Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A most delicious and nutritious Cabbage Soup

I have made so many variations of cabbage soup. Because of the high vitamin C content I made it often when I did the diet on the Food Stamp Budget.

I was repeatedly asked for the recipe...and I had none as I tended to use what was in the house or the garden. There were enormous variations and they were all good.

I finally got over my cabbage fatigue and decided to tackle a huge pot of it and create an actual recipe.

I needed to practice chopping with my left hand and spent most of the day on the vegetables with this one. (Long story, but I've limited use of my right hand at the moment)

A food processor will save time however and if you have one and are pressed go ahead and use it. One can also use frozen vegetables.

This is a huge pot of soup and it makes at least 12 more than ample portions. The total cost is not bad. It is under 20 for the pot and there is so much soup to eat and freeze.

It is also HIGHLY nutritious with one cup giving you all the C you need for one day. This version is vegetarian, however if you have meat stock and want to use it feel free. In fact you can vary it any way you like.

1 large cabbage shredded
Half bunch celery finely diced
4 onions chopped
1 head garlic chopped
2 green pepper finely chopped
1 large bunch of swiss chard with the leaves shredded and the stalks finely chopped
1 large cauliflower chopped
1 lb. green beans cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 small cans of crushed tomatoes
6 eggs
Olive Oil
2 gallons of water

In your largest stockpan slowly saute the onion, celery, and green pepper. In New Orleans this is known as the holy trinity and it makes a great flavorful base for your soup.

Let it simmer for a while until the onion begins to caramelize. Then add in the chopped head of garlic and continue to stir as it develops it's aroma. When the garlic is soft add two gallons of water or stock.

When it comes to a boil turn it to simmer and add the tomatoes and cabbage. Simmer for an hour and then dump in all the other ingredients.

Now you start to season. Do NOT be shy with the salt. You will need a bit of it, keep adding til it tastes right and then put in about a tablespoon of all the other seasonings and taste, taste, taste and make any adjustments you like.

When all the vegetables are tender bring back to a boil and whisk in the raw egg. It will cook in strings and give you much needed protein and B vitamins.

Serve with bread, popovers or whatever you have.

Make often over the winter season to keep your bodies brimming with good nutrition.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apologies and a Mahmudiye Recipe

I must apologize to my faithful readers that I ended this week early. I will post some more budget recipes including a super soup that is nutritionally loaded.

My world exploded early this week with phone calls, meetings, interviews etc. and I just could not manage to keep tracking and posting.

Another Turkish dish.
I was a lucky man, to be visiting Istanbul at the time of the year when every night ended with a feast as we broke fast, I probably had the best possible food in every household I was in. 
When I was told we were being served chicken with grapes my stomach did a turn. It did not sound good at all.
However Mustafa was quite excited about sharing this dish with me so being a culinary detective I asked if I might come early and watch him prepare it. 
“Yes my brother, we will make it together.” 
I have reduced his quantities as he was making it for 18 people, however the proportions are quite right and I encourage you to try this odd sounding recipe. 
Because when it comes to chicken with grapes my brother Mustafa knows his stuff. He told me that he typically makes this dish for a small crowd he uses boneless, skinless chicken cut into cubes. Feel free to bone your chicken.
I prefer it cooked on the bone, but hacked. I find a butcher who can do a Chinese duck cut for the chicken so it is in very small pieces. 1 hacked chicken serves six amply.
1 chicken cut into little pieces with or without bones, skin removed and saved
2+1 tbsp butter
30 pearl onions, peeled (Listen to Sandra Lee for once in your life and buy them frozen, they are a pain to peel)
12 dry apricots finely chopped
30 seedless grapes
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1-teaspoon cinnamon
3 ounces slivered almonds
Saute the chicken in 2/3 of the butter in a Dutch oven. When brown add the pearl onions, the apricots, the honey, the lemon juice the broth and some salt and pepper. Put a lid on it and cook for about 40 minutes, make sure it is done. When fully cooked sprinkle on the cinnamon and stir again.
Warm the rest of the butter in a pan and toast the almonds and the grapes. Spoon the chicken to a serving dish and garnish with almonds and grapes. 
6 very nice servings at 465 calories each.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Part 2 Day 5

Coffee with cream .34
Grapes .70

Not a complete breakfast by any means. Have I told you that this has been a mad busy week and I am eating for speed; during the day anyway.

Lunch was cabbage soup and a Vietnamese baguette with a sausage. I pulled the soup from the freezer and had a lot of it...delicious.
Sausage .99
Soup 1.24
Bread .25
Total 2.48
Once I total my week I think this indulgence will be okay.

Today's recipe: Spaghetti with chicken livers

There is a Tuscan dish made with spaghetti, pancetta, chicken liver and cream. I was not in the mood for anything creamy so I made my own version and it was incredibly delicious.  Serves 4

8 ounces spaghetti .76
1 lb chicken livers .99
4 bunches green onions 1.00
4 cups Swiss chard finely chopped 1.69
1 head of garlic chopped .25
Olive oil
Splash of pasta water, stock or white wine if you have it.
Garnish of parsley or basil if you have it.

Put your water on to boil. Clean your liver in water and cut off any fatty or spongy bits. Section into bite sized pieces.

Salt your liver and put a splash of olive oil into the pan. When the oil is very hot sear the outside of the liver (Do NOT overcook) they should still be rare inside. Remove and lower heat, add another splash of oil and the chopped garlic, saute very low while the pasta cooks.

Drain pasta and turn the heat up on the garlic, Toss in the chard and the pasta and toss. Add a splash of water, wine or stock and then the chopped scallion and the chicken liver. Toss together and serve with a bit of garnish if you have it.

This along with the cabbage soup gave me close to a home run for my daily nutrition. Chicken liver is an inexpensive protein source that is loaded in a good way. As for $$ 1.17 per serving.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Part 2 Day 4

For Breakfast

Coffee with cream .34
Grapes (about 8 oz) .70

I wanted more to eat but needed to time my food for a dinner with a friend who eats dinner 3 hours earlier than is my custom.

For lunch I had a leftover quail. 1.41

Dinner was a different story. I prepared a meal at a friend's house. A Sezchaun pork dish. He had purchased the ingredients but it was not an expensive dish to make. I cost it out and it fits the food stamp budget when preparing for 4. It may be cheaper for Asian families who will have some of the ingredients in house.

8 ounces of pork (any cheap cut) shoulder can be had at 2.99 a pound or 1.50
ginger root .25
Soy sauce
Baby Bok Choy (1 lb) .79 at Asian markets
Scallions .33
Sweet Red pepper .99
Fermented black beans .25 (A jar will cost about .99 and you use 1/4 jar)
Hot pepper
Rice .20

Marinate the pork for about an hour in soy with ginger grated or diced.

Get a wok or pan very hot with oil, it should just begin to smoke. Toss in pork and stir to brown and cook. When done add in the vegetables holding back the scallions. When vegetables are hot throw in the black beans and scallions and a few tosses with the spatula and you are ready to serve with rice. 1.07 per serving.

To bump the nutrition higher feel free to augment with other vegetables, chard will give you E, Carrots A.

1, 252 calories.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget part 2 day 3

'Twas a busy day. I began with coffee and berries.
Coffee with cream .34
Blackberries .99

Then shopping. I would encourage any of you on a budget to seek out ethnic stores in your area if you have them. Often deals can be found that won't be in the grocery chains. I found 6 qail (frozen) on sale for 5.99. That makes them 1.00 per bird. Quail on a food stamp budget? Yes!

For lunch I had a Polish Keilbasa with some cheese and a tortilla. All rolled up it tasted great but I should have had an apple or something with it.

Tortilla. 20
Cheese .31
Keilbasa .99
Total 1.50

Quail for 6
6 Quail 5.99
1 Lemon .20
1 bunch Rosemary .69
Garlic clove diced
Bunch Chinese broccoli .80
4 carrots .80
Rice for 6 .20
Total 1.41 per serving

Take the quail and marinate them in the lemon with the rosemary, salt and a little garlic for a few hours or overnight.

Sear the quail in a very hot pan or wok with a little oil remove when crisp but still pink at the bone. Toss in the vegetables and a little soy sauce if you like stir til crisp tender and serve with quail and rice.

A meal like this will not make you feel that you are on a budget.

I did okay on nutrition but way too low on calories.
1,233 calories.

Below is a recipe sent by my sister Elaine. Saurkraut in addition to being a wonderful tasty food is filled with probiotics and very healthy to eat.

Put about 4 lbs of sauerkraut (never on sale, but usually about $1.10 per pound) in a colander with and fill with cold water. Repeat after the water drains  - 2 or three times.

Fry about ½ a pound of the cheapest fattiest bacony stuff you can find in the biggest pan you have with a couple of onions. Remove bacon when it is crisp.

Squeeze water out of sauerkraut and add to the bacon fat. Stir. Repeat until all sauerkraut is added.

Add a big bottle of the cheapest vermouth you can find to the sauerkraut mixture.  And the crumbled bacon. Also add (wrapped in cheesecloth – if you don’t have cheesecloth add an ounce or two of gin, eliminate the juniper berries, and be prepared to scrounge out the bay leaves -  10-20 juniper berries, a couple of bay leaves, some thyme, and whatever else works well with pork and sauerkraut. Now add the pork you’ve purchased on the cheap.  I’ve got some chops at $1.49 per lb. (family pack on sale compared to $3.99 today), brats at $1.99 per pound, ham at $.089 per pound, and ribs at $.089 per pound.

Cook for a day or two or three. Serve with boiled potatoes and a green, green salad. Maybe some tomatoes.

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Part 2 Day 3

I had a lot going on today and I did something I typically do not do. Unconscious eating.

I had people coming in and out and had the rest of the bread with goat cheese bit by bit by bit by bit along with a black plum, and far too much tea. I had to count the bags.
Coffee with cream .34
6 cups of tea .18
Bread .44
Goat Cheese .50
Total 1.46

Then later after the last of the work men left I had some of the salami.

No proper lunch. I did not get to thinking about the gym until late in the day and I had a proper lunch at 5:00, some of the pork from Monday.
With Rice 1.24

Of course even though I had something ready to cook for dinner I was not hungry and waited until the only reasonable thing to eat was popcorn with butter.
Popcorn .11
Butter .30
Total .41

The bottom line is that my day was a nutrition and caloric disaster. However I did promise a recipe a day that fits the budget and this is one that does it. It links you to the basic congee recipe. When you have only bits and scraps in the house at the end of the month this soup will take them all. Think if like stone soup. There is almost nothing you can put in it that will ruin it. Any bit of vegetable meat or flavor just makes it better. You can use up all the bits in the refrigerator and depending on what those bits are it can be highly nutritious.

Back to mine...2,066 calories with this to show for it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Part 2 Day 2

I will add up my totals at the end of the week, since this is a short term 2nd project. I will continue to give the price per meal.

I know I am eating less than I can and am going to consciously eat more. I understand why; it is the same fear someone who is using a snap card has, the fear of running out before the end of the month. I don't want to exhaust my funds before the end of the week so I am buying and consuming consciously.

Before I made coffee I started some bread. I did a yogurt,yeast, flour and sugar starter with warm water and let it bubble while I got my breakfast.

Coffee with cream .34
A huge black plum .50
Salami (yes I made it myself and it was just dry enough to slice).30
Cheese .31
Total 1.45

I ended up making a baguette of a sort out of the starter and had about 1/3 of it (still warm) for lunch with some Goat Cheese and a fresh tomato.
Goat Cheese .25 (1 oz)
Tomato .20
Baguette .22

Dinner...Pistachio Pesto with vegetables for 4.

Before I give you this recipe please make substitutions, no basil, use parsley, no snow peas, use cabbage or broccoli. Recipes are just blueprints and I don't want you to think you can't make a substitution. It will come out great with whatever ingredient tweaking you might make.

1 cup pistachios 2.50
Thai Basil 1/2 bunch .55
Olive oil about 4 tablespoons (part of the .33 daily)

Pulse in food processor. That's it your pasta sauce is ready.

Chop 4 roma tomatoes for garnish .80
Put on water to boil and ad 8 ounces of pasta .76
Ready 4 cups of vegetables I used pea pods and shoots 1.00

Put the pesto in a warm bowl and the vegetables in the pasta water for the final minute or so to cook with the pasta. Temper the pesto with a little pasta water, drain, toss and top with chopped tomato. You have a fresh, gorgeous meal. This comes to 1.41 per serving. With all the vegetables the serving appears massive but is reasonable on the calorie scale.
II know I have the funds so I will try to eat more and see how close I can come to maxing out my nutrition tomorrow. 1,412 calories.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp budget Part 2 Day 1

I learned that everyone else began this yesterday and my pledge is off for one day.

I have always marched to the beat of a different drummer so today it is.

I begin the day with 4.39 and get an e mail that includes some critical comments from someone named hungry girl. I won't quote her as someone was re-blogging her notes and I can't find her blog.

However her complaints if I understand them correctly are that I ate too much fresh food during the two months I did this originally and I did not mention Smart and Final as a source for cheap food, specifically their mixed bag of apples and oranges for 5.99 at 5 lbs.

After my breakfast of
Coffee .34 (with cream cost)
Rice (leftover)
Chinese broccoli .23
2 poached eggs .20
Blueberries .99
Total 1.76

I set out for Smart and Final. IF you buy huge quantities of certain foods of uncertain provenance there are a few deals here. They advertise heavily that they take WIC and EBT (food stamp) cards and then they proceed to overcharge for many items.

Roma tomatoes at .99 per pound range from .33 to .79 at cheaper stores.

Their big flyer touts bananas at .50 per pound but around the corner they are .39.

That mixed bag of fruit the poor girl lives on was disgusting. Red Delicious (They are red) and Granny Smith apples and naval oranges. All obviously from cold storage and not fresh looking at 1.20 a pound very overpriced.

At stores right around the corner I found a lot of fresh local fruit for .99 a pound, black plums, grapes, Nectarines, white peaches, Kiwi, and Pluots.

Stupid and Overpriced, not smart and final.For poor girl's sake I hope whatever area she is living in opens up soon with a better option than this store.

I had a doctor's appointment so I had more snack than lunch. A soft pretzel I had baked yesterday with extra cayenne and onion powder and some cheese.
Pretzel (Ingredient based) .22
Cheese 1.5 ounce .46
Tea .03
Total .71

I set out to make a highly nutritious dinner for 4. This recipe is open to total interpretation. If you have soy sauce, hot pepper, and any kind of basil you can make a reasonable facsimile.

Twice cooked Sezchaun pork with vegetables

1/2 pound pork finely chopped 1.95
1/2 bunch Thai Basil .55
1 large onion .20
Ginger root sliced .22
Thai pepper .07 (3 are enough, or some cayenne if you don't have fresh hot peppers)
1 lb. Green beans cut into thirds .79
1/2lb Chinese Broccoli .40
12 small Garden Zucchini .10
Garden Swiss chard .10
1 large carrot sliced .20
Seasonings include garlic, sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce or an anchovy if you have it. 4.58 total divided by 4 is 1.14.

You can use the toughest cheapest cut of pork. I used some shoulder (Berkshire Heirloom organic, thus the 3.99 pound price). Chop the pork into small pieces or give it a quick grind in the food processor.

Put in a very hot pan to brown. When brown add in 1 cup water a sprinkle of sugar and about 1/4 cup of soy sauce. While it is simmering add in the ginger, hot peppers and chopped garlic. Let simmer til tender and filled with flavor. With a slotted spoon remove the pork leaving behind any liquid and fat.

Get a wok or a large pan sizzling hot. Toss in the onions when they just begin to soften add the rest of the vegetables, when they are hot toss in the pork mixture, mix thoroughly and taste, add more soy if needed.

Serve with rice, noodles or in lettuce cups.

With my 1.14 meal I had .10 worth of rice making my evening total 1.24. Under budget and the variety of vegetables boosted my nutrition to a decent level.

Keep in mind that you can use ANY vegetables you can get at a good price. 

Tomorrow we will use the rest of the basil.

I had 1,453 calories but did not spend every dime so I could have eaten more, however I feel quite satisfied.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp budget with a new Agenda

Dear Readers,

Next week people are being challenged all over the country to live on 4.72 a day. This is the recently adjusted figure that the average food stamp recipient has to live on.

The two months I committed to the original food stamp project were physically and mentally exhausting. Since more than one of you has challenged me to do it again and for only one week I will take it on.

However I won't just list what I eat and nutrition content, I will daily publish a recipe that will attempt to pack as much nutrition into the dish as possible.

Again I will deduct .33 for oil and seasonings in house. This gives me 1.46 per meal. For that extra .23 I am going to look purposefully for foods that will bump up the nutrition content so that what I share can be used by any family or person struggling with balancing $$ and nutrition.

I have regained 3 of the 7 lbs I lost on the original project and I am feeling quite well. I can do this.

I give anyone and everyone permission to re-print or re-blog any recipe I come up with this week if you can share it with someone whom it might help.

For those who want to read the original journey begin at July 1.

I am also going to put a shout out to my big sister who is on a tight budget with her daughter and an excellent chef. Elaine if you have a recipe to share, send it to me and we can add it to the collection.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Dear Abby of the Food World

I am sharing this very sweet letter in it's entirety as well as the recipes and budget I came up with.

Dear Karl,

I know you are not the Dear Abby of the Food World but I am hoping you can help.

I am a student and my husband has finished school and is working now. We have no money as you can guess.

His family is Italian and his mother has welcomed us into their home many times for some amazing meals in the past year since we were married. Friends gave us the nicest plank dining table which we normally use as my desk with dining corner but in a fit of madness (I was drunk) I invited my in laws to dinner and now I have less than a week to prepare. With the whole family I am cooking for 8.

In the pantry I have ramen and some great olive oil my husband's Uncle sent over from Tuscany and I made the idiot mistake of asking my father in law what is favorite foods were and he said Veal and started naming all the veal dishes he loves.

My husband says they will be happy with spaghetti, garlic and oil and not to worry but I am worried.

We set a budget of 25.00 and how am I going to feed 8 people for 25.00 but since you are good at budgets can you help?

Who could say no to this stressed and breathless woman? Not me.

First of all, relax. If they invite you over often they probably like you and they would be happy with a bowl of pasta. Every Italian I know is happy with a pasta, but I understand you want to do more, but let's keep it simple.

Have you ever been to a hotel brunch buffet? The ads always show crab legs on ice but when you get there the first table is always bread and pastry and bagels and you can't resist. Then when you finally get your 5th plate you turn the corner and finally you spot the crab, but you are so stuffed you barely take anything.

Learn from the hotels. Fill 'em with cheap carbs and then bring out the meat.

Ask for help. Say to your Mother in law..."You always serve the nicest wine, I've no idea what to serve to you can you give me some advice?

She will offer to bring the wine, let her.

Call up the other guests when someone asks if they can bring anything ask for a dessert. People love to bring things, allow them to help.

Now let's plan a meal.

You are going to need.
Bread 1.99
Garlic 1.00
Chickpeas .99
2 lbs pasta 2.50
1 bunch swiss chard 1.99
2 lbs veal stew meat 14.00
1 large can peeled tomatoes 1.49
4 carrots .79
4 celery stalks .99
2 onion .40
Bottle cooking wine 2.00
Total 28.14 In full retail San Francisco prices. Careful shopping can probably bring this down a bit. Can you make it work?

Puree the chickpeas with a little oil and garlic, a touch of salt and some red pepper flakes and serve with thinly sliced bread. Easy.

Make two pounds of spaghetti with garlic and oil and put in the chopped swiss chard. Serve family style.

Now a Tuscan Veal Stew
2 lbs veal stew meat, cut into small cubes and dry the meat.
4 carrots
4 celery stalks
4 onions all cut into pieces.
2 garlic cloves chopped
A little fresh or dried Rosemary if you have it
1 can tomatoes chopped
Bottle of Red (two buck chuck is a fine cooking wine)
Olive oil, salt and pepper.
Warm the olive oil and brown the meat. Then toss in the garlic, onion and vegetables. Saute for a few minutes then the wine and tomatoes. Let it reduce a little. Cover the saucepan and cook very gently until the meat is tender, about two hours.

It is that simple. Your guests will be carb filled and a small portion is all they will need. You might even get the veal for less, ask your butcher.

If you can squeeze out a few more dollars add a salad.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Simplicity of Sauce

There is a discussion today on the Huffington Post that began as a criticism of 'celebrity' sauces.

Outraged people are appalled at the suggestion that they make a sauce because the readers need to know THEIR TIME IS VALUABLE and they should not be criticized for paying 8 dollars for a jar of Mario's or Rau's sauce.

Can we criticize them for being unable to think beyond the tomato?

As Julia Child once said..."If you have butter, you have a sauce." she was speaking of fish but the same can be said of pasta.

Yesterday I was back and forth in e mail with friends who live in Italy asking for recipes, suggestions for a pizza oven and sharing memories.

For dinner I felt like having a pasta. I had a little bit of a lot of things and made the most wonderful sauce. I will share the recipe, but I would encourage you to do the same, make your own when you have a little bit of a lot of things. I foraged in the garden, the cupboards and the refrigerator and the resulting pesto was so delicious I would make it again on purpose.

1/2 cup fresh peas
A few mint leaves
A handful of basil
A few sage leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup smoked almonds
3 garlic cloves
1 tomato chopped
A handful of swiss chard

All the ingredients were put in the food processor and made into a pasta and then into a bowl. I cooked the pasta (penne) and tossed it with the chard (uncooked but the hot pasta wilted it) and garnished with the chopped fresh tomato.

Both of us were much happier with this dish than we would have been at a BBQ eating a bad hot dog.

Think beyond the tomato and see what you can create.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mushroom Carbonara

After a few days of eating the simplest, easiest foods I realized that I was really not eating enough. While broccoli, nectarines, tomatoes and cucumbers were good for me.

How do I put this gently. I have reached an age where one has to choose between the face and the waist. While doing my ear hair check (yes men do this, some of us obsessively) I realized that I was looking a little haggard. Time for a pasta.

I didn't want bacon, so I created a vegetarian version of this classic.

This recipe is for one or eight servings. Just add more of each ingredient per serving.

1 cup mushrooms
1/4 sliced onion
1 egg
1 ounces grated Parmesan
Black pepper
A little salt
Pasta water
Olive Oil
2 oz pasta (Fettuccine is nice but any pasta you have will work)

Beat your egg and cheese in a small bowl. Grate some black pepper and add a little salt into the mix. Put your water on to boil and saute your mushrooms in olive oil. I like the mushrooms to cook way down and get a little brown on them, when they reach that point I add the onion and saute until soft.

Before draining your pasta reserve some of the water, it may be needed as part of your sauce.

Pour the drained pasta into the mushroom/onion mix and toss over heat until well blended. TURN HEAT OFF. If you leave it on you may scramble your eggs.

Take a few tablespoons of the pasta water and beat it into your egg mix. Gently begin to slowly pour the egg over the pasta and mushrooms and toss. Add more water if needed.

When pasta is fully coated, serve. More cheese can be added. A little parsley from the garden is also a nice touch.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Somtimes a tomato need be nothing more than a tomato

If you search the archives you will find a plethora of recipes from over the years. Those of you who came here to read about he Food Stamp Budget you can begin on July 1 and read as much as you like.

I have gotten many of your e-mail encouraging me to get back to recipe creation and posting and I will, but I am finding that this week my tastes are very simple.

I have found myself eating rather an enormous amount of fruits and vegetables, not with pasta, in a soup or with rice.

Yesterday breakfast I dined on a nectarine and toast, lunch was at a Chinese restaurant and a huge plate of vegetables, no rice.

Dinner was a 22 oz. tomato. I sliced it and it filled a large dinner plate. I scattered a few capers and some sliced olives on it, gave it a light sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of oil and dined.

There is no dish I could have created that would have improved in any way upon that incredible tomato.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back on a Regular budget with new awareness

The day after the event I was so tired. I had a little bit of some of the leftovers but no proper meal. I thought I would have duck and red wine and a feast and I just wasn't into it.

I ate less food for so long the idea of a large meal right now is sickening.

Yesterday I had bits of things but no real meal at all until dinner.

I craved broccoli. I took an entire head of broccoli, a yellow pepper and some onion and did a quick stir fry in the wok, adding in fermented black beans and hot chili garlic sauce. I had a huge bowl of spicy vegetables with no rice. It was just what I needed.

Thus far this morning I have had two nectarines and coffee. As we go forward and I can stand to proof them as recipes I will post some of the items I came up with at a low serving cost that can be shared with families struggling with this issue.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The 12 hour cookathon

Pictured Laurie R. King, Author...with me, on the left one of our wonderful volunteers from the Chef's program Ricky King (no relation)

I am so tired and so satisfied with yesterday that if asked, I would do it all over again, here or in any city that needed the help.

The biggest highlight was the generosity of the people attending. Some brought entire bags filled with food, others gave generously  with funds.

I have to give thanks to our great guests. Lucy Jane Bledsoe did reading from her new book The Big Bang Symphony, a riveting novel and one with a major character is a chef...in Antarctica. She was tremendous fun and brought dulce de leche, the caramel made in Argentina. We melted some chocolate into it and dipped berries. Later when I got a challenge of mincemeat and tomatilas I used the rest of the caramel and the above two challenge ingredients into a rice pudding, that was surprisingly tasty. Not a spoonful was left in the hall.

Alan May, a friend of mine for almost 3 decades and a brilliant artist was the one with the tomatillas. He stayed a good long time and we were able to make some nice vegetarian dishes including his favorite Penne with Pesto.

Earlier in the morning Amy Mac was there from Trader Joe's and we did a spaghetti carbonara using Trader Joe's seaweed. It was really good.

When Laurie R. King came by she did a short reading from her first Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russel novel The Beekeepers Apprentice and challenged with with Stilton, nectarines and honey. Did I make the obvious choice? No. I made a creamy stilton and nectarine sauce with honey and paired it with tortellini and pistachios. It was so good I would make it again.

I had great fun with Danny Bowein from Mission Chinese, he brought an easy challenge and a more difficult one. He makes a chili sauce at his restaurant that is unlike any I have ever had before, it contains (among other ingredients) fermented black beans, so it's spicy and savory and with the Sechaun peppercorns makes the tongue tingle. What could I do but braised pork belly with the bitter melon(the more difficult challenge)flavored with ginger, 5 spice and that amazing sauce.

He was so much fun. The Rev Dana stepped in and played interviewer for a few minutes drawing out some of his remarkable history.

Oh, my friends it was not over. We had audience challenges, David Lynch holding a wine tasting while the Rev. took over and got him talking, I stayed for part of that and took a short break. I sat down for a few minutes, heaven.

Melanie Vigh joined us, she is a chef with a fascinating history, half of her childhood in Hungary, a stint as a chef in Mexico and currently at Guerra Meats handling the deli and catering department.

She took over and I was happy to hand her the floor. She prepared the most delicious moist, sinful salmon, she gave it a short marinade, seared it, served it on a bed of cashew and grape rice with curry and topped it with mango salsa. I would say it was the best dish of the day. I just ate little bites throughout the day but if I could have kept the salmon from the crowd I would have made one of those filets mine.

Afterwards I made a mushroom risotto, the way I learned way back when in Venice and many other dishes throughout the day. A Food bank challenge to use rice and beans differently resulted in a beautiful congee, a sunflower seed lasagna..and more.

When the crowd thinned out later in the evening we had a few items still to share with the food bank from our generous donors. I got the Rev. River some opened items to use in his street ministry/food program and dropped others off and a local church that feeds a small crowd on Sunday.

A lot of people are going to be fed. When you share food, you share love. That my friends is what the world needs now.

I promised to finish up my food stamp budget log and I ask forgivness. I spend 14 hours shopping for the donated pantry items on Friday and Saturday was pretty busy as well, and I don't really remember what I ate on Friday, except a bagel at the church maybe 10 hours after breakfast.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's 9:25 and I have not eaten

I may be off to bed soon after having a bite.

Saturday the 27th from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. I will be at St. Luke's cooking for anyone and everyone who walks through the door with a donation for the food bank. Guests and members of the public will be surprising me all day with challenge ingredients. St. Luke's is located at Clay and Van Ness in the City of San Francisco.

I challenge all my readers (and they have increased dramatically since this project began)to twitter, facebook, call and e mail anyone you know in the Bay area. If you are here yourself come down and say hi. I want the coffers to overflow with donated food.

I promise to faithfully write of my last two days on this project but I just finished the pantry shopping which began 11 hours ago and I am beat.

Thanks again to Trader Joe's (Amy Mac we love you!)Grocery Outlet (West 4th on Berkeley, go there trust me your $$ will go very far)Guerro's Meats on Taravel (Come watch Chef Vigh when she joins me at 7:00)Safeway and Le Beau market in Nob Hill. Your generosity was overwhelming.

I hope to meet many of those of you who have followed me on this journey and I thank you for your e mail and comments. It takes a village and I feel very much a part of one right now.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 21

The Huffington Post article about one week of my life on this budget has hit. Read it here.

Praise and condemnation in fairly equal measure. As is typical on the net, many of the comments skimmed, rather than read and know not of what they speak. I answer a few and clarify a couple of assumptions. Despite the choice to live on this budget I am who I am. I don't apologize for that.

It is almost noon and I have only had coffee. My e-mail box overflows. Some critical, some lovely, but that is to be expected.

I finally fried the rest of the chicken I had purchased the other day. I knew it would be okay to overspend because I have an event tonight and dinner will be served.
Chicken 2.66
Garden Salad .10
This mornings coffee .30
Total 3.06

I spent the day in a meeting and the evening at the Chef's program at ECS. It was graduation night.

I talked to a lot of the students. One of the most inspirational is a woman who spent 30 years on the streets as a heroin addict. With the help of ECS she stayed clean and learned a trade. After 6 months she is ready for the job market. How can you not love people who have come from all kinds of hardship and still manage to work hard, learn a trade and do so without being bitter?

The article I referenced in the first paragraph has taken on a life of it's own. Right now I can't even begin to address all the comments and e-mails it has generated.

In two days I have to cook for 12 hours, so it is time for sleep. I will factor in the rest of my food and nutrition tomorrow.

Y'all take care now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 20

For those who are still coming here to offer help on Saturday read here.

An apple a day, it won't hurt.

Since I have begun this project I have lost 5 lbs,and despite regular workout some of it is muscle. My chest is one inch smaller.

I got my blood work back.

My sodium and potassium are out of balance causing water retention.

Despite not eating any significant sugar, my blood sugar and triglycerides are both higher than they should be.

My cholesterol, while still very low,is higher than it was and the ratio is off.

My blood count (Iron in the blood) is far too high.

While I am not fat my percentage of fat vs. muscle has increased. My body fat was at 11% and is now at 14%.

I have a lot of advantages compared to many who have no choice but to live on this budget. I am a chef, I have a garden, I had a birthday last month and meals out so my diet has had more nutrition and variance than many who have no choice but to eat the cheapest, day in and day out.

I admit to being bored by it. I am sick of many of the foods that work in this budget. I am ready for it to be over.

For many who live this way it may never be over. We have few jobs in the U.S. and the jobs we have often pay so little food is a luxury.

When I say I've walked a mile in my brother's shoes I know that my shoes have custom insoles and by comparison are more comfortable.

I begin my day with 6.78.

I still have leftover ham so I fry it with two eggs and make some Rye Toast.

Coffee .30
Ham leftover
Rye from Gail
Butter .15
2 eggs .40
Total .85

I wasn't hungry when I decided I needed a snack. I just got it into my head that I had not had any fruit yet and not much in the vegetable arena so I had two apples and peanut butter.

Apples (more fruit from Gail)
Peanut butter .21
Second pot of coffee .30
Total .51

I had no appetite for lunch but after the gym was seriously hungry. I stopped at the store on the way home and they had a polish sausage sample station. I ate several slices, pretty much enough to qualify as one link. It was good and the lady kept telling me to have more.

For dinner I added bacon, green beans, and mushrooms and the second half of yesterday's onion to some of the sauce from the other day. I barely needed pasta. That was a great meal.
Tomato Sauce (free tomatoes)
Pasta .19
Green beans .44
Mushrooms .50
Onion .10
Iced Tea .03
Total 1.26

Day Total 2.62, yet I feel as if I ate well. 1.692 calories and okay on the nutrition scale.

I carry over 4.16

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 19

I can't wait for this to be over. I am tired of cabbage, and beans, and rice and even pasta. I want smoked salmon and fresh fish and a Caesar Salad with extra anchovies. Instead I begin my day with 5.85.

I have the last of the nectarines from Cathy and a cup of coffee.
coffee .30

I am hungry, but not hungry and tired of so many things. I finally settle on a ham sandwich with ham leftover from the party. I add half an onion.

Rye From Gail
Mayo (The rest of what I made the other day)
Ham from party
Onion Half .10
3 glasses of iced tea .09

Total .19

And out I head. I have a lot of stops before the gym and eventually I am hungry. No desire to ride home so I have some pork rinds. Not a health food, but a filling one and no sugar.
Rinds .99
I do admit to liking them. Puffy fat and skin, what could be wrong?

At home I am fussy yet again not wanting what I have and I have an abundance. I finally re-heat some of the lamb with extra garlic and green beans and have it with rice and some of the red beans. I feel stuffed.
Lamb leftover
Rice .15
1/2 serving of Red Beans 1.10
Total 1.25

Day Total 2.73
Calories 1,541

Nutrition is pretty horrible for the day. 3.12 to carry over. I need to find a way to enjoy it.

I have blood work coming in that will update me on my health while walking a mile in uncomfortable shoes. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 18

I begin the day with 9.13 and feel like a millionaire.

I make a fruit salad with the fruit Cathy brought from the farm, two nectarines, a big peach, and some strawberries. I eat the whole thing with a cup of coffe, my only cost being...
Coffee .30

Then breakfast is more leftovers. I take some of the lamb left from the party and warm it stuff it in a tortilla and top with yogurt, Really good.
Lamb leftover
Yogurt .40
Tortillas .48

Total .88

I could not make it home for lunch and finally broke down and had a substandard San Francisco bagel with cream cheese.

At home I really spent my largess. I made fried chicken. I bought an organic chicken at 7.99 which will make at least 3 meals. 2.66 per.

I heavily seasoned and fried a few pieces. I am so tired of skinny bitches who roll chicken and bran cereal and pop it in the oven and say 'it is just like fried.' Those skinny bitches have not had fried chicken in decades and have forgotten what that crisp succulent taste is really like. I had it with rice and a half portion of red beans, along with the first of the zucchini from the garden. 
Rice .15
Chicken 2.66
Beans 1.10
Zucchini .10

Total 4.01

6.94 see how easy it is to double the budget when you have a few extra dollars. Would you say I had an extreme or indulgent eating day?

2,306 calories, the chicken drove me over the top.

I carry over 2.19

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 17

I begin my day with 8:71 and a house full of leftovers from yesterday's party.

For breakfast I dined on a ham salad sandwich and more of the strawberries. My only cost was
Coffee .30
Mayo (Yes, I made it myself) .20

Total .50

For lunch I had some of the cabbage soup for the nutrition hit it gives me. I had to throw out the last of the soba with cabbage and peanut sauce. The cabbage had begun to ferment. It did not smell well.
Soup .24
Iced tea .03
Noodles (food waste) .29
Total .56

I used some of my largess for a couple of treats today. Andoulle sausage to go with my red beans and a bar of amazing Belgian chocolate. Since I don't want to calculate square by square I am going to take the hit for the chocolate all at once.
Chocolate 1.99

Dinner was a great meal of sauce from the gift tomatoes, leftover turkey meatballs and pasta. My only cost was the pasta at
Plus more birthday wine.

1,623 calories

Total 3.24

I carry over 5.47...but you should know.

I made red beans today.
Onion .20
Green pepper .44
Celery .26
Red beans .50
Pinto beans .50
Andouille sausage 6.99
Rich succulent ham stock from leftover bone, both free and priceless. 

To a total of 8.89 for the pot. 

I think it is 4 nice servings and it will come to 2.22 a serving. This will kill my overage but make me very happy. Expensive but worth it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 16

Come Saturday morning I have an extra 3.11 giving me a day total of 6.77.

I begin to wonder just how many people are going to write me before this is over to tell me that poor people should not drink soda or buy a birthday cake for their child.

You see, you can get a generic mix for under a dollar making the cost of the cake under 2.00 and because the poor are clearly lazy they buy cakes at Costco which is a waste of public funds.


Is that really such a big deal?

Our government gives billions to private contractors to set up our wars. We give billions to the oil companies the most profitable in the word and there are those among you who really worry about whether a poor person bakes or buys a cake?

Okay...so I had breakfast. More delicious strawberries from Gail. Then more of the rice and beans from last night with extra cheese and more fresh tortillas.
Rice and Beans Leftover
Strawberries gift
Cheese .31
Coffee. 30
Chips .40
Total 1.01

For lunch I had cabbage soup.
Soup .24
Iced tea .03
Total .27

And off to the party. I catered the party and at 5:00 took off my jacket and transitioned to guest. Except for carving the meat I was pretty much done.

I ate very little. The stuffed potatoes with the cheese and bacon were good and I had a few. Some ham right off the bone, a little leg of lamb, one glass of wine and one of champagne. I did not even taste the rest of the food. It wasn't until the party was over that I began to get hungry. I went back for more ham. A really good ham is addictive.

When I got home and made popcorn with butter as a before bed snack.

Butter .30
Popcorn .11
Iced Tea .03
Total .44

1,944 calories. Total 1.72.
I have an extra 5.05 for tomorrow.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2, Day 15

I begin with 5.76. I love free food.

Today a bit thanks goes to Amy Mac at Trader Joe's in Stonestown who arranged for Trader Joe's to be a very generous sponsor of the event on the 27th. 

Breakfast is a few of Gail's strawberries, coffee, a few bites of chorizo and cabbage soup.

Coffee .30
Chorizo 0.00
Strawberries 0.00
Cabbage soup .24
Total .54
I made the cabbage soup ahead of time and her is the cost breakdown.

Small cabbage .92
Onion .20
2 tomatoes .40
Bulk Lentils .46
Chicken stock .40

Total for pot 2.38 and I have at least 10 servings. So I gave it .24 a serving.

I ran home for an rich and delicious lunch. Spaghetti carbonara with two eggs and 3 slices of bacon. With 1/2 cup frozen peas.

2 eggs .40
Spaghetti .19
3 slices bacon .66
Parm .37 for one ounce
Peas .25

Apple from Gail 0.00.

My calories may end up through the roof. Thanks to Virgin Mobile's LACK of customer service department I spent much of last night on hold. First I fried fresh corn tortillas and turned them into chips that I ate with Rick's Salsa. I ate a lot of chips. Finally once customer service disconnected me with no resolution I made a Mexican thing with a Chinese cooking technique.

Wok fried rice and beans. WOW...this was good eats.

Chips (10 tortillas) .40
Rice leftover
Beans .50
Cheese .31
Salsa gift
Total 1.21

2,027 calories. Total 2.65

A pretty strong showing in the nutrition department. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Living on A Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 14

See that cute puppet. It is from the Grocery Depot,one of our sponsors for the event on the 27th. They will all be featured in this space as we move forward.
I begin may day with 3.20 and a cup of coffee.

In addition I toast some of the pide from yesterday and have it with butter.

Breakfast total .45

And I was off. I had to get to Sausilito to head to the Farm Market to get supplies for a party I am catering Saturday.

I am doing a party for Gail's mother and I did the prep at her house, she bought extra food so I made BLT's for lunch. Rye, amazing tomatoes, Great bacon, crisp lettuce and Cilantro pesto. Wow! Great lunch and my cost.

All day long as I did the prep I had a bite of this, a taste of that. I just spend 45 minutes detailing the ingredients and amounts on fitday. I spent more time tracking the food, than eating it.

Gail is like my Jewish big sister. Otherwise she would be Jewish mother. All day long she kept putting things in a bag for me to take home. I get home and there is a bounty of riches, strawberries from the market this morning the rest of the Rye bread, apples and some of the turkey meatballs I had made for her dinner.

I feel like a fat pig.

I used those meatballs and made a little sauce with pasta. Big meal for 9:00 p.m. (It was a long day)

Sauce (from fresh tomatoes).45
Total .64
Day Total 1.10

This leaves me with 2.10 to carry over into the morrow and a lot of food given to me.

I only hope that at least some of the families struggling with a food stamp budget have friends who upon occasion load them up with turkey meatballs and strawberries.

My painstakingly calculated calories are 2,083.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 13

I begin my day with 3.83. I am wakened by a phone, but I am hungry so I prepare breakfast quietly and wait for the call to be over before I start chomping down. Liver, bacon and onion Sandwich. AWESOME.

Coffee .30
Grapes .40
Toast .69
Liver .57
1/2 onion .20
2 slices bacon .44
Total 2.60

I run into a friend at the store and his wife bakes, she comes running in with a loaf of pide, which she is baking for Ramadan. Fresh warm bread. Yea!
Lunch Free Bread

I cooked some meat ahead and heavily spiced it, it turned into a sort of a taco. 

Meat .72
Tortillas .16
Cheese .31
Tomatoes .20
Yogurt .20
Onion .10
Total 1.69

4.29 Even at only two real meals I go over. I am now .46 over again.

I have gotten so bad with this budget I really should consider running for congress.

A confession must be made. Despite my heavy calorie consumption yesterday I forgot to include the wine in my calculations. I am adding it to today's calories. In addition there was one glass still in the bottle which I had tonight.

This gives me 1,981 calories, and fairly rotten nutrition except for my Iron.

Tomorrow I am in Marin prepping for a party so I've no idea what I will be eating. I've planned ahead with a soup for when I get home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 12

I have 3.49 to begin.

Strange morning, strange dreams. When I awake I have only coffee. I get lost in  email and Julia Child on u-tube and it is noon before I have breakfast.

I got more grapes at .99 a pound but eat only a few. I have toast eggs and bacon, more expensive bacon than before. I got lazy and bought it at Safeway.

Coffee .30
Toast .69
2 eggs .40
3 slices of bacon .66
Grapes .19
Total 2.24

I have almost blown my daily budget.

But good news comes SF Foodie has published one of the articles. Read it and link it anywhere you can think of.

For lunch I had only some of yesterday's mock congee.
2 cups .38

I raced home from the gym and made a quick pasta. I was hungry but I did take the time to cut some chard in the garden and wash it while the water boiled.

Garlic, oil, chard. Bliss.

Chard. 10
Pasta .19
Total .29

But the evening is not over a friend drops by with wine. I have to offer something and the usual things I might offer are not in the house. So I make popcorn with butter. It is great with Italian wine.

Popcorn .11
Butter .30
Total .41
Total 3.32

And I total my day. I have .17 in the positive column to take into tomorrow. YEA!

When I began I had no real idea how difficult this would be. By buying some thins in bulk and some things daily I am making it work, but I will be so happy when it is over. I cannot imagine trying to do this for a whole family and telling a child that we can only afford for him or her to have two cups of soup for lunch.

I had 2,289 calories. Quite a few for so little food. It was the butter ,oil, and white bread. And it's okay. This was my former normal, although obtained via healthier means.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Living on A Food Stamp Budget Day 11

Busy busy day. I will save some of the details for the Huffington Post. I began my diary this morning as a food informant.

I begin my day with 3.29.
I made dirty rice for breakfast, a whole lot of seasoning the chicken I had picked from the bones and rice. It cost .92 to make but I ate only half.
Dirty Rice .46
Coffee .30
Total .76

I ate a portion of the soba noodles with peanut sauce before leaving the house. Cheap lunch .29.

I came home from an interview with SF Foodie and a gym trip HUNGRY. I had a can of cream of chicken soup left on my doorstep with a note. This item is always in stock at the local food pantry, not surprising as it is the kind of thing people would donate. I am asked to work with it and come up with a recipe. For my Asian neighbor I knew Tuna noodle casserole would not do. It was soup so I made soup...a congee lite.

Leftover dirty rice .46
Stock from yesterday .40
Chard from the garden .10
Total for the pot .96.

Per cup that came to .19
I had 3 cups.
Total .57

And onto dinner I took 3 ounces of the Halal beef some broccoli, some pea shoots and rice.
Meat .72
Broccoli .88
Rice .15
Pea shoot .09
Total 1.84

The beef was some of the best I have had and the meal came together beautifully. I am afraid of what my day total will be.
Total 3.46

I reduced my deficit down to .17. I will make it. I have to say that this meal made me feel really good.

My calories came in at 1,573 with about half of them from the rice. I had a lot of rice today. But so what, it is calories that make you fat not carbohydrates. Trust me when I tell you at this calorie level I am not carrying extra weight around.

I am happy that I have a muti-vitamin to take every day along with extra C. Without that I am not sure my energy would be as high as it is.

To be a Food Challenger

Send me an e mail at WilderKJ@gmail.com and I will send you the details about what you need to do to be a challenger

Thanks to Leah Garchick for running the item this morning
If you want to help and are not able to be a food challenger read This It takes a village or a town like San Francisco to make this happen

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 10

I have 1.39 to make up today but I have a few leftovers that have been accounted for so those are free eats.

I begin my day with 2.27.

Grapes .50
Coffee .30
Small portion of fried rice with a touch of last night's beef and veg .FREE
Total .80

It is a big deficit and unlike the Federal Reserve I can't just go and print more money.

Lunch was a portion of the soba with peanut sauce and cabbage. Really delicious lunch.
Total .29

I am not hungry but my energy is a bit low today. Nonetheless I am heading for the gym. I may skip cardio so as not to provoke my appetite.

Yesterday I bought 3 organic chicken carcasses complete with feet. I want to thank all of you who like your chicken boneless. You allow me to make great soups. I spent 1.77 on chicken bones. I salted and roasted the bones and then picked off of the bones two cups of meat, then made enough stock for as least two soups. I will give the chicken .77 and each measure of stock .50 to account for the entire cost.

When you have a good stock you can put most anything into it and make a great meal. Vegetables, beans, noodles, tomatoes, rice, and lentils. I've learned that cabbage is a great source of C and carrots a great source of A and are two of the cheapest vegetables you can eat. They may well make an appearance in one of the soups. 

I went to the gym and despite skipping cardio I came home with a ravenous appetite. I had one hard boiled egg. I could have eaten much more but I stopped at one.
Egg .20

I was saved by a neighbor who came by with a chicken drumstick. She had taught me Japanese cooking and was trying out Southern fried chicken for guests. She made a few pieces ahead 'to see if they were good'.

It was very crisp, lightly spiced (I tend to use more red pepper) moist and not greasy. I offered my congratulations as I devoured it.

I feel much better.

I proceeded with my planned dinner. I is easier to eat well when you are not feeling the need to eat NOW!

I picked a huge salad from the garden and had the last of the pork sauce with pasta. Now I feel almost stuffed, but in a good way.

Salad .10
Sauce 1.06
Pasta .19
Total 1.35

Day total 2.64
This brings my deficit down to .37

1,798 calories (it was the chicken)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 9

Yesterday I had 2,400 readers from the Netherlands. I always wonder if someone is linking me in these countries where readership suddenly bumps up.

I begin with 3.24

For breakfast I had some more of those black grapes and some coffee.
Coffee .30
Grapes .50
Total .80

...and for lunch
Meat 1.21
4 tortillas .16
2 scallion .10
Garden lettuce .10
Yogurt .20
Total 1.77

I am worried about this budget and how to maintain it for another two weeks without skipping meals.

I made a dish I have not yet eaten. Soba noodles in spicy peanut sauce. If you have peanut butter, water and some hot sauce and soy it is easy to make a peanut sauce. If you have garlic it is even better. Saute the garlic, add peanut butter a lot of hot sauce, a little water to get to the right consistency and cook with a whisk. Finish with Soy.  Taste great every time.

Soba noodle .40
Peanut butter (2 servings).42
Shredded cabbage .25
The last of the scallions .40
Total 1.47
I can get at least 5 servings out of it making the per serving cost .29 cents.

That works for me.

I thawed some more of the Halal Beef I bought at the beginning of last month. At .24 an ounce I will be weighing my meat carefully at dinner time.

You see, I had a 4 dumpling snack. I took out some of the frozen ones. At .15 each my snack...

Dinner was an exceptionally good beef stir fry. The meat was still partially frozen allowing me to very thinly slice it. I stir fried it with the last of the cabbage and an onion, with a touch of soy and a few fermented black beans it was really good.

Meat (3 oz) .72
Cabbage . 25
Onion .20
Peanut noodles .29
Dinner 1.46

While I know I am over again today I have some of the dinner fry left over and some of the rice from the other night which will give me a free meal since the cost has been accounted for. Hopefully I can make it all up tomorrow.
Today's dollar total 4.63

I carry a deficit of 1.39 into tomorrow. I am behaving like George Bush, spending and then adding it up. Unfortunately I will not have Barak Obama to take the blame. I am on my own here.

Here I am overspending and only managed to get 1,417 calories out of it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Living on A Food Stamp Budget Month 2, Day 8

I begin my day with 3.94.

I had an early meeting in San Rafael and had never driven there so I was up early for coffee. I had no appetite but made myself eat hash browns and bacon. I'd intended an egg but forgot to cook it and when the potatoes were crisp it was time to eat. I had a touch of yogurt with the potatoes.

Coffee .30
Yogurt .20
Potatoes .30
Bacon .60
Total 1.40

I came home for lunch despite a busy day and had more of the pasta with pork.
Sauce 1.06
Pasta .19
Iced Tea .03
Total 1.28

The garden has had a chance to recover from my grazing so I was able to harvest a large dinner salad which was followed by some of the lamb curry which I had frozen and rice.

Salad .10
Lamb Curry 1.43
Rice .15
Total 1.68

1.472 calories and I spent 4.36. Tomorrow I have a deficit of .42 to make up.

It did not seem like I ate that much, but it is very easy to go over. I can see how families get caught short at the end of the month and rely on the food pantries stocked by the Food Bank.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp Budget Month 2 Day 7

I begin my day with 3.72.

I've not lost any more weight than the two pounds. I think my body is used to fewer calories and my metabolic rate is a bit lower than it was. I also do less cardio because at the reduced calorie consumption I have found it tires me rather than energizes me.

Coffee went up in price. I had to purchase a different bean than what I was using and it cost more. My tiny pot is now .30 a serving.

Coffee .30
Grapes .50
2 Turkey Quessadillas rescued from the freezer 1.30
Total 2.10

I had to check back to month 1 day 17 to reference the cost of these delicious beauties.

And I was off...I had a meeting at St. Luke's (You didn't think I was putting this whole event on the 27th together by myself did you) and we went over all that needs to be done and confirmed and checked and listed.

And then I dropped by the Chef's program at Episcopal Community Services. This is an amazing program. Led by Chef Bill Taylor they cram two years of instruction into three months. The chefs then go into a 3 month internship and are thus prepared for a job. I was incredibly impressed with the skill level of the chefs in the program. From knife skills to beautiful plating it was clear that these students were there to excel.

Today was the cookoff between the students who had finished the three month program and the interns who had finished their various internships.

Each was given a basked of the same foods and invited to use dried fruits, nuts, cheeses and pantry items to create a meal.

Both teams played it a little safe with salad and stuffed pork loin but there were some standout tastes, and platings.

Our Intern graduate team produced one of the best dinner rolls I have ever eaten. It had a great slightly chewy texture, a good crumb, a beautiful developed flavor and they were served warm. I had 3.

The Intern team also had an exceptional side dish with their pork a Quinoa with nuts and feta cheese. I ate every bite of that.

However out student team had beautiful plates and some really great ideas and execution. They wrote out the menu on brown bags and filled the bags with delicious bread sticks. They sugared cashews and used them atop rice with a mustard sauce. Their dessert won them the competition (it was close)Figs, poached in a citrus sauce and the sauce had been flavored with citrus rind and honey and a bay leaf. None of us could identify the flavor, it was almost like Campari. I was stuffed from all the bread plus the two meals yet I still managed half of the dessert and I scooped up all the sauce with my spoon. The figs had been posed atop a slice of poached apple. The plating was beautiful.

I walked away with enormous respect for the instructors and the students. The students in this program have come from homelessness, drug rehab, prison and other disadvantaged circumstances. The one thing they have in common is that they have all decided that they want a better life and were willing to work HARD to get it.

It is hard to imagine that I got hungry later, but in fact I did. At 9:30 I found myself wanting food, quickly. I took the other half of yesterday's pork and cabbage, ground it a second time in the processor to give it a fine texture 2.22 and to that a can of tomatoes .97 to a total of 3.19. I used 1/3 of it with my standard two ounces of pasta and had a delicious, if heavy late meal.
Sauce 1.06
Pasta .19
Iced Tea .03
Total 1.28

Day total 3.38

Though I did not eat two complete meals at lunch, some of it was just a few bites when I added up all those bites plus my meals I consumed 2,733 calories. WOW.

I have an extra .28 for tomorrow.