Posts Tagged ‘Tecumseh Central Market’

Low Cost, Budget Friendly Food Ideas?

October 27th, 2009

Who could resist foods from South of the border?  Mmmm!

Who could resist foods from South of the border? Mmmm!

Father Dunovan told me that his mother fed her large brood with 50# bags of rice and 50# bags of beans.  She learned from her Hispanic friends just how to stretch her food dollars.  Father D’s mother might well have invented the dish I’m going to share with you today; I found it in the NEBlines, a publication put out by the University of Nebraska.

Before I give you this recipe I will offer my disclaimer:  I seriously doubt our very nice little local grocery store, Tecumseh Central Market, stocks fresh mangoes but I’m sure you can find them SOMEplace!

BLACK BEAN SALSA

1  – 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1  can whole kernel corn, with peppers, drained

1  medium mango, peeled, seeded and cubed

1/4 to 1/2 cup cut up cilantro

2  tablespoons lime juice

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.  Serve with Baked Pita Chips.

BAKED PITA CHIPS

1 large pita bread, split and cut into wedges

Olive oil spray

Garlic powder

Oregano

Parmesan cheese

Spray pita wedges with olive oil spray.  Sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano and Parmesan cheese.  Bake 8 – 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

If you use food bought with your own dollars or benefit from SNAP, WIC, or Angel Food Ministries you can manage this goody.  If you use food commodities or visit a food pantry from time to time, you will be able to create this tasty offering for those you love.  Food budgets and families alike will find this to be a winner!

We feel like winners when the Club members share with us by sending messages to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com.

Thank you, too for visiting our partners and our sister sites: Mother Connie Sez; The Healthy and Wealthy You; and Rapid Cash Review.  If you have left us with your name and email address you are not doubt finding our occasional messages in your Inbox.

We appreciate each of you so much.

Connie Baum

Food Stamps Cooking Club: It’s All Over But the Shouting!

September 20th, 2009

Did you hear us shouting?  And laughing?  And COOKING?

Oh, for those of you who could not join us, we missed you.  Truly we did!

If you have graciously given us your names and email addresses we will be soon sending out some of the highlights of our class, which was held here in the “clubhouse” on Saturday morning.

We shared ideas; there was a surprise or two; the food nourished our bodies and the companionship nurtured our souls!

The table was extended to reach from one end of the dining room all the way to the living room.  We gathered there and “toured’ the kitchen to peruse the layout of the canned goods, the freezer and fridge and all the supplies for cooking and baking.  Nobody said a word about any dust or crumbs or windows that needed to be tended!  grin

Because more of you were NOT here than were, we are seriously considering how to include all of you somehow.  For one thing, we will host a “Cheap Desserts” night and we have had requests to have a class about WATER.  Yes, that’s right.  WATER.  We may be able to utilize video and give ALL of you a peek into the clubhouse and the fun we have here.

As you know, we began this Cooking Club to focus on those who may need help with their food budgets.  We thought of those who use SNAP and WIC and food commodities.  We had in mind those who must shop in food pantries and get things from Angel Food Ministries and the bounty of neighbors’ gardens and the Farmers Markets.  But to be honest, we ALL want and need to save money on our food expenses.  Our food budgets demand that in these troubled economic times.

We want to be INCLUSIVE.  We want everyone who might be interested to take part in the fun and learning and sharing of this journey.  Not to mention the food!

With respect to our class, we certainly offer heartfelt thanks to our supporters:  To The Anonymous Benefactor who graciously and generously funded the food, we are eternally grateful for your kind and thoughtful generosity.  To Jason at the Tecumseh Central Market, we so deeply appreciate all the time and attention you gave us in our preparation and we thank you for the items we had for display and comparison.  We are extremely fortunate to have a clean, cheery place to shop in our little town, and one that offers great selection of food and meats.

We must acknowledge the Tecumseh Chieftain for so faithfully placing our news item where the public could be informed of our event.  Small town newspapers are so important to the life of a community!  The Chieftain went beyond the call and sent a reporter to cover the story.  We were so happy and grateful to have Ann Wickett on board for our excursion!

Mildred Panec is to be commended for driving a long distance to share with us her expertise on food preservation!  Thank you, Mildred.  We are sending 10,000 thank you hugs your way!

The last round of applause goes to our students, who moved heaven and earth to share the morning and lunch hour with us.

If you have not, you are cordially invited to put your name and email into the box at the right upper corner of this page.  You may also enter your information on Food Stamps Cooking Club in order to receive the tips from the class and other infrequent messages we send along from time to time.

For those who may like to see the other pies Mother Connie has her fingers in:  The Healthy and Wealthy You is a blog about health and wealth-isn’t THAT a big surprise?-as is Mother Connie Sez. She writes a blog about business  and internet marketing at Rapid Cash Review.

Your comments are welcomed on each of the blogs, including this one.  THEY ARE VALUED AND APPRECIATED, JUST AS EACH OF YOU IS VALUED AND APPRECIATED.

Connie Baum

Food Stamps Cooking Club: Shopping Trip?

September 16th, 2009

It’s been a BUSY day!

Jason, from Tecumseh Central Market, our little local grocery, has been very helpful.  He spent quite some time with me as we walked around the store.  He had some extremely valuable information to share.

I had invited Tecumseh Central Market to partner with us for the Cooking Class.  I explained how we wanted to assist those who use SNAP or WIC or food pantries and food commodities as well as those who just want to save money on their food budgets.  He was totally down with all of it.  He made some items available to us for samples and to demonstrate how cost affects the bottom line.

One of the points Jason made that I feel is worth sharing with all the Club, not just those who will be here for the class on Saturday:  He talked about how the local store brands help.  I presumed the one way they help is to save us money.  They do that, of course, BUT, they help THE STORE who handles those brands.  Those store brands cost less money to put onto the shelves than national brands.  With the overhead expense store brands save the store owner, he is able to hire more people and pay them decent wages.
Jason also talked about using COUPONS.  He really encourages those of us who are concerned about the cost of feeding our families to use any coupon they find.  They will shave off many dollars from the cost of food and really impact the family food budget in a positive manner!

We are fortunate in our little town to have a wide selection of products in a clean, friendly environment.  They do their best to serve the community.  If they were to close their doors, we would have to drive a minimum of 30 miles just to buy food!

Oh, how we wish EVERY Food Stamps Cooking Club member would be here to put their toes under the table on Saturday!  But we will have photos to share, so please stay in our loop.

Thanks so much, everyone, for visiting our site here, as well as our sister sites:  The Healthy and Wealthy You and Mother Connie Sez.  If you are some of those who have stopped by our partners to increase your household income, we salute you!

Please feel free to leave your comments on this page!  We love hearing from each of you!

Connie Baum

Grapes of–Say WHAT?

April 4th, 2009

Someone sent me a bookmark with a quote I like: “May the sweet fruits, the grapes of gratitude, bless us each day.”

It’s really true.  I found that out this very week.  Knowing that the best we can do for ourselves, in terms of food, is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.  Sometimes it’s tricky to do it within the confines of a tightly squeezed budget.  That’s no news flash.  Especially if you are using food stamps.  Or food commodities.  OR, if you shop in a community food pantry.

But this week, grocery list in hand and tight budget in mind, I made a grocery run.  I actually FOUND BLACKBERRIES ON SALE!  I looked carefully at the plastic package.  I was sure that if they were selling so reasonably they had to  be moldy or defective in some way. 

I was so grateful to discover they seemed to be quite fine.  SIDEBAR: Thank you, Tecumseh Central Market!  END SIDEBAR   I treated myself to a bowl of berries, loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins, juice and FLAVOR.   That is something that makes me ooze with gratitude.  And good health, to boot!

Here’s hoping YOU can find affordable fresh foods to feed your family well.  We also hope you have creative ways of preparing your meals and that you’ll be willing to share those ideas for the good of all.  If you are game to share, just send a message to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com .  We love hearing from our members!

We like sharing, too, so we extend the invitation for you to visit any of our partners, whose banners appear on this very page.  Some will help you with your meal planning and prep, like Saving Dinner and others, like Rapid Cash Marketing , can help you to bring some extra money into your household.  The good folks at High Tech Health will be able to help you improve your health, like those blackberries can do!

YOU bless us with your messages!  We hope we bless you with ours!  Isn’t gratitude FUN?

Food Stamps Cooking Club

Connie Baum

Is This a Good Idea?

March 5th, 2009

Lois Pietzyk loves to cook.  She came to Book Lovers Club with a big grin and a recipe and I want to share it with you because it is low cost.  If you are using food stamps, food commodities or food pantry foods this will help you greatly, I believe.

I must make this disclaimer:  Packaged, processed foods are generally a waste of money.  But when it comes to stuffing mixes I must confess they are good fillers.  NOW, if you prefer to use your own bread cubes and spices, I applaud your efforts.  But if you can find the store brand dressing for 99 cents, as I did at Tecumseh Central Market not so long ago, GO FOR IT. If you are like most people, you are tired, hungry and making every effort to save some time and money.

Lois said her great find came from a magazine, but did not recall which one.  Here is the recipe:

Lois’ California Casserole

VEGGIES: Lois used California Blend but she said a package of frozen cauliflower and a package of frozen broccoli would work well. (Fresh is ok, too, especially if you can get a good price!)  Steam the vegetables or par boil them so they are not frozen when you assemble your dish.

SAUCE: 1 can cream soup + 2 Tablespoons mayo or sour cream

MORE VEGGIES: 1 small onion, chopped

DRESSING: one small box of dressing mix.  Lois prefers the store brand.  I do, too. Prepare according to the package directions. USE THE FOLLOWING AMOUNT FOR THE LIQUID:

1 cup of water, chicken broth or vegetable broth to moisten.

METHOD:  Layer the veggies, onion, and sauce in a baking dish or heavy, oven-worthy skillet and cover with the dressing mix.  Bake at 350 till the dressing is nicely cooked and the veggies are tender.

TOPPING:  When the casserole comes out of the oven, top it with a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese.  Allow it to melt and serve.

Those of us at Book Lovers Club agreed this would be an ideal Lenten dish but if you wanted to have a meat for a side dish, that would make an easy, quick, pretty, low cost meal-so long as you did not choose STEAK for the meat!

I believe this IS a good idea!

Please feel free to send YOUR good ideas to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com.

There are many more great ideas to be found when you visit our partners:  Saving Dinner and Rapid Cash Marketing .

Connie Baum

Have You Read The Papers?

February 2nd, 2009

The media is in a FRENZY!

As you know, the economy has people tearing their hair out, preaching doom and gloom and making an untenable situation even worse than it is already!

I refer to the “news” that a drooping economy means that all Americans are going to become even more obese than ever!  Now I ask you:  Is that a nice thing to say?  I always thought if you had nothing good to say, you should be still!

Here’s the thing, boys and girls-it’s all about CHOICES.  If you choose to eat cheez doodles and hot dogs, you will pay with poor health.  BUT, if you learn how to grow sprouts in a jar on the kitchen window sill and if you check out the fresh vegetable section you WILL find good values.

I’ll give you a fine example of what I mean.  Last week, as I shopped, I looked at the green leaf lettuce.  Because of its rich, dark color there is great food value.  It was awfully cheap-$1.69-(Thank you, Tecumseh Central Market!) so I brought home a bunch.  I soaked it in a sink full of cold water and brought some of the withery ends back to life. Before it went into the crisper I carefully shook the excess moisture out and wrapped it in a thirsty towel.  When it came out for use, the leaves were quite dry and crisp.  It made wonderful, nutritious meals.  One bunch has fed us twice and there is enough left for two more meals!  THAT IS VALUE.

Incidentally, we do not buy commercial dressings; we use oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and we use them sparingly.

On television the same dire story about obesity was retold.  The couple featured had just learned they were expecting a baby-and there this mother was, with a hot dog in one hand and a tall soda in the other.  She was moaning and groaning about the price of food.  WHAT ABOUT THE SKYROCKETING MEDICAL COSTS when a mother-to-be ingests NON EDIBLE food items?  Just because it’s sold as a food item doesn’t mean it’s fit to eat!

At the risk of repeating my stories, I want to mention my own parents’ predicament when my dad’s company had no money to pay him his wages.  FOR TWO WEEKS they lived on corn meal mush because that’s all they had.  They thought they were very fortunate, for they had syrup to pour over it.  And my dad kept his job!

People who use food stamps, food commodities, and food pantries are at a disadvantage, to be sure.  But there is no point making a situation worse by purchasing something to put into your pie hole just because it is sold.  It behooves users of these forms of assistance to be willing to learn what is nourishing and life giving and what is not.

Our Cooking Class has endeavored to teach people NOT to use MSG, processed cartons of ‘stuff’ and soda pop.  We have done our best to bring information forth that informs our students about artificial sweeteners, too many carbohydrates, and using foods that are empty calories.  Furthermore, we implore our students NOT to use microwave ovens.

My grandma used to talk endlessly about “making do” and I now understand what she meant.  Let’s hope and pray those whose eyes fall on this page understand how much we care about your well being.

Oh, I clearly understand I’m preaching to the choir…let me climb down from this soapbox and remind you that we appreciate your signing up for Food Stamps Cooking Club and if you have not done so yet, please look at ways to boost your income here: Rapid Cash Marketing .

Connie Baum

Do You Have Room For Dessert?

January 31st, 2009

Even if you fund your grocery budget with food stamps, food commodities or shop in a food pantry, you always hope there’s a little something for dessert.

I’m a great hand for using fruit to use in health-giving, life supporting desserts.  But I have to admit, an occasional sweet that is not perfectly “healthy” is a balm for my sweet tooth!  I came across a recipe that’s easy to make, doesn’t cost much, and as my landlady used to say, “It throws together well.”

As I make this post, there is a batch of cookies cooling in the kitchen this very minute!  What a pity you all can’t come by, put your toes under our kitchen table and have some coffee and cookies with us!

Here is the recipe for “Cake Cookies:

1 chocolate cake mix (I bought the store brand; it was on sale at a bargain price!)

1 8 oz tub of whipped topping (Again, the store brand won the price war!)

1 large egg  (If your eggs are not large, you will need 2 eggs.)

Combine the ingredients thoroughly.  The mixture will be sticky.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.  Spoon the batter onto greased cookie sheets, shake a sprinkle of powdered sugar over the tops.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, depending on your oven.

*Variation:  Use lemon cake mix instead of chocolate.

Cooking Tip:  When your cookies come out of the oven, remove them from the baking sheet immediately.  The longer they sit, the more they will bake.  For best results, they should be cooled on a rack.  Personally, I don’t have a cooling rack; I use newsprint or tea towels and that works very well.

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Note: I want to thank the Tecumseh Central Market for their quality Shurfine brands, which will really help to stretch those food stamp dollars!  Also, a tip o’ the hat goes to the crew at Tecumseh Central Market for their cheerful help in publicizing the Food Stamps Cooking Club’s Cooking Classes!

While I’m thanking folks, I’m proud to offer kudos to the good people from Health and Human Services offices in Tecumseh-Johnson County, NE-and nearby counties, the nice folks at SouthEast Nebraska Community Action-SENCA-office for their support in helping people who struggle with the cost of food.  I invited them to be EXCITED about this whole project; I do believe they ARE!

There are more thank you’s to spread:  All of you who have generously contributed to the stash of recipes and comments by giving us a hey at foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com have warmed the cockles of our hearts and delighted us beyond measure.  THANK YOU SO MUCH.

We hope you will keep the word moving about the Food Stamps Cooking Club so those who would like to find something interesting in their inboxes can have the latest word.

If anyone is interested to learn about pumping some money into their personal economy, you might like to check out this site because some really exciting things are happening there and it may turn the tide on YOUR financial fortune.  GO HERE:  Rapid Cash Marketing .  Be sure you sign up for THEIR information…they are famous for over delivering on good news!

Connie Baum

Cook Once; Eat Twice?

January 14th, 2009

In our part of the world we are experiencing extreme cold.  That weather pattern is pretty widespread so it might be time to mention something about house warming, heart warming, tummy filling oven meals.

I am a proponent of cooking once and eating twice-or more.  Oven meals make that really easy.  And they can save lots of money, which is important if you use food stamps, food commodities or shop in a food pantry.

Recently we found arm roast affordable at our local store, Tecumseh Central Market.  That was delightful because beef roast is a winter favorite in our home.  There are as many ways to prepare roast as there are cooks.  Here is my rave fave:

I rinse every roast I cook.  I do this because a dear friend has one relative who is a food inspector and another who was a butcher.  They both have mentioned about how important it is to remember that the meat has been handled by human hands and maybe it was not handled as lovingly as the home cook would.  I will leave to your imagination what that implies.  You may draw your own conclusions.  But I would admonish you to rinse any cuts of meat.

I like to sear the meat before it goes into the oven.  This gives it a nice, rich brown crust and seals the juices.  I season with salt and pepper but sometimes I sprinkle a little garlic powder or other seasonings just to change it up a bit.  After the meat leaves the skillet, I like to sautee` some sliced onions in order to use the bits.  I put in a bit of water or beef stock and reduce the goods so there can be rich gravy.

The roast can nestle on those onions.  They serve as a sort of ‘rack’.  If my pieces are small, I leave them in the pan with the juices to make the gravy.  If they are large, I put them with the other veggies to be eaten with the rest of the meal.

We like to have lots of carrots, potatoes and cabbage with our roasted meat.  But there are no rules.  It’s your meal; add YOUR favorites. There is a panoply of choices: squash, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas and garlic, to mention some popular items.  I scrub organic veggies; I peel non-organic ones.  I leave them whole while they cook.  I rarely peel potatoes, for the most part, because we like textured mashed potatoes.

The first meal is always such a delight!  Then, if you have cooked an ample supply you can make beef pot pies, hot beef sammies, beef and noodle casseroles, even beef and vegetable soup.  And who does not like leftover roast beef made into beef salad for sandwiches?  What a TREAT!

While the oven is going you can set some rice pudding alongside, or some custard.  These are very economical desserts and you will save energy because you’ll have your oven going anyway.

For those of you who are working and would like to come home to a meal that’s quick and easy you can place your roast into a crockpot.  Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

You may have ideas about roast dinners to share.  We welcome your ideas and invite you to send them to foodstampscookingclub@gmail.com.

For even more ways of using foods and ovens you are welcome to visit the ads on this page and get acquainted with The Dinner Diva, Leanne Ely, and her team at Saving Dinner.

Connie Baum

Can You See The Humor?

December 30th, 2008

If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane. - Jimmy Buffett

Now, THERE is basis for complete agreement!  And for those of you who have very limited food budgets, perhaps shopping at a food pantry or using food stamps or food commodities, laughter is one way of releasing some of your pressure!  Food and the outcomes we present to our families can provide some laughter… 

For example, we could look to my first attempt to make angel food cake as a new bride.  It looked fine when it came out of the oven.  In those days, we used a soda pop bottle to cool the angel food pan. By the time it cooled, it was just a tiny little pad of dough.  My new husband asked, quite innocently, “Why do you have the pizza dough in this pan with a hole?”  I was not amused at the time-I was in tears- but now I can see the humor and it does make me laugh out loud.

As we pass from the old, worn out year into the fresh new year, filled with hope, I wish for you that laughter may assault your lips!   I hope every pocket of every pair of jeans you own will magnetize hundred dollar bills!  I hope the issues of 2008 will lose your home address and I hope your neighbors will hear the laughter coming from your happy, healthy home!

Meanwhile, we must prepare dinner!  Today’s recipe idea comes from the Tecumseh Central Market.  Now, bear in mind that they are, understandably, selling their store brand…if you do not have their brand you are allowed to use the products you got from the food pantry.  The Food Police will not be knocking on your door to check the skillets or the menu!

CHICKEN FETTUCCINI STIR-FRY

1 pound fettuccini pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2″ strips

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

2 cups snap peas

1 cup half and half

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 grape tomatoes, cut in halves

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Heat oil in large saute pan or wok over high heat Add chicken and stir fry, stirring occasionally until cooked through (3-5 mins) REMOVE chicken from pan
  3. Add onions to pan; cook until soft, about 4 minutes
  4. Add garlic and cook one minute.  Add snap peas and cook 2 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium.  Add half and half and butter; cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add cooked pasta, chicken, tomatoes, parsley , salt and pepper; toss to combine and heat through

Serve immediately, garnished with a sprig of fresh basil, if you have it.

This makes a beautiful dish and it’s quick and easy while nutritious at the same time.  Don’t fret if you don’t have SNAP PEAS, regular peas will do.  If you have no half and half in your fridge, it’s no crime to substitute milk, even if it is the dry, prepared kind.

I was pleased to see that Tecumseh Central Market is featuring chicken breasts in their sale circular this week; maybe your market has a special going, too.  Checking it out will be worth your time.

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COOKING TIP

If you have grape tomatoes to cut, but little time, try this trick I learned from watching Rachel Ray:  Put a deli lid on your counter and place the tomatoes (this works for grapes, as well) on the lid and place a SECOND lid over the product.  Using a serrated edge knife, and holding the top lid in place with one hand, slice from side to side, between the two lids.  You will have perfectly sliced tomatoes or grapes in a fraction of the time it would take to do them one by one!
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We hope you remember to consult with our professional partners at Saving Dinner when planning and shopping for menus in your home!  And if you have not entered your name and email address for our series of cooking tips, please visit Food Stamps Cooking Club !

Connie Baum

The Best-Laid Plans?

December 18th, 2008

Today I woke up early, knowing it was my BIG EXCITING DAY!  Thursday, December 18 has been marked on the calendar for some time now, hailed as the day for Session #2 in our series of six cooking classes: Shopping and Chopping; bring your favorite knife for Show and Tell. 

Incidentally, I feel I must remind you that there are 7 sessions in our series of six…I never was good at math.

Well, to begin with, the weather forecast was gloomy at best.  Ice, snow, wind and cold meant that the more senior among the class might balk at getting out of their warm homes just to watch Connie chop veggies.  Then one pupil expected a phone call she MUST not miss.  Suffice it to say that we had one brave student who dutifully brought her favorite kinfe.  You’ll be interested to know it was a little paring knife with a plastic handle and she cannot keep house without it.

I was elated not to be alone in the kitchen!  I poured  a cup of fresh coffee and a tall glass of water for the two of us and began with a demonstration that would made pros on the Food Network and The Dinner Diva sit up and notice! 

On the SHOPPING side of the curriculum, we discussed the sale circular from our local Tecumseh Central Market.  We talked about which sale items would contribute to our good health and which ones would be better left alone.  We are thankful that in this little town we have a market that caters to us budget minded food shoppers.

Considering the CHOPPING half of the lesson, I showed off my ability to sharpen knives.  We chatted about WHY our faves are in the kitchen drawers and I demonstrated the cut for the ingredients for our menu. 

Oh, the menu!  Be still my heart!  Considering that many people are preparing soups in this wintry weather and that lentils are very high in protein content, are a readily available, inexpensive choice, we ‘built’ a big pot of lentil soup!  And it was divine.  The recipe will be available for you below.

As we shared our lunch and participated in lively conversation about cooking and food and memories of dishes gone by, we bonded and looked to the NEXT session: “Cent$ational $killet $uppers”  She can hardly wait!

We hope the weather man is more benevolent next month!

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Here is the recipe for the WINTER LENTIL SOUP:

2 cups lentils, rinsed and soaked (I soaked these overnight)

1 tablespoon oil

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

6 to 8 cups water, or vegetable broth, or chicken stock (I used chicken stock today)

2 Roma or Plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped.   If you prefer canned tomatoes, use a #303 size can and you may use the juice and all.  Add these the last 10 minutes before you are ready to serve so they will not become mushy

In a large skillet, heat the oil.  Add the sliced onions, salt and pepper and sautee.  When the onions are transparent, cover them.  Reduce the heat and allow them to carmelize.  This will take about 20 minutes.  When they have become brown and sweet, add them to the lentils and simmer together with the broth.  Add the cumin and allow everything to cook together until the lentils are tender. Ten minutes before you serve the soup, add in the fresh tomatoes.  The whole process should take about 45 minutes.

We like to pour this soup over slices of crisp bread toasts.  With a little salad and a cookie for dessert, this makes a very satisfying winter lunch.

*VARIATION: you could add chopped carrot and/or celery to the onions and let everything carmelize together.  This adds more nutrition and fiber to the dish.

**VARIATION #2: Chop bacon slices and fry in a separate skillet.  Drain.  Add the bits in when the onions are added to the lentils.

*NOTE: This soup lends itself well to crockpot cookery.  Leave the tomatoes until the last, though, so you do not have a mushy product.  Made today for tomorrow, these flavors will marry and the soup will be even better than freshly made.  If you wish to freeze it, you can put in into a large plastic bag, cool, then freeze flat.

We made a large enough batch that this is ONE of the few nights we won’t need the services of The Dinner Diva !

For more great ideas, cooking tips, recipes, help with your food shopping and meal preparation ON A BUDGET, please consult: Food Stamps Cooking Club !

Connie Baum