Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

I do not for the life of me understand why it is that the simple practice of meal planning is such a difficult habit for me to adopt.  When I plan my week's meals I save time and money and avoid a fair amount of stress and even so I can't always make myself sit down and do it.

But this week I did so instead of beating myself up about all the times I didn't get to it I will try to focus on what I did manage:  a well balanced, healthy, economical set of meals that might actually go ever well with every member of this extremely picky family.

You can take a peek right here.

One way I am saving money these days is by not buying organic.  I know, I know, but right now it makes sense.  Highly sprayed crops like conventionally grown  strawberries, celery, and potatoes don't make it in to my shopping bags ever but I feel pretty safe buying non-organic melon, citrus, and onions.  I make my decisions using the Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  Someday (soon, I hope!) things will turn around and I can buy all organic all the time but for now, this is good information that's helping me stretch our food dollars just a bit further.

Has this stinking economy hit your home?  How are you eating well for less?  

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A fine pickle (or two)

I'm kind of new to pickles.

Of course I've had my share of kosher dills but I don't generally love them so I haven't explored the pickle world in great detail.Until this year.

It started with too many zucchini.

Of course.

Who knew zucchini made such fantastic pickles?

Now you do.  Every recipe I found online appeared to be some version of the zucchini pickles from San Franciso's Zuni Cafe.  I figured it must be pretty good so I tried this recipe and was absolutely hooked.  A warning, though.  Let them sit a week or so.  If you try them right away you will be disappointed but a little rest takes away the harshness of the turmeric and brings everything together beautifully.  I am pretty sure that anyone who tries these will find them absolutely delightful.

 I've also been making pickled jalapenos which I know not everyone finds delightful.  But that's ok.  I am the only chile-head in my house so I keep things like this tucked away in the 'fridge just to make things interesting. I made two quarts last month and could not stop eating them and then my dad came over and between the two of us we went through all of them in no time.  Then I made a big batch for friends in California.  And then I finally made more for myself today, tweaking the recipe just a bit. I think I've done enough tweaking to call this recipe my own.  Just please, please, please, wear gloves when you slice up the jalapenos or you will have a mighty chile burn that might just turn you against these fiery, fantastic pickles. And I don't want that.  Also, if your jalapenos are the super-hot, rip-your-head-off version I recently discovered in San Jose you might just want to scrape out those seeds with your gloved hands and discard them.

I had never made refrigerator pickles before this summer. I think I thought they were a short-cut, cheater version of pickles but keeping them out of the canning kettle means they stay bright and crisp and are a snap to make.  You can buy jalapenos pretty much year round though they aren't likely to be as cheap  or fresh as they are now.  You might want to hop to it with the zucchini pickles, though.  I don't know about where you live but here in Portland autumn is most definitely on its way.