Lazy Budget Chef: August 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Buy A Kitchen Knife

Denise from Do you have that in my size shares a honest story about learning how to cook and how the quality of some of the tools involved matter and make the job easier, faster, or more bionic. I relate because I was in a similar boat myself once upon a time. 

I don't cook. I know a lot of people say that they don't cook when what they really mean is that they don't cook often or don't cook well but I, very literally, do not cook. My family and I either eat out every meal or we throw something pre-prepared on the barbecue or in the microwave. I confessed to this terrible secret on my blog not too long ago and then resolved to make changes, so I signed up for a 5-week Basic Cooking from Scratch class which started last Wednesday. 

As I was chopping a carrot for my first assignment, my teacher came by and stopped to give me a correction in how I was doing it. When she picked up my knife to demonstrate proper technique, she quickly wrinkled her nose and pronounced, "This is a bad knife." 

Great, so not only am I a complete failure as a mother, wife, and woman because I can't/don't cook, but now my knife is sub-par, too. 

Over the weekend, after discussing my in-class experience with my husband, we tootled off to a local cooking store - where I also registered for an upcoming hands-on cooking class - to choose a new chef's knife. I thought this would be a simple and straightforward task but I learned there are several things to consider before making a purchase.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Illegal Tomato Plants?

Last summer Husband and I accidentally planted a front yard vegetable garden. It wasn’t our plan. We built a new raised garden bed and needed something to fill in the gaps between the transplanted chives and lavender . We threw down some free seeds we got in the front yard instead of doing a container garden on the back patio – where I prefer my food plants to live.

The plants grew. Yay! It was covert. Our neighbors didn’t realize our landscape was edible. Double yay!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

4 Back to School Sandwich Recipes

Back to School. Already? On the one hand, I’m not such a fan of Back to School season because it is a reminder that my favorite season is ending. On the other hand, I like Back to School season because it is lunch and sandwich recipe season. I can use all of the new and tasty lactose free lunch ideas I can get.

And if those healthy lactose free lunch ideas don’t cost an arm and leg to make, that’s OK too.

I got the opportunity to check out BJ’s Wholesale Club for healthy food shopping options for less at their Back to School Blogger event. It’s been forever since I’ve stepped foot into a wholesale club store. After Husband and I stopped performing at the renaissance festival, we cancelled our membership because we didn’t need to buy the restaurant size vats of condiments and such to feed our friends and fellow actors anymore. Learning to cook from scratch and the lack of ingredient type food for sale sealed the deal.

Many of you tell me you find fresh food and organic options for less at wholesale club stores. I figure this is the easiest way to check out if and how the offerings have changed since I last had a membership.

The prices are impressive.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

I Wish I Ate My Way Around Blogher 12

I spent last week in  Foodopolis  – New York City – for the BlogHer conference.  I did not want a repeat of the stomach woes I had at Blissdom. As much as it killed me to say no to even a taste of lactose filled food (because, yeah, Foodopolis is not as fun if you’re lactose intolerant.) I figured I’d b better off if and when I unknowingly eat something containing lactose.

Top left: Me and Ree The Pioneer Woman. The Lorax is so infatuated with me he followed me from Blissdom to Blogher. I'm flattered Lorax but I'm happily married. Sorry. Food carving at the Dole booth. Me, a giant banana, Anne from Green Talk,and Laurie from Groovy Green Living. Eggsland Best. Tasty organic spicy sesame ginger Thai noodle lunch - if you follow me on Foodspotting you might have seen this already.)

I thought I was doing fairly well, especially by taking advantage of vegan options when able – thank you BlogHer for having plenty of food options for those of us on special diets.  

Unfortunately, sneaky lactose food the day before, nerves, and grief gave me more than a lactose tummy ache Saturday morning. I got sick in the middle of the expo hall after talking to the lovely folks at Bioron. I. Was. Mortified! I was convinced everyone thought I drank too much the night before instead of me getting sick because I ate food I shouldn't. This is not the way I wanted to make an impression.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coconut Caramel Popcorn

My friend Tamara of the Lead Safe America Foundation proves that healthy and organic food doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself or your kids of low cost yummy snacks! Especially when it is a sweet twist on one of my favorite snacks...popcorn! 

So we're broke and we eat all organic food. The reason for both is the same, our children got lead poisoning (which was very expensive to deal with) and, as a result, we can't bear the thought of burdening them with additional chemicals from conventional (non-organic) foods. We also keep a mostly-vegan household, which can make things even more challenging in slim times!

how to make coconut caramel flavored popcorn at home
Pin this recipe for later!

Sometimes the cupboards seem bare but there are actually really yummy things in there - it's just a matter of mixing them together in just the right way. 

My mother is a honey farmer (honey is one our few breaks from "pure" vegan tradition), so no matter how little we have in the cupboards, we almost always have honey.  

Our substitute (generally) for butter is coconut oil - extra virgin, cold pressed, organic coconut oil! Yum!

.... and a regular treat for a family with four children - especially  when things are tight - is POPCORN!  Always exciting and always interesting because it is both an activity (watching it pop) AND a food!

So - one day - when the cupboard seemed bare - I invented the following delight....

Coconut "Caramel" Popcorn Recipe