Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wedding Food Shopping

Well, as you know I didn't do the Saturday spending, because pretty much the only food I've been buying has been for the wedding. But I did save the receipts so y'all could see what was purchased. Normally I separate everything out by store, but I'm feeling lazy and have a lot of other stuff to do to get ready for Thanksgiving, so I'm just combining them into one long list.


$8.69 - chickpeas
$18.00 - pita (108 loaves that I didn't have time to make)
$13.08 - 17 pounds onions
$8.99 - 10 pounds basamati rice
$5.29 - 8 ounces shelled pistachios
$4.99 - 1 pound raw almonds
$6.59 - 1 pound shelled walnuts
$6.89 - 10-can arabic pickles
$8.49 - 4 pounds nabulsi olives
$4.58 - 2 28-ounce cans tomato puree
$27.16 - 8 kilos dolma (yeah, I was too busy to make these)
$17.99 - 2 kilos kalamata olives
$3.99 - ras el hanout
$4.78 - fillo dough (2 pounds)
$6.87 - 1 1/2 pounds peeled whole garlic
$17.98 - 2 kilos tzatziki (this was more efficient than me making the mast-o-khiar from scratch)
$140.42 - 34.51 pounds lamb shank
$1.79 - lemon juice
$28.66 - 6 pounds bulgarian feta
$4.09 - 5 pounds tomatoes
$2.45 - 5 bunches scallions
$3.96 - 4 bunches celery
$3.49 - 5 pounds carrots
$5.46 - 3 pounds cucumbers
$5.85 - 15 bunches parsley

I didn't notice this until I was typing it up, but it appears they didn't charge me for the 3 containers of mint. I think they're about $2 each, so next time I'm at Phoenicia, I'll mention it to them and have them add it in on that purchase. So let's call that an extra $6.

total: $366.53

My budget for the wedding food was $300, so I went a little over. But in the grand scheme of things, it's really not too bad at all. The wedding, including the judge and license cost a total of $658.53. I'd hoped to do it for a total of $500, but I can't really complain at all about going over by less than $200, particularly given that it was for the entirety of the wedding costs. So there you go!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wedding Food and Details

So I've mentioned to y'all that I'm doing the catering for my wedding, but I haven't actually said anything else about it. I thought I might do that, since I don't have time right now to type up new recipes. Mainly because as I'm making them up, I scrawl little notes to myself, most of which are barely legible (on a good day I usually need help reading my writing; perhaps I ought to have become a doctor), and have so little detail that I have to extrapolate from pretty limited data what I actually did.

Anyway, I thought y'all might like to know what I'm up to for the wedding food. As well as the shortcuts I'm taking to make this manageable while I'm in the middle of crunch time in my semester. So here it is:

The Menu:

Braised lamb shanks and vegetables (onions, carrots and celery) (meat)
Dill rice (vegan)
Tabouleh (vegan)
Dolma (vegan)
Hummus (vegan)
Pita (vegan)
Pickles, olives and feta (vegan/vegetarian)
Mast-o-khiar (vegetatian)
Toum (vegan)
Baklava (vegetarian)
Wedding cake (vegetarian)

And, I think there's something else I've forgotten about. But I'll let you know if that's true once I'm home looking at the list.

And, the shortcuts:

Y'all will be surprised to hear this, but I bought the dolma. There're a few companies that sell really good canned dolma, and since it'll take so very, very long to make enough dolma for 60 people, I decided in the end to just go ahead and buy them. Likewise, I'm buying the mast-of-khiar. My friend who's hosting the reception/party is making my wedding cake, which is incredibly sweet of her (especially since we all know what a headache making wedding cakes is!). And instead of boiling the beans for the hummus, I instead purchased a 10-can of beans and will use that to save a few hours of cooking time. Lastly, I'm buying the pita from a bakery instead of making it all. Once again, making pita for 60 is just not something I feel like dealing with.

Already, I've made the toum (though I think I might make more, since I've only got a pint and that seems insufficient). I've also already made everything I need for the baklava, so all I have to do is assemble and bake it tomorrow. I haven't yet purchased the lamb or the vegetative matter needed for the tabouleh (or the feta), but everything else is already basically prepped and ready to go.

So tomorrow, S, the host of the reception/party, and I (and whomever else is on hand to do work with/for us) will be prepping the lamb in massive roasting pans and setting it up to relax in the fridge overnight. We'll also assemble the baklava, and make the tabouleh. This, honestly, is the part I think will be the worst. Tabouleh takes a while to make when you're making small portions of it; making it for 60 people might be a little taxing. And of course we'll make the hummus as well.

Saturday (the wedding day), I'll go over to her house early and we'll make the rice (and leave it in a warmer). We'll also take the trays of lamb and toss them in the oven before heading to the wedding so it'll be cooked when we get back from the ceremony. At that point, we'll put all the food out and move on to the celebrating.

And, for those who want to know, here's the basic structure of how the wedding is going to work:

We're having the ceremony in a park, using picnic blankets for people to sit on instead of chairs (I've heard that some people will be bringing camping chairs so they can sit in them, but that's got nothing to do w/ me so I only know a little about that). It'll be a fairly nontraditional ceremony, though there will be a few traditional elements. We aren't having any attendants, and I'll be getting a ring but he will not be. R isn't Jewish, so we're using a JoP instead of a rabbi. He'll break the glass and I'll walk around him seven times, but outside of that it'll be totally nonreligious. A good friend of mine, who's probably the most talented henna artist I've ever encountered is doing my henna today so it'll be perfect on Saturday. We're hoping for a very short ceremony, since neither one of us enjoy dealing with long weddings. Our guests have expressed preemptive appreciation for not forcing them to sit through a long, formal affair. I'm not actually even wearing a wedding dress. I'll be wearing a summer dress if the weather is as nice as it's supposed to be. If it's very cold, I'll probably wear jeans. I'm sure he'll be wearing jeans regardless of the weather. So, very, very short and casual. The ceremony will be filmed (by friends), and we're intending to put the film up on youtube so people from out of town who can't make it will still be able to see how it all went.

From there, we'll head over to the party and put out the food. We're having a big bowl of disposable cameras for people to use and put back in the bowl, and skipping a formal photographer. We both think the pictures we'll get doing it this way will be more fun, although one of his friends is bringing his own camera to do what I'm assuming will be slightly more traditional photos. There will be a first dance, to "In My Life" (Beatles) since R says it's probably the only time he'll ever get to dance with me (I am so not into dancing, but you can't really deny a guy a dance on his wedding day). My friend K will be handling all musical issues past that, since my plan was to put an iPod on shuffle and let it handle itself. Y'all know how I am - the only part I really care about it is the food and everything else is just stuff that doesn't matter to me. So people will be able to dance if they wish. The food will be buffet-style instead of plated, and we've asked people to bring beer, wine, and/or liquor instead of wedding gifts. A wedding just isn't a wedding without food and booze, but booze for 60 is way outside my budget so we're leaving it to the guests to handle that. I was told someone was bringing mead, and I'm scared since I find mead entirely irresistible but I turn into a wild woman when I drink it. I'm not really sure how the cake cutting will be happening, but I'm sure someone will decide and tell me while we're there.

And, I think that's basically all the information. Y'all probably won't hear from me again until after Thanksgiving unless I manage to get those recipes typed up.  We'll be in Austin for the holiday, so between the wedding, school/work and holiday travel, I'm having trouble imagining that I'll get it together enough to post anything before that Monday following the holiday. I hope y'all have a wonderful holiday!

*For those of you in Houston or the surrounding areas who're looking for cake bakers, henna artists, etc., please feel free to send me a message if you need their details. I'd be happy to pass their information along to you, or yours to them!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Spending

This week we only spent $3.29, for bread flour. Otherwise, pretty quiet week in terms of groceries.

However, I did spend some on the wedding food. I'm still trying to figure out where I put the receipt for what I've gotten so far, but you guys know how I am with finding things I've lost.

(sorry for this one being late too)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Food Waste Friday

This week was good. We wasted nothing!!

(sorry about the lateness of this)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Easy Fruit Tart

I keep thinking I'd already posted this, but it turns out I hadn't. So, while I ought to have taken pictures (now that I found my camera!), I didn't because I thought y'all knew this one. This is one of the easiest desserts on the planet to make, and it's beautiful to look at and tastes wonderful. Hope you enjoy!

1 sheet puff pastry
2 fairly ripe pears, 1 apple, 2 peaches, etc; cored and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1 beaten egg (optional)

Put puff pastry sheet on a baking sheet. Score with a one inch border, then dock the inside of the border (that means poke a bunch of holes with a fork). Arrange the fruit slices in concentric squares, not letting the fruit leave the scored border. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon, if using. Chill in fridge while your oven heats to 400F. Apply egg wash to the border, if desired. Bake 15 minutes. Cool on a rack, then transfer to a plate. Serves 8.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday Storage

So, more of the same these last two weeks. Piles of pasta, rice and beans. And loads of canned tomatoes. I'd also run out of tuna, but of course I bought more. I haven't made a bit of a dent in the mushrooms or in the kelp or in the bonito. I think I keep forgetting about them, but I'll get them started eventually, huh?

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday Spending

Alright, so you're getting two weeks worth of shopping today, instead of just one. Though I've still spent far too much on food the last two weeks as well. After Thanksgiving is done (I'm doing my own catering for the wedding and also have some stuff to cook for the holiday, so my food costs will be up until after that's all said and done), I believe I'll be setting a $100/month grocery budget. If I need to scale it up a touch (or down), then I will, but for now I'd like to go w/ $100/month and see how we do. So that's settled now.

Fiesta:

$0.66 - tomatoes
$1.09 - acorn squash
$0.96 - snow peas
$1.69 - mushrooms

subtotal: $4.40

Walmart:

$2.41 - onions (3.25 lbs)
$2.48 - eggs
$5.16 - 2 pounds butter (this is for the wedding baklava, as there'll be two trays of it)
$3.26 - ham
$1.48 - salad mix (yes, I know)
$2.18 - spinach
$2.32 - shredded cheese
$3.97 - potatoes
$0.92 - tortillas (yes, I know)
$2.92 - chili powder
$2.08 - cocktail onions (y'all knew these would surface again, didn't you?)
$1.36 - 2 cans diced potatoes (I like these for hash browns)
$1.36 - 2 cans diced tomatoes (really, how is it possible we use so very many of these)
$6.00 - coffee (yes, I know)
$1.82 - non-stick spray
$1.24 - large can crushed tomatoes (chili days are coming... can you tell?)

subtotal: $40.96

Kroger: (this is the bad one)

$3.99 - sausage
$4.80 - pork chops (three massive ones)
$3.78 - milk
$2.98 - orange juice
$6.70 - pears (nearly 7 pounds, for use in baking pear tarts as thank you gifts for some professors)
$1.36 - celery
$5.99 - walnuts (need these for the baklava also)
$2.99 - salad mix (yep... I fail at this right now)
$2.50 - 3 lbs tangerines
$1.78 - 2 cans cream of celery soup (I like this for tuna casserole, which I like on days I don't have time to cook)
$3.99 - sesame oil
$0.79 - tomatoes
$4.98 - watermelon, 1 large
$3.98 - loads of Peruvian potatoes
$2.18 - 2 packages saltine crackers (did y'all know about that weird ranch dressing mix saltine thing? Lord they're good)
$5.87 - 12 cans of various tomatoes
$1.69 - banana peppers (shocker)
$7.98 - 4 pounds cheeses (colby and cheddar)
$3.99 - hotdogs (wow, I forgot I bought these; they're in the freezer)
$0.71 - cucumbers
$8.38 - mahi mahi (half a fish; I couldn't resist)
$3.98 - brown sugar; two packages
$3.99 - pizza cheese
$1.09 - 2 packages salad dressing mix for the crackers
$3.19 - bread flour
$2.98 - 2 cans anchovies
$8.78 - 2 pounds puff pastry (for the pears)
$2.29 - white sugar
$8.99 - shrimps (I think we must've been entertaining this day)
$5.00 - 2 pounds butter (yeah, I know. I really do go through a lot of butter)
$3.78 - 6 cans tuna in whater
$3.88 - whole pumpkin
$6.99 - 8 pound bag valencia oranges

subtotal: $136.35

Golden Grain (this is a Russian grocer by my house):

$5.35 - various chocolates
$4.07 - salami
$3.99 - cheese
$2.99 - cookies
$5.60 - I don't remember
$1.26 - fresh halva

subtotal: 23.26

also, there was another bag of flour somewhere in here, but I don't know where the receipt is for it. Generally this is $3.19, though.

total: $208.16

That's pretty much insane and unacceptable. Although we do entertain about once a week, there is absolutely no reason for us to be spending more than $150/month tops. So, this must be fixed. But now y'all know, since I don't like to hide my nonsense from you. :)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Oops. I missed last week entirely, haven't I? Sorry about that. I've been crazy the last few days (couple weeks), with the semester and also with working stuff out for my wedding which is on the 19th (are y'all surprised?). I'm doing the food, so that's kind of been something I've been paying more attention to (and my homework, of course. Y'all know how I'm always doing that).

Anyway, for this week and last week, I'm pleased to say I had absolutely no food waste (see? Even when I don't remember to post, I do remember to keep track of what's happening). Tomorrow, I'll put in my receipts for the last two weeks.

Also, I found my camera. In my gym bag. Did I tell you that already? So pictures of the food should be forthcoming once I get that in the works again (the cooking of things you haven't seen yet, I mean).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Black Eyed Peas with Bacon

So it turns out my camera ISN'T in another state. It was in my gym bag. How it got in there, I have no idea. But it does tell all of us just how long it's been since I was last at the gym. Not that any of that helps us today, since I made this food and ate it all before I knew that I wanted to give you pictures. Well, not that I wanted to. But that I could. And such. Y'all know what I'm saying.

So anyway. Black eyed peas. Evidently, I had about 5 pounds of them. Huh. Didn't know. I unearthed this little treasure trove when the last bin of non-mushrooms got emptied out. Well... do y'all remember me buying so many? Because I really don't. But I like them, so it works out in the end. This is how we've been making them. It's quite nice and requires nearly no effort from me (so little effort that I threw this together after getting home from work at almost 3am). For all my vegan and vegetarian friends, just use a bit of oil in place of the bacon and it's perfect for you. Hope you enjoy!

1 can cooked black eyed peas (I'm cooking mine from dry, but the amounts are about the same)
3 pieces bacon, cut up
1/2 small red onion, sliced
2-3 tablespoons pickle juice (or other brine, or even lemon juice)
1 tablespoon harissa
1 tablespoon or so tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
pinch garlic powder

1 3/4 cups water
salt
1 cup rice

Cook your rice. Y'all know how to do this, I'm sure, without me telling you yet again. Put the bacon in a frying pan and fry it. When it's nearly done (I like mine to be a bit soft so it's almost like those long simmered bean yummies with the bacon and salt pork in them), add in the onions, the harissa, garlic, tomato paste, salt, pepper and pickle juice and cook for a few minutes more. Add in the beans and cook a bit more, then add in your rice when it's done and toss to combine well. Serves 2.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Storage

This week was pretty straightforward. From the stores, came:

tea
more rice (we're almost out of white rice!)
more canned goods, mainly tomatoes
pasta
fruitcake (there are only two bites left, which will be gone by the time y'all see this)
sesame oil
most of the olive oil (it doesn't help, probably, that I use olive oil as lotion. Or maybe it does help - depends on your perspective I suppose)

And something else went into storage (though it's in the freezer):

Pumpkin. I had a big pumpkin, which was cut and roasted. The seeds also were seasoned and roasted, and the strings from the inside, along with some of the pulp, went into making pumpkin butter (mostly this got canned, but I left some in a jar in the fridge for R). The remainder of the pumpkin simply got pureed and then portioned and put into bags. I'll be buying one more pumpkin, which I will peel and cube, then freeze the cubes raw so I can cook them in any fashion I wish throughout the year. I'm hoping that two pumpkins will suffice for the year, but if not then I suppose we just won't get anymore pumpkin until they're growing and in the stores again.

Also, it turns out that we've gone through so much rice, pasta and beans that I  have eliminated the last of the massive storage containers. There's still the big bin of seaweed and mushrooms, and there's still the extra spices bin, but that mostly contains extra spices and chocolate chips of assorted types now. So this is good. There's enough pasta remaining that I've got probably 10 pounds max in a little drawer of the closet instead of all in the pantry, and also there're still roughly 6-8 pounds of beans sitting in a little drawer as well. But all the big bins are gone.

This is pretty exciting to me. I wanted to be done with massive amounts of storage by November, and while it's technically not done, it's so close that I'm counting it as something that will basically be accomplished. Once this month closes, I'll probably have a month's worth of food in storage instead of the year+ I used to maintain, and that's really just fine for me until I know what's going to happen after I finish grad school.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Spending

This week was good, in terms of spending. It appears that no longer will the days of needing nothing really apply to me, since we go through roughly 5 pounds of flour a week (okay, that's a lie. 5 pounds of bread flour; I bake other things that need all-purpose as well, but we don't go through that flour as quickly). As I only buy my bread flour in 5 pound increments, that means a new bag each week is needed. On the upside, since I've started saving a piece of each batch of dough to make the next one with (and can I just say how much I love seeing a bowl of dough sitting on the counter every day, waiting for me to bake it? I love it a lot), I no longer need yeast for our daily bread. This is fabulous, and I enjoy it intensely.

Anyway, here's what was purchased this week:

HEB:

$2.97 - orange juice
$3.59 - bread flour
$2.18 - milk (ew)

total: $8.74

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Anasazi Beans and Andouille

Here's the last of the andouille. I think I recently posted something pretty similar, though it was with black beans. This one is along the same lines, but was a little less work (if you can imagine). Hope you enjoy!

2 cups cooked anasazi beans
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne (use less if you're sensitive to spicy foods)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
15-ounce can tomato sauce
3 1/2 ounces (1/4 package) andouille, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon each: lemon juice, pickle juice

Heat oil in a 10" skillet and add onions and salt and pepper. Fry lightly, and when the onions are beginning to brown a bit, throw in the sausage and fry again for about 5 minutes. Add in remaining ingredients and simmer 30 minutes or however long it takes for everyone to get home for dinner. Serve over rice. Serves 2.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

(Mashed) Potatoes of Awesomeness with Garlic

I'm really into mashed potatoes. Did you guys know this about me? I never really talk about mashed potatoes because I figure y'all know how to make them. But just in case, here's a recipe for them. You will definitely want to modify this to suit your own tastes, as I really, really like garlic and it's reflected in the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

4-5 russet potatoes, peeled (mostly) and chopped up
1 tiny onion, peeled and chopped up
1 head garlic, peeled (I know; you use less if you like; I actually used about a quarter of a cup of the garlic sauce, toum, here instead of freshly peeled garlic)
salt
water

4 ounces (half a container) cream cheese (or sour cream; I had an incident w/ my sour cream that I don't really want to talk about much since it'll gross us all out)
half a stick of butter
salt and pepper to taste
few grates of nutmeg

Boil the first group of ingredients until the potatoes are quite soft. Drain, then add the second group of ingredients together and mash. Serves 2.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes with Andouille

I miss my camera, guys. I can't figure out what state I left it in while I was on vacation, but I know it's definitely not in Texas. Ah well. I'll get another one at some point (R has a camera, but no reader and I have no software on my computer. So there we have it). Instead, I'm just loving on the andouille. Mainly because I had a bunch and usually when I buy it I (as y'all may remember) use it for 2-4 meals. Today is another one. Okay, maybe you wouldn't call this a meal. But I will. It's a meal. Next to some mashed potatoes (holy potato day!), it's filling and a complete meal. If you want to vegetarianize this, just leave out the sausage. Hope you enjoy!

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin (seems like everyone gives you measurements when they tell you how to make them, but those're standards I just can't live up to so I'll just say "very thin")
2 tablespoons toum (alternately, two minced cloves of garlic)
1-ish teaspoon salt
1/4-ish teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups cream
1 1/2 cups grated swiss cheese
3.5 ounces andouille sausage, diced
1 small shallot, minced
butter or oil

Heat oven to 400F. Butter or oil a 6x9" casserole dish. Combine toum, cream, nutmeg and salt in a small saucepan and heat. Combine sausage and shallots and divide them into thirds. Make a single, overlapping layer of potato slices. Sprinkle with a third of your sausage mixture and a quarter cup of cheese. Top with a couple tablespoons of your heated cream mixture. Repeat this two more times, except the last time, add the remainder of the cheese to the top. Pour the cream mixture over the top, cover and bake 1 hour. Serves 2-4.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Storage

So what we have here is a failure to communicate. Between my brain and my tummy, anyway. Which basically means my memory of what came out of storage this week is limited at best. Here's my best try, though (and perhaps I'll start writing it down throughout the week so y'all aren't victimised by my shoddy memory anymore):

rice, white (we are down to possibly two litres remaining of this)
black beans
pasta
canned goods
tea
last of the coffee
baking supplies (including a bag of mint chips)

Here's the interesting (and good!) news: we are now down to just one bin for most of the storage, and one bin for mushrooms, seaweed and bonito. This is massive, massive progress. I'm stoked.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Spending

So.

I didn't go to the store.

Thankfully.

Next week I'll need to, since we're about out of milk and stuff of that nature (btw, it's still weird to me to see milk on the shopping list, when I'm not baking something that needs it). Not eggs though, since we got two dozen last time. I think I need to work out a monthly food budget, but honestly I've been so busy with school stuff (this PB business is a lot more work intensive than I anticipated, though I suppose that's bound to be the case when you've changed fields completely) that I haven't even really thought about what our grocery needs really are and how the budget should reflect that. What do y'all think? There're just two of us, with frequent guests some weeks. I think $100 should suffice. Anyone disagree? How do y'all handle your food budget concerns and planning?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Food Waste Friday

This week was a good week, for the most part. This week, I wasted:

1/4 cup of sour cream (this was actually really disgusting, so ask me no questions)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mint Lemonade

I like mint. I like lemonade. I love mint lemonade. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on this recipe, really. But, mint lemonade is for a hot day, when you want to be refreshed by your liquids. Sometimes this is also nice with fresh ginger instead of mint, too. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup mint
3 ounces lemon juice (basically, one and a half lemons is what I juiced)
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar (or simple syrup, if you prefer)
water to fill the blender up to the three cup line

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. You may also add ice if you like it that way. Serves 2.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicken and Eggplant Oven Stew

I hadn't been feeling well, having just recovered from a kidney infection and then launching into yet another infection. For some reason, this semester has been awful for me in terms of illness. After several weeks of blood tests, medications, CT scans, IVs, etc., most of the foods I've wanted to eat (when I've been able to eat more than a few bites a day) have been related to stews and other comfort foods. I'm just happy that through all this, I've still been able to make food. I don't know that I'd have been able to do so had I not had an amazing sous in the house, R, who has been tremendously helpful and supportive while I get back to being a healthy person.

This stew was the perfect sort of comfort meal. It's healthful and delicious, tasting fresh and wonderful. It's got substance, but isn't heavy, and is one of those stews where there aren't a lot of spices going on so that each ingredient can truly speak for itself instead of hiding behind the homogeny one often sees in stew flavours. And because it's in the oven, it just goes in and you can basically forget about it instead of having to worry about getting off the couch to stir. Hope you enjoy!

8 chicken tenders, cut into 1-2" pieces
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
bulb garlic
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 leek, sliced
12 baby eggplants or one large eggplant (if you're using the baby ones, quarter them lengthwise; if you're using a large eggplant, cut them into 1-2" long chunks)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated inger
1/2 teaspoon each: sumac, aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all the ingredients into a large earthenware crock (or other sort of casserole dish). Put in oven, and turn oven to 350F. Let cook one and a half hours. Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Andouille and Black Bean Stew

This is more of a simmered dish than a stew per se, but I just wasn't really certain how I should name the dish. It's a simple, rustic affair that's easy to make and doesn't take very long. It's got lots of flavour and can easily be modified to fit any sort of flavour profile you might be looking for. As it stands now, it has a vaguely Cajun "feel" to it, although it's not Cajun cuisine by any stretch of the imagination. It also turns out that I have, in fact, lost my camera. I hope I can find it, since I can't afford to go buy a new one right now. Bills and food, and all that. So, still no pictures. I know y'all have very creative imaginations though, so I'm sure you can imagine what each one looks like. Anyway, I hope y'all enjoy this dish!

2 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
salt
juice of half a lemon
1 can (or 1 1/2 - 2 cups freshly cooked) black beans
7 ounces andouille (this is usually about a half a package)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup rice
2 cups water
salt

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet, and add carrots, shallots and celery. Fry for 2 minutes, then add the lemon juice and season with salt, then cook another 5 minutes. Add sausage and fry for 5 minutes more, than add a bit more salt, the black beans and the tomatoes. Simmer, stirring periodically, for 30 minutes.

Put the scraps from the shallots, celery and carrots, along with the rind of the half lemon, in two cups of water. Simmer 30 minutes then strain out all the vegetable scraps. Add salt and rice, bring to a boil and let boil for one minute. Cover and reduce heat and let cook 10 more minutes. Let sit, covered, 15 minutes. Top rice with stew and serve. Serves 2.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mast-o-Khiar

Okay, so one more dip for you guys. This goes really well on meat, but it's also good on vegetarian foods and just for dipping your bread in. This one is really easy to make as well, and while it's not my absolute favourite of the dips I've been posting lately, it's an important dip and one I feel everyone should know how to make. Hope you enjoy!

1 - 1 1/2 cups thick yogurt (Greek or Arabic)
2 baby cucumbers, peeled and diced
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
1/8 cup each: parsley, mint, both chopped

Mix all together. Makes roughly two cups.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sunday Storage

This week again, I hadn't used much in the way of storage. But here's what I did use:

pasta
flour, flour, flour (I think we're going through an average of 5 pounds per week)
lots more tea
some bulghur wheat
some canned goods
tons of vanilla extract (this has actually happened over a while, but I forgot to tell y'all)
tons of spices, of course
so much rice. so much rice.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Saturday Spending

I'd expected to have a light grocery week this week, but I forgot that we needed stuff for camping too. So we ended up getting a LOT of groceries this week. Again. It's starting to look like I'm going to need to put myself back on a standard grocery budget, since all this spending is a bit out of control. Here's what was purchased this week:

Kroger:

$2.59 - canola oil
$1.99 - milk
$3.19 - bread flour
$1.74 - all purpose flour
$2.69 - whole wheat flour
$0.89 - cream of celery soup (for tuna casserole)
$2.98 - 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
$5.98 - 2 pounds butter
$1.78 - graham crackers (for pie)
$2.14 - cream cheese (must. have. lemon. buns)
$2.99 - white chocolate chips (for cookies to make for people who have been very sweet to me lately)
$2.19 - 4 ounces yeast
$3.69 - local honey
$2.79 - heavy cream
$3.38 - soups for while sick
$1.99 - shredded swiss
$1.99 - shredded mozzarella
$7.99 - salami (see? camping food)
$7.99 - good cheese (more camping food)
$3.29 - hubbard squash
$1.49 - vanilla wafers (pie)
$2.49 - triscuits (here we go again)
$1.69 - banana peppers (see?)
$3.49 - 10 pounds potatoes
$3.59 - lemons
$2.49 - limes
$3.59 - kiwi
$2.29 - kosher salt
$2.69 - bottled lemon juice
$4.98 - 2 dozen eggs (wow we're going through tons of these)
$3.88 - big pumpkin

total: $96.93

Friday, October 07, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Once again, I am not perfect on the waste this week. I've had a lot (for me) of waste recently, though I'm not sure how it is I keep managing to have this problem. But, I'll keep working at it. Someday, I may have a waste free existence!

This week I wasted:

1 bell pepper (this is kind of weird, actually. I got this, and 3 days later when I went to use it, it was not looking so great but I was going to use it anyway until I cut it open and found it was full of mold)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Kofta

Oh, Kofta. The jewel of my eye, truly. Kofta, the lovely grilled meatballs who sometimes define my very existence, is generally the highlight of my week when I eat them. They, like falafel, are so very much my favourite dishes that I unfairly judge every Middle Eastern restaurant by them. If they're excellent, I fall head over heels with the restaurant. If they're not that good, it's unlikely I'll eat there again (which of course means I don't ever get to find out what they actually do well). But there you have it. It occurred to me that I never did tell you how I like to make kofta, and so today is that day. The other bit of happiness is that these are perfect with the toum you know how to make, with tahini sauce, with mast-o-khiar (this recipe will be along sometime soon, but you can use homemade or store-bought tzaziki if you prefer), etc. Kids like them because they're kind of like breadless hamburgers on sticks, and adults love them because they're delicious. They're easy to make and highly adaptable, so please change the spices and such to suit your own personal tastes. I generally serve this with hummus, sauces, fresh pita, raw or grilled tomatoes and raw or grilled onions, plus some tabouleh or whatever other sides I felt like making that day. Hope you enjoy!

1 small yellow onion, peeled and trimmed, then cut into large chunks
1/4 - 1/2 cup each: parsley, mint
salt and pepper to taste (I use kind of a lot, so don't ask about my quantities)
1/2 - 1 full batch kebab spices
1/8 cup bulghur wheat
2 cups water
1 pound ground lamb (if you prefer beef, use that)

Put wheat and water in a bowl and let soak for a half hour. Drain well. In a small blender or food processor, combine onion, herbs, salt, pepper and spice mix. Blend into a paste (alternately, you could use a knife to accomplish this, but prepared to be at it a while). Mix together wheat, meat and onion-herb paste until it's one cohesive unit. Split the mixture into four pieces and make a ball. Thread each ball onto a skewer (or if you're using massive skewers like I am, two per skewer), and then work the mixture out until it looks like a log on the skewer. Grill. Serves 2-4.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Cold, Spiced Rice Noodles

I'm always thinking that I want to make spring rolls. Because I do want to make them. Well, I want to make them up until the point I actually start rolling them, anyway. This was born of one of those times. As tends to happen, when I wanted the spring rolls I just made a full package of rice noodles, and when I was tired of rolling, I had a lot of noodles left. This little "salad" is what has come of having too many noodles left and no desire to throw them away or cook them again. It's pretty wonderful, though, and I hope you all enjoy it!

1 package rice or tapioca noodles
water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon bread dipping spice blend (you know the ones you put in olive oil? Those)

Boil water and add noodles. Cook for approximately 8 minutes (or until done). Strain, then rinse with cold water until no longer warm to touch. Mix with the remaining ingredients and serve. Serves 4-8, depending on if this is a meal or a salad.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Sarah's Onion Soup

A couple years back, P and I were camping with some friends. We'd split up meals, and one of the days our fellow camper, Sarah, grilled this onion soup. It was a delightful treat, so I asked her for the recipe. Today I share it with you. :) Hope you enjoy!

4 large onions (yellow or white), peeled, with the root end trimmed and the core hollowed out two thirds of the way down the onion
4 beef bouillon cubes (or veggie cubes, for you vegetarians out there)
4 tablespoons butter
water as needed

Insert a bouillon cube, a tablespoon of butter and water to fill into the cavity of each onion. Wrap in foil completely, then grill over high heat (with the grill closed) for one hour. This may also be done in the oven at 400-450F. Open bundles and sprinkle top of cavity with cheese (optional). Serves 4.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Roasted Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks. Who doesn't love these? Okay, maybe people who don't eat lamb don't love them, but I think to most lamb eaters, shanks are a succulent treat that no one ever wants to make themselves since it takes an ungodly amount of time to do so. This is good weekend food, for those who have jobs. It's a great way to cook lamb during the week for those who work from home (in this list I include you SAHMs and such), students, etc. Be aware it takes a long time, even though most of that time is inactive, and plan accordingly. These are simply made but seem to be devoured quickly. This recipe is for two people, but easily scales up to accommodate more eaters. Hope you enjoy!

1 leek, halved lengthwise and washed, with root end trimmed
4 tiny beets, peeled
2 carrots, cut in half (or you could leave them whole if you prefer)
handful of garlic cloves
1/3 cup pumpkin puree (optional; I just happened to need to use this, so it went in the casserole dish)
8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 lamb shanks (for me, this was about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon ras el hanout spice blend
salt
ground black pepper
1 tablespoon or so olive oil
1/2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/4 - 1/2 cup gin (or wine, or broth, or whatever)

Coat a small baking dish with the olive oil. Layer in veggies (excluding the pumpkin, if you're using it, and the tomato sauce), and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Stir together the pumpkin (if using), gin and tomato sauce, then pour it over the veggies. Rub the meat with pomegranate molasses, then coat with spices and liberally season with salt. Nestle the lamb in with the veggies and put in the oven. Turn the oven on to 350F and let it cook for 20 or 30 minutes, then cover the lamb and turn the oven down to 325F. Cook 3 hours, uncovering during the last 20 or so minutes of cooking. Serves two.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Sunday Storage

This week I've barely used any storage at all. I mean, I'm running out of yeast and once again I'm running out of flour (I'm not really sure how I'm going through between 10-20 pounds of bread flour per month these days, but there it is). Even tea I haven't used much of this week. I guess that last shopping trip has been consuming me (which makes sense, since I really did buy a ton of food) and as a result I've only been dipping into the pantry to make more bread.

Better next week, I hope.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Saturday Spending

This was a huge grocery week for me. I knew I was needing to replace a couple staples, such as the chick peas, but I didn't think I was going to lose my mind halfway when I went to Phoenicia. I ought to've seen that coming, since I haven't set foot in that store in nearly two months. Plus, with Rosh Hashana needing to be purchased for, I really should not have been terribly surprised by the amount of food I bought this week. So here'll be the surprise for you too. :)

Phoenicia:

$5.69 - ground lamb
$5.43 - lamb shank
$2.49 - wasa rye crisps
$1.50 - pita; 9 loaves (which is weird I bought this since I'd just made pita two days before and intended to make more the next day)
$2.39 - apricot paste (kamruddin)
$1.99 - arabic cucumber pickles
$6.89 - olives
$1.99 - dried basil
$3.63 - gouda
$4.57 - fresh dates
$2.00 - dried marjoram
$3.59 - crystallised ginger
$3.29 - pickled grape leaves
$3.59 - red lentils (2 lb)
$3.59 - puy lentils (2 lb)
$2.49 - chick peas (2 lb)
$2.00 - bay leaves
$2.25 - eggplant
$2.32 - tomatoes
$3.49 - cucumbers
$0.78 - parsley (2 bunches)
$1.99 - leeks
$0.59 - red onions
$2.54 - bulgarian feta
$2.29 - garlic
$1.49 - mint
$1.23 - white onions
$1.31 - sweet onions
$9.80 - quince (yeah, I know. But I make all my quince paste for the year in one shot)
$0.78 - scallions (2 bunches)
$0.48 - green bell pepper
$2.29 - pomegranate
$2.25 - shallots
$1.50 - beets
$0.99 - celery
$0.79 - carrots
$1.49 - dried dates
$2.76 - apples
$0.17 - ginger

total: $100.70

Friday, September 30, 2011

Food Waste Friday

This week I wasted:

1 carrot
a bit of seaweed salad

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chicken Kebab (with Spice Mixture Recipe)

So I have you sauces, but I didn't give you the chicken. That was rude of me, wasn't it? I think y'all have figured out that I'm kind of a lazy procrastinator, so it's probably not much of a surprise to you. Well, I'm a lazy procrastinator on a normal day; during a period of time where I'm recovering from a kidney infection as I prepare for midterms, I don't even have a proper label for how sloth-like I really do become. Regardless, here's the chicken.

This recipe is listed as a kebab recipe, and that's really how it should be. But y'all should know I didn't actually MAKE this properly. I was lazy and tired and so I just grilled the chicken before cutting it up, and I certainly didn't skewer it. But the concept is the same, and y'all will do it properly so each little succulent bit of chicken (and how often do I call chicken succulent?) is individually spiced and seared. Right? Well, maybe you won't. So I'll put down both ways. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

Kebab Spice Mix:

2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon each: tumeric, allspice berries, coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon each: dried bergamot (or regular orange) peel, cumin seeds

Toast these over low heat on the stove until they're fragrant, then blend/grind them up.

1 pound chicken breast or tenders
1 onion, peeled, cut into eighths lengthwise, with the blossom end trimmed but not removed
olive oil
salt to taste

Cut the chicken into bite sized bits (or not). Lightly coat with olive oil, then rub salt and kebab spices onto the chicken. Thread pieces onto a skewer (or not) and put on a grill heated to very high heat. Rub the cut sides of the onion with olive oil and salt, then put on the grill. Grill until cooked to completion, then serve with toum. Serves 2-4.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Toum (Garlic Sauce)

Here's another dip/sauce for you. I love this one at least as much as the last, though for completely different reasons. This sauce is perfect for dipping kebabs in (the main reason I'm giving it to you now), and also for kofta and all sorts of other yumminess. Sometimes I use it just for dipping bread in, or to slather on crusty bread with parsley to make garlic bread. It's an awesome, multipurpose dip. It's also really, really easy to make. Hope you enjoy!

1 head garlic
1-2 teaspoons (okay, I actually use a little more) lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt (again, I actually use more)
1/4+ vegetable oil

Peel the garlic and put it in a small food processor, with the salt. Pulse until it's paste-like, but still slightly granular. Add in the lemon and pulse again. Then add small amounts of oil and pulse as though you were making mayonnaise (some people do add egg, or potato, but I prefer it made without), until it's light and has the level of garlic strength in its flavour that you like. Makes 1/2+ cups, plenty to serve four in a meal.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mast-o-Musir

This is one of my favourite dips. It's very, very easy to make and tastes great. I prefer to eat it at room temperature, but you can eat it cold as well. Generally, I take some pita or other flat bread, get a good glob of this on it, then top it with some sabzi (I use a mix of mint, scallion and parsley, usually) and sometimes with a little chunk of feta as well. It's wonderfully delicious and simple. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup yogurt (I either use Greek or Arabic yogurt, depending on where I was shopping that week)
1 large shallot, minced finely (you may use more if you're into heavy shallot flavour)
2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and let sit at least one hour so the flavours can meld. Serves 2-8.

I still can't find my camera, as an aside. It's somewhere in my car, and hopefully sometime soon I'll figure out exactly where.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Storage

This week was pretty standard for getting through things. Lot of pasta, lot of rice (we are now down to three litres of white rice), last of the lentils (though I bought more, as you'll see next Saturday). Also, some more of the rice noodles (another package!), and a bit more tea. I think I'm almost out of yeast, which is bad. I have plenty of flour though, which is good. And, when I believed I was nearly out of molasses, I actually looked to see if I had some before buying more (I did). So some storage was avoided as well. I'm also nearly out of chick peas, so I got some more of those. I guess I use more of those than any other bean. It used to be black beans, but I haven't really been eating those lately for some strange reason. Perhaps I'll start eating those again, or finishing out some of the beans I'm close to being through. We shall see.

How are things going for your pantry staples? Are you building up a large food storage supply; trying, as I am, to pare down yours; or just maintaining?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Spending

This probably isn't going to surprise you all a ton, particularly given how much shopping I did last week. Have I ever, in the history of Saturday Spending, spent such a huge amount in one month, let alone one week, on groceries? I don't think I have, but perhaps y'all know better than I do.

Anyway, I didn't even set foot in a grocery store this week. Next week I'm quite sure I will be spending some on food, since I'm nearly out of chick peas, and I very, very badly want to make kofta, garlic sauce, and perhaps some more pita. Well, hopefully this week, anyway. I'm a bit behind in my reading still for this semester (and today is GRE-taking day so that's about all that's on my mind), so it's possible I won't make it but still highly doubtful that I can ignore my cravings for another week.

How was y'all's week in grocery land?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Food Waste Friday

I'm a little sad this Friday. There was a little waste, which always makes me a bit sad, but this week in particular I wasted something that shocked even me.

This week I wasted:

6 figs

Very, very, very bad Allie.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Plum Flognard

This recipe is adapted from the cherry clafouti recipe I found in Joy of Cooking (but I'm not doing the quotes thing like I normally do because I just remember how it goes in my head). I had a billion plums sitting in the fridge that were decent, but not ideal for eating out of hand. Or maybe I just got spoiled while I was on vacation eating fruit as it came off trees (literally) and now grocery story fruit isn't all that impressive to me.

4 eggs
3/4 - 1 cup sugar or vanilla sugar
1 cup milk
2-3 tablespoons vanilla (I use a lot; you use less if you like)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup pastry or all-purpose flour
1 pound or so of plums, cut in half and pitted but not peeled

Whisk eggs with sugar until frothy. Add milk and vanilla and beat until smooth, then add the salt and flour and whisk until it's mostly not lumpy anymore. Put the plums, cut side up, in a large Pyrex pie plate so that they're all touching each other and form a solid layer of plum on the bottom (or whatever pie or cake plate you prefer) and pour the batter over the plums. Put it in the oven and turn it on to 375F (or you can be cooler than me and actually preheat your oven). Once it's heated, give it ten more minutes to bake then turn the oven down to 350F. It should take another 30-40 minutes to bake, and it'll be done when a tester comes out of the center clean. Serves 4-8.*

*I'm told that if you sprinkle powdered sugar over it and flame the top of it it's quite delicious like that as well, but I wasn't home when that happened so I didn't get to taste it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sweet Potato Ravioli

As I was going through the freezer to see what food is available, I noticed there was about a half a roasted sweet potato languishing in some tupperware. Now, I say "languishing" because it'd been more than a month since I'd last eaten sweet potato. Or at least since I last remember eating sweet potato.

But there it was, chillin' out, "looking" at me like it was saying, "Hey lady. You used to love sweet potatoes. What'd I do wrong to make you break things off with me so suddenly?" And I was ashamed to admit that it had, in fact, done nothing wrong. I'm just inattentive (tell you something you didn't already know, right?) and absent-minded and sometimes in the pursuit of new adventures, I just forget my old faithfuls. I also found most of a container of ricotta in there from when I last made lasagna.

It seemed to me that while the sweet potato lends itself graciously to myriad uses, I might like to elevate it beyond its humble beginnings and let this one sweet potato enjoy a place of honour amongst fresh pasta. What better way to celebrate the diversity of the sweet potato? So here we are, with some freshly made sweet potato ravioli. I hope you enjoy it!

1 batch pasta dough, enough to make three trays of ravioli)*
1/2 roasted (or boiled?) sweet potato
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1 tablespoon each: sage, salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons dried, pulverised black trumpet mushrooms (optional)
1/2 cup or so pesto

 Using a potato masher, combine sweet potato, ricotta, sage, salt, pepper and mushroom bits. Line a ravioli press (the trays with the little sections for those lovely tiny square raviolis) with a thin sheet of pasta (alternately, you can make these individually, by taking your sheet of pasta, rolling it out thin, then either dropping spoonfuls of filling onto it before cutting, or cutting out your shapes then filling). Fill each divet with the filling, then brush the sheet (away from the filling) with egg wash or water (I just use water). Top with another thin sheet of pasta and press (since I use the ravioli tray, I just use a rolling pin to seal them all at once). Remove from tray and let sit for 10-20 minutes on a plate to dry. Cook in salted, boiling water roughly 7 minutes. Drain, then toss with pesto. Serves 2 people who hadn't eaten all day.

*For pasta, I did approximately a pound of flour with 3 eggs. I usually do this by feel and not by measuring, so this is a rough idea. I pile however much flour I want onto the counter, add some salt, make a well and whisk in, using a fork, some eggs. Then I knead it a bit, wrap in saran wrap and toss it in the fridge for an hour before I roll it. Sometimes my egg:flour ratio is off, and I just kind of adjust it on the fly. But for those of you who want a proper recipe and not my "a little of this, a little of that" nonsense, here's one. I also use a rolling pin to roll out my pasta, instead of a pasta machine, so you might not want to emulate that because it's quite a lot of work (work I find relaxing, but still).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Storage

So this week was pretty simple in terms of storage use. There is absolutely no way I'll be more appreciably close to finishing the food storage by the end of my lease, but I still think I'm making phenomenal progress.

We've used up, this week:

more rice (I think I'm now close to finishing up the white rice and brown rice, and I don't know if I'll keep more than a little bit of standard white rice in the house anymore, as everyone here is pretty much on board with whole grain rices now)
more pasta
more flours
all the frozen pumpkin
piles of tea
bonito
kombu
more trumpet mushrooms
1 package rice noodles

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Spending

A lot of groceries were purchased this week. A lot. I noticed several things were missing from the kitchen, and that I had used up a lot of other things. So you'll probably see the largest amount of grocery shopping on this post that you've ever seen from me. Also, we had a dinner party and so there's some extra stuff you're not used to seeing me buy from that as well. And the cheese binge. I'm on a big cheese binge

Kroger:

$2.82 - parmesan cheese (OMG we are having Brazilian cheese breads soon!)
$2.10 - salad
$1.39 - non-stick spray
$3.29 - feta
$1.09 - saltines
$2.49 - eggs
$2.89 - onions (3 pounds)
$2.19 - regular sharp cheddar
$2.14 - milk
$3.69 - sausage
$3.99 - watermelon
$0.34 - garlic
$2.89 - vermont cheddar
$2.28 - almond milk
$2.99 - orange juice
$2.88 - peanut butter
$3.25 - mayonnaise
$1.49 - sweetened condensed milk
$2.49 - kalamata olives
$4.99 - A1
$2.58 - canned artichoke hearts
$3.19 - canned palm hearts
$3.19 - bread flour
$7.99 - 3 pounds chicken tenders

subtotal: $68.63


Whole Foods:

$6.49 - barley malt syrup
$3.49 - 1 pound yogurt
$31.66 - ribeye steaks
$4.56 - azores flores cheese
$1.62 - swiss bellevue cheese
$2.00 - some other kind of cheese
$1.61 - new zealand cheddar
$4.64 - drunken goat cheese
$1.43 - seaside cheddar
$4.99 - figs
$0.57 - daikon
$4.99 - potatoes

subtotal: $68.05
grand total: $136.68

Friday, September 16, 2011

Food Waste Friday

This week was not so good. But it's been a while since that's happened, so while I'll strive to be better, I am also not going to worry too much about this small loss.

This week I wasted:

2 cups dashi
1/3 roma tomato.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stewed Peach Pancake Topping

As much as we all love cabbage, today I'm stepping away from it for a very simple peach topping. These are delicious over pancakes, spooned over a simple pound cake or eaten with gems. You all are so creative I bet you could give me another billion uses for this simple recipe. I believe my original intention was actually to make a small batch (one jar's worth) of peach jam but then something happened in my brain and we got this instead. Hope you enjoy!

5 peaches, pitted and sliced somewhat thickly (1/2 inch thick slices is roughly what I did)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup vanilla sugar (or you could use regular sugar and a touch of extract, or just regular sugar)
pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 cup chopped crystallised ginger

Mix together peaches, lemon, sugar and salt and let sit on the counter for an hour or two. Slide it all into a skillet and cook over low heat until the peaches are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Add butter and ginger and cook another 10-15 minutes. Serves 2-4 as a topping or 2 just by itself.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stewed Red Cabbage

I had a head of red cabbage, and some sausage in the house. Needless to say, my interest with the cabbage was lying in stewing, since I wasn't about to ferment it (especially when I've already got kraut in the house). I had 4 or 5 people over that day, so it seemed like the most efficient way to use up ALL the cabbage, instead of just a bit of it at a time (like I normally do with the grilled cheese sandwiches). So here it is. I really enjoyed this dish, particularly given just how little work it took for me to make it, and will definitely make it again. Hope you enjoy!

3 tablespoons butter
1 large head cabbage, chopped
1 tablespoon onion juice (I was out of onions that day)
1 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons nigella seed (black caraway)
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1 beer
4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt to taste

Melt butter in a large frying pan over low heat. Add in all the other ingredients and let it simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Serves 5.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Storage

Alright, so here's a pretty big update. I've been entertaining a fair bit, and cooking nearly everyday. Coupled with my negligence in going to the store until I absolutely have to, this has been the perfect recipe for using up a lot of stuff. So much so, that I am down to only having two bins of food in my closet. Can you believe it? That means half the bins are gone and I actually have space in my closet for things not food related!

Since I don't know exactly what I've used, I will simply tell you approximately what's left:

30 pound of pasta
15 pounds beans max
most of the dried mushrooms (I've actually started working those into my food recently, though)
maybe 4 pounds white rice
1 pound maybe of red rice
1 1/2 pounds medium rice
1 pound brown rice
1 pound barley
1 pound bulghur
1 pound whole wheat berries
1/2 pound lentils
roughly 5 pounds of tea (yeah, seriously, I've used up that much tea that that's all I have left)

I've used up all the pastry flour, whole wheat flour and self-rising flour. I've stopped keeping track of all-purpose, cake and bread flour (and matzot) since I only keep one bag (box) in the house of each at a time and don't buy more until it's nearly gone.

Most of the dried fruit is gone. I've got 4 dried angelina plums left, a half pound of prunes and a half pound of golden raisins. Oh, and the cherries I eat with my oatmeal (that I haven't been eating since November, except to bake with).

I've made no dent yet in the rice pasta or seaweed, but that's on my list for what to start attacking next. I don't keep an excess of sugar, baking powder, soda or the like anymore. I'm also no longer keeping track of dried tomatoes, rutabega or the like, as I'm running through all that stuff at a reasonable rate at this point and no longer keeping an excess of any of it. Even the jams and jellies are starting to be used up. There's still a lot of those, but I can see the progress.

It's weird having "so little" dry storage remaining. My goal of course is to keep at it, without replacing stuff, until all the dry storage is gone and I'm left with a well-stocked but reasonable in quantities pantry and no food in my closet. As I've started to view my home as having very little food (which obviously is a relative thing, since to nearly everyone I know I have more food than people can imagine what to do with), I've been thinking more and more about food storage. I really do believe that people, if they have sufficient and appropriate storage space to do so, should try to keep a year or two of dry storage in their home. I think that if I were the type of person who wants to always be living in one place, without the weird nomad "gene" that tends to complicate my life so very much, I'd already be seriously restocking since I've only probably got 6 months of food here.

I've found, thus far, that keeping so much food in the house is really helpful to me in a lot of ways. First of all, I actually CAN go a couple months without shopping for food. That might ultimately result in me experiencing some food boredom, but it's okay because it's all about safety nets. If I'm broke, I won't starve. I've come to view all this food storage as being similar to the 6-12 months of cash savings most financial advocates recommend we keep put back for emergencies. While food obviously needs to be rotated in and out, unlike cash savings, they provide the same potential relief if something goes wrong. If there are food or power crises (as, for example, we had some issues with during Ike), I don't need to rely on disaster relief to keep me fed. If I lose my jobs (such as during the last year when I didn't work), I still get to eat. If I'm ill for an extended period (like last semester, when I couldn't get out of bed for a week because my fever was so high), I still get to eat. All in all, it's a safety net and "savings" plan I think I will always keep as part of my life (so long as I know where I'll be living for the next year or so), simply to add an extra layer of security.

Since I think it's relatively easy to build up food savings without breaking the budget, simply by adding a few extra items to the grocery cart when they're on sale, I can't see a logical reason not to do so, given that adequate space for storage exists. Just something to think about, I guess. Something I've been thinking a lot about, anyway.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Spending

Okay, so here's my most recent shopping trip. Y'all will be plenty surprised to see cocktail onions and banana peppers missing from the list. I'm making a lot of progress through the storage, as you'll see tomorrow, and that of course will result in some changes being made to the way I shop, as things wander on out of the house and actually do need to be replaced. So let's all be on the lookout for that.

Kroger:

$1.09 - saltines
$2.39 - jumbo shells
$1.47 - cabbage
$7.69 - beer
$0.88 - carrots
$0.00 - butter (coupon)
$2.55 - onions
$3.18 - 5 pounds potatoes
$1.30 - canned tomatoes
$2.00 - milk (I buy those little 8 ounce milks, since no one in my house actually drinks milk so it's not worth it to buy a whole carton)
$4.56 - 2 pound ground beef
$2.99 - matzot

total: 30.10

Friday, September 09, 2011

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Holishkes (Stuffed Cabbage)


I feel like I should apologise to you guys for having been away so long. But I've already made that apology so many times I assume at this point y'all know I'm just a little flaky from time to time, and we'll leave it at that. And now when I disappear again for some odd reason, y'all won't be surprised in the least. 
This particular disappearance was a pretty interesting one. I wrapped up my math degree, which is pretty exciting. Then I went on a two week road trip vacation. My main stops (where I've not lived before) were in Omaha, to visit my friend and adopted brother D, and just outside Dickson, TN, where I visited my friend C. I had an outstanding time, filled with nature, picking fruits from trees, cooking, baking (without internet to remind me how to do things I'd forgotten) and eating lots of foods I didn't make as well. I had the most incredible fish and chips (and fried pickles) I've ever eaten in Omaha at the Dundee Dell (where I encourage you all to eat and/or drink if you're in Omaha). I had an interesting and exciting new take on falafel, and I also had some pretty amazing BBQ (though I did have to ask for pickles, which has never happened to me before) somewhere in Arkansas. 

And then I came home and have started getting settled into my postbacc semester (grad school officially starts next semester). I am, of course, already a little behind. Having come off a math degree, I'm honestly not used to not being able to procrastinate a little on my homework without getting seriously behind. In liberal arts, though I find the work easier, it's much more time consuming and so I've learned that I really do need to stay on top of it, as prescribed in the syllabi. 

Anyway. I've actually been cooking a lot since I got home, and I'll start posting the new recipes as I get to it. Additionally, I've decided for the time being to scrap the weekly and monthly budgets for grocery shopping. Honestly, I'm not convinced I actually want to spend the time planning carefully enough to stick to the previous budgets 100% (or even closely enough to 100% to make me feel okay with bothering at all right now) right now, and so while I'll still always keep a mind toward frugality at the store, I'm not going to try to stay within a fixed budget right now. When that changes, I'll let you know. I will, however, still keep my receipts so y'all can still see what I'm buying and how much I'm spending (for Saturday Spending). For Sunday Storage, I've made a much larger dent in my food storage supplies than I realised, and I'll be telling you all about that over the weekend. And of course, Food Waste Friday will be back as well. 

Oh, and regarding my camera. It works, as of the last time I saw it. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it since partway through my vacation. So once I figure out where I've left it, I'll start putting pictures with the posts again.

And so, in the spirit of coming back with yumminess instead of just vacation ramblings and "Oh hai so sry to be gone," I've got a recipe for you. I honestly can't believe I've never posted this before. Though I'm not sure why I'm surprised I haven't given this recipe to y'all, when I haven't even made it since probably 2006 or 2007. Last night, R and I had a friend over for dinner, and I made latkes and these holishkes. They're slightly different from how they were made while I was growing up, but I still think they're quite good. They lack that sweetness you find in most Eastern European versions, but they also lack the tang, I suppose, of those you might normally find in Middle Eastern varieties. I kind of view these as splitting the difference in how stuffed cabbages can be made. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Italian spices
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup uncooked white rice
1¾ cup water

1 – 8 ounce can tomato sauce

10 (ish) large cabbage leaves, blanched

2 – 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 can water

Combine rice and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, then cover and reduce heat. Allow to cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes longer, covered.
 
Add beef and seasonings to a large frying pan; fry until beef is cooked all the way through. Remove meat, and sauté onion in drippings.

Combine all of the above with 8 oz can tomato sauce. Spoon mixture into cabbage leaves. Roll like a burrito and put in 13”x9” casserole dish.

Mix together water and remaining tomato sauce; pour over cabbage rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. Serves 5-10.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chick Pea and Cucumber Salad

Last night was the study group for the mid-term I had today. I love that we always do study groups at my house, because it means I get to make lots of food and everyone is well fed while working. I made meatballs, fresh bread (I honestly don't have a recipe to give you for this, but I basically just pour "enough" flour into a bowl, add in some salt and yeast, then mix it together with some room temperature water until it feels right. Then I knead, let rise, shape, let rise, bake) and this salad.

Although the base of this recipe uses beans, I still wanted it to be light and fresh tasting. To that end, I kept the dressing simpler than even I usually do, and really just tried to let each individual ingredient speak for itself, as well as speaking together as a group. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 pound chick peas, cooked and cooled (or two cans)
2 leaves red cabbage, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
1/8 cup parsley, chopped
salt to taste
1 teaspoon white wine or citrus vinegar
2 tablespoons each: lemon juice, vegetable oil

Mix all together. Chill. Serves 4.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Storage

Over the last week or so (or whenever the last time I did this update was), I've used the following:

Jasmine rice
pasta
most of the chick peas (uh oh. I actually will need to replace these)
1 pound calrose rice
most of the all-purpose (which I also need to replace)

And, I think that's it. I'm probably wrong, but I think that's it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Spending

Yay groceries. I got some. I mostly got produce and stuff I was missing for lasagna (okay, stuff I thought I was missing that it turned out I wasn't). Next week I'll probably be a little more focused on meat. I've got plenty of meat in the freezer, but it isn't the stuff I actually am craving, so there's that. Anyway, here's what I got this week:

Fiesta:

$3.25 - orange juice (which you know I can't live without)
$0.66 - yellow onion
$1.69 - popcorn (I don't know)
$1.29 - cream (yay scones)
$0.39 - scallions
$0.34 - sweet potato
$1.00 - cucumbers
$0.39 - bell pepper
$0.41 - tomato
$1.38 - lots of parsley
$0.88 - celery
$1.56 - red cabbage

subtotal: $13.24

Wal-Mart: (really weird Fiesta didn't have these items)

$1.94 - ricotta
$0.92 - lasagna noodles (I know; I actually had these and even if I hadn't I should've made them myself since I'm not supposed to be buying pasta anymore)
$0.41 - tomato (Fiesta had this, but I wanted this one too)

subtotal: $3.27
total: $16.51
total for July: $25.66
remaining balance for July: $14.34

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chocolate, Fig and Ginger Mandelbrot

Mandelbrot are similar to biscotti, except they have fat in them. They're really delicious, and while I don't make them most of the time, this seemed like a good opportunity to use some butter for treats. :) The chocolate flavour is really understated, as I didn't want it to drown out the figs or the ginger. Hope you enjoy!

20 ounces pastry flour
1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
4 eggs
1 1/3 - 1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup crystallised ginger, chopped
1 - 1 1/2 cups dried figs, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla, then mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in figs and ginger. Shape into 5"x2" logs (this should make four) and bake 30-40 minutes (I like to do it closer to 40 minutes, since I seem to break fewer of them while slicing later) and cool for 20 minutes. Slice into 1" thick lengths, and bake again another 15-20 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container. Makes approximately 4 dozen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chicken and Acorn Squash Tagine

I had some chicken, and some acorn squash. I also had a bag of ras eh-hanout that had been sent to me by my friend Warda. I wanted to use them in some way, so I decided to do a tagine. Technically, this isn't really a tagine, since I used a different pan, but we'll all pretend anyway. I really enjoyed this meal, and I hope you all enjoy it as well!

2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch ras el-hanout
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon harissa

2 chicken breasts, cut into 2" pieces
1 small acorn squash, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ras el-hanout
1/2 cup olives
1 preserved lemon, chopped
1 can chicken broth

Heat oven to 350F. Fry the celery, bell pepper, onion in the oil, ras el-hanout, tomato paste and harissa. Add to tagine. Rub remaining ras el-hanout into chicken and squash, then add those and all remaining ingredients to the tagine. Cover and bake for one hour. Serves 4.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Storage

I used up the rest of the kidney beans. I believe I used up some other stuff too, but other than the figs, I've forgotten what those things may be.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Saturday Spending

I did a little shopping this week too.

Save-a-Lot:

$1.99 - dill pickles
$2.00 - tortilla chips
$1.69 - dill pickles

total: $5.68

Kroger:

$0.68 - potato
$2.79 - eggs

total: $3.47

grand total: $9.15
total for July: $9.15
total available for July: $40
remaining balance: $30.85

Friday, July 08, 2011

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sunday Storage

I really didn't get a whole lot used up from the pantry this week, aside from some flour. I haven't really been home over the last week, so I'm not too worried about that. More progress next week!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Saturday Spending

Well, when the dam breaks, it really breaks. I went to the grocery store and kind of lost my mind in there a little bit. I bought a lot. I did need the stuff I got, though I completely forgot to buy eggs. Thankfully, July is a new month so I can buy eggs now. :)

So here's what I spent at Fiesta:

$1.50 - tortilla chips for nachos
$1.89 - bagels
$1.99 - cheese (cheddar)
$1.99 - cheese (blend)
$2.19 - cheese (parm)
$3.51 - whole chicken
$1.69 - 2 cans chicken broth
$2.19 - sugar
$2.19 - cheese (cheddar)
$1.00 - cheese (moz)
$1.18 - corn
$1.99 - salsa
$1.00 - ramen (I know, I know)
$3.22 - apples
$0.35 - zucchini
$1.99 - cream cheese
$0.86 - oranges
$1.62 - eggplant
$2.80 - lychee
$0.99 - cantaloupe
$0.97 - nectarine
$3.38 - apricots
$0.34 - guava
$0.99 - honeydew
$0.84 - plums

Totals:

Money spent: $39.50
Monthly allotment: $40
Amount over monthly allotment for June: $6.71
Remaining balance: $0

All in all, I'm going to call that a win, even though I went $7 over my monthly budget. I hadn't bought groceries since April, and if I can get away spending under fifty dollars for groceries over the course of two months, I feel pretty okay with not having stuck 100% to the monthly budget, since I'm still way under budget for the summer.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Storage

I don't think this is a comprehensive list of everything I've used up, but here's what I remember (and what I can see missing from the pantry):

1/2 pound black beans
all the jasmine rice
some pasta
all the couscous (Moroccan)
all the bread flour (got more though)
1 jar of sourkraut
most of the matzo

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Spending

Well, I finally broke my long streak of not going to the grocery store. Strangely, it wasn't actually oranges that finally made me go. It was bread flour. I don't know how to function without flour. Though of course, while I was there I figured I might as well pick up another orange. I'd honestly forgotten what my budget for the summer was, so I had to go look. Apparently it's $40 per month. Do y'all remember us deciding on that? I didn't. I also didn't remember that I said eating out would be included in my food budget, as per how things were done last summer. Well, that part's just not going to happen. I've developed this terrible, albeit fun, habit of eating out with my workout partners after we leave the gym. I really enjoy doing this, but it certainly doesn't fit in with a $40/month grocery budget. So we're scrapping that part and just sticking to a reduced grocery budget instead of a reduced everything budget. A girl's gotta be able to have some fun in her life, and since my fun mostly centers around eating, eating out is something I'm going to keep allowing myself to do over the summer.

Anyway, here's what I spent:

Fiesta:

$0.99 - celery
$3.29 - bread flour
$1.00 - 2 cucumbers
$0.80 - orange
$0.51 - nectarine
$0.30 - apricots
$0.32 - black plum

Total:

Money spent: $7.21
Weekly allotment: $10
Monthly allotment: $40
Amount over weekly allotment: $0
Amount over monthly allotment: $0
Remaining balance: $32.79

Friday, June 24, 2011

Food Waste Friday

I've really been neglecting you all again, haven't I? I'm very sorry. This all started with me going out of town, and then somehow I got side tracked by all sorts of wonderful life distractions: working on a frugal eating book, excessive amounts of time spent swimming, and my social life in general. It's summer, and my class doesn't start for a couple more weeks so I have totally been goofing off.

Despite all this goofing off, I've still been diligent about food waste. Since I last reported, I wasted:

1 tomato

Friday, June 03, 2011

Food Waste Friday

It was a good week in the waste department. This week I wasted:

NOTHING!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Puttanesca Pizza

I'm not sure exactly how this happened, but I managed to make too little pasta to go with the pot of Puttanesca sauce. I considered making more pasta (too lazy), tossing the last of the sauce in the freezer to use when I got around to it (meh), but then I decided that since I already had a thawed pizza dough in the fridge, I might as well just use that and have a nice briny pizza. Yum. Of all the weird pizzas I've subjected you guys to, I think this one was the easiest. Here's how it goes. Hope you enjoy!

1 pizza dough
3/4 cup Puttanesca sauce
handful of cheese (optional)

Pat out dough into a round. Top with sauce and cheese, if using. Bake 10 minutes at the hottest temperature your oven goes to (I rotate the pizza halfway through). Serves 1-2.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Storage

This week I've used up some stuff I actually remember. So proud. :)

I used:

2 pounds pasta
2 chicken breasts
all but one batch of the pizza dough I'd frozen (huh. That means I need to make more dough, doesn't it?)
2 pounds mozarrella
lots of tomato sauce (homemade sauce for pizza/pasta, not the little cans of tomato sauce)
some canned tomatoes
a tin of anchovies
lots of pickles
most of the pesto

I guess I've mostly been eating pizza and puttanesca this week. I didn't actually realise that until I wrote out this list. Interestingly, I discovered a loaf of bread in the freezer that I didn't remember having, so probably this coming week will be a lot of french toast and grilled sandwiches. If any of them are interesting I'll be sure to let y'all know.

Saturday Spending

Once again, I didn't go to the store. I think at this point I really do need to go, since I'm very nearly out of produce. Down to one orange (again), an acorn squash, one onion, one tomato and a bell pepper; I'm out of both celery and carrots. I did discover I had a lime, too. I'll get them sometime this week if I remember.

I think there's something wrong with me that I'm kind of enjoying the fact that I haven't been to the store in a month. Aside from some produce, I probably could go just as easily a second month (probably longer, though I'd likely run out of meat at that point). We'll see what happens though, with that. It is saving me money, which is good. And it's also forcing me to use food storage which is another good thing.

Now that it's June, I'm ready to start figuring out my summer budget for food. I believe I'm going to do $10 per week again (or $40 a month) as I did last summer. I'll probably do the same thing as last summer where I have to count eating out as part of my weekly budget. Though maybe I'll allow myself one meal out per week with friends so I can keep having a social life that includes food (as opposed to my beer budget which does not appear to be open to reduction for the summer).

So there you go. Perhaps next week I'll actually have groceries to tell you about?

Food Waste Friday

My scheduling of posts didn't pan out this week; sorry for the delays in this!

This week, I wasted:

NOTHING!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pea Shoots and Orange Salad

I had some pea shoots, which I normally like to use for garnishing things. But I had a lot of them, so it seemed good to make them into a salad since I generally think they're a bit too delicate for cooked applications. It's a good snack, and if you wanted you could still use this salad as a garnish. Hope you enjoy!

3 ounces pea shoots
1 orange, supremed
1/2 teaspoon whole grain mustard
salt to taste
1-2 tablespoons each: olive oil, burgundy vinegar (red wine vinegar is a fine substitute)

Whisk together the vinegar, salt and mustard, then stream in the oil while whisking. Fold into the orange segments and pea shoots. Chill and serve. Serves 2-4.

My camera still isn't participating in my life, so no pictures. Sorry guys.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Storage

It looks like I've kind of blown off the Sunday Storage thing since like, April. That's not good, and I'm sorry. I don't have a 100% accurate count of what I've used over the last month, but I think I can approximate it for y'all.

I'm down to 48 pounds of pasta, so I think I've been blowing through it more rapidly than I originally thought. This is great, since it puts me on track to get through that at the conclusion of my lease. I've used piles of chick peas and some of the other beans, but I think I've still got a good 15 or so pounds of those left. I think I'm actually not on track for wrapping those up by the time my lease expires. And then there's the bin of dried mushrooms. To be honest, I usually forget they're in there, and as a result they rarely get incorporated into my cooking. I need to work on that. A friend mentioned that sometime we could do some kind of cook-out, and I can bring mushrooms to that so we can make all sorts of creative mushroom-y things. That seems like a lot of fun, and hopefully a way to get rid of at least a pound of the little guys. Slowly I'm running out of all my non-candy making baking supplies. Making very little dent in the candy making stuff though, which tells me I am not making my friends even remotely enough candy right now. Which I'll also work on. Rice I'm doing well with. I was off rice for a little while, but I'm back on it now and that's a good thing since I'm getting through it little by little.

I think overall, I've used up about half of the long-term storage I moved into this apartment with. My goal of course is to use it all up by November 8th, but I think that goal is pretty unrealistic at this point. Perhaps if I ate out a little less, or whatever, it'd be doable. I think it's more reasonable to accept that I am not going to stop eating out and that it'll take me a bit longer to get through all the food. Soon, I believe, I will be able to combine the beans bin with the pasta bin. That'll free up some space in my closet and I'll like that. The mushrooms and tea bins will be emptied eventually, but I understand both of those will take substantially longer to accomplish.

Once I get through it all, I think I'd just like to keep a month or three's worth of food in the house. Plenty for allowing me to skip shopping for a month here and there (like I have been this month), but not so much that it's overwhelming and hard to store in a one bedroom apartment. :)

So that's the update. Not very specific, but gives y'all a general sense of where things are on the storage front.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Spending

Y'all aren't going to believe this. Once again, I did not go to the store! I really, really, really intended to go this week. After all, I needed more oranges. But then, a friend very kindly brought me a gift of some oranges when he came over to hang out, and that quickly made all my good intentions fall by the wayside. So, ... well, yeah. I'm a little embarrassed that there's only a week left of May and the only time I've seen the inside of a grocery store this month was to teach someone else how to shop. But, we'll see what happens next week.

So, the totals:

Money spent: $0.
Weekly allotment: $20
Monthly allotment: $80
Amount over weekly allotment: $0
Amount over monthly allotment: $0
Remaining balance: $80

Friday, May 20, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Spending

Once again, I did not go to the grocery store. I drive by it often enough, and I know there's stuff I want in there. But I still have SO MUCH STUFF in my house that I just can't justify it, still. I have one orange left (the status of oranges being the mark of when I'll go to the store again). I am out of Triscuits (this makes me sad), but I could just make my own crackers if I really need to eat piles of banana peppers on crackers. Oh, and I'm nearly out of bread flour. However, I still have 3(?) bags of dough in the freezer and the one in the fridge that I need to bake this week. Plus lots of other types of flour. So... yeah. I do kind of wish I had a zucchini so I could stew it with some tomatoes I need to use, but again, there is SO MUCH FOOD in the house that the little things I want should take a backseat position to the ones I already have.

What's weirdest about this is that I've mostly been eating all my meals at home, but other than a pizza I made, I can't for the life of me remember what I've eaten. So I'm assuming it's stuff I'd already told you about in the past, otherwise I'd have posted something this week. :) It's also possible that my end of semester extreme sleep deprivation experiment just eliminated my short-term memory and that I did eat something interesting but lost it somewhere in the recesses of my brain. The semester is now over though, so I'm looking forward to doing more cooking and probably some more entertaining (though I've had people in and out studying and eating for the last week or two).

Anyway, that's a very long-winded, rambly (is that even a word?) explanation for why it's halfway through the month and I've yet to buy groceries.

The totals (upside: totals are super easy when you spend no money):

Money spent: $0.
Weekly allotment: $20
Monthly allotment: $80
Amount over weekly allotment: $0
Amount over monthly allotment: $0
Remaining balance: $80

Friday, May 13, 2011

Food Waste Friday

This week, I wasted:

2 tablespoons mushrooms topping. I'm not really sure how that happened, but I just forgot it was in there (even though it was on the leftovers shelf). Weird, isn't it? Next week I should be back to no waste.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Saturday Spending

So once again, I didn't make it to the store. I still have piles of food in the fridge (and pantry, of course, though that goes without saying). At this point I'm pretty much just doing what I can to not waste food. My freezer is stuffed (which is kind of sad, since I really would like to buy some ham while it's on sale), my fridge is packed (even if you disregard the fullness of the "pickles" shelf), the pantry is still full and of course I've still got bins of food in my closet. There's so much I'm actually a little overwhelmed by it all. Now, it probably wouldn't be this packed if I wasn't living alone again, but I am. And I am just one woman with too much food. Hence I can't justify grocery shopping. Well, unless I run out of oranges. Then I can, of course.

Now that I've said this, I want to say something else. I lied. I have been to the store. I just didn't go to the store to do my own grocery shopping. I went with my friend so I could show her where the food was, at the grocery store. We went through and looked at things she buys (and what's in them). The one that threw me off was the bread section. I expected white bread to be full of unpronouncables. I didn't expect the "good" breads to be full of non-food. Interestingly enough, the only bread we found that actually was food was the rye bread. All the rest were non-food. I just didn't know about all this, since as you know I've bought bread like, once in the past year. Maybe even longer. If you want to keep up with her adventures in purging processed food from her life and putting real food in, check out her blog, Is It Real Food?

So on to the totals for May:

Money spent: $0.
Weekly allotment: $20
Monthly allotment: $80
Amount over weekly allotment: $0
Amount over monthly allotment: $0
Remaining balance: $80

Friday, May 06, 2011

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Mixed Berry Preserves

Another thing K and I made while I was with her over the "weekend" was jam. Through our process of learning what is food and what is not food (but which often tastes great), we wanted to cover the idea that you can often make things, very easily and cheaply, that you can buy premade in the store. Except they taste better when you make them at home. Jam seemed like a great example of this. For convenience, we used frozen fruit to make the jam instead of buying fruit from the produce aisle (and having to spend time cutting it up). This worked out really well. I'd never tried to make jam with frozen fruit before, but I'm pretty sure I'll be doing it again in the future.

This is an added pectin-free recipe. My general thoughts on buying pectin are that it can be a really great idea if that's the way you like to can, but that it's not necessary. I actually own a couple packets of pectin, but I've never used them and wouldn't really even know how (unless I read the directions, of course). Mostly I just like to let the fruit release its own pectin and work its magic au natural. So that's how K and I did it. Hope you enjoy!

1 pound bag frozen mixed berries (this had raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries), thawed
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon (ish - I eyeballed it) lemon juice

Put a small plate and a spoon in the freezer. Combine the ingredients in a pot (larger than you think you need) and stir well. Let them hang out somewhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and stir every so often. This should release loads of extra juices from the fruit, which is nice because then you need no extra water. Over medium-low to medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring periodically (make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon while you stir), then let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until it starts to thicken up. When you think it's reached the gelling point, put a little jam with your frozen spoon onto your frozen plate. Put the jam plate back into the freezer for one minute. When it comes out, push on the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles or kind of maintains its shape, it's done. If it doesn't, keep cooking the jam and try again. I think we cooked the jam for maybe 15 minutes before it gelled. Ladle the jam into a sterilized 12-ounce or 1 pint jar and cool on the counter for a bit. Pop the lid on and refrigerate. Use within a couple weeks. Or, if you don't want to use it immediately, can in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

White Pepper Shrimp

I'm "out of town" right now (read: an hour or so from my house, in an area of the metroplex where you can actually see some stars at night) visiting with friends. K isn't much on the whole cooking thing, but she's decided to learn. So we've had entirely too much fun in the kitchen, teaching her some new recipes that she can expand on and tweak to fit her preferences. We made a tomato and spinach soup, apple pie/cake, quinoa, and this peppered shrimp thing I thought of while we were learning how to find the real food in the grocery store. It was pretty good. K and I loved how spicy the pepper made it, but J thought it was a touch too spicy. So I'll just write it out as I did it and y'all can decide how much pepper you want. 

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
1 teaspoon white pepper
salt to taste
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
spoonful of yogurt (we used a regular eating soup spoon, but use as much as you like)
pinch oregano

Heat the oil and garlic, frying the garlic until golden. Add shrimp, white pepper, salt, cayenne and lemon juice. Cook until the shrimp are pink. Remove the shrimp and whisk in the oregano, another pinch of salt, and the yogurt. Cook to desired level of thickness (thin with water or broth if needed). Serves 2-4.

No picture again. Still no camera.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Mushroom Bread Topping

To say that I have a lot of bread in the house is a serious understatement. I have like, five pizza's worth of dough frozen, a loaf of challah that's made it into the freezer and a full loaf of sourdough. It's a lot of bread. Since sometimes when I have bread, I kind of just want to rip off chunks of it and eat it as is, I figured I should make something that would be conducive to eating bread like this but without eating ONLY bread.

Leftover from the study party, there were some mushrooms and I of course had a lot of onions lying around, since they're nature's perfect flavouring for... well, everything. Adding some mint to it seemed like a good idea. This is a really simple recipe. You could eat it by itself, top a steak or fish with it, put it on mashed potatoes or slather it onto hunks of bread, as I did. Hope you enjoy!

1/4 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to taste
1/4 pound (ish) sliced button mushrooms
1/8 - 1/4 cup ripped mint leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and salt. Fry lightly for 2-3 minutes, then add mushroom and turn the heat to low. Cook about 5 minutes, then add the mint and lemon juice. With the heat now on the lowest setting, cook until everything is golden, slightly mushy looking and fragrant.

As an aside, my camera has decided it doesn't feel like participating in my life right now, so no pictures. Whenever I figure out what's wrong with it, I'll start having pictures again.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sunday Storage

I don't think I went through a lot of storage this week. I know I went through most of my bread flour, but I believe that's it. Perhaps some pasta I've forgotten too?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Spending

This week, I didn't do any grocery shopping for myself. I did go to the store to get supplies for a study group party, but I didn't even keep the receipt since it wasn't groceries in the normal sense of groceries. So, my total is the same as last week. I'm a few dollars under monthly budget. I'm going to see for May if I can do an $80 monthly budget. I think if I keep it in the $20/week range but allow myself for an overall monthly amount, that might be easier for me in terms of the way I think about grocery shopping and budgeting while still trying to convert over to a monthly system.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Storage

Well, I forgot to put up a post for y'all on this one for last week. But that's okay, since I'm combining it with this week's storage totals. I suspect somehow as long as I tell y'all everything I remember, that things will be just fine with keeping up with what's being used. With finals coming up, I've mostly just been making foods you already know about: tossing together a can of coconut milk and Thai curry then adding some meat and veggies in it to simmer; baked zitis and lasagnas; polenta with some cheese mixed in, etc. Nothing new or exciting. As it stands right now, I'm just trying to keep my academic head above water for the next couple weeks. So mostly you can expect to see nothing new or exciting from me until this semester ends. But at the very least, I'll let y'all know generally what's happening in the kitchen.

1 pound penne (okay, so I didn't make baked ziti. I made baked penne. 6 and 1/2 dozen, I say)
1 pound linguini (puttanesca, of course)
boatloads of rice (most of the jasmine is gone)
thai curry paste
most of the polenta
chocolate chips (for brownies)
2-3 bars of chocolate (also for brownies)
most of the nuts (I believe there's most of a pound of almonds remaining, and a half pound of pecans)
some instant coffee (also for the brownies)