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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Homefries in a hurry

Easy, really. Cut up a potato into small chunks. I used a small red potato, but I’ll probably do it again with a Yukon gold. Microwave for a minute, stir, microwave another minute. The potato chunks tend to stick together, which is why it’s good to stir/break apart halfway through. Maybe lightly coat them with oil before hand?

Heat a pan (I used non-stick) to medium high. Add a tablespoon of oil. Add the potato chunks, cook until as brown as you like, stir to prevent clumping. I was happy with them after 5 or 6 minutes, but that’s me. If you want a bigger potato, or more potatoes, just increase cooking time. I think it probably works best, though, if you do one potato at a time.

Dang, this could be more dangerous than the microwave brownies!

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Latest tea

Chamomile with allspice, cardamom, and anise seed. Yum!

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Cookbook recommendation

When I first got my own apartment years ago, my parents got me various apartment-warming presents. One that I’ve gotten the most use out of is “The Starving Students Cookbook“. It helped me feel comfortable enough to not worry about getting it perfect, just to taste good. With measurements like ‘splash’ and ‘dollop’, it’s a wonderfully informal cookbook that you’ll come back to again and again. The cover of mine came off ages back, and it’s tattered and stained, but that’s the sign of a well-used cookbook, isn’t it? Even if you’re not a starving student, I think you’ll like it.

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Tea for me

I like tea. I like coffee too, but that’s mostly for perking up in the morning. Tea I can have any time of the day. It’s simple to make, and there’s so many options. I don’t go for the fancy teas (big surprise). I usually use something simple, then add herbs and spices as the mood takes me. I’ve got bags of green tea and chamomile on hand, and they’ve been on hand for many moons. So I’m trying to use them up before getting new stuff.

Standard method is to microwave a cup of water for two minutes. Then I add a bag of green tea and a bag of chamomile. I’ll keep them at the bottom of the cup with a tablespoon. Add herbs and spices, steep for three minutes. Fish out the bags, double strain out the herbs and spaces. Add sweetener, pour into a quart plastic container, fill the rest of the way with more water.

Yeah, it might seem dilute to most. But that’s how I like it. It’s like those fancy flavored waters, but infinitely cheaper. The herbs I usually add (about an eighth to quarter teaspoon each) of any of the following:

  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cardamom
  • Dried Mint

This time, I tried something new in the mix. Whilst fishing out the additional tea seasonings, my eyes lit on Five Spice Powder. When I cooked Chinese food more frequently, I used it a lot. Not so much for a while. Hmm, have to rectify that.

Anyway, I thought it might work in tea. I looked at the bottle and it contained anise, cinnamon, star anise (redundant?), cloves and ginger. No pepper in this version, so it was perfect!

Did the usual procedure. After straining, I added in a couple of squirts of honey while the tea was still hot, so it’d dissolve better, and stirred. Into the plastic container and filled it, added a bit of sweet n’ low. Tasted pretty good, but it’ll be better after it’s chilled. It actually looked on the strong side for me, so I’ll probably do a half cup of tea with more water added.

So, drink tea and live. I am fond of soda, but tea is so much better for you, and cheap-cheap-cheap. Especially the way I make it.

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Pressure popcorn

I haven’t made popcorn the old-fashioned way (on the stove) in a while. I had a yen for popcorn earlier, and decided to not make it in the microwave for a change. Looking at the stove, I saw my little tea kettle. Which I hardly ever use, since it was more Mom’s thing. Anyway, I wondered if I could balance it on top of the lid I made the popcorn in, turning it into an impromptu pressure cooker. Voila, it worked! The popcorn seemed to pop faster, and only a bit on the bottom got burnt. Yeah, I still have a problem with that. Anyway, I did my usual margarine and olive oil melted in the microwave, with seasonings. This time, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, parsley and paprika. In fifteen seconds, it was ready to pour over the popcorn, and then salt. Simple and yummy. 🙂

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I’ve often said that if learn from your mistakes, I should be a mega-genius, as I’ve made more than a few. Like today.

One of my favorite sandwiches from childhood was bologna and cheese. Mom would make it for me quite often for lunch. As I grew older, I got away from sandwiches, and cooked more meals for myself. Now that I’m trying to eat more inexpensively and simply, I’m returning to old likes. Plus bologna is frequently on sale, so it’s a win-win.

Anyway, I didn’t have sliced cheese on hand, but I always have various sorts of shredded cheese around. Usually frozen, to keep longer. Since it’s shredded, it’s quick to defrost/melt. So I took a slice of bread and sprinkled liberally with shredded mozzarella. Then I stuck in the toast oven and toasted until the cheese had mostly melted. Maybe a minute? On another slice of bread, I put two slices of bologna. I didn’t toast that slice, because I wanted to see what the contrast in textures would be like.

Now, the mistake. Minor, really. I have several kinds of mustard in the fridge. Good for sandwiches, and some recipes. I really hate mayonnaise, so if I make a sandwich, I’ll usually put on mustard. Ketchup is mostly for burgers. So the kinds of mustard I have are regular yellow, spicy brown, dijon, and honey. Well, I wasn’t looking at the label of the bottle I took out. It looked like spicy brown, which I like on sandwiches. And hot dogs.

Have you guessed? It was honey mustard. My first bite, I wondered why it was so sweet. Then I looked back in the fridge, and saw what I’d done. Have to say, I liked it. I don’t tend to use the honey mustard much, as I think it’s more for glazing meat or other special recipes. I think I’ll have to change that. And another step closer to mega-genius-hood.

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Quick lazy soup

Looking in the fridge, I saw I had a tomato that was likely to go bad soon and a half-can of red kidney beans. So I figured, “Hey, soup!”. Well, my first thought was chili. But I had a couple of 24 oz cans of spaghetti sauce I’d got for 50 cents each (dented, but still fine), and a box of Wolfgang Puck brand beef broth that I’d got for a dollar. See NOTE below for more info.

Anyway, I used pasta fagioli as an inspiration, but used rice. All simple stuff I had around the house. Frankly, the results turned out better than I expected. I always like pleasant surprises like that.

So, the recipe, such as it is.

  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder (see NOTE)
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • small onion
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 can kidney beans
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Italian seasoning blend
  • dried basil
  • garlic powder
  1. Add salt and pepper and garlic powder to water. Add rice and cook it. Go traditional (2 parts water to 1 part rice, boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes) or how I did it (8 parts water to 1 part rice, boil in microwave for 10 minutes, check that there’s still enough water, microwave for 10 minutes more) (the rice can be a bit gummy in the microwave version, but that’s fine for soup).
  2. Dice the onion and saute (I tossed the pieces in some oil and microwaved for 2-1/2 minutes).
  3. Dice the tomato.
  4. The advantage of the microwave version: If you use a very large container to cook the rice, you can dump all the other ingredients in with it after the rice is done. Which is what I did.
  5. Seasonings: To taste. Call it a couple teaspoons of the herbs, and a few shakes of salt and pepper and garlic powder.
  6. Microwave for 3 minutes, stir, microwave for 3-5 minutes more.
  7. Eat and be full.

I used the small bowl above, for portion control. One of those, and I was comfortably full. But that was a few hours ago, so I think I’ll go back for more. Plus I wanted to let it cool some before portioning it out and putting in the fridge.

Which is one of my problems, so word to the wise. If you cook a large amount of food, divide it into portions as soon as possible, to keep you from eating the whole dam pot/plate/whatever.

NOTE: Btw, if you have a dent-and-bent store in your area, it’s a godsend for food budgets. Or the near-out-of-date rack at your grocery store. Use judgement, but a lot of the stuff is perfectly fine, even though it doesn’t look pretty. The spaghetti sauce and beef broth I got at the Family Dollar, which is rather ironic.

NOTE: Got the garlic powder at what used to be Mother Earth’s, but is now Earth Origins. I’m not into the “organic” stuff, mostly since it’s frightfully more expensive. Plus you can get a lot of the veggies cheaper at your local farmers market. But for bulk spices, you can’t beat it. I love thyme, for example, but it’s 3 to 4 dollars a bottle in the store. So are most herbs. But at Earth Origins, I can get enough to fill a bottle for 50 cents, or less. And it’s fresher. Or I can buy half a bottle’s worth, which means it’s that much fresher.

You should clean out your herbs and spices at least once a year if they’ve not been used. But if you get them from your whole foods store, you can get just what you need (or a bit more), and replenish as you like. Thus, no stale herbs. And honestly, herbs and spices are a terrificly inexpensive way to add flavor to your food. Just because you may have to eat cheaply doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Peasants across the world have been doing so for centuries.

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