Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Periodical Food-Snob Report

So, currently, we are buying
  • milk, ground beef, and amazing fresh cream from a local co-op.
  • I buy cheese from Trader Joe's and my husband brings some home on the weekends after selling it at local Farmers' Markets. (Sorry, ALDI, your cheese is absolutely flavorless.)
  • For some reason I'm not too picky on chicken. Maybe because I didn't notice an incredible taste difference over conventional when I tried the organic variety.
  • If we got steak ever, it would be from Trader Joe's and organic (you can't beat the fresh, alive flavor).
  • Veggies come from Windy City Produce Mart or Andy's Fruit Ranch (and so does some chicken) -- both local produce marts.
  • Canned goods that are not overly processed (like single-ingredient items) come from ALDI (as do a surprising number of miscellaneous household goods -- we are buying an air conditioner and digital camera there tonight).
  • Eggs no longer come from ALDI. I got some Rose Acre Farms brand from Windy City one day and realized how much healthier the shells looked. They were thoroughly opaque instead of sort of mottled opaque and translucent. Husband came home with some 18-in-a-pack from Dominicks that unfortunately looked very similar to ALDI's.
And with all this snobbery, last week's bill was up above $140 again. Can't afford that on a weekly basis, so I may have to cut out some things like organic apples -- unless we compensate with what Andy is making "working cheese" this summer. But the majority of that needs to go on the credit card. Anyway, more to come.

(Photo: freefoto.com)

Mashed Potato Omelet

4 eggs
blob of leftover mashed potatoes
green tops of green onions, sliced thin (or chives)
plain yogurt or sour cream

Heat pan with a couple of tablespoons of oil in it. Mix 4 eggs thoroughly with fork. When pan is hot, add eggs. Do not disturb until edges have solidified. You may then swirl the pan a little to get the liquid egg towards the edges so it will cook.

Briefly warm (45 seconds in the microwave?) the blob of mashed potatoes and the green onions (or chives). When eggs are nearly solid but still a little runny in the middle, add mashed potato mixture on top of one-half of the eggs. Salt and pepper the mashed potatoes if you like. Carefully loosen the other side of the eggs from the pan and fold over onto the mashed potato side. Let cook a few seconds longer. Turn off heat. Slice the omelet into two pieces and remove from pan. Top with sour cream or yogurt.

Serves two normal people or one woman who is breastfeeding two and sharing some with the toddler.

(Photo: freephotos.com)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Coffee on the Brain

So, I'm playing with free stock photos available online. This one is from FreeFoto.com.

Plus, this is how we drink our cheap, delicious Trader Joe's coffee -- French pressed to perfection.

Going Over for a Drink

So, I went way over budget yesterday. Many factors contributed. I bought some magnetic doodle pads that kids love at ALDI, I spent more on a few items than I expected to, and I bought the alcoholic beverage that I'd become accustomed to having and not budgeting for since my brother would shop with us.

I spent around $140! This is back up where I used to be before I started budgeting. I had budgeted $100, so it wasn't as bad as if I had been trying to keep it around $70, but still! It's really easy to stay on budget during Lent when we're buying negligible amounts of beer, meat, and dairy. But not-fasting days are a somewhat different story. So, now I must figure out how to view my menu as festive, but not ultra-indulgent. That will be a challenge.

(Photo courtesy of freephoto.com)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

So Busy!

So, the end of Lent is drawing near (meaning lots of services in the next week), I have started a new writing-from-home job (does it make me a freelance writer if I'm getting paid for it?), and life is full! So I don't have time to post an entire menu at the moment, but I thought I'd direct you to some great recipes I'm using this week from RealSimple.com to tide you over.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Dinner Menu Plan: Apr 3 - Apr 9

My method of listing the necessities first this week worked, and I only had to remove a couple of items from my list to stay within my $70 budget (especially impressive, I think, because I have to buy laundry detergent this week). After that, I looked at a few very cheap recipes, and then brainstormed recipe ideas from some of the cheapest ingredients that I could think of: beans and potatoes. Here are the results:
  • Thurs: Lubia bi Zeit (Lebanese Tomato and Green Bean Casserole) with Lebanese Rice and hummus and pita
  • Fri: Chili con "Carne" (fake ground beef) with corn bread and salad/carrot sticks
  • Sat: Salmon Stuffed Butternut Squash with brown rice and sauteed broccoli rounds (that's the stems... peel first)
  • Sun - Brunch: muffins or pancakes with fruit salad
  • Sun - Dinner: Mexican Rice and Beans with salad and carrot sticks
  • Mon: Jody's Potato Salad (with chunks of tofu replacing the egg and for added protein) with a veggie tray and bread and margarine
  • Tues: Garden Vegetable Soup with bread and salad
  • Wed: Soup, Salad, and Bread (again?) after church service

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oil Cleans!

So, totally by accident, I discovered that oil (mine was canola) will take sticky oil-dust-grime off of surfaces. If your kitchen is spotless, you will not have this problem. Mine is not, and my tea kettle is usually coated in aforementioned stickiness. Plain soap does next to nothing to this substance.

I went to wipe off a splatter of oil from my kettle (see, I'm trying to reform my cleaning ways by paying attention to spills and wiping them up promptly), and the oil took with it the layers of previously-splattered-oil-covered-in-dust goo. Maybe this is a common-knowledge cleaning trick, but I was certainly unaware. After I buy some more oil and have some I can spare from the needs of cooking, I'm going to do this on purpose to the rest of the kettle!