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Wacky Pilaf

December 28th, 2007 at 10:19 pm

You can make a pilaf out of any cooked grain, not just rice. I love through the bulk bins of grains in the grocery store and picking up some. It does mean that a couple of months later I often have a bit of this and a bit of that, not enough to make a side by itself. Instead of buying more at that moment I collect the bits and make a wacky pilaf. This is one of my favorites that I made for Christmas.

Wacky Pilaf

1 minced onion
1 chopped carrot
2 cups quinoa
1/2 cup kasha (buckwheat groat)
1/2 cup wild rice
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
salt, pepper

Soak the quinoa for about 15 minutes in twice the amount of water (2 cups quinoa means 4 cups water). Swish the grain in the water a bit. This is to remove the grain's bitter, soapy tasting coating.

Boil the wild rice in a small saucepan until slightly underdone, about 20 minutes. Drain. Wild rice should be al dente chewy, not mushy.

Boil the kasha in a small saucepan until done, about 2-3 minutes. Kasha cooks very quickly - when done, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, drain again.

Drain the soaked, raw quinoa. Its a small grain, you will need a fine mesh colander.

Saute the onion and carrot in the butter or olive oil over medium heat until carrot is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wet quinoa to the onion and carrot, stir to mix, cover pan with lid, then turn down the heat to low and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes to prevent sticking.

Add kasha and wild rice to the pan, stir to coat. If necessary, add a bit more oil. Quinoa is done when it turns translucent. Salt and pepper to taste, serve warm.

This pilaf microwaves very well. 1 minute and its perfect.

Turkey Salad recipe

November 24th, 2007 at 11:45 pm

Turkey Salad

1 med onion, minced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup craisins (sugared, dried cranberries), chopped
9 oz cold turkey, chopped
2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp red sauce from mango pickle jar (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Delicious on top of a toasted english muffin.

I love adding the red, salty sauce that the mango pickles come in - a little bit of heat and red color is nice in this.

pear mango cranberry crisp

November 24th, 2007 at 03:11 pm

Saving log - none, haven't been close to the tip box

Spending log (22nd) - $3.25 coffee, bagel
Spending log (23rd) - $3.25 coffee, bagel + $.45 apple + $23 tickets
Spending log (24th) - $3.50 coffee, chocolate croissant + $44 groceries ($4 groceries + $40 as a point of sale ATM)

Had fun for Thanksgiving. Our Duvall guests - who usually are late - didn't arrive at the same time the turkey got done, at least arrived soon enough so that the turkey was still good. We did the traditional - rubbed with kosher salt and sage for 1 hr, wiped salt off, poked skin with rosemary (which we had a lot of), roasted with a tent on it for 4 hrs. Didn't stuff it. Made the turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, roasted brussel sprouts with pecans, and we had a bit of the dessert that I made for the next party. Our guests brought zucchini/cranberry/oat bread, greens (love greens!), a bit of muscovy duck (very dark meat), squash casserole.

Arranged the dining room table in the living room (more space) and used the large coffee table 3 ft away as a buffet for the turkey and dishes. Nothing that scares me more than juggling a lot of dishes with the wine glasses, the centerpiece, and the plates. Just makes everything easier.

I got a lot of raves for the dessert, so to keep me from typing it twice, here is the recipe...

Pear Mango Cranberry Crisp

3 large bartlett pears
1 12 oz package dried mango ($5 at Uwajimaya)
1/8 bag of cranberries
zest from 1 orange peel
lemon juice, water

Grind cranberries in a small food processor, put in a bowl, add zest, add 1/2 tbsp sugar.

Soak dried mango in warm water until softened (about 1 hr). Drain completely, chop coarsely

Add a tbsp of lemon juice to 1 quart water in a bowl. Slice unpeeled pears lengthwise into 1/8 inch widths, getting rid of seeds and the woody center stem. Slip pear slices into lemon water.

3/4 cup flour
1/2 sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter
(amounts can be doubled if necessary)

Mix dry ingredients well. Chop cold butter into small pieces, cut butter into the dry ingredients using a fork or a pastry kneader. Don't overwork it - the topping should resemble coarse breadcrumbs.

Drain pear slices and arrange them evenly & lengthwise in an ungreased shallow pan. Sprinkle with sugar (optional-pears and mangos are going to be sweet already). Layer the chopped mango over the pears. Dot with the cranberry mixture. Sprinkle everything with the crisp mixture.

Bake at 350F until fruit is tender, juices are bubbling and crisp is golden brown. What worked for me was baking the crisp at the bottom of third of the oven until the fruit filling was done, then I put the pan over the broiler and broiled the top for about 5 minutes.

chattering not good for eggs

November 18th, 2007 at 05:28 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 brunch + $51 groceries

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3 bagel, coffee + $30 groceries

I've picked up the holiday grocery shopping pace, first by getting ingredients to make the sides, but also to come up with pre-Thanksgiving meals. I tend to not want to make and eat a lot of poultry the week before so that the thanksgiving dinner's extra tasty.

The Saturday grocery shopping was a bit fraught - the express lane was not busy, so I was waved in even with a shopping cart and a lot more than 10 items. The cashier asked me if could find everything. Well, no, I said, I couldn't find sauerkraut. Aisle 20 in the freezer section - shall I get it? Sure - two jars. The cashier ran off for a minute, and his line filled up. Semi-dirty looks all around. What do you say?...the cashier waved me in! Big Grin

This grocery is a double decker, with an entrance/parking on the second floor. It also has a cart escalator that moves your cart in tandem with you. Word to the wise with these things - seriously front load the shopping cart. I back loaded the shopping cart, so the front "axel" slipped the chain a bit and the cart began to stutter and chatter. My escalator outran the cart escalator, so I waited until the cart got up eventually.

The ramifications came when DH unpacked. Uh oh - the 6 pack of eggs were destroyed. One egg survived - kinda makes me wonder what that chicken ate! I handed DH the receipt and he got new eggs, not many questions asked.

Last night's supper was pork and sauerkraut in the crockpot - the recipe

Crockpot Pork & Sauerkraut

2 piece pork rib
1 jar sauerkraut

Open jar & open packet of pork (hah hah), put in 1/2 jar of sauerkraut at bottom of crockpot, lay the pork on top, finish by adding rest of sauerkraut. Cover with crockpot lid, set to high if you're going to be there, low if you aren't. Done in about 4 hrs if set on high. Done when you get home if set on low.

I wanted to mention that there is no added water in this recipe. The jar of sauerkraut has water, which you should put in. Also, there's no need to fill the crockpot. This recipe only fills my welcome-to-the-70s ancient crockpot halfway.

And when its done. Cooked pork and sauerkraut over heat makes lots of juice. Apologies that this picture makes the crockpot look different - I needed the flash for the picture.

goth potato salad

October 30th, 2007 at 09:17 pm

So first a pic - it disappeared completely during the potluck.

Now the recipe

Goth Potato Salad

2 lb purple fingerling potatoes (nice and small)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/3 jar of sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil from sun dried tomatoes
2 handfuls whole pecans
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c pesto
salt, pepper

Clean the skins of purple potatoes. Do not peel, do not poke. Steam potatoes covered, without allowing them to touch the level of boiling, salted water. I set up a colander with the potatoes over the boiling water and put a lid on the top. Potatoes are done when a fork can pierce them.

Allow potatoes to cool, do not splash water on them to cool them down. They will continue to cook a bit. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces.

Add chopped onions, sun dried tomatoes, and pecans to potatoes. Add the olive oil from the tomatoes to coat and gently toss.

Mix pesto with 2 tbsp olive oil, thining to a creamy consistency. Add pesto to potatoes, gently toss.

Salt and pepper to taste.

squash soup and edamame

March 10th, 2007 at 06:38 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $10 Denny's breakfast + $28 Trader Joe's

If I can't think of anything to say, I'll go for the recipes. The curry on Wednesday left quite a bit of thick coconut cream, so I semi-frugally used it like this - it also had the advantage of getting rid of a number of jars in the fridge:

Squash soup

1 lb package Trader Joe's squash chunks
1 can chicken stock
2 tbsp red pepper spread + 2 tbsp water to rinse out the jar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
1/3 can coconut cream - paste consistency
salt and pepper

Simmer squash chunks and chicken stock in a saucepan, until squash chunks are tender. Add the red pepper, cinnamon. Mash squash chunks in the soup, then puree until smooth. Heat gently, then stir in the coconut cream and brown sugar. Salt and pepper to taste.

I just didn't feel up to getting a squash then carving it up from its hard shell...I figure that avoiding the cost of a trip to the emergency room with a knife stuck in my hand has got to be frugal. Smile

And because I'm on the recipe vibe, I have a foolproof way to cook edamame - soybeans in the pod. Don't make a face, they are terrific, and I feel like I can mindlessly snack on them. Not to mention they are .99/lb.


1 lb bag
salted water - 1 tsp salt in water
kosher salt

Boil the salted water - get it rockin' and rollin'. Take the bag from the freezer, open and dump in water. The water will cool and the edamame pods will sink. Watch as the water returns to the boil. When all the edamame pods float, they are ready. Should take about 3 minutes

Dump the pods in a colander, then vigorously shake and flip the pods in the colander. You want the pods dry, but warm for the next step.

Put the edamame pods in a bowl, then sprinkle with kosher salt. You know you've done it right when the little hairs on the pods will catch the kosher salt, but they are dry enough so that salt doesn't melt.

Eating edamame - you don't eat the pod, you use your teeth to squeeze the beans out of the pod. Think sunflower seeds.

Salad dressing

January 14th, 2007 at 07:57 pm

Yippee - bags of spinach and carrots were 10/10$. I know that salad bags are unfrugal, but having to only rinse once rather than rinsing over and over to get the sand out of the bunch was worth it to me. (2$)

So far I have been doing okay with two of the resolutions - vegetables/salad as the late night snack and 10 minutes of calisthentics. The other ones, not so much.

My best recent purchase, one that has given me more than 5$ worth of pleasure has been a plastic Zyliss shaker. I've been fooling around with making salad dressings, which have got to be cheaper than buying a bottle. Two recipes:

Tahini lemon dressing

2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
lukewarm water
lemon juice
salt, pepper
lemon zest (optional)

Add ingredients to the shaker & shake away. Consistency should be the consistency of half and half.

Oil and vinegar
1 part red/white wine vinegar
3 parts olive oil
salt, garlic powder, pepper

Add ingredients to the shaker & shake away.

The deluxe minestrone

January 13th, 2007 at 07:30 pm

Did the usual Saturday, lunch out and grocery shopping. To keep our sanity, DH and I split up. He's pretty aimless where food and grocery is concerned. He loves the beer, junk food and fruit - everything else is up to me.

:eyeroll: If somebody can teach me how to make a cursor eye-roll, I'll be grateful. (Thanks, LuckyRobin!) I've been going through the eyeroll phase lately.

Anyhow, DH requested minestone soup, so while he took the aimless route, I picked up the produce and Italian sausage and found tuna for .50/can. Lately that's been a good price, so I stocked up a bit. I filled two large, heavy grocery bags for $21.

With the snow and ice, it was a great time to make the deluxe version of minestrone soup. This isn't diet food, particularly.

3 Italian sausage, sliced. Love the hot stuff!
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced in discs
1 qt turkey stock or 2 cans chicken stock
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomato (fresh roma tomatoes)
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1/3 head of cabbage, sliced thinly and chopped (what I had on hand)
1 zucchini, chopped
3 medium white potatoes, diced
1.5 c chickpeas, soaked for at least an hour (lentils work here, too)
green beans - I used frozen
1 head fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup orzo pasta
olive oil
parmesian cheese heel
bay leaf, thyme, margoram, salt, pepper

Soak chickpeas, then boil until soften. I remove the outer skins; it prevents "colon reverb". Set aside.

In stock pot (I think mine's a 10 qt), add a couple tablespoons olive oil, and saute sliced sausage, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, margoram, celery, carrot until veg is soft and sausage is brown.

Add turkey stock, diced tomato, all the other vegetables, chickpeas, parsley and water to about 3/4 of stock pot. Low simmer for about 1 hr. Taste and correct for salt, seasoning, consistency, etc. If soup is too thick, add water.

Add orzo and parmesian cheese heel. Simmer until orzo is done - about 15 minutes.

Timing is very forgiving, and the vegetables are really whatever you have in whatever form you have them in - fresh and frozen's better than canned.

The cheese heel really makes it for me. When DH and I buy (or are gifted) cheese, we usually save the heel aka the rind aka the cheese closest to the label. Don't put the label in - you lose the gourmet effect.

Crock pot soup

January 6th, 2007 at 10:15 pm

DH boiled up the turkey bones 2 nights ago, so we have many quarts of rich turkey stock. Its turkey soup(s) for the next few days.

Decided to do it a bit differently, and a bit more frugally. I used the crockpot to make a quart or two of turkey vegetable rice soup. I avoided using the stove, used up several vegetables on their last legs, and used already cooked rice.

1/3 of a crockpot of turkey stock
1 can chicken stock (help get the color right)
dash of kitchen bouquet (also to colorize)
14 oz can diced tomatoes
2/3 red onion, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, sliced and chopped
turkey breast
frozen corn, pea, green bean (various amounts)
water to fill crockpot
salt, pepper, thyme, dill, parsley, garlic powder to taste.

Cover, set crockpot on high. Wait 3 hours.
I serve with the cooked rice, because I like to keep the broth clear. I just think clear soup keeps better in the refrigerator.

I also wanted to only make a relatively small batch of something, to keep us from mindlessly eating food just to move things along. Often I would make a ton of something to save time (and yep, it saves time), but at the risk DH and I would eat and eat and overeat.

And different iterations of turkey soup will keep us eating turkey soup. Big Grin

T-day and today

November 24th, 2006 at 10:51 am

Hope you all had a tasty thanksgiving! DH and I went to Issaquah, the next town east of Bellevue, which is in itself the next town east of Seattle. The invites gave an official start time of 12:00 noon, with a dinner ETA of 4:00pm.

We got there at 1:30pm, and we were the first people there, as usual, so we were put to work clearing, vacuuming and setting up. DH and I are used to this. The one T-day we showed when we knew everyone else would show was the day that they were wondering where we were. And it was our way of getting caught up with the hosts -- a private party as it were.

There was plenty to clear and clean. The father of the hostess had gone into the hospital with cancer, so his living quarters had shrunk, so the excess stuff landed in the house. The hostess and I gave each other a hug in support.

But here's a frugal dilemma. When you find change when you are cleaning at home, its yours. When you find change when you are cleaning a friend's house, whose is it? I gave thirty-five cents to the hostess, who absently gave it back to me. I absently put it in my pocket, so when I got home, I found it again. I guess I got paid for about an hour of work.

The turducken roasting was late, but whew, it was in the oven not the smoker, so that was one gravy making hurdle gone. Gravy making went pretty smoothly - although my judgment was hamstrung by about 3 glasses of wine (helped with the whisking though) and the fact that there was only whole wheat flour.

The workaround was to make a butter/whole wheat flour roux to cook the flour for a good fifteen minutes before adding pan drippings and stock. Duck pan drippings hide the flour flavor pretty well and having a whole stock pot of poultry stock means that anybody can make great gravy then. Smile Host wanted the gravy a bit thicker than I did and thought that flour taste was still there, but those were pretty easy to fix, just keep the heat on a bit longer. Filled 3 gravy boats.

Didn't take any leftovers home, for which my metabolism is grateful.

Spending log - 3$ pumpkin latte & biscotti (gotta pace yourself)

Minestrone soup

September 27th, 2006 at 07:16 pm

Caught the cold that was going around in a moderate way. The symptoms of this one are congestion and being very, very tired. Stayed home and made a pot of minestone soup for the fluids. The produce in the refrigerator looked pretty unhealthy (I want minestrone, not cream of pencillin) so I conserved my energy and hoofed it three blocks to the Safeway (sigh). - 4.95$

Many Italians would laugh out loud at my soup, but it works. My big trick is to slice hot sausage into discs, then saute them in a bit of olive oil so they turn into little meatballs. Then you add lots of bay leaves, onion, lots of garlic, carrot, stalk of celery, zucchini, any other Italian-esque vegetables, chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, soaked chickpeas, parsely, oregano.

Cough, cough. . Bye.

Salmon cakes

August 6th, 2006 at 11:16 pm

DH told me about the $5 off any produce coupon after I bought the cheap produce. Normally, I would have used it to buy my ordinary stuff, so today I tried a different tactic - I used the coupon to get fruit I rarely get like white Rainier cherries and an heirloom melon. Total treat for $2.

Joy of Cooking had a recipe for fish cakes that I tried out. I can't ever follow a recipe straight even the first time. Its a quirk of mine.

Basically, the recipe was 1.5 lbs of flaked fish, finely chopped onion, lemon juice, spices (old bay and parsely in the recipe), an egg yolk and 5 tbsp mayo as binders. Form cakes, dredge in breadcrumbs and fry in 2 parts vegetable oil and 1 part butter. Not exactly health food, but darn tasty and a pretty efficient way to hide a small amount of cooked and mashed vegetables. I snuck in three of those leftover little white boiling potatoes.

Cooking is one of the most important frugal skills in my arsenal. Prepared food is always more expensive than the raw ingredients and it sure makes me feel clever when I can hide leftovers in a tasty way. To think I used to joke that the dorm cafeteria used to do the same thing! Except they weren't very clever about it.

I just don't like seeing containers in the refrigerator for more than a couple of days because after that, no one wants to risk taking an exploratory peek or sniff.

Tomorrow is DH's birthday - a restaurant trip tomorrow night. Then in the next couple of days comes salmon salad sandwiches and salmon macaroni salad.

Gazpacho days

July 23rd, 2006 at 06:43 pm

I made two pitchers of gazpacho this afternoon. Gazpacho seems to be the summer recipe for cleaning out the produce section of the refrigerator; minestrone the winter one.

I threw out two heads of romaine and my pound of green beans. That depressed me tremendously, but for my gazpacho I did manage to salvage two half heads of romaine, a few leaves of raditchio (sic), a carrot, green onions, several radishes, and a whole lot of tomatoes, 1 bunch of parsely, 1 bunch of cilantro, grind everything up along with 1 can of chicken stock, 2 cans of tomato sauce (paste tastes metallic--blegh), salt, pepper, lemon juice, hot sauce, 5 garlic cloves, olive oil.

It'll be the all-liquid fiber diet this week.

Seattle this summer has a 'literary latte' deal. Read three books and you get a 4$ Starbucks card, and your name is entered into a drawing. I made it to the library tonight in time to submit my sheet and get the gift card.

Starbucks is not my favorite but it'll be useful for the end-of-the-month drill. I've noticed that the Starbucks card seems to be Seattle alternative currency. You can get one for a prize, as a reward, for recommmending someone for some such. If you look in any Seattleite's wallet, you'll find at least a couple. Too bad there's no easy way to manage the cards. I wish there was an easy way to figure out how much you have on a particular card.

Barley salad and a CD escalator

July 3rd, 2006 at 09:00 pm

Don't laugh, I made a batch from a recipe that I got from the New York Times food section. I finished my first batch during dinner tonight - I'm taking another batch to the potluck tomorrow...And pearl barley is .49/lb right now.

Scottish tabouli (heh, heh, heh)

1 cup pearl barley
2 cup whole kernel corn (I used frozen - we're not in corn season yet)
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 radichio "rocket" leaves (recipe called for arugula, so I winged it) - shredded and chopped
2 tsp dried parsley

olive oil
lemon juice

Soak barley for a couple of hours, or overnight. Boil until tender. Drain & cool - this is cold or a room temp salad.
Cook corn according to package directions. Also drain & cool the corn.
Chop your tomato, shred your rocket.

Make a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper - think tabouli, and also take into account that the barley really sucks up the dressing.

Fluff up the barley, add the cold corn, dress with dressing. Add the parsely, toss, add the tomato, toss, add the rocket, toss. Taste, and correct for seasoning (barley seems to take a lot of salt). Serve at room temperature.

After reading a bit more on the thread "Why ING?" I decided to start a 6 mo CD "escalator" in my ING account. Right now the interest is 5.00%. I expect that the interest rate will go up a bit in the next few months, so I plan to buy 6 6-month CD for 2K around the first of the month. 6 months later, when the first CD matures, I see what's what. All the interest goes into my emergency fund.

It's a little bit different than the ladder, when you construct it so that your CDs mature at once.

third salad recipe

June 7th, 2006 at 09:55 pm

yeah, I'll get back to the financial bits tomorrow.

Potato salad

2 lbs boiling potatoes (red, white, yukon gold...) the waxy kind.
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch green onion or 1/3 red onion, chopped

Other good options: peas, sliced hard boiled egg, chopped french-cut green beans, artichoke hearts, blue cheese

Dressing - 1 part light sour cream, 1 part light mayo, a bit of lemon juice, crushed dried tarragon, salt, pepper.

Boil potatoes until potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes, allow to cool. (Frugal step here: if you want to use frozen peas or green beans, put them in the bottom of the colander, so when you pour out the boiling water, you cook the vegetables). Let sit. Potatoes should be room temp or colder, and they should be dry so the dressing will stick.

Dressing: Beat sour cream and mayo together, add the lemon juice to get the dressing to the consistency of heavy ranch dressing. Crush tarragon, salt and pepper to taste.

Toss cold cooked potatoes and vegtables with the dressing. Let sit, covered, in the refrigerator for about 30 min. FYI - If you add blue cheese, it is delicious, but it will shorten the lifespan of the salad considerably.

Yeah, I promise to blog on more financial bits. I love the frugal aspects of salad - something creamy, something crunchy, a little protein, a little sweet, a little sour, and whatever great vegetables you have. Proportions in whatever you can spare. And you are lucky, you don't have to turn on the stove.

2nd of three salads

June 5th, 2006 at 11:12 pm

This is the time of year when the deal is this: DH grills something, and I make the salad... 2nd of three.

Black bean, corn, onion, tomato salad

Proportions can vary on this...

1 cup dried black beans
1 cup corn (frozen works well)
1 cup fresh chopped tomato
1/3 red onion, sliced thin

3 parts olive oil
1 part lemon juice
chopped Italian parsely
salt and pepper to taste.
(additional options - chopped Italian parsely, oregano, chopped garlic, garlic salt...you get the idea)
Be aggresive with seasonings, the black beans are going to be bland.

Soak black beans for 2 hours, then boil them until tender, but still whole. (this salad is not good with mashable black beans!) Drain, then cool beans to room temperature.

Chop tomato, add a little bit of salt and allow to drain. Slice onion thinly and hold slices in salted water...keeps the slices from being too 'oniony'. If corn is frozen, cook then drain and cool to room temperature. (Microwave works well here).

Make your dressing (if you are dressing challenged, a good bottled Italian dressing will work here).

Dress the black beans first - they are the blandest and you'll need to give them time to suck up the dressing. Add corn next, toss: add onion next, toss; add tomato last; toss. Cover, let sit for about 30 minutes.

Great the second day, but tastes best when at room temperature.

Cooking spree

June 4th, 2006 at 09:31 pm

Did manage to get more and more of my old PDA onto my new one, but it still is a bit of a frustrating experience getting my finances back on. I'm working on getting the numbers right, one account at a time.

Lost a couple of things Friday night - an envelope containing a wedding invitation and my USB hotsync cable for my new PDA. Figures that once the alcohol comes out, I lose things. At least I kept my clothes on, and that was a triumph. Smile But losing things is definitely not frugal, because you have to replace 'em. So today was buying new hotsync cable - $24.99. Sigh.

When I got home I did the cooking storm. Three salads. I figured it would last for the week, but with DH kicking around the house all week, probably not...anyway, the first of three salad recipes.

Chopstick coleslaw

(Asian influence, thin long slices make it easy to eat with chopsticks)

1 cabbage, thinly sliced into strips
1 carrot, shredded
1/3 red onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt

dressing: 1 tbsp ginger, finely shredded; 1 tsp chili garlic paste; 2 tbsp peanut butter (yes, you read that right); 1 tbsp light mayonaisse; 1 tsp fish sauce; 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar.

Optional additions: chopped peanuts, cilantro, salad shrimp (or even hydrated dried shrimp)

Slice cabbage, shred carrot, slice onion, combine all with about 1/4 tsp salt in a large bowl to wilt cabbage shreds a bit. Let bowl of slaw sit for about an hour. In meantime, mix all dressing ingredients well - no lumps - then cover. After the hour, add dressing to cabbage, carrot, onion and toss. Cover, chill for 30 min. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve, if you like, with the chopped peanuts, shrimp and cilantro.

R.I.P li'l PDA

May 28th, 2006 at 10:02 pm

(personal digital assistant, not public display of affection)
Well, my little Handspring Visor gave up the ghost last night. I have my price book on it, and a checkbook program and lost the data from them both. I also used it to sync up a program called Vindigo, which I gives me maps, restaurants, services, and movie times. I bought the subscription for 25$ and I'm going to use it. Anyway, my little Visor failed to hold a hot sync and it started to flash - all of which I had a response to. Not this time. I had to wipe my data clean and it still wouldn't sync.

I'm a little bummed - my little Visor stood with me through thick and thin for over 4 years. Getting the data on it was the first step on my way to prosperity, because before I wouldn't even balance my checkbook. It did, however, last longer with daily use than the Handspring company did (it merged with Palm in 03); and I learned a lot of tricks to keep it going after support disappeared. It got me into the habit of being frugal, it got me here, and all it asked for was a couple of AAA batteries every three weeks. Sigh.

(Note to self - I wiped the Visor clean. DH is using it now. How's that for recycling?)

It was a bad day for electronics all around. I wanted to update the brains of my MP3 player and wiped out my music. Backups are frugal, backups are frugal.

On the other hand, it was a fantastic weekend for groceries. Mangoes went on sale for .40/mango, and right next to the mangoes, the strawberries were on sale for $2.00/lb (we are talking Seattle here). It meant I could make my favorite fruit salad. All it is, is:

Ripe Strawberries, cleaned, hulled, quartered...
Ripe mango, peeled, cut into chunks. (6 months ago Saveur had a photograph on how to do it efficiently, avoiding the pit)
Cover for 30 minutes.
Enjoy. Any proportion of strawberry and mango is good.

Pea soup, non-gym, yard sale weekend

May 7th, 2006 at 07:21 pm

Put together a crock pot split pea soup this morning.
.88 worth of frozen smoked ham hock,
1/2 onion, chopped, leftover from a week ago
2 carrots, sliced
4 cups chicken stock
Dried parsely, 3 bay leaves
about 1 lb dried split peas
water to the level of "stuff"
(option) 2 chicken boullion cubes
Turned crockpot on low.

A few groceries today - $28.51 for the usual, 2 jars of mayo, 2 cans of tuna, 2 lbs of frozen corn, 2 whole fryers, 1 bunch of celery, 2 lbs of carrots, bread, 2 lbs of fresh salsa, 1 lb of butter...and a very yummy pink frosted coconut flaked doughnut. Romaine lettuce prices are positively insane due to flooding in early April, but nothing is really a deal, according to my price book.

Yesterday, I woke up early (early for me) to walk to the nearest branch of my bank. I just wanted to deposit the $15,000 in person. All weekend, it was walking our errands - bank, weekend breakfast, library, 3 grocery stores, and a yard sale. I must have walked at least 5 miles total yesterday and today, and with buying groceries - 1 mile with 20 lbs of weight. Figured that I really didn't have to slip into the gym...I'm living the gym.

Oh yes, the yard sale - $1 shoes - they are those 1/2 tennis shoes, 1/2 clogs (they dip in the back). They were the rage a couple of years ago. They are bright white and looked like they were never used. Because I bought them, I tossed out a seven year old pair of sneaks with holes that I rarely wear. Also bought a $1 Burts Bee sample kit - 2 soaps, 1 cream, and the heavy plastic bag that I can use as a travel bag for my little soaps and shampoos. So 2$ total there.

novel frugal food tip

April 27th, 2006 at 09:38 pm

Last Sunday, I made chicken goulash. At least I tried to make chicken goulash. I grabbed what I thought was sweet paprika, a lot dropped in, and I thought...oh well, its sweet, no harm done. Unfortunately for me it was hot paprika. The dish was, quite frankly, inedible. Weaponized.

G*d I hate wasting perfectly good chicken.

Bites of yogurt between bites of weaponized goulash tamed the fire a little bit so I could eat some Sunday night. Monday night I caught a break - sour cream was on special at the very grocery I pass by on my 8th Avenue walk for $1.39/pt. I got two pints, mixed one in the goulash (keeping with the ethnic theme) and put a couple of tbsps on top. That helped quite a bit, but eating it is still a challenge.

Here's where the frugal tips come in:
1.) did not waste food
2.) culinary solution was a loss leader (yippee)
3.) tasty, but there is no way I'm eating seconds or have a ton of firsts.
4.) portions I'm taking of this are appropriate for a meal of an actual adult, not an eating contest champion.

I think I'll call it the hot pepper diet.

This morning I reached high for something in front of the bathroom mirror and I caught a fleeting glimpse of...the barest definition of the top two cans of an ab six pack. Maybe I'm imagining things.

Frugal Exercise

February 12th, 2006 at 10:03 pm

So for this fitness challenge, my trainer suggested (prodded!) me to get 30 minutes of cardio training each day. I can make it to the gym sometimes, but I don't want to live there. I finally figured out a frugal way to do it. I'm going to go home on a different bus than I normally do, which will drop me off about 1.5 mi from my house. My job is to walk home as quickly as I can, no cheating on the hills. I've tried it today. It definitely takes me 30 min and I'm breathing hard most of the way. I made myself a little laminated card of calisthentics so when I get out the yoga mat and the rubber band with the handles I can figure out what exercises to do.

Thinking about Valentine's Day. Why oh why are all the holidays (except Labor Day and the 4th of July) at the back end of my paycheck? We have President's Day off and even that is in the back half of the paycheck. Smile

A freakishly good deal on red onions - .33/lb. Still have a ton of sister's cheese and now I have some milk to get rid of fast. Time for some simple, homemade mac 'n cheese. Nothing like the box type.

Wisconsin Farmhouse Mac 'N Cheese

2.5 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
lots of grated cheese - sharp cheddar and colby for this. The drier the cheese, the better.

Preheat oven to 325F. In a casserole dish, melt butter, add salt and pepper, add elbow macaroni. Stir to coat macaroni in butter. Spread the grated cheese on top of the macaroni. Pour milk over the top, keep pouring until milk level hits the mid cheese line.

Bake uncovered 10 min at 325F, then drop it to 300F for 50 minutes or so. Ready when cheese is brown and bubbly and the macaroni is tender.

Let sit for 10 min after you take out of oven to firm up. Microwave leftovers with a little bit of milk.

Tomato chickpea soup

February 11th, 2006 at 06:36 pm

Made some tomato chickpea soup in the crockpot. I love soup, and normally I make enough for an army because I'm using a giant pot on the stove. Now I want to make smaller quantities more frugally so I'm reworking most of my favorite soups for the crockpot. Should be cheaper to make and won't bust my diet - I won't feel like I have to consume quarts of soup to use it up. Anyhow...

Tomato Chickpea Soup

2 onions, chopped
28 oz can whole tomatoes
14 oz can tomato sauce
4 cup chicken stock or broth
2 cup dried chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) or 2 14 oz can chickpeas
1 tbsp powdered hummus*
1 tbsp olive oil
lemon juice (optional)
dried parsely, salt, pepper, water

*Can get powdered hummus at most groceries with a bulk foods section.

Soak dried chickpeas for 1-2 hrs in warm water. (can substitute canned chickpeas and skip this step)

Put chopped onions, chicken stock, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried parsely, olive oil in crockpot. Cover crockpot, set crockpot to high. Allow to boil. Stir when you think about it.

Boil soaked chickpeas to soften and loosen skin. Drain chickpeas and cool. Squeeze the chickpea out of its skin. (If you get the canned chickpeas, you can skip this step, too.)

Add chickpeas to hot/simmering soup. Add hummus powder to soup. Stir to mix - hummus powder will lump and you want it smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste, add lemon juice to taste to bring out the tomato.

Soup should be orange, thick, and done when the chickpeas are done. If you like it thicker, add more hummus; if you like it thinner, add more water.

Produce Sale

August 27th, 2005 at 08:53 pm

Yippee! One of my grocery stores had a 12 hour produce sale today. Nice. Except for the fact that it is soooo easy to overbuy for just the two of us, so a little strategy is in order.

Got 4 peaches at a good Seattle price, but I always try to buy them a bit under-ripe so I can eat them over the week.
I've overbought tomatoes, so it might well be raw tomatoes for a couple of days and then dress up tomato soup with chopped tomatoes and a little bit of cream. 1 lb of green beans. Terrific price, but they always sell them too wet. They shouldn't be dry, but if the mist drenches them and then you throw them in the refrigerator, its a mold colony waiting to happen.

And there's the problem of what to do with middle aged vegetables. They're not fresh, but they're way too good to pitch. I've got a whole head of cauliflower like that, so tonight I roasted the cauliflower and drenched it in homemade lemon tahini sauce. (Lemon tahini sauce in the summer, bechamel in the winter!)

Spending log - 1.75 coffee + 5.00 lunch + 16.70 groceries (produce, salad dressing, cheese)
Saving log - 0


August 20th, 2005 at 07:41 pm

There was a super-cell of tornado activity in Wisconsin Thursday. 18 of them throughout the late morning and early afternoon. Looking at the map and the list of counties where the tornadoes hit, the activity was mostly far to the south and west of the farm. Sister figures that if anything, probably fallen branches. A couple of dad's friends in contact w/sis had mowed the lawn - if there was damage, they'd tell her. The farmhouse is shrouded in large trees, though. Plenty of possibility for minor damage, so sis is going out to investigate.

In honor of our family, a recipe for a frugal summer supper - open faced cheese, tomato and bacon sandwiches.

1. Set oven rack as high as you can, turn oven on to Broil.
2. Get out a clean, dry cookie sheet.
3. Lightly toast 6 pieces of bread, and set them singly on cookie sheet.
4. Set on each piece of toast one slice cheddar (or American) cheese.
5. Slice fresh, ripe slicing tomatoes into 1/4 in slices, thicker if you'd like. Put tomato slices onto cheese.
6. Cut raw bacon in half at its width so they fit on the bread. Break toothpicks in half.
7. Toothpick raw bacon firmly on top of the tomato. Plant the toothpicks deep; they have a tendancy to pop out if they're loose.
8. Broil until done. They don't take long; you want to prop up the door to watch and adjust if necessary.

They are done when: bacon is done and cheese is melted and bubbly, and both the toothpick ends and the edges of the toast are black. Best when hot.

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