Friday, May 01, 2009

Alas, It Is Over

Today was it, the last day of my food-stamp diet. I am kind of glad it is over, but in another way, I'm not. Now that I have a cushion of almost $40 it would be interesting to see what I could do going forward. Certainly add some more spices to the mix, a bit more fish, just some more variety. Parmesan cheese for my pasta would be nice. Oh, and perhaps some better coffee.

On the other hand, now I won't have to prepare all of my own meals and can enjoy what the Mysterious Chinese Woman prepares. Probably more salads for lunch. Not that I couldn't afford salads on my budget, I just found the peanut butter and banana sandwiches easier, and tastier.

I will keep eating oatmeal for breakfast on a regular basis, though. I have grown quite fond of it.

But, The Last Picture Of It You Will See

The Last One Of My Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Too

I had only squirreled the bones away from three of my chicken legs and thighs and I figured it was now or never if I was going to use them up.

Scrawny, And A Bit Spooky

Not much going into this stock, just some salt, pepper, and onion.

No Garlic, Yet

Easy to make stock, just add water.

Instant Stock, Almost

After bringing it to a boil and letting it simmer for about an hour I had it right where I wanted it.

Nice And, Well, Brown

I wasn't going to need much, which was good, because I didn't get much.

More Than Enough For My Purposes

The rest of the ingredients, except for the secret one. As you can see, I won't lack for garlic.

Just A Meat And Garlic Kind Of A Bar Guy

I sliced up the garlic medium thin and then sauteed them in quite a bit of olive oil over a fairly low heat.

Making Them Sweat

Ah, the secret ingredient, pasta. I made a decent sized batch and then when it was done I drained it thoroughly and put it into this little pot. Then I poured the chicken stock over it and emptied out the pan with the sauteed garlic and most of olive oil.

Absorbing The Flavors

Then I simply fried up the steak in a bit of the garlic infused olive oil.

Nicely Browned And Medium Rare

The final step was to put the pasta into the frying pan and crisp it up a little bit.

Kind Of Like What I Do To My Rice

And there you have it, my last meal of the food-stamp diet.

The Grand Finale

I could have had veggies with it, I have a whole pound of the frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer. I just didn't feel like it though I also had several eggs left over, another package of frozen spinach, a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of tomato puree, about half a pound of beans, and about four pounds of rice.

Well, there you have it, a month of healthy eating on a food-stamp budget and with both money and food left over. And I didn't have to live on hamburger or macaroni and cheese either. Not even rice and beans, although I bought enough of them. Used most of the beans in my stew and chili.

Two things that I didn't buy were sugar, which I very seldom use anyway, or butter, something else that I seldom use. And I didn't buy nor use any hot sauces, something I usually do use a lot of. I probably have at least twenty-five different kinds of hot sauces in the refrigerator. And no soy sauce, although I could easily have afforded a bottle, especially if I bought it in Chinatown.

But, all-in-all, I really didn't feel that I deprived myself at all. One thing that probably helps is that I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so no deserts wasn't a problem.

And, as I said, tomorrow I will probably head to The Manhattans (in Brooklyn) and celebrate the end of my month of sobriety (and I didn't cheat, either) with that draft Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of bourbon.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Last Of The Leftovers

The most interesting thing today, food-wise, was that I put too much water in my oatmeal and ended up with something like the prison gruel that the Mysterious Chinese Woman seems to favor.

Should Have Served It In A Tin Pan

For lunch I just broke out the last of my chili.

Fresh From The Fridge

Once it was heated up it made a nice little lunch.

My Afternoon Bowl

And dinner was more of the kind of the same. The last of the pea soup.

The End Of It

Same routine, into the microwave and then into a bowl.

A Simple Supper

Well there it went, the last of my leftovers. I am breaking the last steak out of the freezer and putting it in the fridge for tomorrow. Not sure what I will have with it, nothing too fancy. I kind of like my steak with relatively plain sides so I can enjoy the meat.

And that will be the end of it. I am going to celebrate on Saturday not by going to eat a big meal in a fancy restaurant, I haven't been lacking for food. No, I am going to head to my friend Tracy's new bar, The Manhattans, and have a draft Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of whatever bourbon he might have handy. And that will probably be it. After not having a drink for almost a month, that will probably be enough.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What Rhymes With Orange?

I had plenty of leftover hash from last night so I figured hash and eggs would be a good way to start this surprisingly chilly morning.

Minimal Ingredients

Easy enough to prepare, just put the hash in the frying pan and crack a couple of eggs on top.

Hash And Raw Eggs

I used the old putting the cover over the pan trick again to cook the eggs and heat the hash all the way through.

So Easy

On the plate it was just like having breakfast in my local diner. Well, minus the wise-cracking waitress and the English muffin.

Not Bad For At Home

Lunch was just another peanut butter and banana sandwich.

The Usually Usual

Tonight was going to be a chicken night, but I felt like doing something a bit different.

An Orange Chicken

First thing I did was just get a little zest off one of the oranges.

Adding A Bit Of Zest To My Life

Then I juiced the two oranges.

Doing It By Hand

Then I just added the juice to the container with the zest. Gosh, isn't this interesting. Kind of reminds me of chemistry class. And, I diced up the garlic too.

Preparing The Chicken Bath

I threw the garlic into the juice and then sliced up some ginger. I stuck the ginger in the microwave for about thirty seconds just to soften it up a bit and let the flavor seep out better.

The Ginger Is Ready To Go

And Everything Into The Bath Water

And The Chicken Taking The Plunge

I let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator and then got to thinking that maybe I should add a bit more orange flavor.

I Squeezed Another Orange

I stirred in some salt and then loaded up my syringe.

This Won't Hurt A Bit

After injecting the chicken I let it sit for a bit and then put it in the frying pan with a bit of olive oil.

Skin Side Down

While the chicken was frying I also put on the rice.

Rice In A Pot Of Water, Wow!

And I threw a serving of my frozen mixed vegetables into a little pot to boil away for about ten minutes.

See The Above Caption - Substitute Veggies For Rice

The Chicken Crisped Up Nicely

Again, I always hate to let the drippings of anything go to waste. When I make rice I will always stir it into the drippings of whatever else I have cooked (well, not fish) to give it some additional flavor and a nice brown color.

Rice With Some Flavor

When all was said and done I again had a very respectable dinner.

Eating Cheaply Doesn't Mean Not Eating Well

Tomorrow will probably just be leftovers, I do have to get rid of them. Not that I have a lot of leftovers, I have planned things pretty carefully. Probably the last of the chili for lunch and the last of the pea soup for dinner. I am saving my steak for Friday.

I see where the Yankees, apparently embarrassed by the empty seats behind home plate, have reduced the price of the tickets, by 50% for some seats, down to a mere $1,,250 from the original $2,500. I guess if you can afford to sit in those seats the price of the beer probably won't be an issue.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hashing Things Out

A good day for oatmeal, but then isn't any day a good day for oatmeal.

1/3 Plain And 2/3 Raisin And Spice With Dried Bananas

I stopped in at Trader Joe's for the last of my grocery purchases. I really went overboard too. Two bananas at 19 cents each and a potato for 38 cents. Probably not too many people walk out of Trader Joe's and only spend 77 cents. I asked the cashier to double bag it too, just to see her expression. It was, shall we say, one of confusion.

I broke out all of the ingredients for my hash including my last chunk of beef and the two best looking carrots that I had left. The half-dozen or so that remained went into the garbage, they were beyond salvation.

Ready For The Master's Touch

First, I peeled everything that needed peeling.

Naked Veggies

Next I diced up the potato and my two carrots. I derive a certain peaceful satisfaction when I slice and dice things. I am not very fast, though.

First Round Of Dicing Is Done

Because the carrots and the potato need to cook the longest they, of course, went into the frying pan first. About a half a tablespoon of olive oil beat them in there, though.

Starting To Simmer

While the carrots and potato were starting to cook up I diced up the garlic and onions.

The Second Stage Of Dicing Done

And into the pan they went as well.

All The Veggies Happy Together

For the meat I broke out my finger-slicer special. By far the sharpest knife that I own. If it ever gets dull I will take it in and have it professionally sharpened. I sharpen all of my other knives, but this one I think I will pass on.

Finger-Slicer Waiting For Action

After I chopped up all of the meat I realized I probably didn't have enough. I shouldn't have nibbled.

Not Quite Enough

I had at least one pack of pork left in the freezer (there might be another one in there someplace, I forget) so I dug it out and stuck it in the microwave for about a minute and a half and then chopped it up too.

A Pork Supplement

All Chopped Up

And then threw the meat on top of everything that was already in the pan and let it fry up for a few minutes more.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink

I just fried it over a fairly low heat until everything was nicely browned.

Lookin' Good Enough To Eat

I dished myself up a very healthy portion and I had my lunch.

Just Like At The Diner

I made a pretty good batch, so there was a lot left over.

I Made A Good Dent, But Still, Just A Dent

The rest went into the refrigerator and I will have it for breakfast tomorrow with an egg or two.

Tomorrow's Instant Breakfast

I wasn't all that hungry at dinner time. Maybe my lunch had something do do with it. A bowl of leftover chili was plenty.

Just A Light Dinner

Well, after spending my 77 cents today my grand total for the month is now $138.57. And, for the life of me, I can't think of anything more to spend it on. Not if I want to finish up some more of what I have left. If I was going to carry this forward I would probably start to stock my spice cabinet. But because I already have a fully stocked one, it would be pointless for me to actually do that. I will give you a few more of my thoughts on living on a food-stamp diet when I am actually finished, but I think you can see that it is certainly possible to eat well on this amount of money.

I had to kind of laugh at the guy from CNN who complained that he started to run out of energy towards the end of the month and he thought it was because he wasn't getting enough protein in his diet. I should go back and see how the hell he spent his money, because a lack of protein certainly wasn't my problem. I probably ate more meat this month than I usually do.