daily links: affordable veganism and other foodish things

The Economics of Veganism (+ Proof A Fine Vegan Meal Can Be Made Cheaply) – I promise even if you’re a skeptic of veganism ,you won’t hate this piece. Gena Hamshaw gives plenty of recognition to the high cost of produce and lack of accessibility for some while also showing some good idea of how it can be affordable. Gods love her for stating some of the flaws in SNAP challenges,too

In some of our leaner times, we’ve become what I termed “accidental vegans” and as a general rule we eat a lot of vegetarian meals because plant based proteins are so much more affordable. I feel like the disadvantage many might have making veganism work on a low budget is that time is a huge factor in preparation, and it does require a bit of food and cooking knowledge beyond the basic.


Fall Chili, Soups & Stew Recipes and Learn How to Make a Freezer to Slow Cooker Meal ~ Weekly Round-Up – 31 days of soups and stews. I say it all the time…soups and stews are some of the most inexpensive meals you can make and you can stretch a pot through the week . My other tips is to substitute beans if a recipe calls for meat you can’t afford.


21 Budget-Friendly Recipes Starring Rice — Recipes from The Kitchn – essential reading for me this week. Oh,boy.


33 Bowl Recipes to Keep Your Belly Full and Life Easy – I made one of these recently for myself to eat during the week for lunches. Really ideal if it’s just you or you and your partner and maybe one or 2 non-picky kids that can deal with their food not touching .


The Middle-Eastern Cookie That Caused a Panic in Pennsylvania– I’m glad the recipe is included in this article because I immediately knew I had to have some but didn’t want to create hysteria by having something written in Arabic hanging around my house.Heavens no..



SPICY RED CURRY CAULIFLOWER “WINGS”

I have an enormous bag of chickpea flour to use up, so I’ve been making things like this (basically pakora) . I might make this one this week but commit some pantry anarchy by using a buffalo wing sauce my local produce guy gave me as a free samples.

daily links::a food waste cookbook!, news on teen hunger, and more

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There’s a cookbook called Amazing Waste with recipes entirely devoted to cooking with scraps,leftovers,etc. I haven’t had a chance to look through the entire thing yet but this looks like the kind of cookbook I would write. Am writing. These kinds of recipes are great for food pantry users (at least my food pantry) where you might end up with produce that is not the prettiest or freshest.

The entire cookbook is available for free RIGHT HERE.

Thanks to my local food waste reduction -anti hunger group Friendship Donations Network for passing along that info.


·:   Five Questions with JoAnne Berkenkamp, Food Waste Expert and Advocate  – there’s a lot of food waste going on but it’s getting better thanks to mainstream recognition and initiatives to reduce waste


:· some new research reveals some sad information about teenagers living in homes with food insecurity  . Even if teenagers do have access to programs that give them food,they’re too worried about what their peers will think to use them openly but also they are underserved by programs like The Backpack Program, which focuses on elementary aged kids. This is something touched on before here when one of our readers was trying to develop a program for older kids.

As a result, in households where hunger was most acute, teens reported engaging in all kinds of risky behavior to obtain food, including: shoplifting food directly, selling drugs for cash and/or engaging in “transactional dating,” i.e., engaging in sexual relationships with older adults in exchange for food and money. In a few communities, some teens even viewed going to jail as a viable option to ensure regular meals. The report also revealed the degree to which hungry teens look out for each other and for their younger siblings, often forgoing meals or sharing their food with those also in need.

Here’s a summary of the full report: Impossible Choices

My teenager’s high school made school lunch available for free to ALL students, regardless of income. If high schools did that widely, this would eliminate so much of these issues. Her school also has Free Food Friday where food donations picked up from a local rescue agency is available in the school lobby for anyone to take home. My daughter very rarely gets anything because it’s completely gone by the time she has a chance to check it out. Even when she is there on time, it’s difficult to get anything. No one is shy about taking food home. Now I have to wonder why these students have no reluctance to take free food. The school is a small charter school that focuses on sustainability and social justice (nope, don’t go off on me about how awful charter schools are) . Is it just that the culture of the school is centered on taking care or others and being stewards of the earth? A lot for me to think about there. I asked my daughter what she thinks and she says it’s because the school works hard to be a safe space for everyone and “no one judges people for things like that”.


Meanwhile in my community, the school district just expanded their Fresh Snack Program to include another school so that it now serves 1,200 elementary students. The Youth Farm Project (which one of my older kids worked at and let em tell you…that’s an AMAZING program) and other local farms provide a weekly snack to be served with the intention of expanding food horizons and food accessibility. It’s awesome.

My 6 year old was very critical of the yellow watermelon mentioned in the article linked above. He spent his summer growing his own watermelon, so he’s an expert now.
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He’s a super proud watermelon farmer.  I think we actually have a couple left to harvest. I plan on making this watermelon pie. YESSSSSSSSS.

new food stamp amount: $221/month for a family of 5

We reapplied for food stamps at the end of May and finally got a decision this week. We were denied but then also approved in the same decision. Because I’m self-employed, they said the amount I made in May put us over the qualifying limit by $87 but then averaged the past 3 months of my income as a guideline of what I might typically make and that put us under the limit.

The other thing that changed is they do not include our twins on our SNAP case because they are full time college students who are not employed at least 20 hours a week yet. So, we’re on paper a family of five but I’m still buying groceries for a family of seven.

I’m confused about some of the rules for when someone is going to college. I was told by one person that if the twins are working at least 20 hrs/week this summer ,then they can be included on our SNAP case but then someone else told me that yes, BUT their income will also count as household income and that would probably put us over the qualifying limit. I’m guessing the latter is how that actually works.

Anyway, as it stands now we were approved finally and our amount will be $221 a month. That’s just short of 2 weeks of groceries for us. The USDA “Thrifty Family Meal Plan” guidelines say we should be spending about $970 for our family size per month but my food budget has been about half that for the past 6 months, sometimes even lower. It’s totally impossible without going to the food pantry every other week.

On the gardening front, things are slow but happening. We’re in a drought-like spell. I have no hose hookup at this house and I’m watering the garden by hauling jugs from inside the house. It takes forever and it’s not the same as a good soaking rain. Fortunately we know people who know how to do things and a friend is going to put a hose hookup in for us soon. This sounds like a much easier solution than my daughter’s suggestion of building an aqueduct or elaborate irrigation system.

So, adding to my $88 worth of rhubarb, I now have chives and chive infused vinegar.
15 oz dried chives-$28 (I arrived at this price by looking at the bulk spice prices at 2 local markets plus what’s available online)
16 oz of chive infused vinegar – $10
several bundles of fresh chives -$8

My husbeast has been fishing a lot lately,too. Having terrible luck catching anything worth keeping but this week another fisherman gave him a nice bass he didn’t feel like cleaning. That was a nice free dinner. I have no idea what a whole bass costs. A 12 oz package of sea bass is $23 where we usually shop but this isn’t exactly sea bass.
I need to remember to add the cost of his fishing and hunting license into my food production expenses tally. So far without that figured in, I’ve spent $120 on seeds,tools,and other gardening things.
I need to keep better track of time spent in the garden. Once I have a good idea of this,I’ll start putting a monetary value to that time,too. Two separate rates – migrant farm worker wage and living wage.

 

 

 

 

 

how i’m measuring garden successes

While weighing my rhubarb haul the other day, I started to think earnestly about what the best way is to measure success in the garden. I was weighing the rhubarb mainly out of curiosity. At the grocery stores here,  fresh rhubarb is currently around  $4/lb. I was just wondering what the dollar value of my rhubarb would be.( $80 so far, in case you were wondering,too)

Weighing what comes out of the garden seems to be the most used method for measuring food production success. We see it all the time on homesteading blogs and articles. “This family grew 2,000 lbs of food in their backyard!”. Totally an actual headline. But here’s what I’m thinking…is that really as impressive as it sounds? I mean, does that weight have pumpkins and tomatoes happening in it or is it a lot of  romaine lettuce and snap peas?

My rhubarb is valuable dollar wise and rhubarb is awesome to have. I have lots of plans for it but my family isn’t going to subsist on rhubarb alone. Spinach,though…. that’s something we eat a lot of. Spinach leaves are light. 8 oz costs around $3 here. It’s more expensive than rhubarb and more practically valuable for us but it’s never going to add a whole lot to any weight total. If I manage to grow even 5 lbs of spinach, that’s worth a confetti and streamers celebration to me.

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Potatoes. We eat a lot of them,too. I decided not to grow a large amount of potatoes this year though because I can buy them pretty inexpensively from my favorite local produce vendor. Less than $10 for a 20 lb bag. If I was measuring my success by pounds, I could use the weight of potatoes on my side.

Weighing the garden harvest for just the sheer weight total feels disingenuous to me. The entire reason I am personally growing food is to alleviate the financial costs of feeding my family. It makes more sense for me to put dollar amounts on this. That’s weird for me because I hate equating dollars with value & success but here it will make sense.

I think stating the weight of garden wealth is also somewhat of a slap in the face to those who are growing with obstacles. Like very limited land or just balcony or patio space. Growing 12 oz of herbs might be a huge success, even if it’s not hefty. For that matter, everything we manage to grow can be a very huge deal.

 

 

rhubarb bonanza

I probably mentioned this already but the town historian tells us that years ago before the property we’re living at became neglected, this house had the best vegetable garden around for miles. She pointed out to this overgrown field near the pond as the former site. It’s so hard to believe looking at it now. When we moved in it was nothing but goldenrod and stupid scrubby bushes & prickers. Now that it’s spring and the field is renewing I’m finding few signs of what it formerly was.I’ll find a clump of daffodils or lillies coming up among dried stalks left behind by the goldenrod.

Monday I stumbled upon a beautiful row of rhubarb. A perfect row, a long ago gardener as it’s architect.

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I started harvesting what was ready. I filled a clothes basket full.

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Now I’m at the full on chopping stage, freezing and preserving most of it but looking forward to strawberry-rhubarb pie for dessert tonight and apple-rhubarb muffins for the boys’ school snacks. My grandmother used to make rhubarb syrup that I loved. I’ll can some of that.
There’s plenty to share,too.

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My multi-tasking media today:
::watching:: The Family. I started watching a few days ago, then found out yesterday it’s been cancelled but I’m in too deep now. Damn, Andrew McCarthy is great-creepy in this.
::podcast:: Season 2 of Serial. The general reaction from most people has been “meh. It’s not as good as season 1” but I’m into it so far.
::music:: Painted Shut, Hop Along

 

 

pantry anarchy: yellow squash & white bean not-meat-balls

Because recipes were made to be broken when you’re broke.

 

meatballs

 

My main inspiration for this recipe: Zucchini “Meatballs”

I had on hand:
-2  yellow squash (getting on the verge of being soft)
– 2 cups leftover white beans
– eggs
– salt,pepper,Italian seasoning,garlic
– oat flakes
-tri color rotini from the food pantry
– a jar of spaghetti sauce (pretty sure also from food pantry)
– canola oil

I shredded the squash and let it drain some of the moisture off. I started to mash the beans but it was too chunky so I kinda pureed it with water in the blender. I combined the bean paste with the squash and seasoned HEAVILY (like, really… I put so much garlic and Italian herbs in it). I added an egg to bind it, then added the oat flakes to make it less mushy. I have no idea how much I added. I think it’s just one of those things you have to gauge depending on how moist your mixture is. My goal was to get it solid enough to form balls but not too dry that they crumble.

I coated a baking pan with oil , then formed the bean-squash mix into balls and placed them on the pan. I drizzled oil on top then baked at 375 for about 20 minutes, turning them over about half way.

My super carnivore husband liked them and I think it was thanks to the heavy seasoning. He did describe it as tasting like “falafel in ball form” but he made it sound like a good thing. Maybe I’m onto a new fusion here.


If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please consider being a supporter at Patreon! Your support will keep content on the blog free and available to all on the internet as well as help me develop printed publications.  Donate here:  Poor as Folk on Patreon or one time donation via Paypal to luckyfishhomestead@gmail.com

 

 

food we ate, april 4 til now

Well,honestly – this isn’t ALL the food we ate. I forget to take pictures or I’m too tired or my house is chaosville. Most meals were  made w/ things we got at the food pantry 2 weeks ago . We did do minor grocery shopping for basics. I had two crying meltdowns that were food related – one because the ground beef from the food pantry was spoiled and the other because bread dough (honey wheat oat…the one I make the most) didn’t rise.

About the crying – I never cry. Maybe once or twice a year. The advantage to this is that people who know me know that when I’m crying, it’s super important. Lately? I cry over every damn thing. Dearest says, “It must be hormones.” And I said, “No, I think this is who I am now.” To his credit, he didn’t even flinch. I notice this has been a gradual thing as I’m getting older. I cry if something is impossibly cute or beautiful or horribly sad and tragic. Bread dough not rising and spoiled meat  are probably not the most tragic things but it was in my world on the days it happened.

Anyway…on to the food.

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This was something I’m calling Loaded Potato Casserole. I diced potatoes, rinsed them, then coated them in a packet of “chili seasoning” that I found in the pantry. I added a can of pinto beans and baked the whole thing for 25 minutes or so. I threw cheese on at the end. The chives on top are super fresh. I harvested them from the garden…. the day after we got 6 inches of snow.

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Poor chives. They were looking pretty sad after the snow but have bounced back since.

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Basic spaghetti loaded with chunky onion tomato sauce. This was where I cried. I wanted to make meatballs but the ground beef wasn’t good. I DON’T EVEN LIKE MEAT. What the hell?

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I’m calling this one Eggroll Bowl. I guess it’s “Deconstructed Eggroll” but ugh, hipsters and their deconstructed ethnic foods. What happened here was I thought I had 2 packages of eggroll wrappers so I went ahead and made eggroll filling before realizing there were no eggroll wrappers. No crying over this for whatever reason. I just cooked it and put it in bowls over rice.Hubby had made a pork roast for a fantasy baseball thing he went to and I put some of the leftover pork in the mix.

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“Baja Fish Tacos”. This was a taco meal kit from the food pantry. Well, the seasoning and tortillas was. The fish was from the food pantry,too. The fish we get there is frozen pollock and it’s not terrible. I’ve found it’s ideal for things like tacos or sandwiches.

The tomatoes and lettuce are from this tiny produce shop near us. It’s literally in an addition on this man’s house on one of the more traveled back roads here. His prices are great and most things are pretty local. He also has eggs, both local small farm and more factory farmed. The latter were reduced this week because he had too many so we picked up several cartons for 75 cents each. We’ve been eating a lot of breakfast-for-dinner meals.

And we still have a ton of these frozen pancakes left. When I first served them, my littlest thought I was handing him a plate of small cookies. Yeah, they do look like that.

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One of the most memorable things I made recently that I didn’t take pics of was Jim Lahey’s Potato Pizza .Because potatoes, which we have a lot of right now.
I loved it but I got mixed reactions from the rest of the family.

“It’s …..interesting.”- Husband

“I just don’t know how I feel about this.”- 15 yr old

“Don’t call it pizza. It has no sauce.” -11 yr old

“Nope.”- 5 yr old

I wish my other kids had been home. I think they would have appreciated it.

My 11 year old is an incredibly picky eater (sensory issues. No, “if he’s hungry enough,he’ll eat” doesn’t quite work here) . We accidentally discovered that he loves those stupid chunky campbell’s soups – Loaded Baked Potato,specifically. I HATE buying soap in a can because I can make it so cheaply at home. I have tried feeding him various homemade potato soups and he’s rejected most. FINALLY, I made one this past week that he loved. Bye, campbell’s chunky soup.

Used homemade broth for it,of course.
I don’t remember what I did with that chicken. Garlicked and baked,maybe?
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I still have a bazillion carrots to use. I’ll get on that this week.
I’m sure it’ll also still be pretty potato intensive.


If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please consider being a supporter at Patreon! Your support will keep content on the blog free and available to all on the internet as well as help me develop printed publications.  Donate here:  Poor as Folk on Patreon or one time donation via Paypal to luckyfishhomestead@gmail.com