Posts Tagged ‘Living On a Dime’

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: Emails and Phone Calls!

July 30th, 2014

July 2014 017This is the Food Stamps Cooking Club Calling Card!

Do you ever feel crunched for time?  You humble blogger certainly does!  Between spine issues, upcoming events, day-to-day housekeeping and life in general, time slips away very quickly, it seems.  Of course, considering how many, many years I’ve been 33 that MIGHT have something to do with it.  I’m told that Seniors do slow down.  *I hope it’s just a rumor.

Every one of our posts has our email address.  I’d love to share with you the incoming email that hit my hot button this morning!  What a lovely way to greet the day:

“Hi!

I have had some thoughts about hunger (you don’t say?) and several things stand out in my mind.  In the USA today, people are going hungry and not from a lack of food.  Goddess!!!  You should see what we have to toss because there was no one to eat it!  Hunger is a lack of knowledge.  If I have heard, “Wow!  I never knew…” once, I have heard it a thousand times!  I do not know how many times I have said the following things are not only lacking in nutrition, they are downright BAD for you:
Anything that has O’s in it – cheetos, fritos, doritos and the like
Anything that says “helper” on it.  There’ s no helper – there’s hinder-er.  You’d be better off just eating a can of tuna and some whole grain bread for pennies compared to the cost of the “helper”
Anything with microwave instructions.
Anything that has 2 wrappers i.e. box and tray
Anything that fizzes and that includes beer!
Then I start the education process, but even knowledge is not enough.  There is the absolute part called motivation.  Sure, there are nights that I don’t want to cook – lots of them.  But a cold salad and some whole grain bread and cheese is a meal in seconds.  One of my all time favorites is to spread goat cheese on a baguette slice and top with a thin slice of apple.  For those who don’t like goat cheese, use cream cheese.
So many people that I work with who have been among the classes for a while are actually showing a surplus of food stamp money at the end of the month because I have taught them that the bulk aisle is their friend.  We stay away from the center of the store for the most part because the loss leaders, produce, meat and poultry, bulk section, dairy and bakery are on the perimeter of the store.  They are learning to network together, and last month, we actually made stone soup for the last Thursday in June.
 I closed that lesson with the Stone Soup fable…
Love,
Delaine”
Delaine makes some salient points  and we thank  her with a grateful heart.  It would be fun to know what YOUR thoughts are…
There was an interesting phone conversation in the Club House this week,  as well. Someone called about the domain name for this corner of the internet.  During the course of the conversation I explained that this exists for the purpose of helping people who use public assistance for their food dollars.  The caller was AMAZED and really interested to know more about it.  Come to find out, this caller became the newest Member of the Food Stamps Cooking Club!  *Fist Bump!
The National Geographic magazine sent me on a RANT earlier.  I’ll be venting about THAT soon.  Meantime, I’ll have some tests done for which I cannot study and I’m told I’ll be out of commission for some time.  Stay tuned,  kids, people need help.  If those of us who have banded together to support those people, WHO WILL?
One more point:  A hands-on cooking class will be scheduled soon for Johnson County, NE!
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: Freezing Zucchini!

July 17th, 2014

The Normanator took command of our trusty  old  Saladmaster machine and after we had peeled a monster zuke, he chopped a batch …

Freezing Zucchini 001

And froze half a dozen bags:

Freezing Zucchini 002

This is not a glamor job nor is it brain surgery but it is wonderful to have this in our freezer!

SIDEBAR:  You don’t need a fancy, high priced machine to chop these babies!  If you have a food processor, that will work.  If you have a box grater, that’s good for this project.  Help your children learn safe methods for peeling the veg, if you feel that’s appropriate, and the older youngsters can CAREFULLY use the box grater with adult supervision.  END SIDEBAR.

Zucchini can be used in so many ways and they all save money!

*Who does not love great ways of  S T R E T C H I N G their food dollars?

We love to add it to stir fry dishes, fresh veggie salads, and for stretching leftover stews or soups.  My favorite use of zucchini, though, is to peel and chop it to cook with potatoes.  When you mash potatoes that have been in the ‘hot tub’ with zucchini, NO ONE will ever know those guys were there!  Add a bit of butter and milk to the mashed beauties and it will look and taste 100% like “smashed” taters!  Another idea:  Add some grated zukes to your spaghetti sauce!

Another great use of zukes is to wash and cut the smaller to medium sized ones in half, LENGTHWISE.  Scoop out the seeds,  leaving a hollow and place them on a greased baking sheet.  You can fill that little opening with pieces  of onion, celery, carrot and drizzle a bit of cooking oil over each little “boat”.  Season them with salt and pepper and garlic, if you have some.  Slide them into a 375* oven until the veg is tender.  When they come out of the oven you can sprinkle a bit of cheese over the tops and let that melt.  That’s really a meal in itself.  Add a few biscuits; serve fruit for dessert and you have a delicious, tummy pleasing menu for those you love best!

For those of you who may be new here, this little corner of the internet is dedicated to those who depend on public assistance for their food dollars.  If you hold an EBT card for SNAP or WIC; if you get goods from a food pantry or use food commodities, we want you to know that we support you in the best way we know how.  We help you cook with the goods you might have on hand.

And to those of you who might be contributors to your local food pantry, might we suggest you pick up a spice or two for your next donation?  You might even consider getting a salt/pepper set to take to your local caring cupboard.  Word is that these items are often overlooked by donors and funds are so tight that there is no room in the food budget for such “luxuries”….it’s something to consider.

Are you living on a dime? If so, you no doubt have picked up a tip or two you might like to share with the other Members.  There is a modest series of cooking tips that you will  receive if you join our numbers.  We think those of you in the trenches might teach Mother Connie a thing or two, along with some of the other Members!  wink/wink  *Don’t be shy; send YOUR tips and tricks to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com.

So enjoy the bounty of all those zucchinis and do remember you are loved and appreciated.

 

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

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: 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: Keep Calm and Scramble Eggs!

June 2nd, 2014

 

Eggs make a simple, low cost, tummy filling meal in minutes.  And talk about EASY-DO!

Eggs make a simple, low cost, tummy filling meal in minutes. And talk about EASY-DO!

As you all know this little corner of the internet is dedicated to users of public assistance for their food dollars.  That would include holders of EBT cards for SNAP and WIC as well as those who  visit food pantries, food banks, food drops, and food commodities.

It was my privilege to attend a large conference recently where I met people who work in food pantries.  The concern seems to be  “WHY do users of public assistance not know how to shop wisely and prepare healthy foods at home?”

This is not neuroscience, my friends. MANY of us are living on  a dime…  Here’s the deal:  People who need help with their food dollars are those who grew up poor or became needy from medical circumstances or had bad luck or made choices that put them into financial straits.  Most likely as they were growing up, their caretakers were working two jobs each to keep body and soul together and there was no time or opportunity for the next generation to learn how to shop or cook.  It may have been “catch as catch can” when it came to the business of mealtime.  Maybe they live in places where good food supplies are uncertain and sometimes unavailable.

Enter Mother Connie!  My passion is for people who want to learn to work with the resources they have in order to S T R E T C H those food dollars to get the help they need AND for those same people to feel appreciated and respected and loved as people.  There will be no scolding, no shaming, no judgement in this little part of the world. We just wanna HELP.

Today I want to share with you how EASY it is to scramble the humble egg.  Eggs are an inexpensive source of protein and can star in any menu-breakfast, lunch or dinner.

 

Begin by GENTLY heating a coupla pats o butter or a bit of veggie oil..

Begin by GENTLY heating a coupla pats o butter or a bit of veggie oil..

While your butter or oil warm, choose two eggs for each diner and one for the skillet.  *ALMOST the same as the rule for potatoes:  “one for each face around the table and one for the pot.”   Here are the eggs we fixed for today’s lunch:

Scrambled Eggs 2014 002

Mom always taught me to break each egg into a small bowl before I added it into a batch so a bad egg would not ruin the whole works.  You can see that the small bowl was eliminated here and the reason is that these eggs are farm fresh and we have NEVER found a bad egg in the many eggs we get from this resource!  This big bowl is what they were mixed in before the skillet was warm and ready to receive the goodies!

I used a whisk to mix the eggs gently but thoroughly.

SIDEBAR:  Our kitchen is NOT tricked  out with granite counters, double dishwashers, warming ovens, and islands with cook tops.  I’m guessing neither is YOURS.  So if you have no whisk, keep calm and grab a fork.  *However, I would not recommend a plastic fork grin/giggle.  END SIDEBAR

The next step requires a bit of patience because the cook – or the cook’s assistant – would be wise to keep those eggs moving so they don’t cook in a bunch.  You want scrambled eggs to be smooth and almost creamy.  Just stir them with your whisk or fork until they don’t look shiny any more.  At the beginning you can season them with plain ole salt and pepper:

Scrambled Eggs 2014 007

If you want to add texture to scrambled eggs, a nice addition *if you have the time* is to finely chop some onion and celery and/or peppers into the mix.  Just drop the chopped goods into the eggs as you start the cooking process and they will provide nutrition and crunch.

Ketchup is a good condiment if you don’t prefer plain eggs; salsa is a popular one, as well.  Use whatever you have on hand and enjoy every bite.  If you have some bread for toasting, that is a good partner for eggs.  You might like to have canned peaches for dessert if it’s lunch or dinner. And if you are making eggs for breakfast, applesauce makes a great breakfast starter.

Here’s hoping this helps you immensely.  We also hope you have the time and inclination to add your comment on the comment panel below this post.

Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by and you need to know how TICKLED we are to see all the new members who have hopped on board,  despite the issues we’ve had of late!  Please know you are ALL loved and appreciated.

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.

 PS/You can contact us at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com , too!

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Little Ole Lentils

May 21st, 2014
Lentils May 14 002

Lentils make a delicious stand-alone entree, work as a filling side dish, or make a wonderful addition to home made soups and stews!

 

Those of us who MUST keep to a budget need to figure out the cheapest way to feed the people we love best.  If you are a user of SNAP or WIC or if you have food from a food pantry or use food commodities this info is not a news flash.

Something I enjoy cooking and eating are little ole lentils.  They are inexpensive to buy, fast and easy to prepare, and they are satisfying when I’m really hungry.  For me, lentils are comfort food.

If you are unfamiliar with lentils you might be interested to know that they come in pretty colors! Depending where you shop you might discover orange, red or yellow lentils.  The most common find will be green and brown.  They all taste pretty much the same and cook the same way but I have discovered that the green or brown do not become so mushy after they are cooked.

Lentils on their own are fine but I prefer to add some sauteed veggies when I prepare them.  I have a favorite cast iron skillet I use to saute vegetables so I like to chop an onion and a rib of celery, and add some carrot shavings for color and texture.  I love cooking lentils in home made vegetable broth.  The proportion I like to use is 1 cup lentils to 2 cups liquid.

SIDEBAR:  Cooking lentils in plain ole tap water will be just fine.  Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember that it is ALL small stuff.  If you are out of carrots or celery, the Kitchen Police will not arrest you.   END SIDEBAR

The beauty of lentils is that they do not need to be soaked.

SIDEBAR:  At a church picnic I went to once there was a huge, LOUD debate which was accompanied by extreme laughter about whether or not to soak beans.  If you ever bring a bean dish to one of our famous First-of-the-Month Fellowship dinners, you WILL be asked if they were soaked or not soaked!  This question will be followed by gales of laughter. **I suppose you would have had to BE there to think this is as funny as I do.  END SIDEBAR.

To cook lentils you  put them into simmering water.  After you add them in, lower the heat so as not to overcook the little darlings.

Since I am cooking for two I just add the cooking liquid (water or broth) to my little skillet, bring it up to a good simmer and add the lentils.  If you have many mouths to feed you will naturally want to use a larger kettle. I prefer to cook lentils without a lid so I can observe the process and stir occasionally.

I make sure there are some bubbles going on as they cook but I do not want them to boil as that will cause them to overcook and be tough.  Incidentally, lentils will be tough if they are old so make sure yours are fresh.

Do the taste test to check the tenderness…they will need to cook about 20 minutes.  When they are as soft as you like you may add some salt and pepper to season them.

SIDEBAR:  Unless you add the salt AT THE END of the cooking process, you will have tough lentils.  You are striving for tender little morsels, not crunchEND SIDEBAR

A classic way to serve lentils is to put a fried egg atop each serving.  Since I happened to have some hard cooked eggs on hand, I sliced them and used them as a garnish.

It’s really quite surprising how filling and delicious this simple meal can be.  Add a simple salad or veggie plate and a fruity dessert and you have a low cost, satisfying meal!  Even if you are living on a dime!

We LOVE LOVE LOVE your comments and your email messages!  Keep them coming at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com .  We sincerely hope you realize what a wonderful contribution each of you Members is to the world!

~Connie Baum

PS/Leftover Lentils?  Add them to your ground meat patties for dollar stretching meals!  Since they tend to be on the dry order, you might like to whirl them in your blender or food processor with broth, water or tomato juice.  You will be delighted with the results!

 

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Gourmet Soup on the Cheap!

May 20th, 2014
EZ Gourmet Tomato soup 002

Here are all the fixin’s you’ll need to make a low cost gourmet soup that is DELISH!

On a recent Girls’ Day Out we had lunch in a cute eatery in a nearby town.  The weather was chilly so we thought soup would be a good idea.  It was such a great idea that one of the girls confessed, “If we were not in public I would LICK this bowl with my tongue.”  Seriously, the soup was THAT good!

Normally I prefer to make my own soup but we do like canned tomato soup when we are pinched for time.  I’m thrilled to tell you I stumbled on to making the soup we GIRLS had and I want to share that with you.

Generally speaking, making soup from scratch at home is the most economical but there are times when canned tomato soup is on sale.  That’s the time to stock up if you can.

Here is how what I put together to make a really gourmet-like soup on a budget:

1  large can tomato soup *26 oz can

1  can full of milk or milk = half n half *IF you have it

1  cup of Parmesan cheese

1  tablespoon finely chopped basil

Warm the soup and liquid gently, stirring often.  When the soup is warm, slowly add the Parmesan cheese, stirring it in to mix well.  Add the basil to finish the soup, stirring it in carefully. 

*If you have the luxury of fresh basil, that makes a pretty garnish

This soup is good on its own but pairs well with grilled cheese sammies, a fresh green salad or fruit salad!  

Some people think of soup as a hearty winter menu item.  We eat soup all year around…

Mother Connie wishes to remind you that 1 in 7 Americans uses public assistance to fund their food budget!  More people qualify but are caught up in delays and red tape…this blog is dedicated to those who struggle to feed their families on a tight budget, whether they are living on a dime or use SNAP or WIC funds, food from a food pantry or food commodities.

If you are one of the many we intend to help, please know that you are loved and appreciated, not judged or criticized.  Nutritious food and family meals shared with people who love one another are an important component of a happy life!

~Connie Baum

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.
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