Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I fail at the metric system (with cauliflower)

I decided to curry a cauliflower. Mainly because I own more boxes of curry mixes than anyone should rightly own, and because, well, it was going bad. The cauliflower, not the curry.

I made Pav Bhaji Masala, because, according to the package, you fry onion, tomatoes, potatoes or cauliflower, green peas, etc and along with the spice mix, mash, add butter and serve with hot buttered Pav, which looks from the package like a giant yeast roll.

What's not to love? Potatoes, cauliflower, spicy seasoning, mashed & and served with gobs of butter on a giant fluffy roll? It's super spicy mashed potatoes & bread. Yum! And best of all, on the bottom of the package are the words "Delicious, Aromatic, Hygenic". No, I am not making that up. I was a little worried there, that it wouldn't be... you know, sanitary, but no, it's right there on the box "Hygienic". Huge relief!

But I digress. I had a cauliflower & not potatoes, so I used that. Fried up on anion, 2 tomatoes and the cauliflower. Now the box called for 500 grams of vegetables, and I don't really know that metric system. Hey, I was a kid in the 70's. There was a war going on, cars were giant solid steel bodied behemoths made in Detroit, everyone spoke English and was white (Seriously, look at news footage from the late 60's & early 70's, you'd think you were in Ikea.) And we laughed, laughed at the idea of converting to the system the entire rest of the world used!

So, anyhoo, back to the cooking. I smooshed my fried veg around with a little olive oil and carefully measured out the 2 Tbsp of spice mix and added it, let it all cook down and tried it. It was hot. Really really hot. Now, for those of you that don't know me, I like hot. Really like hot. I eat salsa with a spoon (chips are so inefficient). Thai, Indian, Mexican, sure, bring it on. But this was hot!

I called my son to see if adding coconut milk would be a good idea. He actually vetoed that, but I did it anyway. I let him taste before I added the coconut milk and after he stopped crying, he looked at the package.

"Momma, how much cauliflower is in here?" Well, the whole head, of course. "How much did it weight?" About half a pound, regular cauliflower size. And I added 2 Tablespoons of spices. and he started laughing. "500 grams is a little over a pound." Ok, so I added twice as much spices as I needed.

"How much spice did you add again?" 2 Tablespoons, just like it says on the package. I measured very carefully! Indian spices do not like to be trifled with!

"That's great, but it called for 2 teaspoons, not 2 Tablespoons". Oh, crap, no wonder it was hot!

So I failed, failed at cauliflower. Failed at the metric system and apparently at basic cooking abbreviations. Luckily, the coconut milk made it tolerable. Even pretty tasty. Still about 4 times as hot as it should be, but pretty good. Hey, I'm not wasting a good cauliflower & two fresh tomatoes! Those things are expensive! The last cauliflower I bought was $2.29 last week at the Aldi, and they're about the cheapest place around. It will probably get curried as well, but with a drastic reduction in the amount of spices!

But it was indeed Delicious, Aromatic and mercifully Hygienic! And, even better, a Quality Award Winner!

So, I'll let you know how the next cauliflower turns out. It had better be good, I'm out of coconut milk.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some cabbage never dies...

It lives on forever in a casserole! I had a manky small cabbage hiding in the back of the fridge, so I decided to make cabbage casserole. Or my son did. Easier to make than cabbage rolls. One small shredded cabbage apparently can expand exponentially on itself. I'm sure there is some law of Newtonian physics about that multiplicative powers of the cooked cabbage. So that's how I found myself with the endless cabbage casserole.

It was made of 1 pound ground meat, 1 shredded cabbage, 1 chopped onion, 2 cans of tomato sauce, 2 cans of beef broth & a package of boil n bag rice. Add salt, pepper, other spices, and mix and flop in a 9 x 13 pan and bake for an hour at 350. I used beef bullion as that's all I had, but it seemed to work ok.

I went with paprika & marjoram as spices. We ate it for 3 meals and froze the rest. I still have a good sized bag in the freezer, I just couldn't face it another day. It was really good though. My husband took it for lunch, my son at a ton of it, I ate it for lunch and as a side to dinner, and we still have some left! My son decided that I should blog about the budget friendly meals I make trying to make this food stretch. He says it's cool and amazing that I can make food out of nothing. I think it's horrifying and embarrassing that we get some assistance from food stamps and food banks.

We have no insurance since my husband changed jobs, and my husband loves his new job, but if I need to go to the doctor or take the kids, it's $80.00 to $100.00 for each of us. Plus prescriptions. We applied for children's health insurance for the kids from the state, but have not been able to get my step son covered because "someone" else has been claiming his benefits. And we are having to prove that we have had him for the past 3 years and that my husband has custody of him. And what this means in a nutshell is that he can't get state insurance because the State of Texas believes he has medicaid. Which he has never had.

So you can see my frustration, since he's been sick, we had to take him to the doctor, and each time it's a ton of money. I am however, happy that we at least have the money to make sure the kids & me get to see a doctor, but each time we're out $200.00 or so! So that's why we're creating casserole out of cabbage and hoping that the new year will bring insurance for the son so it won't be so out of control for us.

So I guess I'll take my older son's suggestion and write about the weird and random things I create based on what we can afford and sometimes what we are given. I don't want any one to think I am a whiney bitch, cos I am so grateful everything I have been given, it is a blessing for us.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lima beans and other things

As we are continuing to work on getting the grocery budget down without resorting to mac and cheese and ramen every night, I'm still working on creating food that is cheap and nutritious. I made chicken and stuffing casserole out of leftover chicken, some whole wheat cornbread, and a package of cornbread stuffing, with vegetable broth thrown in for moistness and a can of cream of mushroom soup poured over the top.

The children said it looked like something they would eat for school lunch... at Thanksgiving, and that it "blopped" on the plate. They also complained about the "canned"cranberry sauce. I mean, really I cook dinner and make use of the leftovers and they complain that the cranberry sauce has "can marks". Are they kidding? Obviously, my kids are watching too much Food Network, with their disdain of canned cranberry sauce and naming the cats after chefs. Next they'll be expecting imported cheese in their mac and cheese and grain fed, free range sausage on their pizza. Good Lord, my children are...French!

As that was an obvious fail, I served lima beans for dinner and the next night put them in the crock pot with two sausages, some baby carrots & celery. I sent it to work with my husband, who said "the broth... overwhelms" the beans. This from a man who fed his child nothing but pizza and mac and cheese to the point I feared that the son would suffer from beri beri or rickets, or some other vitamin deficient disease normally only seen in Third World Countries and among cast members of Jersey Shore who's diets consist mostly of vodka and Red Bull. Christ, even Snooki eats pickles and perhaps the pistachios she pimps. And apparently lots of beta carotene, as she has such an odd orange cast to her skin.

So, tonights offering is white bean chicken chili and a cauliflower curry. I had a cauliflower in the crisper that was in danger of growing legs and walking around, so I decided a mixed veg curry of limpy veg sounded like a good idea. Well, maybe not a GOOD idea, really, but a practical one. Yeah, we'll go with that.

I have some chicken that I pulled out of the freezer. Well, it turned out to be chicken. I couldn't really tell, since I didn't mark the packages before tossing them in the freezer. Note to self, mark the packages before freezing to cut down on leftover Russian roulette. It landed in the crock pot with a can of tomato sauce, some canned tomatoes, a packet of red mole sauce, a cup and a half of white beans and the chicken. Hopefully this will be a bigger success than the chicken and stuffing casserole. I haven't given up on the sausage & lima beans, I may drain the broth and figure out something to do with them. Wonder if you could mash them and fry them like a bean based veggie burger?

Tomorrow I'll figure out what to do with the lima beans. If it doesn't work, I'm sure they dog will eat it. At least he never complains. Or he does so quietly.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Purslane-Cooking with what's on hand

So I've been cooking with "what's on hand" and tonight I worked on cooking my purslane I've been growing. It's very delicious for a weed. Actually, it's incredibly delicious. I sauteed it with onions, shallots and chives, removing the largest stems before putting it in the pot, and added frozen collard greens to round it out. I served it with ground turkey and alfredo sauce. Yum!

Tomorrow's challenge, use up all the ham! My plan is a "Jezebel Sauce" of mustard, apricot jam, canned pineapple and wasabi mayonnaise (I don't have any horseradish). Glazing the ham with that and hoping that a side dish will spring out of that. Maybe potatoes? I have a lot of them.

Yesterday we had chicken thighs with kalamata olives, orange peppers and artichoke quarters after a great shopping trip to the 99 Cent Only store and the Aldi. Our grocery budget for the week is about $50.00 since my husband doesn't have a job as of Friday. We'd been trying to cut back on shopping, but now it's mission critical. And since school starts in two weeks and we already bought all the school supplies & put the school uniforms on layaway, we can't back out of that, so the food budget has to get trimmed, along with anything else we can live without.

Can't really eat the pets (I think the ferrets would be stringy & a little gamey) so there is a limit to what we can cut back, we don't have any credit cards, our cars are paid off, but we can certainly quit doing things like going out to eat, kill the cable, things like that. We'll see how that works out.

Hopefully we'll be ok and I'll keep you updated with the "using what's on hand" method of living wihtin our means and with what's in the pantry.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ham Loaf!

So, as promised, ham loaf! This came about because my stepmother sent me enough black forest ham to feed a small army.

2 pounds ground ham
1.5 pounds hamburger
1 can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
salt, pepper, garlic, etc to taste.

Mix like a meatloaf, and bake for 90 minutes at 350.

The ham loaf is ground ham and hamburger. The original recipe called for ground pork, but I had none, so hamburger it was.
Approximate 2 pounds ground ham. I tossed mine in the Ninja Prep & ground away.
1 pound-ish ground beef. I buy tubes o beef and slice them into equidistant rounds, about 1 to 1.5 pounds a piece.

The sauce was 1 can of cranberry sauce from the back of the pantry, dijon mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar. I put it in a sauce pan and heated it up. It was a sort of "to taste" mixture, maybe a cup of brown sugar and enough vinegar & mustard to make it a nice acid balance. Then I blopped it on the ham loaf and let it bake for about the last 30 minutes or so, and served the loaf with the rest of the sauce. I also tossed in some marischino cherry juice I had in the fridge, and I think this would work with canned pineapple as well, if I ran it though the handy Ninja Prep & swabbed it on the loaf.

You end up with a giant pink loaf of hammy goodness, I wish I'd taken a picture, it was a 4 pound pink monstrosity, but it tasted really good, and my husband ate it, and that's what matters.

Updating my life, or how the heck did I get here from there?

As a former SAHM with to many children and pets, I acquired a job and let my ebay store flounder, sadly, but a steady job is a good thing. However, we recently (like Thursday) discovered that the son will not be having his summer visitation with his mother and so summer day care had to be found in one day. Having secured safe and happy summer care for the child, now we have to figure out how to pay for this. We are currently not running the air except for a few hours in the evening, and I think we are going to have to invest in a fan or two in the interest of not running the a/c at all. The ferrets do not think much of this idea and keep laying on the tile floor looking depressed.
Other items subject to budget cuts include food, no more going out to eat (not that we did that much anyhow) , andy and all descritionary spending, and changing insurance carriers to get a better rate on the car insurance. We have decided to cut back on the grocery shopping and are now trying to get creative with the items in the back of the pantry. You know what I mean, the things you bought god knows when and now have to find a use for rather than buy soemthing new.
So last week I made ham loaf with cranberry mustard. It was remarkably good, especially since my husband hates ham. Hates. Despises. Avoids at all costs. I'll post the receipe later, but it was really really oddly good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why is my cat sniffing the electrical outlet?

This morning, I get up and Bat-Bat is sniffing my electrical outlet. Bat is a cat. With a stubby tail. It looks like a rabbit. We call him "bunny cat". He's not the sharpest tool in the shed. In fact, Bat-Bat is well, a dullard. He's the cutest thing in the world, but he's also fat. Last time we weighed him, he was 10 pounds, 3 pounds heavier than his brother! 3 pounds is a big difference on a cat! His actual name is Batali and his brother is Bourdain. Yeah, I know, we watch way too much Food Network. So this morning Bat is sniffing the electrical outlet. And I'm thinking, "If he licks it, will he be electrocuted?".
Why would he be sniffing the electrical outlet? Is his nose wet enough to shock him? And if so, is he dumb enough to put his face there again?

He finally got bored and waddled off to go lay in the middle of the hall, where he can block the most traffic, causing us to trip over him and spend lots of our day pushing him out of the way.

Note: This is an old post, Bat is now pushing 13 pounds. I got these out of order, I'm trying to rescue my ebay blogs for posterity's sake before they shut them down. The photos are of Bat front and Bat back. He's nubber-ific!