• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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Inspired by Clara: Pasta with peas

Pasta with peas
Inspired by Clara’s Pasta with peas and her “Depression Era Cooking” videos, I reached into my 10 pound bag of potatoes and got to work. As I played with potatoes and onions, I thought back to what I remember growing up. What dish was my Grandma “famous” for? And what do I remember most from my mother’s cooking? After Mom grabbed her bowl, we talked about it.

Me: Know what I remember most about Grandma’s cooking? Delmonico steak with salt, pepper and garlic powder. (Grandma and I both are garlic fiends.)
Mom: That’s all?
Me: Yeah. Weird, huh? I know she could cook anything and remember all the family holiday gatherings where she would cook. But that was just ham and turkey and collards and whatnot.

We then talked about how amazing of a cook my Grandma was. But Mom said she didn’t think Grandma loved to cook. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember much? Near the end, Grandma and I would talk about cooking and it was mostly about sneaking ground turkey breast into Grandpa’s food or how versatile egg white omelets were. I’m going to try and get some clippings that my aunt got when we — well, you know… went through the stuff left behind. Most everyone was in Grandma’s head but maybe I can get an idea from what she clipped out and that will help.

Me: Mom, know what I think of when I think back to your cooking?
Mom: No, what? (I could hear the ‘uh oh’ in her voice.)
Me: Hamburger soup, tuna surprise*, succotash, hamburger helper, tuna helper, chicken helper — yeah, one pot meals.

* Tuna surprise is kind of like a tuna casserole cooked in a saucepan on the stove.

Now, back to Clara. I loved how she said she would ask what’s for dinner and get as an answer: “Pasta with garlic.” “Pasta with peas.” Etc. I had pasta, including a box that had a “use by” date of 2007 — oops, yes, that was tossed, sigh — and some potatoes. Like I said, I bought this 10 pound bag of potatoes cause I was crazy being frugal.

I wanted to get the consistency of a “hamburger helper” type meal because I want something that could hold its own on a plate with some sides. I got something more soupy, but I measured so maybe I can get closer next time.

Pasta with Peas ++
The ++ means I added more stuff… of course.

  • Olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cups frozen peas (keep frozen)
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled, diced
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Saute onions and potatoes in olive oil on medium heat till potatoes are softened. I think this took me about 15 minutes and I used a small stock pot. Add salt, pepper, water, peas. Bring to a boil. Add pasta. Boil for 10 minutes. Toss in parsley. Cook for 1 minute. This is where I added the carrots cause the pasta with peas was slightly soupy. Considering I ladled off about 1.5 cups, I’ll reduce the water amount next time. Maybe. The “stock” this all made was very good. I was heavy handed with the salt like Clara but Mom still added salt to her bowl. Ha.

Sauteed Carrots
I ended up dumping this into the Pasta with Peas at the end

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

I cooked the carrots in a skillet while I cooked the pasta with peas. The carrots kept browning too quickly on medium heat so I would ‘cool’ them off with a ladle of water from the pasta. I think it added a lovely flavor. I’m not a fan of carrots but these turned out nicely. I think they cooked for about 20 minutes sometimes covered and sometimes not. I tossed them into the pot of pasta right before serving and after the parsley. It added a nice color but since the carrots didn’t cook with the pasta, it had its own flavor but was somewhat familiarized with the ladles of water from the pasta.

Pasta with Peas (and carrots)
Nutrition Facts (via recipezaar)
Serving Size 1 (506g) Recipe makes 5 servings
Points 7
Calories 328
Calories from Fat 80 (24%)
Amount Per Serving %DV
Total Fat 9.0g 13%
Saturated Fat 1.3g 6%
Monounsaturated Fat 6.0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 42mg 1%
Potassium 640mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 54.6g 18%
Dietary Fiber 5.1g 20%
Sugars 5.0g
Protein 8.1g 16%

Some others that tried her recipe:

Review: Wesabe.com

Like many, I want to get a handle on my budget (or lack thereof). Overall, my spending is good. I save. I don’t charge a lot that I don’t pay off monthly. I do have some old debt though that I would like to be rid of.

utilities
Wesabe. I can burrow down on the graph and see in one spot how much I spent on the tag “utilities.”

I have used Google docs to make a budget. I have tried a Mac application called Moneydance to download my statements and tag them. I heard of mint.com and wesabe.com. I checked out mint.com but ended up putting my life in wesabe.com.

Why Wesabe?

Both touted their security features which was a major concern of mine. Both had a pleasing layout and seemed easy to use. Both have charting features which is nice to see how much of the pie *** goes to the mortgage.

Tags. Community. Those two together are a fantastic combination. Basically, if I upload my bank statement and it has 30 entries from 23104005-WAS-T-M-234133 that means nothing to me. The tool converts it to something understandable if it knows it, and it builds on other people’s input. Maybe Jane Smith uses that company too and it then becomes “Waste Management” for me and suggests tags that others have used like “bills, utilities, household” which helps me later.

Also, there’s a goal feature but I’m not too keen on it yet. I tried adding a goal of paying down the debt but it didn’t give me the carrot I was hoping for. For example, if I have 2 credit cards with one at 9% and one at 3%, I would like it to tell me to pay down the 3% and how much to pay to get it paid off by November 2009. And if I pay extra, what that does. I’ve seen these calculators elsewhere and it’d be nice to have it rolled into one. Maybe it exists and I haven’t seen it on the site.

I also like the community aspect other than the help with tagging and changing my entries into human-readable formats. There are areas for saving on lunch, home improvement, and paying down debt. The other users in the same boat as I am offer up suggestions that have worked for them.

Wesabe groups

The major reason I like it is because I can combine my one credit card and my bank statement together so that I can see all purchases of a certain type together. For example, I use the card that I pay off monthly to charge to get the points. But sometimes I have to write checks (go figure). It’s nice to see how much I spent on memberships for 2008 from both locations in one place. It’s very easy! Import. Import. Tag. Click. And there it is! Lovely.

*** Great visual calculator of what we should have pie-wise: http://www.cnbc.com/id/26641187/.

Lunch: Leftover sweet potatoes, green beans and grapes

Light? Perhaps. But I was full till 5 p.m. yesterday when I ate sweet potatoes so we’ll see today!

Better on the landfill touching, definitely.

Lunch

  • Sweet potatoes, mashed, in the green bean container. Didn’t overnuke this time! Was heavenly. Mmmm.
  • Grapes. The last of the grapes. Not organic. I wish. I know they should be. But at least they’re not going bad this time! I made a conscious effort to eat them before the fuzz took them.
  • Utensils and washcloth. The towel was too big so I brought my fork in a washcloth. Much better size. Smaller space in a laundry pile too.

Eating while glancing through Eat, Shrink and Be Merry which came in through Interlibrary Loan last night! Woo hoo!

Eat, Shrink and Be Merry!

I love me some Interlibrary Loan 🙂 I can feed — groan — my cookbook addiction without paying for books or overloading my already overloaded bookcases.

Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, garden salad

Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, saladI’m seeing a chicken theme here. Bwok? I do eat other things, really! But for .69/pound (.20 off per pound), I got a roasting whole chicken and looked for something to do with it that would be at least a little different than the other birds that have fallen on my plate recently. I wrapped it up in plastic last night and checked the potatoes. They felt neglected and started to expand their family by growing. But it’s not that hard to pop out the eyes — how barbaric sounding! — and make some mashed potatoes. The other side was hard to choose though. A quick check on the fridge yielded the answer in leftover salad bits. “Eat us!”

Dinner: April 27, 2008

  • Roast chicken
    I’m seeing a chicken theme here. I do eat other things, really! But for .69/pound (.20 off per pound), I got a roasting whole chicken and looked for something to do with it that would be at least a little different than the other birds that have fallen on my plate recently. I did a rub and wrapped it up in plastic last night and checked the potatoes. They felt neglected and started to expand their family by growing. But it’s not that hard to pop out the eyes — how barbaric sounding! — and make some mashed potatoes.
  • Mashed potatoes
    De-eyed, peeled, cubed, boiled some Yukons. I guess I should have realized by their low price (.80/pound) that they weren’t going to be much longer for this world. The chicken left some liquid in its pan, so I whipped up gravy (I use cornstarch).
  • Garden salad
    Leftover boiled eggs (white only), tomato, romaine, cucumber, celery and Good Seasonings Light Greek Vinaigrette.

Currently cheap eats at the local supermarkets

I started a price sheet a few weeks ago and have been taking note of sales at the local markets. On the way home from work, I can hit many supermarkets: Food Lion, Farm Fresh, Kroger, Games Market, Walmart, Super Kmart. I don’t usually shop at Walmart or SuperKmart but am rethinking the Walmart thing. Price matching for the win.

The cheap eats that I noticed this week* according to my handy dandy price sheet:

  • Avocado at Food Lion for $.99 each. (Average: $1.99)
  • Cantaloupe at Farm Fresh for $.88 each. (Average: $1.99)
  • Chicken Breast, split, at Food Lion for $.88/pound. (Average: $2/pound)**

Footnote: Average is of the various local stores I check.
* Ends April 22, 2008 probably.
** Food Lion brand chicken is advertised as hormone and antibiotic free.