What We Spent and What We Ate: A Lot

We spent just under $200 this week (yay). I spent $60 at the downtown Saturday market and the Town and Country market and Pat bought some pork at The Meat Store.  We also used about $15 worth of beef from our steer.  We ate much more meat than usual, so it was an expensive week.  But, my God was it good.  In fact, I’m feeling a little fat right now.

This week’s menus:

Saturday we went to Pedro’s on Glendale Ave. because Isaac got an “Amazing” on the behavior chart at school.  My mom and dad came along (and paid–thank you!) and we got a chance to catch up.  The food wasn’t very good, but Isaac was beaming and we enjoyed the break.

Sunday: Chao Tom and Thit Chung Trung

Tom Tit Chung what?  Okay.  Let me explain.  Chao Tom is Vietnamese barbecued shrimp mousse on sugar cane skewers.  It’s a family favorite.  This time I made it with Thit Chung Trung, a Vietnamese egg cake, sort of like a custard.  The recipe is from a cookbook I got fifteen years ago when I was dating a Vietnamese guy and making ox tail soup and Pho.  My Pho was nowhere as good as his mother’s, so the relationship was short-lived.  The cookbook and I, however, are still together.

from The Food of Vietnam by Trieu Thi Choi and Marcel Isaak

Chao Tom

10 ounces(1 1/4 cups) shrimp, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

pinch of pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

8 sugar pieces, 4 inches long

1 red chili, seeded and sliced

1 cup sweet and sour sauce

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Pat put a piece of pork fatback in the food processor for my egg cakes.  He kept some of it and used the food processor to grind it with the shrimp.  He also added a little of his chili infused vinegar and a little fish sauce.  Note the prison tattoo.  I’m kidding.

Grind or pound shrimp with salt, sugar and pepper.  Using the oil, form the shrimp paste around the sugar cane until tight.

Grill over medium charcoal heat until crisp and slightly browned.  Serve with chili, sweet and sour sauce and cilantro.

Thit Chung Trung

1 1/2 ounces cellophane noodles

Boiling water

2 dried wood ear mushrooms

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

6 eggs

12 ounces ground pork

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch of pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

2 red chilies, sliced

1/4 cup soy sauce

Soak noodles in water to soften.  Drain and cut into 1/2 inch segments.  Soak mushrooms in water for 10 minutes, drain and cut into narrow strips.  Cook garlic in oil until soft and lightly browned.  Beat eggs, add garlic, pork, noodles, mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and sugar.

Mix well, pour mixture into small bowls, set in a pan with a little water, cover and steam in a preheated oven, at 300 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  Vietnamese egg cakes are served with steamed rice, cilantro , chili and soy sauce.

I need a roasting pan with a lid, I think.  I just covered the whole pan with tin foil.  I used 8 fresh farmers market eggs because they were small and I also used up the little bit of cream I had left in the fridge.  My cakes took a little longer to cook, but they were wonderfully light and fluffy.


Monday: Green chile pork in the crock pot and brown rice

Pat went to The Meat Shop on 2nd Street and Buckeye to buy the pork for Sunday’s dinner and this one.  It’s now his new favorite place.  It’s really small and they slice your meat right of the giant hunk in the cooler case.  They sell pork and grass-fed beef–and it all looks good.   I had a large bag of green chile in the freezer, so Pat just put that and the pork (with onion, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, oregano) in the crock pot for the day.  Freezing green chile makes it hotter, so it was hot, hot, hot.


Tuesday: zucchini cornmeal fritters with yogurt dill sauce*

From Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook

½ cup plain whole milk yogurt

1 tbs lemon juice

3 tbs chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried

salt and pepper

3 medium zucchini, grated (3 packed cups)

½ small onion, chopped

1 egg or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1/3 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind)

olive oil, for frying

Heat the oven to 274 F.  Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, and two tbs of the chopped dill.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then taste and add more salt or lemon.

Squeeze the zuchhini dry with your hands or a towel and put it in a large bowl.  Add the oinion, remaining 1 tbs. fresh dill, egg, and cornmeal; mix well and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  (you can prepare the batter ahead of time to this point and refrigerate for up to a couple hours before cooking).

Put about ¼ inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When it’s hot, drop spoonfuls of the zuccini mixture into the oil and spread them out a bit.  (work in batches to prevent overcrowding and transfer the finished fritters to the oven until all are finished.)  Cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Serves hot or at room temperature with the yogurt sauce.

*To save time, you can use store bought yogurt dip–Sprouts and Trader Joe’s have good ones.


Wednesday: eggplant casserole w/ ground beef and a garden salad with tomatoes and avocados

This was ridiculously simple and fast–I just roasted some sliced Japanese eggplant from Pinnacle Farms (Town and Country Farmers’ Market) and put it in a baking dish with ground beef (from our steer), a jar of Trader Joe’s spaghetti sauce and sliced fresh mozzarella.  I sprinkled some mozzarella and parmesan on top, baked for 25 minutes (broiled a little at the end to get the top brown and bubbly) and voila.  I thought we’d have leftovers, but the boys loved it and had seconds and thirds.


Thursday: beef stir fry and white rice

Pat cubed some chuck steaks from our steer and I marinated them in Ponzu sauce (from a bottle) and a little mirin.  Then I browned the meat as I sauteed garlic, onion, sliced bell pepper and carrots (in that order) in some olive oil (with a little sesame oil).  I added the meat (without the juice) and a sauteed a few minutes longer, added a little broth (saved some for what’s next) and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

While that pan was simmering, I whisked in a little white flour with the meat juice in the other pan.  When it thickened, I whisked in a little broth and then added it to the stir fry.  I let it simmer another few minutes and then served it over white rice.  It was good, but I should have marinated the beef longer–it could have been more tender.


Friday:  black bean chili

I forgot to soak the beans overnight so I soaked them when I got back from dropping the kids off at school.  Then, this evening, I threw them in a pot with some beef broth, garlic, chopped jalepenos and onions, and chopped tomatoes (blanched and peeled).  I simmered this for an while and then added the hamburger I’d browned and reserved from Wednesday’s dinner.  I added a lot of cumin and chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I let it simmer for about two hours.  It was pretty good and I have enough to freeze for another dinner next week.  Maybe I’ll feel like making cornbread then–I don’t tonight.  Since everything turns black, it definitely needs a dollop of sour cream, some diced tomatoes and avocados, and a sprinkling of cilantro on top to make it pretty.

One of our favorite things this week was breakfast.  I used a round cookie cutter to cut some thin slices of ham, I put these in a greased mini muffin tin, baked it at 350 for a few minutes and pulled it out.  I cracked a quail egg (from the honey lady at the downtown Saturday market) in each ham cup and baked them just until they firmed up a little.

And here’s our receipts.


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