Pantry Cooking Project, Day 2

Some veggie-miso soup today. And already spending money in restaurants. *sigh*

I wasn’t hungry at breakfast time, and I knew I would be eating lunch out, so I took a bag of snacks to work. Ended up eating most of it, a little bit at at time as the day went on. Didn’t eat the walnuts, which are a good thing for me to carry as a snack, because I don’t like them enough to just eat them for the sake of them, but they’re great to have if I get genuinely hungry.

bags of snack foods: cheese, cheetos, apple, granola bar, walnuts

Ate lunch out with a group of co-workers, including my friend Danny, who paid for my lunch (it was only a two-dollar slice of pizza, but still). Then I bought us both dessert and myself some iced tea — total $8.53.

For dinner, I stuck to the plan for a change. Made miso-vegetable soup. Basically, make any vegetable soup you like, boil some tofu cubes and rice noodles in there for a bit, then add 2-4 tablespoons of miso that have been stirred into a little warm water first. And some soy sauce. A lot if you like salt the way we do. :-) It was good, but fairly… dull. Pretty, though. Veggies this time were onions, garlic, carrots, celery, kale, sugar snap peas, and hijiki.

two bowls of soup with spoons and chopsticks

Money spent on groceries today: $0
Money spent in restaurants today: $8.53 (project total $8.53; sigh. I am hoping not to spend too much on food out this month. I do still have one office lunch left this week, though, for a co-worker who is leaving.)
Food gifts received today: $2 (project total $17)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream, milk (poured it out; it had gone bad)

Pantry Cooking Project, Day 1

Day One of the Pantry Cooking project

Want to make me or my mother cry? Talk about that period after her divorce when she could barely afford to feed my brothers, and she herself went hungry a lot of times. She remembers feeding them pancakes because that was all there was, and the pain and humiliation on her face when she talks about that is almost more than I can bear, even these decades later.

Food is central in our lives, mine and mom’s—we talk every day, and those conversations always include questions about what the other is cooking, has cooked, will cook. But even for people who aren’t as food-focused as we are, it can be anxiety-producing not to have enough. I expect some of that anxiety to surface during this experiment, and it’s important for me to remember that it is my privilege that makes this something I can do without worrying that I really won’t have enough food. Any time I feel impoverished, I just have to remember that I’m part of a tiny percentage of the world’s people who have enough to eat every single day of their lives.

Today’s food:

Breakfast: Toasted homemade bread (James made this lovely pullman white); eggs over medium (because I left them too long); an orange.

breakfast photo

This was my packed lunch: A box of little tomatoes; jalapeno-cheddar Cheetos (I love those things!); an apple and a slice of Cheddar; a handful of walnuts

lunch photo

However, my actual lunch was sushi and tempura that my boss bought me to celebrate my graduation. I don’t take photos in restaurants, so you don’t get to see that. I also ate the Cheetos as an afternoon snack.

And speaking of not getting to see something, I had planned to make Mexican food for dinner, but I was too tired to bother when I got home, so James made grilled cheese sandwiches, and for mine, because he loves me, he put sliced tomato and onion, and served it alongside some of those tomatoes I didn’t eat at lunch. As you can see, I forgot to take a picture until I was nearly done with dinner. Ah, well.


So no recipes today — all simple foods, nothing too complicated, but delicious nonetheless. Tomorrow’s planned dinner is miso noodle soup. We’ll see how it goes. Plans are great to have, but they have to give way to the realities of what’s happening in the moment.


Money spent on food today: $0
Money spent in restaurants today: $0
Food gifts received today: about $15 (project total $15)
Things we’ve run out of: Mayonnaise, ice cream (evening snack)

Mom’s kind of burger

Classic American burger.

Just a quick post today. The burgers I made would make my mom’s mouth water. Rare, lean beef. Toasted buns. Lots of veggies. (Cheese on James’s, but not on mine. I don’t usually do cheese on burgers.)

SO delicious. The kind of food I grew up on. Just a quarter pound of lean ground beef for each burger, sprinkled with salt/pepper/garlic and seared in a hot pan. Served with oven fries (from fresh russets, tossed in oil and roasted in a single layer in a 400°F oven) and plenty of ketchup to dip the fries in.

cheeseburger, oven fries, ketchup


Cheesepalooza: Whole-milk Ricotta

Sorta-homemade lasagna with actually-homemade ricotta

I’ve been resisting making this post for a week and a half, for two reasons:

1) My photos didn’t come out all that well, and
2) My ricotta didn’t come out all that well. I couldn’t get it to set up properly. Cooking from the Market’s buttermilk ricotta is much more reliable for me, and the texture is right, while this was rubbery.

This is the first recipe in Cheesepalooza, though, and I have lots more chances to get it right. Besides, the resulting lasagna was ASTOUNDINGLY good, so hey, success!

Here’s the cheese draining on the faucet:

homemade ricotta draining

And here’s the lasagna after I ate all my dinner, went “Oh, shoot! I need a photo!” and put a little more on a plate to photograph.

sorta-homemade lasagna, one slice

It was so darn good, we managed to polish off that little more, too. SO good. And way easy, because I only sort of homemade it. You don’t even really need a recipe. What I did was bought four sheets of fresh pasta (two regular, two spinach) and layered them with jarred sauce, the homemade ricotta, and sliced whole-milk mozzarella. I ran out of mozzarella at the end (I used a pound), so I added some shredded cheddar on the top layer. This went together in maybe five minutes, and then I baked it at 350, covered, for about a half hour, then uncovered it and baked until everything was hot and bubbly. SO good!

And now here’s the worst pic of all. This doesn’t do this delicious thing justice, I promise you.

sorta-homemade lasagna

[Edit: Here’s a photo of an old batch of ricotta, made with the recipe linked above:]

ricotta in a strainer

Day three and a promise

Day 3 of the cleanse brings a promise from me.

I promise to post about something else as soon as:

1) This cleanse thing is over; OR

2) I have a day where I forget to take photos; OR

3) I have a day in which I eat all stuff I’ve already posted about.

But in the meanwhile, here’s the food for day 3 of the cleanse.

Breakfast: Fried O’Brien potatoes, homemade ketchup, watermelon, and V-8


Lunch: Big salad with homemade sesame dressing (mixed up sesame oil, rice vinegar, agave nectar, grated fresh ginger, wheat-free tamari, and grated garlic to taste), topped with sesame salt; fresh cherries

Salad and cherries

Snacks: Nuts, seasoned seaweed, and Oh, so much fruit. More than I can show you here, but among the bounty was more watermelon. Also, white peaches so ripe it’s making my mouth water to tell you about them. And more cherries. And so on. Plus a latte made with decaf espresso and homemade soymilk. (The soymilk maker is still in the testing phase. I’m working on it.)

peaches, watermelon, and soy latte

Dinner: Tamale pie. The plan was for chili, but I was waffling on finding a good vegan, gluten-free cornbread, and James suggested I just make some more polenta, add olives to the chili, and make tamale pie. Those of you who’ve been around a while know that James is big on suggesting yummy and time-consuming things for me to make, so I was happy to oblige with this relatively quick and easy dish.

Tamale pie

I also added some olive oil and a fair bit of garlic and nutritional yeast to the polenta before pouring it over the chili (which I dished into the baking dish with a slotted spoon so it wouldn’t be too soupy). The chili is based on the Moosewood recipe that Susan V. adapts here, but I left out the bulgur and used some olive oil in the preparation.

So there it is. There’ll be more Mom Food when this is over. I promise!