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Friday, June 10, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers with simplicity in mind


Black olive and cheese pizza, homemade
Green salad with rhubarb dressing


Black bean tacos
Kale sauteed in chicken fat, seasoned with garlic and onion powder, and soy sauce
Blackberry-rhubarb crisp


Spinach frittata topped with quick marinara sauce, over
Spaghetti noodles
Tossed green salad
Fresh strawberries


Soybean and sesame seed patty
Marinated black beans and celery over mixed garden greens
French bread and butter
Leftover brown rice
Fresh strawberries and banana slices


Cheese strata
Mixed green salad
Fresh strawberries


Baked beans
Frozen spinach
Dried cranberries


Mushrooms and pasta, with meatloaf gravy
Canned green beans

We only had meat one night in this past week. I've substituted eggs, for meat, twice. We had a bean dish on 3 nights. I've been very busy, with cleaning and preparing for my son's girlfriend's graduation dinner and driving my daughters here and there for end of quarter stuff. So, dinners have needed to be as simple as possible for me to prepare. Yesterday was the last day of finals. Today is the last day to turn in rented books. And Monday begins one daughter's summer job. The other daughter has a week-long break until her job begins.

Preparing breakfasts and lunches during summer is a little less complicated, by being predictable. The change of seasons also brings change of menu offerings. I think we'll be back to yogurt and muffins for breakfasts, most days. And salads, breads and fruit, for lunches. Changing things up makes my job more interesting.

How about you -- any changes in your menus, as summer is beginning?


  1. Nice menu! I wish we could eat more beans but since hubby can't digest them very well I don't put them on the menu very often.

    Our meals this week were:
    Sunday grilled pork chops
    Monday mashed potatoes, green beans, leftover grilled pork chops
    Tuesday BBQ on English muffins
    Wednesday thai soup and chicken fajitas
    Thursday brown rice, baked chicken, leftover thai soup
    Friday I don’t know yet

    We'll figure out something for tonight though I don't know who is all going to be around yet. I think cinnamon rolls should show up for tomorrow and maybe some fresh homemade bread. I bought bread thinking we would use it quickly but no one is real interested in the store bought stuff. They are eating the homemade loaves slowly so I think I can easily keep up with the demand making homemade. I'm going to have to push the storebought stuff somehow so maybe french toast or something should be on the menu. I also think your herb crusted pork roast looks good for Sunday dinner.

    Summer menu has already been put in place. We're eating one home cooked meal each day, everyone packs a lunch and breakfast is something you get on your own or dad makes pancakes or waffles. Dinners are not heavy but it does have some sort of meat. Everyone seems to be satisfied and there are no complaints (there better not be any either!) and the budget really hasn't been bad. The first couple weeks were rough as we ran out of just about everything but now the shopping is leveling off!


    1. Hi Alice,
      I'm so glad meal preparations and shopping are going well for summer, for you, especially with the bread-making.

      Your Thai soup sounds delicious. What did you put into it that makes it "Thai"?

    2. Coconut milk, thai red curry, ginger, garlic. It's a recipe I got from "Budget Bytes, my stomach is full and my wallet is too"


    3. Alice, that sounds delicious. I'll check that out!

  2. Since we're home a lot, we interchange our lunch and dinner meals. Sometimes we eat our heavier meal at lunch and dinner is almost a snack. That's why I can't recall our dinners so well and remember only what we cooked that week. This week we boiled a pork shoulder and I was able to refreeze portions for six future meals, plus about 8 cups of broth. We like to eat meat sparingly, in one pot meals or soups. I overcooked the pork, so couldn't cut it up julienne for stirfry this time. I made "nishime" with the small pieces of pork on the cutting board, and while I was stewing the pork for the nishime with seaweed/mushroom, I mixed some of that good flavoring back into the pork stock, so future stock will have some of that "umami". Never froze pork stock before so I don't know how useful it will be in our cooking. I had to add some "dashi" to our pot of root stew in addition to the pork stock, but not much, so maybe I can cut down on the amount of "dashi" that I normally use, as this is very expensive. Also my husband made "namasu", since cucumbers were a bargain this week. Yesterday, he made tomato basil soup to eat with frozen leftover basil pizza. Also he made wonton soup and fried the leftover to eat as "gau gee". Swiss chard, seasoned blanched mung beans, green onion knots and toss salads were the vegetables. We always eat our bean patty burritos when we don't know what else to eat. For dessert after every meal, we had our coconut milk (cows milk with coconut extract) gelatin, with banana and whipped cream. My husband absolutely loves this, and said it tastes almost as good as "haupia" or banana cream pie. Not bad, as the cost is still around .17 (less than .20) per serving.

    Today, we are going to make soymilk, doing it a different way than normally suggested. We saw a Korean cooking video that cooked the beans BEFORE blending, so no okara resulted. The beans were blended down to milk consistency. Roasted cashew and sesame seeds and salt were added for flavor. The cooked beans could easily be frozen for making another batch of soymilk. No fuss with straining the pulp, and fast and easy to make another batch of milk from the frozen cooked beans. However, the cook suggested only adding salt, but I think we like ours with some sugar. Also, the cook measured the amount of water to use to cook the beans, and when it was done, no splashy mess in the pot.

    Have a great weekend, and sending good wishes this Sunday!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      How did your soy milk-making go? I made another batch today that I like how it turned out. I removed the skins off of most of the beans before running through the blender (I'd read a couple of places that doing so removes some of the bean-iness). And I added 2 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut flakes (about 8 to 10 cents worth, priced at $3.13/lb), to 1/2 cup of dried soy beans. I soaked the coconut in warm water just before blending with filtered water and soybeans. I also added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, some Kosher salt and a little vanilla extract. In total, it made about 1 quart, and cost about 35 cents in ingredients, plus the gas stove, a little over 1/3 the cost of Dollar Tree soy milk. This was a good batch, one that tastes good, as is. And with the coconut, I found I wanted less sugar and vanilla added.

      I've seen it done the way you're describing (although not with the cashew, that sounds delicious). I hope you like it the way you've found in the video, as it would mean a lot less extra work. I may try freezing some of the prepared milk, just to see what it does when frozen/thawed. Sometimes what other people find unappealing in texture, is actually okay for me.

      Anyways, interested to hear how yours went, and thought I'd tell you about the added coconut in mine.

      Have a great weekend, and thanks for the good wishes for Sunday!

    2. My husband said it was delicious (he's the picky one), so we are planning to return the case of Kirkland soy milk tomorrow. I also tried making a batch of coconut flavored gelatin using the soymilk. That too was ok, but it had a yellowish tinge and was not as creamy as when using cow's milk. I didn't add any cashew or sesame seeds since I wanted to work on getting decent soy milk. From 1c uncooked soybeans, we ended with 3c cooked. Of that, I used 1c, which yielded almost a quart of soymilk, and froze the rest. I added just about 2 T sugar, and no other flavoring. Of course, it tasted a little gritty, so I can imagine it would taste perfect with nuts added if served as a drink, but since we're planning on serving it with cold cereal, I think the cereal grains will mask any grittiness. We're going to continue using this method, since it is the easiest to do. When we make tofu we'll go the okara route. I saw a video that used egg shells soaked in vinegar as a coagulant and may try that.


    3. We made another batch of soymilk on Sunday. Correction,1c raw beans yielded slightly more than 2 cups cooked, maybe 2 1/4. I took off most of the skins and didn't strain. Also didn't add anything else, not even sugar because the milk will be eaten with sugary cold cereal. I think adding coconut flakes will greatly improve the taste. Hope I can find some for around $3 lb as you did. Sometimes coconut flakes are on clearance, so I'll be looking for those. My cost per quart is about .26 if nothing else is added.


    4. My math is a bit sloppy. More like .29 since only 2 1/4 c cooked per 1 c raw, and there is roughly 2 cups of raw beans in a pound, so 4.5 cups cooked beans yielding 4.5 quarts, per pound. We don't pay anything extra for electricity since we're on PV net metering with our electric company.


    5. Despite being instructed in the Korean cooking video to cook for 15 minutes (not one minute more not one minute less), I'm worried the beans are not cooked long enough, since the beans are initially cooked whole. So I think I'm going to cook the blended milk a second time for about 10-15 minutes. Grinding cooked beans yields less pulp but I don't think all the lectins in the beans are properly destroyed (not sure if it is lectins per se, but the part of beans that is a toxin), because of the size of the cooked particle. Just thought I'd add this word of caution to using this method of making soymilk.


    6. Hi YHF,
      Yeah, I was/am concerned about cooking the soy product, too, both in the milk and in using the okara. This last batch of soy milk, I soaked the beans overnight, starting with pouring boiling water over the beans, then after cooling, putting in the fridge overnight. Next day, I put the beans in a saucepan and cooked briefly, to soften them, and to help with removing skins (about 10 minutes at a simmer). Then after blending and straining, I simmered about 25-30 minutes, timed from beginning of boiling. And I precook the okara in the microwave, before making bean patties, which are also cooked. Maybe I'll extend the cooking times, both before blending/grinding, and after.

      I did see one post where the woman made whole-bean soy milk by steaming her beans for 45 minutes. You could experiment with lengthening the cooking time in 5 minute increments, and see how you like the resulting milk. Was it just a taste thing -- why the strict 15-minute cook-time?

      To ease your mind, though, according to the USDA, boiling beans for 10 minutes, keeping at a boil, destroys the lectins sufficiently. That's why slow cookers are not recommended for cooking beans. They don't cook the beans at a high enough temperature.

      But even with boiling the beans and destroying the toxins, the beans may still not be as digestible, because they are undercooked. Be cautious.

      Interesting (and scary), with red kidney beans in particular, but to some extent with other beans, not quite boiling the beans, but heating them in a slow cooker, could actually increase toxins.

      Here's some information on cooking soy beans, temperatures and timing to reduce toxins:

      "From Faldet [1992], heat treatment of soybeans destroys or reduces heat-labile antinutritional factors, improves digestibility and availability of sulfur amino acids, and increases fat digestibility by non-ruminants, but excessive cooking will reduce protein availability. (Note: Ruminants are hoofed, cud-chewing animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and giraffes, having multiple stomach chambers that are specially adapted for digesting tough cellulose raw.) Thus, there is an optimal heat treatment, which was found to be 120 minutes at 140°C (284°F), or 30 minutes at 160°C (320°F)."

      It does make it sound like longer cooking, and at higher temps, would be best.

      Also, removing the skins of the soybeans, not only improves flavor, but reduces the nutrient-inhibitors, present in soybeans. So that's a good thing.

      The other thing I'd like to do with my homemade soy milk is to add soaked/boiled almonds to the blender with the soy beans, both for flavor and to decrease exposure to any toxins, while adding other nutrients. It could help the soy milk keep in the refrigerator, longer, too. I'll see on that.

    7. So much to digest here :)...but I love plowing through the bits of information to derive at a workable solution, since now we are serious about making soy milk on an ongoing basis. Thanks to your blog, and Mrs. Armstrong for suggesting this.

      We're consuming a lot of bean dishes made from raw beans these days, the soy, pinto, and mung beans which we sprout and eat raw. So I'm sure the effects are going to be cumulative and even synergistic. I don't know if it is my imagination, but whenever I eat the blended soy milk with pulp as a gelatin, I feel full and bloaty. I don't have that reaction eating the same batch with cold cereal. So there may be something going on when the bean milk is mixed with gelatin. Maybe gelatin cuts the protein in soymilk and suspends it, therefore requiring a longer time to digest. But whenever I eat it, I am reminded to properly cook the beans.

      Interesting, the effect of almonds on soy toxins. Good reason to add nuts to our diet. I wonder if cashew has the same effect.

      Also very good point about not only time, but temperature of cooking raw beans. I find it scary (that's a good word) to cook red kidney beans, and think I'll continue to buy it canned. Same with garbanzo, I messed that one up a long time ago. I couldn't get the beans soft after many hours of cooking, it was ridiculous. Maybe the reason was not reaching boiling temperature for a long enough time. As you said, the concern is not just toxins but digestibility. I read that the soybeans should be soft when squeezed. That definitely was not the case for us after 15 minutes of cooking at simmer.

      We cook our pinto beans in a slow cooker. I'm going to change that. Thank you so much for pointing that out, since you're right the slow cooker doesn't reach boiling.

      My other concern is eating the mung bean sprouts raw. I thought sprouting breaks down the composition of the bean, making it digestible and safe to eat without cooking, but I had better do more research.

      Definitely from the research you've found, higher temperature is what matters and cooking time can be adjusted down at even much higher temperatures, but I guess below boiling point no amount of time is sufficient to destroy the toxin. I wonder if it is better using a pressure cooker, and if that method of cooking sufficiently destroys toxins.


  3. Not too many changes here as we are eating what we on hand and then a friend gave us a bunch of frozen meals. They are kind of a mystery because they are not labeled but so far I have found chili and augratin potatoes. SO far so good. lol

    1. Hi Belinda,
      The mystery meals must be adding an element of fun to mealtime! What a sweet friend to have given those to you.
      Have a great weekend!

  4. Your meals sound wonderful as always. Let me see if I can remember what we had? Monday we were going to have chili beans but they cooked all day and still were not done. I even soaked them the day before. Mon-Turkey Burgers,potatoes
    and asparagus. Tue-Steak on top of arugula and potatoes. Wed-lamb and veggies over couscous. Thurs-Beef stew left over steak. Friday beef tacos with potatoes. Not exciting
    but I did not feel great this week so it was food. Best wishes for Sunday. I am sure it will be wonderful.

  5. Since we're on such a gelatin craze, I have nearly used up 1 pound of a 2 lb pack of gelatin. This morning I found a good deal on Knox Gelatin 2 lb for $19.35 if I subscribe on Amazon. I was hoping to order via a link from your site so you could earn a commission on my order but didn't see a link. The good thing about subscribing is I won't have to meet the $49 threshold to get free shipping.


  6. While your meals were still varied, healthful, and I'm sure tasty, I can tell that this was a busy week for you. Your dinners were a little simpler than they are sometimes.

    Are your daughters' jobs still on campus or do you have to figure out a whole new set of transportation logistics?


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