Lunchtime Links: 20 Protein-Packed Black Bean Recipes, tomato-growing tips, and Tarbuj Ka Chutney

Lunchy links. Writing this as I’m eating leftover tabouleh and fish. Yum

20 Protein-Packed Black Bean Recipes | Brit + Co..


10 tomato growing tips

Good tomato growing tips for you newbies out there.


Tabuj Ka is watermelon rind chutney.
Tarbuj Ka Chutney
4 cups watermelon rind, fruit and outer green skin removed
and cut into 1 /2 “ pieces

1 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sweetener
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

*This chutney pairs well with a spicy main dish.
via here.
Feels like I have ages before watermelon season here.
I haven’t even put mine in the ground.
If you’ve never listened to Leo Kottke, check him out.  He’s one of the most underrated (or maybe just unheard of)  guitar players out there. I love listening to him while I’m getting stuff done around the house.


Ode to Quesadillas


I can pretty much put leftovers in a quesadilla and they’re going to be awesome.

We eat a lot of things in tortillas that are quesadilla-ish because 1) tortillas are cheap; 2. versatile; 3. free with WIC (not that we get WIC anymore but it was a perk.

And seriously…get creative. I wasn’t kidding about Leftover Quesadillas.

For anyone new to quesadilla making, here is a great tutorial on how to make them. How To Make Quesadillas

29 Life-Changing Quesadillas You Need To Know About.


via b00tiusmaximus

Lunchtime Links: Growing Cities, Healthy Recipes Database, and Hacked Shakshuka

All the foodie related stuff for today…

I have been so excited to see this since I first saw the trailer last Fall. Now the film is available for community screenings , so check out the showings to see if there are any near you.


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The Capital Area Foodbank has a great recipe database…. all healthy, mostly vegetarian,too.

Healthy Recipe Database







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Well, I didn’t know what Shakshuka was before (it’s basically poached eggs in tomato sauce) but it sounds delicious and with this hack, using cans of ro-tel could make it pretty cheap and easy. I’m all about cheap and easy.


Five Ingredient Yum: Shakshuka Hack



via Food Riot.

Leftover Makeover: Corned Beef & Cabbage turned into White Bean & Potato Soup

Sometimes leftovers are great for lunch the next day or a Leftover Night. Sometimes they need a makeover. Especially with bigger than average families where what’s leftover isn’t enough to feed everyone.

This week, I was talked into making Corned Beef and Cabbage for dinner because “it’s what we ate on St. Patrick’s Day when I was a kid!”, said my nostalgic and traditionalist husband. It’s kinda my job to hate everything that everyone else seems to love, and St Patrick’s Day is no exception, as much as I love apocalyptic visions. But I love my husband and hate to hear him whimper about missing out on some food thing, so I made his damned beloved Corned Beef and Cabbage.
(seriously, it’s not even Irish….)

There a bunch of things that can be done to recycle braising liquid into a new dish but soup seemed like a good idea (see my past post about my teeth.Whee.)

I tend to go to my pantry first before running out to buy something specific for a recipe, so that day I happened to have a partial bag of potatoes that were looking sad and DSC_0556begging to be used. I also have 22 lbs of assorted dried beans in my pantry (it’s quite possible that food insecurity has made me a paranoid food hoarder, which might explain why I get along so well with the Doomsday Prepper crowd ), so I decided to add some Great Northern Beans.
Good thrifty score on those recently at my local dollar store…. 75¢ per bag, which is half price.

So, here’s what I did: Threw all the liquid and the leftover veggies from the corned beef back into the crockpot, chunked up potatoes, and added the beans after quick soaking them . I added just enough water to cover the beans and everything else, which also helped dilute some of the saltiness. Threw in some typical herbage… oregano,garlic,a little lovage.  Set temp for 6 hours on high. That was it. I didn’t really even have to add cornstarch as a thickener at all.


Not too much broth in my bowl because I like it that way. It was dee-lish. Fed the whole family plus enough leftover for lunches for the hubby the rest of the week.

Rotten Banana Cream Pie

image via bon appetempt

I made this pie last week. My husband, who is a Banana Cream Pie connoisseur, said it was the best Banana Cream Pie ever.

I watched an episode of Mind of a Chef recently. It was the episode titled “Rotten”. What could possibly be more frugal than rotten food? True, in a way. What’s considered rot to someone might be someone else’s kimchi. Anyway, it was on this episode that I watched Christina Tosi make this delicious looking Banana Cream Pie from entirely way too ripe bananas.  Mesmerizing and oh-so-gross to watch her open the blackened bananas at one end and squeeze out the banana-shaped moosh.

So,of course…the next time I had entirely way-too-ripe bananas , I decided I had to make this pie. It uses way more butter than I would ever use unless I had my own cow but otherwise, I had all the ingredients on hand, so I don’t know cost breakdown. Probably not super frugal if you didn’t have ingredients on hand in your pantry and had to go out and buy all the ingredients at once  but um…if you’re able to be a little indulgent and have rotten bananas, this pie beats banana bread any day.

There’s a whole fabulous picture tutorial here: Bon Appétempt: Banana Cream Pie.
This is the recipe:

Banana Cream Pie via Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi
Chocolate Crumb

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup good-quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low until mixed. Add the butter and mix on low until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
Spread the crumbs on a parchment or silicone mat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the crumbs cool completely before using or eating. [This latter part about not eating it until it cooled made me curious. So curious that I ate a few crumbs before they had completely cooled. AND they were delicious. Go figure?]

Chocolate Crust (makes 1 10-inch pie crust)
3/4 of the chocolate crumb recipe above 
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Break up the chocolate crumbs into a bowl. Add sugar and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter to start. With your hands, knead until it is moist enough to form a ball. If it isn’t moist enough, add another tablespoon of melted butter. Press the crust firmly into the pie plate, making sure the bottom and sides are evenly covered.

Banana Cream
2 very ripe bananas. [We are talking about black/brown bananas here. Tosi says this makes all the difference in the world.]
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks

2 gelatin sheets (or 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin)

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon yellow food coloring

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar

1 just-ripe (yellow) banana, sliced

Combine the ripe bananas, 1/3 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 cup milk in a blender & puree until totally smooth. Add the next section of ingredients–the sugar, cornstarch, salt, & egg yolks and blend. Pour into a medium saucepan. Clean out the blender.

Bloom the gelatin. (To bloom sheet gelatin, soak it in a small bowl of cold water for 2 minutes. Gently squeeze to remove any excess water before using. To bloom powdered gelatin, sprinkle it evenly onto the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small dish or cup. Allow to soften for 3-5 minutes.)

Whisk the contents of the pan and heat over medium-low heat. As the banana mixture heats up, it will thicken. Bring to a boil and then continue to whisk vigorously for 2 minutes to fully cook out the starch. The mixture will resemble thick glue, bordering on cement, with a color to match. [I really like Tosi's description here. It was so helpful as this is exactly what happens. She left out one thing, though. At this point, you will definitely have broken a sweat.]

Dump the contents of the pan into the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin and butter and blend until smooth and even. Color the mixture with yellow food coloring until it is bright yellow. Tosi realizes that this is a lot of coloring, but says, “banana creams don’t get that brilliant yellow color on their own. Womp,” which I think is a good enough argument for food coloring as any.

Transfer the mixture to a heatsafe container & chill in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes or until completely cooled. 

Using a whisk or a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the cream and powdered sugar to medium-soft peaks. Add the cold banana mixture to the whipped cream and slowly whisk until evenly colored and homogenous. (Stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, this will stay fresh for up to 5 days.)

Pour half the banana cream into the chocolate pie shell. Cover with a layer of sliced banana and then cover that with the remaining filling. 


ICYMI: A few yummy recipes and a lot of DIY gardening stuff

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All the things you might have missed this past week from the Facebook page.

Food & Recipes

45+ Frugal Meals to Help You Eat Well, Spend Less | Life As Mom -I didn’t look at every single recipe but most of them do seem to be truly “budget friendly”. I mean, there is a recipe that uses EIGHT EGGS , so not all of them are low budgety…..
Some perspective on “budget-friendly” recipes…
The average SNAP budget is about $1.25 per meal, sometimes less. There are also MANY people in the U.S. right now who are ineligible for food stamps who need to keep their budget within that same range.
So, if one meal costs even “just” $2/ serving, it is not frugal enough for poor folks.

Easy Homemade Bread | Artisan - I have made this a few times and it turned out well, but I *like* to knead, so it’s not my preferred method. I think of kneading as a bit of therapy, so much that I have a whole music-oriented routine  …but in a time crunch, the no-knead method is good. If you have a good library system, see if they have My Bread by Jim Lahey. It’s pretty good.Another good one is Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day

Vegan: Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Panini With Sun-Dried Tomato Mayonnaise | Serious Eats - I made this for dinner one night and was going to do a whole blog post of it’s own. I just wanted to demonstrate how something that sounds really wonderfully fancy-schmancy can be cheap & easy to make. BUT I lost my grocery receipt, so I couldn’t do an exact cost breakdown, which would have been the whole point of the post. It was a hit, so I’ll probably make it again and do a better job at keeping track of the receipt.

This is my kind of breakfast…
“Good morning, rice bowl. (Brown rice, sweet potato, kale, scrambled eggs)”

via Mary Makes Dinner


the peony and the bee Garden by Jeroenc71 on Flickr. - a beautiful small backyard garden. There are many possibilities, even in compact places like this.

Mark your calendar, guys and gals. The ONLINE Food Growing Summit is coming up, March 3-7 — and it’s
F-R-E-E. Just the inspiration you need!’ll hear conversations with Will Allen, Ocean Robbins, Joel Salatin, Erika Allen, Vandana Shiva, John Valenzuela, Stacey Murphy and many other farmers, backyard food growers, and urban food activists.

I’ve used this method in gardening since I was a teenager, just learning to garden. I had a great gardening mentor (Hi, Susun!)
Later, my daughters used the method to create their own tradition..a real “Three Sisters” garden. Each chose which seed/plant they were to be in charge of and took responsibility for the care from seed to harvest.

Another great advantage is space saving for small space gardens.

You can also combine raised beds like these with lasagna gardening technique if you can’t fill outright with composted soil mix.
I like to be creative and thrifty with what I build my raised beds with… old bookshelves or dressers with the drawers removed make great frames. Last summer, I tore apart an old couch… the wooden frame looks like it’ll make a nice raised bed with a handy built in trellis (the back of the couch). You can also use upcycled pieces at the end of a raised bed to act as a trellis, like my crib springs cucumber trellis.

I grew all my beans this way one year.I used bottles,mostly plastic,that I fished from recycling bins in my neighborhood.

Recycled Wine Bottle Herb Gardens Self Watering
These are Pretty Easy to make and can be made with any Glass or plastic Bottle , Good idea to start herbs now to get ready for spring

Recycled Wine Bottle Garden Tutorial 1

Reycled Wine Bottle Garden Tutorial #2

If you need a Video tutorial here you go

ICYMI:Real Food for the Broke, Wool Dryer Balls, more food waste tips,and more

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The Food Stuff

25 Baked Alternatives To Potato Chips And French Fries -The only one here that has been a complete fail for me has been zucchini chips. Prolly just me and not the zucchini’s fault.
We make tortilla chips often… especially good to do with stale tortillas (dumpster divers,freegans,and food bankers might see that more often)

Saving Money on Real Food at Costco – Real Food Real Deals -Not something I have firsthand knowledge of…no Costco in my area (nor the competitors they mention) but …sounds good.

Real Food Meal Plan for the Broke – We Got Real -This is decent. Good for a #SNAPfood budget.
I saw another Real Food on A Budget thing the other day . Almost $3/ serving. I laughed and laughed.
Anyway, these aren’t like that. It’s for a real low budget.

Dinner Tonight: Senegalese Rice and Peas | Serious Eats : Recipes-So cheap and quick.
I personally leave the fish sauce out because I can’t even get past the smell when I’m cooking and I’m sure that breaks every rule with this recipe… so probably you should use it,right? But Hikers for the Homeless suggested: “Maybe use veggie stock or chicken broth??” Good idea.

Food Waste Tip – Freeze Vegetable Scraps and Use Them to Make Vegetable Stock- I always have a pile of scraps that don’t end up in the compost that can be recycled into broth.

Easy Pantry Dinners: 5 Recipes with A Can of Black Beans -For dry bean users: 1 can is equal to 1/2 cup of dry beans before cooking.

Little known info: If you lose your food due to a natural disaster, long term power outage,or sudden evacuation or relocation and receive SNAP, you can receive Disaster SNAP or Replacement SNAP.

The DIY & Frugal Living Stuff

8 Ideas for Repurposed Seed-Starting Pots | The Prairie Homestead -The amount of toilet paper tubes & little yogurt-type cups I’ve stockpiled is making me look like a hoarder.

5 WAYS WE DEAL WITH POOR PEOPLE STRESS from Beyond Mom -tips for coping with the stresses of being poor.

How to Make Felted Wool Dryer Balls – Petals to Picots- I started using wool dryer balls a few years ago and can’t imagine not using them. They save money by reducing drying time in the drier, as well as cutting out the need/want for store bought fabric softeners. They’re also really easy to make (I used an old wool sweater that was being tossed out by a thrift shop because someone had shrunk it).

Can a Major City Grow All Its Own Food?- I like what he says about looking more to repairing the “parasitic” relationship between cities and the rural surroundings …. having city dwellers spend some time on farms to get a better understanding of the work that goes into producing their food.

10 Things You Should Know Before Making Homemade Dishwasher Detergent- “Washing Soda is KING!”
I definitely agree with that.

14 Food Waste Facts That Will Make You Want to Change the World -www.foodbeast.comFOODBEAST is the premiere food news resource. A one-stop location for food news, culture and entertainment.

Cat Litter Compost, Installment #3 - Links to the 1st & 2nd are in this post. Someone asked me one day here about composting cat litter. I found this stashed in my bookmarks. I think I will try it myself in the Spring when I can build a proper compost just for it. We have to pay for garbage and have indoor cats. We compost all food scraps and recycle everything that can be, so without the litter box waste, we have very little garbage.
Anyone else try to compost their little box waste?

21 Ways To Reduce Food Waste & Save Money! -I like the “Eat First” tray idea.

Five Things You Should Never Throw Away & How to Reuse Them -Uses for food scraps and other things. All good stuff.

Twitter / SeedKeeperCo: Grew green beans indoors in .. - You can grow green beans on your windowsill.

Ok, so I have my lines when it comes to stealing but if we’re talking about food in a dumpster or something that literally was thought of by someone else as trash, go for it.
(And you know….all the other stuff is relative to if you CAN, as always…)

ICYMI: Winter produce guide,vegan avocado recipes, more tips to reduce food waste, homemade scouring scrub..and more

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The Food Stuff


10 Tips for the Black Thumb – Like, if yu swear you can’t grow stuff because you have a Black Thumb, these tips might help you get past that.

Winter Produce Guide – The Sprouting Seed- Really helpful buying tips for each produce item.

 Vegan Avocado Round Up  -I know finding avocados cheap can be a crapshoot for a lot of ya’ll but these… zomg… Keep Your Refrigerator Organized with Four Simple Tricks - helps reduce food waste

Soup of the Day: Broccoli Cheddar- comfort soup

How to stop wasting food in 2014-This list excites me.
On a related note, if I had a video camera and a less chaotic household, I would SO love do a Dumpster Diving Cooking show.
For real.

10 Easy Ways to Stay Within Your Grocery Budget |- some tips might help, depending on your situation and resources already available. Reading all the lists around the blogosphere of how to save money makes me realize I need to write one that is specific to people living in technical poverty, since most are written with voluntary simplicity and frugality in mind.

Food Storage: Storing Herbs and Spices for Long Term Storage- this is handy if you’ve managed to buy in bulk or grow your own.


The DIY Stuff

Homemade All Purpose Scouring Scrub -3 ingredients (and two of them you can buy with food stamps.Well, actually…you can make super washing soda with baking soda, so technically all 3 ) …plus essential oil, but that’s optional.

Make Your Own Washing Soda (For Homemade Laundry Detergent) |  -turn baking soda into washing soda

Gardening small? Many fruits grow in containers -You lucky people who are able to be thinking about gardening this time of year. I have MONTHS.
Thought this could be helpful for urban & small space gardeners.


Crockpot Yogurt




originally posted on my other blog crazy dumbsaint of the mind on January 11th,2011.

I love our crockpot so much I thought we could use another one. We already had a 6-Qt one, perfect for making large portion main dishes for our tribe. I figured a smaller one would be great for side dishes and such. Totally unrelated to thrifty matters, I’ve never understood why people tend to use their crock pot in the winter and not in the summer. I use mine in the summer so I don’t have to have the oven on during hot summer days. In the winter, having the oven on makes the house nice and toasty. I also use the crock pot for making soup stocks,cooking dried beans,sauces and a bunch of other stuff.

So,anyway ….I found this at a local consignment  shop. It was in it’s original box and the price sticker said it was, “ALMOST NEW.USED ONCE. WORKS FINE!”.  It was only $4. I was sold.

This particular model is probably about 25 years old, so technically it’s vintage.

BUT does it work? Was the previous owner a rotten liar, just trying to get their greedy hands on my whopping four bucks?

Well, the other day, someone I follow on Twitter mentioned (Tweeted) that they were making homemade yogurt. I said I was kicking myself for Freecycling my yogurt maker and then she filled me in that it was CROCK POT Yogurt. I had to try it.

Since I already had plans to put a roast in the big crock pot, it fell to the little one to show me what it’s got.

The verdict is….

…it successfully made yogurt!  Even my one daughter who isn’t really all that fond of yogurt loved this and had it every morning for breakfast. Well, until it ran out on Wednesday morning. We made sure to save 1/2 cup to use as a starter for a new batch and we’ll probably make more this weekend.


Ingredients you need are:
-8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk–pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized. (Debbie recommends starting with whole milk until you get the hang of yogurt-making)

–1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (you need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)

–frozen/fresh fruit for flavoring

–thick bath towel

–slow cooker

Since there are pictures and everything of the steps on exactly how to make it, I’ll let you read them here:  CrockPot Yogurt

(by the way, Year of Slow Cooking is one of my favorite food blogs and much thanks to Stephanie for pointing me in the direction of Punk Domestics )

An added secondhand bonus: The glass desert cup in the photo is ,of course, second hand. I’m not sure where it came from….possibly my Mom. The tablecloth is a vintage score, something I picked up at a yard sale.

My one criticism of the crock pot itself – the stoneware crock is NOT removable. I can see if you made something really messy and gloppy in it, it would be a pain in the ass to clean. I’ll just have to keep that in mind for future uses.


ICYMI: Meals w/protein but no meat, thrifty kitchen tools,basic sourdough, staying clean without showering daily (or shampoo), and oodles more.


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The Foodie Stuff

21 Meals With Tons Of Protein And No Meat - Just what it says: tons of protein,no meat

Freezer Meals – Spinach Lasagna Rolls - This was one of my standard freezer meals back when I did once a month cooking regularly. They freeze well and filling is easily changed up for variety.

Soup of the Day: Fasolka - I’m loving Persephone Magazine ‘s Soup of the Day recipes. This one has good protein and easy-peasy to make.

Quinoa Mushroom Soup - I made this with some “rescued” quinoa…the grocery store was going to throw it out because there was a slit n the bag. #freegan

10 Kitchen Tools Thrifty People Own – Snail Pace Transformations    Oh, you have no idea how much I love some of these things.
Popcorn is a whole food group to me and my 2 crockpots are my bestest buds. The only think on this list I don’t like is bread machines. I dunno. I just like doing it the other way.
*My “thrifty tip”* : You can find everything on this list at yard sales & thrift stores or freecycle/craigslist.

Recipe: Basic Sourdough Starter -For the Want-to-Be-Bread-Bakers. Once you start baking sourdough, it can become a little bit of a cultivated obsession.

Roasted Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers with Smoked Paprika Chipotle Sauce - I cooked too many black beans one day, so I used them up to make these burgers. So good.


If you’re craving something, it’s probably because your body needs something else. Well, unless it’s a comfort food but that’s another story.
Another tip about chia seeds: They do this weird expanding thing and help you feel fuller longer. Weight loss people recommend them for this reason but I recommend them for reducing some hunger pangs.

It’s a problem.

Thrifty Living Things 

Growing Onions Vertically On The Windows - Pretty easy to do and doesn’t require much space.

Renewed Frugality – 21 Frugal Tips To Try This Year -Have to be honest…. the Frugal Tips in the blogosphere are getting old for me BUT I like this one! I do most of these myself …
and I have to throw out there for #10 – if you have a good library system, use it for family movie night to save even more money.

Washing My Hair With Baking Soda | My Healthy Green Family -This is my hair care regimen,too.
( not only is it “green”, you can’t buy shampoo with SNAP but you can buy baking soda & apple cider vinegar)

Garden Crops: Cold Storage Ideas & Root Cellar Tips        Helpful for those of you who are getting a bounty of root crops from their CSA. 

How to Stay Clean Without Showering Every Day- All sorts of reasons people can’t shower every day, so here’s some ideas on how to not be the smelly kid & still be clean without showering daily.

DIY Homemade Cling Wrap – Nourishing Joy -Saves money, helps eliminate (or reduce at least ) plastic.