Yarn basket and pin cushion

Yarn basket and pin cushion

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recession Era Cooking

Recession Era Cooking. yes, that's something i made up. no, we're not technically in a recession.... but for all intents and purposes, we might as well be. i remember a couple of years ago when (economically) things were just starting to get sort of bad, and we all got a handy little check in the mail from the government. it seems to me that things are worse now, and i would like another. (just putting that out there so Big Brother can pass it on to the man in charge)

i digress.

as an honorary (if not authentic) old lady, i like to think of myself as fairly thrifty and economical. thanks to my mother, who let me start making messes in the kitchen when i was just a small girl, i learned lots of ideas for making cheap, hearty, filling meals that don't break the bank. sometimes making inexpensive, healthy food is a challenge, but it's completely doable, and so satisfying.

(and i must say, i'm BEYOND proud of Agnes for her foray into poultry preparation. i lived with her for a year and a half, and i can honestly say i saw her handle raw meat maybe twice. kudos, A!)

i'm putting together a little post of menu ideas for "The Poor Pantry" --- but for now i'll leave you with one of my favorite breakfasts, for those mornings when both time and money are scarce.

this is KIND of derived from a migasy sort of idea, and kind of like a quesadilla, and basically just delicious and easy.

in a skillet, melt a teaspoon of butter (you could use olive oil if you wanted)
once the fat is hot, lay in a corn tortilla
sprinkle the top with grated cheese (though truthfully, when i am REALLY broke i skip this)
let the tortilla warm through (about one minute)
then pour a beaten egg over top. sprinkle with salt and pepper (or whatever seasonings you fancy)
allow the egg to almost set, then lay another corn tortilla over top.

flip the whole thing over and let it get brown and crispy.

i cut this into wedges and eat it along a steaming hot cup of coffee, or when i'm in a hurry i just let it cool a bit, roll the whole thing up burrito style and eat it in the car.

it's full of protein, fiber (corn tortillas are actually good for you) and pretty tasty too. i think the cost per serving ends up around fifty cents (though my math skills are sorely lacking)

from my (slightly) impoverished pantry to yours -
Agnes! don't you DARE throw away those chicken bones! i'll be back next time with a recipe for stock!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


 I am extremely grossed out by raw meat. I hate it. Unless it's on some fresh sushi, I want nothing to do with it. That said, I baked a chicken yesterday. And not only did I bake it, I had my hands all over it. My BARE hands. Ew! But I find myself in the tightest financial situation I have ever been, and decided that whole chickens are more cost-effective than boneless, skinless breasts. I still hate raw meat, and am paranoid about salmonella. I washed my hands at least 5 times during the process. Not kidding.
 I looked up in "The Joy of Cooking" (which always just makes me think of "The Joy of Sex" but that's another story) about cooking whole poultry, and read the basic recipe. One method was to preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and then lower it to 350 immediately after putting the bird in. So that's what I did. But first I cut some nice slices off the lemon that gave up its zest for the ugly cookies (bless it) and stuck them under the skin. I sprinkled the cavity and with salt and pepper, quartered an onion and the rest of the lemon and stuffed them into the poor chicken, along with 2 bay leaves. Then I rubbed the outside of the chicken with olive oil and salt and pepper, and some tarragon as an afterthought. I didn't truss it because I didn't feel like it, and didn't have any cooking string. (Can't waste good yarn, either!)
 I was a good girl and basted it every 20-30 minutes while it was cooking, and tented some foil over it to prevent over-browning. Now, "The Joy of Cooking" said to allow about 20 minutes per lb, but after an hour and a half, my not-quite-4-lbs bird registered at only 164.2 on the meat thermometer. (It's supposed to be 165-170.) I decided it was close enough and cut off a wing for Henry, since he had to leave for class soon anyway. But when I cut into the white meat, it looked questionable, so I put it back into the oven for about 20 more minutes. I may have slightly overcooked it that time, but in my opinion, it's better to have slightly overcooked meat than food poisoning. It was still pretty good, and that's coming from a girl who hates eating meat off the bone and doesn't much like skin.
I always feel awkward about my sign-off, so that's why I usually just don't have one. I'm not as witty as Ethel. So, Bye!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Marcel (and chili)

i've been avoiding the internet phenomenon known as "Marcel The Shell With Shoes On" for a very long time. sometimes, i act like a hipster. . . you know, too cool to like the things that everyone else does....
but after reading an article in Bust about Jenny Slate i decided to check it out. (go here to watch it, if you're like me, and have been snarkily avoiding the most adorable thing in the universe) .......

aaaaand now i've watched it maybe TEN times. ridiculous. super cute. big time suck. who cares.

the aforementioned has very little to do with this next part, in which i tell you that right now i'm making chili. hold on to your seat because i also photographed this chili. . . . and in doing so realized that very steamy things don't photograph well. (i think more accurately, i am just NOT ANY GOOD at photography- but i am laying all the blame on the steam for this one) ...

i'm not going to give you my chili recipe (because i'm not using one) my chili comes out differently (yet similar) every time i make it. today i just browned some ground beef with onions and peppers and threw in tomatoes and seasonings and am hoping for the best. i rarely use recipes for soups/stews/chili, what-have-you, bceause i feel like they just get in the way. there's not much room for error when you only put delicious things in a pot and simmer the heck out of it all day. we'll see. it's for food day at work tomorrow, and i don't necessarily work with the most discerning palates. i think it'll be fine.

enjoy your tuesday. mine is shaping up to be spicy and delicious.

from my messy kitchen to yours,

this was my cornmeal creation from last week. agnes and i should have an ugly cookie showdown.

Monday, October 3, 2011

You're never fully clean unless you're ZEST-fully clean!

 Tonight I hosted a knitting group at my house. Naturally, I had to bake some goodies for everyone, so I decided to try Ethel's lemon cornmeal things. My brother sent me the awesome microplane zester that I wanted, and it was begging to be used.
fresh out of the oven

I did pretty much the same thing she did, except my cornmeal was stale, so I used polenta, which is grittier, and just threw in the zest of the whole lemon. I was out of parchment, so I just used non-stick spray. Other than that, same. 
 I thought they had a fruit-loop type taste to them, and they were not beautiful, but Henry said they were a winner.

 Here are my new toys from my brother. A microplane, some nice measuring spoons (all the measurements had washed off my old ones, and then I melted one by letting it get too close to the flame on my stove) and a julienne cutter. I still need to find an excuse to julienne something. :-)

I think the group went well. There were 3 girls including me who were knitting with actual needles, 3 who were using knitting looms (NOT going to say anything!), 1 who was crocheting, and a boy who wanted to learn. I was excited about my new student! We didn't have much time once we actually got started with the lesson, because it was getting close to Daisy's bedtime, but he got the hang of casting on, and then knit one row. It wasn't perfect, but he did it. I was proud. I hope he sticks with it!