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Resession - consession

  • Soup is good, cheap, easy, nutritious and comforting, especially in winter. Though in the summer I do a good tomato and basil soup (I always buy a little basil pot from the supermarket, re-pot it into a big pot and it lasts all summer).
    Tomatoes (obviously)
    Basil (ditto, loads of the stuff)
    Tomato puree
    Large onion
    Smallish potato
    Chop everything roughly. Boil potato separately. Fry onion gently, add garlic briefly then chuck in everything else, add some water, not too much. Add cooked or nearly cooked potato. Boil up, stir, simmer for a while. Make sure potato is well soft before blending. Yum. Add some cream if you have a cow.
    I went to my mum’s for lunch today and she’d made some vegetable soup. Her soup is fab. Veggie soup is easy: Vegetables, seasoning, water. Cook, blend, eat. A swirl of crème fraiche on top is a nice touch, otherwise it’s a great way of using up whatever you have in.
    Recession? Let them eat soup.
    <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium; color: #000080;">"Stop aspiring to be other people and start being you."</span></p> <p>Gok Wan</p>
      November 1, 2008 1:08 AM GMT
  • Moderator
    I too am a soup nut (so to speak).
    Thanks a bunch
    <p>If it isn't fun - don't do it.</p>
      October 31, 2008 11:20 PM GMT
  • I have been diabetic and on food stamps for years. About $160 a month for food and it's not going up in CA due to the economy, despite increased food costs. I have lived on as little as $30 a month for food....boring but I didn't go hungry...often. I get along fine on food stamps. Since I cook from scratch, to save money, I actually eat healthier and tastier food than ever before. Buy in bulk and on sale. I'll think about my recipes and pick out some favorites.

    I think soup would be a good start. I had some instruction from a saucier and I became a soup lover in short order. It can be VERY tasty and made cheaply and use inexpensive protein extenders like tofu and protein powders, without significantly affecting the flavor adversely., as well as rice, beans etc. A pound of ground turkey, for a dollar, goes very well in soup/stew. Sales on ham (which can be trimmed to remove much of the fat and goes well with beans) and turkey allow you to cook and freeze stockpiles of meat for months. A dollar or so bag, or two, of frozen assorted veggies along with the current sale items from produce are good ingredients. Leftovers never have to go to waste. Seasonings can give you great variety and buying in packages to refill the convenient shakers can save a lot of money. Save the empty ones and relabel if needed.

    Whatever is in season and cheap gives you an ever changing recipe which can stave off boring food. Varying how you cut the ingredients can also help change your perceptions of them. For example, large slices of onion as opposed to finely diced onions. At times I've actually had diets so low in fat I had to make gravy from my meat fat to ensure I got enough fat in my diet. Mum taught me a few tricks, from England in WW II, about not wasting a calorie.

    Last week I made a soup that turned out quite tasty. I devoured almost two gallons of it in about 5 days. It's a mild variation on Tom Kha Kai, a Thai soup that I truly love. Making big batches is no more work than a small batch and you can freeze it in Tupperware and defrost it in the microwave when you want some. It goes very well over rice.

    cut up potatoes
    diced onions (vary type. brown, red, white, green)
    bok choy (picks up flavor from the soup and is a much milder substitute for celery, which I dislike)
    a can of coconut milk
    a can of diced tomatoes
    ground turkey pre-fried and seasoned (an inexpensive, low fat substitute for beef)
    frozen veggies (corn, green beans, carrots, peas)
    a bit of peanut butter, to taste
    ginger (my dominant flavor for this batch...take care not to use too much by adding it in increments as you was wildly successful)
    touch of cinnamon
    Mussaman seasoning (Thai) [spelling may vary by product]
    teriyaki on the ground turkey when fried

    Cover the pot, boil and then turn heat down to simmer until done. Test by fishing out a bit of potato to see if it's done. Stir occasionally if thick and add water if needed. Generally I do this when tasting to add more seasonings as the flavor develops.

    After cooking I season to taste when I eat it. This keeps it low salt. For this batch I used my home-mixed "seasoning salt"(cheaper than Lawry's) and much lower in sodium. You can always add salt to taste but you can't take it out. Over time you get used to less salt on food.

    As a substitute for lemon grass, which may be hard to get at times, I shake some lemon pepper on the bowl of soup after re-heating. If you don't like dealing with bamboo and lemon grass, you will appreciate this variation on the traditional soup.

    I separately cooked up 15 cups of black beans and froze them in small zip lock bags. I added them to some helpings of the soup for variety and protein. The rest of the beans will go into other dishes like refried beans or as a side dish.

    You will note I have not given exact amounts for seasonings. This is because I do not season with the same amount each batch of most recipes I cook. I find variations of seasonings makes food more interesting and I like to experiment. For example, Indian or Thai or Mexican seasonings in spaghetti sauce. Pizza made with chili and cheddar instead of Italian style and done on a thick crust. There is no limit to what can be done with soups so if you have not tried making this easy to master dish, you are in for a treat. Whatever your favorite ingredients are, experiment with them. I have even incorporated an unsweetened Mexican chocolate into many savory dishes, sweetening just enough for each dish. Soup also extends very well with many carbs like bread/toast, biscuit, cornbread, rice by pouring it over them in a bowl, or crumbling it over the soup and topping with your favorite cheese.

    The only real hint I have to add is to learn what cooks the fastest and how different cuts cook and add the ingredients in an order and at a time that makes them come out to your preferred level of crisp if it matters to you. I don't find this necessary but I know some people like a bit of crunch in their veggies.

    WARNING: Be prepared to give up canned soup forever once you have tasted your own home-made.
    "A live lived in fear is a life half-lived." - Native American proverb. "Inside every man is a woman who was drowned in testosterone before birth". - Wendy Jeanette Larsen "It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you're not." - Andre Gide (French writer)
      October 31, 2008 2:21 PM GMT
  • Moderator
    I know many people living in what's caled the "black economy." I also know some people who work two or three part-time jobs in order to live a decent life.
    Take care.
    <p>If it isn't fun - don't do it.</p>
      October 30, 2008 6:42 PM GMT
  • Mary, i've been on a fixed income since 2000. ive had to give up just about everything I have ever enjoyed . I shop at thrift stores, cook at home , and maybe if I've got something that runs , go to church on sunday as Ellen too. I belong to a Metropolitian Comunity Church. When I do some work I have to take it under the table as I would lose my medicare and the medicines I take would total around 1000.00 a month.
    Liberalism , a desease - E Shaver
      October 30, 2008 2:41 PM GMT
  • Moderator
    Thanks Lucy Been wondering what to do with the bottle of rum in my cabinet. I don't drink rum 'cause it makes me "loopy."

    <p>If it isn't fun - don't do it.</p>
      October 22, 2008 2:01 PM BST
  • "Anyone want to post some good recipes?"
    Yes, yes I do. This one has a real feelgood factor and is so easy, and fun to do

    12oz S/R flour
    1oz butter + 2oz coconut oil (or just use 3oz butter)
    2oz muscovado sugar (or any sugar will do but this adds a nice colour)
    1 dollop honey
    1 – 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract (ie not vanilla essence)
    2 or 3 free range eggs
    pinch of salt
    3 or 4 large, very ripe bananas
    handful cranberries (optional)
    handful chopped walnuts (optional)

    Mix flour, salt and sugar, add melted butter/coconut oil and mix to a rough breadcrumby texture, mash in bananas and mix well, add eggs and mix well, add honey and vanilla and mix well, throw in cranberries and/or walnuts if using and mix a bit more. Pour into a greased loaf tin (I use one large tin and one small, too much mixture in one tin and it won’t cook through).
    Bake in the bottom oven of Aga for 1½ – 2 hours.
    I don’t really know about those modern ovens that some people use, I guess my Aga baking oven is about 160 - 180 degrees C. You may have to experiment with temperature/time. You can also have a play around with quantities, I’ve been deliberately vague cos I just chuck it all in and stir and it always comes out yummy. You could use raisins instead of cranberries, soak them in rum if you’re feeling extravagant. Just add what you like. It’s more of a cake than a bread really, great sliced thinly with a nice cup of tea.
    <p><span style="font-family: 'book antiqua', palatino; font-size: medium; color: #000080;">"Stop aspiring to be other people and start being you."</span></p> <p>Gok Wan</p>
      October 20, 2008 12:54 AM BST
  • Moderator
    I read that during economic downturn (a nice term for bad times) families pull together - people repair things instead of buying new stuff - cook at home -and read more books.
    I also read that drinking goes down -thats going to be tough.
    I've been cooking and baking for years - good and bad years - not good and bad cooking - he, he.
    Since this isn't a political forum -
    Anyone want to post some good recipes?
    Non fat naturally - the gaunt look will probably be "in."
    hugs and good wishes
    <p>If it isn't fun - don't do it.</p>
      October 19, 2008 5:44 PM BST