What We Spent and What We Ate: Easy Flatbread that Sucked the First Time I Made It

Last Saturday we went to the  Gila Farm Cooperative (which is supported by the International Rescue Committee).  The IRC’s New Roots program was hosting a hoop house raising (in partnership with University of Arizona) and an awards ceremony.  I brought the three boys and we spent the morning there volunteering, playing, and chatting with farmers and like-minded folks.

Here’s the hoop house (green house) that a relatively small group of people built in under three hours:

The farm is a little more that twice what you see here.  They have a lot more land and a huge house, too.  Lute and I volunteered to help break up dirt clods.  After about 15 minutes, he started getting a little whiny.  I just ignored him.  But when he stopped, I looked up to see why.  A cute little girl about his age had joined us and suddenly his work ethic had kicked in.  The two worked happily together for the next 45 minutes.  All you need is a little motivation, I guess.

While Lute and I hoed rows, Isaac painted at the children’s table and Walter volunteered to eat every morsel of food on the farm:

He literally did not stop eating until we left.  We ate, too.  Many local refugee-run businesses provided a wide array of lunch offerings.  The spread was beautiful and sadly, I was remiss in my photography duties.  There was the greatest falafel in the whole world, hummus, tabouleh, roasted lamb, biryani, pita bread, Somali flat bread, and vegetable, fruit and dessert trays.  Amazing.

You can visit and volunteer on Saturdays–access the little parking lot by turning right on 80th Street off Thomas Road.

What we ate:

Saturday: We sent the kids to various relatives and went to the movies.  Dinner: popcorn, chocolate bars and Red Vines.

Sunday: roasted eggplant casserole

This is our standard comfort food.  We just had it a couple weeks ago, but we were in need of comfort again.  This time, I just used roasted eggplant, tomato sauce and cheese–no meat.  I thought I grabbed basil at the market, but it was mint.  I threw it in anyway and it tasted pretty good.

I roasted some brussels sprouts with the eggplant (they took longer).  I sprinkled them with a little parmesan and broiled them a second.  Then I tossed them with a little (okay, a lot of) bacon.

And we made tomato and cucumber salad with a little balsamic vinaigrette.

Monday: hamburgers with cheese, onions and bacon (only a little, I swear) and a big garden salad with blue cheese dressing

Tuesday: chickpeas and kale–our old stand-by (with sour cream and bacon on top)

Wednesday: I found the best out-of-a-box falafel ever.  And then I threw away the box.  I promise I will go get another box of this magical falafel tomorrow and take a picture of it for you.  We served it with Trader Joe’s tahini sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and onion on flatbread I made from a Mark Bittman recipe (which I will now share).

Mark Bittman’s Easy Whole Grain Flatbread from his book,  Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating (one of my favorites):

Caveat: when Mark Bittman says a recipe is easy, this often means “easy to f-up.”  And I usually do the first two or three times.  I keep at it though, because several of his “easy” recipes have turned into much loved staples in my home (his whole grain pancakes and whole grain bread for example).  The third time was a charm with the flatbread.


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves (optional)

1.  Put the flour into a bowl; add salt; then slowly add 1½ cups water, whisking to eliminate lumps.  Cover with a towel, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours.  The batter should be about the cosistency of thin pancake batter.

2.  When ready to bake, heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Put the oil in a 12 inch rimmed pizza pan or skillet (along with the onion and rosemary if you’re using them and put in the heated oven.  Wait a couple of minutes for the oil to get hot, but not smoking; the oil is ready when you just start to smell it.  Carefully remove the pan (give the onions a stir); then pour in the batter, and return the skillet to the oven.

*My pan was a little smaller than necessary, I think.  I used a little less batter and a little less oil and it worked well.  The other times, the middle didn’t cook through.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flatbread is well browned, firm, and crisp around the edges.  (It will release easily from the pan when it’s done.)

Let it rest for a couple minutes before cutting it into wedges or squares.  When you hastily take a picture of your finished product, don’t put your plate on a surface the exact same color as your flatbread, making your bread look like little triangle wood blocks, as I’ve demonstrated here:

Thursday: Einkorn pasta, tuna and tomato sauce with broccoli–I made it in under 13 minutes.  It kind of tasted like I made it in under 13 minutes, but at least it wasn’t Kraft, okay?

Friday: beef and green chile stew with more flatbread

Friday morning, I asked Pat what to do with the giant hunk of meat that had been thawing in the fridge for three days.  He said to look up “giant hunk of meat” on the internet. I knew better than to use such provocative search terms.  Instead, I told him if he wanted to eat, he’d better do something with our giant hunk of meat and this is what he did:

First, he cut it in cubes.  This relieved my anxiety a great deal.  Small hunks of meat are much easier for me to deal with.  Then he browned the cubes.

He put the meat in the crock pot and threw in some sauted garlic onion, carrot and celery, some spices and a box of bpa-laden tortured beef broth (organic).  He roasted  and peeled a bunch of green chiles and added those, too.  We left it to simmer on the counter for about 8 hours.

It was delicious.  It needed a little more deliciousness, so we topped it with sour cream and cilantro.

I was reminded this week that if something needs to be more delicious, you just add sour cream or bacon (see brussel sprouts above).  If it’s still not delicious enough, add both.

What we spent:

This week we spent $163.74 (see the receipts below) at the grocery store and only $28 at the farmers’ market.  This I’d much prefer this to be the other-way around, but we couldn’t go to the market on Wednesday this week.  This reminded me how important my schedule is to me–any deviation and my world begins to crumble.  Or at least my fridge starts to get empty.

We ate four pounds of our steer for a grand total of $211.74.  At least we did better than last week.

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4 Comments on “What We Spent and What We Ate: Easy Flatbread that Sucked the First Time I Made It”

  1. Colleen Kirchner says:

    Can you post the roasted eggplant recipe? It looks delish and I think eggplant is the bomb!

    • I just saw this–duh. I hope you can still get eggplant! I like this one because I can make part or all the night before if I need to. I roast the eggplant separately. Japanese eggplants sliced on the bias work best. Just toss them in a generous coating of olive oil and put in an oven (350-375) until they’re soft, but not overly mushy. While they’re roasting, brown some hamburger if you want. Then you just layer eggplant, tomato sauce, hamburger and mozzerella (I sometimes use fresh) two times. Top with some parmesan and then bake it until it’s hot. I put it under the broiler for a minute to get the top brown and bubbly. You can roast slices of squash with the eggplant, too. All the best. : ) K.

  2. Saturday night’s dinner sounds excellent. Could use one myself soon ;).

  3. df says:

    Don’t you just hate recipes which purport to be easy and the exact opposite is true?! Well done for sticking with the flatbread; hope you got to enjoy a great sense of accomplishment!

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