On a budget.

September 28, 2014

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I am lucky enough to have a great, tiny farmer’s market 2 blocks from my new digs in a little park.  It’s quiet and full of good dogs. No one is reaching over you for squash. There are ice pops, and good meat, and flowers, and organic veggies. It’s on a Sunday, and it’s made my Lord’s days really awesome.

There’s something awesome about the potential energy of a big bag of produce. Like endless possibilities for the week ahead. I spend the rest of Sunday afternoon tidying the kitchen and cooking and prepping food for the week and listening to nineties hip hop. It’s a great ritual.

Except, sometimes, like with anything great, I have a tendency to over do it. And then i’ve spent $90 and I have a house full of wilting flowers and a bunch of squash shriveling up in the crisper that I didn’t quite get to.

So, i’ve challenged myself to spend $50 on Sunday and that’s it. No popping into the fancy bodega for a few ingredients I missed on Wednesday. Just me, my $50, and a pretty well stocked pantry. (Pantry includes: cooking oils, bulk grains and nuts, and a pretty well stocked spice rack.) I aim to have lunches and dinners all set for the week. Breakfast is usually a yogurt or some oatmeal at my desk.

Full disclosure: I am going on about 8 weeks of working with a nutritionist. I am (mostly) avoiding processed food, including processed wheat products. Also, not eating thing with >10 grams of sugar.

Here’s where my $50 went this week:

FROM THE FARMER’S MARKET:

– a head of broccoli

– two orange peppers

– 3 onions

– 1 head of garlic

– 1 bunch of kale

– 2 little bunches of tatsoi

– 1 big zuchini

– 2 little sweet potatoes

-1 medium butternut squash

– 1 bunch of pink dahlias

– mixed salad greens

– brussels sprouts

– 5 apples

– 1/2 dozen eggs

– 3/4 pound of grass fed stew meat

– two tomatoes

 

FROM THE GROCERIA:

– greek yogurt

– 3 cans of beans

– 2 big cans of fire roasted crushed tomatoes

– organic chicken thighs

– ground turkey

– 3 bottles of seltzer

– ice cream bars (fuck off, ok?)

– soy noodles

– 2 lemons

Geez. Typing that out and seeing it makes me realize that’s a ton of food, and I feel awesome about that.

 

MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK:

– a big pot of chili with turkey, beans, and sweet potatoes

– braised beef with roasted butternut squash, kale

– roasted chicken thighs with tatsoi, fried brown rice

– shaved brussels sprouts salad with apple, lemon

– salads w/ hardboiled eggs, tomato, olives

– eggs with zucchini pancakes

On Sunday Suppers

February 22, 2011

This food blog has seen a real dearth of food posts lately, aye?!

The irony is, i’ve been cooking like a mofo!

I’ve settled into a new space in a lovely (if not bougie) commuter town, into my favorite old Victorian house, with perfect linens and squeeky stairs, with an Aunt who appreciates my cooking and corollary mess-making, loves dinner parties, and sets a table like no one else.

 

I cooked an especially big peasant food meal this Sunday to celebrate the birth of my dad and my Gigi.

So it was their favorites that I made.

For HCGM (that’s Hardcore Greg Moore), there was his favorite liverwurst from Loreley followed by my specialed-up Shepherd’s Pie, and chocolate + chocolate cake for dessert. I braised a brisket in red wine, stock, and rosemary for the shepherd’s pie instead of using the go-to ground beef.

 

 

 

 

I used this chocolate cake recipe, which was totally rich and brilliant. You’ll notice that there are no after-photos because it was a total aesthetic disaster, stemming from not-greased-enough pans. It was not pretty, but it was delicious.

For the Gigi, there was chicken pot pie with sage and white wine, and key lime cheesecake for dessert.

 

 

 

And for me? Key Lime Gin Martinis.

+ 2 jiggers Hendricks Gin

+ splash of dry vermouth

(that you found in the back of the cupboard that may or may not be from the 70’s)

+ juice of two perfect little angel key limes

Shake with good ice.

Look good doing it!

On Jarring.

September 26, 2010

My new found hermitage has afforded me with long warm Saturdays in the kitchen.            (Except yesterday, which I spent getting the season’s last sunburn on the most epic of injun summer beach days.)

And so with my sunny Saturdays, I move between kitchen and porch, stirring and sitting, simmering and reading, and being generally satisfied in my domestic cloister.

Last weekend was the perfect time for experiments in jarring. I am into jarring for a myriad of reasons. I like it because it’s like a science experiment, all the vinegar pectin, all the careful measuring. I like it because I like slow cooking fruit into a taste concentrated tizzy. I like it for its simply reductive quality; in this case it turned super cheap nectarines, and garden surplus hot peppers that might have been wasted into something that could be in the pantry all fall (if neighbors/friends hadn’t caught on to the process and started requestings jars). See, I even like the communal quality of jarring. Beautiful jars of hot pepper jelly just look like gifts, they are meant for giving. (And when you give out hot pepper jelly, you get more hot peppers in response, and are nudged back into the kitchen for second and third batches.) And I like it for the dialing back, for creating the feeling of being part of an old food tradition. 

Here are my recipes for Hot Peppa Jelly and Ginger Nectarine Buttah.

Ginger Nectarine Buttah

8 lbs. peeled, cored, and diced Nectarines

2 inches grated fresh ginger

1 heaping tablespoon of ginger

1 cup honey

1/2 packet of fruit pectin (i eyeballed it, just to add a little stability)

This is the easiest thing ever. Have you ever used a crock pot? Because I never have until I made this recipe. Just dice up all the nectarines, throw them in a crockpot with the honey and spices, and let that mother cook overnight. Give it a good twelve hours. Give it an hour with the lid off to get rid of some of that extra liquid. Puree it in the blender (I just got an immersion blender just in time for soup season, and i’m psyched.) Ladle into freshly boiled mason jars, and process in boiling water for a good ten minutes.                                              This makes about 6 little darling eight-ounce jars.

Encourage those you gift it to to try it in their oatmeal. (That’ right!)


Hot Peppa Jelly

2 1/2 cups diced sweet peppers

1/3 cup diced medium hot to hot peppers, sans seeds

1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

4 cups raw sugar

1 1/2 1.79 ounce packets of powdered fruit pectin

Literally nothing in the world could be easier than this. Dice your peppers, and bring the vinegar to a boil. Add the peppers and boil for 2 minutes. Pour in the sugar while constantly stirring, and then add the pectin. Let it boil for 2 minutes. Ladle into freshly boiled jars and boil for a good ten minutes.

It’s baller on crostini with goat cheese.

Salsa!

August 5, 2010

Nothing says summer like fresh salsa.

I had a huge bowl of sungolds staring at me. I wanted to make something that would honor their sweetness and color. I kept trying to think of ways to cook them, and then I realized that my favorite way to eat them is raw, popped right off the vine into my mouth. This, combined with the fact that I saw Husk Cherries at the farmer’s market, had me thinking a sweet and spicy salsa would be the ideal fate of these little guys.

(I am obsessssed with Husk Cherries – they are sweet, and come in their own little parchment-like gift wrapping)

This involves a good half hour of prep work, chopping and slicing, which after a long day in front of a computer, is the perfect wind-down for me.

Black Bean Sun Gold Salsa:

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1/4 pound husk cherries (if you can’t find these, maybe try a little bit of pineapple)

1 red pepper, diced

1 small white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

bunch of cilantro

can black beans, rinsed and drained

juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 jalepenos, seeded, deveined, and diced

cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste

Sometimes I tell myself that i’m too busy to cook. I tell myself to  just make a crummy half a sandwich, blast out the door, and eat it in the car. But that feels awful. There’s no romance, or celebration when you are eating tomatoes on bread in the driver’s seat. I was confronted by this quandry as my favorite Chrissy and I were rushing to get dressed as Zombies for the ballerest Zombie Beach Party in Philly. We needed to eat something substantial to prep our zombellies for booze, and we didn’t want to eat a bunch of fatty brains on the dance floor.

I looked in the fridge, super uninspired, and just before I lamed out and reached for sandwich fixins, I spotted some good whole wheat pasta in the pantry. I boiled the pasta as I pushed Chris out the back door to pick fresh basil in zombie makeup, as I rounded up the rest of the goods. This is one of those easy, cheap, recipes made with ingredients you always have in the cupboard. It felt a lot nicer to share a real meal with him as we drew scars and scabs on eacheother than handing him a hobo sandwich. We ate the pasta room temperature, but i’m sure it would be great cold out of the fridge.

Recipe:

1/2 box whole wheat pasta (we used capellini)

2 super ripe tomotoes (halved cherries would have been perfect)

1 big lemon

1 can good oil packed tuna (would be awesome with anchovies as well)

big handful of fresh basil

1/4 cup capers or super salty olives

2-3 tablespoons of good olive oil.

salt and pepper red pepper flakes

While the pasta boils, get choppin. Drain the tuna pretty well, but it doesn’t have to be 100%, the more oil you leave, the more tuna flavor the pasta has. Drain the pasta, leaving it a little wet to help build the sauce. Toss the chunked tuna, capers, tomatoes, basil, and lemon juice and olive oil in with the pasta. Season up with salt and pepper, and plenty of red pepper flakes. GET BUSY!

Quinoa Salad!

June 2, 2010

You know i’m down with the quinoa.

I’ve been trying to have meatless weekdays, so I have been trying to spend some time coming up with good dinners that transition into office lunches. That way I have good healthy veggie food, instead of caving for boss-bought pizza or BBQ. This quinoa salad is awesome, crunchy, protein packed, served cold, and even better the next day. It was my first use of garden Basil and Greek Oregano, which was totes exciting.

Recipe: Quinoa Salad

2 cups Quinoa
1 Red Pepper
2 Stalks Celery
2 Carrots
1/2 Large Red onion
Fresh Basil
Greek Oregano
1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbles
Salt + Pepper
For dressing:
1 Lemon
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
(This is approximate, you can add more if it seems dry)
Rinse the quinoa well.
Put in a pot, and add water to cover, and some salt.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
Dice all the veggies and herbs while it’s cooking.
While quinoa is warm, add half of the dressing, salt, and pepper. (It will absorb it and make it taste awesome.)
Let quinoa cool, and add the veggies, fresh herbs, and rest of the dressing.

I cooked for about 10 people every day for nine months. I cooked vegetables I grew and cows that I knew. It was hectic and beautiful and rewarding. When I interned in the kitchen of one of my favorite restaraunts, cooking for countless New Yorkers, I felt like I was going to puke the whole time.  I thought maybe I was supposed to go to culinary school, but I hated the insane pace and lack of personal connection to the diners that I felt.

I hate cooking for myself. It is part and parcel of my inner social animal that wants to be adored for perfect meals and ever-flowing wine. But, I am not in the perfect living situation for impromtu dinner parties, and I had some Bok Choy that was about to call it quits, so I cooked. I loved the silky mouth-feel on the ground beef, and the inner snap to the carrots.

You never know when cute girls are going to come over, drink whiskey, dance, and love on your leftovers.

Ginger Beef with Baby Bokchoy:

1/2 pound pasture fed ground beef (some thinly sliced steak would be better)

4 or so baby bok choy

an inch of grated ginger

2 garlic cloves

1 small onion

zest of 1 orange

sesame oil

soy sauce

handful of big carrot pieces (i hate overcooked carrots, so i cut them huge)

quinoa

Brown the beef up and ditch some of the oil. Add the onions and the carrots. Add some soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and orange zest. Put the bok choy on top with the lid on to steam a minute. Serve it up with some quinoa. (I always add some veg. stock to mine.)

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