Salad Days

Summer’s here! A lot of people are back out into the world. I have been integrating walks in the park here in Lakewood, Ohio, back into my life, and between that and the warm weather, a lot of salads have been happening for me. I’m going to walk you through two delightful and hearty ones, and how to make your own dressings for them. Because, let’s face it, store bought dressing is full of sugars and who knows what. And if you’re gonna eat that salad, there’s no reason to ruin it with a load of who-knows-what on top.

Also, a confession: I’ve gained not a small amount of weight baking during the COVID-19 crisis, and I’ve been eating in a style called the Mediterranean Diet to shed some of those pounds. It’s a super-heart-healthy non-fad diet that focuses on Mediterranean cuisine — olive oil instead of butter, olives themselves, tons of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lowfat dairy, and seafood.

The first salad is probably the heartiest, because it has a half a filet of fresh salmon on top. To make it, you’ll need

1 filet of fresh salmon, roasted

1-2 cups of greens, such as spinach, or romaine

sugar snap peas

pistachios

goat cheese crumbles

olive oil

honey

vinegar, such as rice or apple cider, or fresh lemon juice

fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme

To roast the salmon, just spray a little olive oil on a pan and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes. Salmon is full of good, healthy fats and protein.

The last four ingredients will be for the dressing, which you’ll want to emulsify by putting in your blender. Add a little cracked pepper, too, for a tiny kick. Many dressings are a basic combination of fat, sweet, and acid, and whatever spices you like. Of course, I could teach you to make ranch or blue cheese, and I guarantee you’ll love them more than store-bought, but that’s a post for another day!

That’s it! Healthy summer salad part one looks like this:

The second salad is a little more summer-time, because it’s got berries in it. You’ll put together:

1-2 cups of spinach

pistachios

sliced berries, like blackberries and strawberries

crumbled goat cheese

olive oil

maple syrup

balsamic vinegar

a dash of dijon mustard

Again, the first ingredients will be laid on your plate, and the last four emulsified in your blender. I suggest being inexact with your measurements on the dressing, making it to your tastes, not a recipe, tasting as you go along. Your end result with be surprisingly hearty because of the pistachios and cheese, and also bursting with flavors. If you want to bulk it up a little more, consider making 1/2 cup of quinoa and putting it on there. Quinoa is an under-sung salad ingredient that really makes it feel more like a meal, and is great for your body and full of protein.

Two Soups, One Broth

One of the things that I miss most in this new world is the Chinese buffet. While I love a good crab rangoon or pepper beef as much as the next person, what I truly miss are the soups. Hot and sour. Wonton. Egg drop. All the fried wonton skins a girl can eat. Dreamy.

But fortunately I finally figured out how to perfectly recreate a traditional iteration of each of these at home. Today, let us learn the ways of the Chinese take-out soup.

The Broth

Gather all of your things before the water boils. This will streamline the process.

Note that the recipe given here is enough for one main course or two appetizers. Just double everything as necessary.

The first thing that you will need is either a chicken or veggie broth. It’s important that you go broth over stock since you want the clarity of the flavor of the soup. You can even use bouillon here if need be!

Add 1/2 tsp dried ginger, 1 tsp soy sauce, and 1/8 tsp white pepper (optional) to 2 cups of broth. Whisk together until incorporated. Then bring to a low boil.

In a separate bowl, mix 1 tbsp cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until it creates what is called a slurry. When the stock comes to a boil, add the slurry slowly to the broth, and then bring it back up to a boil.

Taste for salt and pepper, and once you’ve adjusted for that, that’s it! Your broth for both soups is done. Now it’s a choose-your-own adventure for where you go next.

If You Decide Wonton Soup…

Turn your broth down to low, and bring enough water to cover your wontons to a boil. Do not salt the water as you would for pasta; the wonton skins are already salted.

While the water is heating you can either make your own wontons or grab some from the freezer. (No one is going to tell.)

To make your own wonton, mix together your preferred mixture of about 1/2 lb ground meat or ground mushrooms. (The ones picture below are actually made with giant polypores I foraged at my farm and then ground in the food processor with green onion and garlic.)

Mix your ground meat/mushrooms with soy sauce, sesame oil, a splash or rice vinegar, dry or fresh ginger (finely minced), dry or fresh garlic (finely minced), white or black pepper, MSG, and salt. Remember that dry herbs go a lot further. If you want them spicy, replace the sesame oil with hot sesame oil or add a dash of your favorite Asian hot pepper sauce.

On a cutting board, place your wonton skin, a ramekin of water, and your filling mixture. Dip your finger in the water and run it along the edges of the wonton. Add about 1 tsp of the mixture in the middle.

Place your wonton mix in the middle of the wrapper.

Then press all of the sides together to form a triangle.

Press all the ends together and BAM! a triangle.

If you wanna be extra fancy, you can then fold the ends of the triangle together so that they touch.

Sexy extra folding.

There are a number of ways to fold dumplings, however. I recommend checking out The Woks of Life for more, including the more traditional wonton fold for wonton soup, which is called The Scrunch!

So many dumplings.

Once your water comes to a boil, drop your dumplings in for two minutes. Then strain and add to your broth.

Note: Some recipes will tell you to cook the dumplings directly in the soup; however, I find this adds too much starch to the broth, which ultimately makes the soup taste muddled. You’re also welcome to steam the dumplings instead!

Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame oil. Eat while hot!

Add as many wontons as you want. One of mine exploded, which is why there are only two.

If You Decide Egg Drop Soup…

Lower the temperature of the broth to just below a boil. In another bowl, whisk one egg (yolk and white) with a little splash of water until fully beaten. Then slowly stream the beaten eggs into the broth forming long strands.

Egg strands!

Once this is done, lower the temperature immediately to low or remove from the burner.

Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame oil if desired.

BONUS CRUNCHIES!

If you’re like me, one of the best parts about egg drop soup are the crunchy wonton skins that get served in a little bag alongside. These are the easiest things to make.

First, you’ll need to purchase wonton skins. You can find these at your local Asian mart (which you should be shopping at) or (often) in the frozen food section of your local big-chain grocery. Sometimes they are called dumpling wrappers; those will work too.

Sliced wonton skin.

Heat enough oil to deep-fry in either a deep-fryer (IDEAL!) or in a dutch oven. Be careful not to splatter if using the latter.

Slice the wonton skins into strips. Drop slowly into the fryer, making sure that the oil doesn’t bubble over. Fry for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until golden and crispy. Drain on a paper towel and then lightly salt. You are magic. Congrats!

Finished soup with green onion, crunches, and my soup spoon at the bottom of the bowl. Sigh.

A Note on Deep Fryers

Personally, I love my deep fryer. I use it numerous times a week. Is it healthy? No. Is it delicious, oh yes.

If you’re someone who finds themselves frying a lot, I recommend going ahead and purchasing one because 1.) you can reuse oil numerous times, which saves money in the long run and 2.) it’s MUCH safer than frying on the stove-top.

You don’t need to spend a lot on one of these (though you certainly can). I bought mine for $20 at Aldi in their weird other stuff section many years ago, and I use it so much it gets its own space on the counter.

Air-frying is also a legit (and healthier) option, though since I do not own one, I cannot speak to the time it would take to air-fry vs. deep-fry.

Jubilee Giveaway!

This month, we are giving away a copy of Toni Tipton-Martin’s James Beard award-winning cookbook, Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking.

Of this collection, Jesse Sparks writes:

This wasn’t one person’s fête, but a collaborative vision. A place where Katharin Bell and her 1927 recipe for spoonbread can coexist with pop star Kelis’s recipe for Caribbean roast pork. A place where the previously unnamed get the same attention as today’s biggest celebrity chefs. A place where splashy decorations come second to making room for all who show up. It’s the kind of party where the door is wide open, everyone’s name is on the list, and there’s enough good food to go round. And what could be more joyous than that?

To get your name in the drawing for this groundbreaking collection, you must simply do two things:

  • Donate any amount of money to an organization working for racial justice between now and July 31st, 2020.
  • Email us a screenshot of that donation along with your name at eesmith81@gmail.com. Use the subject line “Jubilee Giveaway.”

We will choose a winner this August.

Black Lives Matter.

Biscuits & Gravy

Growing up in South Carolina, biscuits and gravy were an important part of a Southern breakfast. I didn’t really care what type they were–flaky, buttery, crunchy–as long as they were covered in some sort of savory sauce with maybe a little sausage or bacon crumbled in.

When I moved away from the South, I desperately missed this bit of home. Everything seemed to be either dinner rolls of biscuits from a pop-can that honestly still terrify me. So I started making my own.

I tried several recipes, but ultimately the best biscuit for biscuits and gravy isn’t a perfect, buttery, fluffy biscuit with its differentiated layers. What makes a good biscuit for gravy is nooks and crannies. Enter the drop biscuit, known for its simple recipe and no-fuss spirit. Mix your ingredients. Form into a ball. Bake. It’s that easy.

The Biscuit

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
Chunked butter cubes in flour.

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and any spices you want to add. The above ingredient list can be added to however you see fit. Throw in some Parmesan cheese or fresh rosemary or any other dried herb you want. Be creative! In grad school, I used to make what I dubbed Simon and Garfunkel biscuits because they had parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme plus a bunch of cheese. Delicious and punny!

Cut the butter into tiny cubes by cutting the stick into thirds, turning it over, and cutting into thirds again. Then slice that until it forms tiny cubes. Add the cubes to your flour mixture and work with your fingertips until it starts to form lumps and come together. Add milk and mix just until it becomes a sticky dough, being careful not to overwork.

Note the imperfect glory of the drop biscuit. No tools needed but your hands.

Then you’ll form the dough into small balls and place on a oiled baking sheet.  I like to have as much surface area as possible, so I usually make somewhere between 8-10 biscuits with this recipe so I can eat more than one!

Bake until flaky, approximately 11 minutes depending on size; you’ll know they’re done when the peaks are getting a little brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet.

Nooks AND crannies!

The Gravy

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups broth

There are so many ways to make gravy–with milk, with coffee, with meat, with cream. There’s the flour and cornstarch divide as well.

For this recipe, I prefer a velouté or espagnole sauce. These are both part of what are known as the mother sauces in French cooking. Both are roux-based sauces, which we talked about when making cheese sauce awhile back, but instead of adding milk, you add either chicken broth (for velouté) or beef broth (for espagnole). But why stop with that when you could also use mushroom broth or duck broth even. (Of course you had your own at home because it’s so simple.)

A good looking roux.

Melt your butter over medium-high heat. When melted add the flour and stir to combine. This is your roux.

After you’ve made this, add the broth of your choice slowly until it comes together to a consistency that you like. Taste your gravy for salt and add if needed. Here you can also add spices of your choosing. (I put in some thyme and black pepper here.)

Gravy with polish mushroom broth and beef bone broth with thyme and black pepper.

To serve, put the gravy on top of or underneath your biscuit and devour. Savory. Crunchy. Fatty. It’s everything you want in comfort food.

This is definitely a spoon-eating biscuit dish.

Bonus Recipe – Preserves!

Want to go sweet instead of savory? We can do that too, especially since it’s the season of peaches and blackberries.

Making your own preserves is simple. It’s just fruit, sugar, lemon, and heat.

First, pick your fruit of choice. You’ll usually want about two cups, chopped. If you’re using fruit with skin (peaches, nectarines, apples), you’ll need to remove any skin, seeds, or stones. If you’re going with berries, just wash them, and they’re good to go.

Add 1/2 cup of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon to your fruit and turn the stove to medium-low. Once the heat comes to temperature, the sugars will begin to melt. At this point, stir your fruit and turn the stove to low. Now you can also add any spices or herbs or other flavors you like. Let your fruit mixture simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally.

When done, put your preserves into a jar or tupperware. It’ll keep in the fridge for up to two weeks or until something starts growing on it.

Homemade peach preserves with sherry and black pepper.

I hope you fall in love with these easy biscuits as much as I have!

Something & Grits

Growing up in the South, grits was dish I ate regularly–at home, at diners, late night at Waffle House. But when I moved up North for college, I got a lot of flack for my South Carolina roots, particularly my love of grits.

Of course now grits are the trendy item on bougie farm-to-table restaurants, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone’s shrimp and grits recipe. I’m here to tell you, though, that grits are a great way to build a meal from whatever you have in the fridge. No shrimp necessary.

There are a few tricks to grits that you will need to know upfront.

1.) You MUST salt your grits in the cooking process. You can add as much salt after they’re cooked as you want, but it won’t help the dish. A half teaspoon per 1/2 cup of grits is recommended, though if you’re using a salty stock, less is fine.

2.) Grits to liquid ratio is 1 to 4, so one cup of grits to 4 cups of liquid.

3.) For your liquid, I recommend using 1 part water, 1 part milk, and 2 parts broth.

4.) I like to throw a bay leaf in mine, but feel free to spice away however you like!

5.) Add your butter and or cheese just before the grits are finished cooking.

Add your liquid and grits, bring to a boil and then lower the temperature. Stir frequently to keep from clumping but also so they don’t spit hot liquid at you. (They will.) When the liquid is almost absorbed, add your butter or olive oil and any cheese you want. Stir until incorporated and eat immediately or they will set up.

Please note that these notes are for stone-ground grits rather than instant grits. I highly recommend going with these instead of the quick grits. They do take more time,but are also more flavorful and better textured. They cost roughly the same unless you want the higher end grits like Anson Mills or Geechie Boy, both of which I definitely recommend, but are not necessary. (On a personal note, it’s so strange to me that Anson Mills has become THE GO TO for fancy grits since it’s what I grew up with in SC.)

Now it’s time to think about toppings. Shrimp and grits is obviously classic, but here’s a list of things to consider instead:

  • Blackened catfish
  • Sauteed oyster mushrooms
  • Stewed fresh tomatoes
  • Roasted carrots with harissa
  • Caramelized leeks
  • Butter sauteed zucchini
  • Barbecued pork belly

Grits are the base on which to build. Be creative. Consider different textures and flavor pairings. Also think about how to flavor the grits to best compliment the topping.

Cheesy pot liquor grits with sauteed turnip greens, bacon, and benne seeds.

I spent last week reading Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook by Toni Tipton-Martin, a tour-de-force work of archival research and culinary mastery. This James Beard award-winning collection works from nearly 200 years of African American food history to showcase and celebrate the breadth of Black genius. I cannot recommend this cookbook enough.

One of the things I did to commemorate Juneteenth this year was to cook several recipes from Tipton-Martin’s book including one for collards and dumplings, wherein cornmeal dumplings are dropped into the greens and broth to cook. (This dish is reminiscent of fufu, a West African dish of boiled yams (or other starchy vegetable) that’s then pounded into a dough. The result is delicious.) I ended up using the leftover pot liquor from that recipe to cook my grits in the next day, which has put me in the mood for more iterations of this combo.

Sauteing beet greens.

While I didn’t have collards around today, I did have beet and radish greens from the local market that needed cooking. So after sauteing some onions and garlic in bacon fat and then topping it off with a little homemade bone broth, a splash of apple cider vinegar, and a heavier splash of Crystal hot sauce, I put on the lid and let it cook on low for an hour.

When done, I tasted for salt and heat. Then I topped my finished girts.

Finally I poached an egg and topped the whole thing off with a pinch of Tony’s.

Cheesy grits with beet greens and poached duck egg.

And that’s how you make lunch, dinner, breakfast, whatever! Make sure to tag us with #apocalycious with your take on Something & Grits!

Take Out At Home, Vegan Style

We know many people are venturing back into the world, but we’ve decided that we’re going to keep pushing forward with Apocalycious to share our love of food. This week we’re bringing you a take on a take-out classic, which can be done vegan (as shown above) with fried tofu, or with chicken — all covered in a healthy version of a General Tso’s sauce.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

1 package of firm tofu (or two chicken breasts, deboned)

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup honey (or, if you are strict about no-honey, agave syrup)

a dash of vinegar

about an inch or so of a piece of ginger

2 cloves of garlic

a steamed red pepper

1/2 cup of olive or vegetable oil

THE PROCESS

If you’re making tofu, you’ll want to squeeze it out, preferably overnight, between two towels and two cutting boards. If you try to use the tofu with the full amount of water still in it, it will not fry up correctly. After you squeeze it, you’ll season it with some dried ginger, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. If you think you don’t like tofu, it maybe be because you haven’t done these two steps correctly! Give it a try!

If you’re using chicken, I recommend cutting into 1/2 inch cubes and dredging it in corn starch.

Next, you’ll heat your oil until it’s very hot (steaming) and lay your tofu or chicken in it until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel when done.

In the meantime, take you other ingredients and blend them together in a food processor, red pepper included. This will give it the color and tang of the General Tso’s sauce, even though this is an interpretation of that sauce, not the authentic thing. Put the tofu/chicken in a different pan and heat with the sauce. Make Erin’s fried rice, and you many just be willing to cook your own take-out from now on!

Personal Pan Pizza

Personally I only believe in rewarding myself with pizza IF AND ONLY IF I have read 10 books. But that’s what years of Book-It indoctrination gets you.

I’ll be honest–I’m not a huge pizza fan to begin with. Too doughy. Too much sweetness in the sauce. Often oily in the not-good way. Which is why I’ve been going all flatbread this season, highlighting all the goodies I’m finding at the local farmers’ market, which is basically the only place I go these days.

Flatbread, in some consistency or another, has existed for nearly 5,000 years. The idea is a simple leavened bread that can be rolled out and heated over fire. Since most of use don’t have a wood-fired oven at home, this iteration–which is modified from Ronni Lundy’s excellent book on Appalachian cuisine, Victuals–is made for the home cook’s oven.

Note that in total, this recipe takes about two hours to complete, though you can make your dough ahead of time!

While I usually eschew recipes, for baking, this is a bit more important.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 oil (vegetable, olive, grapeseed, whatever)

Mix flour, cornmeal, and salt in a food processor. Pulse with the blade attachment to mix.

Mix yeast with 3/4 cup of warm water. Remember, you want warm but not hot water. (The more you do this, the more you’ll get a natural sense for the right temperature without a thermometer.)

Whisk the oil with the water and yeast, then add this to the flour mixture in the food processor. Pulse a few times to combine, then run the processor for a few more seconds until it forms a doughy ball. If it’s too dry, add a little more water one teaspoon at a time.

(If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by mixing the dry items in one bowl and the wet items in another. Then slowly add them together with your hands and knead for a minute or so.)

The Rise

Spray a bowl with anti-stick spray and then move the dough ball to the bowl. Cover and let rest/rise for about 20 minutes.

When ready to make your flatbreads, move the dough to a floured surface. Flatten it with your hands and then turn it back over on itself, kneading it several times before returning the dough to the bowl to let it rise for one more hour.

Make Ahead Note: At this point you can move the dough into the fridge for up to two days.

I make Joe do this because he’s more patient with dough than I am.

When your dough has risen, divide the dough into 2-4 pieces. Note that this recipe will make two fluffy flatbreads or four cracker-esque flatbreads. (I also suppose it can make three somewhere-in-betweens as well.) This will depend on what consistency you prefer your dough. Note that the thinner you roll your dough, the crunchier and more cracker-like your flatbread will be.

Transfer your rolled dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. (You can also use spray oil if you don’t have parchment paper.)

Toppings!

NOW THE FUN PART STARTS. Once you have the dough recipe down, it’s time to think about toppings.

Sure, you can go with a classic red sauce here, but there’s also a host of pestos, ricotta, or infused oils to use as a base. This is truly an opportunity for whatever is hanging around in your fridge to make an appearance! Think about what’s in season, what flavors you like together, what leftovers can be repurposed for optimal tastiness. Try different cheese, veg, meat combos. Let your housemates dress their own!

How to Roast a Tomato

If you must go with a red sauce, I recommend roasting your own tomatoes to give your sauce an extra boost. To do this, turn your oven to broil, and then put the whole tomatoes (skin on, not from a can) on a sheet underneath the broiler, turning them every 3 minutes or so until the whole of the skin chars.

When the skin is black and puckering off, transfer the tomato to a tupperware container with the lid and place it in the freezer. In ten minutes, the tomato should have cooled down enough for you the peel off the skin, which you should do! Then simply chop it finely (or use the food processor), add salt and spices of your choosing, and ta-da! Roasted tomato sauce!

Thin crust fiestada–you know, that weird octagonal “Mexican pizza” they served you in cafeteria lunches, but FANCY!

Baking the Flatbread

When you’re happy with your toppings, put your flatbreads into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 12 minutes and then swap the top flatbread with the bottom flatbread and bake for another 12 minutes until both are golden brown.

Remove the flatbread from the oven and allow to cool. Top with any leafy greens you’d like! (Embrace the salad as a part of the whole.) I personally recommend a little arugula or mixed greens of your choosing tossed lightly with olive oil and a touch of sherry vinegar.

Then rip it apart or cut it into pieces for sharing, or jealously horde it all for yourself. Who cares. You earned it. Now go read 10 more books. Here’s a good place to start!

Food Justice is Part of All Justice

Erin and I started this blog in hopes of bringing people comfort in a time of uncertainty. The unrest that has been simmering in the US for longer than our lives and which came to head in recent days with the murder of George Floyd is something we felt we could personally not continue about business as usual after. Instead of bringing you comfort recipes this week, we’re urging you to get uncomfortable, to take action, to make a stand. This post is about how you can do so with food justice.

Due to curfews and cordoning off of large parts of our cities, the most vulnerable are left without access to food services they greatly depend on. If you need food, the following are some suggestions for where to get it. If you can cook and donate food, look into these organizations for more ways you can help them feed others.

I didn’t ever mean it lightly when I claimed that food is love. Please share your love with those standing up for the rights of others, and the most vulnerable members of our society.

FOOD NOT BOMBS

Food not Bombs is a 40-year-old organization not affiliated to any dogma or creed that provides food for people — for everyone, regardless of their ability or need. Check out your local chapter and plug in: https://foodnotbombs.net/info/locations/

SOUTH SIDE GROCERY PICK UP IN CHICAGO

On June 5th from 1 – 5 pm, at 501 1/2 E 47th Street in Chicago, this service will provide groceries for those in need. For a further list of food resources in Chicago (though some may be affiliated with places of worship), check here: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/6/1/21277134/food-resources-chicago-west-south-side-looting-closure-cps-meal-distribution

BLACK EARTH FARMS, OAKLAND

“The Black Earth Farms Collective is an agroecological lighthouse organization composed of skilled Pan-African and Pan-Indigenous farmers, builders and educators who spread ancestral knowledge and train community members to build collectivized, autonomous, and chemical free food systems in urban and peri-urban environments throughout the Greater East San Francisco Bay Area.”

Check them out here: https://www.blackearthfarms.com/

Or donate to them here: venmo/ blackearthfarms

cashapp/ $blackearth

JUST FOOD, NYC

“Just Food aims to shift the power, health, and wealth of historically and economically marginalized communities – in particular Black, Latinx, communities of color, LGBTQ, mixed income, small-scale farmers, and hyper local growers/producers.”

Learn more here: https://www.justfood.org/mission

RECIPES TO DONATE

If you’re not hungry, help those who are! Many of these places may have guidelines about donation, but I’ve found some of the following recipes to be helpful for large-scale donation:

CROCK POT MAC AND CHEESE: it’s filling, comforting, and vegetarian! Check out a slow cooker recipe here for minimal prep labor: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/crockpot-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe-2107509

PULLED PORK SANDWICHES: All you need is a bottle of BBQ sauce, two pork loins, a cup or two of veggie broth, a slow cooker, and a couple packs of burger buns, and you’ve got hearty on-the-go sandwiches for the protesters and those in need.

VEGAN BANANA BREAD: This recipe from the vegan cooking bible the Veganomicon will provide a healthy and filling snack for anyone who needs it, and has food sensitivities. Cut up and wrap in individual sandwich bags for maximum ease: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=237227

QUINOA SALAD: Roast some beets and sweet potatoes, and toss them with hummus and quinoa for a hearty vegetarian and vegan meal that’ll keep anybody going.

CHILI: You probably have your own baller veggie chili recipe, but here’s a basic one you can make in bulk: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/72508/the-best-vegetarian-chili-in-the-world/

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

While it’s still important to feed yourself, it’s also important to make sure you are feeding and supporting others too. Consider giving to one of these organizations to help those on the front lines who are working to dismantle systemic oppression in this country. (Please note that the descriptions is the language directly from the organization’s website.)

National Bailout

“The National Bail Out collective is a Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration. We are people who have been impacted by cages — either by being in them ourselves or witnessing our families and loved ones be encaged. We are queer, trans, young, elder, and immigrant.”

Loveland Therapy Fund

“The Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. Our resources and initiatives are collaborative and they prioritize opportunity, access, validation, and healing. We are becoming the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Black Visions Collective

“Since 2017, Black Visions Collective, has been putting into practice the lessons learned from organizations before us in order to shape a political home for Black people across Minnesota. We aim to center our work in healing and transformative justice principles, intentionally develop our organizations core “DNA” to ensure sustainability, and develop Minnesota’s emerging Black leadership to lead powerful campaigns. By building movements from the ground up with an integrated model, we are creating the conditions for long term success and transformation.”

Reclaim the Block

Reclaim the Block began in 2018 and organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety. We believe health, safety and resiliency exist without police of any kind. We organize around policies that strengthen community-led safety initiatives and reduce reliance on police departments. We do not believe that increased regulation of or public engagement with the police will lead to safer communities, as community testimony and documented police conduct suggest otherwise.”

Headwaters Foundation for Justice

Headwaters Foundation for Justice is launching the Emergency Fund for Black Lives to provide grants to Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC). These two groups have inspired, mobilized, and supported hundreds of community members to call out and change police violence against people of color.”

Budget Meal Week Continues!

Erin walked you through a great $5 lunch earlier this week, and I’m going to continue our budget week with two meals you can make for under $10 each. The first is a simple shredded chicken quesadilla, and the second is a salmon dinner with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

MEAL ONE: SHREDDED CHICKEN QUESADILLA

This is one of my favorite easy, cheap meals. All you’ll need is a frozen chicken breast or two, some tomato sauce, garlic, and a few spices like salt, pepper, hot sauce, powdered onion, and chili powder.

First, put your chicken breasts in a pot. You can use fresh, but if you’re like me and often eat on a budget, you can get a whole bag of frozen breasts for about $5. Open a 4 oz can of tomato sauce (usually about $0.50), and pour it over them. Then add water or some of the stock Erin showed you how to make until it covers the chicken breast. Add your spices, and cook on low heat for an hour or two, until the chicken comes apart in shreds with a fork. Keep cooking until the sauce and spices reduce. Heat up a tortilla (you can buy a pack of them for under $3, usually) and melt a little shredded cheese on it ($2). Voila! Instant tasty meal!

MEAL TWO: SALMON WITH MASHED POTATOES AND ASPARAGUS

This recipe takes a little longer, but if you’re up for a fancy meal on a budget, it’s the way to go!

Erin showed you a few weeks ago how to make mashed potatoes, and while I highly recommend any of these, my go-to mashed potato recipe is a regular potato-salt-pepper-cream-butter one with caramelized onions added to it. That’s what I’ve made above! Potatoes cost around $2 for this recipe, and onion, cream, and butter another $2.

I buy a lot of frozen salmon, and that’s what I used here. Since I added a hollandaise sauce, I just popped on in the oven and let it cook for 20 minutes without seasoning. A bag of salmon filets runs you about $8 for 3 or 4, so the cost for the salmon here is $2.

I heated asparagus with a little olive oil in a tinfoil tent in the oven, too. That’ll cost about $2 as well.

To make the finishing touches on the meal, I made a quick hollandaise sauce. For that, I put 2 egg yolks, a dash of cayenne, and a teaspoon of lemon juice in a blender for a minute, then poured it into a pan with two tablespoons of butter, whisking continuously. That is another $2.

There you have it! Two quick, homemade meals for under $10.