We are on track with the newly implemented weekly menu and food budget. Yesterday I was reminded once again why the Partner does not go without chocolate. (We had cut out chocolate bars due to expenses.) There have been studies that relate chocolate to fighting depression (along with several other “super” foods). I had already made a trip to Trader Joe’s and going out again for chocolate bars was not an option. I did, however, have a bag of raw Cacao Powder from Navitas Naturals that I purchased for a class. The class was cancelled, so I still had the chocolate powder in the cupboard. So I looked up some recipes that use this ingredient.
I was rewarded nicely with a recipe for a Chocolate Mousse that uses avocados, maple or agave syrup, and vanilla. I had all the ingredients, so I whipped this up for an after-dinner treat. The inspiration was adding a bit of orange zest. Chocolate and orange play nicely together, and since avocado is basically the “cream,” I knew it would work well. I’ve adjusted the recipe to reflect this change. The next time I make it, I’ll use less sweetener. I mixed maple and agave because I did not have enough of either.
I will say that this is not a cheap dessert. The cacao costs $1.25 per ounce and maple syrup runs right around .63 cents an ounce. The vanilla flavoring costs approximately $1.23 per ounce. I use the real kind, not the imitation. Avocados are in season right now, so they are running right around .25 cents each (or less if I can get them on sale), and oranges are insanely cheap, .49 cents lb this week. The recipe yielded 3 cups, and cost a total of $3.67. The cost per serving is $0.91 cents, if split into four, $1.22 if split into three.. So not something to run out and buy unless you really want to splurge, or use a cheaper cocoa powder. However, having the ingredients in the house made making this dessert a snap. It’s done in a couple of minutes, and if you want, you can eat it right away.
This recipe comes from Navitas Naturals website, submitted by Karen Farrell
- 1 cup Cacao Powder
- 1 cup maple or agave syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 avocados
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- Orange slices for garnish
Blend all ingredients (except for orange slices) together in a mixing bowl. Pour into individual serving bowls. Chill. Add orange slices when serving.
We are on week 2 of the newly implemented weekly menu/grocery shopping/prep plan. So far, so good. Compared to last month’s figures, I’ve already saved over $200.00 in food cost. I’ve thrown out less food than I have in the past, and I’ve actually used up almost every single vegetable I had in the house. I’ve got a few tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow onion, and some lettuce. I’m inspired by this new plan and how it is working. We’ve stayed on target with the menu, with a few adjustments here and there. I did get sick for two days last week, and even though the menu schedule shifted, there was no additional expenditures, no running out to a restaurant for quick eats. I had made enough food on my days off for the Partner to survive a sick day or two.
I had some left over vegetables from the weekly cooking, so I let loose a soup. I love making soups, and there is usually more soup made than can be eaten. Not this time. I’m sure this Weekly Kitchen Sink Soup will go fast. It’s been rainy and gloomy for two days now, perfect soup weather.
This soup goes great with salad, or when it’s cold and rainy. The combination of ginger and clove is powerful, add the fennel into the mix and it becomes a potent hummy soup guaranteed to satisfy even the heartiest appetite.
Eat It Up Cabbage & Fennel Soup
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- ½ fennel bulb, shaved (left over from previous meal, found while rummaging around in fridge)
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins (if you prefer you can dice the carrots)
- broccoli stalk, peeled and diced (left over from previous meal)
- ½ inch ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 6 mushrooms (button or crimini), sliced (left over from salads and such)
- ½ head of cabbage, sliced thin (left over from making Bund Gobi)
- ½ tsp fennel seed, toasted
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp coriander, ground
- Pinch of clove, ground
Prepare all the vegetables. Toast fennel seed. Set aside.
Heat up a soup pot, add sunflower oil. Turn heat down and add fennel. Cook until fennel starts to caramelize. Add carrots, ginger, and broccoli stalk. Saute until vegetables become tender. Add 6 cups of water, mustard seed, fennel seed, coriander and clove. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add cabbage and mushrooms. Cook until cabbage wilts, and mushrooms soften.
I know, I’ve been irresponsible to you, my readers. I haven’t been terribly inspired lately about creating new recipes. I’ve been consuming a book on Food History that’s 550 pages of dense reading. It covers the history of food from late pre-historic to modern times. I really need to finish this book. I’ve also been reading a few other vegan cookbooks published this last year, both for ideas, and reviews. I’ll be writing about those soon.
It still does not explain my inexplicable blogging silence. I’ve been working, and trying to get the household food cost under control. I have instituted a weekly menu, that includes a grocery shopping list, and a prep list. The idea comes from the Happy Herbivore. She provides readers with menus, so that they can go and cook yummy, healthy vegan food without worry. I doubt I’ll ever be that industrious. The menus I am creating are based on what I’ve discovered my partner likes to eat. And believe me, this has taken years.
I like the weekly menu because it gives us a plan to follow. It takes the guess work out of what am I cooking after a hard day’s work, creating less stress about cooking when I get home (especially while I’m at work). A weekly menu also provides left-overs for lunches over the next few days, so that the Partner has food to eat. This cuts back on food cost because we aren’t buying so many of the pre-packaged food that she relies on all too often (yes it happens). I don’t like the weekly menu plan because it takes some of the spontaneity away from cooking. I’m impulsive, and like to try new things. I’ve been known to go to a grocery store at 10 p.m. at night because I’ve just got to try something new. This also saves on food because I’m not running around town looking for one specific item. I stick to the menu, I stick to the shopping list, I save $$. We have talked about reserving one or two times a month for me to go off on culinary fits. I think it is a necessary valve for a Chef to have a bit of creative freedom.
We’ll see how long I keep this up. The weekly menu is an awesome idea. Last week was the first week, and it did help provide the structure I need in order to get fresh food on the table every day. Lastly, the best thing is I can take one of my days off and bulk cook some of the food for the week. Yes I’m cooking every day, but cooking the beans and rice, and other prep-intensive items on just one day removes even more stress from the every day cooking. And really, cooking should be stress free. There’s just a lot of planning involved.