The destined for the dumpster quiche

Food waste has become a big issue for me, and I am now going to be dedicating most of my blog to advising folks how they can rescue food that would otherwise be destined for the dumpster.  One of the things that I like about my local Piggly Wiggly store is that they regularly heavily discount foods that are looking slightly less for wear or with regards to perishables that are about to go “out of date” i.e., about to hit their “best before” date which in no way means that the food is inedible and needs to be thrown away.

With regards to vegetables they tend to lump the ugly veggies together and sell them off for 75cents, I do not know why they choose 75 cents but they do.  In my case I can usually buy an overripe tomato and an ugly looking green pepper for 75 cents.   Green onions on the other hand tend to be sold off in bundles of five bunches for 79 cents.   I do not know where the produce manager comes up with the numbers but I am happy to pick up the bargains.

Sometime it takes me a while to get to using the veggies, but I know what I can wait a while to use (green peppers and green onions for instance) as opposed to something I need to use almost immediately (an overripe tomato).  Last weekend then I made myself a quiche that comprised almost entirely of ingredients that were destined for the dumpster.


Yeah I know they look ugly but once you start cutting into them there are really nice useable parts of the veggies.

The pepper for instance had the really cool phenomenon of having another pepper growing inside it.


The spring onions continue to grow whether you like it or not so once you have cut off the shriveled and slimy bits you have some really nice green onions.  Pro tip, don’t throw away the roots of green onions, stuff  them in a pot of soil and they will regrow, it works for pretty much all veggies with roots attached.  Other pro tip, don’t throw away seeds of anything, be it tomatoes or green peppers, throw them in a pot and see if they grow.  You have nothing to lose!


I threw in some fresh mushrooms (mushrooms are something that I do not mess with when it comes to freshness) and soon I had a pile of lovely ingredients to throw in my quiche.


I had a nice pile of debris that will go into the compost pile.


The cheese I used to make the quiche was at least a year past its sell by date.  I know that makes people nervous but you have to understand that cheese does not by its very nature “go off” cheese just gets better.  To this end when my local Food Lion actually does reduce cheese nearing its “best by” date I snatch it up and stuff it in the back of my fridge and leave it alone. Good cheese is like good wine, it only gets better with age.  So a mediocre English cheddar which has been allowed to mature 10 months turns into a kick ass fabulously matured cheddar that has been sat in the fridge for a year.  Don’t believe me?  Here is a photo of the cheese that I used to make my quiche.


In case you can’t read it the “expiration date” on that cheese is “5/13/2014″.  Even the eggs I used for the quiche were purchased at Piggly Wiggly for two dozen for 99cents because again they were nearing their “best by” date, which has no relation whatsoever to whether or not something is still fit to eat.

So here is the quiche, in which every ingredient but one including the pie crust, was supposedly past its “best by”  date ( I bought the package at Nicks and Dents)



This fed me for three days, I am still not dead.


Mothers Day

I have always been in awe of my Mum. She was deserted by her philanderer of a husband in the 60s with two kids under five to raise on her own. Her parents had both passed before I was born and therefore she was basically on her own. As I have told before she rented a small two up and two down house (with an outside toilet) until she saved up the princely sum of 5 pounds as a down payment on a house. She was on the Brit equivalent of welfare but still worked 40 hours a week as a cook at the local university cafeteria to be allowed to earn a pittance above her welfare check. (Whatever she was given in welfare was deducted from her paycheck per week, whatever was left she was allowed to keep). Her mortgage was 4 pounds 18 pence a month. She paid 5 pounds in order to get it paid off quicker. We were clothed from thrift stores, I earned money sweeping the front of the local store, we picked left over veggies from the weekend market, and collected left over coal from the trucks turning at the top of the hill.

And you know what? I never went hungry. I never felt that I was not dressed appropriately because Mum had a sewing machine and if hot pants were in fashion then she could make them for me. I remember when crocheted ponchos were in fashion my mum got out her needle and all her bits of spare wool and made me one. It was my own “coat of many colors” that I was so proud of.

Several years ago she sold the house that she put a 5 pounds down payment on for one hundred and sixty five thousand pounds. I’d say she did well for a mill girl from Carnforth.  My Mum rocks!

The Odds

I had to take my bosses car to the shop today due to an oil leak.  Stevenson Toyota in Jacksonville has possibly the nicest waiting area on the planet.  It has all of the beverages you can ever imagine including hot tea, it has a tv, it has newspapers, it has computers with access to the internet, I mean it is a pleasure to sit and wait for a car to be serviced.

As I sat there and drank my hot tea, and read the newspaper, a young black man with twin 19 month old boys came into the waiting area.  Their names were Abraham and Aaron.  They were dressed identically except for their shoes, Daddy admitted that he cheated with their shoes, Aaron’s had black soles, Abraham’s had white soles.  At one point they both took off at the same time in the opposite directions and immediately “having ones hands full” came to mind.  Daddy knew to chase Abraham first cause he was the trouble maker, Aaron he caught up with afterwards.

Daddy bundled them up into an oversized chair and pulled up some game on his smart phone and the boys giggled with him as they played the game.  Two perfect boys enjoying a precious moment with their Daddy.

At that point my heart broke.  I could not even imagine the fear of Daddy, the absolute terror that his two precious boys were going to either be shot by some asshole with a gun and a superiority complex or they were going to end up in jail for something as simple as pot possession.  I know that he has going to have “the talk” with his precious 19 month old boys about how to react when they are pulled over by the police, I know he is going to have to have the talk about how to react when they are accused of a crime that they did not commit.

I sat there and watched, as a white woman, a joyous daddy and his sons, and my heart broke.  I cannot even imagine how it feels to be the parent of a black son in this country in these current times.  I know for a fact that a white parent does not wake up every day worrying about that.  Something has got to give, and give soon.

The Dead Plant Section

I have mentioned the “dead plant” section at Lowes several times but it is time that I elaborate on this.  At my local Lowes there is a section at the very back of the Garden Center to the left which contains plants that the local nurseries have determined to be lost hopes.  These for the most part are perennials that have already bloomed and are therefore no longer attractive, or annuals that are looking a bit tired and therefore unsellable.  For the most part they are discounted to 50 cents or less.

This is an absolute gold mine for the dedicated gardener, especially when it comes to the perennials that have already bloomed.  Sure they have done their stuff for the year, but that doesn’t mean they are done for their life.  It is also a gold mine for things that are sold as annuals but actually perennialize in your area.  Here in my area Dianthus is a reliable perennial, five out of ten plants come back year after year, even in baskets and containers.  So true with Lantanta, particularly the Ms. Huff (I cannot describe it better than it being a confetti looking flower with pink, yellow, red, and orange petals all on the same flower).   I bought a Ms. Huff lantana about ten years ago, it was a four inch pot, and it cost me 25 cents.  I stuck it in the ground in the circular bed by the side of my patio and it has just exploded into the most magnificent plant I have ever known.

Every year it comes back larger and larger, to the extent that it is now six feet tall and at least six feet wide.  I have to admit that this year, due to our extreme ice storms I thought I had lost it, but sure enough, when I checked the base of the dead stalks there were the shoots, coming up from the frozen earth.  She is again going to be magnificent, feeding every butterfly and humming bird within miles.  All for 25 cents and a tiny bit of work.

I cannot express to you how much I recommend the dead plant section at Lowes.




Girly Gardening

Today we went to the garden center (Lowes) and picked up some plants so that I could indulge in some girly gardening.  Of course I headed back to the “dead plant section” of Lowes which I love, some of my greatest finds have been found there, and I picked up lots of flowers to fill my containers which edge my driveway.  I also found citrus trees, loaded with fruit at half price, from $29.99 to $15.00.  I got a lemon, a grapefruit, a mandarin and an orange.  I know I am going to have to crowd them into the greenhouse for the winter but just the idea of a fresh grapefruit in the morning it was worth it.

So when I got home I did my girly gardening.   For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, girly gardening involves container planting, while wearing pink gloves, and a jaunty pink hat, and, depending on the time of day (late in the afternoon) sipping a glass of cold white wine while gardening.   I got all my containers sorted out, with my usual color schemes, red, white and blue, and purple and gold.  The Red and White Dianthus in the containers from last year have returned and are currently in full bloom, I only had to add some blue lobelia to complete the color scheme.

I replaced the weeds and grass that had taken over the other containers with purple Angelonia, gold Marigolds, and gold Portucalaca.   The large containers were planted with purple Angelonia, purple Pentas, and gold marigolds and portucalaca.

I love girly gardening, it gives me to the opportunity to be the uber gentile English woman.  Yes the backbreaking work of planting the vegetable garden begins next week but for this week, I can wear pink gloves, and a pink hat, and drink a glass of wine while I sort out my containers.  It was a good day.

The Four Yorkshiremen

When I was a kid we lived in a two up, two down house on Westam Street.  It was basically a living room and kitchen on the ground flood and two bedrooms upstairs.  It had no bathroom.  There was an outside toilet, totally separate from the house, and all body washing action was conducted in the kitchen.   The only hot water in the house was from the small hot water boiler in the kitchen which was basically a hot water on demand type of deal which is so popular today once people realized that boiling a whole tank of water a day is a total waste of money.

Like I said we had no bathroom.  Bathing then was an issue.  Mostly Mum would fill a metal bathtub for us and my sister and I would share a bath.  Occasionally we would take a bus to my Auntie Dot’s house, get off at the stop at the bottom of the hill and then trudge up the hill and we would all take a bath, in glorious hot water, in a proper bathtub.

I am relating this information because my water heater quit on me.  Luckily the weather is warm enough that taking cold showers every day is not a problem, however I hate washing my hair in cold water,  the short term fix then is boiling water and washing my hair in the kitchen sink.  I remember how to do it, you place a face cloth over your eyes and pour a container of hot water over your head and get your hair wet enough to lather.  You then wash your hair and then using the same face cloth over your eyes, pour enough water over your head to rinse off the suds.  As I said this is a short term solution until I can either get the water heater fixed or figure out an alternative for hot water.

It occurred to me how easily I can default to my earlier life and figure out how to cope without what is commonly thought of a basic necessity, on demand hot water.  I was also able to do this after numerous hurricanes here in North Carolina, I had a set up on the barbecue where I had a constant supply of charcoal (no electricity) on the grill and two or three huge pots of water boiling at all times, both for bathing and for dishes, it kept us going for at least a couple of weeks.

Yes I know my childhood story sounds like the Four Yorkshiremen but in my case it is true.


So this happened

We had another winter storm in Eastern NC last night, and it was a bad one.  At first glance it was kind of wimpy, but this morning when I went out to warm up my car I could not open up the driver’s side door.  It was frozen shut.  I managed to get the passenger side door open and eventually shoved the driver’s side door open.  I turned on the engine and started up the heater and went back inside to finish getting ready for work.

When I eventually went out to the car my driver’s side door while open refused to close, the closing mechanism was frozen.  In order to drive to work without the doors flying open when I went around a corner, I had to pull the door shut and then lock it.  I have a central locking system so when I locked the driver’s side door it locked every door in the car.  When I arrived at work I parked and tried to unlock the door.  Nothing.  The lock was frozen.  I opened the window and tried to use my key to open the door, nothing.  So I was basically trapped in my car, outside the office.

Luckily for me the waitress from the Courthouse Caffee next door drove up and parked a few spaces from me.  I waved her over.  “Hi, can you help I am trapped in my car”  I explained the situation to her and said that basically I needed her to help me climb out of the window of the car.  She was a trooper and manhandled me out of the car through the driver’s side window.  Then the window would not close, so I had to leave my car with the driver’s side window open when we were expecting more freezing rain.

I went out to the car at about 10am and thankfully not only did my car unlock but the electric window closed.    I have to admit that in all my years of being stuck in cold weather, I spent four years in Scotland for goodness sake, I never thought that I would have to climb out of my car using my window.

This Winter has been insane.