Week 10–Budget and Menu

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All the food we canned and froze is coming in handy now that our market options are limited!

This is not my favorite time of year. Winter weather continues long after I lose patience with it, the lack of variety at the farmer’s markets is wearing thin, and I’m ready for spring. But spring is still a month away, so for now I’m focusing on using what we stored over the summer and planning for spring even though it isn’t here quite yet. This week’s menu uses up some of our canned and frozen summer food as well as what is in our garden. Thankfully, even though our markets are still heavy in root vegetables, we have lots of variety in our canned preserves, salsas and other yummy treats from summer!

Even though we are paying ourselves back for the stock up foods we put up over the summer (these items were not counted in our weekly budget since they were not consumed during those weeks), we are still looking good at $86.58 for the week! Here is how this week’s budget looks:

Budget [$86.58]

  • Farmers market (baking potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, onions): $12.00
  • Mae Farm (pork barbecue): $15.00
  • Mitchell pantry (corn, tomato sauce, field peas, peaches, salsa, jam): $18.00
  • Mitchell garden (collards, Swiss chard): free!
  • Trader Joes (dried cherries, dates, almonds, oatmeal, soy milk, yogurt, frozen fruit, organic coconut milk, pepper jack cheese): $41.58

Menu

  • Sunday–Cookie booth (dinner out)
  • Monday–NC pulled pork, collard greens, summer corn, peach cobbler
  • Tuesday–Pasta with roasted tomato sauce
  • Wednesday–Jacket potatoes, green salad
  • Thursday–Pulled pork quesadillas with field peas
  • Friday–Leftover buffet
  • Saturday–Family Pizza Smackdown Competition
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Vegetarian Collard Greens

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You may think that the title “vegetarian collard greens” is redundant. Collards are vegetables, after all, so why call them “vegetarian”? Well, because where I live (and love to live, I might add), most collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens and cabbage leaves are cooked with some kind of pork product. It might be a ham hock or fat back (side meat) or bacon, but it is usually there. And it is mighty delicious. Not only does the meat season the greens, the fat softens the leaves into delicate, tender loveliness. It’s great stuff, I tell you.

I found myself wondering if I could make collard greens that are really, really good, but don’t include the meat. We had some beautiful collard greens in the garden just begging to be eaten, so I gave it a shot. I used a combination of olive oil and toasted sesame oil in place of the jowl bacon we usually use. As it turns out, collard greens can be just as delicious without the meat as with it. My husband, Tom, backs me up on that!

Here is the recipe we created. We served the greens with our chili dusted salmon and I have to say it was all amazingly, plate-licking good. I have learned a lot this week!

Vegetarian Collard Greens (makes 6 servings)

  • 2 bunches baby collards or 1 bunch of large leaf collards
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  1. Wash collard greens well in cold water to remove any sand or dirt.
  2. Fold leaves in half lengthwise and cut the thick stem off the leaves.
  3. Take the leaves and roll them into what looks like a green Ho-Ho (for photos see HERE). Cut leaves into thin strips, about 1/2″ wide. This will give you long ribbons of greens.
  4. In a large stock pot, heat the oils over medium/high heat. Add the greens. Toss well to coat all the ribbons with oil. Cook and toss for about 2 minutes. Taste and add salt if desired.
  5. Add water to the pot, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check periodically to make sure the pot is not dry. Add more water if you need it. The pot should have some “pot likker” at the bottom, but should not be water-logged.
  6. Serve immediately.

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Week 6 Budget and Menu

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX troph...

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!!! This is both a happy day and a sad day for me. I love football, so the Super Bowl is both a great celebration and a sad end to the season. We like to plan Super Bowl dinners that honor the teams playing, while also using sustainable, organic, local or ethically sourced foods! I’m excited about the teams this year. Although I grew up in Maryland (in the pre-Falcon years), I have to admit that I needed to Google “Baltimore foods” to find out what in the world is from Baltimore other than crabcakes. The results did not really impress me, so I’m sticking with crabcakes and Berger cookies, which I will make myself (recipe to come). San Francisco, on the other hand, had lots of possibilities and we will be using our garden greens for a great Asian-inspired stir fry.

Our Super Bowl week grocery shopping is always over budget and at $121.06, this year is no different. Another reason our shopping is higher? I’m adding tart cherries and tart cherry juice to my diet as an experiment to see if I can deal better with some early arthritis without medication. It is expensive, but certainly a tasty way to address a medical issue!

Budget

  • Locals Seafood (crabcakes): $20.00
  • Mae Farm (Boston butt, bacon): $33.80
  • Other farmers market (kale, apples): $7.00
  • Trader Joes (pot stickers, curry simmer sauce, tart cherry juice, dried tart cherries, pie crust, oatmeal frozen fruit, Ghiradelli chocolate, soy milk):$60.26

Menu

  • Sunday–NC crabcakes with stir fried winter greens, pot stickers, Berger cookies
  • Monday–white bean soup with chard and rosemary
  • Tuesday–Curried chicken over organic rice, greens
  • Wednesday–Carrot-ginger soup, salad
  • Thursday–Quiche with bacon and winter greens
  • Friday–Crock pot pork barbeque and collard greens
  • Saturday–Out for my birthday celebration!

Have a healthy and tasty week!

New Year Collards and Hoppin’ John

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Happy New Year from SOLE Food Kitchen!

One of the true miracles of nature here in North Carolina is that even when there is frost on the ground (and even snow), we still have delicious and highly nutritious greens–collards, mustard, turnip, kale to sustain us. While we haven’t seen any snow yet, the greens are plentiful in our garden and at the local farmers markets, and they will be the stars of our New Years Day feast! It is customary here in the southeastern US to eat a combination of blackeye peas and rice (hoppin’ john) and greens to bring about prosperity for the new year. The field peas represent coins and the greens represent folding money for the New Year. I don’t know if it works, but I can say it is a delicious way to begin a fresh year with lots of possibilities. Add some homemade corn bread and you have a simple meal that is delicious, satisfying and reasonably healthy.

I add tomato and roasted jalapeno to my blackeye peas. While these aren’t seasonal, we have both tucked away in our freezer from our summer crop, so we can still enjoy them in the middle of winter! Still, the typical version of hoppin’ john uses a ham hock to season the beans. This is tasty, but I usually feel like we’re getting our share of pork in the greens, so we go light on the beans!

I am partial to making my greens with pork–in our case, jowl bacon–from Mae Farm in Louisburg, North Carolina (www.maefarmmeats.com). Their pasture-raised, humanely raised hogs produce some of the most amazing meat we have ever had. We’re hooked. But you can also make these as a vegan dish by replacing the bacon with olive oil and some garlic. Cooking greens is not hard–it takes time because the leaves are quite thick, but the investment of time is well worth it in the end!

Southern Collard Greens (serves 4-6)

  • 1 large bunch collard greens
  • 4-6 thick slices smoked bacon or side meat
  • 4-6 cups water
  1. Begin the process by washing your greens. Unless you bought them from the grocery in a pre-washed bag, they need to be cleaned or you will be eating grit along with your greens (this is not good eating). Fill a clean sink with cold water and soak the greens in the water, swishing them around a bit. Remove greens from the cold bath and drain the water. Do this two more times or until you see no sand in the sink.
  2. On a cutting board, fold each leaf in half and cut the thick stem out. Save stems for compost. Stack the collard leaves as you go until you have stemmed all the leaves.
  3. Take 2-3 leaves at a time and roll them into a thick roll. Cut the roll into thin strips (this will leave you with ribbons of greens). Set greens aside.
  4. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Cut bacon into chunks and add to the pot. Cook until most of the fat has been rendered from the pork (about 10 minutes).
  5. Add greens to the pot and toss to coat with the bacon fat. Add 2 cups of water. Cover pot and simmer, stirring often, for about an hour.
  6. After an hour, check the greens and the water, adding more if needed. Do not let the greens scorch. Continue simmering for at least another hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
  7. Greens are ready when they are tender and well seasoned with the pork.
  8. Serve with vinegar and hot sauce, if you like.

Hoppin’ John (serves 6-8)

  • 16 oz dried blackeye peas
  • 4 c. water or homemade chicken stock
  • 2 cups cooked, organic rice
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  1. Put peas in a large pot with water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Cover and remove from heat. Let pot sit for 1 hour. Drain peas.
  2. Add peas and 4 c. water or chicken stock to the pot and return to medium heat. Add ham hock or other pork product at this time. Simmer peas for about an hour. Watch to make sure liquid does not dry out. If it does, add more water or stock as needed.
  3. Add tomato and pepper and continue simmering for about 30 minutes more. Let most of the liquid evaporate. This should be the consistency of a thick chili, not a soup.
  4. Add rice, stir and serve.

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