No-new groceries check-in

I’m still three days away from pay day and I have bought zero new groceries, true to my goal.

Gotta say, I’m quite impressed with my own pantry-stocking skills. And the beginning of CSA season was admittedly a great help.

I cheated financially and went to dinner with a friend and got drinks with more friends last Friday night, but those were plans made before I knew I’d be strapped for cash. But because I’m using some creativity in the kitchen, I’ve still been spending very little.

Here are some highlights:

Thug Kitchen is one of my favorite cookbooks and its recipes are quite simple (they also speak my language). I realized I had the ingredients for the tempeh peanut noodles with kale. I always keep rice noodles on hand (if nothing else, I can make cheater pad Thai), I sometimes keep a block of tempeh on hand (and I had one) and I had some spare kale, even after the chipotle chili I’d made.

Drizzle of sriracha a must.

Drizzle of sriracha a must.

It was great and lasted me a couple work lunches after the initial dinner. I didn’t have as much kale as the recipe called for, but maybe next time when I can afford a whole bunch, I can use it. I tend to gravitate toward a lot of Asian-style rice noodle/peanut saucy dishes, but this is yet another I’ll have to put in my rotation – especially when I have dark leafy greens to use.

I made one of the salad dressings I fix when I’m in the mood for something creamy — Everyday Happy Herbivore‘s deity dressing, which used up the remaining scallions I had in the fridge. I made a double batch to use the whole silken tofu box instead of half. Because the dressing is so rich and flavorful, it was great to dump on a bowl of salad greens, usually with nothing added except cracked black pepper and some dashes of nooch.

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Creamy goodness.

Often I don’t eat salad at the same time as dinner. I sometimes munch on it immediately after work to power up for yoga (see the green mat in the upper right) or to carry me through dinner-making effort, or as a snack later in the night.

Another awesome dish: miso soup. I have always wanted to make miso soup, but it never has made it into my meal-planning or pantry-cleaning thought process. I use miso for tons of sauces, dressings and various recipes, but rarely do I make it the star. But I found a miso soup recipe from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet (a classic in the vegan world with which I am rapidly falling in love) that was easily adaptable to my pantry. (Cheat: Follow the link and the recipe is in the Amazon book preview.) I subbed some frozen edamame for the mushrooms and thinly-sliced yellow onion for the scallions and doubled the tofu because tofu.

It took a few bites for me to get into the groove of it, but I quickly fell in love. And I wasn’t sure that this light-looking dish would fill me up, but I was completely satisfied after one bowl and it felt so good in my belly. Also, it stretched to at least four bowls! It’s a budget meal for the single gal.

Somehow I didn’t get a photo. Probably because I was busy driving it into my tummy.

The weekend brought meals at the beau’s apartment (he has kale and sweet peas bursting from his container gardens, yum) and the most wonderful time of year — the CSA season.

So glad I’m splitting it with a friend this year. Last year was so stressful making sure I put everything to use.

Yes this is one-half of a half-share.

Yes this is one-half of a half-share.

So many delightful salad greens, vegetables and herbs! Wiiiiii!

I returned to a CSA standard of mine from last year, which highlights the beautiful radishes that come into my kitchen: a rice noodle dish with a spicy peanut dressing from Isa Does It (told you I’m a sucker for rice noodles and peanut butter).

Instead of the cucumbers called for in the recipe, I often replace them with CSA peas. The peas and radish slices were accompanied by sliced scallions, which are not called for but accompany the flavors.

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Put this spicy noodle salad on a bed of salad greens and you have a CSA star.

Having made this last night, I ate about half for dinner and today’s lunch and I think I have about one or two more servings left for lunches. I’m not delicate eating this dish. I pummel those noodles right into my face.

Then today I made stuff up. I ate the last of my deity dressing on some CSA greens and then tried out Vegan Planet’s “New Millennium Mornay” sauce. I’m always down to try a different cheesy sauce and this one wasn’t made with any tofu or soaked cashews, but with white beans. What a healthy and genius idea!

I blended the sauce together and heated it on the stove while some vegetable-based twisty pasta in my pantry boiled away. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with these bok choy-looking CSA greens I can only guess are komatsuna based on cursory internettery — like bok choy but more delicate. So when the noodles were almost done, I dropped the greens into the boiling water to brighten and soften them up for 30 seconds before draining the pot. The greens and noodles were then tossed into the mornay to yield this:

Something I made up.

Something I made up.

The white bean cheese sauce was so good and creamy. It could definitely pass for a lazy cheese sauce if you want mac and cheese (which is essentially what I made). The greens bulked the dish up a bit and added texture. I sprinkled on some chili flakes for some spice. It was delicious and homey. I have a generous amount leftover, which I topped with chili flakes and also some Frank’s Red Hot (because mac and cheese needs Frank).

Breakfasts have still been toast with peanut butter or hummus — I have not made the breakfasts I have aspired to yet. I have also made a few smoothies with nut milks and frozen fruit.

And, even though I’m running out of some favorite ingredients here and there (lemon, lime, cumin, ginger), I’m still making it work with the decent stock of spices, dry goods, freezer goodies and my lucky influx of produce.

I seriously have no excuse to despair at my kitchen inventory. The money — well, that’s another thing.

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