Groceries

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mixed greens: $2.24
lasagne noodles
: $2.49 — making a mushroom/gruyere/spinach lasagne to bring to our New Year’s bash!gruyere cheese: $8.95 crimini mushrooms: $8.08
garlic: $1.20zucchini: $2.44 yellow onion: $0.86
grapefruit juice
: $3.99
fresh herbs
: $0.57
blood oranges
: $1.39 — these are in season, on sale, and go fantastic with some bleu cheese, fresh spinach, and beets in a lunch salad!
red onion
: $0.77 lamb kabobs: $8.46
red pears
: $1.61

TOTAL: $43.05
REMAINING FOR MONTH: $0.28 — whew, that was close!



Blackened Salmon, Creamy Polenta, and Tangy Greens

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Okay, guys.  This meal took 15 minutes to make, from the minute I walked in the door to the moment I sat down at the table — no joke.

Granted, it did require the purchase of a fresh piece of fish, which I rarely do, but I had to swing by Fred Meyer after work anyway, because the wind today was so strong that it actually tore the face off my A-board at the store and I needed to buy some heavy duty adhesive before going to work tomorrow.  And then apparently a container of olives to eat while I drove home.  

Anyway, this meal was the result of three super-fast components — a critical feature since I don’t get my days off this week, yet still have to do all my typical prep-before-a-trip stuff, before heading up to my mom’s on Thursday after work.

First, polenta.

(No, unfortunately, that’s not the bottle it came in.)

The ratio for cornmeal is about 3:1, so for myself I combined in a pot 1/3 of a cup of cornmeal, 1 cup of water, a hefty pinch of salt and pepper, a couple shakes of red pepper flakes, and a few sundried tomatoes (I buy them in the bulk aisle, not packed in oil).

I brought all this to a boil, and then reduced to low until the liquid had absorbed; then I added about 1/3 of a cup of milk, gave it a stir and let that absorb as well, then removed it from the heat and kept it covered.


Meanwhile, I pan fried the salmon in a little olive oil and my favorite Caribbean seasoning.

Once it had cooked almost entirely through, I threw a huge pile of greens on top.  (This was a bag of greens that I mistakenly thought was mixed greens for salad; turns out New New Seasons has added some sort of kale/mustard pre-torn mix to their bulk bins!)

 
Atop this I sprinkled a little more salt, pepper, some nutritional yeast, and then a couple squirts of lime juice, and stirred it for about a minute, until the greens had wilted down to a manageable volume.



Fini!


Red Lentil Dahl and Fragrant Rice with Currants

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Oh man, I am so psyched about a Saturday night at home, alone, with no plans.  I think it’s been weeks since I’ve had one of these, and I am ravenous for nothing on the slate except for changing into PJs, throwing in some laundry, and finishing three different knitting projects while catching up on backlogged downloaded TV shows, and then going to bed super early so I can get up and go running before teaching a Beginner’s Knitting class before opening up the store.  Sweet!
So because of all that, without question, tonight had to be dahl.  Warm, filling, non-dish-intensive dahl, yielding multiple days of leftovers…which I will be needing since I’ve decided to open up the store on my two days off this week to accommodate last-minute Christmas shopping!
So, here’s one of my favorite ways to make rice whenever I’m eating it with anything verging on Indian:

Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of basmati rice to a boil, in a small pot with a little salt, homemade cultured butter, turmeric, and dried currants.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is fully cooked; set aside and keep covered.

My dahl is usually a catch-all for whatever stalky vegetables I have on hand — tonight, a stray carrot, and the broccoli stalks from an earlier meal this week that stole the florets.  I sauteed half a chopped yellow onion in some of the same cultured butter and salt, along with whole cumin and mustard seeds, about half a tablespoon of each.
I added a cup of homemade chicken broth, and let that all cook together while I chopped the veggies — not too much, just enough to dot the stew with some tender pieces.

I threw in the veggies, some muchi curry powder, and a whole cup of dried red lentils, then filled the pot to just an inch below the top with water.  I brought all this to a boil, then lowered it to medium-high and let it wildly simmer until the red lentils had all exploded and self-pureed.

I stirred in about 7 oz. of coconut milk (you can freeze the rest for another time), let it reduce a little more, and then took it off the heat and let it cool and thicken a bit.  

Oh, and of course, in the end I had to top it off with a little of this:

purchased from one of my fantastic vendors at Urban Craft Uprising earlier this month.  I can’t imagine a better use for it!


Backtracking

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Okay, admittedly, we’re not going to talk about what I actually ate tonight, but instead a meal I made the week before Thanksgiving.  (Is it weird that I feel guilty for letting these pictures sit on my camera for so long, like the food has spoiled or something?)
The reason I’m relying on a fallback meal is because this is THE WEEK, the one that rolls around every year, where I’m right smack in the middle of my two massive back-to-back holiday shows, and most of my evenings have been too crazy for cooking.  Too crazy for anything, actually.

So crazy in fact that I feel obligated to listen to podcasts like Radiolab and Democracy Now during my commute to and from work just to squeeze in any sort of education that I can during my aurally idle minutes, since reading has been out the window for at least the past month now.
But instead, all I want to listen to as I ride my bike home in the dark after work is Cloud Cult’s Mr. Tambourine Man on a straight loop.  I’m having an indulgently mopey night, and that’s been helping.  It feels like a bit of a cop out to spend the evening at home knitting and eating sea salt dark chocolate and catching up on my Netflix instead of going to this show that I was invited to.  I’ve been waffling about it all day, but it’s sort of a new thing I’m trying — an exercise in reminding myself that I’m not always mandated to choose the most emotionally trying from the given set of options.

So instead let’s talk about this silly meal I made a few days before Thanksgiving — silly because who buys turkey and sweet potatoes the week of Thanksgiving and uses them for something entirely non-Thanksgiving-esque?  (Especially when they’ve recently admitted to not liking sweet potatoes.)

But I had seen this beautiful green head of Napa cabbage, and was in need of a massive protein boost so it just kind of fell into place.  And the sweet potatoes…well, I had seen this picture the day before while searching for my own Thanksgiving recipe, and couldn’t get it out of my head.

This is one of those wonderful ten-minute meals that makes your muscles feel reenergized after a bike ride home, leaves you with leftovers for lunch the next day, and makes the kitchen smell amazing.  

I started by sauteeing half a yellow onion and some garlic in a thin coat of olive oil, with some salt and freshly ground cumin.  To this I added one of my favorite go-to seasonings:

I usually just buy half a pound of ground, free-range turkey, which I added at this point along with a bit of a chopped-up jalapeno.


Stirring this until the turkey browned, I chopped up half of the cabbage and tossed it into the pan.  The key to cooking cruciferous veggies such as this is to keep an eye on the color.  Just like broccoli or kale, the cabbage will turn bright green when it’s perfectly done, like a little green light indicating its done before it descends back into a sludgy green and gets over-wilted.


I drizzled some soy sauce over the top to give it a final kick of flavor and steam, and finished it all off with a some fresh chopped cilantro.



The sweet potatoes were sliced into quarter-inch thick wedges, and tossed with canola oil (this gives them a browner, crunchier bake than olive oil), and a whole bunch of spices: ground coriander and fennel, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes.  I lined a cookie sheet with foil and baked them at 425 for 40 minutes, turning them halfway through.


And garnished the plate with a perfectly crunchy Fuji apple.  I am a food separatist, but I do rotate bites, and to me the texture trinity of mushy, chewy, and crunchy is perfection.


Groceries

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New Seasons

almond milk: $4.00
Napa cabbage: $5.17
Brussels sprouts
: $2.94
red onion
: $0.89
yellow onion
: $1.14
salad mix
: $2.52
bulk spinach
: $2.52
Dried mix
ed beans: $2.64
carrots
: $0.69
red pears
: $1.89
sunflower seeds
: $2.35
walnuts
: $8.02
currants
: $1.08
sundried tomatoes
: $0.67
dried cranberries
: $2.00
portabella mushrooms
: $4.68

TOTAL: $43.20

REMAINING FOR MONTH: $106.80