the free world on this blog that I would spend only $25 a week on groceries. For a month.

It's ridiculous. And if I wasn't so stubborn, I'd just throw in the kitchen towel now. But I said I was going to do it (or try my damnedest), so I'll do it. That's why I'm so annoyed to tell you that I spent close to $40 last week. And, despite my efforts, I feel that I really saved nothing by driving to a separate store to pick up 2 pounds on mild cheddar for $3.99. Yes, it was indeed cheaper than usual, but the extra trip seemed outrageous if I consider the kicking and screaming meltdown we had in the parking lot over which side of the car my 2-year-old was going to climb into. I wouldn't dare bribe him with that precious cheese, either.

Here's what I really want: Parmesan, avocado, mushrooms, buttermilk, sour cream, three kinds of pasta instead of one, pineapple, beets, sliced deli meats and cheeses, delicious coffee and nuts.

I'm learning a lot about what my family will tolerate and what they won't. Jasper has been asking for avocado, the one veggie he's loved since his baby food days. And I groan at Seth that he's now taken to eating peanut butter on toast in the mornings. And when I pulled the last few raisins out and placed them on the counter for Jasper to snack on, I got frustrated when, after cleaning up dinner, I found them, uneaten, but probably handled for hours. To the trash they went. What a waste, I thought.

This is not the first draft of this post. The other versions were so much sweeter. Talking about how I'm learning a lot about being frugal. But then I deleted that BS. I'm frustrated, ticked off. I'm ready for May to roll around, so I can go back to my usual habits, which, by the way, weren't outrageous to begin with.

I wouldn't want to suggest that I would turn to food in such an emotional moment (I refuse to reveal exactly how many M&Ms I've eaten while writing this). But, should you need something to comfort you when you're feeling dumpy, this isn't a bad way. These biscuits are delicious. And lucky for me, they're cheap.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cold
2/3 cup milk

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine all of the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and dump into the work bowl. Pulse about 10 times or until the butter is well incorporated with no pieces larger than a pea. Be careful not to over-process. If you don't have a food processor, combine the ingredients in a bowl and cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or fork.

Next, add the milk all at once. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold the dough just until it comes together. Dump dough onto a floured work surface and gently work into a ball. Working quickly, roll out dough until it is about 1/2 inch. Use a sharp biscuit cutter to cut circles or work with a knife to cut squares. If using a biscuit cutter, just push it straight down and pull up. Do not twist, this will make the biscuits to rise unevenly.

Then, place the biscuits on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter and place the entire tray in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. At this point, you could continue to freeze and transfer to a plastic bag once they are completely frozen, or you could bake at 450 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the tops are golden.

To bake frozen biscuits, remove however many you want, place on a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for about 14 minutes. Do not thaw before baking.

Variation: Add 1 additional tablespoon of sugar and the zest of an orange or lemon to the dough. After biscuits are shaped, use your thumb to create a well in the center of each. Fill well with jam. Proceed with recipe as directed for freezing and baking. While biscuits are baking, juice the orange or lemon and combine with enough powdered sugar to create a think glaze. Once biscuits are done, use a pastry brush to brush glaze on warm biscuits.


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy!
Hang in there with the budget!!! I have been working coupons and mark-downs for 2.5 years now and the best I have been able to do with any consistency is $200/month. Which is somewhere between $40-$50 a week, not $25!
And, if it makes you feel better, my grocery melt-down came when the girls actually tipped the cart completely backward, landing on their backs pinned under the cart. I was also 5 months pregnant at the time; it is a wonder DHS wasn't called in:) You are doing great and fancy meals will come again!

The cook in her kitchen said...

$50 a week seems much more reasonable -- and even still very frugal. It all depends on what you're buying, I suppose. Thanks for the vote of confidence, though. If nothing else, the exercise has been eye-opening.