Posts Tagged ‘Food Stamps Cooking’

Breakfast Chatter at Food Stamps Cooking Club

February 12th, 2013

Tuesday always means a good, hot breakfast at Southeast Nebraska Community Action Center

Magic seems to happen when people or families gather around a table laden with good food.  Is it the coffee?  Is it the wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen?  The conversation flows, our moods elevate and laughter fills the room every Tuesday morning as we gather for breakfast!

Topics always cover community news-who is ailing, who moved and what’s on sale at the grocery store.  Today there was much talk about food.

Liver and onions; roast beef with onions; spinach salad and eggs were the headlines.  The whole bunch buzzed about whether to plan out menus for one or two vs those who pop something into a nuke machine for a quick meal.  We agreed that if we all operated in the same manner it would be a very boring world.  All this chatter went on as we were treated to a hot breakfast casserole, strips of crisp bacon, toast, peaches and OJ.  Oh, and that yummy steaming coffee!

Most of our breakfast buddies will return at noon for the congregate meal served at SENCA every weekday.  Friendships are fortified, news is distributed, and it is a wonderful service available to kids our age.  We are blessed to have a talented cook who is all heart-Loretta Pope does a great job in her role at SENCA.

All this got me thinking about what to present to the Food Stamps Cooking Club Members about making meals.  Golly, it is an ongoing thing, this meal making.  When you are living on a dime or depending on public assistance for your food NO MATTER YOUR AGE you might benefit from some help.  We dearly hope we are helpful in this regard; it is our passion and purpose, after all.

One of the things we do at the Club House is to cook a potful of eggs at one time.  Some might be used for salads or snacks and others are put back, peeled and ready to go, for a quick breakfast.  It takes almost no time to make a white sauce, adding those hard cooked eggs, for a lovely sauce over toast.  Quick!  Easy!  CHEAP.  Boom.

Another idea is to put one part oatmeal and two parts water into a covered pot or casserole into the oven at bedtime on very low heat.  You could toss in some dried fruit-or not-and a sprinkle of salt.  A good hot breakfast will greet you as you wake!  Quick!  Easy!  CHEAP!  Boom

Sometimes I stir up some egg/milk/cinnamon and soak bread overnight in that mixture.  This goes into the fridge as soon as the bread is added.  Next morning it takes very little time to pop the slices of bread into a hot skillet for French toast.  These can be topped with syrup, honey, jelly, jam or plain fruit-even yogurt. Pretty much a people pleaser!  This is also quick!  Easy!  CHEAP!  Boom

If you need breakfast on the go, granola might meet your needs.  There you can make up the mix your gang likes best, store it in your pantry or cupboard, and scoop it into a fridge container or plastic bag.  Another idea along this line is to peel an orange the night before and pop that into a plastic container.  You are out the door with good fortification and it’s quick, easy and CHEAP!  Boom

We would be remiss if we did not mention heart shaped pancakes for the upcoming VALENTINE DAY…topped off with red jam or jelly.  Stir up the mix the night before and it’s a cinch to get them to the table for your Valentines who come to your table before school or work!  Again-quick, easy, and CHEAP.  Boom.

The internet is filled with blogs with ideas of every sort.  Some of my favorites, as you know, are Saving DinnerCreative SavvThe Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking , Poor to Rich a Day at a Time and Living On a Dime. I also really enjoy reading CT on a Budget. and Monroe on a Budget.   I’m sure you’ll find tremendously helpful ideas about breakfast and much, much more.  Give them some love, won’t you, please?  And mention that Mother Connie sez hey.  Thanks.

Here’s hoping you leave some love in our comments panel, too.  grin

We are loving your mail…you can reach us at

We hope you are staying warm and feeling well.  We appreciate you all so much.

~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.



Need a Hand? Food Stamps Cooking Club

August 3rd, 2012

Sometimes we just need a little help along our way...

If you’ve ever stood in line to fill out an application for public assistance you know how that FEELS.

It doesn’t matter whether that assistance came in the form of food stamps or SNAP; if it entitled you and your youngster to an EBT card from WIC; or if you just needed a bag of groceries from the food pantry, you had to jump through some hoops to get the help you needed.

All over the country there are people who depend on food commodities and food banks.  They line up at various churches and other food distribution places to get something for their families to eat.  There are staggering numbers of people in this country who are living on a dime!

If you have ever gone through this, no matter how comfortable or miserable you found the experience to be, you may have wondered whether anyone really cared about your situation.  Maybe you heard snide remarks or perhaps you felt shame or guilt for needing food.  Hey, we all need help of some kind from time to time.  Here in the Club House we don’t care how you got here…we love you just the way you are.

You know how we love comments, of course.  Well, someone sent us a comment that knocked our socks off!  It came from a young woman who is asking us all for our STORIES.  Here is her comment:

“Dear Mother Connie,

I’ve been looking around your blog and I love what you do. First of all – I had no idea that succotash was anything more than sufferin’ succotash – but I’ll definitely be making some ASAP. Second of all – I love that this is a place for lots of different people to share stories with each other about challenges and successes.

My name is Meg Cramer and I’m part of the Public Insight Network – it’s a community of journalists and all kinds of other people  who share experiences and personal stories about how everyday people are affected by what’s happening in our communities.

I would love to give you and your readers the opportunity to be part of the news – and I would love to have the opportunity to listen to and share some of your stories.

Right now we’re asking people if they’ve ever needed services in the safety net –  like food stamps or Medicare –  to get back on their feet, and to share their experiences with us:

But we’d love to hear from anyone, anywhere, with any stories! Really!

Thanks so much for your time, I hope to hear from you and some of your readers soon!

 If you’ve got any questions, shoot me an email:



WOW.  She is inviting each of us to have 15 minutes of fame!  grin

I asked Meg what drew her to this blog.  She mentioned that we have a spirit of community here that she has not found elsewhere.  Does that mean we are not “increasingly irrelevant”?  Of course we are not.  We are the ‘over-the-back-fence-neighbors’ who help one another with the daily struggles of keeping body and soul together, sharing our lives, our kitchen tips, our recipes and other ideas that add to the quality of one anothers’ lives!

Here’s hoping you will be moved to share YOUR story with Meg’s network.  There are no strings attached; it’s all confidential, nothing to buy and it’s all up to YOU how much you tell about your situation.

Now let’s talk about FOOD! 

Spinach and Eggs Make a Delcious Brunch!

The ladies at Book Lovers Club mentioned spinach and eggs and my ears perked up.  I have eaten spinach salad with eggs but this was a new dish for me.  The discussion centered around the Dirty 30’s when there was dust everywhere, little money to be had and people lived on whatever they could scrounge up.  * There was no SNAP program in those days.

I took a package of frozen spinach, unwrapped it and placed it in a 2 quart skillet.  When it was thawed, I flattened it to cover the bottom of the skillet.  I put the lid over it and warmed it gently.  While it was warming I cracked 4 eggs into bowls to make sure they were OK.  When the spinach was warmed through I sprinkled a tiny bit of Rice vinegar over the veg.

SIDEBAR:  Rice vinegar is sweet.  Apple cider or distilled vinegar will work well but you may wish to dilute it with a bit of water and maybe a touch of sugar.  END SIDEBAR

Carefully, the eggs went in on little hollows I formed in the spinach.  I seasoned the eggs with salt and pepper, replaced the lid and let the eggs cook slowly.

When the lid came off about 6 – 8 minutes later, the eggs were done perfectly and the aroma was wonderful!

This was extremely economical to make.  The spinach cost $1.45 but canned might be cheaper and eggs are less costly than beef or pork.  These were medium sized eggs.  The nutrient content is over the top!

Do give this a go…your family might be pleasantly surprised at how tasty and filling it really is.

OK, kids.  You have homework:  Go to the website Meg gave us to share your story—RIGHT AFTER you post your comment here!  grin  Then fire up the stove and find some spinach and eggs; it’ll make for a quick, satisfying meal on the cheap!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  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.




Speaking of Rice at Food Stamps Cooking Club

June 26th, 2012

Here is a fresh take on Beans n  Rice!

The end of any month can be trying, what with the struggle of everyday life compounded by the management of skimpy food supplies.  Especially if you have a food budget that is tapped out!  Today we offer you an idea that may help you minimize the struggle.  By the way, this tastes good during the FIRST of the month, too!  grin

Red Beans and Rice

*Gee, how imaginative is THIS title?  smile

2  tablespoons butter

1  large onion

3   cups hot cooked rice  *Basmati rice, if you have it.  Cooked in broth if it’s available  Not to worry; the Kitchen Police will never know.

1  can kidney beans, drained

1/2  cup sour cream

1/2  cup grated Asiago cheese  *I repeat:  the Kitchen Police will never know if you use another kind…

1/4  teaspoon black pepper


Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion; cook til it browns, about 8 minutes.  Add rice, beans, sour cream, cheese and pepper.  Stir well , blending and melting cheese.  Remove from heat and serve.  Makes 6 servings.

This will be kind to your food budget and might become one of your go-to comfort food recipes.

Are you living on a dime?  Do you use SNAP or WIC  EBT cards?  Do you frequent a food pantry?  Are you eligible for food commodities?  Maybe you are a person who squeezes the grocery nickels until those buffalo bellow…or you might be someone who just likes the challenge of saving food money by s t r e t c h i n g your food budget!  In any case, we sincerely hope this little blog is helpful to you.  Helping others is our passion and we love to cook. 

You are welcome to offer your thoughts and suggestions on our comments page.  WE LIVE FOR COMMENTS, don’t you know!  grin  Thanks for your contributions and opinions.

If you have a mind to do so, you could even cruise by our partners and let them know we are having fun here.  You can reach them through their websites  Living On A Dime and Saving Dinner.  They are all about helping people, too, and they will be delighted to hear from their fan club!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  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.

Relish the Radishes at Food Stamps Cooking Club!

April 16th, 2012

Our Garden Guy had radishes for sale in early April! And they are beauts!

We drove into our Garden Guy’s place to deliver his paper…that’s when we saw his sign: ” PRODUCE FOR SALE.”

Early April and he already has produce?  WOW.  Impressive.  Later that morning I called him to see if the TOMATOES were ready;  the humor was not lost on him.  We visited him to see what he had and there he was, planting seeds in his expansive garden.  He looked up, grinned when he saw us hanging over the fence, watching him work.  He came up to meet us and that’s when I noticed he was BAREFOOT.  Now THAT is a man who loves the earth! He is a proficient and dedicated gardener!

He had a 5 gallon bucket full of large, sweet, bright red beauties.  I bought 3 bunches of the organic wonders.  We came home directly and I cleaned them all, sampling the crunchy sweet treats as I went.  We devoured one bunch by dipping them in sea salt and enjoying them immensely.

Here’s what happened to the rest of that batch:

Glazed Radishes  This recipe is from the Food Network calendar I got at Christmas!

2 medium bunches radishes, stems trimmed to 1/2 inch from radish top.

2 tablespoons or 1/4 stick unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

*As I trimmed the radishes, I dropped them into a bowl of cold water

1.  Put the radishes, butter, 1  1/4 teaspoons salt, and pepper in a large skillet.  Add enough water to come about halfway up the side of the radishes.   Cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the skillet and lay it over the veg.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the radishes are tender, about 15 minutes.

2.  Remove the paper and boil the liquid over high heat until the liquid lightly glazes the radishes…about 5 minutes more.

***Mother Connie wants to discuss Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, along with parchment paper:   I think the Kitchen Police will not enforce their “law” if you use sea salt or whatever else you are blessed to have for seasoning.  And pepper is pepper, right?  It would be difficult for me to believe that food stamps users have parchment  paper in their kitchens.  I’d be glad if they had enough real food to feed their families so I think you could use a circle of foil.  The idea is to let the water bubble and the steam can escape.  SO DO NOT STRESS ABOUT THE DETAILS, just get some good, tasty nutrition into the people you love best!

Club Member Carol sent a wonderful message to me that I want to share, as well:


Here’s a cake that I made for the first time yesterday:

While it does call for some pricier ingredients (buttermilk, pecan) see how I substituted to make this work for me, based on what was on hand. The pecans would normally be a luxury, to be sure, I am blessed with annual gifts of shelled pecans from my SC relative. : ) Walnuts can be used or just skip the nuts all together. This is a nice, moist cake but I frosted it with a cream cheese frosting as I had some Neufchatel that needed to be used up. Coconut, another extravagance, was actually part of an Angel Food Ministries delivery from last year that had been lurking in a Mason jar in the fridge (I was usually ordering 3 of their expanded monthly boxes and 2 produce boxes -don’t’ recall which “box'” the coconut came in) One can easily forget about the coconut as well. This was a use it up cake, as noted above, I had ingredients that needed to be used. Very adaptable recipe, I felt that your readers could use it! 


Users of EBT cards for SNAP and WIC will benefit from the ideas set forth here.  So will people who get things from community gardens, food pantries, food banks or food commodities.  We know you are pleased with what we offer you, for our Membership is growing by leaps and bounds.  Life is burdensome enough…by helping one another it will lighten everyone’s load!

Mother Connie appreciates every single one of you.  Keep those emails coming!  is the place to send your messages.  EVERY MESSAGE IS READ; yes, even that crummy, detestable spam!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  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: Healthy Holiday Meals?

December 9th, 2010

Can you BELIEVE IT? My Dog Ate My Blog Post...

Healthy Holiday Meals On A Dime

This is a Guest Post, courtesy of Edward Stern, blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and writer for accredited online colleges for Guide to Online Schools.

This holiday season, you don’t have to break the bank to create healthy holiday meals the whole family will enjoy. Too often families over spend unnecessarily on ingredients when cheaper options are available – ones that will taste just as good.

First off, when buying meat for a holiday feast, go for turkey or ham rather than goose or duck. You’ll get much more bang for your buck: goose and duck are expensive, and you’ll be dismayed at how quickly their meat is gone. On the other hand, turkey and ham will be able to feed large families for several meals.

When planning holiday meals, think of what will make for great leftovers as well. Those turkey and ham leftovers will make awesome sandwiches and other creations for days to come. A personal favorite is open-faced turkey sandwiches: get two pieces of bread, pile on leftover turkey, add whatever sides (stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc.) are still left, and smother it all in gravy, then heat. Extremely simple and quick, and for my money, just as good as the original meal.

When making gravies, don’t bother with getting anything at the store – just cook from scratch. If you made a turkey, all you’ll need is the dripping after baking and a little bit of flour.

For ingredients, cook from scratch with what you have-be sure to go over your pantry and plan ahead before grocery shopping-and buy seasonal or canned vegetables. Seasonal vegetables will be cheaper and fresh. Canned vegetables are very cheap and honestly no one will notice the difference. Oftentimes these are seriously marked down at grocery stores around the holidays.

Dessert is an area where people often spend outside their budgets, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Pumpkin pie is a standard, but the ingredients can get pricey and a pie won’t last you too long outside of the one feast. Instead, consider going with something a little different, such as a pumpkin cake. There’s a great recipe for one here and it’s pretty easy to make. You’ll probably already have almost all the ingredients in your pantry, it will keep well, and it will be a nice dessert in the days to come after the big meal.
The holiday season can get expensive. Make easy substitutions, plan ahead, and enjoy your leftovers to stay within your budget during this special time of year. Happy cooking and happy holidays!

~Edward Stern

Thanks to Edward.   We salute  Kristina Gunderson, who made arrangements for us to have this tidbit! We hope you cruise on over to My Dog Ate My Blog to see what’s really going on!  They have indicated they are changing their focus and they have lots happening in many areas of interest!  Be sure to let them know that Mother Connie sent you their way!

If you are a user of an EBT card for SNAP or WIC; if you order Angel Food Ministries’ bundles; if you depend on food commodities or a food pantry to help you with your food costs this guest post might well trip your trigger!

As always, you are welcome to leave your comment or you are just as welcome to send a message to  Oh, how we love hearing from our Club Members!

Take good care of one another during this holiday season, boys and girls!  We don’t need anybody feeling punky!

Connie Baum

The FTC wants you to know there are links in this post.  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: Oh, What to Cook?

September 11th, 2009

Garden Goodness

Garden Goodness

Here’s hoping the bounty of the garden goods is filling your freezer and larder the way ours is.  I almost can’t make ice cubes now that there are so many packets of zucchini and green beans and good things in that freezer compartment!

I am blessed with the “problem” of WHICH to prepare, not WHAT.

When you use SNAP or WIC for your food supply or even if you have your hard earned dollars, food commodities and food pantry items it’s the same story.  We all have to eat and it’s quite the thing to manage the shopping, chopping, prepping, and all the rest of it.  NOT TO MENTION CLEAN UP!   And as if THAT isn’t enough, we have to please the picky eaters in the crowd!

It’s enough to stress a person to the max!

We hope this Club can help alleviate some of that stress.  Here is a thrifty, tasty meal idea that might turn your crank, compliments of the University of Wyoming, Cooperative Extension Service:


2  cups lentils

1  quart water

1  bay leaf

1  pound lean ground beef

1  large onion, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

1   8 oz can tomato sauce

1   teaspoon salt

1   teaspoon vinegar

1/2  teaspoon pepper

1/4  teaspoon basil

1/4  teaspoon dry mustard

METHOD:  In large saucepan, bring lentils and water to boiling with the bay leaf.  Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, saute beef and onion in large skillet, breaking up the meat and cooking thoroughly.  Pour off excess grease.  Drain lentils, reserving liquid.  Add remaining ingredients and 1 cup of the reserved liquid to lentils and meat mixture.  Turn into greased 3 quart casserole.  Bake covered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.  This will serve 8 people.

Lentils are a marvelous and inexpensive nutritional powerhouse.  They are rich in B vitamins and B vitamins are known to help with stress.

Mother Connie would add to this wonderful casserole this simple variation:  In order to stretch the food and the food dollars it would be very easy to add some grated zucchini to this dish.  It could be added to the ground beef as you brown it.  As you know, zucchini takes on the flavors of its neighbors so it would just mesh with the beef and the tomato sauce and even picky eaters would be none the wiser!

Thank you to all those who have responded regarding the Cooking Class and the email message that was sent out yesterday.  It is your active participation that helps this Club function so well.

Please continue to visit our partners and do leave your comments here for us.  It is so gratifying to know that we are touching your lives and making a difference!

PS/Angel Food Ministries has a deadline for their orders…did you get your paperwork handled?

Connie Baum

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Is Everything Peachy?

September 9th, 2009

Fruits on the market 1

Beauties like these are sitting in sweet syrup on our kitchen counter.  The sound of “CLICK” as the jars seal make me feel comforted and more ready for winter’s chill!

The Food Stamps Cooking Club has an Advisory Board.  One of the dear members, Lynn Osborne, was an Extension Educator before her retirement.  She has long declared that canning is cost prohibitive.

I quite agree.

HOWEVER, we fell heir to a flat of peaches.  The intention was to put them, along with ’20 Blackbirds’ into a pie.  JUST KIDDING!

The peaches were ripe and needed immediate attention.  The freezer is full of zucchini and green beans, so that’s not an option.  So the lady of the house rose at 5 AM to peel and prep peaches for gleaming glass jars.

After using all that sugar for the syrup and all that electricity to process the peaches, I KNOW it was not cost effective.  But the satisfaction I got from seeing the finished product and listening to the jars sealing is not available at ANY cost!

Now to think about our evening meal.  I came across a recipe for a casserole that whips together quickly and is inexpensive to create.  It calls for canned soup and we don’t do commercial canned soups in this household so I will tell you that you can put 2 tablespoons BUTTER or OIL into a skillet and  add 2 tablespoons of FLOUR.  Mix that in the skillet with your mixing spoon until the butter is smooth and melted and the flour is mixed in well.  Then add 2 cups of MILK- OR LESS, depending how thick you want your sauce.  Use that mixture in this yummy casserole recipe from the University of Wyoming  Cooperative Extension Service:

E Z Casserole

1 – 1  1/2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained

4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

1  15 oz can cream style corn – cut corn will do fine, if that’s what you have

1 can condensed soup (USE THE WHITE SAUCE from above and yours will not have MSG or hydrolized protein in it!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the beef and drain it.  Place the thinly sliced potatoes in the bottom of a lightly greased 2 quart casserole dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Layer the corn over the potatoes, top with the browned meat and cover with the soup-or sauce.

Cover.  Bake one hour.  Serves 6.

Here’s an idea that will stretch that recipe and not offend anyone’s taste buds:  Use some grated zucchini with those taters. If you have HALF as many zucchinis as we’ve had this season, you are looking for places to “hide” them so they won’t go to waste.  Or your waist!

Another twist might be to top the whole works with shredded cheese.

I think we have a crowd pleaser.  Isn’t that just peachy?

Folks, if you are using Angel Food Ministries some nice fellow commented that there is a deadline for getting your order placed.  He even mentioned a coupon code.  Thanks for the heads up on that!

If you are a user of WIC funds or SNAP or if you have foods that came from a food pantry or food commodities bundle, we sincerely hope we are giving you concrete help and you feel we understand your situation.   Life is hard.  And then you have to COOK, for heaven’s sake!  If you are just watching your food budget like a hawk or you are coming to the end of your Farmers Market Coupons we want you to know that we are making every effort to help you figure out interesting ways to present food so your family will be pleased AND healthy!

Thank you to all those who have taken the time to visit our partners and to post comments and send emails!  YOU ARE THE LIFEBLOOD OF THIS CLUB and YOU ARE SO IMPORTANT.

Please feel free to continue sending your contacts to Food Stamps Cooking Club so those who would like may sign up for our infrequent email messages.

Connie Baum

Food Stamps Cooking Club: “Ping!”

September 5th, 2009

There are some that just make a foodie’s heart sing and one of them is the “Ping!” you hear when you put up canned goods and the jars seal, letting you know your efforts have been rewarded with success.

We heard that sound today after a few jars of tomatoes from The Normanator’s garden were processed.

It doesn’t matter whether a person uses Farmers Market Coupons, grows food in his own garden or uses SNAP or WIC or food commodities.  It doesn’t even matter if you shop in a food pantry, use Angel Food Ministries or shop in a big box store.  EVERYBODY is concerned about the cost of feeding the family and managing the food budget.

Really, it can be a blessing to be in need.  I don’t mean the desperate need where there is never enough rice or meal to feed the masses.  That’s a tragedy.  Your OWN situation might feel tragic to YOU-you may have lost your job or you may be coming to the end of your unemployment benefits.  You may have used your savings or your house may be in foreclosure.  These are dreadful circumstances and we grieve with you if that’s your situation.

But Americans do have hope.  We know the economy will turn around eventually.  We also understand that we can retool our skills and find employment and make our way at some point.  We are confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In that interim, though, we are blessed if we can take the attitude that we are together with  family.  You may not have the funds for a trip or restaurant food, but you can play cards or board games or make up plays for one another; you can help the children with their homework.  If you involve yourselves along these lines you will hardly  notice there is no cable hookup!  Kids may whine for things they want their parents to BUY but what they really want is their parents’ attention and devotion, along with loving discipline. This gives families a sense of security.

Cooking together as a family is a wonderful way to bond.  Your youngsters will learn about techniques, how to save money by preparing foods at home, and they will learn the fine art of cooperation.

Poverty can teach us a great many lessons, if we will open ourselves to learn.

Since we are in the throes of a holiday weekend and you are likely to be home together because of the high cost of gasoline, among other factors, you might like to prepare something together.  Here is an idea for you:

How about making some special burgers?


1# ground beef, chicken or turkey

1 large egg

1 onion, finely chopped

1 or 2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 cup grated zucchini-well drained

1/3 cup farina, cream of wheat, cream of rice oat or barley flakes

salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a good sized bowl and mix well.  KIDS LOVE TO GET THEIR HANDS INTO THIS KIND OF MIXTURE.  Form into patties and fry to a nicely browned finish.

If you have buns, they would be good if you pop them into the oaster.  If you have slices of bread to make sandwiches, that will be fine.  Toast them if you like and make open faced sandwiches with slices of onion, slices of tomatoes and lettuce leaves.

The farina, cereal or oat flakes and the zucchini will stretch the meat and make this a very cost effective meal.  If you need more patties than this makes, add a can of beans, drained and mashed to the list of ingredients.

This mixture also makes great tasting meatballs for spaghetti meals and can be made into a meat loaf.  Use different seasonings to change the flavors:  oregano, thyme, or garlic will lend nice variations for pairing with pasta or potatoes and veggies.  You can always make mini meatballs and drop them into soups, too!

Whatever your situation, whatever your menu, let’s hope you are enjoying your family and friends for this Labor Day weekend.

Thanks to all the new Food Stamp Cooking Club Members!  We welcome you with open arms and sincerely hope you find ideas that make your life a little easier.

We are grateful for those of you who have looked over what our partners have to offer.  They, like us, are intent on helping you solve your problems.

Your comments mean a great deal to us.  Please feel free to leave your comment on this page.  We will moderate them as quickly as possible.  Thanks so much for sharing.

Connie Baum

Food Commodities in YOUR Cupboard?

July 13th, 2009

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 occasionWhen 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;  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!

Connie Baum

Coupons, Anyone?

March 14th, 2009

All the news outlets are going ga-ga.  Each one is doing its best to upstage the other networks to bring the most news and best tips regarding money saving ideas.  That’s commendable.  The problem is this:  How helpful ARE these ideas, really?

Today I watched something about coupon clipping.  They showed the woman with her professionally tended fingernails and her professionally coiffed hair in her designer home, replete with granite countertops and matching stainless steel appliances. The children were dressed in designer duds.  Those images alerted me that she and I might not be in the same league. 

The woman talked about using her many coupons and she told her young children to pick out the cereal they liked because it was on sale…she loaded her cart with every bargain for which there was a coupon…I wondered if, when she got home, she would know what the supper menu would be.  Anyway, at the checkout counter, the clerk had to PAY THE CUSTOMER because she had so many coupons that the STORE owed HER!  Sounds like a good deal.


My take on that shopping trip is that there were so many boxes and packages of STUFF that is not contributing to the health of those children!  Sugary cereals, juice products laced with sweeteners and loaded with water from who knows what source, MSG…I think it’s fair to say that her idea of a week’s worth of food does not match mine. 

Let’s talk for a moment about your car.  Would you even dream of putting artificial fuel into the tank?  Would you intentionally wash it with polluted water?  Would you neglect to have the oil changed?  Of course not!  Sometimes we take better care of our cars than we do our bodies!  Our automobiles would recognize inferior products; so do our bodies.

Saving money at the expense of your health is false economy.  If you don’t KNOW what’s healthy, find out.  If you don’t know who to ask, consult your local home extension agent at the court house in your county.  We’ll do our best here at Food Stamps Cooking Club to help you know what’s what in the way of healthy, low cost foods and interesting ways to prepare meals. 

The visitors to this site are a great bunch of sharing souls.  They have been most generous to send their ideas and cooking tips to  and we have shared them on this blog as well as the occasional messages that come through your email.  We empathize with those who depend on food stamps and food commodities.  We understand how it is to need to visit the food pantry in your community and that’s why we offer help and hope to those of you who find yourselves in that situation.

We want for you to be healthy while you cut costs, too.  YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO US.

Spring is about to POP and that means it’s time to think about gardening.  Even if you don’t know how to garden, get a few pots and some tomato plants to set in your yard.  Your children will benefit, you will have some good produce to include in your meals and maybe you’ll have enough tomatoes to freeze or can!

Gardening is a very popular pastime in the US.  If you want to learn about gardening, ask someone in your community to teach you.  There are retired farmers and teachers who love to share their knowledge about working with the earth.  Some communities have City Gardens or some similar program.  Don’t be shy about getting involved with those.

If you ARE a gardener, solicit some students.  They can help you weed and harvest.  You can make some rich, long term relationships that way.  And Mother Earth will get some much needed TLC.

Coupons?  Nah, not so much.  Only when it’s a good thing.

Please feel free to visit our partners at Saving Dinner and Kristen Suzanne and if you would like to bring some money into your household, please check out this site: Rapid Cash Marketing !

Connie Baum