Posts Tagged ‘cooking classes’
We are not alone.
According to Reuters, there are 34 MILLION Americans who are using food stamps!
My understanding of the matter is that this astronomical number does not include those who use food commodities, food pantries or any of the other helpful agencies who help people put food on their tables. Another example of such an entity would be Angel Food Ministries. This number also does not include those who qualify for Farmers Market Coupons!
Good grief! Maybe I should schedule more cooking classes? 34 MILLION indicates a lot of need!
The Reuters article states that enrollment in the SNAP program surged by 2% for a record 34.4 million people. These figures indicate that ONE in NINE Americans need help with getting food!
May was the 6th month in a row that set a record. EVERY STATE recorded a gain in participation from April. Florida had the largest increase. SIDEBAR: Incidentally, I am told privately that workers who process the applications for those in need are losing their jobs! END SIDEBAR. Enrollment, according to the Reuters piece correlates to the highest unemployment rate in 26 years: 9.5% is what is reported. There are those who feel the percentage is much higher.
Furthermore, Reuters reports that the AVERAGE benefit paid out in May was $133.65 PER PERSON. The economic stimulus package included a TEMPORARY increase in food stamp benefits of $80.00 per month for a family of four!
Did you READ that? $133.65 for a family of four + $80.00 = $213.65!
Not only should I schedule more classes but I must also increase the class size. That’s a LOT of need to address.
What are the answers? More community gardens? More education? More jobs? I would very much appreciate your thoughts on the matter. You are more than welcome to leave your comment on this page.
Let’s all work together to help one another and ease all our burdens, shall we? I want to give you the name of a blog that will hit your hot button. I’ve been following it for awhile and it is presented with great sensitivity. It is all about surviving despite food stamps.
Each day when the first wave of emails hits my computer I am always eager to see what’s cooking! I am blessed to receive a number of messages from recipe sites. Today I found something suitable for these hot muggy days but it was way to ‘chi chi poo poo’ for us commoners! So I thought I would trot out one of my mother’s old standby favorites for a cold dish on a hot day: Salmon Salad.
As you know, we are landlocked here in Nebraska and the closest we come to having anything seaworthy is the Nebraska Navy. We don’t have access to fresh seafood on a tight budget-many of us are using food commodities, food pantries, the SNAP program and maybe even Angel Food Ministries. Even the coupons for the Farmers Markets do not gain access to salmon, for crying out loud! My mother always used canned salmon but she also made this dish with tuna. She even used ground beef. She also subscribed to the theory you can cook once and eat twice. Cold ground or roast beef in a salad is quite tasty.
Here’s how Mom made her SALMON SALAD:
1 package of pasta. Mom was partial to shell macaroni. Use what YOU like: Bow ties? Elbows? Rotini? Cook it according to package directions, rinse with cold water and drain.
1 medium cucumber, washed and rough chopped-the goodness is just under the peeling. This time of year people are BEGGING folks to help them use up their zucchini squashes from the gardens! Great substitute! Or, use both.
1 can salmon, drained and mashed with a fork-Mom always removed the bones
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
*Optional: 2 or 3 rings of red onion-white or yellow will work, if you have some on hand
1 pepper, rough chopped-red is pretty but green are cheaper and plentiful in the garden these days
Salt and pepper to taste
I can still see Mom assembling this mixture into the big yellow mixing bowl and tossing it ever so lovingly. She dressed it with mayonnaise but your family’s favorite will work just fine. She used to put lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves on the “good dishes” to make lunch or supper feel like a special occasion! When she made this dish for guests, she added just a sprinkle of celery seed. Sometimes she would arrange hard cooked eggs on the top of the serving bowl and pass the dish at the table. She often served lemonade with this salad because of the balance of flavors between the salmon and the lemon.
No doubt YOU have family favorites that were simple and budget friendly. We would love to have you share those. Just drop us an email at email@example.com; it will make our day!
You are always welcome to post your comment on this blog, too. We remind you that comments must be moderated so they do not always appear instantly! If you are shy, you may remain anonymous.
All of you have been generous to share the Food Stamps Cooking Club website with your networks and we so appreciate it because when folks visit that site and enter their name and email address they are able to receive the little messages we send to our people. We never mean to impose but when we find something worth sharing we can give our people a shout out!
Our partners are very pleased that you have paid some mind to them, too. Thank you so much, everybody.
Plans are in the works for the event sponsored by SENCA later this month here in Southeast Nebraska, as well as our second round of Cooking Classes! Watch for that date to be announced!
The media is in a FRENZY!
As you know, the economy has people tearing their hair out, preaching doom and gloom and making an untenable situation even worse than it is already!
I refer to the “news” that a drooping economy means that all Americans are going to become even more obese than ever! Now I ask you: Is that a nice thing to say? I always thought if you had nothing good to say, you should be still!
Here’s the thing, boys and girls-it’s all about CHOICES. If you choose to eat cheez doodles and hot dogs, you will pay with poor health. BUT, if you learn how to grow sprouts in a jar on the kitchen window sill and if you check out the fresh vegetable section you WILL find good values.
I’ll give you a fine example of what I mean. Last week, as I shopped, I looked at the green leaf lettuce. Because of its rich, dark color there is great food value. It was awfully cheap-$1.69-(Thank you, Tecumseh Central Market!) so I brought home a bunch. I soaked it in a sink full of cold water and brought some of the withery ends back to life. Before it went into the crisper I carefully shook the excess moisture out and wrapped it in a thirsty towel. When it came out for use, the leaves were quite dry and crisp. It made wonderful, nutritious meals. One bunch has fed us twice and there is enough left for two more meals! THAT IS VALUE.
Incidentally, we do not buy commercial dressings; we use oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and we use them sparingly.
On television the same dire story about obesity was retold. The couple featured had just learned they were expecting a baby-and there this mother was, with a hot dog in one hand and a tall soda in the other. She was moaning and groaning about the price of food. WHAT ABOUT THE SKYROCKETING MEDICAL COSTS when a mother-to-be ingests NON EDIBLE food items? Just because it’s sold as a food item doesn’t mean it’s fit to eat!
At the risk of repeating my stories, I want to mention my own parents’ predicament when my dad’s company had no money to pay him his wages. FOR TWO WEEKS they lived on corn meal mush because that’s all they had. They thought they were very fortunate, for they had syrup to pour over it. And my dad kept his job!
People who use food stamps, food commodities, and food pantries are at a disadvantage, to be sure. But there is no point making a situation worse by purchasing something to put into your pie hole just because it is sold. It behooves users of these forms of assistance to be willing to learn what is nourishing and life giving and what is not.
Our Cooking Class has endeavored to teach people NOT to use MSG, processed cartons of ‘stuff’ and soda pop. We have done our best to bring information forth that informs our students about artificial sweeteners, too many carbohydrates, and using foods that are empty calories. Furthermore, we implore our students NOT to use microwave ovens.
My grandma used to talk endlessly about “making do” and I now understand what she meant. Let’s hope and pray those whose eyes fall on this page understand how much we care about your well being.
Oh, I clearly understand I’m preaching to the choir…let me climb down from this soapbox and remind you that we appreciate your signing up for Food Stamps Cooking Club and if you have not done so yet, please look at ways to boost your income here: Rapid Cash Marketing .
Today I woke up early, knowing it was my BIG EXCITING DAY! Thursday, December 18 has been marked on the calendar for some time now, hailed as the day for Session #2 in our series of six cooking classes: Shopping and Chopping; bring your favorite knife for Show and Tell.
Incidentally, I feel I must remind you that there are 7 sessions in our series of six…I never was good at math.
Well, to begin with, the weather forecast was gloomy at best. Ice, snow, wind and cold meant that the more senior among the class might balk at getting out of their warm homes just to watch Connie chop veggies. Then one pupil expected a phone call she MUST not miss. Suffice it to say that we had one brave student who dutifully brought her favorite kinfe. You’ll be interested to know it was a little paring knife with a plastic handle and she cannot keep house without it.
I was elated not to be alone in the kitchen! I poured a cup of fresh coffee and a tall glass of water for the two of us and began with a demonstration that would made pros on the Food Network and The Dinner Diva sit up and notice!
On the SHOPPING side of the curriculum, we discussed the sale circular from our local Tecumseh Central Market. We talked about which sale items would contribute to our good health and which ones would be better left alone. We are thankful that in this little town we have a market that caters to us budget minded food shoppers.
Considering the CHOPPING half of the lesson, I showed off my ability to sharpen knives. We chatted about WHY our faves are in the kitchen drawers and I demonstrated the cut for the ingredients for our menu.
Oh, the menu! Be still my heart! Considering that many people are preparing soups in this wintry weather and that lentils are very high in protein content, are a readily available, inexpensive choice, we ‘built’ a big pot of lentil soup! And it was divine. The recipe will be available for you below.
As we shared our lunch and participated in lively conversation about cooking and food and memories of dishes gone by, we bonded and looked to the NEXT session: “Cent$ational $killet $uppers” She can hardly wait!
We hope the weather man is more benevolent next month!
Here is the recipe for the WINTER LENTIL SOUP:
2 cups lentils, rinsed and soaked (I soaked these overnight)
1 tablespoon oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
6 to 8 cups water, or vegetable broth, or chicken stock (I used chicken stock today)
2 Roma or Plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped. If you prefer canned tomatoes, use a #303 size can and you may use the juice and all. Add these the last 10 minutes before you are ready to serve so they will not become mushy
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the sliced onions, salt and pepper and sautee. When the onions are transparent, cover them. Reduce the heat and allow them to carmelize. This will take about 20 minutes. When they have become brown and sweet, add them to the lentils and simmer together with the broth. Add the cumin and allow everything to cook together until the lentils are tender. Ten minutes before you serve the soup, add in the fresh tomatoes. The whole process should take about 45 minutes.
We like to pour this soup over slices of crisp bread toasts. With a little salad and a cookie for dessert, this makes a very satisfying winter lunch.
*VARIATION: you could add chopped carrot and/or celery to the onions and let everything carmelize together. This adds more nutrition and fiber to the dish.
**VARIATION #2: Chop bacon slices and fry in a separate skillet. Drain. Add the bits in when the onions are added to the lentils.
*NOTE: This soup lends itself well to crockpot cookery. Leave the tomatoes until the last, though, so you do not have a mushy product. Made today for tomorrow, these flavors will marry and the soup will be even better than freshly made. If you wish to freeze it, you can put in into a large plastic bag, cool, then freeze flat.
We made a large enough batch that this is ONE of the few nights we won’t need the services of The Dinner Diva !
For more great ideas, cooking tips, recipes, help with your food shopping and meal preparation ON A BUDGET, please consult: Food Stamps Cooking Club !
History was made today! It was the best fun I’ve had all week!
The first of the series of Cooking Classes is all over but the shouting…it was so much fun! By now you understand that if it isn’t fun, I’m not interested in the effort! Grin/Wink
The discussion centered around the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer. We had a lunch of soup-using split peas, pantry goods, and carrots from the fridge. There was a bean salad in a lettuce cup, too. Dessert? HOME MADE chocolate pudding FROM SCRATCH. Oh, be still, my heart! All my fave raves!
That I opened every cupboard, every door, every drawer was the biggest surprise. But if students are to learn how to manage their food budgets well it will help them to know how to manage the whole kitchen efficiently.
I wanted there to be enlightenment. I yearned for what I love and enjoy about cooking to be infused into the students. I so hoped the food would please the palates.
The evaluation form said it all. I got comments that warmed my heart: “I most appreciated the Teacher’s TIME” and “I will incorporate some of the suggestions I heard here today”. The comment that motivates me the very most was the one that seems to be the most heartfelt: “Please, MORE MORE MORE of the same”!
Next session? Show and Tell: Shopping and Chopping. They will bring their favorite knives and we can talk food prep like old friends. Besides that? We get to drink coffee!
My fervent hope is that folks will visit Food Stamps Cooking Club, get into the loop, and join the fun! These classes have the potential to help a lot of people!
My parents were in the grocery business for many years. My mother could choose anything she liked from any aisle in that little store and she could order whatever struck her fancy. EXCEPT, when there were damaged goods to be used not sold or when there was a piece of meat that was not quite fresh enough for a customer.
The problem was that my mother was not all that wild about food PREPARATION.
I GET that. She worked in the store and was as responsible as my father for stocking the shelves, ordering the merchandise, cleaning the floors, and checking out the customers’ orders. She was the #1 Carry Out Girl, too. She was good with people and children and the public appreciated her many attributes.
But when her workday ended, like many working people, there was a meal to prepare. She would wail, “Nothing sounds good” because she probably was too tired to eat, let alone prepare a meal for the three of us.
I am not my mother’s daughter in that respect. I love food as much as I love people and it gives me great satisfaction to plan and prepare meals. Having guests here to share a meal is a big bonus.
That’s why I am so excited for the Cooking Classes! We get to hang out, talk about food, prepare food, eat food, and the plan is that people will get help with their kitchen duties as well as their food budgets and their health!
WEEK ONE will find our group looking over the pantry and thinking about the refrigerator and freezer. A cooking tip went out into cyberspace earlier today reminding people that cleaning out the fridge can be a weekly task (NOT a CHORE) and it should not be something to dread or obsess about. Since we will be meeting in our modest kitchen it will be like a gathering of neighbors.
Part of the delight of these classes is living life with passion, zest and gusto! Whatever gives YOU delight is the thing you would be wise to follow.
Maybe geography keeps you from coming to our little class. In that case, you can access help from our partners: Leanne Ely and Kristen Suzanne . They have so many ideas you’ll have no reason to think nothing sounds good!
To receive cooking tips in YOUR inbox, please visit Food Stamps Cooking Club !
Everyone needs something to which they look forward. It may be an humble trip to the grocery store to pick up menu items for Sunday dinner or it may be a grand shopping expedition to gather the necessities for baking goodies meant for holiday gifts. In any case, there is a sense of expectation and excitement!
We have that sense of excitement here in the Club House! We are anticipating the first of a series of cooking classes beginning this very week! Each session has been planned and named and the handouts are in little folders, ready for the students.
We have limited the number of attendees for each class to three for a couple of reasons: First, we want to make sure everyone gets the proper attention they deserve for taking the time to pop by and participate in the fun and learning. Second, this little kitchen only has room for dishes in place settings of 4; all that did not fit into the cabinets waits patiently in storage while we manifest a larger home!
The Food Stamps Cooking Club’s first session will be something akin to a coffee klatch, where we will get acquainted and we can understand what the level of understanding is regarding culinary skills. We will discuss stocking the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer. The students will quickly discern that this kitchen is no fancy, tricked out, ultra-super test kitchen. It is simply the heart of our home that we wish to open, along with our hearts, to people who may benefit from our experience and caring.
When choosing items to put into your shopping cart, consider the value of store brands. If the name brand is comparable in size and content, the store brand is likely to be the better bargain for your buck. In my own experience, I have learned that the store brand is preferable in quality and price. Locally, we have an affiliate for Shurfine Foods and I appreciate that I can save money by shopping locally, at Tecumseh Central Market, and save real cash on my food budget. If we don’t buy locally, we have to drive a ways to shop and that would cost time as well as money.
Here is a low cost and healthy salad recipe you may want to add to your collection. If your family enjoys beans as much as we do, this will disappear quickly. It comes from Emily Tarbell.
1 – 15 oz can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 – 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes, chopped (seed if you like)
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 to 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Combine all and mix well. Chill 15 – 30 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
If you have not already done so, you will want to visit the Food Stamps Cooking Club to leave your email address in order to get the information and money-saving report that has been prepared for you.