Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Anyone can throw cash around at the grocer and return with great food, the real challenge starts when we limit our budget. So how does one dollar per serving sound as a target?
McDonald’s uses an economy of scale, but can we do it? Sure, with careful shopping and a humble legume with a storied history and a few quarts of flavorful stock. I found a bag of shallots for $1 at the WesternBeef, and I had a well-picked duck carcass waiting in the freezer. Always save the little plastic bag of neck/heart/gizzard, too. We paid to eat that duck but the leftover carcass is free, right? So start a duck stock…
...and brown those nasty bits.
I browned and softened the $1 shallots in the fat rendered from two slices of bacon (about 45 cents)
Drain the neck, liver and gizzard on a paper towel then toss them into the stock. Smoked ham hocks…
...are four for $5, so let’s add one @ $1.25 to introduce a rich, smokey undertone. Yum. Smokey undertones. lol
Now let’s add the parsley stems from a $.99 bunch of parsley...
...and the peelings from two pounds of carrots, about $1.60.
The lentils are only $.89 a bag. They need to be washed thoroughly, picked clean and then soaked in water.
Let your stock simmer covered for at least a couple hours, then strain it off, discard the solids and put the clarified stock into the fridge. The softened smoked hock will yield just enough delicious smoked pork for a modest sandwich while you are waiting, by the way, but toss the bones and skin.
The duck provides a wonderful stock-base but it’s fatty, and that thick yellow layer on the top has to come off.
Is the stock ready? Defatted? Great, here we go. Drain the lentils.
Put the de-fatted stock back into the pot over medium heat and add the lentils, the carrots and shallots, two chopped ribs of celery, (about 40 cents), the chopped bacon and a can of crushed tomatoes, on sale for $1.29.
Stir it all around, bring it to a boil, grate in some fresh pepper and then turn it down and let it all simmer for about an hour, lentils need no more than that. Cover it if there’s barely enough stock, or let it cook down uncovered if you want it thicker. You can always add some leftover wine if the stock looks low, but it should look about like this:
Now were getting close. After about an hours’ simmer ladle some stew into your blender to about 2/3’s full.
Put on a kitchen mitt, this is important because it’s really hot: now clamp the lid on with your covered hand and puree it at high speed until it is creamy and then pour it back into the stew. Mix it all in well.
Ooooh niiiice. This gives it a lovely body and texture. Now add the chopped leaves of the parsley…
...and my favorite touch, pour yourself a small glass of port, perhaps about $2 worth.
Not for you, though, pour it into the lentils! lol
Fantastic. Stir... and that’s it. When I divided it into fridge containers I measured at least a dozen or more generous portions.
So now let’s add it up:
$1 for the shallots, $.45 for two strips of bacon, the hock @ $1.25, a dollar for the parsley, $1.60 for the carrots, $.89 for the lentils, about 40 cents for the celery, $1.29 in crushed tomatoes and 2 bucks for the port, a total of $9.88, rounded up to 10 bucks and divided by 12.
Less than 85 cents a serving, full of protein and beyond delicious. Add toasted cheesy baguette, a few olives, some slices of crisp red pepper, some vinaigrette and a beer and you’ve got winter supper.
Posted by Gregory
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Conventional wisdom says “learn to dribble, pass and shoot and the lucrative world of professional basketball will beat a path to your door.” Rapper Notorious B.I.G. institutionalized this notion on his debut album Ready to Die: “because the streets is a short stop/ either you're slingin crack rock or you got a wicked jumpshot.”
With only 12% of the American population, African American athletes comprise 75% of the roster in the National Basketball Association. Even Bill Cosby famously observed that “black parents believe basketball shoes are a better investment for their children than is education.”
The problem is, it’s not true.
Fewer than 1 percent of the half-million young men who play high school ball will win scholarships.
And fewer than 1 percent of those who manage to play in college at all will go on to careers in professional basketball.
From the New York Times, “and of this final, golden few, most, through injury, insufficient skill or defects in personality, will last no longer than four years -- has-beens at the age of 26.”