Sunday, June 19, 2011
Strawberries and Scapes...early summer!
This past week has officially been a frigging ZOO. While I'm fairly used to running full tilt from job, to home, to job and so on, adding onto that routine trying to squeeze in contractors stomping through the house for estimates and a disaster recovery team ripping out my upstairs has made me a bit bug eyed. On the plus side, my house no longer has that delightful "molding Sheetrock/wet insulation" smell so sought after by home owners. However, for the past 4 days my house has been filled with more than a half dozen industrial fans on every floor in the house, slowly (and loudly. Oh, so very loudly.), drying out my walls, floors and ceilings. It's a bit like an airport with planes taking off...all bloody day and night. Very soothing.
Anyhoo...at least things are moving along towards having a livable home again, which can only be a good thing. And I have indeed been trucking along faithfully with the Food Stamp budget. Some notable inclusions towards that end have been making a ludicrous amount of pesto, thanks to being given a huge bag of garlic scapes, and stuffing my freezer full of more fresh picked strawberries than any one person could possibly need. I baked a few of them into this wonderful strawberry cake (so easy, and so, so yummy), ate a LOT of them, and froze the remaining 8 lbs. And yes, I do pick fruit like I'm an Amish mother of 8, thank you for noticing. Just wait for cherry season...I tend to come home with upwards of 12 lbs of the things. Thank goodness I've got a table top cherry pitter.
Wondering what the heck garlic scapes are and what to do with them? Here's the exact recipe I used to make the most wonderful, bright, garlicky pesto. I made one batch of straight scape pesto, and another which was about 50/50 scape and kale. Both are fantastic, and I am thrilled to see them stacked in my freezer, where they will be a welcome taste of early summer all year. I also planted about a half dozen basil plants in my little garden, so there's a good chance I'll have a total pesto tasting explosion in my freezer this year! In addition to tossing the stuff with pasta, I recently discovered that smearing some under the skin of a chicken prior to roasting makes for a nice change to a staple dinner.
As the month progresses, my $200 budget is dwindling alarmingly quickly. Necessary staples have begun to wane, and have needed to be replaced, which hits the budget harder than expected. Prior to hitting the Farmer's Market yesterday, I checked where things stood financially, and gulped. It was the 18th of the month, just barely over halfway through, and I had just slightly over $50 remaining. Admittedly, I do have that weekly influx of veggies from my CSA share, but still. Gulp. I bypassed the bakery stand at the market, and walked wistfully by the cheese guys. No way was any of that happening at this point, which made me far sadder than perhaps it should have. It also meant that when I got home, I set about baking some bread for the upcoming week. I opted for a very straightforward whole wheat bread from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook, to which I added some molasses for depth and interest. It turned out quite nicely, and one loaf will get frozen for next week. You could doubtless get bread very cheaply from the grocery store, but I deeply loathe the cheap stuff, with it's utter lack of both flavor and nutrition, and since the wonderful artisanal sourdough I favor was out of wallet's reach, it was best to just make my own.
I'd promised a friend that I'd make his favorite spinach and sausage lasagna this week, which is the epitome of great cheesy pastas, but not terribly economical to make. It does make an enormous amount, though, so it should, with supplements from the farmer's market and such, last pretty much the whole week.
With this week's grocery purchases, we are now at...
This is a frighteningly small amount of money to get through the remainder of the month with, and I'm a bit tense about it.
I'm also kicking around the idea of continuing this project on a bit longer than one month, to see what sorts of patterns and habits might become more helpful to me in the longer run.
Meanwhile, with my house in utter chaos, I've been retiring to my yard a lot these days, with a book and the dogs for some much needed quiet. If anyone has a tent to loan me, I think I'd rather sleep out here for the foreseeable future.