Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer cucumber salad

So, it's Thursday. Otherwise known as CSA day. Otherwise known as the day we eat the last of last week's CSA veggies. This week, that meant a big cucumber.

This salad was a little of this, a little of that, and it was fabulous, probably the best cucumber salad that I've ever made, and I make a lot of it.

Cucumber greek-ish salad
1 large cucumber, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and sliced into 1/4 inch wide slices: 1.00
1/2 tsp salt
2 T pepperoncini, chopped: 0.20
6 kalamata olives, sliced: 0.20
2 T sun dried tomatoes in oil (chopped), plus a little of the oil: 0.20
2 small cloves garlic: 0.10
2 T roasted red pepper, chopped: 0.20
2 T feta cheese: 0.43
pinch dried oregano
pepper to taste
1 T balsamic vinegar: 0.10
1 small tomato, diced: 0.30
Total: $2.73 for about 3 cups, or $0.91 per generous 1-cup serving.

Put the cucumbers in a colander over a bowl. Toss with salt. Fill a ziploc bag with water and put it on top for one hour to press and drain out some of the water. Use a towel to pat dry the cucumber at the end of the hour.

Toss remaining ingredients together and enjoy.

I had this with fresh corn from the CSA (the corn and tomato were in today's haul), and a veggie burger.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mac Daddy

This recipe comes courtesy of Veganomicon. Now, it's vegan macaroni and cheese. I don't want to give you the wrong impression. There's no cheese in this, and cheese lovers will certainly know it.'s still quite tasty. My spouse was hesitant, but gave it a big thumbs up.

I decided to go with this because we have no cheese, and no money until the weekend when August and a new budget starts.

I'm not going to give the directions (you'll have to buy or check out the book for that).

Mac Daddy adapted from Veganomicon

3/4 lb. macaroni: 0.38
1 1/2 c. nutritional yeast: $2.00
1 lb firm tofu, drained: 1.19
juice of 1 lemon: 0.30
2 tsp mustard: 0.10
1/4 tsp turmeric: 0.05
1 cube vegetable bouillon: 0.38
6 cloves garlic: 0.30
1/2 c. flour: 0.16
4 cups water
2 T olive oil (divided): 0.22
salt, pepper and thyme: 0.05
couple handfuls of chard from the garden: 0

Total: $5.13 for 12 servings, or $0.43 per serving

I made this Sunday. We had leftovers tonight (still a couple of servings left for lunches). Along with some fresh berries and grapes, and zucchini.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Baked Malaysian Tofu

This recipe is adapted from Vegan Dad. Adapted based on what I had on hand and my method of cooking, which differs a tiny bit.

This was DELICIOUS, just the right amount of spice for a toddler. I added some chile-garlic sauce to mine.

Malaysian Tofu, adapted from Vegan Dad:
1 lb firm tofu: 1.19
2 T canola oil: 0.07
1 onion, diced: 0.29
1/2 tsp turmeric: 0.05
1/4 c. shredded coconut: 0.25
3 cloves garlic, pressed: 0.15
1 inch ginger, grated: 0.10
1/2 jalapeno, minced: 0.03 (boy, these babies are cheap!)
2 T soy sauce: 0.15
1 can light coconut milk: 0.99
1 1/4 c. veggie stock: 0
juice of 1 lime: 0.17
1 T sugar: 0.02
1.5 T. white vinegar: 0.01
1/2 bunch cilantro: 0.25
2 small tomatoes: 0.30

Total: $4.02 for about 6 cups, $0.67 per cup. Serve over brown rice, at $0.10 per 3/4 cup cooked.

Total per serving: $0.77

Preheat oven to 400F.

Drain tofu. Place on a folded paper towel on a plate. Cover with another paper towel and plate, and put a heavy can or cup on top. Drain/press for 15 min. Dice into 3/4 inch cubes.

Heat 1 T oil in nonstick skillet. Fry tofu over medium heat until browned/yellowed on most sides. Add turmeric and stir. Add a small bit of broth and stir until it has evaporated, just to spread around the turmeric. Move the tofu to a plate. Cool the pan a bit and wipe dry.

Cook the coconut over medium heat in a dry pan, stirring regularly until toasted. Add onions, ginger, jalapeno and garlic. Add another Tbsp of canola oil. Cook, stirring regularly until onions are soft, 7 min.

Add soy sauce and coconut milk. Stir well. Add broth, vinegar, sugar, lime juice and stir well.

Pour sauce into a baking dish with a cover. Drop in tofu (gently! it splashes! ouch!) Cover and bake for 25 min.

Meanwhile, put the brown rice in the rice cooker.

Remove cover. Stir. Cover and cook 25 more min. Remove cover and cook 10 more min.

Remove from oven. Add chopped cilantro and diced tomatoes. Let rest 10 min (not necessary, my family just wasn't ready to eat). Serve over rice. Add salt to taste.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coconut Corn Soup

The recipe comes from Vegan Express by Nava Atlas.

This was pretty good. Not "oh my god", but "pretty good", especially considering it only took about 20 min to make. Updated to add: moves up to YUMMY on day 2.

I'm not going to post the recipe (you'll have to buy the book! or borrow it). It has:

coconut milk: $3.60
rice milk: 0.75
red bell pepper: 1.25
frozen corn: 1.25
garlic: 0.30
green onion: 0.60
curry powder: 0.15
thai red curry paste: 0.05
salt: 0.01

It was quite delicious, and made about 8 cups. Total per cup is about $0.84.

It was also a little too spicy for the toddler, but not too spicy for us.

We had this with salad and "last-minute salmon", meaning, we were putting dinner on the table and the neighbor dropped off fresh salmon (in exchange for a beer). [:)] So I made a small piece and we (gasp!) froze the rest. Don't tell the neighbor! He only eats it fresh, and he won't eat it when his vegetarian daughter is staying with him.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos! First time we've gotten them from the CSA. This is our 9th year. I made salsa.

It was pretty good. Interesting flavor...I'm not used to tomatillo salsa.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1-2 T canola oil
0.75 lbs tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed in warm water
1/2 small onion, cut into small wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
salt and pepper to taste
small handful cilantro
1 lime

Slice tomatillos in half. In a large rimmed baking sheet (lined with foil if you are too lazy to clean, and I am), coat foil with oil. Place tomatillos cut side down. Toss in garlic, onions, and jalapeno. Roast at 425F for 10 min. Stir. Roast another 10 min. Remove from oven and let cool.

In food processor, puree roasted veggies, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Serve with chips.

I love Ralph's Self Checkout

So, I have this...issue. With loose change. My spouse goes through periods of time where he spends cash for things. Not a lot. Just here and there. But he rarely spends the change. So I find little piles of change...on the counter, on the dresser, on the desk, on the bookshelf.

Now, I like spending cash. I think it's a way of controlling your spending. I try to spend cash for groceries from time to time. But the change gets the best of me.

I have the habit of just sweeping the piles of change into my purse or backpack. All that serves to do is to make them very heavy. In years past, when I had a bad soda habit (1-2 per day at $1.25 each), I would spend the change on soda. But I mostly kicked the soda habit (yes, I still drink a few a week), and I left the job with the soda machine.

So I have made it my mission to conquer the change. So I have to fess up...we have this blue bowl. Of change. And other junk. Mostly pennies. But we've had it for years. It has moved from counter to dresser to bookshelf. I bought myself a little change purse shaped like a sock. And I use it. If I succumb to a soda ($1.47), I use 7 pennies. When I pay cash for groceries, I use my change.

Then, I discovered Ralph's self checkout. You can pay cash. And they take pennies! I don't shop often at Ralphs, but when I I must have unloaded 30 pennies from the sock.

My goal: empty the bowl of change by the end of the year. I considered using this as "bonus" grocery money. But that's cheating. So instead, I count the change as part of my grocery budget, the bonus being that I'll have more money in the checking account at the end of the year.

Totally unrelated to food post

I have really enjoyed reading the posts of some younger food bloggers...Kath Eats, Jenna at Eat Live Run, and Ange at Oh She Glows, among others. I find much inspiration from their energy and enthusiasm, even if I occasionally feel old.

So I thought I'd share a picture of my 20th high school reunion from last year. To give some of the youngsters out there a glimpse of what may be to come. I had a great time at the reunion. I went to a good school with a lot of nice people. And if I do say so myself, we all aged pretty well.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lentils and Rice

From time to time, I read about a blogger or fellow message board member wax poetic about the cheapness that is lentils and rice. I have to admit...I *want* to like plain brown lentils (they are the cheapest legume around, except maybe split peas), but I haven't found many recipes that I enjoy. Moroccan lentil soup...yummy (search my blog for the recipe). But even that recipe makes enough that you really should freeze half for later...if you have a small family.

The most recent lentils and rice recipe I read comes courtesy of Cheap Healthy Good. And this one appealed to me because of the burnt onions. I love burnt onions.

So today I made my version of their recipe. Tasty...and cheap!

Lentils and Rice
2 T. canola oil: 0.07
3 onions, sliced: 0.69
1 c. brown rice: 0.50
1 c. brown lentils: 0.60
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced: 1.00 (organic, if not organic...0.40)
2 cloves garlic, minced: 0.10
1/2 Tbsp cumin: 0.05
6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar: 0.50
salt and pepper

Total: $3.41 for about 6 servings...1 cup each of lentils and rice, 1/2 cup each of veggies, or about $0.57 per serving. I ate this with some sausage on the grill (ya know, we had it), and some grilled zucchini.

For the rice: 1 cup rice, 1 3/4 cups water, pinch salt, rice cooker. Let it do it's magic, 50 min to an hour.

For the lentils: 1 cup lentils, 2 cups water, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer, cover, cook 20 min.

Drain lentils, mix with rice, add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and cumin.

For the veggies: Heat oil in nonstick pan over medium high. Add sliced onion. They should sizzle. Add salt. Cook over medium high heat, stirring, until they are beginning to brown, about 5 min.

Reduce heat to medium, cook, stirring, 10 more min. They should be soft and mostly shriveled.

Add diced carrots and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir for 5 to 10 more min, until the onions are blackened in spots and carrots are soft.

Serve veggies on top of rice and lentil mixture. Now, we scooped heavy on the veggies, they were delish, and made the dish. So our leftovers are going to be light on the veggies...maybe light on the flavor. If so, I might cook up more onion or top with some feta.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bruschetta...and summer

Tonight I bought some whole grain sourdough, and made bruschetta for on top:

1 medium tomato (I had heirloom), diced: 1.00
1 clove garlic, chopped: 0.05
4 leaves fresh basil, chiffonaded (pile on top of one another, roll into a tube, slice): 0.05
1/2 Tbsp olive oil: 0.05
pinch of salt

Mix together. Put on top of bread. Yum.

I don't drain the tomatoes, I like sopping up the leftover juice with my bread. :)

Total: $1.15 for about 1 cup of pure, delicious, summery goodness. Make the bread yourself, and it's a cheap snack (I know, it's the summer...which is why I opted for buying the bread vs. turning on the oven. Plus my weekend is packed.)

Here's a pic of last night's accoutrements. We also had corn on the cob (from the CSA, forgot that on the list) and veggie burgers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ah Summer is Here

I mean, summer's been here for awhile, but we just got a good haul from the CSA:

tomatoes (first of the season! heirloom)

...yes, I will be making bruschetta this weekend

tomatillos (the first ones we've ever gotten)...salsa verde!
lettuce (large head)
yellow squash

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Couple of Meal Pics

Tonight's Dinner

My oatmeal Breakfast this week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Two Very Different Meals

Today, we had two events to attend. At lunch we had a potluck for our CSA farm. We've been to a few of these in the past. Some years, they are packed. Some times, there are only a handful of people. Today, there were about 15 people.

It was nice and fun to meet fellow CSA members and just chat. There were some interesting folks. I would say there was one snotty woman who dumped the salad with chicken back onto the serving plate. I guess she's a vegetarian. Personally, I would have said "oops, this has meat", and not "oh, there's chicken in there...can't have that 'kids, you can't eat that okay? None of that!" And she made a comment about eggs later. Really, it was rude, and truthfully, that was the only item that had meat on it.

We took the potato salad. There was a cabbage slaw (with chicken), a couple of pasta salads, brownies, fresh strawberries, cucumber and tomato salad, and a fruit tart. Nice and tasty and all very fresh.

Then tonight we had our anniversary dinner. Now, I love eating out. I used to do it quite a bit. But then I spent several years (5?) fat. Once I started losing the weight, eating out fell by the wayside. I also got into frugality, and started being shocked at how much money you can spend eating out. I started cooking, and then meals out were just...disappointing. My food is better. On one hand, when you eat out, you want to order something that you wouldn't make at home. On the other hand, I *like* salad.

So, to celebrate our upcoming 13th anniversary, I decided to pick a *nice* place. I figured if I was spending $35 on a sitter, I might as well enjoy the dinner. I narrowed down the options and selected a new-ish place known for it's local ingredients, with the added bonus that Anthony Bourdain recommended it - he was in town to do a show and ate there.

Oh. My. God. No, I didn't take pictures, but it was easily the best meal I've had in a decade. Worth every penny of the...well, let's just say it's almost the same amount as my July grocery budget.

Appetizer: grilled flatbread with hummus and olives (bread was awesome)
Starter: spouse: fois gras with fresh donut and apricots. Me: arugula salad. My salad was good but the fois gras was so incredibly buttery it was amazing.
Dinner: spouse: fried quail with roast potatoes, corn, and fresh sausage. Me: lamb carnitas with cannelini beans. Wow.
Dessert: spouse had mango sorbet. I had a couple of bites, very fresh and mango-y.

I have to say that I'm sure my belly is going to probably revolt tomorrow. That was more meat than I've eaten in the last two weeks. I could barely walk out of there. Of course, the heels were part of that. Man, I just can't wear them. I have a blister already. Bummer.

Anyway, it was a wonderful anniversary dinner. Nick had fun playing at his friend's house (who also babysat for us). And hopefully I don't feel the effects too much tomorrow.

Potato Salad

I love potato salad. It's one of the first "recipes" that I had that I used successfully for years. It came from my mom and involved italian salad dressing and mayo. Pretty good.

I also found a good recipe in a Pampered Chef cookbook that added sour cream, which made it fluffier.

Now, though - while I like mayo, I try to avoid it in potato and pasta salads. I used the directions for how to cook the potatoes from Pampered Chef, because I like the consistency.

Potato Salad
2 lbs potatoes, peeled if not organic, diced into 1 inch cubes: 0.54
1 lb fresh green beans: 1.69
6 large radishes, cut in half lengthwise and sliced (about 1 cup before slicing): 0.50
1/4 c. green olives, sliced: 0.50
fresh parsley (from my garden)

2 cloves garlic, minced: 0.10
1/4 c olive oil: 0.44
1/4 c tarragon vinegar: 0.40
1 Tbsp dried onion flakes: 0.10 (you can use real onion, like red onion or green onion)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano: 0.05

Total: $4.32 for about 7 cups, or $0.62 per cup

Mix dressing ingredients in a measuring cup. Set aside.

Peel potatoes (if desired) and dice. Put a large pot of water on to boil with several cups of water and a steamer basket. Once boiling, add the potatoes, reduce heat to maintain boil, and cover. Steam for 14 minutes.

When done, test for doneness with a knife. Drain and rinse in cold running water to stop the cooking.

Meanwhile (or after, I usually do this a day ahead, so I do it in series), bring a pot of water to boil. Trim the ends of the green beans. Drop beans into boiling water and boil 4 minutes. Drain and rinse to cool. Cut the beans into 1-inch lengths. Add to the potatoes. Add the dressing and toss ingredients together.

When beans and potatoes are fully cool, add the radishes, parsley, and olives.

It's also pretty good with sun-dried tomatoes.
You can add real onion if you like. Or celery. I'm not a fan of celery in potato salad.
I generally make this with red wine vinegar, but I ran out. Hence the tarragon.
Sugar snap peas are a good alternative to green beans.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Red Flannel Hash

Get thee to a bookstore, or Amazon, and order yourself Vegan Brunch.


I added an ear of leftover corn.

It was delicious.

And only $0.39 per cup.

Who'd have thought to add beets to fried potato hash??

We also had a salad with walnuts, strawberries, and blue cheese.

Grocery Summary 1st half of 2009

Well, here's my summary for the grocery budget. The plan was to alternate months. Odd months, $160/month. Even months, $300/month (had planned on $400, but that turned out to be high). This does not include the pre-paid $850 to the CSA, which runs mid-Jan through mid-Nov. It also doesn't include the $4 I spent on seeds two years ago, that we planted this year. (nor does it count the soil, square foot gardening bins, etc.)

Jan: $159.77
Feb: $297.92
Mar: $145.65
Apr: $278.47
May: $160.35
Jun: $300.51

Total: $1342.67, plus: $467.50 for the 5.5 months of CSA
Total: $1810.17

This is food only. No soda (we've cut way back). No wine. No TP, shampoo, toothpaste, cleaning supplies. Just food.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My favorite frugal food resources

I have been interested in, and blogging about, frugal food for quite awhile now. If you look on the side, you can see some of my favorite healthy and/or frugal food blogs. It's something that I've worked on for years. I'm the one reading about folks $1 a day challenge, $30 a week cooking, and challenges on living on food stamp budgets.

For me, it all started with The Complete Tightwad Gazette. But it's moved on from there.

So here are a couple of other good resources. Both of these sites have e-books that you can purchase (and I have). They are very good books that teach you how to shop and/ or cook more frugally and healthfully.

Angela has a huge family and does an amazing job with feeding them for less. Her book is filled with tips on how to keep a price book, shop properly, and cook from scratch.

The cook for good website gives meal plans, grocery lists, and recipes that show you how to feed your family for just over a dollar a person per meal. While I generally feed my family for this amount already, I'm always on the hunt for new recipes, tips, and inspiration. And I definitely got them here!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Zucchini Fritters

Been getting squashes from the CSA and from a coworker. These were tasty - made 10 of 'em, ate them all in one sitting (three of us).