A Night Off

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Sorry guys, no big post this week.  After 2+ weeks of working nonstop, waking up at 6am every morning, I finally get a break: today is not only Jesse’s birthday, but it’s also the first of our 3-night Furthur extravaganza weekend at the Edgefield, with lots of late night bluegrass all over town to follow the shows up.

Even though last night was technically our birthday celebration at home before being out with friends all weekend, Jesse ended up cooking for us, since I’ve been totally slammed all week trying to tie up loose ends so I can take a long weekend off.

This was pretty much the best thing I could have asked to come home to:

Herb and lemon trout, Brussels sprouts with bacon and mushrooms, and carrot ginger edamame salad

More to say next week — for now, I’m on vacation!


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That’s right, I have a new roommate!  Well, as it turns out, he’s much more than just a roommate, but that is what Jesse and I have been affectionately calling each other these past five days since he moved into my house (our house!).  I’ve been kind of blown away, actually, by how calm I feel despite the fact that all but three rooms of the house are completely filled with half-empty boxes,  and that the amount of stuff in the house feels like it just tripled in the course of a weekend.  In fact, living with Jesse feels as seamless and easy as everything has always felt with us, a comforting realization.

There is one question I’ve left lingering though, as the day of his impending move drew closer: how is this going to affect the blog??  I started Six Dollars A Day as a single lady, living alone, and while the number of shared dinners has grown over the past two years, that fact has remained the same, and my $6 a day budget has largely just pertained to myself.

So how am I going to maintain the integrity of the blog, while shopping for two…one of whom eats four times as much as I do, and who cooks at home less often than I stop for gas?  (And I am a bike commuter, if that clarifies anything…)

Of course, the logical solution is to just double the budget, right?  12 dollars a day for two people equals 6 dollars a day for one.  Even the differential in appetites I think will be offset by the economy of scale that can be achieved by splitting a $7 jar of peanut butter two ways.  I’m guessing the biggest hurdle will be Jesse adjusting to becoming a pantry cook, and me adjusting to his buy-10-different-ingredients-for-a-specific-craving-meal style of grocery shopping.

The cool news though is that he’s into it, he’s up for the challenge.  He’s excited about cooking bigger dinners, eating leftovers for lunch, working with what we have.  Given that we are both, in my opinion, awesome cooks in totally polar opposite ways (he cooks meat to perfection / I can make a side dish out of any 3 ingredients; he’ll follow an heirloom recipe to a Jesse tee of precision / I will take that idea I came up with last month and add the last half-cup of mango juice left in the jar to see what happens), I think we have some fantastic meals ahead of us.  And who knows?  $300 a month to play with, even for two hungry people, seems like an astronomical number to me…but maybe it’ll turn out to be more of a challenge than I anticipate!

We’ll kick it off with this entertaining and totally apt example: last night, after going to watch the swifts across the river with a bunch of our friends, we hung out at Matt and Erika’s until after 11, catching up with them before biking home for the night.  The hummus and cheese board we had brought as a quaint picnic didn’t qualify as dinner for either of us, and even though it was almost midnight, we stormed the kitchen in a fend-for-yourself rampage.

Jesse heated up a can of chili and some ramen (but get this…he cracks and egg into it for protein??), and boldly tossed a large round slice of gouda on top of the former.

I ate a sauteed salmon burger I’d been storing in the freezer, with fresh wilted spinach and some homemade aioli, on Ak-Mak crackers.

And a chocolate pudding cup.

Both meals landed on the table at nearly the same time (mine was a little earlier, in fact!), and we both went to bed with full tummies.

Here’s to Phase II of this blog!

This Week’s Groceries

Portland Fruit Company 9/18

  • Red pepper: $0.99
  • Sweet onion: $0.52
  • Italian plums: $0.08 — this was two cute little plums, just for the bike ride home
  • Snap peas: $0.93
  • Brussels sprouts: $1.93
  • Broccoli: $0.56
  • Radishes: $0.65
  • Bok choy: $1.52
  • Nectarine: $0.32
  • Fuji apple: $0.67

TOTAL: $8.17

REMAINING FOR THE MONTH: $14.62 — I could probably technically add in half a month’s worth of funds to this on Jesse’s behalf, but so far it isn’t seeming necessary, and the end of the month’s only about a week off, so I’m going to try to keep to my own budget until October and then double the budget from thereon out.

Potato Leek White Bean Soup with Collard Greens and Flatbread

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Big news: we now have a dining room table!  I got to break it in for its very first meal last Sunday night, when I had some friends over for dinner.

And then again this week, when I whipped up this delicious meal, while Jesse geeked out on his new bike, trying to find the perfect orientation for his homemade pannier stereo, in preparation for Elizabeth’s Dirty 30 Fancy Cocktail Hopping Bike Extravaganza that we embarked on Wednesday night, with a crew of about 30 of our friends.

Note: I do know the correct pronunciation of “pannier,” but have Americanized it for the sake of convenience.  I get a lot of crap whenever I pronounce it like I’m Canadian.

Really, this soup was so simple, I don’t think I even remembered to take a picture. I had started some white beans soaking earlier in the afternoon after coming home from some errands (and discovering The Portland Fruit Company, OMG!! And way to go on the domain name score, btw), which I boiled while getting the base going.

This entailed chopping some leeks, and sauteeing those in some olive oil, along with a few cloves of pressed garlic, some salt, a diced Hatch chile, and coriander.

Then I added some russet potatoes, diced into 2″ chunks, some chicken stock and water, and some fennel seeds, and let this all cook together (adding the beans once they were nearly cooked) until all the ingredients were nice and soft. I was totally not up for getting the blender dirty (and I’m pretty sure the rubber ring has somehow gotten stuck in the garbage disposal) so I just used a potato masher to half-puree the soup right there in the pot, giving it a nice milky consistency but leaving enough chunks of veggies so it wasn’t too smooth. I was going to add some milk or cream but really, it was rich enough without it.

I had just bought a gargantuan bunch of collard greens and was stoked to get to use them.  First, some oil and butter in the skillet,  and a tablsepoon or so of mustard seeds, cooking them until they started to pop.

And entire chopped onion got sauteed in this…

And then the entire head of greens, chopped, while I melted an inch’s worth of chicken stock off of the cube I keep in the freezer.

Once the greens were bright and just wilted enough, I threw in a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and salt to finish it off, rolled out some flatbread dough that I’ve been keeping in the fridge, and fried that up in a little bit of olive oil.

Oh  yes, and I also made chocolate chip banana bread out of some bananas that were taking up too much room in the freezer!

This Week’s Groceries

Portland Fruit Company 9/11

  • Collard Greens: $1.29
  • Kale: $1.29
  • Yellow onions: $2.14
  • Hatch chile: $0.79
  • Garlic: $0.60

TOTAL: $6.11


Pasta Shells with Zucchini and Gouda Cream Sauce

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This was a clean-out-the-fridge kind of week.  I had a super-power-work-day on Tuesday, totally reveling in the fact that I can stay at home during my day off to catch up on computer work for UCU and Yarnia, rather than going to a cafe where I have to pay for coffee, bring my laptop into the bathroom with me, and fight over outlets.  This used to be a Tuesday necessity for me, because I hated staying at home in my basement on a beautiful day, staring at a wall, even if it felt as great as it did to be productive and feel on top of my work for the coming week.

But this week?  I got to go to my step aerobics class (yes, that’s right, I said it.  And it’s awesome), come home and shower, and walk up and down my staircase more than necessary just because I’m so excited it’s there, while I organize my kitchen, do my laundry, and then have a marathon work sesh out in my backyard, at a makeshift card table we’ve set up under the porch, in my bare feet, drinking homemade iced coffee (mine is so much better than Crema’s, anyway!), and crank out 6 serious hours of computer time.

Not exactly what most people would call a day off, but in my world, I’ll take what I can get.  Plus, I took last Saturday/Sunday off to go up to Seattle for a friend’s wedding, and had a fantastic 3-phase evening that included me and Jesse attending a swanky reception at an art center downtown, crashing a college electronica basement party near my old high school, and ended with us wandering around my childhood backyard park at 7:00 in the morning…so I don’t feel too sorry for myself.

view from the makeshift office

I had bought some summer veggies the day before, in anticipation of an impromptu Labor Day barbecue we had sent out a mass text about, but that ended up being pretty low-key, so I had plenty of zucchini left over.  And tons of milk products in my fridge that were on the verge of going bad, including a half-gallon of whole milk that Jesse had brought over that would sadly go to waste if used in any form other than a delicious cream sauce.  So that decided that.

First, zucchini and onions.  You guys get sauteed together.

Then, a roux.  That’s just a fancy way of saying butter and flour melted together.

This turns into a paste, so you can incorporate it into the milk to thicken it nicely without any clumps!

See?  Look how nice and thick that is.

Once I start (slowly) adding the milk, stirring as it thickens, I also add 3 cloves of garlic (just got a new garlic press!  Yesssss!), and some bouquet garni-type herbs.  And salt and pepper.  And ground coriander.

Oh, and back to all the dairy that was about to go bad…I had a stockpile of cheese from various soirees we’ve had over the past month or so — some soft, some hard, namely gouda — that were also salvaged and melted into this delicious creaminess.  God it feels good to clean out the fridge.  Subtle psychological burden, lifted!

Those veggies I sauteed earlier now get mixed in…

And this box of shells (with a few rogue pennes, apparently), freshly cooked, gets stirred in to it all at the end.

I even had some leftover spinach-strawberry-hazelnut-blue-cheese salad left over from Monday night’s BBQ that made a perfect complement to this super rich-and-heavy gut bomb of a dinner.  Oh, and at the last minute I tore up some collard leaves that our friend (newly employed at New Seasons and with bounties of reject produce to spare!) had brought over on Monday night, and stirred those in for a nice healthy crunch.  And as you can see, I felt compelled to add some Bacos as garnish.  Is living next to Grocery Outlet turning me trashy?

This Week’s Groceries

New Seasons 8/30 (but counting it as part of September)

  • Half gallon milk: $2.50
  • Broccoli: $2.51
  • Garlic: $1.08
  • Red cabbage: $3.52
  • Fuji apples: $1.41
  • Bok choy: $0.46

TOTAL: $11.48



Fred Meyer 9/3

  • Watermelon: $5.98
  • Turkey breakfast sausages: $1.67
  • Frozen seafood mix: $3.99 — I see some hot and sour soup in my future…
  • Salmon burgers: $3.00
  • Honey: $5.47
  • Bulk granola: $1.23 — Someday I’ll actually make my own…
  • Coriander seeds: $0.72
  • Sliced almonds: $1.91 — So stoked that the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer has a bulk section!
  • Navy beans: $2.38
  • Eggplant: $1.49
  • Baby spinach: $3.98
  • Strawberries: $2.00
  • Adam’s peanut butter (x2): $6.00 — on sale for $3/jar!!  In case you hadn’t noticed, I make a lot of peanut sauce.
  • Cottage cheese: $2.29
  • Dozen eggs: $2.99
  • Zucchini: $0.82
  • Fresh mint: $1.99 — Someday I’ll grow this in my backyard, but for now, I have to buy it in itty bitty packages 🙁
  • Case of Diet Coke: $4.60 — For those rough days at work.  You know the ones.

TOTAL: $52.41