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


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
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


$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.


$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.