Monday, March 15, 2010

What I don't need to buy

As people who read this blog know (both of you), I've been following the Eat Real Food challenge from the food and homemaking blog Not Dabbling in Normal. I've been going back and forth on how meeting the challenge works for this family. I was feeling quite discouraged that I couldn't seem to meet both forks of the challenge-- to source food locally, and to eschew packaging--without adding huge time and inconvenience and also while staying within the food budget.

I'm happy to report that at the Family Farmed Expo on Sunday I found a grocery delivery service called Fresh Picks where I can choose my food (unlike a CSA, which I don't use because I grow all my vegetables), that delivers to my door, and where the prices are comparable to, and sometimes cheaper than, the grocery store brands. Further, they have everything except dry goods (flour, noodles, etc. Still trying to find local flour that I can actually both get to and afford.)

So what I've done with the challenge is to make it mainly avoiding things with ingredients (vis. Michael Pollan's Food Rules) and packaged goods. I'm also walking to the grocery store, which will discourage buying stuff that I don't need.

Since Monday is a day off, I'm dedicating it to making the things I usually buy, which this week was scones for breakfast and snacks, hummus, and pita bread. (I really wanted peach scones, but since they're not in season that seems out of the spirit of the challenge. Maybe I'll do it and not tell anyone, heh-heh. Right. The goddess will know.) Adding in the crackers that I made on Friday, my time investment was about 4-5 hours. Not counting the cost of the ingredients (negligible) my savings was about $20! In other words, making just these things, which are fun and easy to make, that I buy regularly, will save me something on the order of $1,000 a year.


1 (16 ounce) can garbanzo beans, half the liquid reserved
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 heaping teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Put all ingredients, except the reserved water, in a food processor and blend until creamy. If it's too dry, add a little of the water. Any water you don't use, throw it in the jar of vegetable stock that I just know you have in your freezer. You can add different herbs or vegetables for flavored hummus, such as chopped roasted red peppers, basil, sundried tomatoes, etc. We ate this with the homemade crackers. Yum.

If you're a real sucker for punishment, um I mean if you want to lower your carbon footprint even more, you can make a creamy hummus grinding it by hand in a large mortar, and tone your tricepts and delts at the same time.

Pita recipe here.


  1. I've a tasty scone recipe for (drop type rather than rolled out) on my blog. It calls for cranberries and citrus zest but you could substitute say, raisins and cinnamon as long as you reduce the sugar a bit.
    Hey, that sounds good - I may have to make some!

  2. I just did a cinnamon scone last week--it's in the queue waiting for a topic! But cranberry-citrus! Yum. Keeping it in reserve. (Along with the banana and the oatmeal that people have found for me!)

  3. oooh, what about dried cranberries?

  4. I've done that, too-- plump them in rum first! heaven.

  5. The pita looks great! I am going to try that this week!

  6. I love hummus--I think the recipe is a little like chili--variable and everyone thinks their own is the best. I'm not a cook but it tickles me all over that I can make great hummus. Thanks also for the nan recipe... I've never made any kind of bread and living near Dearborn (tons of local Middle eastern style bakeries) I can get really good cheap bread, but I've always wanted to make my own, so I;m going to try it!

    Do you have a recipe for Greek-style homemade yogurt? It's so expensive in stores and I'm willing to try making it. Thanks!

  7. Monica, you're prescient. Just found a recipe yesterday for Greek-style yogurt (made from commercial yogurt, or just continued processing of your homemade). It was on one of the Not Dabbling in Normal Real Food blog lists, and now I can't find it! (Thought I had it bookmarked, but apparently not).

    Do you have a Mexican market near you? I get an actual Greek brand of Greek-style yogurt (half the package is actually in Greek), about the same price as the "regular" yogurt. In fact, until I started this real food thing, I didn't know that it was different than regular yogurt, I've just always bought it because my mother did.

    It's really dead easy-- basically drain the yogurt through linen (or 8-10 layers of cheesecloth).

    I'll keep looking for the instructions, though.

  8. I have several Middle Eastern markets very near me (walking distance) -- I admit I've never looked in the refrigerated section; I just get my bread and tahini, marvel at how I have no idea what a lot of the other dry goods are (most without English labels, which I think is awesome) and run home to make hummus. I'll have to check.