Happy Valentine's Day everyone. ❤️💖
Here is my list of frugal things:
(1) Finished reading four books so far this year (and am halfway through two others). I had been on a very long run of reading only non-fiction, and got back into reading some fiction again. Three of the books I read were fiction, and I recommend them: "The Silent Patient" and "Memory Man" are both gripping page turners. The other was "Good Omens", and I haven't laughed as much while reading a book in a long long time. I highly recommend it. Got all of the books read this year for free through the library on either Hoopla or Libby.
(2) Sowed peas, beets, flowers. I start almost everything in my garden from seed. It's very frugal since it's just pennies as opposed to buying starts from the garden center for $1-2. I also started some eggplant seeds for the garden this week - starting them early because I hope to get them nice and big before I transplant them. I'll start spinach and radishes in the next week or two.
(3) I've been making loads of stir-fry lately. I ran out, and so made a new batch of hot oil. I'll share the recipe below in case anyone else is interested. I used to spend $4.99 for a small bottle of it at the Asian store until I started making my own. I highly recommend it since you can customize it to suit your taste, and it costs less than a dollar to make a good sized bottle of it.
I used to buy hot oil (the condiment you find at the tables of Chinese restaurants) because I made lots of stir-frys and also because I found that when getting take-away food from a restaurant, I was given the condiment in impossibly tiny containers and it was never nearly enough. However, it can be expensive to buy it (if you eat lots of hot food like me), and so I started making my own. The only two ingredients you really need are red pepper flakes and oil (something that has a higher smoke point - not olive oil). I usually buy the red pepper flakes from the bulk section of the grocery store for a few pennies, but you can also buy bags of it for $1-$2, and you can use those for 4-8 batches depending on how much red pepper you are going to use. And I use regular canola oil.
1. Add the red pepper flakes to a glass jar. The more flakes you add, the hotter the oil will be. I usually fill the jar about half full because I like hot spice.
2. Add any other ingredients you like (I usually add a little pink salt, some sesame seeds, peanuts, and thin garlic slivers). This is optional, but I find makes it much more flavorful.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan that has a lip for easy pouring. Heat until you start seeing small wisps rising.
4. Place the jar on a flat surface and slowly pour the oil into it in small batches. It will bubble up and smoke, so stand back. Once the jar is filled, take a spoon or chopstick and mix the peppers about in the oil to ensure that you don't have any dry spots or air pockets. You can do this indoors, but I don't recommend it because you'll be coughing a lot and your entire kitchen will smell like chili peppers for a week. I always do it outdoors. I then leave it outside until it is at room temperature before I bring it in.
It can be stored at room temperature and will last for months. I add it to my stir-fry of course, but also use it in loads of other ways. A little spoonful in scrambled eggs, mixed with yogurt or sour cream for a spicy dip, mixed in with some plain hummus to make it spicy, etc. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy.