Some say, I’d rather be someone’s shot of whiskey, than everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s today’s frugal kitchen meal. Sweet and sour…something. Remember, in these times, use what you have. There are no rules. Substitute as necessary.
That’s true in your work, your food, or whatever else you have “should” rules about. All you need to be true to, is your lighthouse, your code, what keeps you and those around you safe, healthy, and whole.
We’ve been conditioned to shop. Programmed, really. Even with food. We live in one of the most abundant countries in the world, and the minute someone tells us we can’t have something, we run after it like desperate lemmings. Or at least that’s how it appears.
Today is March 28th. I’ve been in my little castle in the sky for more than a week without venturing outside, with the exception of the balcony, or the garbage chute. We can do this. You all know I like to save a dollar (even a dime!) wherever I can. I also hate waste. And I like to cook, and eat. So how is a food-lover like me managing these days?
Creativity is my secret weapon. And improvisation. And being able to set frustration aside. I also learned to cook from some women who were even more frugal than I. They had no choice. I do miss my vegetable garden right now. I know as we spend more time inside, I will REALLY miss it. But the cupboards, fridge and freezer will have to do.
Some things that have been my kitchen salvation during this:
Rice and beans (including lentils and chickpeas). I always have lots on hand. I buy dried, not canned, because a much larger volume fits in the same space. Then I cook up batches and refrigerate or freeze some portions for quicker use, if I am so inclined. Right now I have white and pink beans in the freezer, already cooked, in mason jars. Lots of kidney beans and black beans in the cupboard.
Canned tuna and nuts. Both sources of protein. If you’re vegan, the nuts will do nicely, but they are much more expensive.
Eggs and cheese.
Rolled oats and cornmeal. Porridge. Polenta. Granola. Muffins. Bread.
Pasta, shapes and long.
Frozen fruit and vegetables. They often go on sale. They don’t go bad as easily and take less space to store than fresh.
Potatoes and onions. They store well in a dark cupboard or in a box on your balcony when it is consistently above freezing but not hot outside.
Canned tomatoes. You can eat them plain, with eggs, in a soup, make delicious marinara or a casserole, without all heavy doses of sugar, salt and additives found in many canned varieties.
Soy or nut milk in tetra packs, or UHT (shelf stable) milk or canned evaporated milk. Again, coming from a place where there are frequent storms and power outages, I learned to keep things on hand that can survive without a fridge.
Many dried herbs and spices. Many.
Basically, it is cheaper and easier to keep the base ingredients for things you like to eat, and learn to cook them from scratch. Keep a supply on hand. Learn to use them. If you want tips, let me know. (Oh, and that vegetable chowder up top? Put a diced potato, onion, carrot, and about a cup of corn niblets (half a can, if canned, or use frozen) in a pot. Add cold water that covers them by about an inch (or the depth from your thumb-tip to the first knuckle). Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes until the carrot is soft. Add a cup of milk (canned, plant, whatever you have). Add herbs or a grind of pepper (or both). Enjoy. Next time, switch up the veg. Or use tomatoes instead of milk.
Please care for each other. Stay in. Stay safe. Venture out only when you must. You’ve got this.
Our grandmothers or great grandmothers (or for some of us, our mothers), used to keep stores of food that looked like this. It was preserved to survive without refrigeration. They worked like fiends during the summer heat, boiling and salting and preserving in a myriad of ways, to ensure that they would be prepared for the times when food was unaccessible. Even in urban centres, food storage was considered to be vital to a safe, secure home. Now many people don’t even know how to cook.
I’ve been cooking since I was a kid. I was raised to be careful with a dollar, and to not waste food. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” is just one of the mantras I grew up reciting.
Over the past week or so, I’ve watched people leaving the big drugstore and grocery stores near me. They’re carrying lots of food that I might consider non-essential. A lot of it I would think of this way, because it is highly processed and prepared. This means it is also expensive, and takes up more space to store. I’ve got cupboards stocked with lots of dried beans, rice, oatmeal, flour, dried pasta, and the like. I know I could eat well for at least two weeks, if not longer. It might not always be gourmet, but it would be nourishing and tasty.
If you’ve got things you are wondering how to cook , leave me a message or connect with me on Twitter @walkeatlive. I’ll try and come up with some easy ideas for you. Check out some of the recipes here in the EAT section, too!
Soup, it’s delicious, right? And a fantastic way to use up whatever has been hovering around your kitchen. There’s a scary side to soup, though, especially if you’re starting with a powdered or canned variety. It can hide a LOT of sodium. A good rule-of-thumb is to keep the milligrams of sodium equal or less than the calories. Check out any soup in your grocery store, even the “healthy menu” types, and you’ll find there’s four (or more) times the sodium in most varieties. Not so healthy, after all. Sure, in a pinch, they can work. But with an hour or two while you’re working on something else or even sitting in front of the tube, you can cook up one or two huge pots of soup, and freeze the results to last for months.
So if you’re stuck inside in the cold, and you’ve got some vegetables, an onion or two, and beans, or meat, rice, pasta, or potatoes, you can make soup. Your body will thank you. Here’s one to get you started.
Well, let’s see how we do with this post. I’m going to add the first sub-page under “Live” to a sweet local place we like to go, called The Irv. After a tough day of editing, posting, revising, recoding…I’ve had enough. I’m off to get some fish and chips, and I’m taking the man with me. They won’t be these fish and chips (my homemade ones), but I guarantee they’ll be GOOD.
Let’s try this again…hopefully with the new address link! Be patient with me, I’m growing!
Well, friends, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ve been looking for me at WordPress.com. I’ve made a move this week that will allow me to provide access to new types of content, but it required a complete migration of my site to WordPress.org, where I can host it under my own domain. Frankly, the whole thing made me dizzy! But it’s going to be great.
If you want to keep following along, please visit my new WalkEatLive site, and enjoy the fun!
There are SO many opportunities to sneak in some extra veg – like this delicious smoothie. It features red cabbage (with some peaches, mangoes, strawberries and blueberries for good measure). I topped up the blender with almond milk, a few sunflower seeds, and some cinnamon, and we were all set.
…or perhaps, lax-ury? This morning’s omelette is filled with a decadent mixture of asparagus, mushrooms, onion, and baby potato slices. It is tasty enough on its own, so the two thin slices of thyme and pepper gravlax on the side make it extra special. It’s more of a method than a recipe, but here’s what to do, for two:
Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and cut the good bits into 1″/2.5cm lengths. Thinly slice 1/4c or 60ml mild white onion. Add to this, 6 sliced mushrooms and 2 thinly sliced baby potatoes. Stir the whole thing together in a nonstick pan over medium heat until nicely cooked. Now, pour in three beaten eggs, and turn the heat to medium-low. Lift the edges with a spatula, letting the uncooked egg run underneath. Fold in thirds and cut in half to serve.
We bought our gravlax from De La Mer on the Danforth; look for gravlax at a good fishmonger near you.
We had a busy day yesterday, cleaning, organizing, walking, shopping and visiting the Gardiner Museum’s amazing porcelain collection. The best way to top off a day like that is to make a delicious but low-effort dinner together.
Here’s what we did:
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a casserole dish, place two pork chops. Ours came from our friend/neighbour/butcher, Mark. Over top, pour 1/2 c (125ml dry sherry). Thinly slice an onion and separate into rings, scattering on top of the chops. Add half a dozen capers and four roughly-chopped olives. Sprinkle with dry mustard and mace (or nutmeg, if you’re stuck). Put the lid on.
Next the potatoes. Slice 4 or 5, thinly. You will have two servings left over for tomorrow. In a glass cake pan or pie plate coated with olive oil cooking spray, arrange half the potato slices. Sprinkle with 2 t or 10ml of flour. Crack on some pepper and grate on a small amount (1 oz/30 g) strong aged cheddar. We used an amazing cave-aged one from Wookey Hole.
Layer the rest of the potato on, pour over 1/2 c or 125ml of 1% milk. Add another cracking of pepper and another ounce or so of cheese. Cover with foil, not letting foil touch the cheese. Full disclosure: another casserole would work well here, only we don’t have one!
Put both dishes in the oven for half an hour. Drink wine and chat.
Then remove the lid or foil and cook for another 15 minutes. Prep the Brussels sprouts or do what we did – use frozen. When the 15 minutes are nearly up, bring the sprouts just to the boil, covered, on top of the stove. Turn off the heat and let stand while you dish up the rest. Sprouts will be crisp-tender.
Have a lovely meal and enjoy each other’s company. Live happily ever after.
The fridge is starting to look a little bare as we get ready for a cleanup and refresh. Whether it’s because you’re going away, there’s a change of season, or your cupboards and fridge just need a good sorting, it helps cut down on waste if you take one day a week to cook just with what’s on hand.
Here’s what I saw that needed to be used:
3 homemade sourdough buckwheat buns – I keep these in the freezer because with whole grains and no preservatives they spoil easily.
Sundried tomatoes in oil – bought for a recipe; I prefer the dry-packed, as they keep longer without electricity.
Green olives – good for martinis but alas, we are out of gin.
A can of tuna in water.
Kozlik’s Tripke Crunch mustard, which I love but which has, of late, been ignored in favour of Old Smokey.
Some cheese bought “off list” on last week’s market excursion and needing to be finished off.
I chopped the tomatoes and olives, mixed with the tuna and mustard, and spread this on the buns (sliced in half). Next I grated the cheese and put it on top, popping under the broiler just until melt-y.
That’s it! Another weekend use-it-up assignment complete: