I spent this weekend flitting back and forth between volunteering at our annual graduate student-run conference and home. There were seemingly a million fun activities taking place this weekend, and while I had intended to take in a great many of them I found myself feeling far too exhausted and instead tried to focus on relaxation and getting myself prepared for the final crunch of the academic year. I’m still planning my trip to Brazil to present my research, and I was awarded a very handsome grant to fund my travels. Unfortunately, this will be a reimbursement grant, meaning that the household budget is dwindling down to near nil. Today, I focused on making some very inexpensive foods to help me get through what will undoubtedly be a very busy week.
TOFU! Common Ground has tofu in 4 lb. blocks for incredibly cheap. I used about 1 lb. of it to make the “Eggless Tofu Salad” from Crazy Sexy Diet (side note: I am not a huge fan of this book, as the writing came across as misogyny masked as empowerment, but that discussion is for a different time). Another pound went to making the “Curry Chikn Salad” from Spabettie (subbed the tofu for the soy curls). The last two pounds are sliced up and marinating in my fridge, to be baked tomorrow. I’ve grown wildly attached to using Annie’s Naturals Organic Shiitake & Sesame vinaigrette (gluten free) as the base for my marinade, and was more than a little shocked to find it in the discontinued bin at Strawberry Fields. Usually the marinade goes something like this:
1/2 cup Annie’s Shiitake & Sesame dressing
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Sriracha to taste (Optional; Usually I tone it down for Miki, but if I know it will just be for me I have no qualms about throwing in a tablespoon or two)
I just let the sliced tofu marinate for at least an hour, but usually overnight. I then preheat the oven to 400 degrees, place the slices in a single layer on a Pyrex baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, flip them, and then bake for about 15 more until they are lightly browned on all sides.
I also managed to make a mirepoix veggie stock. I stumbled across this recipe for roasted asparagus soup, and I fully intend to make it later this week. I simply love asparagus far too much to cook it in anything less than a homemade stock! Onions, carrots, and celery are some of the cheapest and most versatile vegetables available. I don’t really have a recipe for mirepoix, I just use a ratio of 2 part onion/1 part carrot/1 part celery, chop them in my food processor, “sweat” them in a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a stock pot, add water (usually anywhere from 6-10 cups depending on how many veggies I have) and simmer for about two hours. Often times I toss in herbs de Provence because I like them, and it makes me feel fancy and cultured. I strain the veggies to separate from the stock. I am not sure what I am going to use the “pulp” for this time, but I can’t bear the thought of just tossing it, as I am sure I could make some sort of decadent and savory sauce for something by running it through my Vitamix.
What are some of the ways that you save money on food? Any favorite blogs or websites dedicated to frugal food stuffs?