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Archive for the ‘saving money’ Category

I’ve found the most amazing recipe for gluten-free rolls. I was searching for gluten-free baking powder on the net (how important is that? Does anyone know?) and came upon this recipe. It looked simple, and it uses the simple and cheap gluten-free flour of Conditor (cornflour with a bit of sugar) and it’s ready within 20-30 minutes – actually a type of soda bread.
For some reason, when I doubled the recipe the rolls came out more dense but still good. I’ll ask my SIL about it¬† ūüėČ

Ingredients: (for about 7 rolls)
2 cups Conditor gluten-free flour
1 packet baking powder (10 grams)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 egg
1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
Olive oil for coating the bread

Mix the flour and the baking powder. Add the remaining ingredients and knead for about 2 mins until you get a very sticky dough (I used a food processor). Coat your hands thoroughly with olive oil, take a handful of the dough, pat into a ball making sure that it’s thoroughly coated, and place on a tray lined with a baking sheet.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 180¬įC for 10 -15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

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My family loved these, especially when I pointed out that they’re kosher for passover ūüėČ Bon apetit!

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I love granola bars. I have tried making them myself a number of times. Each time, while they turn out tasty, they are either hard or crumbly. Now I’ve found the perfect recipe so the bars turn out soft and delectable. The downside – they are rich in processed sugar and they are dairy, as this recipe is based on sweetened condensed milk ūüė¶ However, I calculated the calories etc. using SparkRecipes calculator¬†and I deem it worth it, as these are truly delicious, easy, and packed full of healthy nuts and fiber. Perfect for breakfast on the go, and they freeze very well as well. I’ll keep searching for the perfect recipe, but in the meantime…

This is based on Easy Granola Bars. I actually came across this recipe by chance as I was searching for a way to use up sweetened condensed milk. A huge storm was on, and I needed an extra cup of milk to make Belgian waffles. I used 2 tbsp in some water for the recipe, and then had a whole can to use up. Since then, we haven’t had even one storm, but I keep using up sweetened condensed milk ūüėČ

Ingredients: (about 30 servings)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (400 gr)
3 cups instant oatmeal
2 tbsp tahini from whole sesame seeds/peanut butter/other nut butter
3-4 cups additions. I use:

1 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
4 tbsp flax seeds
~1/2 coconut, shredded
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
handful chocolate chips sometimes

All nuts and seeds are unroasted with no salt added. I shred all nuts and seeds in the food processor (the almonds I buy ground as my food processor isn’t strong enough to grind them). Mix all ingredients (us a mixer with dough hooks if you have them or your fingers, it’s hard). Then press into an oiled pan using some baking paper (waxed paper) to prevent your hands from getting sticky. Bake at 175¬įC for 10 minutes or until edges are brown. Do not wait until it looks cooked in the middle! If you bake it until it’s more browned it will cool hard.

In the pan, brown edges only!

In the pan, brown edges only!

In the plate, just before they disappear...

In the plate, just before they disappear…

Some nutritional info per serving:

Calories: 160 cal; fat: 10g out of which saturated: 2 g; carbs: 16g out of which fiber: 2.5 g; protein 3.5 g; Rich in calcium, copper, iron and manganese. This was calculated on a version without chocolate chips and with tahini.

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My friend gave birth to her third child. So I volunteered to cook for her. She asked for food that can be frozen, to feed her whole family. Vegetarian, preferably vegan. Soup seemed like the best option. So I Googled recipes that can be frozen and tried a few. The undoubted winner was the freezable Minestrone. I already made it for them three times and counting…

Ingredients (based on this recipe)

1 large onion, minced
3 carrots, minced
1/3 bunch celery, minced, stalks and leaves (I use two prepared bags of onion, carrot and celery mix)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed (I use 2 heaped tsp frozen chopped garlic)
2-3 squash, peeled and sliced into half-moons
100 gr tomato paste
2 bay leaves
400 gr crushed tomatoes (half a large can)
400 gr red kidney beans, frozen (or canned)
1.2 L water
oregano, basil and thyme to taste (roughly 1 tsp each of basil and oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme)

After thawing: 150 gr small pasta

Sauté the onion, carrot and celery in the olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic, squash and tomato paste and sauté for a few more minutes, until garlic is fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, beans, and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Let cool and freeze in family-sized portions (or other portions to your liking)

For serving, thaw in pot. Bring to boil. Add pasta shapes. Boil until pasta is ready. Serve with pita or whole wheat bread and a salad.

Bon Apetit!

perfect for a cold winter's day...

perfect for a cold winter’s day…

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Last Friday I made:

1. Cooked carrot, squash and potato for my baby

Vegetable soup for baby

2. 6 bags of carrot + celery + onion mix for my freezer.

Carrot, onion and celery mix

3. Carrot muffins as a hostess gift (we were invited to dinner). As our friends don’t eat refined sugar or white flour, I substituted the 3/4 cup sugar by 1/2 cup of honey, omitted the chocolate chips, and baked for 25 minutes at 10 degrees less (170 degrees). Notes for next time substitutions: less honey and more cooking time. It was just a little too sweet and just cooked. But it tasted awesome!

Awesome carrot muffins

So basically I peeled carrots all Friday ūüôā

 

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My little boy (3 yrs old) was acting like a dishrag. He was tired, clingy, tended to fall asleep even in a 5-minute drive. We went to the doctor and went to have blood tests.

He is apparently so anemic I’m surprised he isn’t transparent. Where the ‘normal’ range is 50 to 124 microgram/deciliter, he had 18 microgram/deciliter. No wonder he didn’t have strength to move!

So. We give him iron supplements, and we started giving him at least one home-made hamburger a day. The problem is that he is a very picky eater. For starters, he rarely eats lunch in his day care. For another, he doesn’t like soups, or Halva spread (which my eldest loves, and is rich in iron – 3 tbsp Tahini & 3 tsp honey), or most legumes (with a lot of¬†bribery and arguments I got him to eat lentils and white kidney beans, but it happens rarely). So if he’s willing to eat my hamburgers I’ll bloody well make hamburgers. Heart shaped or mickey mouse shaped. Anything. Just eat.

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Meatballs for picky eaters

As he refuses to eat Halva spread and even stopped eating peanut butter for some reason, I made my own chocolate spread. My¬†original¬†take was basically halva spread with some added cacao powder, melted chocolate chips and some sugar, but the result still tasted like halva spread and he wouldn’t touch it.

So I made Nutella. I bought raw hazelnuts, roasted them myself, blended them into nut butter, added cocoa, sugar and vanilla, and two heaped tbsp of tahini. According to sparks recipe calculator I succeeded in increasing the iron there by 50%. And it tastes like rich Nutella Рtotally awesome.

And as everyone knows, iron is healthy for adults too ūüôā Yum!

For grown-ups too...

Meatballs:

Ingredients:

0.5 Kg ground meat
1 egg
1 tsp mustard
2 tsp ketchup (optional)
2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs (I use homemade)

Mix everything together. wet your hands with water and then form into patties. You can also test your¬†artistic¬†ability by attempting to create a heart shape, or make the circles more pronounced for mickey-mouse shapes. Or butterflies. Whatever works. Fry on both sides (I don’t add oil, it fries in its own fat) until middle¬†is¬†no longer pink. Serve.

Tahini Nutella: (based on this recipe)

Ingredients:

1 cup raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp tahini
A few drops vegetable oil

Roast the raw hazelnuts in the oven at 180¬įC for about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. When cooled, rub them in a kitchen towel to remove most of the skins (but not all, or you will be¬†there¬†all day). Blend in a processor until you get a buttery consistency (warning – this takes time!), stopping every now and then to scrape the sides. Add the cocoa, sugar, tahini and vanilla. Blend. Add oil until it is spreadable. Put in jar and eat!

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There’s fast food, which is over processed and full of sugar and salt. There’s slow food, which I suspect was originally just home made food from scratch, but has now become very slow food: Food that you have to soak overnight, and then dry naturally, and then cook for hours, and then let rest, and perhaps refrigerate again before you eat it. Tastes great, but really, can you picture a working mom doing this? (Of course, maybe I just haven’t found the right recipes yet). So my take is freezer magic food.

I don’t always (read: never) have the strength and patience to start mincing vegetables to create, say, a healthier pasta sauce. I do not have¬†the¬†patience to peel and crush garlic. So I make do with ketchup? No. I¬†make¬†do with Freezer¬†Magic.

Things that are always in my freezer:

Chopped onion. Whenever I need to chop an onion, I chop two (usually using the food processor because of the tears :)) and stick one in a bag in the freezer. Keeps for months.

Chopped onion, carrot and celery. I buy a bunch of celery, and use half. The rest I chop (in the food processor) with onion and carrot, put in bags in portions, and freeze. A great base for sauces, soups and casseroles.

carrot, celery, and onion, and chopped parsley

Gedunskeskimuse (probably spelled wrong, shortened form: gedunsk). German for “vegetables in their own juice”.¬†This¬†is stewed tomatoes, cucumbers and red bell peppers. Whenever I have some of these vegetables getting old in the fridge, I stew them with a pinch of salt and freeze them. Great as a pasta sauce base or alone; sauce over rice or couscous, etc.

Minced garlic: I put everything in the food processor, move into a jar, cover with olive oil, and freeze. Easy peasy.

Garlic... and a lot of garlic peel

Leftover food that I froze – great as a quick meal (I brown bag my lunch during the week, so that’s important)

Schnitzels – my husband makes schnitzels wholesale. We usually freeze about half in two-schnitzel portions.

Stock – any leftover chicken soup, liquid from cooking vegetables, gravy.

Lemon juice cubes – I juice a number of lemons and freeze in ice cubes.

Bread – I bake most of my own bread in the bread machine. I usually slice half and put in the freezer, and the other half eat fresh. Yummy.

Chopped herbs: Fresh basil, celery, oregano, mint, etc. Just chop it, stick it in a bag (or double bag) label (very important!) and freeze.

Chickpeas: Whenever I’m feeling¬†particularly¬†thrifty1 or paranoid2, I make chickpeas from dried chickpeas in bulk and freeze in 1 cup portions.

Chickpeas & Gedunsk

So that makes dinner a snap – defrost gedunsk, mix with unsweetened yogurt for a great pasta sauce. Or use celery, onion and carrot as a base for Bolognese. Or take some schnitzels out of the freezer. You get the idea.¬†Same with Shabbat meals – so much easier when you’ve got the base already doen and your herbs on hand. Almost like…magic.

My Freezer

Close up

Close up


Thrifty: 1 kg of dried chickpeas costs 16 NIS. I made half a kilo which came out to be 7 cups cooked chickpeas =>0.875 NIS per cup. 1 can of 560 gr ~2 cups costs 6.5 NIS => 3.25 NIS per cup more than three times as much.

Paranoid: There is periodically some scare about Bisphenol A in cans. The summary as I see it: Everyone¬†agrees¬†that BPA leaches into food from cans. FDA claims these amounts are harmless. The treehuggers cite 100s of articles showing that such amounts casue various diseases in mice. The spectics point out¬†that¬†mice aren’t men in this respect: BPA in humans is quickly broken down and goes out in the urine, while in mice it is retained. Therefore, these mice research articles aren’t worth a thing. The treehuggers came back with another article, showing¬†correlation¬†between high BPA in human urine and higher risk of¬†heart¬†disease and diabetes. The sceptics say – correlation is not causation. I agree, in this case,¬†because¬†it seems quite obvious that the actual progression could be: lots of BPA in urine->eat a lot from cans->eat less healthy food in general->higher risk of heart disease. This does not mean that BPA is dangerous. However, to be on the safe side, I’m trying to cut back on cans. Nothing major – some things can only be found in cans, and I have no intention of giving up tuna or Heinz baked beans. But things like chickpeas which can easily be cooked at home…

Love Food - Don't Waste!

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I try to use ecological cleaning materials when I can. I mainly use vinegar and water for cleaning. It’s excellent for a variety of uses.

I started using it based on a recommendation in “Feed me: I’m yours!” An excellent book on how to make baby and toddler food at home. In the back there is a chapter on “Things I know now that I wish I knew then”. One of the tips there is how to clean urine stains from a¬†carpet. When we were potty training our eldest, it sure was useful! The idea was to put one part vinegar to two-three parts water in a spay bottle, and keep it handy. Whenever an “accident” happended, to spray from the bottle and soak with a cloth. Our carpet remains pristine to this day.

As I already had the ¬†spray bottle, I began using it for other things. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, so I used it to clean the kitchen marble (especially after doing anything with raw meat/chicken). I use some vinegar and water and our ecological dishwashing liquid to clean the floor. And I use neat vinegar instead of buying “shine” liquid for the dishwasher (I put the vinegar in the small container, the dishes come out sparkling!). All this had a twofold effect: I was saving money on cleaning materials (I use cheap 5% vinegar) and I was helping the enviromnment.

But the dishwasher was a problem. Ecological dishwashing tablets are expensive (~1.5 NIS per wash). Regular tablets are usually less than 1 NIS per wash. So I searched for homemade cleaning dishwasher detergent. And every time I was faced with the same problem.

There are hundreds of recipes for homemade dishwashing detergent on the Web. All of them call for borax, and state that you can find borax in the laundry aisle of your supermarket. Well, apparently not in Israel. Nobody knows what borax is, nobody knows where to get it. I found a site lately that advised buying borax at pharmacies (it’s apparently used in homeopathy) or chemical companies. Not likely.

Until I found a simple borax free recipe. It’s laughingly simple:

about 1/8 cup baking soda
about 1 tbsp ecological dishwashing liquid

Put in tablet container in dishwasher for every wash.

The result, especially in combination with the vinegar in the other compartment: shiny and clean dishes. I’m planning on buying baking soda in bulk to cheapen this even more. So easy, so cheap, so clean, so good for the environment… all the good stuff!

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