Saturday, March 28, 2009


We eat a lot of salad here. Particularly during lettuce season, which it is right now. You'd think that it's always lettuce season in California, but not always.

The last three weeks, we've gotten a head of lettuce at the CSA that's about 3 to 3.5 lbs. Each. I'm not exaggerating, I actually measured the one this week. 3.4 lbs.

I generally make salads with whatever I have on hand. Olive oil and vinegar (balsamic, red wine, rice wine...). Nuts, fruit, blue cheese, olives, carrots, radishes...

This salad is very pink...steamed beets, dried cranberries, shredded carrots, and a red-wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, OJ dressing...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Broccoli couscous

Another decent recipe from Vegan Express by Nava Atlas, adjusted a bit, of course. This one took a little longer than 15 mins to make because I used organic broccoli from the CSA. And I spent 15 mins washing off as many little silver bugs as I could, and just cooked the rest.

Broccoli Couscous:
2/3 c. whole wheat couscous: 0.56
1.5 c. boiling water
3 c. chopped fresh broccoli: 1.12 (about 12 oz at $1.50/lb for organic)
1/4 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes: 0.17
1/4 c. sliced kalamata olives: 0.30
1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced: 0.67
the juice of 1 lemon, or 2 frozen lemon juice cubes: 0.25
1/4 c. fresh chopped parsley, or 4 frozen parsley cubes: 0.25
2 tsp dried dill: I got fresh dill last summer from CSA, and just let it sit on the counter...
1 T. olive oil: 0.22, or some leftover oil from the sun dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
Total: 3.54 for 5 servings, or $0.71 per serving

Put couscous in a glass bowl. Boil water for 3 mins in microwave in microwave-safe dish. Add to couscous, cover with lid, let sit till you need it, then fluff with fork.

Saute onion in olive oil until golden brown. Add broccoli and a little bit of water. Cover, reduce heat, and steam 5 min.

Remove lid. Add parsley and lemon juice (especially if frozen), and stir until defrosted and some of the liquid has evaporated. Add fluffed couscous, sun-dried tomatoes, and kalamata olives. Stir. Add dried dill, which came last because I forgot about it. About three pinches.

Salt and pepper to taste.

This is another keeper. Next time I might add chickpeas.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Weekly Meal Plan and Soup

Saturday (today)
Salmon with soy/honey/lemon/mustard glaze
Roasted potato/leek/turnip/onion soup. (See this recipe, but with onions instead of garlic and turnips instead of half the potatoes)
Mixed frozen veggies, micro'd with pepper, olive oil, parmesan tossed at the end

The soup was delicious as before, but I missed the garlic. This time I used arugula pesto instead of parsley (we found some of last year's pesto in the freezer). Still good. Sadly, we were to have friends over for dinner, and they are sick (I am remembering how sick I was the first year of my son's life). So we still have extra salmon.

Sunday (tomorrow)
The rest of the salmon.
Pasta with onions, garlic, diced canned tomatoes, and chard (usually I make this with kale, but we got chard this week).
Salad (we got a really big head of red leaf)

Leftover potato turnip leek soup

Lemony couscous with broccoli
salad or roasted turnips

Leftover taco soup from freezer

Leftover couscous or soup
Some kind of veggie from the CSA (tbd)

Either leftovers (if there are any, it's kinda hard to tell because we eat leftovers for lunch everyday too) OR
Indian lentils (from a packet in the pantry) and Indian veggie burgers (from the freezer)

My latest quilt

Yep, that's my other hobby. I don't do it as much as cooking ('cuz, you gotta eat), and I definitely do it less than I did before becoming a mom. But my quilting group (The Blockheads) meet 9 times a year in the community center to quilt, so that helps. I usually only make it about 6-7 times (this year, a couple of vacations interfere.)

We did an exchange last year, and this is the quilt I made for one of my fellow group members.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Curried Cashew Couscous

We all know the appeal of the crockpot. Throw a bunch of stuff in, plug it in in the morning, come home to dinner ready.

But this blog notwithstanding, it's hard to come up with a menu plan full of crockpot meals.

Enter couscous. I got a new cookbook for Christmas: Vegan Express. The first recipe I tried was underwhelming. This one was pretty good. It's about a 3.5 out of 5 for taste, but it's a 6 out of 5 for ease. Seriously, took 15 mins. That's my kind of dinner. Pair it with microwaved veggies, and you're done. This is a keeper for the time, and for the fact that everything in it is in my pantry, except for the green onions. Those are hit or miss.

Curried Cashew Couscous
1 c. whole wheat couscous: 0.75
2 c. water: 0
1 tsp. vegetarian bouillon: 0.10
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger: 0.10
3 scallions, sliced: 0.30
1 c. frozen peas: 0.17
1/2 c. raisins: 0.16
1/2 c. cashews, chopped: 0.73
1/2 tsp. turmeric: 0.05
1 tsp curry powder: 0.10
2 T olive oil: 0.22
Salt and pepper
Total: $2.68 for 6 servings. $0.45 per serving.

Combine couscous, water, and bouillon in a nonstick skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir, cover, remove from heat. Let sit 5 to 10 min, or until water is absorbed.

Remove lid. Add remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat for 5 mins or so, until well mixed and warmed through.

This becomes a 15 min meal if you do the couscous first, and chop while it's hydrating.

And finally! A use for curry powder. As much as I like Indian food, real recipes don't actually call for curry powder, they call for the ingredients. Thus, I have curry powder, but never use it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crockpot Taco Soup

This recipe originated here. I am looking forward to testing out more. I don't use my crockpot very much, but with a return to full time, I expect to use it more.

Of course, I adjusted the recipe to both make it cheaper and a bit more "from scratch". First, I used dried beans instead of canned. This meant cooking up 1 cup of dried kidney beans in the pressure cooker on Sat (and then freezing), and cooking up 1 cup of dried pintos on Sunday. On Tuesday, I browned the meat. Instead of the large can diced tomatoes and small can of tomatoes and chiles, I used 3 cans (14 oz) of diced tomatoes and 4 oz can of green chiles. I added a "cube" of chipotle (I buy it, puree it, don't use very much, put it in ice cube trays, move to a freezer bag, where it languishes. It's hot. I have to make a LOT of something so that it's not too hot.)

I also subbed some spices for the MSG-filled "ranch dip mix".

So here goes. My son loves the "juice" of soup (the broth), and kept saying "juice is spicy, milk makes it better".

Crockpot Taco Soup
3 c. cooked kidney beans, drained: 0.45
3 c. cooked pinto beans, drained: 0.33
2 cans corn, undrained: 1.78
3 cans diced tomatoes (14 oz each), undrained: 1.68
1 can diced green chiles: 0.60
1 packet taco seasoning: 0.50
1 lb browned ground sirloin: 2.25
chipotle, paprika, sugar, garlic powder, onion flakes, and parsley ("ranch dip" substitute): 0.50
Total: 8.09 for about 17 cups, or 0.48 per cup

Dump in crockpot. Stir. Cook for 8 hours on low.

This was pretty good. Not fabulously good, even with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. But pretty good. I might try it next time vegetarian, and add some fresh onion and garlic.

I served this with Bok Choy with a soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, molasses, and peanut butter sauce mixture. It was pretty good, even if it doesn't sound it.

It's a big week on the farm:
2 bunches bok choy
1 head napa cabbage
the largest head of lettuce I've ever seen
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch collard greens
2 kohlrabi
3 oranges
1 lb mandarins
1/4 lb spinach

Cabbage is going into ramen slaw for the big birthday bash. Lettuce and spinach for salad and sandwiches. Greens maybe for an egg dish, or collard chips. Kohlrabi for stir-fry. That should get me all the way to next Weds. I still have a bulb of fennel from last week...I traded the fennel for extra bok choy this week.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Salmon and Cabbage

So, my neighbor has a "fish guy". He exchanges services with various types of people, and occasionally gets fresh local fish. The local salmon is amazing. And my neighbor is a bit of a fish snob. He'll ONLY eat it fresh, so he gives us whatever he can't eat that night.

We eat some fresh and promptly freeze the rest (I'm not a fish snob).

Our neighbor gave us some salmon last night. Yum!

Glazed Salmon
1 salmon fillet
juice of 1 lemon
soy sauce

I'm not estimating the cost, because it will depend on what you pay for salmon. And mine was free.

Mix lemon juice, soy sauce, mustard, honey in a bowl.

Saute salmon in a skillet, 5 mins each side (depends on how thick the salmon is). Add the glaze, cook until thick. I always have to cook it covered for a few minutes to cook it through.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

This simple recipe originated here. I adjusted it a bit.

1/2 head red cabbage, chopped: 0.75
1 T olive oil: 0.11
1/2 onion, diced: 0.20
1.5 T sugar: 0.05
2 T balsamic vinegar: 0.11
salt and pepper

Total: $1.22 for two generous servings.

Saute onion in oil until golden brown. Add cabbage, increase to medium-high heat, cook 5 min. Add salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar, saute 5 min. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 20-30 min.

We had Salmon (Asian), Red cabbage (German), and Middle Eastern flat bread.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A New Recipe Source

So, I have a crockpot. Two, truthfully. One small (a 2-piece job, like a griddle and a metal rectangular thing that goes on top) that I got as a bridal shower gift (in 1996). And a bigger crock one (still low-budget - no timer) last year.

I don't use them much. Crockpots are great for meat.

We don't eat much meat. What do I mean by that? Well, I'm planning a taco soup for Thursday, and I dig out the ground sirloin from the freezer, which says "September" on it. Then I spend 10 mins trying to figure out how long ground beef keeps in the freezer. Answer: 4 months, or indefinitely. Indefinitely, but freezer burn might harm the quality. It will still be safe.

So I'll see after it's defrosted if I want to use it. Otherwise, it will be a vegetarian taco soup.

The last couple of times that I googled "vegetarian crockpot recipes" or "vegan crockpot recipes" (admittedly a few years ago), I found a couple here and there.

This time: mother lode. And from one of my favorite sites: Fat Free Vegan.

So here it is:


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw

So, I got this recipe from the CSA years ago. Like, somewhere in the range of 2001 to 2004. It is SOOO good and we used to make it regularly.

And then I lost it. I've looked many places (not everywhere, but everywhere I can think of) AND I CAN'T FIND IT.

So this is a guess based on my memory. A google search of red cabbage and apple salad didn't bring up anything obvious, except for something from Chez Panisse Fruits which looks close.

So here goes...I think it needs some diced onion and a little shredded carrot:

Red cabbage slaw:
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
1 apple, diced
blue cheese
toasted walnuts

dressing (no measurements, sorry):
olive oil
lemon juice
red wine vinegar
dijon mustard
salt and pepper
pinch sugar.

Mix apples and slaw. Toss with dressing.

When ready to serve, top with blue cheese and toasted walnuts (raisins were good too, I tossed a few on top).

But really, I think it needs carrots and a little onion.

Week 1 March

Week 1 of March I came in at $37.66 (goal under $40). Technically, week's not over until tomorrow, but I have no plans to shop tomorrow. Next Sat is my son's birthday party, so groceries for the week will be focused on that.

What I got this week:

red cabbage

and I still have last week's fennel and some carrots.

onions, garlic, red lentils
flatbread, milk, blue cheese
sesame oil, rice vinegar
frozen vegetables, and some other stuff that escapes me

My pantry and freezer are stocked from the very flush $300 Feb month.

Meal plans for the week:
Sat: red lentil curry, red cabbage and apple slaw, roast turnips, flatbread
Sun: roast chicken, fried brown rice, kohlrabi
Mon: leftovers and salad
Tue: spaghetti with homemade pesto (do you have any idea how much I have in the freezer?) and roasted kale
Wed: leftovers and sweet and sour red cabbage
Thurs: crockpot taco soup (with adjustments - additional herbs instead of the ranch dip mix - which is not frugal - $2.59 a packet, and not healthy - 1st and 2nd ingredients are MSG and salt, and I'm using beans cooked from dried).
Fri: leftovers

I am going to be making much more use of the crockpot and pressure cooker. I return to full time on Monday :( for two reasons...too much work and the need to buy a new car (ours was wrecked).

Too much work - I've decided that it's probably less stressful to work 40 hrs and get paid for 40, than try to get 40 hrs of work done in 30, end up working 35 (but getting paid for 30). And my bosses are okay with me doing work from home, 5-10 hrs a week. We'll see how that goes. Mostly those hrs will be early morning (5:30 to 6:30), evening (8 to 9) - all while my toddler is sleeping. Or nap times on weekends.

Still haven't replaced the car. I hate car shopping.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tex Mex Macaroni and "Cheese"

"Cheese" in quotes, you note.

This is based on a Weight Watchers recipe. I have made Tex Mex versions of Mac and Cheese before (from Rachael Ray). Now, Rachael Ray isn't the healthiest cook. This version is much healthier, and allowed me to use up some butternut squash from the CSA. I adjusted the recipe's amounts based on what I had.

Tex Mex Macaroni and Cheese:
8 oz whole wheat penne: 0.70
2 cups cooked mashed butternut squash: 1.00
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk: 0.23
1 cup canned diced tomatoes: 0.28
4-oz can diced green chiles: 0.75
3 oz shredded cheddar cheese: 0.40
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder: 0.01
1/2 c. salsa: 0.50

Total: $3.87 for 6 servings. $0.65 per serving.

Cook pasta al dente to package directions.

Mix milk powder and water with a whisk. Heat in a saucepan with the butternut squash until bubbling. Add diced tomatoes, salt, cheese, and green chiles. Continue to cook, stirring, keeping warm.

Drain pasta, put back in pot, mix with squash and cheese sauce. Serve topped with salsa.

It was quite tasty, my toddler scarfed it down.