Week Ten

Friday, March 19, 2010

I was talking to a friend this week about writing and how it always seems to take me so long, and she said when she writes blog posts, she sets her timer for twenty minutes and writes, and when the timer goes off, she’s done. Twenty minutes! I’m so jealous.

I think this is the week everyone has been waiting for — when I spend half my monthly budget in one week. My mom was in town, which requires a bit of an upgrade, and also I had people over for dinner on Sunday, so that throws things off even more. Not sure how I’ll count that. In terms of my normal budget, visitors and meals for others are generally treated separately from my regular food budget, as I try not to subject my friends and family to my usual level of parsimony. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, not so easy to pick up in a weekend.

I have yet to get a handle on my work situation, so was happy to have some leftovers to start the week with — Lone Star Chicken and also the cranberry-peach pancakes I made on Sunday. I actually really like leftover pancakes straight out of the fridge, not heated up or anything. No syrup either, just on their own, like a muffin or bagel or something. It sounds weird but it’s actually really good. I also still had yogurt and some of Bryant’s granola.

So Monday I had yogurt with granola and banana, and a piece of toast with peanut butter, and then I went out and worked and got back very late and probably should have had the chicken but had pancakes instead. It felt too late for chicken.

Tuesday I had the end of the pancakes for breakfast and Lone Star Chicken over pasta for dinner, and some Nutritious Uncooked Candy for dessert.

My mom was coming on Wednesday, so Tuesday evening I went to Whole Foods to get stuff for Wednesday dinner and Thursday breakfast and lunch.

I had decided to make ham and bean soup with cornbread and a green salad for dinner, because it’s a long drive for her and difficult to time dinner precisely, so better to make something that will be fine no matter what time it’s eaten. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do about lunch but figured I’d get some sandwich stuff and fruit and we could take it from there.

Week Ten, part I

Week Ten, part I

So I got some mixed greens by the pound (Lettuce Spring Mix), which was great, you can get just a little bit, and some cornmeal (Organic Yellow Corn) for the cornbread. I splurged on some $13/lb roast beef (In House Roast Bee) because that’s my favorite thing for sandwiches and I make them so infrequently it’s worth it to me to get what I really like.

I bought a two pound bag of carrots (Carrots 24/2# Og) and some bananas (Banana Yellow CV). I got a small baguette (Wheat Demi) for the sandwiches and some English muffins for breakfast (WFM Eng Muffins Or). I also got a dozen eggs, because I was out (Large Brown Eggs, G).

I got a red onion (Organic Red Onions) because I like onion on my roast beef sandwiches, and also a tomato (Tomatoes Roma Cv).

I bought a pear that was supposed to be on special but when they rang it up, it wasn’t on special, so it looks like they gave it to me for free (which is the store policy). That actually happens fairly regularly, but I’m not always paying attention. With the pear, I only bought it because it was on special, I prefer Bosc pears, so I was looking to see if it came through with the special price and it didn’t. So that’s what the two entries for Red D Anjou Og is all about.

I bought a jar of peanut butter (Cruncy Peanut But) because I was out, and also a Bosc pear. I brought multiple bags to get my haul home, so that’s the three bag refunds. And some ham (Pork Ham Steak) and beans for the soup (Bulk Organic Great), as well as some cream cheese, and some bulk flour since I used the last of my flour with the pancakes and needed more to make cornbread. It’s totally not cost-effective to buy bulk flour, but since I walk to the grocery store I have to schedule my flour purchases. Getting home with a normal load of groceries plus a five-pound bag of flour is a challenge sometimes

So Wednesday dinner was very good — mixed green salad with a vinaigrette dressing and ham and bean soup with cornbread. I also made some Plain Jane Sugar Cookies while I was waiting, and then my mom brought cookies that she had made, plus Girl Scout cookies that I had ordered from my niece, so there was definitely no shortage of cookies in my house during Week Ten.

For breakfast on Thursday, my mom had fruit and an English muffin and I slept. Once I got up, we went to King’s for a country ham for my mom to take back home to my dad and the man behind the counter was mixing up this giant batch of country sausage so I decided to get some of that while I was there. Figured we could have it for breakfast on Sunday.

Week Ten, part II

Week Ten, part II

Then we went to The Scrap Exchange so my mom could shop and she could see what was new, then we came home and had a quick lunch of roast beef sandwiches on a wheat baguette and apples and cookies. Then my mom went off to her conference and I went on about my business. (She comes down every year for a conference and stays with me one night, then stays at the conference Thu. – Sat., then is back with me Sunday, then drives home on Monday.)

For dinner I had soup and cornbread, and yogurt with banana and granola for dessert.

On Friday, I had more yogurt/banana/granola (I think this blog is especially fascinating when I eat the same thing for like five days in a row) and then in the afternoon went to Compare, mostly for some cabbage because I wanted to make coleslaw to go with the rest of the roast beef.

So that was fruit to eat (oranges, tangelo, grapefruit) plus the cabbage for coleslaw and some limes and cilantro for Sunday’s dinner. Total $4.23. Gotta love Compare.

Along with the roast beef sandwich and coleslaw, I made oven fried potatoes with a russet potato I bought a while ago. For dessert, I had a grapefruit which I think I thought would dissuade me from eating more cookies, but to no avail. So then I had the real dessert, more cookies.

On Saturday, I made these fabulous cream cheese empanadas from the More-with-Less cookbook that are primarily shortening. They’re basically like homemade pop tarts. I fill them with cream cheese and jam so they might even be better than pop tarts. After the pop tarts I had a bagel with cream cheese and an orange. And a lot of cookies. And was thinking I’d be really glad when the cookies were gone.

And I don’t have any notes about what I ate for dinner on Saturday and I think that means I felt so icky from the empanadas and the cookies that I didn’t really eat dinner. Not sure about that.

On Sunday, my mom was back so I headed back to the store for stuff for breakfast and also for dinner, since I’d invited people over.

Week Ten, part IV

Week Ten, part IV

I bought a small container of fresh-squeezed orange juice because I wanted juice but I didn’t want a whole quart so I decided it was worth it to pay almost the same amount for a quarter the amount of juice so I would get the amount I wanted. Un-American, I know.

Also I had used up all the flour on the empanadas and the cookies and the cornbread, and decided I wanted to make biscuits so I had to get more of the not cost-effective flour (Organic White Flo).

So for breakfast, we had biscuits and scrambled eggs and country sausage with orange juice.

Everything else was for dinner.

I was planning on making spring rolls and hot and sour shrimp, with sautéed pears and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

So I bought shrimp (EZ Peel Shrimp Raw) and pears (Pears Bartlett Og) and peanuts (Unsalted Peanut Bu) (for the spring rolls) and ice cream (Vanilla 14oz) and celery.

And I attempted to buy dry sherry to marinate the shrimp, but it was before noon and I did not know this but you cannot buy alcohol before noon in North Carolina. Even alcohol you are using to marinate shrimp.

So later in the day we went to the Asian Grocery to get some Shaoshing cooking wine, which is what I usually use to marinate my stir fry meats, but I had recently run out. So I got a refill of that for $2.34.

Week Ten, part V

Week Ten, part V

Guests provided salad and some fizzy nonalcoholic drinks, and I took beer and wine from the Scrap stash. Also Bryant was one of my guests, and she brought some crackers, which she’s been making because she can’t buy crackers because they all have a plastic liner or are wrapped in plastic. And I decided that Bryant’s new art form should be crackers, they were killer good.

So that was it for Week Ten. Something different and exciting — and way more expensive than usual. We’ll have to see how the totals come out. There’s always creative accounting if things are too high. I’m not above that

And this post took way more than 20 minutes to write. Clearly my friend is not documenting her life in quite the level of detail I have committed myself to.

11 Responses to “Week Ten”

  1. Lorrie Says:

    I love your detail and honesty — makes you REAL. Would you please get and post Bryant’s recipe for crackers? I would love to try making my own crackers. In the past week I have baked four cakes — two mocha tortes (my grandma’s recipe) for my mom’s 80th birthday party, one angel food cake to use up the egg whites I had left over from the tortes’ butter cream frosting, and cupcakes (from a mix, if that counts) for my son’s 18th birthday on the 17th. I have to make another cake from scratch today for a family celebration of his birthday. Then tomorrow I have to bake something for a church bake sale. Way too much sugar in my life! I need to bake something that is not sweet! I think the crackers would fit the bill.

  2. Grace Says:

    How do you make those pancakes?

  3. lessisenough Says:

    Yes, I’ll see if I can get the good cracker recipe. She said there was a bit of trial and error before she got the good ones, one recipe she tried (from Moosewood I think) she said made hockey pucks.

  4. lessisenough Says:

    The pancakes are a really basic buttermilk pancake recipe from an old plaid Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (I think ’70ish? some time when people thought an entirely turquoise kitchen was a good idea) that I add whole frozen cranberries and frozen sliced peaches. I usually chop the sliced peaches into smaller pieces also. I think I’ve chopped the cranberries in the past but this time I left them whole, and I liked it better.

    I don’t have the cookbook handy but I’ll try to do from memory…

    1-1/4 cups flour (I use 3/4 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup white)
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt (recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon, I cut in half)
    1 Tablespoon sugar (or 2 maybe? either would probably be fine)

    1 Tablespoon cooking oil (recipe calls for 2 Tbsp but it’s just as good with half, I use canola oil)
    1 lightly beaten egg
    1 cup buttermilk (I use 1/4 cup of dried buttermilk powder mixed in with the dry ingredients plus 1 cup of water for the liquid)

    frozen or fresh chopped fruit and/or nuts — you can use blueberries, peaches, cranberries, banana, pecans, walnuts, etc. Amount is flexible, I probably use slightly less than a cup. (Not entirely sure about that, though; I just kind of add some and mix it up and decide if it looks okay. It doesn’t really matter.)

    Sift together dry ingredients. Mix together milk (or water, if using dry buttermilk), oil, and egg and combine with dry ingredients, stirring just to combine. Batter will be slightly lumpy. You can stir the fruit and nuts directly into the batter, which is what I do with the banana pecan version and the cranberry peach version, or you can drop the fruit on to the pancake as it’s cooking, which is what I do with blueberries. If you mix blueberries directly, your batter will turn blue. Which may be a good thing, but maybe not what you’re looking for. Up to you.

    I cook in a seasoned cast-iron frying pan. I use a little bit of butter or bacon grease melted in the pan for the first batch, and then the rest are fine without adding any more fat. I think a nonstick pan or griddle would work the same way. You want to make sure the pan is not but not too hot, otherwise the bottom will burn before the center cooks.

    I use a quarter cup measure to drop the batter on to the pan. When you start seeing bubbles form on the top of the pancake, lift up the bottom to see if it’s the right shade of brown. If it is, flip the pancake and brown the other side. Put the cooked pancakes on a plate in a warm oven to keep toasty while you cook the rest of the batter. Serve hot with butter and syrup. Save what you don’t eat and put in a plastic bag in the fridge for snacks later.

    My favorite combinations are banana pecan or cranberry peach. Blueberry is nice in the summer with fresh blueberries.

  5. Susanne Says:

    Just wanted to reassure you that the time you DO spend writing this blog is appreciated. I have no idea at all why I’m so fascinated by what someone I have never met has bought and eats, but I am. Your blog is inspiring as well as entertaining; you make me think about what I buy, what I eat. And a little extra thinking is never a bad thing. Have a great weekend!

  6. Lorrie Says:

    To Grace: If you don’t have buttermilk or buttermilk powder, you can substitute 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice and add enough milk to make a cup. Baking soda needs something acidic to react, either buttermilk or milk that is acidified with vinegar or lemon juice works well. It may not taste exactly the same but it’s pretty close.

  7. Lorrie Says:

    To Rebecca: Thanks. I will look forward to the cracker recipe. I have the Moosewood Cookbook, but haven’t tried a cracker recipe from it. The Moosewood Cookbook minestrone recipe, however, is absolutely my favorite, and it is completely vegetarian!

  8. lessisenough Says:

    Heard back from Bryant and she said the really good cracker recipe is the cream cracker recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I don’t have that cookbook but through the magic of The Google, found this link

    http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/12/parmesan-cream-crackers

    which is reportedly an improved version.

    It’s funny that the improved version has parmesan because when I ate Bryant’s, I said they reminded me of some rosemary parmesan crackers I had recently eaten (Stonewall Kitchen — good but $6+ a box, yikes, they better be good). So I think the parmesan would definitely be a good addition. So seems like that would be worth trying. Or you could stick with the original.

  9. Lorrie Says:

    Thank you for this. I will try it this week since I have all the ingredients. I think these would go great with minestrone soup, too! I’m not surprised that the recipe comes from the smitten kitchen website. That’s the same one I provided the link to for the granola bars. She has lots of wonderful recipes. I might try it with half whole wheat flour. I’ll let you know how they turn out. I don’t have a food processor, so I’ll use my pastry cutter. We’ll see…

  10. Abby Says:

    I wanted to report my own frugal experience from this weekend. I bought a Bean soup mix for $2.29 (Hurst’s 15 Bean, Ham&Been brand) and added a 15 oz can stewed tomatoes for .79 cent. It made 3 quarts of delicious soup!

    Amazing to think I could almost live on $3.00 for a week.

  11. Lorrie Says:

    Well, I made the crackers and the Moosewood minestrone soup today. I made the crackers with half whole wheat flour and Parmesan cheese. I used my pastry cutter to blend the flour, butter and cheese. They were about as thick (from what I could see) as the ones on the smitten kitchen website. I think in the future I would try to roll them thinner and use less cheese. I am not a huge lover of Parmesan all by itself. The thinnest ones were the crispiest and I like crispy. I might also try making them without the cheese. I liked the whole wheat flour variation. Another possibility would be to make them with cheddar cheese. It was a fun experiment and I would definitely make them again. I love that there are no strange sounding ingredients in these crackers as there are in many boxed crackers. They definitely went well with the minestrone soup.


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