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Week 5 - Tuesday - New Ways with Old Favorites

White Beans with RosemaryI'm still experimenting with my Summer Tea recipe. The latest version is 2 parts green tea, 2 parts mint, 1 part lemongrass. I mixed this up a couple of weeks ago, but haven't had a chance to try it until today. I decant some to try before I put it in the refrigerator to chill.

I think it's good, but Jesse thinks it's so minty that the green tea taste is obscured. Next time (and it will be weeks before I get through this batch of mix) I'll try 2 parts green tea, 1 1/2 parts mint, and 1 part lemongrass and see how that comes out. Whether or not it is too minty (and I'm not convinced) it really is a refreshing summer drink.

Lunch is leftovers. I send the rest of the White Beans with Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Jesse along with some peanuts, cherries, and summer tea. I make 1/2 cup (cooked) brown rice and mix it with the rest of the Lemon Basil Rice Pilaf—it's still too strong, but I eat it anyway.

For dinner we have an old favorite, White Beans with Rosemary, and something new, Spinach with Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes. The first recipe calls for lima beans, but at the store on Friday, I was uncertain of how much money I had left to spend, so I opted for the navy beans instead.

I have to admit, the last shopping trip is the one that was the most nerve-wracking of this entire project. It was Friday, and I hadn't fully accounted for the current weeks' expenses. I was hoping to have enough money for hamburgers on Memorial Day, and in all I made a number of different food choices than I normally would have. I opted for the navy beans instead of the lima beans. I decided to make due with the grapefruit I had left at home instead of buying 2 more pieces of fruit for lunches. I chose romaine lettuce instead of spinach for salads. I elected not to buy swiss cheese, deciding that a cheaper variety of bulk cheese I had at home would be good enough instead. (And as it turns out, I won't be making that recipe after all.) In short, I cut every corner I could think of, all because I was afraid I had too little money left to spend.

The navy beans work just fine in this dish, however, so the corner cut here is minor—our palettes won't suffer much at all. It's as easy as can be: presoak a cup and a half of beans, saute garlic and onion in olive oil, add a chopped tomato—I use part of the can I opened a few days ago— and crushed dried rosemary and salt, mix in the drained beans and 3 cups of water, and let it simmer for an hour and a half.

The spinach is a surprising success. I almost never cook spinach. Reason #1: Jesse dislikes it (I think it's a texture thing). Reason #2: while I like cooked spinach, I love raw spinach salad, and so does Jesse. So that's what we always look forward to and have.

But Madhur Jaffrey suggests serving the beans with a pile of "garlicky greens" on top, and I decide that's worth a try. This recipe is from Deborah Madison, and it's also very simple: blanch spinach, and then saute it in olive oil with garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and a little water. Add a little lemon or vinegar, and serve.

The two flavors go very well together, although I feel the bean's rosemary flavor is obscured. In all, it's a successful combination, one I'll have again.

Total today includes a batch of Summer Tea.

Tuesday total: $7.57. Remaining weekly allowance: $10.14

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Thanks for documenting your experiment Rebecca. Its been a number of years since my "beans and rice" five meals a week penury, but I do still try to budget out my food costs. Like yourself, I'm primarily vegetarian, and my partner is vegan. Living in the Pacific Northwest, fresh and local produce is plentiful in the summer, but not so much in the winter months - I find that sticking to my food budget often requires buying some virtually tasteless produce shipped from CA, FL or Chile. Definitely not my preference.

Your blog has inspired me to give this a go. Please keep the posts coming - I'm beginning to depend on your recipe suggestions!!!

One of my favorite quick and easy summer recipes is Miso Lemon-Brocolli pasta - go here for the recipe:

Best regards,

Your moderator is Rebecca Blood. Please be thoughtful and polite.

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» Week 1: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Photos | Summary: Under budget - $3.20
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