Thursday, June 25, 2009

A website

Ooh, and a fun new website. Good Bite.

No soup for you

I haven't been grocery shopping this week. Plenty of food in the house, and apparently I only feel a burning need to go grocery shopping when I don't have any fruit. This week I have had an absolute abundance, and have been enjoying watermelon, peaches, strawberries, and even blended some up into smoothies.

So, what have I been eating?

Well, I finished off Heather's pasta salad over two meals. I ate the last herbed tuna in tomato, and for another meal polished off the bit of tuna mixture that was left over. I discovered that the tuna mixture was actually pretty good just spread on crackers. So maybe the downfall of that dish was that I used store bought tomatoes, and since they were the vehicle, the whole thing was just underwhelming. I made a(nother) big pot of chicken and veggie soup on Friday, so I have been enjoying that. And I had a lovely green salad yesterday.

I have to admit, I am really impressed with the soup. To explain: 16 days ago I went to the doctor with a terrible case of poison ivy. Really really bad. I got a shot and some really high powered meds. The doctor warned me that the meds would upset my stomach, and since even advil upsets my stomach, I decided I better be proactive about helping my stomach with gentle foods.

So I went to the grocery store, bought a box of chicken stock and a whole heap of veggies (potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, mushrooms) and made a huge pot of soup. It was fantastic. And of course, I left the grocery store having spent $30. That pot lasted about 5 days, only half the course of the meds. So I made another pot. This time I tossed in some frozen chicken that I had in the freezer (for probably way too long, so the best use for it was soup). That pot lasted another 5 days.

Unfortunately, the 10 day course of meds didn't take care of the poison ivy, and so I had to get another round. So on Friday, when I got the new bottle, I made pot of soup #3. I did have to buy another box of chicken stock, but the veggies are the same from that first shopping trip. Super cheap, super easy, super long-lasting, and nice to my stomach. What more could you want?

The poison ivy trial also explains the muffin kick I have been on. It is helpful to have something a little substantial in my belly when taking high powered meds, and bread is substantial. For gluten-free baking, I believe that muffins are the best. They are small enough to bake easily and evenly. They are small enough to not be too dense in your mouth. And they are easily frozen and stored for use over a period of time.

The reason I have been experimenting so much with muffins is that muffins usually have a lot of sugar. I have been reading about sugar substitutes, and tried a new muffin recipe last night.

Explanations first I guess. I like banana bread. So I always buy a bunch of bananas. Unfortunately, I like to eat my bananas brown. When they are at the point that most people think they are useless for anything other than banana bread, they are finally at the point that I want to eat them. Fortunately this week I have had such an abundance of fruit that I held off, and decided that I absolutely would make banana bread with these bananas.

I decided banana bread muffins would be perfect for a sugar-free recipe because bananas are sweet, and they add moisture, perfect for gluten-free baking. As I was reading about sugar substitutes, I read that raisins are also a good sugar substitute. The banana bread recipe that I found actually added raisins and nuts, so I decided combining the bananas and the raisins would be a good shot here.

To use the raisins I ground them up in my blender. I didn't really want raisins in my banana bread. I just wanted to experiment. This made a little bit of a mess, but I added the raisin paste to the muffin batter and just beat it in hard and fast, and it broke up pretty well.

The result: Really good muffins. Now, these are not muffins for the faint of heart. They are not light, fluffy, silly muffins. These are rich, decadent, solid, hardy muffins. And they taste good.

Banana Bread Muffins
This is adapted from the back of the Bob's Red Mill package
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used 1 cup of Bob's Red Mill All-purpose GF mix, and 3/4 cup of the Life Tastes Good Again GF mix. Bob's is a combo of bean flours, which makes this a little more hardy, and the LTGA is completely white. The real reason for the blend: I ran out of Bob's)
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (This took 3 bananas for me)
1/2 cup finely chopped raisins (I blended mine in a blender)

Blend the wet ingredients. Add the bananas and the raisins. Add the dry ingredients and mix. Fill muffin tin and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Yield about 15

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do you know the muffin man?

So the new recipe was a total flop. It's so disappointing, I had such high hopes... It was called "Herbed Tuna in Tomatoes," so basically a stuffed tomato. I finished mine and was just like hm. I wouldn't ever make that again. Which I said in order to give my two friends permission to not eat it any more. And they didn't.

The rest of dinner was very good though. I have been working on another muffin recipe all week, and finally feel like I got the proportions and measurements right so that the muffins turned out really well. They actually even stood the eating at room temperature test.

So I'll share the two recipes.

Heather's Pasta Salad
8 oz box of rice penne pasta
1 box of grape tomatoes
1 can of olives
1 green pepper
1 container of feta cheese
italian salad dressing (This time I used a balsamic vinagrette, it was quite good, although I think usually I do a "zesty italian).

Cook the pasta, then shock it in ice cold water. Drizzle a little of the dressing over it, to keep it from sticking. Cut up the pepper, tomatoes, and olives and add in. Add the crumbled feta. Add a little more dressing. Stir. Enjoy.

Note: with the rice pasta this salad is better at a more room temperature. Rice pasta gets really hard when it is straight out of the fridge. So if you refrigerate it (as you should for food safety), just microwave it for 10-15 seconds.

Orange Juice Muffins
This is a modification of an "Orange Muffin" recipe I found on
2 cups of "Life Tastes Good Again" gluten-free flour mix
1 tsp xantham gum
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg
1 1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup canola oil

Mix the wet ingredients. Add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. (It is very important to not over-mix gluten free flours. It makes them gross). Your dough will be thicker than cake batter and kind of stiff.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Yield 12 muffins.

Put the muffins on a rack to cool. This is important. I left the first batch in the pan to cool and the bottoms got all soggy and that is gross.

UPDATE: What I should have said is that the orange juice muffins stood the test of being fed to non-gluten free people at room temperature. They ate them all. I call that a success.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Anybody want a peanut?

One thing I have noticed is that I always spend $30 when I go to the grocery store. Hm. If anyone who doesn't actually know me is reading this, I think they will absolutely hate me. So let me just say, I am a single person, and I live completely alone (cue the Hallelujah chorus). And what I mean by spending $30 is that every time I walk in to a grocery store, even just set foot inside, I spend $30.

So here is what I bought this week:

Shopping for the week of June 14

-Nature's Pantry (think Whole Foods. An absolute necessity for me because of their selection of gluten-free products, which they sell for less that other stores that might, sometimes, if the wind is right, carry them)
4 boxes of rice pasta. Total 7.96. Savings (because they were on sale) 2.4o.
2 jars of almond butter. Total 7.58. Savings 1.60
2 boxes of vegetable broth. Total 4.58. Savings 1.80
Total 19.60

Each of these items are staples for me, and so I was just replenishing the stock because they were on some pretty good sales. I'll let you know in the future how I plan to use them.

Bananas 1.70
Orange Juice 1.79
3 lbs Strawberries 2.97
Watermelon 3.99
Canola oil 2.79
Mango 0.59
Apples 1.05
Nectarines 1.77
Hummus 1.69
Almonds 2.69
Frozen blueberries 2.69
Funfetti cake mix 0.89
Total 26.58

Aldi has cheap fruit. So let's see, I used one cup of the orange juice to make muffins. I plan on making a couple other batches of muffins with it, and maybe some homemade popsicles. I've already eaten one of the boxes of strawberries, adding about half to smoothies, and just enjoying the other half. The almonds are a snack that I bought particularly for when my sister comes to visit and if the hummus can remain in the fridge for another week, it will serve the same purpose. The funfetti cake mix needs some explanation I guess. I lead a choir at the church. In order to get people to participate, I have to feed them. I refuse to spend a lot of money on that (because they don't seem to care what it is or what it tastes like). And I found a month ago that I could make cookies out of the cake mix and one cake mix will make a batch that lasts for more than a month. Yay.

-Price Chopper
Salad Dressing 1.49. Savings 1.20
Olives 1.19
2 bags tortilla chips 6.00. Savings 2.98
Feta 2.49
Parsley 0.89
Green pepper 0.79
Grape tomatoes 1.99. Saving 0.50
Capers 3.29
4 bags Frozen vegetables (On sale for 0.69) 2.76. Savings 4.00
2 bags frozen broccoli 3.38
Total 28.51

The tortilla chips were on sale, so they are a snack to have with my sister. We love guacamole. The frozen vegetables are to replenish my stock (69 cents. Woo hoo). The rest of the ingredients are going to be used to prepare dinner for two friends on Sunday.

For dinner on Sunday, we will be having herbed tuna in tomatoes and a pasta salad. Using what I have in the pantry and what I bought this week, those two dishes will cost 14.12. I will also cut up the watermelon for "desert" and have some muffins (have I mentioned I am on a super muffin kick?), which will round out to 19.90.

But I am interested to find out how long I will get to eat the leftovers. Because that is what makes it worth it, right?

And the total spend on food this week: 74.69

Ever been to a food rave?

To explain the title of this blog, fast forward to about minute 9. (Of course you will want to watch the whole clip, because the dancing lesson is just so funny).

And I should probably just explain the concept of this blog. In the current climate of recession/or something, I find myself surrounded by businesses that are cutting back, people who are cutting back, and a general attitude of doing less (hopefully for less money). People always seem to aim this toward food, and I have found myself caught in the desire to spend less money on food. So I am going to try to record my food journey.

Part of this is meant to be a realistic recording of numbers, so it's partly my attempt at budgeting (which I have never been very good at). And part of this is an exploration of recipes. The exploration of recipes comes with a caveat. I have food allergies. That's what I tell people, technically the medical profession would call them intolerances, because I don't think I am at a huge risk for anaphlyaxis shock, but with those foods my life would be extremely unpleasant. So I follow a strict gluten-free diet and in the last 9 months have also worked to eliminate sugar (with, admittedly, varying degrees of success). The caveat not only means that life is more interesting as far as a budget, but that the recipes you see here might be a little unusual. It also means that I have developed some ... not mainstream... ideas about food, processed food, where our food comes from, and what it does to us. I'm not preachy, and I'm not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking. As in all things, we need to find what works for us.

And this is the story of my attempt to find what works for me.