Thursday, January 29, 2009

Low-Cost Mexican

February 1 nears as we contemplate what lessons from the month to take forward with us into the rest of the year. We want to continue to be frugal but not deprived. Some ideas:
-No shopping from any national chain stores.
-No buying any packaged food with artificial ingredients
-Limiting how often we go out to eat
-Absolutely no disposable shopping bags or purchased products with excessive/non-recyclable packaging

We are still discussing, but this is some of what we are considering. In the meantime, we knew we would contemplate better over some good food, so I rolled black beans and cheese into big soft whole wheat organic tortillas, then baked them covered in salsa, more cheese, and green onions (use FYH "cheese" or regular cheese, as your heart desires). Finished with a garnish of chopped cilantro. I also took leftover rice and fried it with real chile powder I got in New Mexico, fresh chopped tomatoes, more green onions, and more cilantro. While it isn't really Mexican, I added sesame oil, cider vinegar, and skillet-toasted sesame seeds to the leftover chopped cabbage. A bowl of grapes rounded out the meal. Delicioso!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yoga Retreat with Marsha Nieland

This weekend, Marsha Nieland, who teaches Anusara Yoga at Fusion Studio in Cedar Rapids, came to Iowa City to do a workshop at Heartland Yoga, where my BFF Rachel Klapper teaches, and which is owned by my friend Betsy Rippentrop, Ph.D. Betsy and I just co-authored a book on the chakras together, which will be out soon (stay tuned). It was an amazing day of yoga classes--an intermediate class in the morning and a restorative class in the afternoon. Marsha is really an incredible teacher, and with Rachel and Betsy assisting, it was a soul-enriching day of yoga.

Above, this is Betsy Rippentrop, Marsha Nieland, Rachel Klapper, and me.

Meanwhile, our contest with the Martin family continues. We are still ahead, but I fear it won't be for long. I caved and bought expensive soy milk and tofu a few days ago...isn't that weird that I miss tofu? Anyway, Amy and I were talking about how unhealthy we tend to eat in order to eat cheap, and I've been gaining weight and feeling disgusting, so I decided that I would plan a week of truly healthy meals and actually buy the groceries required to eat them! I will do my best to shop smartly and not overspend, not buy more than we need, not buy the most expensive brands, etc. But I am not going to compromise on health anymore. No more junky food. Fresh, good, clean, nutritious food. If it means we lose the bet, so be it. It's not worth losing health and vitality!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday dinner

I spent most of the day puttering around the kitchen, making the bread, roasting the vegetables for my vegetable stew, and generally getting ready for dinner. We still haven't gone back to the store. For dinner, I made a pot roast for the boys, the aforementioned homemade bread and roasted vegetable stew, peas, and mashed potatoes. This is how the bread and stew turned out:

It was a good, hearty Sunday dinner, with nary a suggestion that we are in frugality mode. However, Ben got so desperate re: lack of beer today that he is trying to strike a bargain with Nick, who brews his own: packages of ground venison and Newman's Own cookies in exchange for a case of home brew? They are currently in negotiations.

O.K., I really do think I will be forced to head to the store this evening--we need a few staples to get us through the next week. Cabbage, mushrooms, apples, milk for the kids, tomato sauce, and we are now completely out of dish soap, paper towels, and dog food. I wonder if dog food counts...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Charm of Leftovers...and Poolish

Is my poolish rising?

It's amazing how often I buy food when I don't need to buy food. I realize that now. There are so many things hidden in the cracks and crannies of our cupboards and freezer that have been there for so long. I always buy the same things every week and never think to use up all this stuff. Now I'm forced to get creative. It's kind of fun. I'm enjoying anti-consumerism.

Of course, it's also a challenge, especially when you have to eat up all your leftovers instead of making something new every day. I'm also realizing how spoiled I am, when it comes to food. And how much money and food I waste! But not this month. Last night, we ate the same chili AGAIN, but this time, I toasted corn tortillas to make tostadas. I topped Ben's with cheese and mine with veg cheese (Follow Your Heart, I had an unopened block leftover from before our trip that I bought at the local grocery store, which just started carrying it because I asked them to). We topped that with leftover veg chili, leftover chopped lettuce, and some frozen Schwann's guacamole I had in the freezer. It's not like fresh guacamole, but it *suggests* fresh guacamole, which is good enough. It was pretty good, actually, so I shouldn't complain.

I don't know what we'll eat tonight, but I'm sure we can scrape something together. I have a box of broccoli soup mix which I won at a Christmas party in 2007, as part of a "gourmet food" basket. Maybe I'll whip that up and pour it over the rest of the leftover pasta. I still have veggie burgers in the freezer, too. Maybe I'll make veggie burger sub sandwiches...although I'm out of pickles. (That alone may get me to the grocery store.)

I also decided to make bread today, like Nick always does (our competitors). I'll serve it with the roast I plan to cook for the boys for Sunday dinner. (I'll have the mashed potatoes with chick pea gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance, and I'll make peas. And maybe cupcakes.) Anyway, I pulled out my bread baking book (Bread Alone, by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnick). I am making their "learning recipe" for country hearth bread. I just started the poolish, which is fermenting. It's hard to find a warm place in this house, though--with all the snow blowing around outside, I realize how drafty it is in here. I'm wearing three sweaters.

I also went back to yoga this past week, and my body is sore, but in a good way. Exercise expenses don't count in our anti-poverty bet, so I can do yoga guilt-free.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chili is Cheap

We still haven't gone back to the store and are holding at $30.29, which includes $3.00 parking ramp and $3.15 at Mr. Movies. Last night, we had chili made with onions, garlic, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, and a big can of chili beans, with chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. I made a "side" of ground beef for those who wanted to add it, and we cut up the rest of the lettuce. I had some corn tortillas in the refrigerator so I cut those into triangles and baked them in canola oil for homemade chips, and I made the last box of pasta. So, people could make what they wanted--chili-mac, or taco salad.

My sweet tooth yesterday led me to open one of the cans of Boy Scout popcorn we bought last month. I had forgotten all about it, but had intended to give it all away for gifts. Oh well. It was the kind doused in chocolate, so I should have known I wouldn't give it away. Maybe I'll forget to mention it to the kids.

I can't tell you how many times I've needed paper towels or napkins, which we don't have, and we are almost out of milk again, so I foresee a trip to the store tonight or tomorrow.