Archive for the ‘Cooking’ category

Food Stamps Cooking: OATmeal!

January 18th, 2016
Humble OATM

Humble OATMEAL.  A hard worker in any kitchen.

As you may have suspected, I have once again been plagued by IT issues.  I also have a very wide lazy streak in me.  But today something happened that got my attention.  Since my IT guru has me back up and running I got an email from a faithful Food Stamps Cooking Club follower. *Did I mention how much we love mail around here?  Ya. I’m sure I did.

Sheila is Queen of her Castle and pointed a grateful me to a cute blog, Pantry Anarchy.  I “liked” her Facebook page and asked if I could pinch her post for you.  She readily agreed so here you go, kids:

Pantry Anarchy is a well written blog about pinching pennies and it is punctuated with social comment and opinions.  *My kind o peeps!  You will appreciate the idea shared about using packets of instant oatmeal in a refreshing (and inexpensive) new way.  It was kind of Sheila to share her wisdom with us.  Let’s all cruise over there and sign up for their email messages.  We can all learn from one another, after all.

As for what is happening in the Club House, we have been eating out of our freezer.  As you know, I am a huge fan of cooking once and eating twice (or more).  The Food Fairy blessed us with FORTY POUNDS of meat so that’s waiting in the freezer for a meal our church will be serving.  Nestled along with that, we have a good number of containers of frozen soup, just waiting to be thawed, heated and enjoyed.  It saves fuel costs by not having to prepare 3 meals every day–not much energy is used when just reheating previously cooked food.

I’ve also taken advantage of oven heat by baking a large number of potatoes at one time; salads are a quick fix, low energy meal that provide oodles of nutrition in one bowl.

It would be interesting to note what YOU are doing to manage your food dollars!  Let us know by shooting an email to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com and we’ll do the Happy Dance!

Let’s hope you are staying warm if you are in a snow band, like we have been.  And remember that you are loved and appreciated!

PS/Remember to leave some love for the Pantry Anarchy when you visit their blog!

Food Stamps Cooking: Holidays

November 24th, 2015

 

It's a pity you cannot SMELL this luscious soup!

It’s a pity you cannot SMELL this luscious soup!

When our guys come home for any visit they clamor for this soup! It is only cauliflower and onions but they fancy it is a gourmet offering!

It is a thick, flavorful broth that begs for crusty bread or crackers.  We usually have a green salad with it; sometimes it’s a fruit salad.

If cauliflower is not available you can substitute cabbage.  All I do is steam a head of cauliflower…if I were to use cabbage, I’d chop and steam that…and I saute a couple of large onions.  I work in batches to whirl the ingredients  in the food processor.  *You could use a blender, too.  The idea is to make a smooth, creamy soup.  It would be just as tasty if you simply combine the cooked vegetables without blending or processing.  You’ll have a thinner, soupier consistency but the flavor will be the same: GREAT!

To make it creamy I made a gravy (See the video if gravy is a mystery to you.).  I combined everything, added salt and pepper an stirred it.  When I tasted it, I felt that it needed “something” so I put some chicken stock into the mix.  *If you have bullion cubes you can use that with water.  It boosted the flavor and made it a bit thinner.  When I serve this I will sprinkle some parsley over the top of each bowl.  I am blessed to have fresh parsley but I would not hesitate to use dried herbs.

This takes some doing but it is EASY and very economical.  Often you’ll find onions at special prices.  The thing about soup is that when your family gathers for a meal the clean up is minimal.  That leaves more time for card playing, visiting, and looking through photo albums!

If you are a user of WIC or SNAP’s EBT cards you are likely interested to learn how to s t r e t c h those food dollars.  Maybe you have things from a food pantry, food drop or you get food commodities.  In any case, we are dedicated to serving those of you who use Public Assistance for your food dollars.  We only want to help.  We are not selling a thing.  If you want to become a Member you will receive a little series of cooking tips.

When this little  blog was created, Mother Connie was warned that users of Public Assistance would never find it.  Well, I’m here to tell you that users of Public Assistance are always looking for the best ways to help themselves.  I recently had a message from someone who felt she had benefited immensely from the ideas presented here.  This sort of feedback is what keeps Mother Connie searching for ways to keep on keeping on!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.

Food Stamps Cooking: Stew

November 19th, 2015
Tummy warming veg and meat with a savory gravy is perfect to serve your family AND your guests!

Tummy warming veg and meat with a savory gravy is perfect to serve your family AND your guests!

We had a guest who came for coffee and stayed for lunch!  The photo above shows you what we served her.  It must have been good, because when she was offered seconds, she readily agreed to have more!

It was a simple dish and food budget friendly.

I took cooked beef-you could use ground beef or poultry or even canned meat-and I made gravy.

SIDEBAR:  You can choose to make brown gravy or white (cream) gravy.  I made brown gravy so I used a bit of oil and added some flour and beef broth.  The video for gravy shows how to make cream gravy.  Both are as easy as can be.  END SIDEBAR.

The vegetables I used were onion, carrot and celery.  Classic trinity. You could use that or you could choose whatever you find in your pantry.  You could augment the trinity with your canned choice.   I sauteed the veggies til they were soft and then added them to the beef and gravy.  Before I served this dish I added dried kale bits and parsley for a bit of color and additional nutrition.

Dessert was strawberries, which were a gift from a dear relative we visited over the weekend!  Mmmmm…such great flavor.

It’s so easy to make tasty dishes, even if you are using an EBT card for WIC or SNAP.  If you have food commodities it’s easy to ‘build’ a stew with those supplies.  Choose your foods wisely, using TLC for your food budget.  You really do have a choice and that would be to pay the grocer or the doctor.  I am living proof that good nutrition makes for robust health.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.

Food Stamps Cooking: BEAN SOUP!

November 2nd, 2015

IMG_20151102_092928373_HDR

Ham broth and bits of ham from the freezer made for a yummy soup!

The Normanator and I are making every effort to prepare our meals by using food we’ve stashed in the freezer in order to make room for the piggy we’ve ordered from Norm’s cousin.  This piggy has been feasting on vegetables and watermelons and such like all summer; it should provide us with wonderful protein.

We invited a dear friend to join us so I wanted to present LOTS of nutrition for her lunch time pleasure!

To make this soup I placed the chunk of frozen ham broth into a 3 quart saucepan and heated it through thoroughly.  While it was parked on the back burner, the front burner held a skillet filled with onions, carrots, celery happy to be sauteed.  It begged for salt, pepper and a quick shake of onion powder.  By the way, it SMELLED divine.  I opened a can of white beans and placed the whole works, juice and all, into the ham broth.

SIDEBAR:  Canned beans in this house is convenience food.  While it may be ideal to use dry beans that have been soaked, on this occasion I chose to raid the pantry.  Canned beans are often found in bundles of food from food pantries or food drops, so users of SNAP or WIC which are paid for by EBT cards can also catch a break with canned beans.  END SIDEBAR.

The flavors married nicely as the sauteed veg were poured into the “hot tub” of broth with ham bits.  While they mingled I made a dessert that won the hearts of the people at our table.

I was so excited to make this dessert that I forgot to take a picture!  my bad…

Three apples were peeled and placed into a bowl of salted water so the flesh did not turn brown.  One by one, they were cored and sliced and placed into a heavy skillet along with a pat of butter and a splash of coconut oil.  I stirred them often, coating each slice with the oil/butter combo.  When they began to soften I sprinkled everything with cinnamon and a bit of sugar.  *My mom used to use brown sugar.  Either would do nicely.  Before they finished cooking I added a few drops of water and a handful of raisins.

No one spoke during the meal.  All we heard from the three of us were slurps of soup and murmurs of “Mmmm!”

The cost of this soup was nearly nil.  Two carrots, one small onion, 2 ribs of celery and broth with ham bits from the freezer kept the ledger in the black.  The apples were bought in bulk so we think they were about 15 cents apiece.

Now I’m dreaming of pork chops with apple slices…grin/giggle

Our mail was wonderful this morning…one of our precious members is doing a great service in her part of the world and she shared her story.  I will share that message with you SOON.

Are you relieved that we are not hounding you to BUY something? Nothing to buy here…we only share ideas that might help you to s t r e t c h your food dollars.

Please remember that you are loved and appreciated.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Because of scheduling issues, the Cooking Class planned for November 6 in Tecumseh, NE has been set instead for Friday, November 13th.  This class is still offered at no charge but it is important for you to save your place at the table by calling  402 335 2134. Ask for Terri.

Food Stamps Cooking: #HASH!

October 28th, 2015

I’m thinking these ingredients will make a dandy hash for our lunch!

IMG_20151028_091024253IMG_20151021_150124081

Whenever possible I like to cook once and eat twice (or more)!  Some time back I browned some ground beef; I labeled and dated it and popped it into the freezer.  Last night I moved it to the fridge to thaw.  I poked around the pantry and found a can of wax beans…thinking of color, I imagined a colorful lunch to delight The Normanator, who is a meat and potatoes kind of guy!

I will combine the famous trilogy: onions/carrots/celery with the beef.  I’ll peel and chop the potatoes. Nothing is easier than a one skillet meal!   A bit of salt and pepper and I’ll have a quick, easy, frugal main course.  The wax beans, heated in a saucepan, will round it out!  YUM.

When you are working *outside the home you arrive at mealtime, tired and hungry.  By combining these simple ingredients you can create a filling and nutritious offering for those you love quick as a wink.  You get bonus points if you can persuade the family to help peel carrots or taters; double bonus points if they will help with the chopping! grin

 

*This is just as true if you are working INSIDE your home, you stay at home mommies n daddies!

 

SIDEBAR: It is enormously helpful if you can spend some time on your day off or in an evening to pre-cut your veggies and keep them covered in water in the fridge.  That will cut down on your prep time when you are ready to cook. END SIDEBAR

If you have EBT cards from SNAP or WIC you are the people to whom we have devoted this corner of the internet.  Do you use  food pantry food?  Are you receiving food commodities or picking up goods from a food drop?  Any of you who depend on public assistance for your food dollars are the ones about whom we are concerned.  We hope to help you eat well and wisely and on a tight budget.

You are welcome to contact us at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com.  The comment panel on this blog is closed.

Connie Baum

PS/We are excited to announce that there will be a Cooking Class at SENCA in Tecumseh, NE on November 4!  There is no cost but to save your place at the table you need to call 402 335 2134 and let Terri know you are planning to come learn about SALADS!

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.

Food Stamps Cooking in the Clubhouse

October 23rd, 2015

IMG_20151021_163102789_HDR

This is Nikki, a young mother who came to the Clubhouse to cook!  She copied Mother Connie’s favorite spaghetti sauce recipe so she can use some of the tomatoes she canned from her garden!

It was thrilling to have Nikki ask to come and cook with Mother Connie!  She had some end of the garden goodies; I had some pantry items.  We decided to make soup, talk about cooking and food and hang out together!  Her husband brought their children when it was time to eat and another family of four joined us for the party!

Before Nikki arrived I assembled a few items to incorporate into our soup:

IMG_20151021_104026046

Not sure what Nikki would bring, I thought we could begin with the famous onion/carrot/celery threesome and these items.

I drizzled a bit of oil into a large pot and added the goodies to soften them and add savor to the soup…

IMG_20151021_150124081

As these veggies sauteed I added a bit of salt and pepper.  When Nikki arrived, we added her eggplant, potatoes, more carrots, and some canned tomatoes.  We also used a spoonful or so of tomato paste and just a touch of sugar (to cut the tomato a tad).   We had LOTS of broth and we added a bit of water, and  some precooked quinoa.  There was frozen corn and frozen peas to add for flavor, nutrition and color. Nikki had dehydrated some kale so those flakes were sprinkled in to add color, flavor and nourishment.  Vegetable broth was added to give dimension to the flavor profile and add volume.  We talked about how we could have used cabbage or noodles or other vegetable combinations. We added some basil to the soup just before it was served. YUM YUM YUM

Since Nikki and her family are vegetarian we talked about all the ways there are to get complete protein.  She is well aware of how important optimum nutrition is and we swapped ideas about what to cook and how to make various dishes or adapt them.

We also made a ginormous salad (which of course we forgot to photograph!).  We began by shredding dark greens.  We added tender, sweet butter lettuce pieces we tore. Then we layered kidney beans, cranberries, quinoa, almond slivers, Napa cabbage, broccoli and tossed everything together.  Shame on Mother Connie for not capturing the beauty of the greens on camera!

We laid everything out on the table and served the food buffet style from the stove.  One of our little guests, Ava, who is 10, brought a loaf of soda bread to share THAT SHE HAD BAKED ALL BY HERSELF!  It was tasty and crusty and made a fine partner for the loaf of sourdough bread that Nikki brought to share!

IMG_20151021_142005041_HDR

 

I think the littlest guests had fun:

IMG_20151021_185628550Jack, Eli, Ava and Lucy had the kitchen to themselves!

The afternoon and evening was more of a party than a cooking class!  It made my heart go pitter-patter.  I was as happy as a pig in mud! 

If you have garden goodies left you are no doubt fixing stir fry dishes, soups and canning or freezing things as you have the time. Maybe you use  food from a food pantry or you have food commodities.  If you have an EBT card from SNAP or WIC it’s likely you have created home made soups and such like.  Maybe you have played with the seasonings to suit your family’s fancy.  In any case this little corner of the internet is devoted to those of you who struggle mightily with  your food budget.  We hope to help you stretch the food dollars and eat as well and wisely as you possibly can.  If you have joined our ranks and are receiving the little series of cooking tips we offer, we dearly hope you find them helpful.

Our comment panel is closed but you are always invited to send your thoughts to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com

Connie Baum

PS/ SENCA will be offering another cooking class in Tecumseh, Nebraska in November; details will be forthcoming.  There will be no cost but interested people can reserve a spot at the table by calling 402 335 2134.  Ask for Terri.

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind

Food Stamps Cooking: TOMATOES!

October 14th, 2015

 

IMG_20151009_103325049_HDR

The Tomato Fairy has been very kind to us!

The tomato season is winding down…far too fast for this Nebraska girl.  Oh, how we love the plump, juicy beauties during tomato season!  We have been fortunate to be the recipients of  OPG…other people’s gardens.  We made short shrift of every tomato that crossed our threshold!

The lovelies you see here  were prepared very simply.  I washed them, dropped them into a pot of boiling water til the skins popped.  Then I peeled them carefully and quartered them.  The juice just RAN!  After they were snuggled in the bowl I sprinkled some basil over the whole bunch.

SIDEBAR: Dry basil will work just fine if that’s what you have.  I was fortunate to have frozen basil, which is essentially fresh.  Fresh herbs add a brightness that enhances the flavor of the tomatoes.  Whenever you have freshly grown basil, simply put some in each cup of an ice cube tray, add a touch of water to each cup and freeze as if they were simply ice cubes.  When you need a touch of brightness for your spaghetti sauce or other dishes, simply pull out what you need and use as if it were freshly cut!  END SIDEBAR.

These tomatoes were salted a wee bit, peppered liberally, and just a ‘scosh’ of sugar got sprinkled over  the whole works.  ‘Scosh’ is a technical cooking term my dad made up.  It means ‘just a little bit’…grin.  I also dribbled a teeny tiny bit of olive oil over the tomatoes so they’d be more ‘dressed’…can’t serve naked tomatoes, after all.  giggle.

If you have canned whole tomatoes, which can be found in food pantry bundles or food commodities you can season those just as I have described.  Tomatoes is one of those foods that helps keep the food budget intact because tomatoes can be used in a variety of ways.

Do you have an EBT card for WIC or SNAP?  Do you find yourselves living on a dime?  Are you watching your food dollars like a hawk because you receive public assistance?  Or, maybe you just enjoy the ‘game’ of being frugal.  In any case, this little piece of the internet is dedicated to those of you who may not be gourmet cooks but you are feeding your family on a shoestring budget.  We GET it.  We want to help.

If you have signed up to be a Member of this bunch, we welcome you warmly to the Club House.  If you are receiving the little cooking tips we send along we hope you find them helpful.  We love hearing from our members at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com.

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.

 

 

 

 

Food Stamps Cooking Club: $aving $

September 23rd, 2015
If you barely have 2 pennies to rub together, eating out is not much of an option. That's Mother Connie's 2 cents' worth...

If you barely have 2 pennies to rub together, cooking at home is a fabulous option. That’s    Mother Connie’s 2 cents’ worth…

Since this little portion of the internet is devoted to helping those who use an EBT card for SNAP or WIC it seems prudent to come up with low cost ideas to get everyone fed who comes to your table. *If you have more money than the other richest person in your town this might be of interest, too.

Personally I love to cook.  Not everyone shares my passion so maybe I’ll have a notion or two that might be helpful.  As you know, there is nothing to buy here; just ideas to help s t r e t c h your food dollars.

Today I’m thinking about fall menus.  There is a spaghetti squash on our table, awaiting some TLC.  I have big plans for that one:  I’ll make up some spaghetti sauce and bake the squash.  I’ll scoop out the strings that resemble regular pasta and hope I can find some crusts of bread in the freezer to toast for garlic bread. YUM.  Quick!  Cheap!  Easy!  How can it get any better than that?

BTW, jar sauce works the same way.  Especially if you are not into making sauce and/or you have a jar or can of sauce from the food bank, food pantry or food commodities.

You can dress anything up to please your family’s palettes.  Add some oregano to your canned or jarred sauce.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the whole works, or stir some in to thicken that sauce.  Or forget Parmesan altogether.  It’s your call.  *Do you feel as if you have more control now?  grin

If you are short on pasta and long on Zucchini (It happens often this time of year!) here is a nifty trick:  peel a zucchini squash and then peel off strips of the squash…the strips will resemble pasta.  Continue to “peel” until you have a good sized pile of “pasta”…no need to cook this but you can drop it into a pot of boiling water just to heat it through.  Drain it well and pour the sauce over the veg just as if it were real noodles.  It is a delightful change of pace and if you have someone in your gang who is sensitive to gluten they will be forever grateful you cared to make this dish!

I am very fond of cauliflower.  I plan to tear the head that sits in the crisper into florets.  I’ll scatter them over a baking pan and drizzle the whole business with oil. *I prefer olive or coconut oil but you have your own fave, so feel free to use what you like.

These darlings will go into a very hot oven (400*, depending on the oven and how it heats-or doesn’t) and they will get all tender and sweet and charred.  Roasted vegetables have way more flavor than veggies boiled or steamed or sauteed.  I’ll put a sprinky-dink of salt and pepper over the finished product and it will be fit for royalty!

I do the same thing with broccoli.  Sometimes I roast the pair of veggies together in the same pan.  I have even been known to shake some Parmesan cheese over the whole deal before it makes it to the table. DIVINE, I tell ya!

At the risk of changing the subject too quickly I want to mention the Cooking Class we’ll be having at SENCA in Tecumseh, NE on Friday, September 25.  *SENCA is South East Nebraska Community Action.  It is all about helping people, changing lives.  There is a Cooking Class there four times a year and it will be WAY fun!  Someone will talk about the Weight Watchers program and I get to help with dessert!  *I’ll share that dessert with all of you very soon.  Not everybody will be able to attend the class in person, after all.

If YOU are interested in coming to this class you need to know that there is NO COST for the class but you must save your place at the table by phoning 402 335 2134 and asking for Terri.

The Club is constantly welcoming new ‘members’…we are happy to have all of you here and hope the little series of cooking tips will be helpful to you. We care deeply about people, even more than food!  Grin

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.

 

 

 

 

Food Stamps Cooking Club: DIY

September 7th, 2015
Stirred custard with plums

This dish of goodness began with a DIY mix I made for very little $ and a few ingredients in my very own kitchenIC!

Our South East Nebraska Community Action Center offers Cooking Classes every so once in awhile…At the most recent class we made frozen meals.  We brought the meat and were given all the other ingredients to make the recipes and pop them into our own freezers.  IT WAS FABULOUS.

I want to share one of the recipes with all of you Members!  It is a simple concoction that can be used for casseroles, gravy, stews, whatever your imagination can conjure!  Here you go:

HOME MADE DRY GRAVY MIX

2 cups dry milk powder

3/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 chicken bouillon

2 Tablespoons minced onion flakes

1 teaspoon thyme leaves  (I used powdered thyme cuz that’s what was on my shelf!)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon pepper

METHOD:

Combine and mix well.  Store dry up to 6 months.  Use 1/3 cup dry mix with 1  1/4 cups water.  Needs 2 or 3 minutes to cook.

*I tossed this into the crock pot with pork chops and it made a lovely gravy.  I cooked potatoes and dumped them into the ‘hot tub’…it smelled divine and it tasted really, really good!  With a crisp cucumber salad and a dish of fruit we ate like royalty and were well nourished!

If you are a user of SNAP or WIC; if you have an EBT card for either program, you might need a bit of help to make those food dollars stretch.  Maybe you have availed yourself of a food pantry or got in on a food drop…any way to make the food dollars go farther is a good thing.  Here at the Food Stamps Cooking Club our mission is to help you eat well for less money.  We are not selling anything; we don’t nag you about anything.  We do have a little series of cooking tips; it’s not fancy and there are no apps.  Just some ideas now and again for those who use public assistance for their food dollars.  Cuz we love people!

If you need to comment or have a question you are welcome to send a message to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Tomatoes!

August 26th, 2015

**A series of unfortunate technical issues prevents Mother Connie from posting photos.  Unless the Blog Fairies come to the aid of the cause, that’s the status of pictures.  Alas.

Now let’s talk about tomatoes.

Nebraska tomatoes are famous for their rich red color and sweet, juicy meat.  Slicers find their way to BLT sammies and we who live in Nebraska seem never to tire of that offering.

There are so many other ways to enjoy this fruit.  I remember that when I was a child my mother used her home canned tomatoes to make what she called “Stewed Tomatoes”.    Some people think of stewed tomatoes as having herbs cooked into them and maybe some end-of-the-garden goodies included.

Mom’s dish was simply tomatoes and bread.  She would leave slices of home made bread on the counter at night, covered with a clean tea towel.  For lunch the next day, she would cut the bread into squares and add the cubes into a pan full of her canned tomatoes, juice and all.  She would add salt and pepper and a generous spoonful of sugar.  When they were warm she would spoon helpings of the red sweetness onto our plates, along with whatever else was on the menu.

One of the things we saw on many lunch or dinner plates over the years were ground beef patties, salmon patties or crisp bacon.  It makes my mouth water now, just to think of those meals!

At this time of year when the tomatoes are slowing down their production one good idea for using them is to include them with other veggies to make “Ratatouie”.  I dunno if that is French for “last of the veggies” or what it means, but by washing, peeling and chopping squashes, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, or anything that is still giving life you can make a terrific meal.  Toss the whole business into a crock pot and let the appliance do your work.  Season the goodness with garlic, onion powder, a pinch of chili powder or whatever seasonings your family clamors to have and you have the makings of a great meal.  If you toast a bit of barley to add to the mix and a few beans (canned are the most convenient and least cost effective) you have complete protein.  A cabbage slaw (if you did not put cabbage into the crock pot) would make a nice side for a nutritious evening meal.  And think how great the house will smell with all that homeyness bubbling in the cooker!

One of the cooking tips I would share with you about tomatoes is this:  To cut the acidity of the tomatoes you might like to add a bit of sugar-not too much-so that the flavor is enhanced.  Sugar seems to brighten the flavor of tomatoes.

And who among us does not love a tomato sammie?  A slice of bread, smeared with  mayo or butter, a slice of red lusciousness, another slice of bread and you have pure luxury in your very own hands!

Does the peeling of tomatoes seem like a bother?  The enzymes are just below the skin but tomato skins can be tough to chew or slice.  Try this:  Using the BACK of your paring knife, use a peeling motion from the stem of the tomato to the bottom, going all the way around the tomato.  Then as you peel that tough skin will pull away from the fruit without “mooshing” it.  You’ll have a pretty, smooth tomato to slice.

Another way to use tomatoes is to cut them into wedges, arrange them on a plate and sprinkle dry sweet basil (if you have fresh basil that’s even better!) and drizzle a bit of French dressing or olive oil over the whole works.  When presented on a platter over a bed of lettuce, this dish looks pretty and even the pickiest children will be more tempted to eat fresh tomatoes.  Remember to use a pinch of sugar over the top, too!

If you use SNAP or WIC to beef up your grocery budget, here’s hoping that these ideas will be helpful for you.  Maybe you depend on a food pantry from time to time or a food drop.  If you have food commodities or garden goods from a generous benefactor this might help you to s t r e t c h your food dollars.  This blog is dedicated to those who depend on Public Assistance.  We are not selling a thing; we just want everyone to feel as valuable as they are and help those who are in need of some food ideas!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there might be links on this page. Should they be clicked, resulting in sales, your humble blogger would be fairly compensated. Please do your due diligence when conducting affairs online or offline. Always do business with those you trust implicitly. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind. If you are reading this outside of the USA, you may be leaving cookies behind.