Thursday, October 1, 2015

Not raw, Totally Affordable Mac and Cheese

     Sustainable living, not so sustainable blog. I find myself doing a lot of the same things over and over because there's only so far a 30 dollar grocery budget can go. I tend to make large meals that last me a week at a time. Last week I had meatballs for DAYSSS. I could not look at another meatball after three days of them. This happens a lot. I'll be making a chicken fricassee with some chicken thighs tomorrow and it will have to last until my next day off. Ultimately I only cook once maybe twice a week.
     I'm sure that will change though as will my grocery budget. My fiance and I are looking for our first apartment and he's a big guy. He can eat through a three day meal in one. To be fair it takes a lot of energy to move around a muscular 6' something body. Last night, however, I splurged. When I splurge it's usually for a really good cheese for my favorite dish. Macaroni and Cheese is my all time favorite meal.
     This is just an extension of an old favorite.

8 ounces of gluten free pasta (or gluten pasta if you can have it)
Slightly less than half a block of Syrah Toscana
Four Slices of Cheddar Cheese
Some powder Parmesan
A table spoon of olive oil or butter (I usually use olive oil, but I invested in a stick of Kerry Gold Irish butter and it makes a world of difference)
1/4 Cup of milk (adjust as needed depending on the amount of cheese actually in the dish)
1 teaspoon of garlic
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

     The last two ingredients are really to taste. I know I use more garlic than most people would like to consume in any given meal. If I was a vampire I'd be a terrible one. Although it sounds like a costly, fancy macaroni and cheese the amount of food I get from the ingredients makes it more than sustainable. I will make mac and cheese at night to have a few left overs. I had half the left overs this morning with some eggs and will have the other half as a snack before I go into work at night. I still have enough of the ingredients to make this dish two more times. Which means I can get approximately 9 meals out of that one dish. Adding up the cost of ingredients and dividing it by how many meals I get from them I wind up with a grand total of $2.00 per meal. I think $2.00 a meal (rounding up it actually came to a bit less) is pretty sustainable when I want to be fancy.
     Have fun with some fancy mac and cheese and don't forget to jump over to my new genealogy blog. Here I posted some awesome research about things you find in your kitchen that can help save your life. Holistic medicine can be a powerful thing and I guarantee you have these three things in your kitchen.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

White Mocha Sauce, So what now?


Sustainable living is about a lot more than food. It’s about whatever you can do for yourself that will allow you to hang onto more of the measly wage more of us are taking home these days. Most of my posts have been about cooking because the rising cost of prepared food is horrifying, but its about more than just homemade cooking. It’s about the question, “what can I do for myself vs. what do I need to call someone for?” Or maybe the question is what can I avoid calling someone for? I can’t just sit an relax. I need to work. Part time pays the bills, but doesn’t fill my need.
            I somehow found myself reading every article on forbes. How to find what you want to do, 20 things 20-something year olds don’t know, 9 dangerous things they taught you in school, were a few of the headlines. I am at a point where I’m wondering what’s next? I’m sure a lot of you are there too. I can make my own white mocha sauce, bread, egg noodles, cheese, and wine (soon), but is that enough? Tell me what you think. Currently I’m making some potholders for my first knitting project. The white mocha sauce recipe is listed below. What else can I do to be totally self-sufficient?

White Mocha Sauce           

1 cup light cream
4 ounces of white chocolate
A splash of vanilla extract

It came out well using what I had on hand, but I feel like it needed a thickener. Perhaps next time I will add lite corn syrup to get a more syrup like texture.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Easy Homemade Egg Noodles


            Dinner with my boyfriend’s father was a smash hit. I left that night with a dozen farm fresh eggs at my disposal and an excess of strawberry jam. I am still trying to decide what to do with the jam, but using the eggs is easy. Egg noodles are a main staple in my diet since they are inexpensive. I have been looking at an egg noodle recipe for a while. As cost effective as they are it is even more cost effective to make your own and fun.
            It was so simple. I mixed the salt and the flour together and formed a whole in the middle of my “bowl”. I mix most of my recipes in reusable Glad containers. Once it became sticky dough it was time to take it out and knead in more flour with my hands until it stopped sticking to me. This took about four more tablespoons of flour. I did not chill the mixture as the recipe calls for. I rolled it out onto my cutting board and cut it. Make sure to roll it very thin. If necessary cut it and thin the noodles out further with your fingers. The thin noodles were completely dry in an hour and a half. Once dry they are ready for storage/cooking.
            I chose to cook mine and share with my friends. My next batch will be stored just for me. The recipe says they can be stored up to a month and I will be taking advantage of that, though I’ll be shocked if they last a week. Keep trying these recipes. They're easy with minimum ingredients. Once you spend a week eating your own food you will not be able to eat processed food again. 

Egg Noodles

1 cup and about 4 tablespoons of flour
 ½ teaspoon of salt
 2 eggs

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dinner with the Family


My boyfriend's parents have not seen me for eight years and last night not only was I invited to dinner, but I was making dinner. His mother is in Portugal, but I really wanted to impress his father. So I found a few easy recipes that make a big splash. For dinner I made fresh strawberry jam along with the Jordan Pond's House famous popovers. They were served alongside a quiche made with farm fresh eggs. My boyfriend's father has a few chickens and too many eggs. I left the house with a dozen eggs in hand. There will be many egg dishes this week.
I followed this with a dessert of pot de creme and some fresh poached fruits (apples and pears). We worked a lot with things that were just in the cabinets. My one comment was "and I thought my cabinets were minimal."
The fruit was poached in water with cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract. I feel that I should have gone downstairs and taken some of his father's fresh wine, but it was delicious.
The pot de creme was so simple; heavy cream, whole milk, eggs, and chocolate. The point of tonight was to use as many eggs as possible. We used nearly a dozen. I took a dozen. He had five-dozen left with another dozen coming tomorrow. We didn’t make a dent, but we did make a lot of good food.

Strawberry Jam

1 pound hulled strawberries chopped
2 cups sugar
1 large lemon juiced

Popovers

1 cup of flour
1 cup whole milk 
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (I feel it didn’t get enough rise. I would either use 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda or double acting baking powder)

Quiche

6 Eggs
1 cup Whole Milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
Spinach and seasoning to taste

The Quiche had a bit to much liquid involved. I would cut it by a quarter.

Pot De Creme

1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Slightly less half cup of whole milk
6 oz of white chocolate
3 egg yolks

The pot de creme went off without a hitch as expected from any recipe from food network. I did need a candy thermometer for this recipe though. For this recipe as well as the jam the temperatures are very specific. I can't afford a digital thermometer although that would be ideal. I found a candy thermometer for four dollars at walmart (as well as the five pound bag of high quality bread flour for under 5 dollars, but that's for another post.)

Poached fruit

3 cups water
Generous sprinkling of cinnamon
Splash of vanilla extract
4 pears quartered
2 apples quartered

I got the basic concept for poached fruit from here. I just wish I had a few more spices available. All of the recipes came out beautifully. Now I need to check on my drying egg noodles, until tomorrow guys. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fresh Mozzarella


            Nothing makes me happier than spending a day at the computer or in the library researching topics that interest me. Today I made homemade mozzarella. It worked fabulously and I had a bacon, egg, and fresh mozzarella omelet for breakfast. I found two great sources that helped make my first try a success.
            The first is on instructables here. The author is featuring the mozzarella recipe from cheesemaking.com that can be seen here. Since the instructables article was written (which featured the recipe from cheesemaking.com) the recipe has been altered to yield a softer cheese. However the instructables instructions are more… user friendly. Like many of the recipes I find on the internet that involve a microwave they were written years ago. Instead of microwaving for a minute on high I left it for 30 seconds. The next round I gave it 10 instead of thirty. Always remember that microwaves have gotten more powerful and some of the old instructions may not apply.
           The cheese was ready in half an hour. It was a stretchy and shiny ball as promised. I worked some salt into it. Always used uniodized salt. I have found out that iodized salt with mess with the whey during the aging process. (I am not aging mine, but thought to get the proper salt anyway.) Any non-idoized salt will do. It is sold as cheese salt, kosher salt, and natural sea salt. Find more about aging at cheesemaking.com.
          Tomorrow night I am making dinner for my boyfriend and his father. I think I must steal my professor’s idea and make poached apples and pears for a light seasonal dessert. I think I shall pair it with white chocolate pot de crème. Don’t forget to check out his blog at www.bookofdaystales.com. There are always interesting new facts about events that happened everyday and don’t skip the recipes at the bottom of the articles. They are well worth attempting. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tasty 30 minute Focaccia


            Every so often research is required while preparing for my next adventure. My first attempt at focaccia was a failure. I did not do enough research. I tried to grab yeast from the air over night. I may have succeeded in my task, however I will never know. Another tidbit I had found was heating your yeast in a microwave can help to cut the proofing time. If you attempt this keep your microwave on the lowest power for no more than a few seconds. I cooked my “starter.” So for now I’m sticking to store bought yeast.
            I will try again, when I have a better understanding of yeast. My failed focaccia did make a lovely biscuit. Try to find the positives even in mistakes. Along your journey to self-sufficiency there will be many. My second attempt at focaccia I used rapid rise yeast. It came out light and fluffy and bubbly. That is how focaccia is supposed to be. I like my focaccia well seasoned with onions and cheddar. Find the recipe below and keep checking back. I will be making thirty-minute mozzarella, a variety of pastas, and a lot of bread. Many easy recipes to come.

Focaccia for Two (or more)

1 cup all purpose flour 
½ packet of rapid rise yeast
2 ½ tablespoons of warm water (110 degrees)
4 pinches of sugar
3 teaspoons of olive oil

Toppings

½ Vidalia onion (chopped)
Garlic powder to taste
3 table spoons of cheddar grated (or to taste)
Italian seasoning
Pinch of salt

Combine the yeast and two and a half tablespoons of water with four pinches of sugar. Allow it to sit somewhere warm for about 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 450 for an electric oven. Between 400 – 425 for a gas oven.

 The yeast will eat the sugar. You may see a small bubbles forming as the yeast activates. The next step is to combine the sugar, water, and yeast mixture with the flour. Slowly add in water until it begins to form sticky dough. Once you have a nice ball of sticky dough transfer it to a greased bowl and allow it to sit somewhere warm for thirty minutes. (I left it on my oven as I preheated it.)

Over the next half an hour you will see your dough double in size.

Take two teaspoons of olive oil and grease your pan. When your half an hour is done take your dough ball and stretch it across your pan. Now it is time for the toppings. You can add whatever your like. Place the above on for a great garlic bread focaccia.

Place the garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onions, grated cheese and a pinch of salt.
Cook for 15-20 minutes. Since I was working with a gas oven my focaccia was baked in 10.

Once it comes out of the oven place it on a cooling rack and drizzle lightly with the remaining teaspoons of olive oil. Once cool to the touch serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bread "Baked" in a Microwave? Yes or No


            Today I decided to try to microwave bread. I think my biggest challenge toward being self-sufficient is doing anything that requires an oven. I have none. I do own a physical oven. However, it currently doesn’t work and I lack the funds to fix it in the near future. That means I have to get creative. I am not the only person without a working oven who wanted to make fresh bread. I would like to take a second to give a lot of credit to those who leapt from the box before me.
            I found a recipe for simple microwave bread which can be found here. It came out just as advertised. I followed the instructions and was greeted with very simple bread for breakfast. I did throw in cinnamon and sugar hoping to produce something like the cinnamon bread they sell at the store. It was did yield good tasting bread. It probably would have tasted better had I not over cooked it. The instructions say it cooks over five minutes, but mine was done in two. I let it go for three and a half just to be safe. I am sure I also had the power on to high. The directions were not very detailed, but my experiment was a success.
            I am sure that I can find a way to make great bread without an oven so that is my next challenge. There will probably be many posts on different bread recipes and the unique ways I try to “bake” them. Some will work and some will flounder. None will include flounder. While I take some time to figure out what works I have some great raw vegan recipes to share over the next few days including an almond/date loaf. Be sure to keep reading and if anyone has any advice comment or message me. This is all about how to survive in the economy for the new generation.