Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Quiche Dilemma, or, the Art of Eating Poor

Like MFK Fisher I am fond of food and eating well and yet, alas, there are times when the wolf is at the door and, as my daughter age 4 once famously said when confronted with a plate of octopus, "Better eat it before it eats us!" Oh and by the way, I loaned the above book to my friend D like a year ago, I know where you live, and I want it back. I returned the hat, bring back the book or I'm coming for the hat again. Just kidding, dear. Not. Loaning books: pretty much always a mistake. In the best case scenario, that is, when you get them back, the loanees are never as impressed as you want them to be, and in the worst case scenario, of course, you realize that you are going to have to, at some point, pony up almost $20 to replace the Riddle Master Trilogy which you cannot live without.

But I digress. Faced with my usual state of impending financial doom, last week I cooked the wolf, or decided that the thing to do was make huge amounts of cheap food that would last. First I made a big pot of hippie lentils. A hates lentils, so that lasted and lasted, until I too had to admit defeat. Then I made chicken soup from scratch, with egg noodles. That was really good, and only lasted 3 days. Then I decided to make two quiches: a broccoli, walnut, mushroom one and my old standby, spinach feta. This is a good idea in theory but in actual fact it hasn't worked very well. The problem with quiche is that it's great the first day and still pretty good on the second day and on the third day you basically never want to see quiche again. By the third day, quiches unfortunate resemblance to cold scrambled eggs is pronounced, and really, the ramen is looking better and better, god, quiche is just so, so - I mean, yuck. Also, note to self, while buying large bags of frozen chopped spinach and using it a bit at time may seem like a good idea, it doesn't keep forever. The spinach quiche was not an unqualified success.

So I still have all this quiche in the fridge and I don't know if giving it to the dog is really a very good option. Broccoli and the dog's digestive system are not (how to put this gracefully?) a very good match. The last thing in the world you want to do is be sitting on the couch knitting and watching Six Feet Under out of order (everyone in West Asheville is watching it right now, apparently, and I can not ever get the right disc at Orbit) with a dog who has recently eaten large amounts of broccoli. Really, take my word on this one. You don't need to experiment.

Hippie Lentils
bag of lentils
small can tomato paste
4 or 5 potatoes
1 onion
4 or so cloves garlic
a couple of carrots
hot peppers
vegetable stock

Rinse the lentils & put them in with the stock, bring to a boil, simmer one hour. Let sit one hour (this is only if you have to leave the house and run errands, which I did, otherwise you can skip this step.)
Saute chopped celery, peppers, onions and garlic in olive oil. Add to lentils.
Peel & cut up potatos & carrots, add to lentils.
Add some tamari, maybe some nutritional yeast, and bring back up to a boil. Turn down, let simmer for an hour or so. Add tomato paste for color (this masks the unfortunate gray-ness of the lentils)
Make a bunch of Young Ones jokes as you serve them. They will last far longer than you really want.

Chicken Soup with Noodles
1 whole chicken cut up
garlic - lots and lots of garlic
1 can chicken broth to cheat with
half a bag of egg noodles
bay leaf, dried thyme, oregano, dill

Put the chicken in a big pot, cover with water, add salt, pepper, a bay leaf, and about 8 or 10 cloves of peeled garlic. Bring to boil, take down to simmer, leave alone for an hour or so while you either a) play games on the internet or b) watch Six Feet Under. Cool it down & make a half hearted attempt to remove the gross white foam stuff on top. Take the chicken pieces out and bone them - with your hands. Yeah, it's kind of disgusting but also oddly satisfying, don't you find? Remember that you could fucking die if you leave a bone in there. Leave a couple small bones in there anyway because you're so lame. Discard the bones (remember to take the trash out tonight or the dog will have it all over the floor by morning and then you'll have to worry about him fucking dying) and put the chicken meat back in the pot.
Chop up & saute the onion & the celery in a mixture of olive oil & butter, add to the chicken pot along with peeled chopped (largeish chunks, okay? You don't want little creepy measly carrot bits) carrots and some of the chicken broth. Bring it all back up to a boil and then down to a simmer for half an hour. Throw in the noodles and taste it for seasoning. Add hot sauce, maybe, some worcestershire, some pick a peppa, more salt, whatever. It will take about 15 minutes to half an hour for the noodles to cook through and then voila, serve. Very comforting. Refrigerate the leftovers - the noodles will swell up overnight and kind of change the nature of the dish, which is bonus.

Quiche (Only make these if you're planning on having a bunch of friends over to eat them that day. Nasty as hell by day three otherwise)
2 Laura Lynn or your supermarkets generic equivalent refrigerated rolled up pie crusts
2 boxes frozen spinach
1 container feta cheese
1 bunch broccoli
1 small bag of walnuts
about half a container of small portobello mushrooms, or regular ones, whatever
1 generic bag of grated mixed cheeses, like cheddar, jack, whatever
parmesan cheese
4 or 5 eggs
1/2 container sour cream
about 1 1/2 cups of milk (get 2% & pretend this is diet food)
1 large onion
probably half a head of garlic
Chop up and saute the onions & garlic. Put half in a bowl for the broccoli quiche and half in a bowl for the spinach one.
Defrost the spinach in the microwave.
Put the pie crusts in pie plates.
Mix the spinach, feta cheese, onion/garlic mixture, some of the grated cheese and some parmesan together and spread this all out in one of the pie plates.
Mix 2 eggs and about a cup of milk together, pour it into the spinach. This is finickier than it sounds, since the spinach wants to reject the milk. Maybe you could mix it all up together in a bowl first; that way you might skip the spilling the milk/egg mixture all over the stove and cursing part.
Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes
Chop up the broccoli until it's fairly small. Chop the shrooms to the same size. Chop the walnuts up too. Return those onions to the pan & saute the broccoli with them. You'll have to add more oil. Add the mushrooms when the broccoli is beginning to cook nicely. You'll have to add more oil again. Season - whatever you've got on hand will do nicely. Add the walnuts. Now mix the veggies up with the grated cheeses, some parmesan and the sour cream. Put it all in the pie dish, and, as with the spinach one, pour an egg & milk mixture over it. Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.
Note: the egg/milk mixture should be kind of a rich eggnoggy looking yellow. If it's too pale, add another egg. If it's too yellow, either add more milk or accept the extremely rich eggy goodness of it all and decide to stop worrying about cholesterol.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lamb stew would be another "cheap" dish and very tasty!! try it next instead of the eggs. use lots of potatoes to fill up on.