Category Archives: dairy-free

Chicken for 77 Cents per Pound…nostalgia and inspiration!

chicken and kimchee lettuce cup

Chicken at Safeway this week is 77 cents per pound – seems like Safeway changes the chicken price to this level from time to time. I remembered that long, long, LONG ago, I bought a whole chicken and froze it. I figured that I should use it…nearly a year later?

chicken price sticker

So I defrosted it overnight, and then brined it. Didn’t follow a recipe for the brine – just threw everything (for just a few hours, with salt, sugar, and apple cider) into a large stockpot, stuck it in the fridge for about 4 hours. I figured the apple cider vinegar would help liven up the taste if the chicken had fallen victim to freezer burn.

Someone had given me many bags of veggies, including a wealth of root veggies: fingerling and purple potatoes, as well as carrots. I decided that they would form a bed for a roast chicken. While the chicken marinated, I soaked the root veggies which were a tad dried out.

potatoes

carrots

bed of root veggies

After quickly rubbing it with some chilic powder I got for $1.00 at the dollar store, I put the 4 lb chicken on a bed of root veggies into the 450 degree oven. About 75 minutes later, it was all quite roasted. The feedback on the chicken? No one knew it was previously frozen!!! I could have roasted a (previously frozen) woolly mammoth if I brined it first!!! Brining is truly magical.

roasted chicken on a bed of root veggies

Roasted chicken was part of one day’s meal (yesterday’s). And what about the second day of roasted chicken? Why not make lettuce cups? That’s right, slather that chicken with kim chee and roll it up in some lettuce. And call it a day. So so easy.

chicken and kim chee lettuce cups

I can see doing something similar with cold, drained, firm tofu. Hm…maybe I’ll have to try that.

Thanks for still reading my blog, despite my inattention! Here’s a totally gratuitous photo of some California goodness.

sunset

My Mom’s Kohi Kanten – Coffee Pudding (Vegan – and about $.10 per serving!)

Kanten…so many reasons I love it:

  1. it’s a naturally ZERO calorie food. That’s right. I said, ZERO!
  2. it’s filling and yet not wiggly-jiggly (unlike gelatin);
  3. even the laziest prep yields yummilicious results; and
  4. I grew up eating it!

Below is a picture of agar agar in stick form.

At any Asian market you can find premixed packets of almond kanten for less than 2 or 3 dollars – really tasty with even the least interesting fruit cocktail. Growing up, we had that all the time. Perfect summertime dessert. Nice and cool! But avoid buying agar agar at Whole Foods. I have seen the Eden versions for almost 6 dollars!!! You should be able to buy the stick agar agar for $2.00 or less per 10 grams (.35 oz). the urban vegan recommends buying the stick format and sticking the sticks into the food processor to make flakes.* I’m used to the stick forms, but, I think this is a great tip for people accustomed to the flake format. Also, people can get quite glamorous with agar agar (also known as kanten in Japanese). I am stockpiling ideas for what do with it. And coffee kanten is a classic (kohi = coffee in Japanese). So here it is!

Mom’s Kohi Kanten

  • 2 cups of boiling coffee – sweeten to taste (pennies);
  • 5 grams of powdered agar agar (about 1/2 of a stick of agar agar – about $.50 worth); and
  • coconut milk – this is optional (about 10 teaspoons – roughly 1/4th of a 13 oz can – $1.59 = $.40 cents worth).

Dissolve the agar agar in the boiling hot coffee in a saucepot. Mix mix mix. Add your sweetener. Mix. Pour the piping hot mixture into a pie plate. Alright, just cover and chill it for about 2 hours. Done. It’s traditional to cut it into squares (as you see above). Splash on a teaspoon of coconut milk per serving. If you have them around, put a roasted coffee bean on top. Makes eight~ ten servings, depending on the size (less than $.10 per serving – half of that if you do not use the coconut milk of course). Be sure to have this with some lovely tea!

(you can also cool it into cute little cups for individual servings)

* the urban vegan’s post is actually VERY helpful for gaining a good understanding of agar agar. Read it and let the erudition flow!

P.S. I don’t really follow diet news, so, maybe someone can tell me if there are any standards for what is “low-carb”? My very casual research shows me that the FDA hasn’t made a decision yet, but, I’m guessing that might not be the latest info.

Update: VegCookingBlog, thanks for linking to this post! My stats are blowing up ­čÖé !!!! I’ve also written a post on making Mango Kanten.

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Housekeeping notes:

(1) I’ve added a “Tips” page to the blog to park handy things I learn about (and/or blog about). For example, last week, limes went on sale – 10 for a dollar. So…I’m not going to use ten in a given week…and they don’t last forever…but they can last longer if you slice them and freeze them. Like so:

Might be better to peel skin off – haven’t tried it that way yet. Works grrrrreat in iced tea. (This is a tip contributed by my mom.)

(2) Not sure why, but Feedburner sent off an old post (from April ’07) on May 10. It wasn’t my doing! I’ll try to find out why that happened.

Canned Fish is a Superstar I: Jack Mackerel (Capellini and Fishcakes)

Please, there is no reason to pretend. I know what you are thinking…I’m in love with canned fish too…

First in a series of posts about the wonders of canned fish.

Each can of jack mackerel (costing $1.29 ~ $1.79) yields a lot of protein (and omega-3‘s). I have no idea why they are so inexpensive but I definitely appreciate it. Scroll down for inexpensive preps of this fine fish: Jack Mackerel Cappellini (extremely fast), and Jack Mackerel Cakes (not as fast, but very nice!).

Jack Mackerel Cappellini

  • 2 oz. of dry, whole wheat cappellini (angelhair); (1 lb of Full Circle = $1.59 / 8 = $.20);
  • 3 or 4 frozen brussel sprouts (12 ~ 14 oz for $.87 / 6 = = $.15) ;
  • 1/2 of canned jack mackerel filet ($1.29/6 = = $.22);
  • olive oil (pennies);
  • sea salt (I used Whole Foods 365 brand…can’t remember now what it costs, but, it was such a steal!);
  • and pepper (pennies).

Boil and drain the pasta. Flake the mackerel, and mix it with the hot pasta, olive oil, pepper. Salt to taste – the fish is not salty, but contains salt. Microwave the Brussels sprouts for 2 or 3 min, halve them, and toss with everything else. It’ll be very nice (and about $.60 for this serving). I promise!

Jack Mackerel Cakes

Heritage Recipes has a simple, simple, simple recipe for Jack Mackerel Cakes. Three ingredients: 1 can of jack mackerel ($1.79 for the BumbleBee brand), cornmeal (I mixed polenta and cornmeal in my version because…the polenta was there…about $1.00/lb, and I used less than 1 cup…about $.50 worth), and 1 egg (I think I used a jumbo, probably $0.16). Makes seven huge cakes, as the recipe says (about $.35 apiece) . Took pictures of my process. Enjoy! I served this with a ketchup/Worcestershire sauce (to approximate a tonkatsu sauce). My dines were very very happy. The recipe works so great – this was my first time trying it, and I got rave reviews!

Update (03/20/08): I’m just adding a link I found in askmetafilter, about eating fish more frugally.

My Bento with Latvian Sprats (shproti, ┼íprotes) and Pretty Flowers

There’s a spat over sprats, between exporter Latvia and importer Russia. The sprat, a fish no larger than 16 centimenters, attracts the great affection of the global Latvian diaspora. Yes, yes, it’s important to millions of people, including little old me, because I adore having it in my bento. Here’s a picture of the Riga sprats.

Anyways, I thought I’d take a picture and show my bento (going clockwise from the upper right corner): sprats; spinach, rolled up; teeny tiny shrimp and seaweed furikake; kimchi; and two gigantic Medjool dates in the middle.

I’ve also decided that a really nice part of the lunch ritual, if available, should include looking at pretty things – like flowers, art, etc. These flowers made me happy, and I kinda counted them as a sort of “dessert,” supplementing my bento.

Subversive Peanut Butter Cinnamon Chickpea Fudge (under $.03 per serving)

Sssssh. I have a secret. Dessert can be nutritious. And, in the old countries, it frequently is. Recipes for y┼Źkan, burfi, and halva routinely use beans, sesame seeds, and even carrots to establish foundations for sweets. They are dense dessert formats, just like fudge.

And what if such a dessert were to be made of chickpeas? Well, one cup of these yields more than 20% of your Recommended Daily Value of folate, vitamins B6, C, and zinc. That means these beans might be good for you. Let me say right now, I don’t know much in the way of desserts.* This was a total experiment. But I really liked how it worked out. And you won’t even have to trick anyone into eating their veggies for this sweet. (I frown upon that sort of trickery!!!)

Peanut Butter Chickpea Fudge

  • 4 cups of hot, cooked chickpeas** (about 1.5 cup of dry chickpeas, about $.60 worth);
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar (less than $.10);
  • 5 tablespoons of unadulterated creamy peanut butter (about $.50 worth);
  • 3 tablespoons of cinnamon ($.20? unknown***);
  • water; and
  • cookie sheet.

Basically, I just pureed the chickpeas with a little bit of water immediately after cooking them to make a paste with the peanut butter. I realize now that it would have been much easier to add the sugar/cinnamon/coffee first to water, then the peanut butter, and then adding that to the chickpeas. It should end up being thicker than peanut butter – very thick – and just wet enough to incorporate everything into the chickpea puree. The amount of water will vary with the moisture left in the chickpeas after draining of course.

Grease a cookie sheet, and spread the mixture with a spatula. I actually put them on a piece of waxed paper laid inside the cookie sheet, and this was fine…but it would have worked better if I had greased it first – later I had to absolutely pry them off that paper. I put them in an oven that I preheated to 425, for about 1/2 hour. Makes about 50 approximately 3/4″ x 2″ pieces (covers 1 cookie sheet fully) for less than $.03 a piece (as in, makes $1.40 divided by 50 = $.028).

Let these cool before eating. They will taste sweeter. The pizza wheel was very handy for cutting these, by the way. The peanut butter and cinnamon stand up and shout, which is just what I like. It freezes like a champ. I absolutely adored having this with my lunch the other day. They are a little bit moist, and very crumbly. (Update: likely a more experienced baker would add some sort of binder, like cornstarch, to render less breakable. But not me!) It’s perfect to have with a cup of strong tea, after popping a frozen one in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

* Hm, I know how to make apple pie, pumpkin pie, flan, cranberry fruit salad, and tropical fruit salad from scratch…and now this! Cake mixes doesn’t count!

** Canned chickpeas will add saltiness.

***You can get a big bottle of cinnamon powder for $1.00 at some dollar stores, according to one of my friends who bought a lot of her spices that way.

Chana Masala (less than $0.50 per serving)

Everytime I go to the supermarket, I see MDH’s Chana Masala powder mix. Now, I’ve used it before…but not for its intended purpose. I see the happy picture on the box and I wonder if chickpeas can really be that glamorous? I bought the box and decided to take the plunge.

After watching the culinary superawesomeness of Ms. Manjula, in her Youtube contribution, I felt a teensy bit more knowledgeable about preparing the dish. Manjula cooks hers with ginger, and by golly, so will I! Her recipe calls for fresh chiles, which I did not have around.

Chole, a.k.a., Chana Masala

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, which expands to at least 2lb after soaking overnight (about $.80 – I got a 2 kg bag for under $3.00);
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes, which I then chopped (guessing: about $1.50 – fresh is better, and that’s what Manjula did, but, the available tomatoes looked kinda waxy and were still superexpensive);
  • 1 extremely large onion, almost 1lb (guessing: $1.00 worth);
  • 1.5 cubic inches of ginger (guessing: $.50 worth);
  • 1/5 of the package of MDH chana masala powder – about 2 tablespoons (about $.35);
  • cooking oil (pennies);
  • salt* (I threw in three generous dashes of fish sauce); an
  • pressure cooker.

“Cavalier” is the word I would use to describe how I cooked this. I put the burner under the pressure cooker on medium high, and threw the MDH in when the oil was nearly smoking. Fortunately, I had chopped everything in advance, so in the onion, tomato and ginger went, surely preventing a small kitchen fire. And then the cooked chickpeas. Since I had undercooked the chickpeas the first time around, it took me a while to pressure everything together…probably about 25 minutes in aggregate – pressured it, for 15 minutes, checked it, and then pressured it some more.

You might see the burn marks on one of the chickpeas in the top picture. I would recommend just simmering it (in a regular pan) for 40 minutes like the package recommends – might need a little more water than just the canned tomatoes I used here. I like it just really chunky and with very firm chickpeas. Indira of Mahanandi makes a puree of some of the chickpeas to thicken it a bit. Maybe next time, I’ll try it that way. But I am definitely making this again. So good, and so easy!

Smells absolutely great when you are cooking it. Tastes even better the next day – very microwave-friendly. And is a fabulous lunch, even when cold. Likely makes at least 10 servings (yields almost 4 lbs) for less than $4.50 – less than $.45 per serving.

#8 in a series of my posts about recipes yielding meals for under $1.00 per serving:

  1. Madras Chicken Curry in the Tundra for less than $1.00: even better than it sounds;
  2. approximately Sailu’s adraki kebabs – less than $0.50 per serving;
  3. maximally lazy and frugal version of feijoada (under $0.25 per serving) // Year of the Boar post #2;
  4. antioxidant red cabbage and sweet potato curry – about $1.00 per serving;
  5. When the stars make you drool just like Pasta Fazool, that’s Amore…(about $.50 per serving); and
  6. Three Bean Salad: antidote to winter, super convenient and less than $1.00 per serving!

P.S. There is such a thing as Indian Chinese food, as in, Chinese food interpreted by Indian nationals. Me adding fish sauce, well, I just like it, but I suppose I can get away with calling it some kind of “fusion” technique!

P.P.S. I put the chole on a little plate because I adore being able to see the chickpeas themselves and because I liked the plate. In reality, I prefer eat more than 1.5 tablespoons of food at a time.

* If you leave out the fish sauce, of course, it will be vegan.

Tropical Influenced Fruit Salad (major hit with no added sugar!)

Maybe I shouldn’t even tell you about this. When I served this, I saw my friends taking seconds and THIRDS. No lie!

The major work of this consists of the chopping, chopping, chopping. And removing the pith and peel from the oranges takes quite a while. Or maybe I’m just slow with the motor skills. And no, I don’t think a food processor is going to help you here.

Tropical Influenced Fruit Salad – I did it MY WAY!

  • 1 can of chopped pineapple, with juice;
  • 3 Gala or other sweetish apple (I’m sure Delicious varieties would work well too);
  • 6 Navel oranges;
  • 3 firmish bananas;
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk; and
  • dashes of cinnamon.

Mix everything. And then chill. I think I garnished this with five or six latitudinal slices of the navel oranges.

I was actually planning on making my Grandma’s Cranberry Salad, but there were no fresh cranberries in the supermarket the day I went shopping. There are a few caveats with this salad. First, the more orange juice/pineapple juice you put in, the less time the salad will last.* I am guessing that something about the acids versus the coconut milk causes a breakdown in “vinaigrette” over time. So, this’ll probably last about 36 hours after making. Oh, also, my can of coconut milk had the floaty bits caked on one side. This meant that it wasn’t so much milk as a nearly-solid cream. This turned out to be a boon because it ultimately helped me control the moisture content. The clear coconut juice doesn’t add a lot (in my humble opinion) of flavor, so, I would not add it in.

Makes 20 servings – by this I mean, my seven or eight friends eating this kept getting more and more and more…enjoy!

Photo Credit: one of my happy diners!

*2009 Update: you could reserve the apples and the juices until just a few hours before serving, to save on time.