Thursday, November 24, 2016

Simple Thrifty Introvert Friendly Holiday Extravaganza!!

I'm partway through an excellent Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, how very American to celebrate the immolation and slaughter of native people.

Anyway, as you may have deduced, not my favorite holiday.  I don't mind celebrating the harvest with a bit of gluttony.  One can do that any day.  I have today off work and access to a friend's kitchen since she's out of town.  I am alone.  There is no television.  Introvert paradise.

Let overindulgence begin!

Breakfast: What did I have?  Oh, right. Spinach frittata and a coconut milk vanilla latte' which I made in my travel french press.  I did steal coffee beans from my hostess since I am out and forgot to buy any yesterday.

For a snack, a handful of walnuts (left from some thrifty holiday gift assemblage done yesterday) and a handful of stolen triscuits...sorry hostess!

I spent the morning preparing the big meal.  Most of my duties involved remembering the stove was one while something simmered or baked.

The main dish: Spicy adzuki beans on spelt berries. YUM!  I'd never cooked adzuki beans or spelt berries before but had done plenty of dry beans and whole grains.  That expertise along with the odd internet search saw me through.  I started both of those soaking, separately of course, last night.

In the morning I put the spelt in a big sauce pan with enough water to come about an inch over the top of the grain.  Brought it to a boil, and simmered. I don't know how long it simmered.  The internet said it would take 90 minutes, but it didn't take nearly that long.  I tasted it every now and then.  Once it wasn't crunchy, I called it good.  After a good drain in a seive, it went into a bowl in the fridge.
Since I still had some coconut milk after the latte' was made, I put some cooked spelt in a pint jar and topped it up with coconut milk and some fresh grated ginger root. It's in the fridge now becoming progressively more delicious.

After the exhausting time spent watching a video while the spelt simmered, I dove in and took on the beans.  These cooked up super fast as well.  Not the 40 min the internet told me. Lying damn internet! It was more like 25 min.  Again, I was tasting them off and on while they cooked.  They went from definitely not done to "OMG!  OVERDONE!" Pretty quickly.  But, still held up well in the final dish.

I drained the beans and left the lid off the pan to get them dried out a bit.  I don't like to leave cooked beans sitting in water.  Then, just let it all cool off.

Obviously I needed a rest after all that.

But wait!  What about dessert???
After the rest period, I made one of my quick tarts.  This may be the best one so far.
Apple with fresh grated ginger, and whatever cinnamon and nutmeg I could round up. Unroll the crust (the cheap store brand refrigerated pie crust...bought on sale of course), just one.  Put it on a baking sheet.  Not an insulted cookie sheet.  Those are stupid.  Just a thin piece of metal.
I had some plum pineapple jam from the farmers market so I used a couple tablespoons of that to make a circle on the unfurled crust (leave 1-2 inches of the edge unjammed).  I put the ginger more or less evenly on the jam.  I sliced up one granny smith apple, and scored the hide...these had crappy thick skin that was hard to bite through.  Arrange slices neatly on the jam.  Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on.  Fold the crust edges up over the apple edges any which way.  Seal up any cracks or tears in the crust. Bake at 425 until the crust is brown and the jam is a bit bubbly between the apple slices.

I have no idea how long that is.  Just keep an eye on it.

After another good rest, time to finalize the main dish.

I diced up an onion and sweated it in peanut oil.  This is thrifty peanut oil that I poured off the top of natural peanut butter I got on sale.  So, basically free oil.  I chopped up the remains of a head of garlic I found at my place.  Threw that in.  Let it sweat some more.  Turn up the heat and get a bit of carmelization going on the onions, but not much.  I put in about a tablespoon of cumin, and a mix of hot pepper (new mexico, ancho, chile de arbol, something else) that came in a multi-pack as a gift last christmas.  Stir that around and let it cook a tiny bit.

Open a can of diced tomatoes and throw that in.
While it heats up, get the beans.  I put in about 2 cups, maybe 2 1/2 cups.    Stir.
Then, I let it simmer.  It got quite dry even with the lid on the pan.  But, I let it be.  I probably kept it simmering about a half hour.

I heated up a cup of the spelt berries in a TINY bit of water in a smaller saucepan.  Once hot, I threw some spicy beans and mixed it up.  I had meant to slice up an avocado on there, but I didn't remember that until I was settled on the couch watching a movie and eating out of the pan so I just didn't bother.

The beans and spelt was really good!

The remains of the beans went into sandwich baggies with some spelt berries.  As I type they are freezing and I will take them to the office for microwave lunch options.

I meant to only eat ONE piece of the tart, but as I was doing some odd jobs in the afternoon, I just kept having "one more piece" and now, there is no more tart.  Oh well.

So, how was this all thrifty?

I got the organic adzuki beans for 50cents a pound and the spelt berries for about 66cents a pound.  A store was changing up the bulk-bin selections and had random bags of things they weren't going to carry in bulk anymore.  So, I grabbed what looked good.  I also got some prunes (which it turns out I do not hate) and other items.  The beans and spelt berries were the last things left from that deal.
The tomatoes are store brand, not expensive, but organic. The onion was something like 79cents a pound and the garlic is from the community garden for free.

Coconut milk is often a high end item.  The coconut milk I am using is from powder.  Wilderness Family brand.  While the bag of powder is still fairly spendy, there is virtually no waste.  You mix up as much as you need when you need it.  The bag I have is over a year old.  I think I spent $12.50 or so on it.  I don't use it that often, but it is still good.  Doesn't take up much space and no worry about freeze/thaw as I would have with cans.

The ginger was bought on sale about a month ago and I've been using it but it's time to use it up before it gets too dry and old.  Hence, ginger in things.

The jam was 3$ for homemade at the local farmers market.  I used 2 or 3 tablespoons full for the tart.  That's pretty thrifty.

I must say, it was a damn tasty meal!  All based on "what needs to be used up" supplemented with "what's on sale."  And a bit of theft from my hostess.  But I will leave her a tart or something as a thank you.
The store brand crusts were on sale for $1.69 and I used only 1 from the package of 2.
The apples were 79cents a pound.


Amy said...

Guess what? I am a faithful follower. I check your blog from time-to-time and enjoy your frugal adventures! Have you made any improvements lately to your little home?

Jill said...

Hi! I don't know you but cool to know someone is out there. Thanks.

I've made a few "improvements" and am trying to get a couple of pictures organized to show them. Now that I know someone is watching, the pressure is on.

laura said...

I'm out here too!

FYI, ginger can be frozen.

Jill said...

More people!!! I really thought I was just writing to myself. Very cool to hear from you.

Thanks for the ginger tip. I'll try keeping a bit in the work fridge.