What We Spent and What We Ate: Beer and PizzaPosted: September 8, 2012
Beer for Schools
We were on a tight budget this week, so we made do with what we had in the freezer and cupboard. Except beer. We got a six pack on two different nights and then beer at the Camelview REACH fundraiser at Peter Piper Pizza. I seriously can’t sit in those kid pizza places without beer. Everything about the place is an assault on your senses. Except the food–it’s bland and greasy. I’m apparently the only one who feels this way, however. We were the only parents with a pitcher on the table. Is that bad? After the boys ran out of tokens (and Walter was badly traumatized by an Ernie and Bert ride), we decided to call it a night. All I can say is that it was better than a bake sale.
My students, mostly refugees from the Middle East, are very generous. They bring me food for no reason. But whenever I do something outside of school to help them, they cook my family huge meals. Saturday, a former student came over for some help. We became friends a couple years ago and our kids like to play together. I helped her make some phone calls and take care of some paperwork. After we finished, we went to her house for lunch. When I say lunch, you don’t understand what I mean. It’s more like a Thanksgiving dinner with a lot of cumin, saffron and cinnamon. We had hazlenut lamb stew, beef ghormeh sabzi, roast chicken, flatbread, Persian rice, nuts, fruit, vegetables–steamed, sauteed, pickled and in salad. And then dessert: sesame muffins, melon, and chocolates. I probably forgot a lot of things.
Then they brought over a refrigerator. Yes. You heard me correctly. My friend’s husband repairs them, and she had seen how crappy my fridge was. So she brought me a refrigerator. Usually my students bring me jewelry, handbags, towels and serving platters. This was a surprise.
It’s huge, so it didn’t fit under the upper cabinets like our old one did. We had to put it in the “kitchen nook” which means our already too-small eating space is now outright cramped. I cringe every time I walk in the kitchen and see the pendant lamp hanging over the chair instead of the middle of the round table. It’s better than my old fridge, though, and it was a touching gift.
What We Ate
Saturday: Persian rice and gormeh sabzi that my friends sent home with us
Monday: grilled fish, brown rice and broccoli
Tuesday: soba and peanut sauce w/tofu
Wednesday: Peter Piper Pizza fundraiser for REACH
Thursday: Madras lentils (you can use this as a dip the next day for lunch) and rice
Recipe for Madras Lentils:
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 onion, diced
1 tbs grated ginger (adjust to taste)
2 carrots, chopped or diced
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
2 summer squash (crook-neck or zucchini)
2 (I actually used about 2 1/2 cups) cups red lentils
1-3 or more tsp garam masala
1 large can tomatoes (I use San Marzano) plus juice
broth or water
extra spices as needed (I added some extra cumin and cinnamon and quite a bit of chili powder)
salt and pepper
Yogurt and cilantro for serving
You can also add cooked red beans, chiles,fresh tomatoes, more vegetables . . .
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Sautee the garlic a minute and then add the onions. When the onions start to get translucent, add the ginger. Then add the vegetables, in order. Sautee until vegetables start to get tender and then add your lentils. Add the spices and stir until well mixed. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Add chopped canned tomatoes and juice. Then you can see how much liquid you’ll need (see my picture)–the mixture should be covered by an inch or so of liquid. You can always add more later if you need to. Turn the heat to high and bring the lentils to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1/2 hour. Your lentils will be soupy, but not too mushy. If there’s not much liquid left and the lentils aren’t yet tender, just add more broth or water (warm it first) and simmer a while longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a dollop of whole milk yogurt, a sprig of cilantro and some flatbread or rice. My kids love to put hot sauce on it too.
Friday: eggplant, squash and beef casserole
Just roast the squash and eggplant and brown the beef ahead of time. Then layer the vegetables and meat with spaghetti sauce, mozzarella and herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, whatever). I like to slice fresh mozzarella on the last layer and then sprinkle a ton of parmesan or asiago on top.
Bake it until it’s warmed through (20-30 minutes) and then broil it until the top is brown and bubbly.
It’s easy, it can be made ahead of time, kids love it (and you can sneak in extra vegetables), it’s low carb and it’s wonderful comfort food. Need I say more?
What We Spent
We spent less than $180 this week. We spent $40 at the fundraiser, I spent $25 on lunch with a friend (worth every penny) and we spent $36.60 plus $24.70 at Sprouts. Everything else was spent at farmers’ markets. Not too shabby.
This Week’s Receipts: