Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Clams For Bar Man

Withstanding temptation, I did not visit Brazen Head to partake of their Clam Festival. They have several a year so I will get another chance in the not too distant future. The Clam Festivals and their Cask Ale Festivals are really not to be missed.

For breakfast I simply heated up the remnants of yesterday's breakfast.

Just Leftovers

And lunch was a hastily thrown together peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Quick And Messy

I really did have to figure out something to do with my bananas before they became nothing more than a liquid swamp breeding fruit flies. The old sweet potato and banana trick seemed appropriate. Last time I thought it turned out a bit on the dry side so I decided to double the bananas.

This Should Do It

I stuck the peeled and chopped up sweet potato in the good-old microwave for about ten minutes and then put them in a bowl with the sliced bananas. I had milk left over from my pea soup, lots of milk, so I decided to add a bit of that to the mix as well.

Could Be A Breakfast Cereal

My handy dandy stand up blender finished the dish.

Baby Food

Meanwhile I had my black beans cooking in a small pot.

Boil, Boil, Toil And..., Well, Beans

I also fixed up half-a-cup of rice using a cup of my pork stock for the liquid.

Perfect Rice, Every Time

Of course the final outcome was, hold the applause:

Rice And Beans

I took the leftover pork that I had thawed in the refrigerator overnight and just gave it a quick fry in the frying pan.

Just Crisping It Up A Bit

When it was all put on a plate I had a nutritious, kind of well-balanced, and very filling meal.

A Saturday Night Supper

In fact I made so much that I had enough left over for another meal. This one I will save for Monday night because tomorrow I am bound and determined to make my chili thing. I already have a steak thawing in the refrigerator.

Another Meal In The Wings

It will be a chili Sunday tomorrow, no matter what the weather is like outside. It got up to almost 80 F here in Brooklyn today. Maybe even higher. I saw 77 F at one point, but I don't know if that was the high for the day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pasta For Breakfast, Pasta For Dinner

It is amazing how much pasta you can make out of just one box of the stuff. I still have another box that I haven't even opened yet and I had a lot of left-overs from last night. I mean a lot. But I have an old trick for using leftover pasta to make kind of a breakfast, well, I don't know what you would call it.

Dividing The Pasta

The stuff in the blue bowl is for my breakfast, the stuff in the white container is for my dinner tonight.

Into the blue bowl I threw a couple of eggs and some diced Cheddar cheese. This is a bit of a departure from what I usually do. Normally I would throw in a bunch of grated Parmesan cheese, but my budget didn't allow for that luxury.

Everything Tossed Into The Bowl

Next you mix it all together with your hands, getting them nice and gooey. Then you toss the mixture into the frying pan after putting in about a tablespoonful of olive oil.

And Into The Frying Pan It Went

I fry it over a low heat just until the cheese on the top starts to melt and then pop it into the broiler to give it a nice crust on top.

The Finished Product

It was way too much for one meal so I just dished up half and finished the meal with a grapefruit.

Plenty For Breakfast

And the other half gets saved for tomorrow morning.

Saturday's Breakfast, Just Heat And Serve

For lunch I made a bold decision and cut my peanut butter and banana sandwich on the diagonal. A radical departure from the norm. I also had a hairy carrot.

Hairy, The Carrot

The carrot was still firm, and I did peel it so there wasn't any hair getting stuck in my teeth. Sunday I will check to see how the rest of them are doing and will probably use them in some kind of a chili concoction. I got a good deal on buying five pounds of carrots, but that is a lot for one person to eat before they start to, well, grow hair.

For dinner I had thawed out one of my steaks and just fried that up.



While I fried the steak I threw the rest of the pasta from last night into the microwave and when everything was done threw it all on a plate.

But, Where Is The Chianti?

Last time I just ate half of the steak and saved the rest for a sandwich the next day. I must have been hungry tonight because I ate the whole thing. Plus, I bought too many bananas the other day so I have to use them up pretty quick. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch will be the rule until this batch is gone.

I took one of my packages of pork out of the freezer and have it thawing in the refrigerator for supper tomorrow. I also have some black beans soaking. I will probably use half of them with rice to go with the pork and then use the other half on Sunday when I make my chili concoction.

There is probably no ideal time to go on one of these austerity programs, but Brazen Head is having one of their Clam Fests tomorrow, and I really do enjoy those. They also feature beers from Long Island. To make matters worse, they have a big sign out front that I can see from the YMCA while I put in my time on the treadmill.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Going Mostly Green

Bar Man is not the neatest cook in the world, as the Mysterious Chinese Woman has remarked on many an occasion.

The Pea Soup Aftermath

Oh well, that mess could wait until after breakfast. I felt like a bit of a change from the usual oatmeal so I just thawed out some spinach and threw it into my little frying pan with some olive oil, chopped up garlic, a bit of cheese, and an egg.

A Lazy Man's Omelet In The Making

Then I scrambled the whole mess together.

A Scrambled Mess

When it was done I just threw it onto a plate and had my mostly green breakfast.

Far Too Healthy

I finished the meal off with a grapefruit to ward of scurvy. I have to be careful now that I am not drinking any margaritas this month. They are my usual ounce, well, more like six ounces, of prevention.

Oh, and I did clean up the kitchen.

Lunch was a no-brainer, I just stuck one of those containers of pea soup into the trusty microwave and when it was steaming plopped it into a bowl.

A Green Steaming Plop

I had a chicken leg and thigh thawing in the refrigerator for my dinner so I had to figure out what I wanted to do with it.

So Much Potential

I decided to skin it, for a change. Usually I prefer to cook my chicken with the skin on because I think it enhances the flavor. I am not sure why I decided to remove it this time.

Naked As A Jay Bird

Garlic and ginger are always a good combination for chicken, particularly when I am working with a very limited spice palate.

Minced By Hand

I needed it more than minced though so I stuck it into a spice grinder with some olive oil and gave it a whirl. Then I put it into a mortar with some salt and pepper and had at it for awhile.

Alchemy, Pure And Simple

Next I spread the paste all over the bird and then wrapped it up in plastic wrap to let it fester for awhile.

A Leg And Thigh Spread

Festering Away

I wasn't going to let the chicken skin just go to waste, though. I plopped it into my trusty frying pan and then put it on a low heat until the fat started to melt.

Nothing Goes To Waste

Then I turned up the heat and crisped it up.

Eat Your Heart Out, Mr. Lector

For the pasta sauce I just chopped up some onion and garlic and sauteed it in the melted chicken fat until the translucency set in.

A Standard Shot

I threw the onions and garlic into half a can of crushed tomatoes and let it simmer while I threw the chicken into the frying pan. The sauce was a little on the thick side so I added two small ladles of pork stock. Then I made the pasta and when it was all over and done with I had my Italian dinner, minus the red wine that I would usually have. Oh, and I crumbled up the fried chicken skin and sprinkled it over the top of the pasta in lieu of Parmesan cheese. Not quite the same, but it was tasty.

I Wish I Had A Bottle Of Red

Giving up alcohol hasn't been hard, but there are times like tonight when I miss it as an accompaniment to my meal. I also miss popping into Pete's for a brew or two, but, we all have to make sacrifices for our art. I wonder if that guy on CNN who blogged about eating on a food stamp budget gave up drinking. I don't think he ever really said.

I had another couple of bones to throw into my bone bag and plenty of pasta left over to do something with tomorrow.

Lots Of Left Over Pasta

If I was going to continue on this regimen I would definitely have to start building up my spice inventory. The pasta without any oregano or other herbs is a bit on the bland side. It is kind of a tease to know that I actually have all kinds of spices in my kitchen, but can't use them because I didn't buy them on this budget. I usually go through at least one jar of chili garlic sauce a month and a fair amount of soy sauce as well. Plus I brought home a couple of big jars of chipotles in adobe sauce from Mexico, and they have been calling to me. The chicken I cooked tonight wasn't too bad, although a bit bland. In the future I will leave the skin on the bird where it belongs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pea Soup And A Bargain

I went out shopping for milk and chili powder this morning. The milk I got at Trader Joe's, such a deal, only 99 cents for a quart. By far the lowest price in the neighborhood. But, Trader Joe's being Trader Joe's, their selection of goods is, well, limited. I looked for chili powder but they didn't have any. In fact they had almost no spices at all.

I was resigned to heading back to Key Food and pay $1.79 for 1.14 ounces of McCormick's Chili Powder (it was too cold and nasty to walk all the way to Met) but, as I was passing Rite Aide I couldn't help but notice that their sign said something like Pharmacy and Groceries. I will have to take another look to get it right. Anyway, in I went and, lo and behold, they had chili powder for only 99 cents for 2.87 ounces (or 81 grams). Even better, it was on sale for only 79 cents. What a deal. It pays to shop around.

After coming home I had a nice bowl of oatmeal to warm up.

The Usual Ingredients

And The Finished Product

The idea of making a sandwich with the left over sweet potato and banana mixture was still in my head, so for lunch I decided to give it a try. First I toasted two slices of bread and spread them liberally (in honor of Al Franken finally, maybe, winning the Minnesota Senate Race) with crunchy peanut butter.

The Al Franken Spread

Next, I spread on the sweet potato and banana mixture, that I had heated up in the microwave, on one piece of the toast.

Looks Kind Of Gross

Next step was to put it all together, cut it in half, and take a bite out of it.

Not Too Bad

I got an occasional bite of the ginger but, to be frank (get it, be frank, Al Franken, gosh I am subtle) the peanut butter kind of dominated everything. Next time I will do a more conservative spread, particularly if I am in a rush (please, don't make me explain that one).

For dinner I was bound and determined to make my pea soup, and so I did. Again, loosely following a recipe from good old Emeril.

I started out by chopping up two cups of onions.

Chop Chop, And No Crying

Emeril only calls for one tablespoon of chopped garlic, but I do like my garlic.

Dan's Recommended Dosage

Another variation, I took some of the skin leftover after I had made the stock and chopped it up and threw it in with the garlic and onions to cook up a bit.

Waste Not, Want Not

I threw it all into a big pot with a bit of olive oil and then added about a tablespoon of salt and about half a tablespoon of black pepper. Emeril also calls for some red pepper flakes but, alas, I didn't have any. Well, actually, I did, but I didn't buy them with my food stamp money so it wouldn't be fair to use them. I did, however, have 2.87 ounces or 81 grams of newly purchased chili powder, though. I just threw in half a tablespoon of that.

Everything In The Pot

You just stir this all around over a low heat with some olive oil until the onions and garlic are translucent, then you throw in the peas.

Peas Into The Mix

You then stir up the peas with the other ingredients for a couple of minutes and add eight cups of the pork stock.

Starting To Look Like Soup

After adding the eight cups of stock I still had another eight cups left over that I might use if I actually get around to making chili. I probably will, but right now I am looking at a lot of pea soup.

My Leftover Stock

I brought the whole mixture to a boil and then reduced the heat to low and let it simmer for about forty-five minutes until the peas had gotten tender, but not mushy. It probably wouldn't make any difference if you over-cooked them though, given what happens next. I turned off the heat and added one cup of milk.

Then I broke out one of my most useful kitchen appliances. I don't use it all that often, but when I do it is the best at what it does.

My Immersion Blender

Before I got this baby I would have to put the soup into my blender one small batch at a time. This is not only more time consuming, but makes even more of a mess than I make now. The Mysterious Chinese Woman would not be amused.

Immersing The Immersion Blender

After about five minutes of blending, the soup actually looks like pea soup.

Suitable For Linda Blair's Closeup

Now, my final addition was to throw in the leftover pork shoulder that I had. No need to cook it, I just threw it into the still hot soup and let it warm up in there.

The Leftover Pork

All that was left to do was dish up a bowl and sit down for my supper.

Peas Porridge Hot

And, as you can imagine, I had plenty left over. Four containers each of which is more than enough for a full meal, either a dinner or a very hearty lunch.

Four More Days Worth

I stuck one in the refrigerator for lunch tomorrow and stuck the other three in the freezer for some time in the near future. I also took out a chicken leg and thigh and stuck it in the refrigerator to thaw. I plan on having it with pasta tomorrow night.

Two weeks down and I am in very good shape both in terms of my budget and, I think, in terms of my diet. Certainly no hunger pangs. I haven't had any cravings for between meal or after dinner snacks. On a rare occasion I will have a carrot, and I do need to hit the grapefruits that I have sitting on the table. Can't let them go to waste. My remaining carrots are starting to grow little hairs on them, but the are still fairly firm. The broccoli refuses to go bad. In fact it seems to just get greener as time goes by. Kind of spooky.

In terms of my budget, after today's purchases I have spent a total of $114.75 with no major purchases looming in the distance. I might spend another five dollars or so over the next week on fruit, but that really should be about it. I only used a cup of the milk I bought, so I don't know what I will do with the rest of that. I am moderately lactose intolerant. Not to the point where I can't eat cheese or ice cream, but drinking a glass of milk would give me an upset stomach and pretty much clear the room. Unless I mixed it with Scotch. Not a bad drink, but Scotch isn't in my budget, so that isn't an option.