Total food stamp funds remaining: $17.87.
Another pattern emerging from our experiment is that one day’s lunch is often based on leftovers from the previous night’s supper. We don’t see this as a bad thing. It’s a legitimate way to extend the grocery budget, reduce labor, and get a nourishing meal at noontime. And if the original meal was good, we don’t consider leftovers hardship fare.
With the beaten eggs and the halibut collagen, last night’s avogolemono soup was sufficiently rich that we were very satisfied with one bowl, and a smaller second helping. That left us with nearly three cups of soup available for lunch today. And though we didn’t mention it yesterday, we now have 1 1/2 quarts of fish stock in our freezer as well.
Today, for variety, we added nearly 1/4 Lb. of linguine from our miscellaneous, won’t-quite-serve-two pasta inventory. We broke the raw pasta into 1-inch bits and simmered it in the leftover soup till it was al dente. Avogolemono bonds with starch, so a soup can be thickened by adding potatoes, rice, or pasta. With our linguine-thickened avogolemono, we had yet another ample lunch.
It was hot, but not unreasonably so, and a great evening for grilling. At our local Sweetbay grocery store, we found a 20 oz. package of 5 Hot Italian sausages for $3.49. We’ve been fans of Sweetbay’s sausages since we first tried them. One of us spent 25 years living in the North End of Boston (THE Italian section where there’s an Italian butcher on nearly every corner). We like Sweetbay’s sausages better than any we ate there.
Sweetbay has a central corporate kitchen in Tampa which supplies all their stores in Florida. We have six Sweetbays in metropolitan Sarasota alone; all sell great sausages. We like to think about a Tuscan nonno—an Italian grandfather—coming into the corporate kitchens as a consultant on sausage-making days:” No, un po più di finnocchio; più peperoncino!” a little more fennel; more hot pepper, he says as workers pour pounds of ground pork and seasonings into a huge mixer. At a certain point in the process, he carefully sautés a small portion of the stuffing, takes a practiced taste, and pronounces, “Ah, salsiccia buona.” And they’re done.
The nonno may be there, he may not, but Sweetbay’s sausages stand out among the best.
We noticed one of the Sweetbay butchers hunched over his work table, knife flashing from time to time. We inquired about what he was carving and he replied, “Beef heart, $1.49 per pound.” This struck us as a superb bargain, and suddenly we were thinking about a Tuscan mixed grill for supper.
Beef heart is a member of that class of meats euphemistically known as “variety cuts,” or offal. Marinated, grilled on a skewer, and called anticucho, it’s a very popular street food in Peru. Apparently we have enough Peruvians and other beef heart-eaters to give Sarasota criticial mass, and thus make it worthwhile for supermarkets to keep it in stock. At $1.49 per pound, it’s a very inexpensive way to get high quality protein that does not require a lot of preparation.
Ferreting around in a cabinet beneath the kitchen counter, we found a bag of harina de mais fina amarilla, fine yellow corn meal we had bought a while ago at a Latino market. It turns out that this corn meal makes superb polenta. (Imported Italian corn meal for polenta runs about $3 for a 17.5 oz. package. We got 16 oz.of Mexican harina for 69 cents.)
And since we were going to have the grill going for the meats, we thought it would be a fine time to roast some of the bell peppers we’d bought earlier this week at the Red Barn. (We are fuel-frugal, too.)
This was shaping up to be a glorious, trattoria-style feast. Only the beef required any degree of prep work: we marinated four slices (about 8 oz.) in a mixture of red grapfruit juice (While foraging, one of us had scored a fallen, late-harvest grapefruit on a neighbor’s lawn earlier in the afternoon). Our marinade was simple: the grapefruit juice with just a splash of olive oil, sliced garlic, ground black pepper, and fresh rosemary (we have a veritable rosemary “shrub” growing in our front yard).
We’ve written before about grilling over palmetto and using the woody stalks of the palm fronds. Since we live in a neighborhood checkered with palm trees, finding this aromatic fuel for our domed Webber grill (another trash day street-find) is never a problem. Palmetto burns much hotter than charcoal, but the fire doesn’t last as long, so we supplement our fires with ten to twelve lumps of hardwood charcoal. Nevertheless, palmetto smoke imparts a delicious and distinctively Floridian flavor to meats.
We put the peppers on the fire before it really settled down to embers, because we wanted to get a good char on the skins for easy peeling.
When they were done, we took them off the grill, redistributed the coals and added more palmetto before putting on the sausages and beef heart.
Total food stamp funds remaining: $17.87 – 5.20 = $12.67
Now is as good a time as any to remind ourselves that to fully satisfy, food should please the eye as well as the palate. If you take the time to cook, don’t eat dinner in front of the TV or standing over the kitchen sink. Take the time to plate your creations, then sit down at the table to savor rewards well earned.
Links to the other posts in our series:
Living on $42.00 Per Week—the Challenge
Living on $42.00 Per Week—Day 1
Living on $42.00 Per Week—Day 2
Living on $42.00 Per Week—Day 3
Living on $42.00 Per Week—Day 4
Living on $42.00 Per Week—Day 5
Living on $42.00 Per Week—Day 7
Living on $42.00 Per Week—Summary
Living on $42.00 Per Week—Redux