Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chicken Salad, and the Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

Chicken Salad with Grapes and Walnuts

Not much in the way of good specials this week. I’m starting to sound like a broken record that way, aren’t I? Don’t blame me; blame the stores. Or the drought. Take your pick. Anyway, here’s what I found.

Kroger has milk on sale, four half-gallons for $5.00, or $1.25 each, or $2.50 per gallon. Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Tuna is two cans for $1.00, or 50 cents a can. Cheese is $2.99 for twelve to sixteen ounce packages, which at $2.99 a pound is a good price for the 16-ounce packages, and okay at $2.99 for 12 ounces, or $4.00 a pound. Chicken drumsticks and thighs are 99 cents a pound, which is more than the leg quarters at Walmart, but a good price if you specifically want only drumsticks or only thighs. You’ll end up with more meat per pound with the thighs than you do with the leg quarters, so the price per pound of cooked meat may not be all that much different. Green beans and red potatoes are both 99 cents a pound. Do you know whether they are available at the Farmers Market yet? Don’t forget you pay half price at the Farmers Market if you have food stamps. Red seedless grapes are 97 cents a pound. Seedless cucumbers are 99 cents each. Prices are good through Wednesday, June 4.

Marsh has boneless skinless chicken breasts in the family packs for $1.99 a pound. 12-ounce bags of Iceberg Garden Salad are 68 cents each, but you have to buy at least $30.00 of other stuff to get it at this price, and you’re limited to two. Some barbecue sauces are 49 cents for 18 ounces, after $1.00 off if you buy five of various things. Prices are good through next Wednesday, June 4.

IGA has corn on the cob three ears for $1.00, or 33 cents each. This price is good through next Sunday, June 1.

Aldi has pineapples for 89 cents each again, and cantaloupe and one-pound boxes of strawberries for $1.49 each. Mangos are 49 cents each. Kiwis are 69 cents for a 3-pack, or 23 cents each. Organic baby carrots are $1.29 per pound and organic grape tomatoes are $1.49 for a ten ounce box. These are both pretty good prices for conventional-raised produce. Boneless skinless chicken thighs are $1.49 per pound. Nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt is $1.79 a quart and assorted varieties of 6-ounce cartons of nonfat yogurt are 39 cents each. Pollack (a basic white fish) fillets are $4.49 for two pounds, or $2.25 per pound. Prices are good through Tuesday, June 3.

The weather this past week has made me really ready for summer! And that means, among other things, lots of salads. It’s just too hot during the summer to do much cooking. And no, it’s not that hot yet, but I still feel like salads. So that’s what I’m going to be talking about today. Main dish chicken salads. I scanned the ads before I started working on the recipes, but I missed the boneless skinless chicken thighs at Aldi for $1.49 a pound, and instead used the boneless skinless chicken breasts at Marsh for $1.99 a pound. You can use the thighs instead of the chicken breasts. It won’t hurt anything.

Chicken salads start out with cooked chicken, usually chicken breasts. You can cook up a bunch ahead of time so you don’t have to cook it when you make the salad, like in BASIC GRILLED OR ROASTED CHICKEN BREASTS. After all, the idea is to avoid cooking when it’s hot, and cooking the chicken at the last minute sort of defeats the purpose. Or, if you don’t have any pre-cooked, you can make some POACHED CHICKEN FOR SALADS. Of course, you can use other cooked chicken, too. Like ROASTED CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS or STEWED CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS or GRILLED CHICKEN. Or leftovers from cooking a whole chicken, either roasted or THE BEST WHOLE CHICKEN IN A CROCK POT. Or whatever other cooked chicken you have on hand, including canned chicken, though it tends to be pretty expensive, especially compared to chicken you cooked yourself.

However you choose to cook it, you can figure on two cups of cooked chicken from a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts or boneless skinless chicken thighs, one cup of cooked chicken from a pound of whole or split chicken breasts with skin and bones, one cup of cooked chicken from a pound of chicken leg quarters, and about a cup and a quarter from a pound of chicken thighs with skin and bone.

The first recipe is a simple CHICKEN AND SESAME SALAD. You can use either the whole chicken breasts, which you cook and then take off the bone, or boneless skinless chicken breasts. Since it’s the boneless skinless ones that are on sale, let’s use them. See my earlier post comparing the two options. Using the boneless skinless chicken breasts, a batch of this will cost about $4.40; using the boneless skinless thighs it will cost about $3.90. You have a couple of options for finishing off the meal. Some fruit is always good with salad (or just about anything else!) and there are several kinds on sale. Take your pick. Or you could add some CRISPY WON TON STRIPS to the salad. In fact, you could do both, if you chose one of the cheaper fruit options.

Don’t tell the guys, but variations on the next salad, CHICKEN SALAD WITH GRAPES AND WALNUTS, was a classic at ladies’ luncheons, back in the days when ladies had luncheons. You can still serve it for that, in which case a batch will serve eight. You should figure on it serving four, though, for a family supper. It comes to about $6.00 by itself, because of the grapes and walnuts, so there’s no room in the budget for anything else. I’m not sure what else I’d serve with it anyway. You don’t want fruit again for dessert. The original recipe called for serving it with crackers, bread, bagels, etc. and without the lettuce. You could do that if you wanted to, and keep it under $1.50 per person, if you’re ok with serving cracker, bread, bagels, etc. If you use the boneless skinless thighs, it will cost about 75 cents less.

Or you could make your chicken salad the way I usually do. I love looking at cookbooks and finding recipes on the internet. I have literally thousands of recipes that I have copied and stored on my computer, plus at least 12” of recipes that I have printed off the internet, and well over a hundred cookbooks. And that’s after I gave away seven or eight big boxes of cookbooks. But, in spite of all those recipes, I seldom cook with recipes. I usually keep things really simple. Like in this recipe for CHICKEN SALAD A LA MAW. Well, I had to call it something, didn’t I? I can’t give a cost for this since there’s no recipe and no set list of ingredients or quantities. But I figure it’s pretty cheap, unless you use a lot of nuts.

For other ideas for chicken salads, check out the SALAD UN-RECIPES and LEFTOVER CHICKEN SANTA FE SALAD. And don’t forget about chicken taco salads, too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Strawberry Season

Our Hub Gardens are bursting with strawberries right now, and if we can keep the birds away from them, we'll get a fabulous harvest. Last week we made some strawberry rhubarb sauce with our garden strawberries and some rhubarb that came with our CSA from Heartland Family Farms. We shared it in the pantry on top of some of our homemade yogurt, and patrons were oohing and ahhing over the bright summery flavors.

My strawberry bed at home is in full swing, too. After making strawberry ice cream, we had egg whites left over, and I remembered that Strawberry Pavlova recipe that Mary Anne shared on this blog, so I decided to try it.

Wow. This is a beautiful dessert, and it tastes as good at is looks. The meringue is light and airy, with a soft crunch on the outside, giving way to a sweet and chewy interior. The billowy, unsweetened whipped cream is the perfect counterpoint to the sugary meringue and the tangy strawberry topping. I am in love with this dessert. It is so simple to prepare, with so few ingredients, I know it will become a household favorite during strawberry season.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Memorial Day Picnics and the Weekly Special with Mary Anne

Yikes! I can’t believe this will be Memorial Day weekend! I mean, I know that Monday is Memorial Day, but somehow it just never really sunk in that that makes this Memorial Day weekend.

Aldi has pineapples again for 89 cents each, and cantaloupe for 99 cents each. Tomatoes on the vine are $1.49 for 24 ounces ($1.00 a pound, or about 30 cents each). Strawberries are $1.49 for a one-pound box. Brats are $1.99 a pound and beef franks are $2.49. Bun length wieners are $2.99 for three pounds, or $1.00 a pound. Barbeque sauces are 99 cents for 18 ounces, and steak sauce is 99 cents for 10 ounces. Deli mustards (honey mustard, spicy brown and Dijon) are 79 cents for 12 ounces and yellow mustard is 69 cents for 20 ounces. Hamburger dill chips are $1.69 for 32 ounces and kosher dill spears are $1.69 for 24 ounces. Sliced cheese is $1.79 for twelve ounces. These prices are good through next Tuesday, May 27.

Walmart has corn on the cob for 20 cents an ear. Ground chuck is $13.45 for 4.5 pounds, or $2.99 per pound. Oscar Meyer wieners are $1.50 a pound. Prices are good through Monday, May 26. Don’t forget that Walmart will match the price of a local competitor’s printed price on an identical item if you take in the ad.

Marsh has whole seedless watermelons for $2.99 each. The ad says that they average ten to twelve pounds each. At ten pounds, that would be 30 cents a pound; at twelve pounds that would be 25 cents. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.89 a pound in the family pack. Ground beef is 20% off, but they don’t say what the original prices are. Prices are good through next Wednesday, May 28.

Kroger has one pound packs of Eckrich franks ten for $10.00, or $1.00 each. Sour cream and dip are also ten for $10.00, or $1.00 per pint. Johnsonville brats and Italian sausage are $2.99 for 19 ounces. Vidalia onions are 59 cents a pound. Cream cheese is $1.00 for an eight ounce pack. Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue sauce is $1.00 for 18 ounces. Boneless chicken thighs are $1.99 a pound. Green beans are 99 cents a pound. Prices are good through next Wednesday, May 28. They had Swai (Vietnamese catfish) nuggets on sale for 99 cents a pound when I was in on Saturday, but it wasn’t in the ads. They said it might be on sale again this week.

IGA has ground chuck for $2.99, in packs of 3 pounds or more. Hunt’s ketchup is 99 cents for a 24 ounce bottle. Kraft barbecue sauce is 99 cents for an 18 ounce bottle. Fryer wings are $1.59 a pound. Keta (chum) salmon sides are $2.99 a pound. “On the vine red ripe tomatoes” and “red ripe tomatoes” are both 98 cents a pound. Various kinds of pickles are $3.79 for 80 ounces. Ball Park franks are two 15-ounce packs for $3.00, or just over $1.50 a pound. Bar-S franks are 89 cents a pound. Eckrich franks are 99 cents a pound. An eight pound box of quarter pound “pure beef patties” (32 patties) is $21.00, or $2.63 per pound or 66 cents per patty. They’re 75% lean, so it’s not a great price per pound, but the convenience might be worth it – especially if you’re having that many people for dinner! Prices are good through Monday, May 26.

We pretty much have to go with picnics and grilling, don’t we? It’s not only traditional for Memorial Day, but the sales seem to be geared that way, too. A lot of things don’t need recipes, like wieners and brats. And you know how to make potato salad and macaroni salad and things like that. I’ll give recipes to round out your Memorial Day picnic.

You can’t have a good picnic without dessert. Just plain fresh fruit is good. A ten pound watermelon should yield at least 30 cups of fruit. If you eat the watermelon in slices, though, or wedges, you’re likely to eat more than if it’s cut up in bite-size pieces. So let’s say 20 servings of a cup and a half each. That’s 15 cents per serving. A pineapple should yield about eight to ten slices. Let’s say nine slices. That’s 10 cents per slice. A quarter of cantaloupe is a bit over a cup of diced fruit and costs 25 cents. Or make a huge fruit salad from a quarter of a watermelon (save the rind and use it for a basket to serve the salad in), a cantaloupe, a pineapple, and a pound of strawberries, all for just under $4.15. Figure three cups of strawberries, four cups of cantaloupe, five cups of pineapple, and eight cups of watermelon, or a total of about 20 cups of fruit salad. That’s about 21 cents per cup. Or any combination of fruit. They all go well together.
If you happen to have some fresh mint (grow some if you have a chance – it grows like a weed!) to add, that’s even better.

If you want to get a bit fancier, you can grill the fruit. I knew about grilled pineapple, but did you know you can grill other fruit, too?

And don’t forget good old toasted marshmallows and S’mores! S’mores are traditionally made with graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate bars, and marshmallows, but Mom used to give us chocolate coated graham crackers to put the roasted marshmallows between. A word of warning – use metal toasting forks, not sticks, unless you’re really sure of the sticks. Use the wrong ones and you can have an unpleasant reaction, from a bad taste to a blistered mouth. I don’t have the cost for S’mores, but I know that the chocolate covered graham crackers are cheaper than using Hershey bars.

You can’t beat homemade ice cream as a summer time treat. But what if you don’t have an ice cream freezer? Not to worry. Just make your own and a batch of Coffee Can Ice Cream. You’ll get just over two cups, or a pint, of ice cream at a cost of about $1.00. A pint of ice cream isn’t very much, especially if you have to divide it among a lot of people, but it may keep the kids occupied making it. A cup of ice cream would cost about 50 cents, and half a cup of ice cream would cost about 25 cents.

Grilled corn on the cob is delicious and easy. The corn is 20 cents an ear, and most people will eat either one or two ears.

Grilled Onions are great on hot dogs and hamburgers, and Vidalia onions are especially good for this. One Vidalia onion will probably weigh close to a pound and will serve four at 15 cents a serving.

Looking for something a bit different than your regular old run of the mill grilled hot dogs? How about a Seattle Dog – a grilled wiener with Grilled Onions, cream cheese and mustard. How much these cost will depend on what brand of hot dogs you buy. The cheapest are 89 cents a pound, or about 11 cents each, and they go up from there. Let’s say $1.50 a pound. No, let’s say $1.60 a pound, because that divides more easily. Assuming eight wieners to a pound, a Seattle Dog will cost about 65 cents.

Now let’s put it all together and make some menus. It’s Memorial Day, after all, so I’m not going to be quite as strict about keeping things to $1.50 per person. For a holiday meal, let’s go up to $2.00 per person. So, to review the prices, including the chicken and sides from a couple of weeks ago:

Seattle Dogs - 65 cents each.
Grilled corn on the cob - 20 cents an ear.
Grilled onions - 15 cents a serving.
Coffee can ice cream - 25 cents for half a cup.
Watermelon - 15 cents for a one and a half cup serving.
Pineapple - 10 cents per slice, or about half a cup.
Cantaloupe - 13 cents for an eighth of a melon, or a bit over half a cup.
Strawberries – 50 cents a cup.
Mixed fruit salad - 22 cents a cup.
Chicken leg quarter, with rub or sauce - 95 cents.
Coleslaw - 20 cents a cup.
Brats (just the brat, no bun or anything) - about 60 cents each.
Plain wieners (just the wiener, no bun or anything) - starting at 13 cents each.
Buns - about 11 cents each.
Quarter pound hamburger patties – 65 cents each.
Ketchup, mustard, pickles, etc. – about 10 cents per person.

So let’s see. How about a Seattle Dog, a cup of coleslaw, an ear of corn, and a big wedge of watermelon for just $1.20? Or a hamburger, with grilled onions and ketchup, mustard and pickles, an ear of corn, and a cup of ice cream for $1.61? Or a brat on a bun with a slice of cheese, or a … Well, you get the picture.

Happy Memorial Day, and many, many special thanks to those who gave their lives for our country. We salute you!

Brassica juncea! Wait, what?

It's that time of year again when the greens are thriving in the gardens. To be specific, mustard greens or Brassica juncea, if you are getting technical. These types of greens are prevalent among Indian, Chinese, and Japanese dishes and known for their distinct thin leaves. They are incredibly easy to grow, making them ideal if you are new to gardening.

Here are some common questions about mustard greens. 

1. How do you identify mustard greens? 

There are many varieties of wild mustard greens, however all of them are edible. 
The western varieties include frilled-oval leaves & mustard spinach (similar to the green leaves of spinach) 
There are over 50 Asian and Chinese mustard green varieties. The most readily available variety is Mizuna, which have bright green fern-like leaves.

2. Are they really that good for us? 

Compounds within Mustard Greens include antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, & A), anti-inflammatory properties (Vitamin K), and with regular consumption, support Cardiovascular health (aids in lowering cholesterol). If you are interested in learning more, click here

3. How do you prepare mustard greens? Have any cooking tips or simple recipes? 

First step, wash/soak those greens! An easy washing recipe to use is combining water, vinegar, baking powder, and lemon juice and allow the greens to soak for 10-15 minutes. To eliminate any dirt or residue that may be on the greens. 

Next step, cooking. 

To maintain the healthy compounds of Mustard Greens, the best cooking technique is to sauté (using 5 Tablespoons of either chicken or vegetable broth and sautéing for 5 minutes or so). 

- Young Mustard Greens have less of a bitter taste, making them ideal for salads
- To store, place greens in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator. Be sure to remove as much air as possible! 

Click on the recipe below for a simple dish that was prepared at MHC for patrons to sample. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Make your own salad dressing

Spaghetti and tossed salad are prominent menu items for our Hub Family Lunches. The monthly lunches, held in our kitchen and classroom next to the pantry, are a delicious way for folks to gather, socialize and discuss issues related to community food access. For the May lunch we whipped up a quick salad dressing at the last minute. Participants kept asking for our dressing recipe. We shared it and received this response from an MHC patron, 
"Wow....the dressing worked really well. I use to have a little salad with my ranch dressing, but with my health issues I've had to start looking at what I eat a little differently now. I am absolutely thrilled that I now have a new way to dress my salads that is not only healthy for me, but cost effective as well..."
Garden fresh salad greens are in abundance this time of year. If you are looking for fresh ideas for jazzing up your greens, why not try making your own salad dressing? High quality dressing can cost a pretty penny, and the affordable ones usually have lower quality oils and other undesirable ingredients. If you make your own, you can customize the dressing using your favorite herbs and spices.

Here are the basics for a simple vinaigrette:
Three parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice, plus herbs and spices, chopped garlic or shallots, mustard, honey, soy sauce... anything that sounds good to you! For a creamier dressing, add a little mayonnaise. Combine all the ingredients in a jar, secure the lid and shake it up! You can store it in the jar in the fridge indefinitely.

Fresh greens, peppers and apples make a tasty salad for the Hub Family Lunch 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Add Some Spice with Chorizo--weekly specials with Mary Anne

Aldi has strawberries for 99 cents a pound! Also seedless watermelons for $3.89 each. Iceberg lettuce is 69 cents a head. Tomatoes on the vine are 99 cents for a 24-ounce box, or 67 cents a pound. Frozen broccoli cuts are 89 cents for a 1-pound bag. They have a good deal on meat, too, this week, for a change. A 5-pound chub of regular (73% lean) ground beef is $10.99, or $2.20 a pound. These prices are good through Wednesday, May 24.

IGA has fryer wings for $1.39 a pound. Pork chorizo and beef chorizo are both 99 cents for a 10-ounce chub. That’s Mexican chorizo, which is raw, not Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, which is a hard sausage like salami or pepperoni. Smoked sausage and Polish sausage are both 99 cents for a 9-ounce package, or $1.76 a pound. Roma tomatoes are 99 cents a pound. Three 8-ounce packs of shredded cheese are $5.00, or $1.67 each. Six ears of corn on the cob are $2.00, or 33 cents an ear. Barbeque sauce is 99 cents for 18 ounces. Spicy mustard is 99 cents for 12 ounces.

Chorizo, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. If that doesn’t just scream TACO SALAD I don’t know what does! The problem with chorizo, though – not that I’ve tried this particular brand, but other brands – is that it really cooks down a lot. All the recipes I’ve seen for making chorizo call for adding water to the meat and spices, and that may be what cooks out. At any rate, I find that you don’t end up with as much as you thought you would. Be sure to save the drippings and use them for cooking eggs. This is going to be just about the easiest taco salad ever. Just cook the meat and assemble your salad. No need to even season the meat, since you’re using chorizo.

The whole batch costs just under $5.75, or $1.45 per person if you make it into four servings. Let’s call it $1.50 for four servings, $1.00 for six. Or you could cut the cheese back to a cup (a fourth of a cup per person) and the sour cream back to half a cup (two tablespoons per person) and leave it at four servings for just under $5.00 and add a pound of strawberries for dessert. Me, I’d rather have more cheese and sour cream, but suit yourself. If you cut the corn from a couple of ears and added them to the salads, they’d definitely serve six, and you could leave the cheese and sour cream and still have strawberries for dessert.

I’m sure anyone who knows anything about Mexican food (or anyone from Mexico or the Southwest) would disagree, but it seems to me that chorizo turns up most often in CHORIZO AND EGGS. In fact, I just did a google search and came up with about 1,760,000 hits! This is how I make it.

Assuming $1.69 a dozen for eggs (have you noticed how the price keeps jumping around?) and using whipping cream (though you could use half and half or even milk), this will cost about $2.95. You could stop here and have this for breakfast, but it’s probably not enough for supper.

Let’s start with the $2.95 for the Chorizo and Eggs, and add a salad/dessert of half a pineapple and half a pound of strawberries. The fruit comes to another $1.25, for a total so far of $4.20. At this point it would be a good brunch.

There are lots of things you can do to make it a supper meal. You could add a salad of lettuce and tomatoes and dressing. You could top the eggs with some chopped tomatoes. Or salsa, though it’s a shame to use jarred salsa when the tomatoes are so cheap. You could make your own salsa. You could add some shredded cheese. You could make breakfast burritos if you wanted to include tortillas, though technically they’re bread so I can’t include them in my menus. At less than 60 cents for a generous serving of meat and eggs, there are lots of things you could add and still keep it under $1.50 per person.

Taco salad and chorizo with eggs are pretty much no brainers. You might not have thought of them immediately, but it probably didn’t take much to make you think of them on your own.  NEW WORLD PUMPKIN AND CHORIZO SOUP is a bit different, and it may not be something you’re familiar with.

I come up with a total cost of about $3.30 for this, but that’s estimating the cost of the cilantro. Aldi had packages of it when I was there yesterday, but I didn’t bother to check the price. Two ounces of cilantro is equal to one and a half cups, and the packages were three ounces, so that should be about two and a quarter cups. Let’s call it two cups, and we only need half a cup, or about a fourth of a package. I doubt that the packages cost more than $2.00, so 50 cents should be plenty. This makes about six cups if you use all of the broth, or four servings at 85 cents each. It’s a filling soup, but you’ll need something to go with it.

How about a tomato and cucumber salad to go with it? The soup and salad comes to $5.15, which leaves 85 cents, which is enough for half a pineapple. Or, instead of the tomato and cucumber salad, you could have a salad of lettuce, tomato, and fresh corn. You could add a few other veggies, too, if you wanted, but you wouldn’t be able to have the fruit.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Welcome to the Hub's new blog!

We are thrilled to introduce the new Hub blog, created by our fabulous nutrition intern, Biz. Here you will find news and features about all the exciting things happening in our gardens, kitchen and food pantry. Check the tabs Grow, Cook, Engage for garden tips, recipes and food justice resources. We welcome guest bloggers, so if you'd like to share something related to the work we do in building community food security, please let us know.

Please note that our blog is under construction. We will be adding archived posts from our previous blog (on the MHC website) and creating new content in the coming weeks. We just couldn't wait any longer to share our new site with the world!

Keep checking back!

Garden intern, Leah shows off the first radish of the season.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Domestic Diva Delights Hubsters

Bone Broth. Sauerkraut. Yogurt. These may not sound like the most exciting topics for a cooking demonstration…unless the instructor is long-time Hub volunteer, Barbara Lehr!  Barbara can make cardboard seem interesting. A natural-born-educator, healer and doula, Barbara is passionate about taking control of her own health and nutrition, and she loves to share her knowledge with others.

We all know we are supposed to eat healthy foods, and most of us have a pretty good idea what those foods are, but for Barbara, nutrition starts in the gut. “If the nutrients aren’t being absorbed and made available to our bodies, then it doesn’t matter how well we eat,” Barbara points out in a fermentation demo.  Increasing and diversifying the probiotics in the gut helps us digest food, and increases the availability of nutrients. So adding fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kim chi to your diet is an easy way to boost nutrition. It is the foundation for improving health. If you learn how easy these foods are to make at home, you can save money on groceries, and maybe even doctors’ bills!

She first discovered the wonders of bone broth when she suffered a broken arm two years ago. She started making her own broth to help heal her injury, but says she continued to use it in her diet “…because of the increased vitality! I noticed I felt better, and had more energy, so now it’s a regular part of our family routine.”  Bone broth is a great food to share with patrons at the food pantry, since it’s a nutrient dense food made from something you might ordinarily throw out.

Perhaps Barbara’s greatest skill is her ability to pull patrons from the pantry, into the kitchen for her mini demos. She sets up a few stools in the kitchen and then approaches folks in the pantry, inviting them to join her for a quick demonstration on making homemade yogurt, or how to roast a whole chicken and turn the bones into a body healing soup.  She can convince the most skeptical shopper to take a seat and hear her out. Once she has a small group gathered, she launches into her quick and passionate spiel. By the end of it, she’s fielding questions, passing out recipes (or maybe even yogurt starters) and everyone leaves excited to go home and give it a try. When asked how she lures so many patrons into the kitchen week after week, she answers “I love good food, I love people, and I know they want to be in my kitchen and learn about these things, they just don’t know it yet. So I invite them in. It’s old fashioned hospitality.”

Barbara (aka "Domestic Diva" demonstrates the basics of roasting a chicken in the Hub Kitchen

During her two-hour shift on Fridays, Barbara usually conducts 3 or 4 rounds of her mini sessions, reaching 12-15 households with her compact, informative demonstrations. Recently a woman came in to tell Barbara that she had taken a yogurt starter home and made the best yogurt she ever tasted. Now she wants to invite all her friends and neighbors over to teach them how to make yogurt! Barbara’s tutorials are exactly what we envisioned when we first dreamed of having a kitchen next to the food pantry. Community members share their knowledge, skills and passions with others.  Folks who may not attend a full workshop get the benefits of our nutrition education program with minimal time investment and maximum impact on health!

Here is a recipe for making one of those healing bone broths, Chicken Stock

note: An abbreviated version of this story appears in our Spring 2014 Harvest Report newsletter.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Summertime, and the Grillin' is Easy--weekly specials with Mary Anne's nearly summer, and grilling is easy for some of us. Read on for the full story...

Nothing much on sale this week worth talking about except produce, and there are a few good buys there.

The only good sale on meat is at IGA in Bedford and Ellettsville, through Sunday the 11th. They have some of their meat on sale in ten pound packages. The only one I’m interested in is their chicken leg quarters, ten pounds for $5.00, or 50 cents a pound. A few other things that I’ll mention because they fit in with my theme for the week – Kraft barbeque sauces, 99 cents for an 18 ounce bottle; sweet Vidalia onions, a three pound bag for $2.89 cents (96 cents a pound) or 99 cents a pound if you buy them individually; and sixteen ounce bottles of A-1 marinades, two for $4.00, or $2.00 each. I don’t know that these are good prices, but they’re “sale” prices on things that fit this week’s subject.

Marsh has sweet corn again, ten ears for $3.00, or 30 cents an ear. Strawberries are $5.00 for three one pound packages, or $1.67 a pound. Or you can buy a case of eight one pound packages for $12.99, or $1.62 a pound, which is a nickel less a pound.

Kroger has asparagus for $1.99 a pound. Sweet potatoes, red potatoes and green beans are all 99 cents a pound. Sweet corn is ten ears for $3.00, the same as at Marsh.

Aldi has pineapples for 89 cents each. Mangos are 39 cents each, and strawberries are $1.49 for a one pound package. If you’re into gluten-free, Aldi has a bunch of things now.

That’s all that’s on sale that I’m interested in.

And so, it’s chicken legs again. IGA has them in a ten pound bag for $5.00, or 50 cents a pound. That’s more than 25% off Walmart’s regular price of 69 cents a pound for a ten pound bag, which is also the lowest sale price I remember seeing in quite a while. At that price you can hardly not get them.

I checked the forecast at (on Tuesday, when I started putting this together) and it said that the highs for the next ten days would be in the 70s and 80s. That qualifies as summer, as far as I’m concerned! Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. At any rate, let’s try some summer recipes. Like grilling and appropriate side dishes.

I don’t grill. Don’t laugh, but I finally gave up when I not only couldn’t get the flame on the gas grill to light, I couldn’t even get the lighter to light! So any recipes that call for cooking on a grill come strictly from books and the web. I was going to give basic directions for cooking chicken, but after looking at several recipes I decided I didn’t know what I was talking about. All I’m going to say is that grilled chicken can end up underdone and that’s not good. Ending up overdone and dried out isn’t good either, but at least it’s less likely to make you sick. What I will give you, though, are some recipes that look good and that got good reviews. Again, I haven’t cooked them because I can’t get a grill lighted. But the recipes look good anyway. You’re on your own when it comes to knowing how to cook it.

  1. Be sure your chicken is done when you eat it.
  2. There are two different opinions when it comes to washing the chicken before cooking it. The old school says it should be washed. (Mom knew someone who used soap, but most people just rinse it under running water.) I won’t get into why it should be rinsed. If you’ve seen documentaries about chicken processing plants you’ll know why, and if you haven’t, you don’t want to know why. The new school says you should not rinse it because when you do the germs and all splatter all over the kitchen. Take your pick.
  3. Whether you wash/rinse the chicken or not, be sure to dry it with paper towels. (Yes, I know that there are environmental impacts from using paper towels, but you don’t want to get use cloth towels or rags because then you have those nasty chicken germs that you have to deal with. Use cloth for most things if you want to, but honest, it is better to use paper towels for raw chicken). The reason for drying the chicken is that the skin comes out crispier. If the chicken isn’t dry, then the skin steams a bit and that makes for flabbier skin.
  4. Don’t serve marinade unless it’s been cooked after marinating the chicken. And don’t serve sauce in which you’ve dipped the brush you use to brush on the sauce. If you want to serve the extra sauce, reserve some sauce for that purpose and don’t dip the brush in it.
A chicken leg quarter generally weighs about a pound, so at ten pounds for $5.00, that’s 50 cents per leg quarter. Let’s say 25 cents per leg for the seasoning, though 5 cents will probably cover the cost of all but maybe the sauces. So that’s 75 cents per serving. I’ll use that in costing the menus with the various side dishes.

Just sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, or maybe add some garlic powder. Or use a commercial grilled chicken seasoning mix.

Don’t season the chicken. Instead, slather your favorite commercial BBQ sauce on it for the last five minutes or so of cooking. Or teriyaki sauce or whatever kind of sauce you like. Or brush the chicken with the sauce every few minutes. Some recipes and experts say one thing, others say the other. That’s why I’m not giving directions on how to grill the chicken.

     Greek Grilled Chicken
     Italian Grilled Chicken
     Cornell Chicken Barbeque Sauce (State Fair Chicken)
     Balsamic BBQ Sauce
     Better BBQ Chicken Sauce

And now for some side dishes to go with the chicken. How about COLESLAW, CORN ON THE COB, GRILLED PINEAPPLE, and/or MANGO SALSA? When it’s really summer we can use that wonderful produce from the Farmers Market. And don’t forget that you can basically get it for half price if you have Food Stamps! Just change your food stamps for Market Bucks and get $2 of Market Bucks for every $1 of Food Stamps.

You probably have your own favorite recipe for coleslaw, but here are a couple of recipes you can try if you want a change.

First a basic COLESLAW from Dana Carpender, then a variation. This will make LOTS! Figure about four cups of shredded cabbage per pound, so a three pound head would make about twelve cups. You might want to make just half a batch, though leftover coleslaw is usually still good the next day. Assuming a three pound head of cabbage, a whole batch will run about $2.40, or 20 cents per roughly one cup serving. If your servings are bigger, and you only get eight servings of a cup and a half, they’ll run about 30 cents each. But I think a cup is probably enough for most people.

For an incredibly colorful salad, try her COLESLAW FOR COMPANY, which uses red cabbage instead of the regular green cabbage and adds a shredded carrot. Red cabbage usually cost more – like up to twice as much - plus there’s the cost of the carrot, so figure between ten and fifteen cents more per serving.

Laurel’s Kitchen gives a very basic recipe for LAUREL’S COLESLAW, with lots of variations. In fact, if I’ve done my math right (and it’s been a long time), there are over 600 possible variations, based on the optional ingredients! The basic coleslaw costs about the same as Dana’s recipe – roughly 20 cents per serving, assuming a pound and a half of cabbage and six servings. If you make it four bigger servings, they’ll be about 30 cents each. You’ll have to figure your own cost if you add anything.

GRILLED PINEAPPLE is really easy - just brush slices of canned pineapple with Heinz 57 Steak Sauce. If you get four servings from a can of sliced pineapple, it should run you about 25 cents per serving, or about a dollar for four.

When I told a friend that pineapples and mangos were both on sale and at great prices, she said “Salsa time!” so here’s a recipe for MANGO SALSAThe mango is 39 cents, but I don’t know about the rest, most of which I don’t buy. Let’s call it a dollar, ok, or 25 cents a serving? That’s probably high, though.

Okay, so we’ve got recipes for the chicken and for the sides. Let’s see what we can do to put them together into menus. Just a reminder – we’re figuring 75 cents apiece for the chicken leg quarters, 20 cents a serving for the coleslaw (30 cents if we go with Coleslaw for Company red cabbage version), and 25 cents per serving for the Grilled Pineapple and the Mango Salsa. We’ve also got fresh pineapple for 89 cents each, mangos for 39 cents each, strawberries for $1.49 a pound, and corn on the cob for 30 cents an ear. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

MENU #1 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and grilled pineapple
MENU #2 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and mango salsa
MENU #3 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and fresh pineapple
MENU #4 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, and a pineapple/strawberry salad
MENU #5 – grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and a pineapple/strawberry salad
MENU #6 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, corn on the cob and a pineapple/mango salad (add a bit of lime juice to it, and maybe some cilantro)
MENU #7 – grilled chicken, coleslaw, and fresh strawberries sprinkled with balsamic vinegar
MENU #8 – grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and fresh strawberries sprinkled with balsamic vinegar (or sprinkled with sugar if you prefer, or just plain, but balsamic vinegar adds a special flair)

Well, you get the picture. Everything is so cheap that there are lots of variations that are delicious, cheap (under $1.50 per serving), with generous portions. You could even splurge and have some ice cream under the strawberries without breaking the bank!

I’m sure there will be more barbeque and picnic recipes and menus as the seasons progress, but here’s a good start. It’s 84 degrees as I finish this Wednesday afternoon, and picnic-type meals sound even better than they did yesterday!