Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Middle Eastern Stew

The first week is over and it went pretty well. I did eat out with friends at the café in the art museum for lunch one day. That whole day was spectacular. All other meals I ate at home. I had plenty of food and ended the week with 6 servings of lentils and rice still in the freezer. However, I missed my sweets. I finished off my lemon drink mix and had a spoon full of honey over nuts a few times too. I will make sure and keep some in the house from here on. I will try for healthy sweets like fruit, but this week I went strait for the snack cakes.

Grocery shopping was easer this week. I spent $20.95 and came home with 8 lunches, 8 snacks, and the ingredients to put 25 meals in the freezer. After cooking I still have half of my canned vegetables left to use a different week.

Middle Eastern Stew

1 T. oil
4 onions coarsely chopped
12 potatoes coarsely chopped (leave skin on)
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
6 cloves garlic crushed (4 cloves for a milder stew)
2 15.5oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ bunch parsley chopped (about a cup)
1 bunch green onions chopped (about 6)
cayenne pepper to taste

Add onions to hot oil in a large pot and sauté for 5 min. Add potatoes, tomatoes, and crushed garlic. Cook until potatoes are done. Add the chickpeas and heat until hot. Turn off the heat and add the parley, green onions, and cayenne pepper. This stew is even better the second day.

Serves 10

Curried Potato Bake

8 potatoes, boiled and mashed with skin still on
6 eggs
½ bunch parsley chopped (about a cup)
1 bunch green onions chopped (about 6)
1½ t. curry powder
1 t. hot red pepper sauce

Mix together and spread into an oiled baking dish. Bake at 375 for 40 min.
Serves 5

This recipe also makes excellent potato pancakes.
Spray a large skillet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Spoon 3 mounds of potato mixture into skillet. Flatten into pancakes. Cook flipping once. Takes about 5 min.

Corn waffles

2 packages Jiffy Cornbread Mix. Make according the package directions for waffles.
1 can corn, drained
½ cup chopped parsley.

Makes 20 waffles.

I like these plain but they are also good with ranch dressing, salsa, or honey.

Friday, June 15, 2007

T.G.I.F Friday

It’s TGIF Friday again. This week I finished a baby sweater. It’s a modified Baby Ole’ knit out of Sockotta. None of the babies that were waiting to be born when I started this sweater turned out to be girls so I’ll hold on to this one. It’ll be nice to be ahead in the baby knitting.

I’m farther along on the Weekend Sweater after having some gauge issues I’m now having problems with my yarn. It’s my handspun and I must not have been paying attention when I spun it, or maybe I spun with a long break between the batches. Whatever, but I have seem to have run out of the fat yarn I need for the sweater. The rest of the yarn is worsted weight instead of bulky. I’m now holding 2 strands together. It’s not affecting my gauge much but this part of the sweater is quite stiff. Bullet proof even. I’ve thought about ripping it all out and starting over with different yarn but the sweater is half done and looks so good. I’ve pretty much decided to keep going until it’s done. I’ll wash it before weaving in the ends so I can frog it to reclaim the yarn if it’s unwearable. So far this has not been a good year for me and sweaters.

I’m knitting fixation into rippled socks. Have I mentioned that Betsy said her socks are too itchy to wear? So she sent them back and I’m trying again. This project also is giving that little gnawing feeling in the back of my brain as I knit. I knit and washed a gauge swatch and it shrunk a full stitch per inch. So I took that into account when I cast on. But the socks are now so big I just don’t feel that it’s possible for them to shrink enough to fit. I’m going to wash the first sock before I start on the second to get that little negative voice to shut up.

My final sock I’m thrilled with. This sock is knit 100% while doing school work. I knit the ribbing and the turned the heel while reading the many chapters I’m assigned every night. The strait parts I knit under the table during the lecture portion of class. It’s sort of ironic that this is yarn is just the best to watch the stripping and that I’m knitting these socks where I can’t even see them. I’m also having to knit them on bamboo size 0 which I think is a little thick for this yarn. But I can’t handle 2 circs without looking. The fabric isn’t as firm as I like my socks to be but being able to knit during 4 hours of lecture is worth it. Summer classes are intense. May I point out that is 4 hours, 3 times a week, for 1 class. Intense.

The yarn I’m using is On Line and I think it will be my new go to yarn if all of it stripes as nice as this. Now that Opal and Fortisama and even Regia have priced themselves past the amount I’m happy paying for a commercial dyed sock yarn I have been looking for my new basic yarn. This is still moderately priced and the colors of my sock are stunning. Although, the display sock in the store was pretty hideous so they aren’t all winners. And it’s a bit hard to find. I have 4 LYS and only one of them carries the yarn. I mentioned to the owner that I appreciated her carrying it since it’s so hard to find and she said that it was a difficult company to work with. That makes me sad because in my fantasy world of yarns, yarn stores, and their suppliers everything is all milk, honey, roses, and fluffy angora bunnies.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Buying and Cooking The Food

The bones made 2 batches of broth. Or at least I thought I was making broth. As I cooled it before measuring it out into containers to be frozen, it gelled. It turns out I made meat flavored jell-o or consommé if you want to fancy. I’m going to use it as broth anyway and see how it goes. I saved 2 cup out for cooking and froze 8 more cups.

I went and picked out the recipe for this week. It’s very inexpensive and good, Lentils over Rice. I also picked out other things I might want to eat. I put it all in order of importance and headed to Wal-Mart Market the closest grocery store to my home.

In the parking lot I found a quarter, this must be my lucky day. I quickly picked up the ingredients for my big cooked recipe. I hope to get extra meals in the freezer right away. With the rest of the meals there were some hard choices and math but I got it figured out.

Since my kitchen is basically empty I won’t have a lot of variety this week. I’m ok with that. I actually like to eat that way on my own and will get into periods were I only want to eat the same thing over and over again. But this time I’ll have to and maybe that’s not as much fun.

I carefully added up what I was buying but mistook how much tax would be. When it came to $21.24 I decided it was fate that I found that quarter on my way in and used that instead of putting anything back. I have to say, that the last 4 years I lived in IL and they don’t tax food.

I was able to get one of my fancy foods. My daily snack will be Dannon’s All Natural No Artificial Anything Low Fat Yogurt. A 4 containers pack cost the same as 4 containers generic but each container is smaller. I’m ok with that because this is the only yogurt I like (and I love it) and whenever I buy the generic or even the other fancy brands I never finish a container anyway.

I need 28 meals (counting my snacks) and I figure I have 38 not counting the sausages. I’m also a hearty eater so we will see if I have 10 left in the freezer at the end of the week or not.

I feel that I did pretty well. I’m only disappointed in breakfast where I was only able to get eggs. My yogurt snacks might be used as breakfasts instead. I just can’t see eating eggs for breakfast every day for a week. Although, I should say now, I’m not really concerned. I haven’t eaten breakfast food at breakfast time in years. Like 10 years now. I’m more likely to have a pot pie for breakfast and the eggs for dinner.

Health wise, I think it is a little light on vegetables with one serving of broccoli a day plus the fruit in the yogurt and whatever is in the pot pie and egg rolls. That is typical for me but I will try to do better.

This week’s recipe is really inexpensive but one of my favorites. I’m aware of copyright and will only post my own recipes. This one is mine and I am pleased with it.

Lentils Over Rice.

1lb rice (use basmati if you have it, I didn’t)
1lb lentils (I like the black ones the best, but tan was all they had)
10 c. water (replace any amount with broth, I used 2c lamb consommé)
2 onions- sliced thick
4 cloves garlic- crushed
3 t. cumin (it costs less if you buy it in the Mexican aisle instead of the spice aisle)
4 hot smoked sausages- sliced (Bar S Hot Smoked Sausage package of 16 stocked next to
the hotdogs. Freeze the rest for later)

Wash lentils. Combine lentils, water, onions, and garlic. Cook in a crock pot all day on low. Half an hour before serving slice the sausages and add it and the cumin to the crock pot. Cook the rice according to package directions on the stove. The lentils and the rice will be done at the same time.

To serve, dish up the rice in individual dishes and top with the lentils.

I ate one meal and froze 9 more. After freezing, the lentils will not be as saucy and good. Add some water, about 1 tablespoon or so, before reheating in the microwave. And really, use basmati rice. Without it the dish just isn't the same.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I cleared out my kitchen

I cleared out my kitchen. I decided to keep my opened containers of food since throwing them out would be wasteful. But I haven’t gone grocery shopping since April 28th so there wasn’t that much left.

My secret weapons.

An apartment sized deep freeze.

A crock pot, large stock pot, and a roaster.

A whole bunch of gladware freezer containers.

Open the deep freeze. I have a bag of lamb bones from the last time I roasted a lamb. I’m going to make homemade broth with it. There is also a pound of mystery meat.

It took a good long while but it’s done. I’ve cleaned out the science projects growing in the back of the refrigerator. I have condiments and some string cheese left. Yes, I do have 4 types of mustard, what of it? You can’t see the labels but I also have 3 types of vinegar in the bottom shelf in the door. And, yes I do need to buy my salsa by the gallon. Don’t you?

Inside the refrigerator freezer I have a package of hot dogs I keep on hand to give my dog medication. While it’s not for me I’m not against eating it if I have to. I also have a little bit of shredded cheese left. I do keep a lace shawl in the freezer. It is pretty, isn’t it?

The freezer door is full of nuts. They are just too good to let go of. But seeing as I am hoping to do this for a year and not a week I’m keeping them. I have pecans, almonds, walnut, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds all bought for a stuffing and baking I didn’t do last thanksgiving. Maybe now I’ll find a use for them. There is also half a bag of raspberries also bought for thanksgiving.

I put away all of my canned goods. Some I am donation to a food pantry but most of it I’m keeping just in case this doesn’t work out. If it does it will get donated too.

3 bags I donated to my apartments food drive.

7 bags that I will keep until the next apartment food drive or I realize that this actually is impossible.

I have a cabinet holding open containers of sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and honey. There are also jars of home made jam that I am keeping. They were a Christmas gift and don’t count. On the bottom shelf there is an open box of tea and a container of lemon aid drink mix.

My cooking cabinet. The top shelf is baking supplies. The middle is red pepper and garlic and other savory spices. The bottom shelf is sea salt and pepper and, may I brag a bit, a container of saffron.

I there is the spice rack on the counter. Along with vegetable oil and spray and some pancake syrup. It’s that syrup that decided me on keeping the open containers. There was no way I was going to toss out any amount of Mrs. Butterworth’s.

The dry goods cabinet with corn meal and some black wild rice.

My flour canisters. It turns out I only have corn meal and a little bit of whole wheat left.

There you go a practically empty kitchen. Now to buy a week’s worth of groceries.

I’ll go ahead and start the lamb bones for broth.

Food Stamp Challenge

All last week on every news station I heard about the Food Stamp Challenge where lawmakers and people are challenged to live on $21 a week for groceries. And I have to say our lawmakers are idiots when it comes to shopping. But I digress.

I usually live on $32.50 a week and, yes, I complain about it and how little money I have to spend on groceries but really I never go hungry. I’m never even close of running out of food. I spend plenty of that money on crap (potato chips) or nice things that make my life better but I could do without (extra fancy chocolate).

The more I listened to the people say it’s impossible to live in $21 the more I felt I should do it. It’s not that I thought that the food stamps allowances shouldn’t be raised. I actually think that amount should go up with inflation, but saying that it was impossible got to me. I am competitive that way. When the food writer for the local newspaper came on and said she did it and it wasn’t that hard I felt vindicated and lost interest. That was until she pointed out that seeing as she was “on food stamps” that her children would also be on the school lunch program so she didn’t count lunches. Well that’s just too easy. I decided that I had to give it a try. Can I spend $11.50 less a week and still eat well?

My goals

1. Only spend $21 a week on groceries for a year. This is the hard one. I know from my knitting my attention span is 2 weeks. Can I go a year? Or even the 3 months of summer? In a year I should be pretty much done with college so the timing is good. For the year I will have incentive beyond just proving a point. But why beyond that one week the challenge asks for? Why a year? Well I know I can go a week but I also know that the first week won’t be any fun. I hope to show that I can put away food every week and in a month or 2 or 6 that my kitchen will be well stocked again.

2. Not go hungry. The second I run out of food you can bet I’m going to go buy some. Actually (and I may be naive here) I believe not only will I be able to buy plenty of food, that I will still be able to pick up my special treats. Just not as many.

3. Not just to eat well but to eat healthy. This is the hard part. Not just the cost but because I like to eat junk and living alone I don’t take care of myself like I should.

4. Not to spend too much time cooking. Why? Because I'm lazy that way. What is too much? Well, that will be when I feel like it is too much. Some weeks I’ll want to cook, some I won’t, but I’m planning on cooking in bulk and freezing meals since cooking one or twice a week is usually my limit.

My modifications

The challenge says not to eat out or away from home. I am giving myself one meal a week to eat with friends, either going out or at their homes. But I will also be entertaining them here and I will stick to the $21 even then.

Ok, and because I have heard at other times that it’s the lack of money for healthy food that is contributing to the obesity among the poor I shall give my weight now and again when it’s over. Will I only be able to afford fatty and starchy foods and blimp up? Will I waist away to nothing? Doubtful, since I already stated I’m not willing to go hungry for this. My current weight is 141.2 lbs. That’s a little high for me, so hopefully my goal to eat health will help me there.

Now to clear out my kitchen.

And don't worry this is still a knitting blog.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Sedalia Sheep and Wool festival

The Sedalia Sheep and Wool festival was last weekend. 3 days of fun. The vender booths open on Friday morning and stay open late Friday night with slightly shorter hours on Saturday and Sunday. Classes are taught during this time too.

I went with a few of my Fiber Guild friends and we stayed all 3 days. I camped and they shared a room. I was so much wooly goodness that I don’t know were to start. I could go on for pages about the fun we had but instead I’ll just post the photos.

Icelandic wool yarn from Tongue River Farm

Pygora goats

Chris and her winning rabbit. It was my first time watching a rabbit show. What fun.

zephyr yarn by the ounce.

Susan's Fiber Shop. She has everything. Look at that sock yarn. She had some of the TOFUtsies sock yarn.

Covered fleeces. Sooooo nice.

Don't spin? Buy a fleece, give them to thease guys (and Gail was there too, she also does this) and they send you back your fleece as yarn. I love small mills.

Deb's dyed rovings. She has merino this year.

Frog Tree yarns were avalible.

I came home with some beautiful processed brown fleece from Donna’s booth. Her fleeces are always nice. This feels like it still has lanolin in it so I need to be sure to spin it soon rather than later. Spinning a fresh lanolin fleece is wonderful but once it hardens it’s not so nice. We also (ok actually I was just told about it after the fact) bought K.T.’s fleece for Julie. She left KC for a convent in Colorado and we miss her. However, I have been dubbed the ‘New Julie’ because of the 000 needles I use to knit socks. As the ‘New Julie’ I have been informed that I am in charge of driving everyone around when they get old.

Then I picked up 2 skeins of Icelandic wool yarn from Tongue River Farm. Sport weight I think. I’m in love. The yarn is actually crisp and soft at the same time. I want to make 2 color mittens out of them. When Terry’s daughter (sorry nobody could think of her name) showed us the Pi R Square she was knitting and the book Knitting Around by EZ I found just the mittens I want to make. I would have picked up the book there but Susan had already sold out. Now I can borrow a library copy although it’s a book I would like to own. Maybe later. After those I hope to have enough yarn left to make a pair of my own design.

Finally I picked up some cotton yarn the Deb dyed.