Wednesday, December 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Back on our feet in the real world

By
From page A8 | January 15, 2014 |

Whew! The whole town let out a collective sigh of relief last Monday: the crazy rush of holidays, parties, traveling and gifting was over, school was back in session and things were back to normal.

A minute or so later the realization set in: we’re in for the long slog of daily life combined with keeping resolutions. That almost always means eating healthy meals and saving money – two things that Twelve for Forty is thankfully designed to do!

This is a revision of a menu from 2010. Interestingly, when I priced it, it actually came out a few cents cheaper than it did then. One big difference: I reduced the amount of meat a bit and increased the vegetables correspondingly. It’s a good metaphor for January, and a reasonable change to our eating patterns!

Our menu relies on some winter standards: cauliflower is lovely this time of year, as is citrus (grab the Cara Cara oranges while you can – they’re super sweet and yummy, but won’t be around for long.) Mashed potatoes add that touch of carb delight that we all want in the winter. Whole grain bread does the same, while adding fiber and protein to the mix. Turkey adds lean protein, and braised sausages bring big flavor – you can choose the level of spice and fat you want from the Co-op’s wide range of housemade sausages.

Planning is everything in sticking to a food budget, and we aim to help you with six days worth of menus, which should feed two adults dinner six nights a week* for around $40.
These menus assume you already have some cooking skills, and own a basic reference cook book.

Below the menus are tips for cooking, or for cooking ahead. If you see “In the fridge for future meals” then save those items from this meal for later in the week. That’s been included in the shopping list.

*(Everybody needs to go out, or share potluck with friends, or otherwise enjoy life once a week!)

The Menu

Saturday
* Spicy Cauliflower bake
In the fridge for future meals:
Tomato juice
Garbanzo beans
Tip: Any beans would be good in this. Or replace them with tofu or cooked meat.

Sunday
* Braised Sausages
* Mashed Potatoes
* green salad
In the fridge for future meals:
Leftover mashed potatoes
Salad Greens
Tip: To braise sausages, prick with a fork and then fry until brown. Add half a cup of liquid (water, broth, beer) and cover. Cook until done, then remove lid and let liquid boil off.

Monday
* Speedy Vegetable Soup
* Cheese Toasts
In the fridge for future meals:
Frozen veg
Bread
Tip: Use the garbanzo beans and tomato juice left from Saturday, add 1 cup frozen veg for variety.

Tuesday
* Shepherd’s Pie
Tip: Vegetarian option? Any veggie burger would be just grand.

Wednesday
* Grilled cheese sandwiches with caramelized onions
* green salad
Tip: Cook thinly sliced onion slowly over low heat until browned – about 20 minutes. Scoop onions onto sandwich and then grill in the same pan.

Thursday
*French Toast
with warm syrup
* Citrus Salad
Tip: Warm syrup keeps well in the fridge. If it crystallizes, just heat gently in a saucepan or microwave.

Shopping
Our shopping & recipes are scaled for two adults. Increase or decrease as needed to allow for your household. We shopped this list at the Co-op on January 10, 2014. We chose organic wherever affordable (marked “OG” on our list), and picked what we’d use at home – the best value rather than the absolute cheapest. We also assumed you had a few things in the pantry, which were not included in the shopping total. Our total: $39.32

In the pantry:
salad dressing
olive oil
salt
pepper
cinnamon, 1 tsp.
garlic, 5 cloves
breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup
vanilla,1 tsp.
sugar, 1 Tbsp.
honey, 1 Tbsp.
red pepper flakes, 1 tsp.

Produce:
lettuce, 1 head OG
Cara Cara orange, 1 OG
Grapefruit, 1 OG
cauliflower, 1 large head OG
onion, 1 1/4 lbs OG
bell pepper, 1 small OG
curly parsley, OG
russet potatoes, OG 3 lbs

Dairy & cheese:
eggs, 2
milk, 1 cup
butter, 1 stick
Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup/2oz
Jack cheese, 4 oz.

Grocery:
diced tomatoes, Natural value, 28 oz. can
garbanzo beans, Westbrae, 25 oz can
bread, Alvarado whole wheat
frozen mixed veg

Meat:
sausages or substitute, 1/2 lb.
ground beef or sub, 3/4 lb.

Bulk:
brown sugar, 1 cup/7 oz.
whole cloves, 6
cinnamon stick, 1
bay leaves, 2
veggie broth powder
crystallized ginger, 1 piece

The recipes

Spicy Cauliflower Bake
1 large head cauliflower
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup garbanzo beans
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Clean cauliflower and break into florets. Steam until barely tender. Chop onion. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice for another use. Put garlic through press into onions and cook for a few seconds. Add tomatoes, beans, red pepper flakes, salt, cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove cloves, cinnamon and bay and discard.

While sauce cooks, mix together breadcrumbs, cheese and the remaining clove of garlic, pressed. Pour half the sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Add cauliflower. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake at 350° about 15 minutes, until topping is golden.

Speedy Vegetable Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cleaned, cut vegetables
1 russet potato, cut into cubes
4 cups veg juice and broth
salt and pepper to taste

Cook onion and peppers in olive oil 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the hardest vegetables (carrots, celery, turnip). Cover with broth or tomato juice, add 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, then add softer vegetables (summer squash, cauliflower) and potatoes. Cook 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are just tender. If using frozen vegetables, add for last five minutes of cooking time.

Cheese Toasts
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely grated cheese
4 slices good bread
Mash together butter and cheese. Spread lightly on toasted bread. Place cheese toast on baking sheet and run under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut into “soldiers” and serve with soup.

Shepherd’s Pie
2 cups mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. butter
salt to taste
3/4 lb. ground turkey or substitute
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 cup frozen veg
1 cup veggie broth

Stir milk and softened butter into potatoes. Season to taste. Cook beef until just done and layer in bottom of casserole. Sauté onion & pepper until barely tender and add frozen vegetables, broth and salt to taste. Heat until vegetables begin to thaw. Pour over beef. Spread mash over top. Bake in a 350° oven until hot through and topping is lightly browned.

French Toast
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. sugar
6 slices bread
1 Tbsp. butter

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla & sugar in a large, flat dish. Add as much bread as will fit in your skillet in a single layer to milk & soak one minute each side. Heat a non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet & add a trace of butter. Add bread & cook until brown. Turn and cook second side until lightly browned. Keep warm while you cook the rest. Serve with butter, warm syrup, jam and/or powdered sugar.

Warm Syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp. honey
4 cloves
1 piece crystallized ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix everything together. Cook gently over medium heat until thick and fragrant. Strain and serve.

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