Saturday, October 24, 2009

Anything but Fried Green Tomatoes

So, last week, we had a little Severe Weather Alert popping up on the computer (I love the Forcastfox plug-in- since I never watch the weather on TV it tells me everything I need to know.) telling us there was a possibility of frost during the night. I panicked a little and quickly Googled what I should do about my poor tomatoes- my tomato plants were loaded with green fruit that had yet to ripen!

Some sources suggested elaborate heating and/or insulating methods to try to buy the tomatoes some time. But plenty of other people had recipes for what to do with all those green tomatoes. Many of the recipes were for fried green tomatoes- something I've never had, but that I'm not especially interested in. Some of the more interesting ideas were:

What I ended up making was a couple loaves of green tomato bread, using this recipe. All the recipes I saw had a lot more sugar than I am accustomed to using in baked goods- 2 whole cups of white sugar!?! (The recipe I used called for a cup of Splenda in place of one cup of sugar-- but don't even get me started on Splenda.) But it definitely tasted really, really good, and my husband and kids were asking where it went when it was all gone, after like, a day. (To be fair, I only let them eat one loaf- the other one is in the freezer for later.) But if I make it again, I will definitely be scaling back on the sugar content.

I also made a rice and chickpeas dish with the Roma tomatoes that ended up being red, and my cherry tomatoes that were still green. My husband really loved it and I did too.

Chickpea and Green Tomato Rice

  • In a large pot, saute an onion and a little garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until clear.
  • Add about 4-5 Roma tomatoes (or equivalent amount of other tomatoes) sliced into quarters.
  • Pour in 2 cups chicken broth and a can of chickpeas (drain liquid.)
  • Add 1 cup green cherry tomatoes, cut in half, and a cup of corn kernels (frozen or canned).
  • Heat mixture until boiling, then add a package of rice pilaf or 1 cup other form of rice.
  • Simmer until rice is tender. Add pepper, oregano, basil to taste and serve.

The point is, not to be afraid of those unripe tomatoes in the garden. As long as they don't freeze while they're outside, all they need is some cooking to become part of a tasty meal.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Stop and Shop Bargain Meal week of 10/23-10/29

Since we're all completely sick of pork chops on sale, yet again (I'm sure you've stocked up plenty and you have enough pork in the freezer to last until Valentine's Day, at least) why not breakfast for dinner? My kids love "egg pie" and it's their favorite dinner request these days. They don't even mind when I throw in some veggies- even spinach (eek!) and kale (gasp!) have passed muster. A dozen eggs at Stop and Shop are $1 this week, and Stop and Shop Bacon is $1.77 for a 12-16 oz. package.

  • "Egg pie" a.k.a. my version of quiche is pretty easy.
  • I often make it without a crust, but if I do use a crust it's something improvised (I've used stale crackers or a thin layer of Bisquick mixed with milk pressed on the bottom of a greased pan and baked a few minutes ahead of time-- and you can also use leftover rice or slices of bread.)
  • Then I chop up veggies, ham, bacon, whatever, and sprinkle it over the crust (If I'm not using a crust, I will pour in the eggs and then add the veggies or whatever).
  • I often make my quiche in a 9x 9 glass dish but it goes pretty fast- 13 x 9 would be better for more than 4 people. (Make sure to spray with nonstick cooking spray)
  • I whisk my eggs together with just a little milk (I use 5 eggs for the 9x9 pan- you could probably use a whole dozen for the larger pan.)
  • Then I pour the eggs in the pan, add any extras if I haven't already, and sprinkle cheese over the top. I have used all kinds of cheese, even American cheese from the deli broken into bits, and they have been fine.
  • I bake it at 350 for approximately 25-35 minutes (the deeper the eggs are in the pan, the longer the baking time.) When a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, it's good to go!

With a slice of homemade bread and some salad, this is a very satisfying- and frugal- meal!

Shaw's Bargain Meal of the Week

During the fall and winter months (and really, anytime at all,) making a nice pot of homemade soup is a great budget-stretcher. Usually a few cans of relatively inexpensive ingredients will make you a nice soup, and you can throw in almost any random leftover meat, bean, grain or vegetable that you happen to have languishing in the refrigerator.

This week's Bargain Meal from Shaw's is especially budget-friendly- I think the total cost might be around three dollars, plus whatever you decide to serve with it. With avocados on sale for $1 each and Shaw's canned corn on sale for .60/can (and even less if you use the printable coupon,) Avocado Corn Soup
would be a great recipe to try sometime this week. You could serve it with tortilla chips (Tostitos are 2.29 this week) or Ritz crackers (1.88/ box)- or to be more healthy, some whole-wheat bread.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Move over, Netflix

We've been using Netflix for our DVD rentals for several years. We always sort of hem and haw about canceling the service, because we don't have tons of time to watch movies and my husband and I are both kind of clueless about pop culture so I don't have any idea which movies might be good. We end up filling our queue with movies that we think we might want to watch, but since we have the bare-bones 1 DVD at a time plan, when the DVD arrives we find that we don't actually feel like watching it, and so we avoid watching it, sometimes for weeks and weeks at a time. Recently, it got really bad- I think we received a movie in early August, and I just sent it back last week because I had absolutely no desire to watch it. So essentially we paid 2 month's worth of rental fees to allow this movie to gather dust. Pretty much a big waste of money.

If the above information has left you with the impression that my husband and I are major dorks, I'll do nothing to disabuse you of that notion. In the same time period, I think I probably read about 12 books. So... yeah.

Last week I was at the library with the kids and we took out a bunch of DVD's. We are heavy library users, as I have mentioned before, but never once has it occurred to me to use the library for anything but books. To my surprise, the local library does have a decent selection of movies- they may not have 40 copies of the latest new releases, like Blockbuster, but they probably do have one copy. So you might have to put a really popular movie on hold, and wait a few weeks to be able to watch it (so it's definitely not "on demand")- but you will eventually watch it, and it will be free, and you can take it out for a week and maybe even renew it for another week.

I'm continually amazed by the reources available from my local library. And my kids are thrilled to be able to rent DVD's on a semi-regular basis now. I may just finally cancel that Netflix service.