Saturday, August 15, 2009

A little bit about food.

scene from a vegan restaurant in st. louis

If you haven't seen it yet, may I highly recommend Food, Inc. the documentary featuring Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, authors of Omnivore's Dilemma/Fast Food Nation, family farmer Joel Salatin (featured prominently in Pollan's book and featured on my blog, see the Polyface Farms link?? This man is so awesome that I sent his family a Christmas card), and a whole host of disturbing (truthfully, i averted my eyes during these scenes) images of factory farms and food production factories.

Enough on that. One idea the movie raises that I'm not sure I have a firm opinion on yet is an organic company like Stonyfield "selling out" (???) to Wal-Mart. The owner's claim is that it's helping keep millions of pounds of pesticides out of the environment ... still, I wonder if helping to support this extremely wasteful and ever-spreading (over what little precious land we have left) big box is wise. It seems a bit like a double-edged sword. Any thoughts? May I say that, with that line of thinking in mind, I did yesterday walk to my neighborhood Kroger (mega grocery store chain here in KY)and buy a bunch of organic food. I found a bag of frozen peaches marked down to $1.79 and scooped them up. Sadly, their produce section is very lacking in organic/local/regional items, but I was happy to see it looked like they'd recently expanded their other natural foods offerings. I picked up a customer satisfaction survey to fill out and send to them to let them know I appreciate this and to encourage them to keep doing more. Honestly, while I've of late been very skeptical of chain grocery stores and the junk they sell/plastic they sell/consume, I'm beginning to think well they're not going away anytime soon, are they? and i must say for the things they do provide that i can pick up there, they are a better value for my dollar. I do try to stay with products produced in the u.s. and of course, organic. But, for example, a can of organic diced tomatoes at Kroger is $1.35 compared with $2.19 at whole foods. these are store brand at both shops.

After I spent $20 at Kroger on a fair amount of food (avocados, canned tomatoes and garbanzos, olive oil, peaches, soymilk), I visited two locally-owned health food stores in my town. At one, I spent $7 on tahini. At the other, I purchased $10.50 worth of whole wheat pastry flour, corn tortillas, and KY honey. This morning, I spent about $13 on locally-grown apples, peppers, basil, raspberries, and blueberries. I believe it's incredibly important to support a local food economy ... not to mention it's healthier. The best part of doing all this shopping in one day (well and a spillover into this morning) was that I avoided a trip to Whole Foods altogether ... it's not that I don't like Whole Foods for a few things (though please know they are often just as bad as the "normal" chain grocery stores in terms of carbon footprint/laboratory food) ... it's just that no matter how hard I try there, I can't seem to get all that I need for under $30. That's $30 spent JUST at Whole Foods ... it's also a bit of a drive.

farmer's market booty!!

So it looks like for food that will likely last me almost two weeks (with a restock of fresh produce and eggs at the farmer's market, and some lemon juice and flour next weekend), I spent about $50. That averages $25/week. Okay. Livable, but a little nervewracking considering I haven't been paid for 3 months and I really really desperately need to pay some bills ... ; ) However, I hope to keep this "conscious system" up and running even when I am making regular money again during the school year. Like I said before (did I tell you?), I'm on the hunt for a suitable "simple living" notebook of record for all such things ... to track spending, keep recipes in, gardening and knitting and sewing info, cleaning tricks, etc .... I don't know, really. I see that coming together pretty organically.

Okay, moving on here. I want to share my menu plan for the next week (actually, two) with you. I'm so glad to be in the habit of doing it again. I planned it out before my shop yesterday so I could both work with ingredients I already had on hand, and so I knew what to buy (and no deviations!!). Thanks to Frugal Trenches' blog (see my sidebar) for newly reinspiring me ... I love that she's getting her "five a day" of fruit and veg!

Here's my very loose plan:


Chocolate chip oatmeal with sprinkled ground flaxseeds (must ground some ... i have a huge jar in the freezer)

Local eggs and squash with dill-roasted potatoes (local) and onion (I made the potatoes today)

Fresh fruit (all local, except the peaches) and agave/honey smoothies with silken tofu (I looked for a large tub of soy yogurt at all 3 shops I went to, to no avail ... then realized the 2 packages of tofu I have in my pantry would suit the bill alright for the time being)

Trader Joe's high-fiber cereal with dried cranberries and raisins, nuts and seeds


Swiss chard, eggplant, (both local) white bean, and tomato soup with cayenne cornbread (I also made the cornbread today)

Tofu yellow curry with coconut milk, local green and red peppers and fresh ginger (I wanted mushrooms and scallions, but couldn't find loose mushrooms at any of the shops, and all the mushrooms/scall. i did find were wrapped in way too much plastic for me to even consider it ... GRRRRRR!!!!) over jasmine rice

If needed: Trader Joe's masala burgers and brown rice


Homemade orange juice hummus (I made this last night, and let me tell you, I was a little scared of my frozen $1.30!!! o.j. concentrate, but it really doesn't taste bad and is loaded with calcium, vit. c, and potassium ... so I will be doing this in future, plus I think it produces much less waste, and i think less of a carbon footprint... try it!) with raw cucumbers and tomatoes

the hummus among us

homemade guacamole with homemade corn tortilla chips (anyone know how to do this?)

more fruit/honey/tofu smoothies

I also plan on drinking more green tea here and there throughout the week ... I've been meaning to do this more for a while now.

Last night, I started an open-air compost in a large bowl I have. It feels so good to be doing this again, even though it's a short walk to the compost pile. I know that when I'm ready, I'll be able to take what I need from the pile knowing I helped it to grow. see, it's next to the cat. i added eggshells to it this morning. I love compost!! Plus it keeps my garbage from getting stinky in summer. Very key!

Next week's tentative menu has these items on it:

Frugal Trenches' kitchen sink lentil soup with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and yellow pepper

homemade pizza with soy chorizo and homemade pizza sauce

amish white bread, homemade

carrot/cashew spread (thank you HEATHER -- see my Beauty that Moves link -- for this long-ago post of yours, this has been a hit everywhere/for everyone I make it!!)

steamed broccoli with lemon juice, sesame oil, and braggs

MAYBE a a cold pasta or grain salad ... i have a bunch of barley to use up somehow .... suggestions?

Now let's get to the recipes I want to share with you. The first is my cayenne cornbread, from a book I picked up at a yard sale last weekend. The book is called, "Everybody's Natural Foods Cookbook" by Andrea Jacobs. The cayenne is my addition, the rest is according to the book. This makes a moist, gorgeous, spicy cornbread. YUM!!

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (i guess it doesn't have to be pastry flour but i think it makes for a less dense bread)

1/4 cup honey

4 tsp baking powder (please remember to use aluminum-free!)

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 cup cornmeal

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk (I achieve this by melting 1 vegan earthbalance stick and a 1/2 cup vanilla soymilk in a pan on the stove ... makes 1 cup exactly of "buttermilk" ... take that, marketers!! lol)

1/4 cup oil (i use olive)

As much powdered cayenne as you dare ; )

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a big bowl, then pour into a bread pan that's been greased with some oil (i never use shortening). Bake for 35 minutes, then let sit in the oven for 5 minutes. cool on a rack for at least an hour before turning the bread out of its dish. Tastes great warm!! Enjoy!!

And here's the recipe for the carrot/cashew spread from the Kripalu Cookbook. It's easily doubled.

7 large carrots, chopped
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 cup organic raw unsalted cashews (warning these are super expensive, sorry!! you'll want to build up a bulk of them in your freezer, over time ... that's what i do)

Boil the carrots in plenty of water, then add the salt, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until they are soft (but not mushy!). Drain them, and reserve the water.

When the carrots are COOL, put them in the food processor with 1/2 cup of the water and with the cashews. Blend. TADA!! Instant vegan amazingness. It's a great spread on bread, and a wonderfully easy dish for potlucks. People eat this stuff like it's going out of style. Again, I have Heather from over at Beauty that Moves to thank for this staple of mine!!

Thanks for sticking with me as I ranted (more than a little) about food. I'm off to do some oft-neglected knitting (oy!).

Oh, and might I say that after cooking up my soup today, cleaning the apartment, and having gotten all the food shopping out of the way, I'm looking forward to a truly relaxing Sunday!! Which is where I'm striving to go with Sundays ... i so much like Frugal Trenches' idea of making them the BEGINNING of your week, and setting the tone for a good week that way ... whether you are religious or not, reclaim those Sundays! Make them about doing those simple things you love, good food, conversation, friends, family, enjoying nature.

School starts Monday here!!

Love to you all,


p.s. recent apron (thrift store find) ... yay!


  1. Reading your blog makes me daydream about moving out and learning to cook. :)

  2. thanks, chloe ... yours makes me want to wander into every corner of Toronto!! I love cities. : ) You certainly have a way of making every day, even the ordinary ones, seem full and special ... that's a real gift!

  3. and if i'm thinking correctly you and Liam do cook quite a bit!