dirty rice (my daddy would not approve)



I’ve been noodling over The Food Stamp Challenge, again.  Nope, still not taking it; looking at it from a home ec perspective, though.  For a family of three in Los Angeles County, the maximum monthly SNAP benefit is $511/month.  The Hillbilly Housewife has two meal plans that could take the challenge – one devoid of meat (but with eggs) and the other with a bit more variety.

The last time the author updated the meal plans was in 2009, but the core items in the lowest-cost plan can be purchased from Amazon Fresh, in most of the quantities indicated, and come in at the $511 price point for the month.  (My basket for the week was $96.81 – $20 to spend for the last two days would be pretty slim pickings).  So, in theory, one could buy through Amazon Fresh on a food stamp budget without starving.   But I think I could do better, for my specific situation, with that monthly allotment.

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sunday dinner = same dinner, for once

Over the past few weeks, as I have mostly avoided eating crap (0.5 pound net holiday weight gain, not too shabby), I have found myself making up to three(!) dinners per night: a regular dinner for the kids (protein, starch, veg); soup (with or without sandwich) for The Hubbs since he’s been ill lately; and veggie stir fry sometime later in the evening for myself. Which generally suits us, but has no business being done on a Sunday, when I’ll be in and out of the kitchen all morning and afternoon making bread so I might as well stay there and make one dinner that we can all enjoy.

Tonight, then, it’s crunchy baked pork chops, a bistro salad from Fresh & Easy (green leaf lettuce with bits of carrot and red cabbage; feta cheese; dried cranberries; slivered almonds; white balsamic vinaigrette) and oven-roasted asparagus (toss asparagus with olive oil, salt, pepper and a spritz of lemon juice; roast at 400-425 degrees until it’s done to your liking). And – if the timing works out – chunks of freshly-baked baguette. We shall see. A lower-carb adaptation of Deb Perelman’s crunchy pork chops after the jump.
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roasted tomato and garlic pasta sauce

I’m not afraid to make anything from scratch.  I bake croissants from my own starter. I know how to brine and roast fowl to perfection.  I can put together a tart crust that can spend months in the freezer and still taste fresh upon use.  I can cook a piece of beef (give me a cut, I know how to make it edible).  I can make Béchamel and Velouté – and I know how to turn it those sauces into Mornay and Poulette, respectively.  I don’t make tomato sauce from scratch.

I have made it from canned tomatoes, but I have never looked several pounds of tomato in the eye and said, “You and me, baby.  We’re gonna make something special.”  It looks like ‘special’ has found me.  A contributor to Dr. Beverly Berkeley’s blog, Refuse to Regain has a recipe for tomato sauce that sounds dee-vine.  Once I get through this defilement Cleanse, it will be put into use.  I have a bag of meatballs in the freezer (I made them, adapting the Tartine recipe; they are fantastic).  I’m close on the baguette – I need a longer final resting time and a cooler baking temp, since the non-convection half of my oven is a tiny arsonist.  Sometime next week, as I go insane take a staycation from work, I will make the family meatball sandwiches.  It will be awesome.

cleanse prep: miracle soup, refined

Check-in Weight: 144.8

As I reflect on my failed attempt to defile myself adhere to The Eat Your Heart Out Diet, I find myself in turn inspired and repulsed (perhaps, inspired by repulsion) by the vaguely suggested daily menu menu. The most frightening day of all is the last day. Had I not been wooed by a woman bearing tawny port and roasted Gorgonzola crackers, I’d have been sipping on this pot of natural laxative today. Bless the gods of fortified wine and snack foods, I have been spared the Miracle Soup. I’m going to steal create a more palatable version of it after the jump.
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cleanse prep: big ass salad

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The second and third days should be the easiest of the week, since I can indulge in my mainstay of non-starchy vegetables. I don’t have a sweet tooth, per se; I can turn down glorious desserts all day long without a twinge of regret. Probably the by-product of knowing how copious amounts of sweets will make me feel – offering me some luscious slice of super-sugary dessert is tantamount to offering me rat poison. Boy, that’s a warm, fuzzy little visage, ain’t it?
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pumpkin pancakes

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#1 Girl, being in charge of Thanksgiving dessert, made a really good pumpkin cheesecake. Since it was both pumpkin pie and cheesecake filling the graham cracker crust, we ran into the inevitable problem of leftover pumpkin purée. Being outright wasteful of food feels like a heinous move this time of year, so I charged her with finding something else to do with less than 200g of purée. Pumpkin bread? Nope. Pumpkin cookies? Bleech. Mini pumpkin tartlets? Too much work.

Pumpkin pancakes? Oh my sweet, buttery Jesus YES.

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cold oil fries

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I’m still getting into the swing of bread baking with the combo cooker; the loaves have been too wet after baking for my taste, so the adjustments continue. In the meantime, I’ve been amusing myself with croissants (commercial-yeast leavened, fantastic nevertheless). That story and those photos are yet to come. Tonight, though, we depart from baking to bask in the scientific glory of cold-oil frying. Tonight, we come to the time in every woman’s life, when she must break out her attachments.

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