Monday, December 14, 2009
Super-savings on Supper
This evening I had almost no cash in my wallet and it was my turn to make dinner. So I did what seems to come naturally... make something reasonably good out of almost nothing. Well...not exactly nothing. We keep the pantry pretty well stocked. There's always olive oil and plenty of dried herbs and spice. We try to have fresh onions and garlic on hand (still lots of garlic left from this season's CSA share). And there was a nice little head of purple cabbage along with half a Chinese cabbage in the crisper drawer (these were at risk for getting past their prime as they are also left over from the CSA's last pick up which was in mid-November). I found a small package of 4 Bell & Evans chicken thighs at the Super Fresh for $2.97. The Purdue thighs were cheaper but the Bell & Evans brand states they don't use any antibiotics and their chickens are strictly vegetarian. Both brands are heavily packaged with non-recyclable materials...sigh...So, I browned the thighs in some olive oil; put them in the LeCrueset Dutch oven (it's an old one, a wedding gift from 37 years ago); browned 2 garlic cloves in the oil and poured the oil and garlic on top of the thighs. This was followed by the juice of a lemon (the lemon was getting a little brown on the outside, but still perfect inside). Then into a 250 pre-heated oven for an hour and a half. Sides: plain white rice and a cabbage dish made from the red & Chinese cabbage, chopped; a sliced onion, one lonely leek that had been lingering in the bottom of the crisper drawer, and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro and parsley, both leftovers from a historical society party (they would have been tossed in the trash if I hadn't brought them home). A little salt and a tiny sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Sauteed the whole thing in a little olive oil. Outcome: quite delicious; very filling; just the right amount of food for the 2 of us. For frugal, I think I get a high score - the meal cost less than $5 and I mostly used items I had on hand. For green, maybe not so much. High marks for the veggies - mostly local, fresh and no packaging. The rice - it comes in a plastic container that can be recycled, but is definitely not local. And the chicken had too much stryo and plastic packaging, though it was antibiotic-free and relatively local. With winter here, our meals are going to become less and less green as we rely more and more on the grocery store. But there's still lots of stuff in the freezer. I'll just have to get creative.