Monday, May 31, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce

I came home today to discover a pile of ripe tomatoes on the vine. I've been eating tomatoes a lot, since this one little plant seems to want to feed me the whole summer, but this amount was just too much for me to use for snacking, sides, salads and sandwiches. So I decided to roast them and make a pasta sauce, since roasting brings out so much flavour. There was also a red onion I needed to use pretty quickly, as well as a lot of garlic. So score one more in my efforts to not waste my food.

Anyway, this is pretty easy to make. Serve it over pasta or maybe on some parmigiana, or maybe use this as pizza sauce. Or cook up some sausage and add it in. I'll probably use it for pasta, pizza and with sausages. For today, I just made it and tasted it (a lot) but I didn't get to use it for a meal yet because I had to finish the tom yum (which, by the way, was somewhat painful as it wasn't nearly as good as I hoped it'd be) before I was "allowed" to eat anything else (excepting olives, of course). Hope you enjoy!

2 1/2 pounds tomatoes (a little closer to 3 pounds, but I snuck some bites), quartered
14 cloves garlic
1 large red onion, cut into eighths
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 twig rosemary, chopped (I am really tired so I have lost my words and can't remember what you call the twig w/ leaves on it at the moment)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon italian seasonings
pinch sugar

Toss the first group of ingredients into a roasting pan and roast for 1-2 hours (until onions are soft) at 300F. Transfer (with juices) to a saucepan and add the second group of ingredients (actually, this might be a lie. If you are using good balsamic, don't stir it in until you're done cooking the sauce. If you're using grocery store balsamic, it's not a lie). Simmer a half hour, then blend (I left my blend a little chunky, so it'd be interesting to me). If it's too thick, add a little stock or water. If it's too thin, cook a little longer (I cooked it an extra 20 minutes, I think). If you're using the good balsamic and you're happy with the texture of the sauce, stir that in. Makes about 4-5 cups.

After that came out of the oven, I almost ate it right then instead of the tom yum and it almost didn't make it into this:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lentil Salad

As promised, lentil salad. I found some puy lentils in the freezer that I only have vague memories of buying. I think I must have bought them for mujadarrah, which I love but which I only infrequently make. Anyway, since it's most definitely summer here already (we've had heat in the 90s), I want to focus on doing cool (as in temperature, not as in impressions) things with some of the grains in the house. Which leads me to salads. Aladdin, one of my favourite places in Houston, makes a fantastic lentil salad. But if I'm going there all the time for it, there is no way I'm going to stay within any approximation of a budget for eating this summer. So I decided to make a lentil salad. It's not the same as theirs by any stretch of the imagination, but it's similar in style. I think next time I will put carrots in it. I didn't have any carrots but I did have a massive pile of little tomatoes that came from the "garden," so I used those. You should feel free to modify this to use up whatever produce you have in your fridge. Also, if you don't have puy lentils (which tend to keep their shape well even when a bit overcooked), you can use other lentils but you will want to keep an eye on them while they're cooking to make sure they don't get mushy. This salad should have lentils that are slightly al dente. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup lentils (I used puy; you use what you have)
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
1 large tomato (or its equivalent in little tomatoes), diced
1-2 tablespoons finely minced onion


1 teaspoon each: sumac, aleppo pepper, dried mint (if you have fresh mint, which I don't, use a tablespoon chopped finely), salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup each: lemon juice, olive oil
1/2 - 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard (optional - I had the dregs of a little jar I wanted to use up so I shook up the dressing in this jar; if you don't want mustard in there, it's okay not to use it)

Combine salt, lentils and water. Simmer over medium heat 20-30 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and cool (or if you're lazy like me and needed to hop in the shower, cool then drain). Add celery, tomato and onion then fold to combine well. Shake, whisk or blend all the dressing's ingredients, then stir into salad. Chill well, then eat. Makes about 4 cups.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Food Waste Friday

P is gone for the summer, for an internship in Chicago. While this makes me sad, this does have the minor bonus of me being able to eat anything I want instead of balancing what I want with what he wants to eat. The other bonus is that it will be much easier for me to manage food waste, because for the entirety of the summer there will be no food in the house that I don't like.

My goal for this summer is to eat out of the pantry and freezer, only going to the grocery store when I need fresh produce. If I'm able to accomplish this, not only should I be wasting little to no food (my preference, of course, is no food wasted), but I shouldn't really be spending more than $5/week to eat.

Anyway, on to the waste.

This week I wasted:


I think this is 2 weeks in a row. WOO!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer Food Plans

I go over this a bit in my post tomorrow for Food Waste Friday (and a massive, massive thank you to The Frugal Girl for getting me hooked on doing this!), but I wanted to talk a little about my summer plans, food-wise.

P is out of town for the remainder of the summer doing an internship, so this leaves me on my own almost until the fall semester starts. I was poking about my freezer and pantry, and I realised that I have quite a lot more food than I think I do. And really, food that needs to be used up a little more frequently. There's a lot of meat and fish in the freezer (and not just meat that belongs to Francis) that I haven't really been using. So I'd like to go through it all and use it up, oldest to newest. I believe there's actually enough meat in there to last the remainder of the summer, given that I only eat meat a couple times a week. Today, I'm using up the remaining frozen shrimp in a tom yum (I have a mix for the soup, but it needs shrimp and mushrooms added to it). If there's any left over (which I can't imagine there won't be), then I can finish it tomorrow. Additionally, I'm making a lentil salad to snack on (which will get posted Saturday, I'm thinking). I've got some lovely chicken artichoke sausages to eat, some Hebrew Nationals (2 packages!), chicken, you name it. Lot of meat.

But aside from the meat, I've also got piles of frozen pumpkin pulp, corn, peas, spinach, other veggies, lemon rinds, and fruit. A LOT of frozen fruit. My blender is on vacation in another city right now, so I'm thinking that I might be able to make some smoothies with the immersion blender. Otherwise, I might make pies. Or little hand pies. Or who knows what might happen? I've also got tons of flours that I don't use a lot - semolina, tapioca flours (2 kinds), rye, etc. So there could be some more breads and strange cakes and stuff too.

In the pantry, I just have a truly unreal amount of food. Canned goods, beans, pasta galore, home-canned soups, sauces, jams, jellies, etc. I'd like to work on rotating out some of the older stock. Basically what this means is that aside from fresh produce and dairy, I pretty much have everything already in my kitchen that I could possibly need for the whole summer (okay, okay... I don't have enough pickles. One can never have enough pickles). So I'm going to be trying to spend no more than $10/week on food, which mostly will be going to olives, pickles, cheese and produce. Occasionally I suppose I'll need more flour or canned goods. We'll see.

As I go through this little venture of trying to eat without really spending much time or money grocery shopping, I plan to post all the wacky little food creations my mind comes up with. However, since I am only one woman, I might wind up only cooking every couple days, to make sure I eat everything I make (or pawn the pastries I might make off on others). If you guys have any suggestions for things you'd like to see make an appearance here (specific pastries, vegan options, carnivore options, ingredients you have trouble working with, etc), please say so and I'll try to work it in. I'm expecting this summer adventure to be a lot of fun, and I'm glad to have you all along with me!

Gratuitous photo of Francis that has nothing to do with the above:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chocolate Apple Butter

I recently promised a coworker I'd bring her some apple butter, since she'd gone through the pumpkin butter I'd given her so quickly. Now that I'm finally starting to feel better, this seemed like a good way to get reacquainted with my kitchen. Conveniently, j at 365 Dollar Year was holding a "make something from scratch you might normally buy" challenge. Although I must confess that I never buy apple butter, I also never make it. So it seemed okay for the challenge even if it is stretching the rules just a touch. However, the rules also stipulate that you can't spend more than $5 to make whatever it is you're making, and since I only had one apple in the house, I went out and spent $2 on the rest of them, leaving me well below the budget rules. That compensates for the cheating above, right?

Anyway, I've eaten some apple butters, and I always feel like they're missing a little something. But I never know what that something is. I was poking about in my pantry when I saw the lovely bag of Penzey's cocoa powder and I figured that might make a nice addition to the butter. And holy cow I was right. I tasted it right after it came off the stove and I was astounded by how the cocoa just enriched the whole experience. Hope you enjoy!

7 apples (I used 5 granny smith, 1 red delicious, 1 yellow apple) - $2.33
6 cups of water (8 if you need to add a little more, like I did) - $0.01
1 cinnamon stick - $0.10
2 star anise - $0.15
15 allspice berries - $0.02
4 whole cloves - $0.03
1 slice dried galanga or ginger - $0.10
9 cardamom pods - $0.05
1 teaspoon salt - $0.01
2 black peppercorns - $0.01
1 large lemon (use all the juice and 9" of peel without pith) - $0.25
1/2 cup vanilla sugar - $0.40
1/4 cup brown sugar - $0.40
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons cocoa powder - $0.25-$0.50 (depending on the kind you use)

Peel, core and chop the apples. Put them in a saucepan with 6 cups of water, salt and the juice of your lemon. In a large tea ball, cheesecloth or whatever method you normally make to tie up a bouquet garnis-type thing, combine lemon rind, cinnamon, anise, allspice, cloves, galanga, cardamom, and peppercorns and then drop that little bundle into the saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 1-2 hours, or until you can easily smush the apples with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove spice packet, then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth (or, if your blender is off camping for a while like mine is, either use an immersion blender or a potato masher or whatever you like to make it all smooth and puree-ey). Return to saucepan and add sugars and cocoa and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until it is thick enough that when you stir the bottom, you can see the part of the pot where you stirred for a couple seconds. Alternately, because there's so much water in there it'll take ages to do over low heat, you can put it at medium-high heat for about a half hour or until the volume is greatly reduced. Then when a lot of the water has boiled off, you can lower the heat and do the frequent stirring bit.

If you feel like canning this (I didn't can the part going to my friend, because she's not a jar returner, plus she'll eat it quickly enough it's not worth canning), you can do it in a water bath for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, put it in a container then the fridge and eat it within a couple weeks. Makes approximately 2 1/4 cups.

Total cost: $4.11 - $4.36, using approximate costs for the spices and such

Friday, May 21, 2010

Food Waste Friday

No waste this week! I guess this is the upside of not feeling well - you don't shop for food because you know you won't eat it, so there's nothing to waste!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Silly Salad

This is not so much a recipe as an idea which can easily be adapted to any level of laziness, illness or lack of time. My finals finished up well and I got the grades I was expecting, so all was well there. But, I've wound up with a particularly uncomfortable illness which has kept me on the couch, cooking nothing. Nonetheless, I get snacky sometimes and want something light. So I've been keeping some salad mixes in the fridge as convenience food. Sorry to have neglected you all so much, but sadly this is the best I have to offer for the time being (though believe me, I have lots of ideas in the works for when I am feeling better!).

Here's the silly salad I made tonight. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 bowl romaine with carrots mix (or whatever salad mix you prefer)
1/4 cup celery slices
1/8 cup pistachios
3/4 cup broccoli, cabbage and carrot mix (or whatever else you prefer)
some dried fruit if you like (optional; today I didn't opt but sometimes I do)
salad dressing of choice

Mix all this together and eat. Serves 1.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Food Waste Friday

I'm a little shocked I forgot to post this yesterday, but here it is, albeit a day late.

It was a bad bread week in my house. I lost:

2 hamburger buns
1/4 loaf garlic bread
1/2 load jalepeno bread

Friday, May 07, 2010

Food Waste Friday

My food waste was a lot better this week, though still not perfect.

I lost:

4 ounces green cabbage

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

First Tomato

I neglected to tell you all, but I ate my first tomato. I actually ended up picking it a day after it would've been perfect, but it was still just delicious and wonderful. I sliced it and ate it with just salt and pepper.