Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend Doings

Went to Lowe's today and looked at paint swatches for the kitchen. I'm thinking this icey aqua blue color with the green glass tile backsplash. If not green, then plain white subway tiles.
Also, I read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food this week. It only took me two days! It's a good read and actually had a lot of new information for me. He takes a pretty hard look at how we've somehow in our eating come to focus on nutrients, rather than on foods: "Eat more fiber." Not, "Eat more broccoli." Anywho, I highly recommend it. An excellent and easy read.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Oh, and I've decided I want to start a raised bed organic vegetable garden. Any suggestions?

I should use the library more often, for starters.

Handmade Nation

So, a few days ago I watched a great documentary that Mallory let me borrow. It's called Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design. Basically it's about people making a living by selling items that they've made themselves, and about the increasing demand for such items. But there's more to it than that. You have these artists (mostly women, but we'll get to that) who are abandoning the fancy-pants art world to create things like clothes, jewelry, bags, paper goods, etc. And not only are they making a living doing it, they're finding themselves much happier and more fulfilled. This was the part that most interested me.

When I was about halfway through the art program at Auburn, I came to the conclusion that it was all hogwash, hocus pocus...bullshit. I wanted out asap and decided to finish early with a BA instead of a BFA. About a year later, Doug and I were talking marriage. So a friend from art school told me I was making a big mistake by not getting a BFA, that I wasn't living up to my potential as an artist (gag me) and that I was destined to "lose myself" by getting married at such a young age. Then, my sister in her infinite oldest sibling wisdom sent me a copy of What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman. It talks about how the feminist movement of the 1960s has affected women today and notes that we've trapped ourselves into choosing either family or career. And, whichever we choose, we are constantly wondering whether we chose correctly and are looked down upon by those woman who chose the other way. Women who have big time careers and send their children to daycare at 4 weeks are scorned by stay-at-home moms and vice versa. It's like we've realized that we do actually long for that family life, motherhood, whatever, just as much as we long to find our own personal fulfillment apart from such things. And we've been conditioned to think that we must choose between the two....which is like asking a parent to choose between their two children. It's impossible and ridiculous. Anywho, many women of my sister's and my generation seem to have finally found a balance. They're sewing, cooking, and gardening, working from home. And they've discovered that unmistakable feeling of accomplishment that comes from making something with your own hands that is not only beautiful, but functional. And, the best part is, people are seeking out their stuff. People want to know that someone just like them crafted their item by hand....someone they could call up on the phone and talk to if they wanted. And skills that may have been lost otherwise can now be passed on to the next generation. We learning to grow and cook our own food, make our own bowls and furniture, sew our own clothes. Could it be that we're on our way to self-sufficiency once again? Could it be that there are enough of us out there to create a beautiful revolution that could tear down the corporate monster that's eating our culture? Perhaps.

By the way...even though I did get sidetracked from the grocery project, you will be pleased to know that Doug and I ate off that $35 grocery trip for a full week. And you may also be excited to know that we discovered a local farm (more than one, actually) that raises grass-fed beef and free-range (actual free-range) chickens. We'll be investigating that more soon. Find one in your town here.

Monday, January 11, 2010


We're planning on replacing our kitchen cabinets this spring. I'm super excited and have been spending entirely too much time looking at kitchen cabinets on Ikea's website. Yep, we're going Ikea, and we're installing it all ourselves. I'm sure that experience will make for some interesting blog posts. So, I've been collecting some pictures of what I think I want the end product to look like. I want white cabinets with the beaded board doors....wooden countertops (freakishly inexpensive from Ikea)...and an apron-front sink. I can't decide if I like the darker finish on the counters or the lighter finish. Same with the hardware....dark or silvery (I think they call it brushed nickel, but that's dumb). Whatchoo think?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Quesadillas for Two

one can of black beans $0.89 (at Target...$1.10 at Publix)
2 tortillas from pk of 10 $0.23
1/2 bag of Amish cheese $1.15
1/2 an onion $0.30 (freeze the rest chopped and use later)

Total: $2.57 ($1.29 per person)

For super awesome quesadillas, spend a little more and buy organic black beans and tortillas. The onion was local, so that's a plus. And the Amish cheese is Amish, so it's free of mystery substances. If you wanted to add meat, buying kosher meat is a good idea and it's relatively easy to find.

Sidenote: Moe's John Coctostan quesadilla is pretty much identical to this one, but usually has meat on it. That quesadilla costs about $5 or $6 and has 515 calories and 24 grams of fat with no meat on it. And it contains 47% of your daily sodium value. !!!!! Mine has about 380 calories. I didn't calculate the other parts, but no wonder we're all fat and have high blood pressure. Jeez. Cook it at home, people. Save your money and your health.


Meal number one:

We cooked dinner last night from the following ingredients and fed 3 hungry adults:

one bell pepper $0.69
2/3 of the hickory smoked sausage package: $2.26
one yellow onion $0.60
one roma tomato $0.30
cup of rice $1.09

Total estimated cost: $4.94 (about $1.65 per person)

The prices were best guesses based on my grocery receipt and my subtracting the sausage and rice from their larger packages. Anywho, that was a pretty cheap dinner, right? Here's what we did:

brown the sausage in a skillet
throw in chopped pepper, onion and tomato
let cook together until veggies soften
add cooked rice and mix it all together
throw in a splash of Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce or whatever you want
eat it

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Yummy on a Budget

So...I've decided to do a few short posts on the art of eating well on a budget. It's frustrating that buying organic and natural foods is expensive....and cooking from scratch requires planning, creativity and patience. But, it is possible to eat yummy healthy foods even though your budget is tight, and I'm going to do a little project to prove it. I'm going to tell you what I bought at the grocery store, how much I spent, what I cooked, and how much food it made. The first rules of learning to cook well on a budget are as follows:

1. Slowly stock your pantry with spices, olive oil, fresh garlic, etc.
2. Learn the value of meatless meals.
3. Don't be afraid to cook without recipes. Recipes often call for strange ingredients that you have to run out and buy for just that one meal.
4. Know that when it comes to thinking about the environmental, political, and health issues in regards to food, everything's a trade off. It's unlikely that you'll find food that is organically and locally grown. So, if you can't get organic, try to at least buy local...and vice versa. The main thing is that you're not eating Lunchables and the like. Ew.

5. Read labels carefully. Learn what those crazy ingredients are and how bad they are for your health, and look for foods with very short ingredients lists. Skippy Natural Peanut Butter ingredients: Peanuts, oil, salt. Yes.

Okay, so I went to our farmer's market yesterday for some essential items:

16 oz. Hickory Smoked Sausage from Elba, AL
12 oz. Bacon from Elba, AL
Amish shredded cheddar
10 pk flour tortillas
32 oz. bag frozen broccoli
frozen biscuits
Amish whole wheat pasta
2 yellow onions
2 green bell peppers
4 roma tomatoes
1 ginormous eggplant
1 garlic cluster

Total: $34.66

So I have several meals in mind here, and I plan on posting the meals I made, but the most important thing is how long this food will last us. So, we'll see. Obviously, there are other grocery items that I will be picking up here and there that are not on this list: coffee, juice, milk, etc. Allegri Farm Market doesn't carry any of these items except coffee, so I split up the rest of my shopping between Publix and Target. Yes, I go to three different grocery stores. It saves me that much money. Produce at Publix is very expensive...for example, one bell pepper is $1.79 there, and they're $0.69 at Allegri. However, Publix carries organic bell peppers for around $2, so sometimes I buy those. It's all a trade off. For dry foods (cereal, pasta, coffee) and juice, I shop at Target. A box of cereal that costs $4 at Publix is $2.50 at Target. And Publix cranberry juice is $4.29 while Target's (same brand) is $2.79. That shit adds up! I buy my organic foods and some meat from Publix (though finding remotely natural meat is next to impossible here...more on that later). I got a humongous jar of organic Texas rice for $6, and we've been eating off it for weeks and are only halfway through it! Anyway, through all this, I've become very aware of what I'm spending and what I'm eating, and it's given me a great and wonderful sense of having control over my day to day living through my own educated and thoughtful choices of food. I'll let you know what's for dinner.