Posts Tagged ‘Cooking Tips’

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Down to the Bone!

December 9th, 2014

If you are popping in here for the very first time, we welcome you with open arms!  If you are a New Member, we are very happy to have you in the Club House!

This little piece of the ‘net is dedicated to those who depend on SNAP or other public assistance for their food dollars.  We are not fancy; we do not have apps and there is nothing to buy.  We just want to help you with your food dollars.  Incidentally, we have faithful Members who just like to  save money and are good at finding bargains!

At the recent Cooking Class we held at our South East Community Action Center (SENCA) one of the tips given was how to make vegetable broth.  We amped up the soups we demonstrated with home made broth which was not only CHEAP but really easy to make. *The taste factor was a WOW!

Today I ‘d like to chat with you about BONE BROTH.  The leftover carcass from your Thanksgiving turkey or any chicken bones, bones left from chops or roasts or any meat can make a tasty and highly nutritious broth for use in soups, gravies,  and stews.  The value of bone broth is the calcium that comes out of the bones and into the broth.  So you get very good tasting broth and a wealth of nutrition.  It would be a pity to toss this into the trash!

SIDEBAR:  There is a LOT of buzz about food waste in the home.  One lady was asked to weigh the waste that came from their dinner plates.  In only 2 days, there was a total of 4# (FOUR POUNDS!) of food scraped into the trash!  People-CHILDREN-all over this country are going to bed hungry and going to school hungry and people are throwing food into the trash at alarming ratesEND SIDEBAR.

So here is how you make bone broth:  Place whatever bones you have into a pot.  Cover the bones with water and season with salt, pepper, onion and/or garlic powder or whatever flavors your gang fancies.  Let it simmer as long as you like.  Taste the broth when you are satisfied it has simmered long enough.  If you like the flavor, it is done.  If you want to change the flavor, add whatever you like–sage, rosemary, maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes can do wonders to improve the flavor of your bone broth.

Strain the broth so you lose the bones and pour the finished product into a canning jar with a lid or covered refrigerator container.  Store in the fridge up to 3 or 4 days.  Make something wonderful with it!

WAIT!  You don’t necessarily need to discard those bones…if you let them dry and whirl them in your food processor you’ll make bone meal.  I know a lady who used to put the powdered bones into gelatin capsules and take them as a food supplement.  *I know.  It’s time consuming.  I don’t have time for it, either, but I wanted you to know about it!

Here is a thought for you to consider: pork bones and chicken bones make good pot mates.  Both are good when seasoned with rosemary or sage.

We love hearing from you!  You can contact us 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.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Turban Squash Soup

October 31st, 2014

Phone pix 2014 Oct 001Turban squash soup is easy, tasty and CHEAP!

Autumn seems to scream, “SOUP!  FIX THE FAMILY SOME SOUP!”

Of course you could pick up a can of soup somewhere but soup from scratch, seasoned to your specific preference is so delicious.  Squash soup is particularly filling, nutritious and easy to prepare!

Turban squash came to my attention when I went through my “Macrobiotic Phase” … I had never seen one of these beauties before and was fascinated by their unusual color and shape.  Turban squash are very dense and difficult to cut but once you’ve managed to open them up it is a breeze to oil the exposed flesh and place them on a baking sheet, flesh side down.  I roasted two of these babies in the oven for about an hour and a half at 325*.  Ovens vary…ours runs hot so you can see if 350* is good for YOUR oven.  Adjust the temperature accordingly.

As the roasting process went on I chopped a huge leek into rings, soaked them in a bowl full of cold water.  I rinsed them and cut the rings into quarters.  I sauteed these with a bit of veg oil until they were soft, adding salt and pepper.

When the squash came out of the oven, I scooped out the seeds.  Some folks like to roast those with a bit of salt for a snack.  Those are not popular at our house so I disposed of them, as I did with the outer shell.

The dark yellow-orange flesh of the squash went into the food processor, as did the sauteed leeks.

SIDEBAR No food processor?  Not to worry.  A potato masher works quite well.  The job will go faster if you add a bit of hot water and/or broth to your soup pot as you mash.  The idea is to break up the stringy pulp that remains so your soup will be smooth. END SIDEBAR.

From the food processor the squash and leeks went into the soup pot,  along with enough chicken broth to cover everything.  You could use vegetable broth, as well.  It’s a matter of using whatever you have.  After tasting this mixture I added a bit more salt and ONE TABLESPOON of brown sugar.  That was the magic bullet!

To make a thicker soup I added 1 tablespoon of corn starch.  That didn’t quite DO it for me, so I put in some leftover mashed potatoes that were just sitting in the fridge, waiting to be of service.  When I was satisfied that the soup was thick enough I called it quits. I wanted this to be smooth and creamy so I added milk until it had the consistency and color that pleased me.  You might prefer a thinner soup…it’s all about what YOU like.

As the soup gently simmered I taste tested it again.  It needed just a little something/something so I added a tiny bit of thyme.  I thought it was yummy but to make sure, I offered a spoonful to our house guest, who raved that it was “BRILLIANT!”.  Before I served the soup, I sprinkled some dried parsley into the pot to add some color.

SIDEBAR:  Had it been available, fresh parsley would have been ideal.  I dunno about YOU but we don’t have the luxury of fresh herbs so we lean on the dried versions.  END SIDEBAR.

We had half a dozen lunch guests on the day this was served.  Each of them has far more experience in the kitchen than I.  Everyone complimented the cook on the soup so I think that qualifies me to announce that Turban Squash Soup was a huge hit!

*I should have made a double batch!  It would be easy to do and that way there could be another meal, waiting in the freezer!

Changing the subject abruptly, I want to let you know that there will be a cooking class for users of EBT cards from WIC,  food pantry users, and those who have food commodities!  It will be held on Friday, November 14 at 1:30 PM at the SENCA office in Tecumseh,  Nebraska.  If you are in the area and wish to participate, just call the SENCA office to let them know you’ll be there.  There is NO CHARGE for this class but we need to count noses so we’ll have enough food for the attendees! I plan to show how to use things from your food bundles that are easy, cheap and tasty!

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.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Kay Speaks, Part 2!

October 13th, 2014

Canon City 003The Normanator and I are always glad to have great ideas for staying within the food budget!

***Please be advised that Mother Connie will not be posting here for a week or so.  Life has become chaotic and we need to step back and take a deep breath.  Here’s hoping you recognize YOUR need for self care, too! 

Before long we’ll be back with some great food ideas that will be kind to your budget!

***

Kay the Gardener was so kind as to send a huge amount of tips for those of us who must cook frugally!  We continue with her hints:

SIDEBAR:  I made every effort to match Kay’s fonts to Mother Connie’s. It did not work so we present her ideas AS IS with our gratitude for her generosityEND SIDEBAR.

“Sample Menu Plans –

Breakfast – I serve Oatmeal & Cream of Wheat during the week, with various toppings of raisins, cran-raisins, nuts, chopped dried fruits etc. For weekends, egg dishes for speed, pancakes or French toast for leisure. There is also juice or fruit, plus small serving of cheese or peanut butter on crackers, toast or muffins for protein. I save instant breakfast & cold dry cereals for occasional treats or emergencies.

Lunches – I have cheese, peanut butter & jelly or tuna sandwiches, plus soup & fruit. Sometimes I have leftovers from an earlier dinner, but in smaller portions.

If I am away from the house, I pack a sandwich & fruit & crackers.

Dinners – They have a pattern of Starch + Protein a la carte + another Veggie, plus Salad/Soup. Or Casseroles, Stir-frys, Stews… = 1 pot dishes.

I find that for proteins, the larger the piece, the more expensive.  For example a serving a portion of 4-6 oz of roast, vs 2-4 oz of 1/2” – 3/4” pieces in stir fries.

With veggies, it is the opposite – 1 large serving vs many more in mashed form, such as a baked potato vs mashed potatoes…

I also try to add something fresh to leftovers, so it doesn’t seem like eating the exact SAME THING all the time.

Examples –

1A) A dinner of thick-cut ham slice, with sweet potatoes/yams & apples or peaches + Green beans in separate pot, + Salad.

1B) Cut up leftover ham into bite-size pieces, serve with mixed veggies, adding leftover green beans & new onions, celery, carrots, etc in the stir fry, over rice + egg drop soup.

2A) Baked chicken (whole cut into pieces or quarters), baked potatoes, sauced carrots/celery dish, baked apples, all done in 350 degree oven…

2B) Cut leftover chicken into bite-size pieces, add to barley with carrots/celery & fresh onions. Cook on stove about 1 hour. Can serve dry or add chicken stock for soup, depending upon how much leftover food you have for dinner. Serve with biscuits, cornbread, potato rolls etc for something different.”

Kay, you have really given us a great many good ideas and we appreciate everything so much!

Those of us who depend on EBT cards for WIC or SNAP; those who frequent food pantries; those who use food commodities all understand how important it is to figure out the best ways to manage those food dollars!

The purpose of this blog is to support those who use and depend upon  public assistance for their food dollars.  We have nothing to buy; there is NO judgment and we welcome our new Members with open arms.

If you’d like to comment about anything food related or if you have ideas you’d like to share we invite you to send emails to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com. WE LOVE MAIL!

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.

 

 

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Kay Speaks!

October 7th, 2014
These darling little boys are our great grandsons.  Their mommy captured the moment they were about to display brotherly love with a smooch!

These darling little boys are 2 of our great grandsons. Their mommy captured the moment they were about to display brotherly love with a smooch!

Whenever the mail has comments from our Members my heart does the happy dance!  I could have hugged Kay the Gardener when she sent this message.  She gave me cart blanch to with it whatever worked so here, with our deep gratitude, is Kay’s offering:

SIDEBAR:  Kay’s ideas are fabulous.  Even so, they won’t all work for all our Members.  Please choose what works for you and leave whatever does not resonateEND SIDEBAR.

Budgeting & Cooking Tips for Food Stamp Users

Here is my situation.  I live in Portland, Oregon.  I am a single senior citizen; I’m in fairly good health.  I’m an excellent, creative cook with access to a stove/oven, microwave, refrigerator with small freezer on top.  On the shed off the deck I have access to a full sized upright freezer.

I was raised by parents who went through the 1930s Depression as adults. I grew up learning to shop at the Naval commissary/exchange every 2 weeks. We had a full freezer, thanks to our plum, peach, cherry & lemon trees.  We had gardening space in the back yard in the Bay Area. I learned to make jams, jellies & canned fruit as teenager, but don’t do that myself now…

In addition to local grocery stores and an Asian market, I use Community Food Basket pantry box once a month (fee –$15/year).

I like to plan menus.  I plan to have half a dozen basic breakfast variations; lunches are leftovers from dinner, or sandwiches, soups, & desserts. Dinners are typically casseroles, stews, chili, or a la carte items, with salads & fruits as complements.

Cookies, cakes & other sugary desserts are snacks or special occasions.

Being an introvert, I usually share guest meals with only a couple of friends & the next door neighbors (reciprocal potlucks or dinner plates), about 2-3x/month.

I also make a potluck veggie dish to share at monthly club meetings, where I’m willing to eat almost anything except the sauerkraut dishes (Yuk!)

SIDEBAR:  Mother Connie here:  Hey, we all have our faves and dislikes.  You are allowed, Kay!  END SIDEBAR.

Basic Pantry Goods

Starches/Pastas – small elbow macaroni, spaghetti & flat egg noodles, Mee-fun & transparent noodles & other pasta shapes (rotini, butterfly, etc) when on special at Winco from bulk section or Asian stores.

Other grains & Seeds – dry converted rice, with barley, couscous, orzo, spelt, millet, oatmeal, cornmeal, cream of wheat, cream of rice, 5-7-10 grain breakfast hot cereal, depending on availability, sesame seeds & sunflower kernels & frozen quinoa, for variety in grains.

Legumes – Dried – Red Kidney, white navy, pinto, garbanzo, small limas, black beans, lentils, yellow & green split peas.

Canned Vegetables – kidney, pinto, black, garbanzo, lima, green beans, creamed & kernel corn, pickled sliced beets, button mushroom pieces, with black & green olives & sweet gherkin pickles & canned pimientos for garnish.

Canned Fruits – Canned in own juice or low sugar packed peaches, pears, plums, apricots, mixed fruit cocktail, pineapple chunks, & maraschino cherries.

Canned Soups – Low salt versions of tomato, chicken noodle & clam chowder soups for quick lunches, with cream of mushroom & cheese soups for sauces. Have chicken, beef & onion in bulk bouillon powders to make quick soup stocks. 

Other Canned items – Sardines in water pack, tuna fish in water pack, Vienna sausages, canned salmon, canned crab/ shrimp for sandwich alternatives. Instant breakfast mix.

Dried Fruits – again from bulk bins – Black raisins for regular use, golden ones for special holiday baking, dried apricots, apple slices, prunes, peaches, banana chips, blueberries, cran-raisins. They make good snacks for munching in small quantities.

Frozen Vegetables – Plain style baby green peas, corn, cut green beans, sliced carrot “coins”. I use frozen veggies as standbys & mix my own combinations without sauces, instead of buying fancy “California mix”.

Also I keep on hand frozen 100% orange juice, both calcium enriched & “with pulp” styles.

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables – Basics – Apples, oranges, grapefruits, bananas

Basics – Regular — Potatoes, Onions, Carrots, Cabbage, Romaine lettuce

Seasonal – other seasonal fruits & veggies for variety, bought when plentiful, about 7-12 at any given time during the month. I use seasonal produce calendars from the Washington/Oregon Extension departments, available from library lobbies, senior centers, etc. for hints. These fresh veggies might be used 2-3 times each during the week, first plain, then in different combos.

Dairy/Eggs – I use dried non-fat milk, from the large (20 qt) size, made up in quart containers or on the run. Buy monthly – 12 – 24 string cheese packs, brick of medium cheddar (2 -2.5 lbs), 12 or 18 eggs, depending upon carryover stock.

Special purchases –pint of cottage cheese (2%), 1/2 pint non-fat plain yogurt ( = substitute sour cream), bulk Parmesan for garnish when needed, mozzarella or Colby / jack bricks for variety every few months.

I save plastic/ glass jars & margarine & bulk potato salad containers to store these items in, with the contents labeled on the sides & tops.

Meats – In rotation, to keep as basics on hand, I would buy a 3-5 lb log of ground beef, then cut & wrap into 1 lb packs for the freezer. I also buy the 10 lb frozen chicken forequarter packs, slightly defrost & rinse, clean & repack 2 legs/ package & pop them into the freezer quickly. I buy a couple of frozen 1 lb imitation crab packs & keep a couple of 1 lb packs of turkey/poultry franks in the freezer for quickie meals.

I also have in the freezer during the year, bought on special –

Beef –liver, kidneys & tongue, beef round – cut as a roast or thick cut steak, cross-cut beef shanks, 7 bone thick cut pot roast to cut into pot roast & stew meat chunks. (Rib-eye or T-bone steaks are reserved for when people take me out for special occasions).

Pork – small turkey ham, thick cut ham slice, thick cut pork chops, boneless pork loin chunks, pork shoulder steaks, mild pork sausage for meatloaves, & Oktoberfest style sausages in the fall.

Lamb – ground lamb, & lamb shanks, a full bone-in leg of lamb in Spring.

Poultry – a couple of whole fryers when on sale for summer BBQ, a large (15-20 lb) frozen turkey bought in the pre-Thanksgiving sales (eg, 49 cents/lb with $50 of other groceries – I buy my Nov staples around the 18th, instead of on the 10th of that month).

Fish – 2 lb packs of frozen basa (swai) fillets, a spring/summer run salmon fillet, which I cut into 1” thick steaks myself, & other fish pieces if on special sale. Most of my fish comes from the Asian stores, because the turnover is quicker there.

For all these frozen packages, I keep a running list of the contents, weight, date in & date out, posted to an inner cupboard in my kitchen, to help rotate the items.”

 

Kay has shared so much information that some of it will have to go into another post!  Such extravagant generosity!  Thank you, Kay!

 

So that is our tease, kids!  Stay tuned for the remainder of ideas from Kay the Gardener!

**Note from Mother Connie:  There are font gremlins somewhere in WordPress!  Sorry it looks so goofy!  Such is the life of a blogger!  grin/giggle

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.

 

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Roast Chicken

October 1st, 2014
This is such an easy, low cost dish.  It's tasty enough for guests and EZ on the budget AND the cook!

This is such an easy, low cost dish. It’s tasty enough for guests; tender on the budget AND the cook!  This set of hind quarters is ready to be  dunked in a marvelous marinade and popped into a cozy oven!

 

Roast chicken is so easy and so elegant.  It is such an easy fix, too.  I found a recipe in the food section of our Lincoln Journal Star that struck my fancy; when I served it to The Normanator he approved.  That spurred me to share it.  Besides, Carol, from CTonabudget  said she could not wait to have it.  She and I have been aghast at meat prices so the idea of a new recipe for roast chicken hit our hot buttons!

When I found the recipe I knew I was going to be away from home for a day so I put it all together and kept it, covered, in the fridge.  There was ample time for the flavors to marry.  I won’t torment you with the details of how delicious this was…I will give you the particulars and you can see for yourselves how yummy it can be!

Mother Connie’s Version of Lemony Roast Chicken

1/2  cup olive oil *I did use olive oil but any vegetable oil will be fine

1/2  cup fresh rosemary leaves *No fresh leaves here; poultry seasoning was what I had

1/4  cup fresh squeezed lemon juice *Bottled lemon juice was all I could find in our pantry

10 cloves thinly sliced garlic  *Garlic powder had to do

SIDEBAR:  Did I mention we live in a small town and our shopping choices are limited? The moral of this story is to use what you have and make do.  The flavor of this dish will still make you a star in your own home!  END SIDEBAR.

Salt and pepper to taste

3  1/2# chicken, 8 or 9 pieces…  *I had hind quarters and that was PERFECT.

In a large bowl, combine oil, rosemary, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.  Choose a baking dish that will accommodate your chicken pieces in a single layer.  Brush about 1/4 of the mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.  Arrange the chicken meaty side up over the marinade and cover the meat with the remaining marinade.   Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 12 hours.

When you are ready to cook your chicken, preheat the oven to 475*.  Remove the plastic, turn the pieces over and spoon any excess marinade over each piece.  Roast for 15 minutes.

Remove the whole business from the oven and turn each piece so it is meaty side up.  Return to the oven and roast for an additional 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and nicely browned.

This would be delicious served with rice or potatoes and a big green salad!  Any leftover pieces are just yummy when served cold, too!

This will serve 4 people.

Are you living on a dime?  Do you have an EBT card for SNAP or WIC? Maybe you have goods from a food pantry or you get food commodities.  Maybe you are spending the last of your Farmers Market coupons.  In any case, this little corner of the internet is dedicated to helping you manage your food dollars.  When you become a Member you will receive a little series of Cooking Tips and we hope you will communicate with us, either on the comment panel here or by email: foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com    There is nothing to buy, no stress or apps or fancy stuff.  Just heartfelt help with your food costs.

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.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Wednesday is Fridge Day

September 26th, 2014
This fridge is nearly empty; we did not want to return from a trip to "science experiments"

This fridge is nearly empty; we did not want to return from a trip to “science experiments”

Refrigerator 004        Even the crisper drawers were free                             from”yuck”!

 

 

 

 Nobody has ever accused me of being obsessive or compulsive-especially about cleaning-but I have found over the years that LOTS of $$$$$ can be saved simply by making sure all the food we buy gets eaten, not wasted.

 We took a few days to get away from our normal routine and visit a friend in Colorado.  Before we left town, I made sure there would be no “science experiments” awaiting our return and that no food would go to waste.  The photos above  show just how empty our cold storage was!

  If you have been a Club Member for any time at all, you know how important it is at our house to “cook once and eat twice”  (or more).  If the second go-round won’t be eaten by the next day, that portion goes into the freezer for a quick meal on another busy day.

  It has become my custom to designate Wednesday as “clean out the fridge” day…before any week end shopping trip I make sure nothing gets overlooked on the shelves or drawers of our refrigerator. I still hear my mother’s voice in my head,  “Waste not; want not!”  That  is my motivation for making way for fresh goods.

SIDEBAR:  Wednesday isn’t good for you?  Choose any day you like.  It’s YOUR kitchen, after all!  The Kitchen Police will never know and Mother Connie will never tell.   END SIDEBAR.

 First, I survey the containers.

SIDEBAR:  It is really important to mark each container with the contents and date.  If not, you forget what’s what and can’t even recognize what’s there for the reheating!  I keep a  marker in the drawer with the plastic bags so I can quickly and easily jot down what’s going into the fridge or freezer, complete with the date.    END SIDEBAR

 I take everything out of the refrigerator, one shelf at a time, and wipe down each shelf and the walls with a disinfecting wipe OR rag that has been treated with dish detergent and bleach solution.

  As the containers are replaced, I give them a quick  swipe, too.

  The shelves in the door get the same treatment.

  This whole process takes about 15 minutes.

  When everything is back in place, I wipe down the top and outside of the fridge to make it sparkle as much as the ancient beast can!  *Our refrigerator was purchased shortly before home refrigeration was invented.  Shh-hh…the poor thing has to go awhile longer; We don’t wanna jinx it!

  I offer these photos and tips in order to help you manage your food dollars.  Take what you like and leave what you don’t.  YOU probably have better ideas that you find more workable for YOU…and we’d love to know what that might be!  Just send your good ideas to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com.  WE LOVE MAIL.

  Are you living on a dime?  Do you use an EBT card for WIC or SNAP?  Maybe you have food commodities or you benefit from a food pantry and would appreciate knowing how to s t r e t c h your grocery money.  If any of these applies to you, we are happy to be of service!  We have this little corner of the internet just for you and those like you.  We offer a little series of tips when you become a Member.  There is nothing to buy and we won’t hound you about apps or offers or whatnot.  We  only strive to be a help for those who struggle to make ends meet.

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.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Summery Corn Salad

July 22nd, 2014
Here are the fixin's for an easy-breezy cool summer salad!

Here are the fixin’s for an easy-breezy cool summer salad!

 

Summertime and the livin’ is….HOT!  Who wants to hover over a hot stove in late July when the outdoor temps are soaring?  Not I…

We receive a monthly publication called “NEBline” which comes to us from the University of Nebraska extension from Lancaster County.  The most recent issue touted summer salads and they all have ingredients, most of which are available to those who use public assistance!

Here’s what The Normanator and Mother Connie are having for dinner tonight:

CORN SALAD

Yield: 6 servings

2  cups whole kernel corn *Use fresh or frozen, cooked and drained **Use canned if that’s what you have in your pantry.

3/4  cup chopped tomato  *If fresh tomatoes are not available to you, just drain a can of tomatoes and save the juice to use in soups, stews or a “stewed tomato” side dish. Chop the amount you need and store the excess in the fridge.

1/2  cup chopped green pepper

1/2  cup chopped celery

1/4  cup chopped onion

1/4  cup /ranch dressing

In a bowl, combine veggies.  Stir in dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

SIDEBAR: The Normanator thinks salad is not properly prepared unless the dressing is a Nebraska brand, Dorothy Lynch.  I hate to break it to HIM but people really could use whatever dressing is your personal favorite.  END SIDEBAR.

And here is the DELICIOUS finished product with The Normanator's favorite dressing!

And here is the DELICIOUS finished product with The Normanator’s favorite dressing!

Feeding those you love with funds from an EBT card for WIC or SNAP or getting goods from a food pantry or food commodities is never a cinch.  Living on a dime is difficult and stressful,  to be sure.  Since we are passionate about helping those who have no trust fund to pay for groceries we hope this little corner of the ‘net is helpful for you.

If you have not done so, you are welcome to sign up as a Member in order to receive our little series of cooking tips.  And you are equally welcome to send us some love at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com!  We dearly hope you will put a message in the comment panel.  To access that panel, simply click on “comments” at the top and bottom of the blog post.

And please keep yer cool on these hot summer days!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are 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.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Let’s Make Vegetable Broth!

June 13th, 2014
Mother Connie will show you step-by-step how this jar of broth came into being!  *Pity you cannot smell this because the aroma might make your mouth water!

Mother Connie will show you step-by-step how this jar of broth came into being! *What a pity you cannot smell this because the aroma might make your mouth water!

Making broth can save you a TON of money!  I paid $1.29 for a good sized stalk of celery.  I’ll show you exactly how I turned the waste from that stalk into a delicious ingredient for soups, stews, gravies or sauces.

As soon as I bring the groceries home, I run a sink full of cold water and let the vegetables hang out in it to clean them and rinse away any residue of sand or soil that may be clinging to each one.  Since I wanted to make veg broth (and save a ton of $) I placed the whole stalk of celery in the sink thus:

Making veg broth 002

After it had soaked awhile and was clean, I pulled it out, shook the excess moisture off and patted it dry with a kitchen towel.  I then placed it onto my cutting board and chopped off part of the end and some of the tops:

Making veg broth 004

As you Members know, Mother Connie is a big fan of cooking once and eating twice.  While I was making the broth I was also making a meal, for which I needed to use both celery AND carrots.  I scrubbed them within an inch of their pretty orange lives and trimmed the tops and bottoms, which were added to the celery pot.  *Celery and carrots need not be the only guests at the party…you could add onion pieces, chunks of taters, cut off ends of asparagus, pieces of any root vegetable, whatever vegetable strikes your taste buds’ fancy!

Making veg broth 006

Making veg broth 008

There was enough water to cover the celery and carrots and the whole works got a dose of salt and pepper.  It even got a dash of garlic, just for fun.  I set the burner low enough that there was a nice simmer going.  Little bubbles; no hard boil.

SIDEBAR:  If you don’t have extra salt or pepper or you don’t care  for garlic you need not fret.  You can always add the seasonings your gang likes best when you prepare the recipe you’ll use for your brothEND SIDEBAR

Making veg broth 010

After the veg cooked and the broth was full of its flavor  (I was very busy; it stayed on the stove for about  4 hours.)   I strained the whole business into a large bowl.  *I did this in the sink, just in case I spilled or slopped!  *As it happened, I cooked some potatoes so I added the potato water into the mix.  This means LOTS of richness for whatever gets to hang out with the broth as I am cooking in the days to come!

SIDEBAR:  Once upon a time, Mother Connie strained the goodies into the sink WITHOUT THE BOWL.  Maybe you heard the wailing and the gnashing of teeth at the time?  So I am advising you to get that bowl out of the cupboard before you pull the same stunt I did.  O my.  END SIDEBAR

Making veg broth 012

The final product yielded nearly 2 quarts of good, nutritious  broth.  I will use it for soup, most likely, for braising meat and gravy.  Then it will be time to buy more celery and begin again.

Do you use goods from a food drop?  Are you living on a dime?  Do you have things in your pantry from a food bank or food pantry?  Do you use food commodities?  Might you have an EBT card from WIC or SNAP?  Maybe you are just someone who squeezes a nickel until the buffalo bellows and you want to save money on your food budget.  In any case, we are here to support you.  There is nothing to buy, there are no judgements and we hope you have some fun as you hang out here in the Club House!

If this is your first visit, I’m excited to tell you that you can sign up for a little series of cooking tips, just for becoming a Member.  No dues, no meetings, just serious help for those who need to cook frugally!

We hope you will leave us some love on the comment panel.  You are also welcome to send us a message  at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com  **We LOVE mail!  And boy howdy, do we ever love our Members!

Connie Baum

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Food Stamps Cooking Club: Delaine’s Food Bank Chili

June 9th, 2014
With very few ingredients you can make a tasty, low cost meal!

With very few ingredients you can make a tasty, low cost meal! *Mother Connie is out of tomato products at the moment…

Mother Connie flumps through life, wondering at times if THIS is the path to be taken.  This morning’s mail brought tears to her eyes with a recipe and message from one of our dear Members, Delaine.  She is following HER passion, too.  Delaine took the time to share this pragmatic recipe and dear comments with us:

Food Bank Chili

1-2 cans of beans, drained and rinsed
1 pkg of taco seasoning
1 can of tomatoes or tomato paste
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.  Add the taco seasoning and heat though.  Upgrade to luxury status by adding browned ground meat, or use the canned surplus beef from the pantry, but brown it and use some onions if you have them.
SIDEBAR: Delaine and I have discussed the procurement of spices.  If you have access to food stores selling spices in bulk, you can purchase as little or as much as possible.  That may help some.  END SIDEBAR.
Delaine is a busy girl.  She is teaching people in need to cook nutritious foods.  Here is her comment regarding that effort:
“Easy enough for even the non-cooks to do, and delicious enough to encourage appetite.  It’s awful, but too often, I see folks dependent upon the food banks literally starving because of food boredom.  I encourage them to use their bread supplies as dippers for this, as it makes the bread more interesting.  Getting fresh fruits and vegetables to the food pantry dependent is also a severe challenge.

I was reading your information about how difficult it is for many people to cook and eat.  Much arises from the culture of poverty and homelessness, and much of it is spot on as you said: that learning to cook is fundamentally a family value.  I have taught people who have literally done nothing but microwave prepared packaged semi-food to prepare from fundamental ingredients, and the overwhelming response is ‘I never knew anything this good could be this easy!’ “
She goes on to say this:  ” I depend on your site and others for the work I do in the community.  Tragic also, are those who do not understand the fundamentals of nutrition or who do not know the basic foods: protein, carbohydrates, fats and minerals.  So thanks for your good work, Connie.  You benefit many homeless, and desperate people in Sacramento, CA. “
There you have it, people.  The whole point of having this blog is to help those who depend on public assistance for their food source.  It is not helpful to scold or shame or ignore or complicate the lives of those who have needs: how wonderful that Delaine has dedicated her life to offering others real education, assistance and care!
If you are a user of EBT  cards for SNAP or WIC; if you are living on a dime; if you love being frugal; if you get goods from a food bank, food pantry or generous gardener, we have a passion for helping you.  We trust you will benefit from the little series of cooking tips you will receive by becoming a Member and we look forward to your comments on the comment panel below this post and at our email addy:  foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com

The FTC wants you to know there are 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.

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Member’s Cooking Lesson

January 17th, 2014
Mother Connie has a hodge podge of cookbooks and recipes; some of her food notions live in her head...

Mother Connie has a hodge podge of cookbooks and recipes; some of her food notions live in her head…

You all know by now that the mail you send makes Mother Connie’s heart go pitty-pat!  Today  a message from a Club Member came in that really piqued my curiosity!  Here is what Delaine wanted to share with all of us:

“With food-stamp allotments being so small, and being cut all the time, I know fully how every calorie counts and how to count every calorie.  For me, I am in a very uncomfortable situation that most people do not understand, and that is for some of us, hanging onto every pound we have is as difficult or more difficult than losing weight.  Please do not envy us.  It sounds wonderful, but it is more painful to try to gain weight than lose it, as I have done both.  I was obese until I got sick, and now I am on the other side of the scale of having to try to hang onto every pound, so trust me when I tell you I understand the dilemma.
In the meantime, getting as much nutrition from every food stamp penny is my goal, and even when I am off the social network, as I apparently will be over the next few months, I will still only have the same amount of money for food as I currently have in food allotments.  I have many helps and hints both for stretching food stamp money and using ‘food for cleaning.’ “
Delaine goes on to share how she ACCIDENTALLY learned to make syrup on the cheap:  ” It’s just like the pancake syrup that is 1 cup brown sugar to 6 oz of Dr. Pepper, and boiled down to syrup consistency.  Cheap and accidental, because I was not intending to make pancake syrup when I discovered that!”
SIDEBAR:  Mother Connie is no fan of soda pop but a cook’s gotta do what a cook’s gotta do!  Go with what you have on hand!   END SIDEBAR
Delaine goes on to share her preference for comfort food that won’t break the bank:
“1/2 package elbow macaroni

1  can black beans
1  can corn
2  small cans tomato sauce
Taco season mix – equal parts chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and sugar.
2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
The trick to this recipe is to brown the macaroni thoroughly.  It should look like “whole wheat” macaroni.  Drain and rinse the beans and corn and add to the macaroni along with 2 cans of tomato sauce and the spices.  Add 2 tomato cans of water, reduce to a simmer and wait for all the water to be absorbed.  You may need to add water if the macaroni is too stiff.
This goes well with a pan of corn bread.”
SIDEBAR:  Mother Connie strongly suggests you add a green salad or plate of raw veggies OR fruit  to this menu, if that’s  available.  END SIDEBAR
We greatly appreciate Delaine’s contribution to our Cooking Class! 
Those who are living on a dime, people who use public assistance for their food budgets and anyone who holds an EBT card for SNAP or WIC needs all the help they can garner.  If you use a food pantry, food commodities or any other form of public assistance you know that it’s a tough row to hoe.  We hope to help in that regard.
If you have not signed up for our little series of tips, we invite you to do so.  And keep those emails coming!  foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com
We remind you, also, that you are dearly loved.
The FTC wants you to know there are 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.