cheap veggie gourmet

A blog detailing ways to enjoy a gourmet vegetarian diet on the cheap. Check out recipes, food stories, tips and techniques.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Store Wars

Corny, but quite cute, PSA from the Organic Trade Association. Be sure to also check out OTA's site. There's a lot of good info there.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Blogs of note

You know how it is... you sit down with your morning coffee, just planning to check your email and your counter stats... one link leads to another, and then, it's suddenly lunchtime.

At least, that's what happened to my morning today. I've discovered a few that will definitely be making my list:

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dip Redux

I'm alone in the house a lot during the day, so I keep things on-hand that I can eat with a minimum of preparation. Most days, lunch is consumed over a two or three hour period, consisting of random handfuls of things from the cupboard or fridge: a fistful of greenbeans here, a hunk of cheddar there... some olives, a handful of breakfast cereal, some raisins.

Every now and then, however, I'll actually have the foresight to prepare food that can be left in the fridge for when I am hungry. Dal, an Indian bean puree, is a favorite for that.

Usually, I make mine with split mung beans. However, I just bought a bunch of red split lentils, and think I will make this instead.

Do you think that lamp looks good there?

I'm finally getting around to furnishing the blog a bit... I added a few links, and finally got my Powell's Bookshelf set up.

I'd like to be able to gradually expand the list of links. If there are any sites you really recommend, please add them to the comments!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


There's a great little produce stand that I pass when I drop my kids off at school, Tommy's. It's a charming place: yellow lattice & green trim, stacks of watermelons everywhere. They carry a lot of things that you won't see in the chain groceries, like globe zucchini and baby eggplant. Also, these little produce stands are the one place where you can just about always count on getting a better price than you will with a big retailer. Today's haul:

1 head cauliflower: $1.29
one ambrosia melon: $1.00
2 lbs. carrots: $1.00
1 cucumber: $0.33
2 potatoes: $0.75
1 pound yellow squash: $0.89

Total: $5.26

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I love food experiment blogs

I just discovered Kitchen Parade's Veggie Venture. It started as a month-long quest to cook a different vegetable every day by a different recipe. However, the experiment seems to have taken on a life of its own and is now in its 51st day. I have a lot of archives to catch up on.

Another favorite of mine is The author, on a whim, decided to see how long she could go buying food only from independently owned sources. The blog is now in its fourth year.

Will post others as I find them.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Jumping on a Meme

I found a meme specific to cookbooks, courtesy of FoodBlog which led me to SpiceBlog!

Anyway, just had to jump onboard!

OK here we go ahm meme thingy. Post a picture of you cookbooks and answer the following questions that I'll make up now and ask myself -

1. Rationale behind what we're seeing?
I cheated, and did not take a picture... my cookbooks and cooking magazines are scattered all over the house.

2. Most recommended?
I like Crescent Dragonwagon's Soup and Bread Cookbook a lot. Not specifically a veggie cookbook, but there are a lot of vegetarian recipes in there. There's an entire section of vegetable soups, and also one of bean-based soups.

3. Cookbook that made you what you were?
I grew up with the Frugal Gourmet cookbooks. His Frugal Gourmet Cooks American is fantastic -- it's actually an ethnic cookbook, covering many groups that immigrated to the US. I'm also pretty partial to The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines.

4. Porniest cookbook?
I'm going to split this honor between two magazines, actually... Cooks Illustrated and Saveur are food porn at its porny best.

5. Sophie's Choice cookbook?
*whimpers* I can only choose one? I'm going to cheat again and choose a website: This way, I still have access to thousands of recipes. Mwahahhahha!

6. If you were a cookbook, which cookbook would you be?
Okay, I've been pondering this one, and having a terrible time. Gonna have to skip it for now.

7. If your cookbook were extremely valuable, so valuable you might hide it with other valuables, where would that place be?
On one of my other bookshelves. I own literally thousands of books, so hiding the cookbook in plain sight seems the best strategy.

I'm Sick :(

I've had a cold that's been toying with me for a couple of weeks. It started with my glands feeling all swollen. Then, last week, I started coughing.

Other than that, though, I felt fine. Not run-down, not achy. I congratulated myself extravagantly on my iron constitution.

Oh, boy.

It hit me today. Hard.

My joints ache so much that I'm hobbling like an old lady. My glands, which were only slightly uncomfortable before, now feel like they're the size of golf balls.

Time to break out the miso soup.

Miso seems expensive when you buy it -- $4 to $6 for a tub of it. But, that's only because a little goes quite a long way. I've been working on what's currently in my refrigerator for well over two months.

The soup is simplicity itself. Basically, heat some water almost to boiling; stir in miso; let cook for a couple minutes.

I also add a bit of tofu to mine. I also have a bit of bok choi, so I'll stir that in right before it's done. I usually add a bit of rice wine vinegar and sesame oil before serving. Maybe a grating of ginger.

Then, I crawl back into bed with a good book. Today it's Breakfast at Tiffany's. Fun read.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Have Dip, Will Travel

Tonight is going to be a pretty busy night. I'm attending my younger daughter's kindergarten graduation, then running straight from there to an IndyMedia working meeting. The meeting is a potluck, so I have to bring some kind of snack along.

One of my favorite things about veggie based foods is that you have a bit of wiggle-room on perishability. Most vegetable dishes can sit at room temperature for awhile without becoming petri dishes.

I'm bringing along a dish tonight that's always been a hit in the past with this particular group:

Black Bean and Cheese Dip

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 can tomatoes, chopped + juice from the can
  • 2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1/4 - 1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 or 2 diced jalapenos (if desired)
  • olive oil
  • a few drops hot sauce (if desired)
  • liquid smoke

Saute the garlic in the olive oil in a medium pan over medium until soft. Add the beans, tomatoes, peppers and hot sauce. Heat together, crushing the beans against the sides of the pan until you have a very chunky puree. Reduce temperature to low, and let cook for around 20 minutes. Add the liquid smoke and hot sauce, and gradually stir in the cheese until it is melted and mixed throughout.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

I'm eating what wouldn't fit in my serving bowl for lunch over a bit of yogurt cheese. Yum!

Monday, May 16, 2005

I stumbled across one of my favorite philosophical anecdotes this morning on the New Mexico State University Vegetarian Club's site, reposting it here:

  • The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king.

Said Aristippus, "If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils."

Said Diogenes, "Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to cultivate the king."

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Random musing: food dehydrator

A generous dumpster-diving friend gave me a huge quantity of bananas the other day that were just outside of the banana bread stage.

Unfortunately, no one in my household really cares for banana bread.

After eating so many that my kids would start to cry when I walked up to them with yet another banana in-hand, I finally broke out the dehydrator.

Instead of doing chips, I cut the bananas in lengthwise slices, kinda like carrot sticks.

They dried in about 24 hours. They were all eaten in about two.

The dehydrator, at least in my household, isn't so much a food-storage aid as it is one to finish stuff up before it goes bad

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Well-Stocked Veggie Pantry

Keeping costs down while maintaining a varied and pleasurable diet requires a little forethought and ingenuity.

I utilize the Pantry Principle, as outlined in Amy Dacyczyn's invaluable reference The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Basically stated, shopping for foods to create specific meals is backwards. What you should do instead is buy foods based on value, then create meals from what you have in your pantry.

It takes a little bit of time and investment to build up a good pantry. However, by taking advantages of sales, salvage stores, and warehouse stores, you can gather a store of food without hurting your budget.

Be create about food sources. I recently found 14.5 ounce cans of Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes for 50 cents a piece at Dollar Tree. I've seen these in other stores for as much as $2.19 a can. I bought twenty of them. I get a good deal of the pasta we eat at Walgreens whenever they have a three for a dollar sale. Rice comes in a ten pound bag from an Asian grocery where I also buy shelf-stable tofu by the case.

I can't tell anyone else what to keep on-hand, because regional differences, tastes, and food tolerances are very individual.

But over the next few entries, I'll detail what I keep on-hand, starting today with dry goods.

Here is an example of some of what can usual be found in my cabinets:

  • Canned beans. I generally buy these at the local scratch n dent grocery store, 3 cans for $1. I keep a few different kinds: black, red, kidney, chick peas.
  • Pasta. This is a mix of durum wheat pasta every shape I can get for 40 cents a pound or less; rice noodles, which I buy at the Asian grocery for 50 cents a pound; and, whenever possible, organic whole wheat pasta.
  • Rice. I keep brown, jasmine and arborio on-hand at all times.
  • Dry lentils, split peas and dry mung beans. These are the only dry legumes I keep on-hand. I live in Florida with no air conditioning, and have not yet invested in a crockpot, so, cooking any others on stove top just over-heats my house too much.
  • Rolled oats. Organic ones are very cheap in the bulk section of the natural foods store.
  • Breakfast cereal, depending on what shows up at the salvage store or on sale. I'm not brand loyal, but low sugar, high fiber and organic picks are favorites.
  • Potatoes, occasionally. I don't buy these often, as my fiance has arthritis, and is sensitive to foods in the nightshade family.
  • We eat sweet potatoes more often. These are not at all related to white potatoes, but are instead part of the morning glory family.
  • Canned tomato products, including sauce, diced tomatos, whole tomatos and paste.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Yummy lunch for one

The recipe here serves one, since I work alone out of my house. It can be tricky creating meals for one person. I think a lot of people wind up spending too much on food because they rely on single serving convenience foods.

I've worked out several no-fuss meals that utilize fresh ingredients that can be kept on-hand. Feel free to multiply as needed for guests. Labneh is yogurt cheese. It's really versatile and easy to make.

Veggie and Labnah Wraps

flat bread
about half a dozen thin slices of cucumber
one thinly sliced bok choi leaf and stalk
one thinly sliced mushroom
one thinly sliced green onion
a few slices very sharp cheddar
a good dollop of labneh (recipe below)
drizzle of lemon juice
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pop the flat bread in the toaster over topped with the cheddar and heat just until the cheese is melted. Spread on the labneh and your veggies. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over all.


plain yogurt
coffee filter or paper towel
drinking glass

Place the funnel in the drinking glass and fold the filter so it will make a cone in the funnel. Fill it with as much yogurt as it will hold and drain for a few hours. I usually do this on the counter, but you can leave it in the fridge if leaving dairy products out seems to risky to you.

After a few hours, the yogurt will have a consistency about that of ricotta cheese, and whey collected below. The whey can be used in smoothies, as part of the soaking liquid for beans, or as liquid in breadmaking.


I'm poor.

Really poor. My income, from Pell Grants, freelance writing, eBay and the odd temp job was a little less than $8000 last year.

Just getting that out of the way so you know that I know what I'm talking about.

I constantly see people complaining about the cost of food, and it baffles me. I've always eaten very well, and food is one item that has never strained my budget.

So, I figured I could start up a topical blog, and share what's worked for me, and hopefully, through comments, learn a few new things.