More cheap eats

Food’s been on my mind lately. Like, a lot. I mean, thinking about food is kind of a normal state for me anyway, because it’s amazing. Seriously. Like if I have someone spend the night with me I wake up and my thought process is: “Are we gonna have sex?” immediately followed by, “ What am I gonna make for breakfast?” So for me to be thinking MORE about food than normal, is, well, somewhat excessive.

Still, there are reasons. I’ve just moved to a new city and have yet to find a job, so I’m hemorrhaging money, and eating on the cheap without having to ingest sadness every day means getting creative. Since my new life involves a car and I also have nowhere to be most days, I’m not walking the 6 miles I used to average in New York just handling my daily business. I would bike more, but the bloody movers broke the shifter on my commuter bike and I frankly haven’t got the money to fix it right now, so I’m driving more and moving less.

And then there’s the stupid injuries: my rotator cuff has been crap for the last, um, forever, and then I gave myself plantar fasciitis trying to do speed training with my running. So now I can barely walk, I’m afraid to go to the gym because I can’t think of anything I can do that won’t hurt me somehow, and while I’ve started swimming a couple weeks ago, even that I can only do properly with one arm. All of which means I haven’t worked out properly in over a month, and I’ve gained at least 10 pounds since the move. And none of my pants fit me, which makes me nervous about interviewing for new jobs too.

So yeah, food has become one of the few things I can control, and I’m doing my best not to eat total crap so that I can feel better and maybe get back to fighting weight. Been doing a lot of fish when I can, since frozen filets are pretty cheap – yeah, you can taste the frozen and it’s less than ideal, but it makes me more motivated to play with preparations. Baking it in parchment has been my best approach, and pretty much anything I put in there has turned out good: teriyaki sauce, shallot and balsamic vinegar, shallot and dill with lemon slices, it all comes out pretty good. And when you serve it with rice the excess sauce soaks in and gets extra yummy.

I’ve also discovered the joy of roasting sweet potatoes. See, I only bought cookie sheets about 6 months ago; I had previously only baked in a large oven-safe skillet, so now having new tools means there’s new things I can do with food! The trick with the sweet potatoes is to slice them not too thick (I just do fat rounds, maybe 2/3 inch) and coat them with oil so that they get a nice crisp outside and all the sugars caramelize and yum. Not such great luck cooking in bulk and storing them, since they do get soggy. But I shall continue on and see what works.

My most useful thing, though, has been my “tuna sauce.” I like eating canned tuna – it’s super cheap, good for you, lots of protein and not a lot of fat, so it definitely fits my needs right now. But plain tuna is not very delicious, and it sort of defeats the purpose to throw a giant dollop of mayonnaise in there. Instead, I’ve come up with a great “vinaigrette” treatment that satisfies my palate. If your knife skills are good or you are patient, it works fine by hand, but it’s a whole lot easier in a food processor.

  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • ¼ red onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • ½ apple
  • ¼ cup raisins (I like the golden ones)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (don’t use the good stuff, this has enough sweet to it so you want the tart factor. Red wine vinegar would probably work fine too.)
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1t salt
  • 1t pepper
  • ½ t cayenne pepper

I like it best when the onion and garlic are minced finely and the tomato and apple are chunky. Add or remove ingredients at will. Shredded carrots would probably do very nicely in this also. It will seem like too much seasoning but once the tuna is added in it becomes balanced. I usually do 2/3 cup in a whole can of tuna. I find it keeps well in the fridge, and the flavors start to meld nicely after the first hour. After the first day the raisins plump up too!

In the meantime while I eat healthy I’m working on all kinds of rehab so I can get back to physical activity. But that’s another post for another day…


About pippingeek

feminist geek starting over outside the academy
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