Thursday, October 15, 2015

Eat like a American on $6 a day.

You can eat well enough on the government stipend for food they call SNAP. If you know how to avoid prepared food and expensive stuff like beef. I love beans and that is a help. Knowing how to cook from scratch can make all the difference. Why every parent and/or every school doesn't teach this is a real mystery. Cookery is every bit as rewarding and enjoyable as eating is.

It was time to try the crock pot mac and cheese. You can find on my facebook timeline or on my Pinterest. I am accustomed to glutenfree exchanges in recipes. Still, $3 for the gluten free version of the same pound of wheat flour macaroni that costs 30¢ in the latin food aisle is hard to accept. Rice and wheat by the bushel cost the same. I have gotten out of the habit of going to Walmart because of their labor practices. Hard times make for compromises. GF elbows $1.49.
It is going to be fairly high in fat or why bother? You gotta do what you can in other areas. To lower the carbs I cut back on noodles and replace some with sliced and diced cauliflower.
This can be the main course for over a dozen meals so inclusion 6-8 ozs of a cheese like Edam or Asiago to offset and complement the all that cheddar, is an acceptable extravagance. I needed cream cheese too.

My first stop is always the 99¢ store, I also went to Food for less, Foodsco, Albertsons and Walmart. All in my neighborhood. One of those 8 oz blocks of cream cheese go from $1.29 to $3. By law it is all the same stuff. It is not really cheese in the common meaning. It is more like yogurt, cultured milk. In a factory it can’t cost more than 10¢ to make and the packaging is very simple. I rarely go to Albertson's for a different reason. Each item in the store is priced a dollar or more higher than elsewhere some things are double. The store is nicer inside, but fuck that, I don’t go for the store I go for the stuff. This time however they were cheaper on creme cheese.

This is the part that was curious and perplexed me. The kinds of cheese in the store I went to were cheddar, swiss, jack, colby. One place had havarti. They all had a parmesan or two. That was it. I don’t know what it is, but processed cheese food is barely food and not cheese. Maybe it’s my part of town. The town where I live is known for lack of culture, bookstores or much in the way of fine dining. My part of that town doesn't even have a place with live music on the weekends. I don’t know if the demographics are different from other parts of town but Mexican culture is strongest in this part. There might be a place that has mariachi or ranchero on the weekends. That reminds me; they all had mexican cheeses too but that is not what I was looking for.

Dangit. Trader Joe’s is on the other side of town. $4 in gas away. sigh. I haven’t been to the new store called Sprouts. Not my favorite part of town either. Fancy new stores and buildings. Form over substance, Soulless. $5 in gas away. I have limited amount of time I can spend sitting each day. The pain builds up then lingers if I over do it. What the hell, I have cabin fever.
When you first step into Sprouts you are hit with the same odd smell you get walking into Lassen or a health food store, when those existed. Weird not really pleasant. Produce or deli counter should be next to the door. Herbs and supplements are the biggest mark up items in the store. Having them there and that weird smell to announce them probably helps sales or why would both stores do it? A lot of the same stuff that Lassen offers plus more regular food and more of everything. It’s fairly large. Prices are not as bad as I expected but this is where the cream cheese was $3. Even here the selection of cheese was pitiful. They had a few I was not familiar with at $14.95/lb and up. Good old gouda only $7.99/lb. The half sphere I picked up was $5.76. The store brand of gouda was $7.49 for 8ozs. and looked like it was made in a factory by machines and not by a cheesemaker. I was already over budget so took my cheese and went home.

I was not a big believer but bought a cuisinart food processor a few years ago. The author Bee Wilson of the most interesting book Consider the Fork wrote nothing but good words about them so I had to give in. For years Costco had this 13 cup bruiser on sale for $99. Between the food processor and my favorite blender of all time There was very little hand work to getting everything ready for the crock pot.
The main reason for not using the food processor earlier in my life is the cleaning. It may be fast but a knife is quick to clean and cheaper. If I’m going to have to wash all the parts anyway might as well get some more use out of it. I had 6 apples they were too soft to really enjoy out of hand so in they went. The diced up apples with a little bit of sugar, cinnamon and bacon crumbles after some time in the microwave is good to have in the fridge to add to many things. Or just to eat.

After an hour I gave everything in the crockpot a gentle stir. Gluten Free pasta takes extra long to cook properly and I was concerned the ones on top would under cook and be tough. after about 3 hours it looked pretty good and was filling the house with some nice smells. It was especially creamy. I added a couple of eggs. Spooning up a bowl I noticed something was missing. My mom never baked mac n cheese this way but after I started making my own I really got to liking some crunchies on top. I've used crumbled crackers with butter, crunched up potato chips even corn flakes. What I had a hand tonight were what my pals call "Porky Puffs" (fried pork rinds). A couple crumbled over the top was just the thing.
Crockpot Mac n Cheese -w/ cauliflower & gluten free mac.

After eating some I ended up with 12 more servings to freeze and a bowl of the extra brown part the was next to one wall of the crock to have for breakfast. Win.

This is the side project of micro~baked apple with cinnamon and bacon.
This can be served many ways. With ice cream is one way. Then I remembered that I have one of those countertop ice cream makers that I haven't used in years. Mmmm. I need to figure out a way to get the bucket part in the freezer.