“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let's be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Economical Cooking 101

Mrs. Mac's fresh herb container
There was a time when I'd pour over cookbooks and recipes, buying specific ingredients for meals.  Alas .. since taking up gardening, I rarely pull out a book .. except, perhaps, for a bread or canning recipe.  With a supply of fresh and dried garden herbs, and the pantry/freezer filled from the harvest, most of our meals are cooked from the bounty, locally raised meats, and staples such as single ingredients.   This type of cooking is never the same twice; forever changing.  Instead of relying on store bought boxed/canned goods, usually loaded with preservatives and cheaply made ingredients, it is much easier to just put a meal together by using basic (fairly simple) cooking techniques.

Recently for dinner I made Mexican quiche topped with shredded cabbage and diced cherry tomatoes & green onions.  Everything pulled quickly from the fridge & pantry. The Mexican part of the meal came from corn tortillas .. and a little bit of extra taco meat & beans from a meal several days ago.  With the price of food .. leftovers get turned into something brand new.  Hubby raved about the meal several times .. thinking I had used a new recipe.  Cooking off the cuff or from scratch with what is on hand and without a written recipe .. is a good economical skill to master and gets easier as time passes.  This type of cooking does not involve extensive meal planning, is more nutritious and contains more fiber.  Now that the freezer and pantry are stocked, our food bill is shrinking.  We could go for many weeks without having to set foot into the market. 

Mexican Quiche

Preheat oven to 350F
Serves 3-4

3-4 corn tortillas
2 tsp. cooking oil
5 eggs
2 Tablespoons half-&-half (or milk)
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp thyme (or your favorite green herb)
one diced jalapeno pepper
1/2 cup taco meat and/or refried beans

1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used mozzarella .. but cheddar would be good)
1 cup diced/shredded cabbage
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
sprinkle of green onions (or chopped red onion)
salt & pepper optional

In a medium 10 inch cast iron skillet heat oil and cook the tortillas flat over med-high heat until tender (barely crisp).  Turn off heat.  Arrange the tortillas so a little of the edges go up the side of the pan.  Beat the eggs, half-&half, chile powder, thyme and jalapeno.  Dollop the meat/beans in small spoonfuls over the tortillas .. and sprinkle cheese over the meat.  Turn the heat on medium and add the egg mixture cooking undisturbed for a just a minute or two until the bottom is 'set' .. Put the pan into the preheated oven and bake until the eggs are set on top (3-5 minutes).  Carefully remove the pan and top with cabbage, tomatoes and onions.  Cut into wedges and serve with salsa and or a little sour cream on top if desired.

What is your strategy for frugal cooking?


Dani said...

Don't you love it when you can "con" the man into eating leftovers?! If yours is anything like mine, that's the last thing he wants to do, unless I'm inventive.

Good on you :)

The Professor's Wife said...

I cook based on what I have, which is based on what I buy on sale, in bulk or grow! Quality organic meats and veggies taste good with a few simple spices.
Once in a while, I will cook based on a recipe - like if I decide to cook one of my husband's favorite meals like enchiladas .

Laurie said...

Eat from the garden and pantry, change recipes to use what I have on hand, buy on sale and shop at discount stores, such as Big Lots and salvage stores. That said, I'm not always frugal- I love kalamata olives (I have bought many at the salvage store, tho), local organic chocolate and coffee. When I have the funds, I prefer to spend it on good food and drink, instead of "stuff". P.S. Thank you for the comment, which helped me ID the shrub.

Laurie said...

Just realized what I said could be misleading. I don't live where coffee & chocolate are local, but some local folks source them and turn them into wonderful things- Escazu Chocolates & Larry's Beans.

Mrs. Mac said...

LOL .. Laurie .. there are some things that just can't be local, eh?:) Coffee and chocolate (and olives/oil). I, too, would rather splurge for good quality items than just stuff. It's amazing how truly poor quality grocery store food is if it's been adulterated.

Maria Stahl said...

Your recipe sounds very good and FAST.

Wendy said...

yum, this sounds delicious! Honestly, I'm not a very frugal cook. I'm going to have to work on that!